Rare Words and Odd Birds

A Word to Not Remember

This morning when I saw the e-mail from Merriam-Webster Dictionary reposing in my Inbox — M-W’s Word of the Day: objurgation — I thought this might be a great word to learn. Maybe even write a post on. Apparently even the great Anne Bronte used this word in one of her novels.

She was British, mind you. I looked up objurgation in my Canadian Oxford Dictionary and didn’t find it. Which means few people one in Canada know it. So, I ask you, why should I? In some ways I’m all for going with the flow. The last thing I want to do is obfuscate (confuse) my listeners with unfamiliar words.

To whom would I speak this new word if no one I know knows it? According to M-W it means a harsh rebuke. If truth be told I may have even done such a thing at some point in life without ever knowing what to call it. I’ve been objurgated myself a time or two. (Yes, it’s also a verb.) You can make objurgatory remarks. (American politicians do this a lot during electioneering. The Press love it.)

I’d like to keep this word in mind in case it would ever come in handy — except that my mind doesn’t “keep” so well anymore. So much I try to cram into my mind doesn’t abide there, but ends up like the stuffing those poor sisters used to fill their Thanksgiving turkey.

A Very Odd Bird Indeed

They sat the raw turkey on the counter ready for its stuffing, a big bowl of which had already been prepared. One sister shoved the seasoned stuffing in, but, though she thought she had made lots, the cavity wasn’t full.

“This isn’t quite enough,” she squealed to her two sisters. “Quick! Make some more.”

The other two threw more bread crumbs, onions, and seasonings into a pan and stirred it up with butter and water to moisten. “Here,” one of them said, handing her the bowl. She grabbed it and stuffed in more, but it still wasn’t enough.

“This turkey must have had an enormous set of innards,” she grumbled. “It still isn’t enough.”

One of her sisters walked around to the other side of the counter. “No wonder,” she said. “See what’s happening.” They hurried around and groaned as they saw dressing poking through the neck hole, and a pile on the floor.

Word Press Advertising

Now on to my newest discovery while exploring at Word Press. A few days ago when I clicked Linda’s Writing Blog to read her latest post, at the bottom of the page I saw side-by-side ads for two other blogs. I saw this again today when I went to read the latest post on Faith Rising.

Anyway, when I clicked back on it later the post was as usual, with room for comment at the end and no blog ads underneath. Interesting. Have any of you other readers seen this?

My husband and I were debating whether bloggers pay for this type of ad. Have you seen any offers for purchasing this kind of ad? The one ad I checked, from Michelle Malone, was a .org blog. Maybe that makes a difference?

The article she posted was interesting, as was this one on prayer. I thought it would make an interesting devotional to read on a Sunday morning, if you’re interested.

Another Chemo Session Came to Pass

This week seems to have been on the short side, owing to medical trips, plus one frantic “recovery” trip, to the city. The days fly by fast when you’re running around so much.

On Tuesday I had to do a quick stop at the Cancer Clinic and present one of my veins to the technicians in phlebotomy so they could take a sample and see what shape my blood was in. The cheerful nurse is a pro at what she does and gave me a relatively painless poke. After this I got together with a cousin who lives in the city and we had a nice “catch-up” visit.

My cell counts were up to snuff for the treatment to proceed as planned, so I presented myself the next morning again, this time for a long day of chemo. That took two pokes, as the vein the nurse tried first didn’t want to co-operate. I have a nice bruise on that spot now. Then she tried the vein in my left hand just under my thumb and that worked. (That vein has been sore this afternoon; I’m hoping it won’t develop into an infection.)

When I was done chemo we made a stop at Walmart on the way out of town. I sat down and had a coffee at Tim Horton’s while my husband picked up some groceries, then I made a stop at the washroom just before leaving the store. We arrived here about 3:30pm and I opened the car door, reached down on the floor beside me where I usually set my purse, and discovered it wasn’t there. We searched the car carefully for it, but I must have left it at Walmart. I was so spaced out from the chemo I’d just hung it up on the hook in the washroom and forgot about it.

Oh, no! What chance was there for a happy ending here? I phoned Customer Service but they said it hadn’t been turned in. So I called to cancel my credit card plus my cell phone number. I also phoned Tim Horton’s because I know I’d had my purse there, but they hadn’t found it, either. By this time I was weary, not to mention even more spaced out, but I tried to think what else needed to be done. While I was muddling through all this, we got a call from Tim Horton’s to tell me that my purse had been turned in and one of the staff had set in the office.

Bob figured we must go in and get it, just to verify everything was there as it should be. So off we went to the city again, recovered my purse and found my credit card, other ID, and cell phone all safe and sound. We were so thankful! My guardian angel must really be working overtime these days, since my brain isn’t! We had supper there at T.H.and came home, seriously played out.

Thursday I had a shorter day, spent two hours getting my second dose of chemo. The only real problem was the IV put in the first day didn’t work when the nurse started injecting saline into that vein, so I had to have yet another IV, this time in the other hand.

Yesterday was a fairly good day for me, no doubt owing to the steroids I get along with my chemo. I had enough energy to do the vacuuming and clean up the living room plus a bit of other housework. Today I did several loads of laundry, but my oomph is gone, I’m short of breath, and even a bit of work wipes me out. Which is about how things go: the day after chemo I feel fairly good, then I’m exhausted for a few days. During this stage a lot of foods and almost all drinks taste awful. That side effect lasts about a week.

However, this was treatment number five — only one more to go. The end is in sight!

Hope you’re all having a good weekend.

The Bent Fork: A Memoir

Although I’m taking a short break from blogging this month, I have been keeping track of the Word Press daily prompt words. It happens that I have a story already written about a fork, so, since it fits so well today, I’ll post this bit from the memoirs I wrote last November.

THE BENT FORK

One day I pulled a handful of cutlery out of the drawer, intending to set the table for supper, and my eye caught the silver flash glinting on the slightly bent tine of one fork. I looked at it closely, enjoying the bittersweet memory that it held.

I clearly remember the day this fork got bent and how unhappy I was about it. How could I have known this fork would become a treasure in my old age? I never dreamed that ever after, whenever I noticed it, this twisted tine would bring back precious memories of a little girl I once cared for?

Back in the fall of 1981 I’d been through my episode with breast cancer and was just pulling out of the depression the chemotherapy threw me into that summer. Searching for something else to fill my mind and to give meaning to my life, I’d taken note of an ad in the local newspaper. “Mother returning back to work needs babysitter for three-month-old girl.” I’d jumped at the chance.

Thus I started to babysit a 3-month-old girl with the same name as our own nine-year old daughter, Michelle. To avoid confusion this girl became “Little Michelle” and ours was “Big Michelle.” In time the names were funny, as the situation was reversed; Little Michelle grew up to be several inches taller than our Michelle.

As these precious little ones do, Michelle grew and soon became school age. And I was her babysitter off and on until she was about eight years old. When she was five, her little sister Denise joined the family so I babysat both of them for a time. They called me Auntie Chris and my husband was Uncle Bob.

One day when Little Michelle was about six I’d set the plates around for supper and asked her to get the cutlery and set it on the table. Full of enthusiasm, she rushed to the cutlery drawer and grabbed a handful of forks. The tines of two of them got tangled in each other and, in a hurry, she gave the one a sharp twist. When they came apart the one tine was bent.

She stared ruefully at the damage she’d done as I frowned and scolded her. “Look, you’ve bent it now. You should have been more careful.”

I knew she meant well, that she just wanted to help. I could see she felt bad about the outcome. She was very apologetic. But right at the moment I was irked and sharp with her. “Look what you’ve done! You need to be more careful.”

I never realized at the time that she was making me a souvenir of those happy days. I couldn’t have foreseen that over the years since then, whenever I’ve taken note of that slightly bent tine, I would see again the little blonde girl we all but raised way back then. Or how a few tears would come when I remembered my harsh words in the face of her contrition.

Yes, it’s a precious treasure now. But how I wish I hadn’t scolded her!

(A happy PS: She and Denise still call us Uncle Bob and Auntie Chris.)

Where, Oh Where Did I Leave…?

glasses-568408_640

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MOTHER’S GLASSES

by Edgar Guest

I’ve told about the times that Ma can’t find her pocketbook
and how we have to hustle round for it to help her look,
but there’s another care we know that often comes our way—
I guess it happens easily a dozen times a day.
It starts when first the postman through the door a letter passes,
and Ma says: “Goodness gracious me! Wherever are my glasses?”

We hunt ‘em on the mantle-piece and by the kitchen sink,
until Ma says, “Now children, stop, and give me time to think
just when it was I used ‘em last and just exactly where.
Yes, now I know – the dining room. I’m sure you’ll find ‘em there.”
We even look behind the clock, we busy boys and lasses,
until somebody runs across Ma’s missing pair of glasses.

We’ve found ‘em in the Bible and we’ve found ‘em in the flour
We’ve found ‘em in the sugar bowl — and once we looked an hour
before we came across ‘em in the padding of her chair —
and many a time we’ve found ‘em in the topknot of her hair.
It’s a search that ruins order and the home completely wrecks
for there’s no place where you may not find poor Ma’s elusive specs

But we’re mighty glad, I tell you, that the duty’s ours to do
and we hope to hunt those glasses till our time of life is through.
It’s a little bit of service that is joyous in its thrill;
it’s a task that calls us daily and we hope it always will.
Rich or poor, the saddest mortals of all the joyless masses
are the ones who have no mother dear to lose her reading glasses.

.

From his book, Collected Verse of Edgar A Guest
© 1934 by The Reilly & Lee Company

My response to the Word Press daily prompt: Misplaced

Putting Life Into Your Art

Monday morning dawns sunny. My first task — after checking my e-mails — was to chase the English sparrows away from the nest box that we hope will house the tree swallows. This isn’t hard to do, as the tree swallow nest is attached to the garage opposite our bedroom window. It’s sufficient to open the window and give a shout or two. Now that these sparrows — an invasive species here — are looking for nesting places, I need to go out and take the box down until the swallows return, usually at the beginning of May.

Eating my breakfast an hour later, I got another hot flush. I never noticed this as much before, but in the last couple of months I’ve felt a heat wave roll over me about fifteen minutes after I eat or have a cup of coffee. Doesn’t matter so much what food I eat, be it hot or cold — this morning I was eating toast and drinking cold milk — I still get this hot sweat for a minute or two. These actually come off & on all day, so I keep a fan by my computer to cope with the ones that come while I’m sitting here writing. All part of the CLL territory, I guess.

Today’s Word Press prompt is the word frivolous. This must have really inspired me; I thought of several articles and even a short story. I hope to write that and post it later on “Christine Composes” (my fiction blog.) Thus it is with my mind these days: various brainwaves flitter around my head like butterflies. but fly off before I can catch one of them and nail it down in a post. You’ll see below that I did manage to grab one before it fluttered away.

I had my morning coffee while reading a poem book, which generated two ideas. Then another landed when I thumbed through the quilting magazine a friend gave me yesterday as a birthday gift. She knows I’ve been an avid quilt-maker in times gone by and still enjoy looking at possibilities. If you’re into creative quilting, there are just so many magazines with so many beautiful quilts! All so well planned and color co-ordinated — masterpieces of perfect symmetry, some of them!

Back when I first started making quilts, my mother-in-law — who had lived through the ‘Dirty Thirties’— was wont to scoff at the idea of buying half a dozen metres of fabrics and chopping them all up into three-inch squares and triangles to create these works of art . She considered this a frivolous waste of money. Influenced by her common sense, I’ve always tried to incorporate fabric scraps into my quilt patterns. (Mind you, I wasn’t above buying two metres more fabric than what I’ll need for a dress, just so I’d have lots left over for a quilt project. ☺)

Anyway, Mom would have agreed with the older quilt-maker I heard about one day. Apparently a novice, a younger woman who was all enthused about quilt-making, was showing off her gorgeous creations to this older quilter. Each quilt, of course, made with brand new fabric, co-ordinated to a T.

The younger woman was hoping for some serious Ooohs and Ahhs, but the older one eyed the quilts without much comment. Finally she said,” These quilts are pretty, all right, and very well done. But they’re kind of flat, you know. They have no character.”

The young quilter was crest-fallen.

“I mean,” said the older one, “all the squares are from the same fabric, and the triangles all from two others. You can’t look at any patch and say, ‘This one here comes from my daughter’s dress’ or ‘this piece was from a niece’s pinafore or a son’s shirt.’ And ‘This was a piece from my friend Sarah before they moved away.’ Your quilts do look beautiful, but they have no life stories worked in.”

I guess this is true of other endeavors as well. We need to decide what we’re going to put into a project according to what we hope to someday get out of it.

OD’d on Writing Prompts

One morning a woman sat down in her recliner to do a Sudoku — and promptly fell asleep. And as she slept, she had a dream.

She dreamed she was at her computer and a writing prompt showed up on her screen. She was to write about an old-fashioned cream separator. Something about the rings flashed into her mind and she saw again those dozens of strong stainless steel rings with their many holes. “It’s hard to kill separator rings,” she typed.

cream-seperator-1031268_640Her husband, sitting not far away, laughed at what she’d written. “Hey, don’t laugh,” she scolded him “You know a lot more about separators than I do. Your Mom used one all the time back on the farm.”

His folks had shipped cream in cans via the train. Since Bob was older and his folks lived on the farm longer, he’d have a much clearer recollection of those contraptions.

She thought of an incident her Mom-in-law had told her, about the time their train was stuck in deep snow for a few days after a January blizzard. Mom & Dad had several cans of cream ready to ship. They couldn’t let it go sour there in the cans! So Mom filled her butter churn, then got busy and turned out batch after batch of butter, which she sold locally. Farm wives were nothing if not resourceful.

Her own memories were dim from the farm days; they’d moved to the city when she was five. She had a vague picture of the big bowl into which you poured the milk, the two spouts. She visioned her mother turning the crank, separating the milk from the cream. She recalled the almost blue milk that poured from the one spout, and the thick cream that poured from the other. Folks who remember real farm cream laugh at the puny stuff that passes for whipping cream nowadays.

But wait! Suddenly she was having to do a different word prompt now. She was to go down a page of writing and each paragraph she was to pick the third word. These she dutifully wrote down. The first word was “do”. She rejoiced at the simple word, so flexible, so ubiquitous. Far better than a word like prevalence or pharmacology.

She had her three words and was almost ready to put them together when thirst nagged at her. Slowly she came to. Ah! She wasn’t in front of the computer, but reclining in her living room. She gave herself a mental shake. I’ve been doing Word Press prompts too long when they start invading my dreams, she thought.

Had she been thinking of writing prompts… Oh, right! Her muse was feeling hungry this morning,  wanting some new snack, so she’d Googled Writing Prompts and checked out a few of the zillion sites that popped up. Likely her muse was simply digesting what it had consumed before she fell asleep.

She didn’t have to write anything after all. Good thing, seeing she knew so little about cream separators.

Hmmm… Maybe she should suggest this as a Word Press prompt — if they ever opened it up for suggestions again. “Tell about something you remember using often when you were young that’s considered an antique now.”

How many bloggers could write about cream separators, ice boxes, or trolley cars? Who’d tell of record players, 45s and LPs? Mimeograph machines, electric typewriters and rotary dial phones? She pictured thirty-somethings writing about 5″ floppy disks — or any disks, now that flash drives had arrived on the scene.

Likely this prompt would get a serious thumbs-down. Oh, well. She’d better get her act together, starting with a strong cup of coffee. Then she’d tell her fellow bloggers about her trip down Memory Lane. And warn them never to check out writing prompts just before nap time.