Colourfully Created Crawlies

crab-298346_640“And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.

And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.”
Genesis 1: 20-22

Just think how much fun He must have had designing this one!

(Reblogged from Swallow in the Wind)
Crab from Equador; Photo from Pixabay

Reaching Functionally Illiterate Adults


©2007 by Alice Kuipers (text) and Kath Walker (illustrations)
First published in 2007 by Macmillan Publishers Ltd
My copy was published in 2008 by Macmillan Children’s Books.

I picked this second-hand book a few weeks ago and found it a quick read, being only a few sentences per page. However, it’s a very poignant story told by means of a string of notes written between a mother and her fifteen-year old daughter, Claire.

Mom — a doctor in a busy practice — is forever rushing out to tend others’ ills; Claire leads an active social life. So they converse at the refrigerator door. Mom’s notes are straightforward; Claire usually illustrates hers with teenage scribble-art.

The book starts with everyday communications: Claire should buy some of this and that; there’s a casserole in the fridge for supper; Mom’s forgotten to leave Claire’s allowance again; Claire laments that Mom is “never home anymore.” Then one day Mom indicates she has something serious to talk about.

They try to get together on it, but after a few futile attempts like clinic emergencies and school projects that must be done with at a friend’s place, Mom finally leaves a note: “I’ve found a lump in my right breast… I don’t think there’s anything to worry about…” Claire’s shock comes through clearly in her note, with another lament that “I never see you anymore.”

This book is well worth reading. In one way I found it a sad commentary on modern life for a single mother and our society’s “crazy busy” rush through life. But the writer makes her point in these brief spurts: we need to make time for each other before it’s too late.

Mulling over another problem, I suddenly saw a certain brilliance in the way Alice Kuipers has told this story. This writer with her fridge notes is onto something that we as Christians could get a handle on.

A survey done in Canada about twenty-five years ago revealed that one quarter of our population — folks born right here — are functionally illiterate. Back then it was just a statistic to me, but it’s become a reality as I help a relative to cope with life when she can barely read and write. Bank statements, bills — even phone books — are great trials for her Grade-four education. Most religious tracts are so far above her.

You could say she’s from the “olden days” when not all children had access to adequate education, but a lot of children growing up today aren’t learning the basics, either. Texting is partly to blame. A fellow writer told us one day that her niece, in Grade Four, can’t spell the word “are”; she just makes the letter R. So our writer friend has been helping her learn to read and write after school.

I helped at school one year; we had a six-year-old girl who’d been in & out of the social services’ system a couple of times already. I doubt she’d ever seen a book; she had no idea of color names, no concept of numbers or counting; she didn’t know left and right. It took months to teach her that her jacket was blue and white, that three items on a page were written 3, that if you add three balls: ooo and two balls: oo you get 5.

Someone told me I should give my elderly relative a children’s Bible story book; it would be easier for her to handle. But even these tend to have solid blocks of text, plus the illustrations are more suitable for a small child. Being handed a children’s book to read can be embarrassing for an older woman, so I’d like to find something that’s written for adults.

Last night as I was thinking about the many who have never learned to read well, and the need to present the Gospel to folks like that, my thoughts went back to Alice Kuipers’ book and suddenly it looked like a method we could use.

Life on the Refrigerator Door tells a poignant story in simple words. Could we use a Gospel on Scrolls or similar approach for the many who can’t follow complex sentences? Just a few notes per page with a lot of white space, simplifying the Good News Jesus came to share with us? (Note: not whiting out doctrines, but explaining them simply.)

Does such a book exist already? If so, where would I find it?

A Speech — Oh, Groans!

“Speeches,” Mavis grumbled. “How do I hate thee!? Let me count the ways!”

She tossed her homework on her bed and plopped down in despair at her desk. One day to choose a topic. Tomorrow in English class they had to announce their choice–and her mind was a complete blank.

For a few minutes she dredged the depths of her grey matter for some “informative” subject that she could talk about for a whole three minutes–but only turned up mud.

“Is there a subject that really turns you on, or pushes your buttons?” Miss Gibbings had asked after the chorus of groans subsided. “Something you’re passionate about, some point you feel must be made to the world? Something that thrills you with joy? Something that evokes shock or disgust and you feel this situation has to change?”

Mavis thought about other years, other speeches. Clammy hands, dry mouth, short of breath, shaky legs, butterflies in your stomach. Each minute felt like five–and when you finally sat down, you shriveled in your seat, imagining the after-class critique you were going to get from your friends. Speeches kill passion like bleach kills germs!

Miss Gibbings had tried to be encouraging, “After all, you never know when you may land a job as a newscaster,” she told them, “or become some company CEO. Or a politician – and have to make all kinds of public speeches to explain why you just blew $2 million of the taxpayers’ money on some fabulous scheme that fizzled. That takes some pretty convincing talk!”

“Ha! I will never make public speeches!” Mavis vowed, glaring at the playful pup on the calendar above her desk. “When I leave school I’ll go to work in a factory quietly sewing buttons on men’s shirts.” She grinned at the thought. “Or become a librarian and tell everyone else to hush it. Or maybe get a job teaching deaf mutes!”

She paused, contemplating how it would work to teach someone without being able to say one word. That could be really interesting–and maybe even fun!”

Then the light bulb flashed. “That’s what I’m going to write about!” she told the calendar pup. “Sign language. It’s such a neat idea for teaching deaf people; I wonder who invented it?”

She jumped up from her seat and rushed downstairs. “Mom, would I have time before supper to make a quick trip to the library? We have to give a speech in English class next month and I need to read up on my topic.”

Passion had survived the bleaching.

I did this for a writing exercise one day; we were supposed to use the words public, rapture, bleach, and shriveled in a composition. I think I’ve posted it here before, but hope you won’t mind seeing it again.

Who Do You Work For?

Who Is Your Boss?

By Edgar A Guest

“I work for someone else,” he said,
“I have no chance to get ahead.
At night I leave the job behind;
at morn I face the same old grind
and everything I do by day
just brings to me the same old pay.
While I am here I cannot see
the semblance of a chance for me.”

I asked another how he viewed
the occupation he pursued.
“It’s dull and dreary toil,” said he,
“and brings but small reward to me.
My boss gets all the profits fine
that I believe are rightly mine.
My life’s monotonously grim
because I’m forced to work for him.”

I stopped a third young man to ask
his attitude towards his task.
A cheerful smile lit up his face;
“I shan’t be always in this place,”
he said, “because some distant day
a better job will come my way.”
“Your boss?” I asked, and answered he:
“I’m going to make him notice me.

“He pays me wages and in turn
that money I am here to earn,
but I don’t work for him alone;
allegiance to myself I own.
I do not do my best because
it gets me favors or applause—
I work for him but I can see
that actually I work for me.

“It looks like business good to me
the best clerk on the staff to be.
If customers approve my style
and like my manner and my smile
I help the firm to get the pelf
but what is more, I help myself.
From one big thought I’m never free:
That every day I work for me.”

Oh, youth, thought I, you’re bound to climb
the ladder of success in time.
Too many self-impose the cross
of daily working for a boss,
forgetting that in failing him
it is their own stars that they dim.
And when real service they refuse
they are the ones who really lose.

From his book Just Folks
©1917 by the Reilly & Britton Co.

A Dip in the Pity-Puddle

Spring took a big step backward yesterday; the temperature dropped to -20 C last night and is supposed to go down to -24 tonight. (That’s -8 and -11 F) and stay cool all weekend.

A black bird crossed my path this afternoon – not a raven but a genuine blackbird. We took a trip to Outlook and saw Canada geese as well; a few of them were sitting on an ice floe in the river. It’s still pretty cold for the poor birds!

The Lord spoke to me about self-pity a few mornings ago. I was feeling really bad for the way a certain situation had turned out, something I’d gotten involved in on behalf of a friend. I’d had a talk with someone, hoping to explain my friend’s problem, but my listener had reacted negatively and later tongue-lashed my friend.

Of course I felt quite upset when I heard this from my friend. Instead of helping matters I seemingly had made them worse. The next morning I sat mulling this over, feeling blue, despairing of any improvement in the situation. Then the Lord asked me in a gentle way, “How much of your feeling here is actually self-pity?”


But I opened my mind to that question and could see that, yeah, some of my feelings really do stem from a well disguised self-pity. Then a strange thing happened: as I admitted it, that “blue cloud” lifted and the whole thing didn’t look half as bad.

When Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free,” He was serious. It really does!

“Even our tears need washing in the blood of Christ before they can be acceptable.”

I was talking to my friend again this morning, encouraging her to pray about the issues that are troubling her. I feel that God is the only one who can really help her and she agreed with that, but she can’t bring herself to believe in, or talk to, Someone she can’t see. That’s a tough one! Or is it?

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”  Matthew 7:7-8

(Part of this was posted simultaneously on “Inspirational Thoughts.”)

Prayer ~ Remember

Christine Goodnough:

My thanks to Lori for sharing this experience.

Originally posted on A Display of His Splendor Blog:

One thing111412_1758_PrayerWarri1.png God has spoken,     two things I have heard: “Power belongs to you, God,      and with you, Lord, is unfailing love”; and, “You reward everyone according to what they have done.” (Psalm 62:11-12 NIV)

I remember my first trial as a Christian. I had been a Christian for only a couple of weeks. The house I shared with a roommate caught fire. We were not home at the time but returned to a nasty mess. The house was inhabitable. It was heartbreaking and at the time devastating.  I remember asking God how He could do this. What was He thinking? After all, I was doing all the right things. I was praying, reading my bible and tithing. What more could I do? My “child-like” reasoning had me thinking God was not happy with me.

I have since learned that walking with the Lord has its ups and downs…

View original 380 more words

The Quick Red Fox and the Howling Hound

spotted dogOnce upon a time a man who lived all alone in a small farming village was given a pup. He was a gangly creature with funny floppy ears — no beauty prizes would he ever win — but the little hound was very loving and his owner grew very fond of him. Every day the man would take his dog out to the field with him as he hoed his corn; at night he’d put the hound in a pen in his back yard and go to bed.

Down the street a ways lived an elderly widow with a big rambling back winking One night a prowling fox found the place to his liking and took up residence under an old shed in this yard.

Thus began an interesting routine: at night the fox, off on his hunting expedition, would hurry past the dog’s pen. The hound would catch sight of it and would howl. Then he’d settle down and sleep for some hours. At the first light of dawn the fox would slip back to its den. The dog, catching a whiff of it, would start baying again.

dog & catThe owner didn’t know what was setting the dog off, but he concluded it must be some wild animal passing. Anyway, dogs do bark now and then. He gave the matter little thought until one morning his neighbor came banging on his door.

When he opened the door his neighbor shook a fist in his face. “You have to get rid of that howling hound! He’s keeping me awake all night long.”

The owner was amazed. “How can that be! My dog only barks a few times at night and a few times in the morning. It’s not like he’s barking all night long.”

“That may be,” said the scowling neighbor. “But I lie awake all night because I never know when he’s going to bark.”

So is he who anxiously waits for troubles that is he sure will come sooner or later.
floppy-ear dog
Epilogue: The dog was spared because the neighbor, after getting all hot and bothered about the issue and losing many nights of sleep, finally made his request to the one who could actually do something about the matter.

Does that sound familiar, too?

Leslie McFarlane: Ghost of the Hardy Boys

In the past year or so my grandson has gotten enthused about the Hardy Boys mystery series and I offered to write him a mystery like one of those, so have read a number of these books in preparation. A person could almost get hooked!

So on Thursday when I was browsing the shelves of the Saskatoon Library and spied the autobiography of Leslie McFarlane, entitled Ghost of the Hardy Boys, I brought it home and read part of it yesterday. Knowing the series he’s writing about, I found this book interesting. His writing style is lively and descriptive — though there’s a bit of off-color language.

In this book he tells about growing up in a northern Ontario mining community, the interesting characters who peopled his younger years, then how he got into writing for local papers. After this modest start he moved to the US and landed a reporter’s job in Springfield, MA. While he was covering the “Hotel Beat” for the Springfield Republican, he typed out a reply to an ad for a fiction writer, dropped it in the mail, and forgot about it.

A few weeks later he received a letter; he was offered an outline and should write a couple of chapters as a trial; if his writing was acceptable, he could do the whole book. He was sent two books as sample copies and given the outlines for two more. This started his ghostwriting career for the Stratemeyer Syndicate, where he first did several Dave Fearless books under the pen name Roy Rockwood, then the first twenty-two Hardy Boys books under the pseudonym Franklin W. Dixon and four Dana Girls mysteries as Carolyn Keene. (He says he made his wife promise not to tell a soul about that one.)

After he’d churned out the first seven Hardy Boys stories and had sold a few freelance articles, he felt he was able to make it financially without writing for the Syndicate. In fact, he and his wife were planning to move to Bermuda where he’d continue his writing career — but before he’d sent his letter of resignation to Edward Stratemeyer something happened that shook the world. October 1929. “Black Friday.” Writing markets crashed along with everything else.

During those years of the Great Depression he was thankful for the Hardy Boys series that maintained even sales and kept the McFarlane’s larder supplied. In time the world recovered and so did his freelance writing prospects. Later he worked for the Canadian Broadcasting Corp, wrote and directed documentaries and dramas, was able to support himself comfortably with sales to magazines as well, and finally gave up his association with the Syndicate. Another ghostwriter — maybe even more than one —  became Franklin W. Dixon. This is apparently the best selling boys’ series ever with book sales in the millions.

McFarlane was born in 1902 in Carleton Place, Ontario, and died in 1977, just short of his 75th birthday, a prolific writer to the end.

Ghost of the Hardy Boys, by Leslie McFarlane
© 1976 by Methuen Publications

Kids and Chores

Christine Goodnough:

When I was young, my mom had a job at the hospital and worked a lot of hours because we needed the money. I hardly remember her being home in those first ten years. For me there were no routines laid down; I had no chores other than to look after myself. Being a child I never thought about work unless I was specifically told to do something.

So I grew up thinking life was school, play, reading, and swimming in the summer. It was only after I was married that I leaned about housework — and that it wouldn’t get done at all if I didn’t do it. Now I’m the one to advocate routine chores for children, such as they can manage.

Originally posted on Photo's, Hodgepodge and Miscellany:

According to researchers, our children are more dependent and needy than any previous generation of Americans. They are developing attitudes of entitlement and expectation, rather than habits of self-reliance and independence. As they grow, too many young people want the privileges of adulthood — freedom and resources to make their own decisions — but not the responsibility that goes with it.

Why is this? One theory is that kids no longer are required to do household chores. By living as the privileged class in their own homes, kids today grow to expect that things will be done for them, and that they are entitled to be coddled and indulged.

Giving our kids an “ideal” childhood

Some parents look back on their own childhoods believing that they had it rough, and decide they want an easier life for their children than they themselves experienced. Their attitude about chores for kids is…

View original 422 more words

The “Drowning” Rainbow

One day a young boy was playing on the sidewalk in front of his house when he spied something intriguing. He dashed into the house, calling, “Mom, Mom. Come quick!”

Mother turned from her work. “What’s the matter, Todd?”

“I found a rainbow – and it’s drowning! You should come and see it.” Todd grabbed his Mom’s hand and led her toward the door.

“A drowning rainbow?” His mother frowned. “But it’s sunny today; there won’t be any rainbows in the sky.”

“It’s not in the sky, Mom. It’s in the water. Come and see” He tugged her arm.

His mother shook her head, puzzled, and allowed him to lead her outside. He led her to the street where yesterday’s rain had left a big puddle beside the curb and pointed. Sure enough, a swirly little “rainbow” was glistening in the water.

Mother smiled. A few drops of motor oil from a parked car made a film of oil on top of the puddle and this was acting like a prism to reflect the color spectrum.

“Told you.” He looked at her with shining eyes. “It’s neat!”

She put her arm around her son. “Yes, it is a neat rainbow. I’m so glad you found it.” She gave him a big squeeze. “I hope you’ll always see the rainbows in life’s puddles.”

(Retold from an actual incident)

Diary Notes:
Our days are continuing sunny and warm; bare gravel roads are appearing out of the whiteness.

The ladies met at Church for Sewing Circle yesterday; we had a good turnout. Driving home a little bird flew off a post and crossed my path. I’m sure it was a meadowlark.

First robins were sighted Sunday morning; a friend north of here has spotted some returning cedar waxwings, too.