A Season of New Things

Spring Has Sprung and So Have the Cats

Our cats are so happy to be released from their long winter’s confinement. We’ve had some lovely weather lately and they’re making the best of it. Other creatures, too, are popping out of hibernation.

Yesterday afternoon I looked out and saw Pookie sitting on his haunches on the lawn, with a magpie facing him about two metres away and another one standing about that far away on his right. Lying between the three of them was the limp body of a full-grown gopher. (Aka, thirteen-striped Richardson ground squirrel.) Whatever it was once known as, the dead critter had become the object of a property dispute.

Magpies are thieves; we see it all the time. If the cats catch something and haven’t eaten it yet, there’s usually a magpie peering hopefully from the garage roof or strutting in the grass nearby. And they often work in pairs. Like: “You distract the cat and I’ll grab the corpse.” Even if there’s no loot magpies often work in teams to torment cats.

So when I saw this standoff I opened the window and shooed the magpies away. With the birds gone Pook went back to playing with the thing awhile, even if it offered no exciting resistance. As soon as he got tired of the game and wandered off the magpie was back, snatching bites of the prize, which Pook didn’t tolerate. He rushed back to reclaim the gopher, then a few minutes later our black cat Angus sauntered up and began gnawing on it. Pook went back to wait beside the gopher hole for another one to pop out. Poor gophers. It’s a hard life at the bottom of the food chain.

Angus likely caught the thing in the first place. Pook is a bit of a thief himself. As I said in an earlier post, he’s an invasive species; he has this habit of pushing his nose into whatever interesting meal Angus is eating and slowly takes over the dish. Or mouse. Or whatever. Anyway, an hour later all trace of the victim was gone, so I imagine whatever remains remained when Angus left the magpies snatched.

Tuesday en route to the city we saw ducks in the ponds. This morning my husband opened the window and heard a meadowlark singing. Bliss! I went outside a bit later and heard the honking of a goose. I looked up and saw a line of snow geese headed by what looked like a Canada goose and he was the cheerleader. So spring has returned to our land.

A New Home for My Stuff

Since spring’s a time of beginning again, I’m going to catch that wave and move to a new blog home.

I’ve been contemplating this for awhile, wanting to bring all my writings under one roof but not quite sure how. I shut down Swallow in the Wind a few months back, but still have Christine Composes for my fiction, plus this site. Now I’m going to bring all my writing to Christine’s Collection’s new home. I contemplated a major renovation, but the categories and tags on my posts would all need reworking to fit the new plan. Easier to start from scratch, I decided.

I’ve had a “spare” private blog for a couple of years, using it to test out new themes before going to all the work of installing them on my public sites. Last week I enlisted the help of Bruce at WordPress Support and he’s been guiding me through this move, bless his heart.

Bruce says it’s no problem to switch the domain name for both active sites so that anyone who types in christinegoodnough.com or christine composes.com will land up there. All subscribers from both sites will be switched to the new one. And I will only have one better-organized blog to contend with. This sounds great to me now, given my health issues.

So I’ve been going back and forth for a few days now, carrying and unpacking a few files, scheduling future posts and generally preparing the site for visitors. I’m delighted with the new look, though I’m sticking with this basic layout. I’ve learned how to build Categories into the main menu, now my category “closets” are easily accessible and every genre will have its proper place in the grand scheme.

I thought I’d give you this heads-up a week or so before I do the final move and open the new site for public viewing. But the only difference you’ll find is that this current site will revert back to the pre-domain address of christinegoodnough.wordpress.com, so if you want to check out some post in these archives you’ll need to type in that address. Christine Composes will go back to christineevelynvance.wordpress.com.

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Looking Forward with Hope

Sunny Spring Days

I saw two mourning doves bobbing along on the driveway this morning. I saw one several days ago, but these are the first I’ve seen in our yard. I’ve seen avocets wading in the slough, too, and the frogs are almost deafening in the evenings.

Tree swallows have been back for several days; when I go outside them come twittering around me, just saying “Hi.” Yesterday when I went for a walk, as I walked out the lane to the gravel road half a dozen swallows followed me, circling and tweeting. Felt like I was among friends!

Farmers are out on the land now. Air seeders, sprayers and anhydrous (fertilizer) tanks are going down the country roads — a sure sign of spring! Days are sunny; the winds are warm; I’m getting out for more walks.

Cancer Clinic Visit

I want to say a sincere Thank You to everyone who has been praying for me. My visit at the Cancer Clinic last Friday was encouraging; my white cell count hasn’t gone up that much and the other blood counts are normal. I wonder if my white count has been up much more, but has come down again? Judging by how I feel, I’m guessing it’s down even more now as I’m not so hot and sweaty this week.

I still feel fatigued, but my head feels clearer — if that’s the word. Less like everything is bouncing around up there, I can think straighter, remember more, feel more optimistic. Nice!

Back to Some Writing

Tomorrow we are headed for Moose Jaw, our old stomping grounds (see below) to attend a writers’ workshop put on by InScribe writers group. It’s been awhile since I’ve had much social contact with other writers and I’m looking forward to this. After the event we’re planning to meet Bob’s cousin & his wife for supper.

Through NaNoWriMo I happened upon a new site and a new prompt. The challenge is to write a short story every day in May.  See details here.  According to the rules these are supposed to be actual stories, fact or fictional, word-length optional.

I mulled this over when I received the e-mail and decided I need this kick in the pants right now; I absolutely need to start writing again. Something — anything! So I’m going to give this project a try and hope to publish the resulting stories in specially labeled blog posts.

Crescent Park Days

Two years after we were married my husband found himself out of work. He’d been running a grain elevator for several years, but developed so many allergies to the grain dust and chemicals that he had to give up his job. So we moved back to Moose Jaw, Sask, back into his parents’ home. They had a two storey house which had conveniently been renovated to give them a rental apartment upstairs. By the time we were married they were elderly and had given up on the idea of having tenants. Thus we were able to move in with our daughter Michelle and lived there for several years. In time Bob got work sorting mail at the Post Office.

There was a park not far away from the folks’ home called Crescent Park, a quiet place the size of two square city blocks. There were paved trails throughout and lovely flower beds, a creek running through it with ducks and swans in the summer. For the more cultured folks, Crescent Park also offered a public library and art gallery at one end, and a bandstand down by the creek. We spent a lot of our free time wandering through the park or taking our daughter to the play-ground tucked into one corner near the huge public swimming pool.

I’ve decided to use this lovely place as the setting for my stories and will be labeling this particular series as “Crescent Park Days.” Some stories will be based on my own memories from places we’ve lived, people we’ve met; some may be entirely fiction. I’ll see just how this develops and will let you know what’s what at the end of each post.

Hope I’m ready for this! 🙂

Ups & Downs

Hello everyone. It’s been two weeks since my last post but I have been uninspired with writing lately. Rather I’ve been reading some interesting books* plus working at some sewing projects, among other things trying to adjust my dress pattern to get a better fit.

However, yesterday a flock of robins landed in the trees on outside our dining room window, so I decided it was time to “cheer up” my header by installing my nice robin image. We have the birds, but I wish we had that much green in the background outside. At this point we see only the faintest hint of budding leaves.

Spring and winter are having a tug-of-war on the prairies; we woke up to about three inches of snow on Tuesday. Thankfully it was gone in a day. I hope the poor birds manage to find something to eat on these days when winter reasserts itself so forcefully.

One day we hauled a load of garbage to the dump and on the way home I saw a raven flying over the road in front of us, slowly gaining altitude. He had a lump in his beak; getting a closer look I could see a mouse tail hanging down. Must be a hard life for creatures at the bottom of the food chain! My dear hubby doesn’t approve of me expressing too much sympathy for mice, though.

This week had been full: Monday I cooked at the Villa, then attended a meeting in the evening for all church members. My throat felt a bit dry and sore that evening, but it passed. On Tuesday we had the last Sewing Circle meeting of the year, with most of the ladies present. On Wednesday I accompanied Bob to the city; he had his Toastmasters meeting and I wanted to do some shopping. However, while I was dozing in the car on the way into the city, a sinus congestion came along and gave me a good slap. I woke up feeling awful and my throat was so sore!

That’s where I am today: feeling hot, weary, and dealing with a sore throat. I slept a good part of yesterday. I was supposed to cook at the Villa today, but that isn’t going to happen. 🙂

In general I’m still doing okay, but I haven’t been faring so well emotionally. I can’t seem to shake the blues that have settled on me, partly when I see the days going by and so little getting done. I’m frustrated with my attention deficit disorder. (I don’t know if I really had that before, but I do now! Or it’s much worse now.) I’m attributing most of the emotional ups & downs to having CLL. My next Cancer Clinic appointment is April 24th, but I doubt if much has changed since I last saw the oncologist there, except for my rising white cell count.

Last week Tuesday I attended a meeting in Delisle and learned how to download e-books from the Library to my Kobo reader, which is why I’ve been doing more reading lately.

*Interesting Books I’ve read in the past couple of months:
THE CHRISTMAS SHOPPE and A MILE IN MY FLIP FLOPS, both by Melody Carlson. The first is a kind of fantasy Christmas story about an off-beat lady who buys an old abandoned store and opens an unusual “second-hand shop” — much to the local merchant’s dismay. A shop where people find the oddest things and… (Best not give it all away.)

The second book is a contemporary novel with a bit of romance and a bit of comedy. A woman in her thirties, living in a too-small apartment and stagnating socially after a broken engagement, gets this brilliant idea to buy a cheap fixer-upper house and renovate it, then resell it for a profit. After all, her dad is a general contractor and can offer all kinds of advice. So she goes looking and finds a total disaster. She buys it anyway, determined to prove herself, then finds out how clueless she really is about house repairs.

I also read another book by Dan Walsh, this one bought from Kobo. I’ve enjoyed all his books so far and this one, WHEN COMES THE NIGHT, is up to par with the others. It’s a contemporary crime-fiction novel set in the southeastern US, very well-written and believable.

Another book I bought from Kobo was WAKE THE DAWN by Lauraine Snelling. This is a fast-paced contemporary medical drama set mostly in the emergency room of a small hospital in Pineville (MN or WI?), a smaller community near the Canadian border. A terrific storm sweeps through their area and the medical personnel do their best to cope. Central to the drama is border patrolman Ben James, whose dog Bo finds an abandoned baby. The hunt for the identity of this baby and Ben’s fight to save and keep little Dawn makes for a very interesting story.

I need to buckle down and get some serious writing done myself. It’s so easy to fritter away time in smaller things like keeping up with blogs and jotting down short poems, but I must do some fiction stories again. Once I start putting these things off it’s so easy to keep putting them off — but I soon feel like Solomon: all of life is vanity. As someone has aptly said, “A writer needs to write or go crazy.”

Thanks for reading and following. All your comments, prayers and good wishes are appreciated.

Hello Spring!

Winter Is Losing Its Grip

Within a few days our temps have gone from -20 C to +3, which we are enjoying this afternoon. As I sit here I can hear water drip, drip, dripping outside and the occasional clump of snow sliding off the roof. A quick shadow on the window in front of me and another clump goes down.

This is Saskatchewan; when spring comes, it’s HERE — ta-da! So I’ve changed my blog header and freshened up the site in honor of the happy event.

For most of this week I haven’t been able to access my own blog, plus some others that I follow regularly. I don’t know why my browser does this to me, but every now and then I can’t view some sites — and I haven’t been able to check in at Tiny Lessons Blog for several weeks now. I trust Mama & Papa Osprey are keeping well. Nice to see that the goldfinches have arrived and are visiting North Florida Friends.

This week has been a “going concern” for us:  Bob went to the city on Monday; I went with several other ladies to visit Bertha R (in a nursing home) on Tuesday; we both went Wednesday, as Bob wanted to take in an evening meeting, plus we met my cousin’s daughter for coffee break in the afternoon, then another dear friend later for supper.

Yesterday morning I had an appointment with a massage therapist in Outlook. This is my first time to see her; I have serious muscle aches in my neck and shoulders these days. Anyways, she gave me a good working over; by evening I felt like I’d been massaged by a spiked steel rolling pin! Lots of Tylenol (acetaminophen) and Advil (ibuprofen) later, I’m not feeling too bad this afternoon. 🙂

Java Delights

The purchaser for Silverwood Villa (where I work part-times as cook) picked up a new flavor of coffee last week —NABOB Breakfast Blend — and I really liked it. I bought myself some in Outlook yesterday and am about to indulge in a cup. The kitchen smells delicious right now!

My husband calls me a coffee connoisseur and I guess “if the shoe fits…” But I thought I’d tell you about a true coffee connoisseur who came into Robin’s Donuts one day when I was working. I took his order: a medium coffee with cream and two sugar. “BUT DON”T STIR IT!” he added.

I thought this a mite odd, but I complied…insofar. I spooned the two sugars into a medium paper cup, then added the cream. As I moved the cup toward the pot, I just gave it a little side to side swish to dissolve the sugar so it wouldn’t stay in one lump at the bottom of the cup. Then I filled in the coffee, put the lid on, and handed it to him.

He took his cup to one of the tables and popped the lid. But he was back a few seconds later to complain. “This coffee is too sweet. I can’t drink it. Did you put in too much sugar?”

I guess what he really wanted was to drink the coffee first and the sugar after. So the sugar was supposed to stay in a lump at the bottom of the cup. Here I’d gone and ruined the taste of his coffee and had to get him a new one. Live and learn.

Colors & Squabbles

SCRAPS

They squabble like humans, these sparrows
tussling over fallen seeds under my feeder.
Silly birds! They can’t comprehend
another bag of feed in my garage,
to be dispersed daily on their behalf.

Food for all, yet they threaten
and buffet each other. Like pilgrims,
eyes fixed on the last crust,
disputing division of every crumb
while fresh loaves bake in the oven.

As if there’ll never be enough,
as if each one must have it all
or starve. Or do they just enjoy
scrapping — much like people?

🙂
_____________________________________

Flashes of yellow at our bird feeder these days, as the rose-breasted grossbeaks are gone and have been replaced by lively goldfinches. Still lots of sparrows, to whom I dedicate the above poem. ☺ The swallows are serious about nest-building now; they’re occupying four of our birdhouses.

We were excited at the Villa on Monday as we watched a female robin dragging bits of nesting material up to the top of a pillar at the outside of our carport. It was a good choice, under the eaves of the building the nest would have been sheltered. So she tried to place these on top of the pillar, but every now and then a wind gust would blow them off again.

As we watched her efforts all morning, we took pity on her. Melvin, one of the residents, got a plastic lid from the basement, one with a ridge all around, and nailed that up onto the top of the pillar. Then he gathered up the nesting material she’d brought and heaped it onto the lid, along with wood chips and twigs.

The female robin was delighted; she came back with more materials and mud to hold it all together and she built a very neat nest. This fascinated our residents. Alas! The next day a gust of wind tore the lid off and dumped it all on the ground. It landed right side up and the nest stayed intact, so Melvin tacked it up again, using a few more nails.

No dice. Once bitten, twice shy — and whatever other clichés I could use to tell you she isn’t going to risk it again. The nest remains, empty, to remind us of the joy we could have had watching her raise her brood.

We’d also hung a swallow house up in the carport as in previous years — a newer, larger nest. It was ignored at first, but now I see a pair of swallows checking it over; at last glance they appeared to be moving in.

I’ve been working in my flowerbeds these past few days and filling my planters. Went to the local greenhouse today and brought home $50 worth of bedding plants. As with every other commodity nowadays, $50 doesn’t fill a very big space.

The leaves were slow in coming, but this week they’ve burst out. I’m amazed at how much green we’re seeing after only a few warm days. And today’s our warmest this week: 25̊ C — 77̊ F. I can assure everyone that summer’s near at hand now: the mosquitoes have arrived!

Inside and Outside Sights

SOLITUDE

by Archibald Lampman

How still it is here in the woods. The trees
Stand motionless, as if they did not dare
To stir, lest it should break the spell. The air
Hangs quiet as spaces in a marble frieze.
Even this little brook, that runs at ease,
Whispering and gurgling in its knotted bed,
Seems but to deepen with its curling thread
Of sound the shadowy sun-pierced silences.

Sometimes a hawk screams or a woodpecker
Startles the stillness from its fixed mood
With his loud careless tap. Sometimes I hear
The dreamy white-throat from some far-off tree
Pipe slowly on the listening solitude
His five pure notes succeeding pensively.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Notes From Our House:

I looked out the window Friday and noticed a sparrow scrounging under the bird feeder. I could tell by the white stripes on his head and eye that he wasn’t a house sparrow, so out came the bird book and I identified him as “the dreamy white-throat” Lampman writes about.

But my best sighting this spring happened yesterday — a Mother’s Day gift from my Creator? Again I looked out and saw a bird scrounging at the base of the bird feeder, right under the woodpecker’s suet ball. I called my husband to come and we watched it a bit, then got out the bird book to identify it. Another forest bird, a rose-breasted grossbeak. I believe this is a first for us!

I see the latest birdhouse — I hung it up in a poplar tree on the west edge of our yard Friday evening — has been discovered by the swallows. And they seem to have reclaimed the one on the garden shed. If they all follow through, this will give us five nesting pairs around our yard.

My project inside the house these past few days has been downsizing so hopefully some open spaces will appear soon. I can’t keep up with shuffling all this stuff anymore so I have started to “lighten the ship” by getting rid of clutter, hobbies I no longer do, excess furniture that clogs our rooms. On Thursday we visited a new Thrift store in Saskatoon; this charity looks like a worthy place to donate our excess, so why not let others benefit?

I’ve dropped out of several LinkedIn groups, too. It’s interesting to see what others are writing and to study the craft of writing together, but a person can get so busy with these extras. Time zips by and the writing itself is left for “Someday.”

Bob got a cold or a bit of ‘flu already on Friday and wasn’t feeling the best this weekend. Our daughter & family dropped by with a lovely card and gift, then went to his folks’ home to celebrate Mother’s Day, so we spent a quite a day at home. Which was for the best because whatever Bob has, I’ve picked it up. This morning I’m actually COOL for a change!

In the evening after Church our next-door neighbors held a little ‘Farewell’ for Ray & Sandra Toews who are going to be House parents at the Halifax Guest House for a year. Ten couples around our age (60-ish) were there; we visited, snacked, and wished them well in their adventure.

I hope my North American readers spent a good day yesterday celebrating Mother’s Love, remembering her good points and forgiving the mistakes she made in the learning process. And here’s wishing that all of you can start out the this brand week with enthusiasm. For as long as I can remember I’ve loved Monday mornings; this morning I’m looking forward to tackling the clutter again.