Cerebral Squalls

I remember the days, after I was done with my chemo-therapy treatments — the first time round, 36 years ago. I recall the times when these dark storm clouds would roll over my mind and everything looked so hopeless. Some chemo treatments are largely hormonal, so they mess yours up so bad.
Blogger Stacey LePage describes these times so effectively in her poem and has kindly permitted me to share it with you.

 

In The Corner

They come and blow your mind away
They make mountains of your thoughts
They will gather strong in billowed clouds
You will find yourself distraught

The sky can blacken all around
Will cause your heart to race
You fear the wrath the clouds may bring
As you quicken up your pace

Then as quickly as it came
It moves along the sky
And out of view the squall does pass
To leave you high and dry

You feel the warmth upon your face
It melts and thaws your mind
You stop and pause and close your eyes
To leave the past behind

The moment seems to slow right down
Life stops and takes a breath
Living in the here and now
Gives minute of brain refresh

Then

There is it, yet once again
The storm is suddenly nigh
You’ve seen it once, you’ll see it again
And know it will…

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Storms And More Storms

Winter “Clipper” Roars Through

Yesterday morning our weather had warmed up here in Sask — temp got up to -9̊ C. Which brought in a fast-moving storm by evening with howling wind gusts that rattled our windows something fierce. I was afraid the power might go out, so I placed candles and flashlights in strategic places, just in case. Thankfully we haven’t had a lot of snow to blow, and not a lot came down during the “clipper”, or it would have been much worse for drivers.

This morning dawned clear and sunny, but the temp has dropped to -31̊ C, below -40 with wind-chill factored in. I call that “bitterly cold”! So I’m happy to stay inside all day, thankful I don’t have to pump gas or do any other out-in-all-weathers job.

Today’s Word Press prompt is someday. Very fitting.

Someday it will be spring. The grass will green up, the trees will bud and blossom, perennials will poke through. Someday. Meanwhile, today I plan to edit this book I’ve been working on, for teen boys.

I also posted Winter’s Day Dreams on Tree Top Haiku.

Book report: Hurricane
© 2003, 2008 by Terry Trueman
HarperCollins Publishers

Speaking of a book for teen boys, I read one yesterday that I thought was terrific. In the book Hurricane, by Terry Trueman, Jose, a young teen from a small Honduras village, stays at home with his mother and younger siblings in their small village while his dad, older brother and sister, have gone to the city. The day starts out rainy, nothing too unusual. Unknown to them, this is the forefront of Hurricane Mitch, the storm that devastated Central America in 1998.

They initially have to contend with the worsening storm, trying to keep their belongings dry under the leaking roof, and wondering about their missing family members. I small battery radio tells them about the damage Mitch is doing all over their country.  Then before the night is over Jose hears a great rumbling sound and mud from the loggers’ clean-cut patch on the mountain above comes pouring down on them, burying most of the village in sludge.

The author has done a great job of depicting the feelings of a boy caught up in a tragedy. We understand his amazement facing a sea of mud, overwhelmed by the cries of survivors needing help. We see his efforts together with neighbors digging in the mud for their loved ones and for food. We feel his revulsion at finding dead bodies — and sympathize with his constant fear that his father and siblings have been swept away, buried in other mud somewhere. Will they ever be found? Sandwiched in between are his flashbacks to the good times and questions about the future.

The author does all this in a refreshingly “clean” story with very little profanity and no immorality. Jose’s family, God-fearing Catholic people who believe in prayer, are trying to apply faith and trust in the midst of tragedy. This is a book I’d give to any reader, teen or adult.

A Chinook Wind

Back when we lived in Moose Jaw, I awoke one morning and noticed right away that the air had an unusual scent. I took a deep sniff and smiled. A chinook was blowing.

This weather pattern is born in the air currents moving from northwest to southeast across the surface of the Pacific Ocean. Winds suck up moisture from the water’s surface and carry it along in billowing white clouds until the air mass crashes into the North American coastline. And there the air-land temperature difference causes the clouds to dump their payload on the hapless residents below.

In western Canada this means the British Columbia coastline, including Vancouver Island and the city of Victoria. Terrific rainfall ever year! But then the now-lighter air mass rises upwards over the mountain range leaving the clouds behind to dribble onto the coast. The interior of British Columbia is desert-dry a lot of the time.

canada-map

L to R: BC, Alberta, Sask, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, the Maritime provinces

These air currents climb the mountain peaks and pick up speed sliding down the other side into Alberta. Still warm from the Pacific this air blow across the southern prairies. The Indians called these winds chinooks. If it’s winter here, a chinook can melt a lot of snow in a day, picking up the resulting moisture and carrying it along at almost ground level until the wind plays out.

Under the map of Canada above I’ve listed the southern provinces that border the US. The Rocky Mountains, for the most part, follow that squiggly line between BC and Alberta. Because of the way the Rockies angle as they run along the border of the two provinces, the southernmost chinooks sometimes blow as far east as central Saskatchewan. Moose Jaw, dead center in south SK, gets the tail end of some, whereas Regina, 44 miles east, rarely ever feels a Chinook wind.

When one is blowing, we get that classic “chinook arch” along the western horizon. Our sky is clear except for an arc of grey cloud hovering at the western edge of our world.

It was this warm, moisture-laden air I got a whiff of that morning. In the dead of winter a chinook has a pleasing smell to it! Later, when I was outside, I saw the accompanying chinook arch. A chinook means a sunny day, a rise in temperature, melting snow. We get a tiny respite from frigid winter’s grip. We prairie folks love our chinooks.

Word Press daily prompt: Interior

Message Managing & Vanishing

I got up early this morning, 6am, and two hours vanished while I scrolled down my InBox, reading and deleting posts.

Some bloggers say they get all their notifications (of posts on all the blogs they follow) go only to their Reader, but I don’t know how I’d keep track of all the incoming posts. I have mine set up so almost all new posts come to my e-mail Inbox. This works okay as long as I can keep up with all the incoming e-mail — which includes a flood of Amazon and Kobo ads. But when I fall behind I can get quite a backlog.

Every once in awhile I go through as much as I can, sending mail “to be saved” into its proper bin and deleting a bunch of old messages. This morning I spent two hours “cleaning house,” watching messages vanish into my Trash — where I’ll have to make them vanish all over again. It takes a lot of time to keep house for an e-mail account!

I also posted a question on Community Pool, asking for advice. I can’t seem to keep up with several blogs anymore, so have been thinking of merging my blogs, Christine’s Collection, Swallow in the Wind, and Christine Composes. I don’t know how this merger will alter the appearance of this blog, or if it will at all. But if you notice one day that my fiction blog has vanished and this blog has a new look — maybe even a new title — you’ll know what happened.

Sometimes I wish I could start all over with a new blog and do it right with proper Pages, Categories, and Tags. I started from scratch with only the basic “how to” knowledge and have been bumbling along ever since. When I give advice to new bloggers now, I tell them, “Categories are your filing cabinet and tags are the tabs on the files. If you start out with these things in place you’ll be a lot better able to keep track of what you’ve posted and your readers will be able to find specific topics a lot easier.”

Can you guess that I’m one of these people who divides their food into separate little piles on their plate? Meat here; veggies here; potatoes here, etc. Or picks out all the red Smarties and eats them first, then the brown ones, then the green ones, etc. (Is there some psychological term for this affliction?)

When I woke up this morning it was -10̊ C and the wind is sharp. Tomorrow it’s supposed to be -17̊. Our milder days have vanished and harsh December has arrived. One thing I really regret is that our windows are so frosted up now I can’t see the bird feeders or watch the blue jays coming around.

We’ve received several Christmas cards already. Later this evening I’m going to have to sit down and write letters to my European penpals, to be included with the cards I send them. I’ve had penpals for thirty-some years now; though the list has swindled down I still correspond with some of those original pals in England and France. Exchanging letters has been a very rewarding and worthwhile hobby, but of course now we have the same sort of thing going on the Internet.

Here’s to blogging and making new friends on cyberspace!

Daily Prompt word: Vanish

A Panoply of Gray

Our Word Press daily prompt word today is panoply, one I am familiar with, but will probably never have a use for. Unless I talk about our personal panoply of books (as in impressive or complete collection.) However, we’re not the Library of Congress yet. Now that place can boast a panoply of books!

The word immediately brings to mind the old hymn, “The Promises of God”, with the one verse ending… “but with panoply and shield and the Spirit’s sword to wield, I have conquered through the promises of God.” An inspiring thought.

Maybe I could use it to describe our gray heaven above. A panoply of cloud (full suit of armor) has protected us from the piercing rays of the sun all week. One day we had just a faint white streak on the SW horizon where the sun was obviously favoring the next country with a polite visit, but we haven’t seen it here for so long. We’re not in Saskatchewan anymore, Toto.

On the other hand, it’s not snowing. Our ground is bare and so far the temp has stayed above freezing in the daytime, dropping just below at night. The weather man says this is going to change next week and we’re going to KNOW it’s December.

My husband and I haven’t been as well protected from germs as we have from sunshine. Bob’s been fighting a sinus cold for a week now and my own throat was sore this morning, too. Now I have a headache. I may wake up with one occasionally but they’re a rare daytime occurrence for me.

For the past few days I’ve been working on a story I wrote three NaNoWriMo’s ago. My grandson wanted me to write a story similar to the Hardy Boys mysteries so I made a stab at it as my 2013 Nano project. I finished the first draft, then left it sit, my health issues occupying the center of my attentions since then. Now I want to get back at it, get it polished up and ready for the grands to read.

I have four chapters done and ready to go, but have the awfullest feeling I’m going too have to delete two of them. The experts say you must plunge your main character into trouble practically on the first page. My story hints at trouble right off, but the characters aren’t being tossed into the soup pot yet.

I’ve been told the main character has to be in Terrible Trouble by page 2. A 95% chance of being fatal-type situation. “Hanging from a bridge by his fingernails,” says Jerry Jenkins. (This better be a him; these days girls with their glued-on nails would have no hope at all.) With the villain pacing up and down the bridge, releasing the safety on his gun — and the crocodile below filing its teeth in anticipation.

Or a romance where Act One opens with Trish and her sweetie walking down the street and he’s just starting to propose. Suddenly this drop-dead gorgeous thing, jumping back from a speeding car veering her way, throws herself into sweetie’s arms. And he says, “Well, hello! Where have you been all my life?”

You get the picture. Dire Distress.

I’ve been feeling a lack in my writing life lately. I’m a moody person by nature and my muse is even more so, plus I’m having a hard time keeping her enthused when the skies are so dull and gray. I have lots of stories I’d like to write, both short and long, but for some reason I just can’t seem to get motivated.

Would the discipline of a group help, I wonder? The pressure of needing some new work to present every week? I started searching on-line for a writers’ group where participants exchange writing samples and get feedback. Do any of you readers belong to a group like that, or are you interested in joining one? Is anyone interested in reading and giving some feedback on a story for teen boys?

On the up-side, it’s December and we’ve already gotten a few Christmas cards. Last night we went to Bob’s office Christmas supper. He actually only works at this office one day a week, doing book-keeping for a local veterinarian, but we get an invite to the feast. Everyone’s friendly and the meal’s a tasty one — the last couple of years it’s been a potluck. They draw names for gifts and the exchange is done after the meal.

Have you all got your plans made for the holidays and your Christmas, Year-end, or New Year’s greetings written up, ready to send? Since we’re both retired it’s needless to plan for “holidays,” especially with only one child and her family to arrange a meal together with. I’ve always had it easy this way — no big crowd to arrange for. And a lot of our gift-giving these days can be reduced to gift certificates.

The Sun Still Rose

Word Press Daily Prompt: Primp

When I poked my head out the door first thing this morning I noticed the pinkish clouds in the western sky. It seems the sun decided to specially primp before it made its appearance today. In doing so, it managed to smear the thin lines of clouds in the western sky with a baby pink blush something like this:

clouds-pink-morning

And when I looked through the trees of the woods to the east of us I saw the sun was preparing for a dazzling entrance, having painted a strip in the sky with intense orange-red. Something like this:

red-sky

I had to think of the poet who wrote, “God’s in his heaven; all’s right with the world.”

Then I thought of many American voters who might choke over that line this morning.

As the sun rose this morning in the US, the various presidential candidates were primping for their “after the election” public appearances. There would be huge smiles from the winner and his team and brave, if trembling, smiles from the also-rans and their supporters.

My mind took a quick flight back through time, wondering how many “morning after” shocks and blues American voters have faced before? Were disappointed voters of yesteryear convinced their new President would bring the country to complete ruin? Of course the other half of the electorate were convinced Lincoln, Taft, Truman, Roosevelt, Kennedy, Nixon, Bush, or whoever, was best for the job. Some were better and some were worse. Were even some of these men elected because the thought of their opponent running the country was too terrible to contemplate?

And now today. I do hope and pray this turns out like Y2K, that the total disaster some folks are so dreading will fizzle and the US will still be around to hold another election again in four years. I trust Americans will get behind their duly elected leader now and pull together for the good of the nation. Division leads to disintegration.

I really hope the new Chief Officer has what it takes to lead and inspire his people to work together for the good of the country. But I don’t envy his job! In a free country everything a leader does is scrutinized and criticized. You just can’t please everybody.

Bloggers all over the world have been commenting on the US election results. Here’s another post you might find worthwhile reading: The Race Is Still On