A Muse’s Tale

owl-158411_640

Yesterday was a sad day for Christine’s muse. Christine had grabbed her, shaken her, and screamed, “This is it! Spring is coming, my last-summer wardrobe is toast — and you keep filling my head with crazy blog posts. Out you go!”

To add insult to injury, some trash flung out of a passing car smacked her in the face, there in bushes where she’d been tossed.

Copyright Liz Young

Photo copyright Liz Young

Yet she smiled. “Just wait, my friend. I’ll rise again. You’ll see another prompt, I’ll be whispering ideas in your ear, and you’ll abandon your sewing machine for your keyboard. You’re so predictable. That’s why I love to haunt you.”

And she’s back already! Rochelle Wisoff-Fields has been her accomplice, via the Friday Fictioneers prompt. My muse thanks you, Rochelle, for faithfully feeding her bright ideas. (I’m hoping putting my icon first will have it show up on the link. Oh, for tech smarts!)

The word count on this one is 105, but I’ve no time to search and destroy excess words. I’m finally in the mood to sew a spring dress and it’s GOING to happen.

Home Invasions: the Furry Kind

Spring Brings new Life to our Yard

It’s an absolutely gorgeous day today! After snow and more snow Sunday and Monday, we have bright sunshine and a nice wind to keep the afternoon at a perfect temperature for me. It was17° C (63° F) this afternoon – that’s about as warm as I can comfortably handle.

The birds are almost all back now; a flock of blackbirds has been scavenging under my bird feeder this week. And this morning the swallows returned.

Yesterday afternoon when Bob and I were puttering outside there wasn’t a tree swallow to be seen. I climbed our ladder to clean out the swallow nest, thinking they’d be back before long. This morning around 9:30 am my daughter came, bringing Evan, their youngest, for me to babysit. As we stood outside talking I noticed a bird fly over. The very first tree swallow!

It was around by itself for awhile, then six more were twittering around. A couple of them came swooping and twirling around me, as if to say “Hi” to their old friend. One swooped so low it was almost at eye-level with Evan, which delighted my grandson. They soon went to the nests to check them out. They seem to understand “First come; first serve” and have already staked their claims.

Perhaps I could say spring has robbed us of our sleep this past week. Last Thursday night in the wee hours there was a bit of ruckus in our house; Bob got up to check and discovered the stray cat in our hallway! He told me I must have let the cat in when I let ours in but I was certain I hadn’t.

This cat, black like our Angus, normally stays at the neighbour’s yard but comes here quite often to hunt mice in the stubble beside us. I have sometimes mistaken him for Angus, but he wasn’t anywhere in sight when I let the cats in just before midnight.

Bob put him out…and before long he was in again. We got this sinking feeling…

Bob went out with a spade and filled in a hole at the back of our trailer. Ten minutes later the cat was in again. By this time it was almost 4 am and sleep was gone, so I got up, filled in the hole and put firewood logs on top of it. That kept the cat out until the next night, when we had to get up and fill in another hole.

It was 2 am Saturday night when we heard the cat meowing in the house again so I gave up on sleep and went outside to deal with a fresh hole dug right by our side doorstep. I covered it with a chunk of plywood we had around, with a rock on top. Then put the “not-our cat” out. I was up until 4am; about 3:30am I looked out and saw the real culprit – as I expected – a black “kitty” with a pointy little nose and a white stripe down its back and plumy tail. It was digging furiously, trying to make a new hole beside the one I’d covered.

The last thing you want is a skunk coming and going where you are coming and going! I certainly didn’t want to alarm him, but had to do something, so I opened the window and said softly, “No-o-o, Moufette, no-o-o.” He paused, then started to dig again.

“No-o-o, Moufette, no, no.” This time he gave up and went away. Nevertheless the stray cat was in again the next morning and Moufette was likely snoozing snug and warm under our trailer for the day. In the morning light we could see he’d come back later and finished his excavations.

The cat is an opportunist; where there’s an opening, he’s in where it’s warm and dishes of cat food are sitting around for him to polish off. But he isn’t the digger. Our trailer is surrounded by a hard-packed ridge of gravel; it takes a determined invader with claws to dig through that!

Anyway, yesterday Bob went out and filled in holes, sprayed Critter Ridder around and we slept peacefully last night. The skunk will have to find a more secluded place to doze away his days. (We went through this last fall, too, if you remember my posts from back then.)

As to my health, I’m feeling okay except for being hot and sweaty a lot. It’s my “thinker” that gives me the most problem; I forget so easy and I have a harder time concentrating than I ever did. Feel sort of tired mentally, don’t have much enthusiasm for projects — even getting my children’s book ready for publication. But I am working at it.

Saturday was our His Imprint Christian Writers Conference. that took a lot of my attention this month; now that this event is out of the way I plan to focus more on my own writing.

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?”

OUCH!

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.”)

Clear A Forest One Tree at a Time

One Dollar Per Member Per Month

When the mission work of our church began to spread in Haiti and small congregations became established, It was decided that each member should give a tithe of $1 per month toward the expenses of the Church as a whole. Money to pay the expenses of a general conference would come out of this as well as other administrative costs.

So everyone tithed their dollar a month and things went fairly smoothly, but you know how we people are. Eventually this subject came up at a yearly conference and some members questioned how they were going to pay this $12 per member per year. Many Haitians had very limited opportunities to earn; it was all some could do to eat every day and a $12 yearly “conference tithe” seemed impossible.

The issue was debated back and forth until one elderly brother rose to his feet and addressed the group. “I guess I don’t know what you people are talking about,” he began. “I don’t remember that we ever decided on a $12 per member per year tithe.”

Members looked at him in surprise. “Of course this was our decision.”

“No,” he countered. “Our decision was ONE DOLLAR per member PER MONTH. If you leave it until the year end and then try to come up with $12 each in your household, it will be a serious hardship. It will be a lot easier if each one just pays the one dollar per month. That’s not an unmanageable sum, is it?”

And they all agreed. That wasn’t such an unmanageable sum after all.

Being an avid procrastinator, I’ve always been inclined to wait until the day before something is needed, then got at it full steam, even work into the wee hours of tomorrow to get it ready. So I’ve been trying to keep in mind this brother’s advice. Projects are a lot easier to accomplish when you take them in small chunks.

Small bites, that’s the ticket. Marla Cilley, a.k.a. “The FlyLady” is right: you can do anything — any household task, no matter how tedious — for fifteen minutes. And fifteen minutes a day can make a big difference, plus the task becomes a habit in time and a person doesn’t get so far behind.

A few weeks ago I abandoned my “Devotional Thoughts for Women” blog but I haven’t felt at peace with that decision. I still feel like I need a place to share small inspirations and personal news of the day – lest I forget. So I’m going to try doing this blog again, setting aside ten minutes a day to share something cheerful there and hoping my readers will find inspiration in these thoughts, quotes, scriptures, and stories, too.

The address is christinegoodnough.wordpress.com

This morning I posted the above story on that site — and shared this news of the day:

I cooked at Silverwood Villa yesterday and invited our children & grandchildren, Jay & Ruby W and their son and daughter, plus Chris B and her daughter. A good time was had by all.

Earlier in the week it was stormy, lots of fresh snow; a few days ago it was -25 at 9 am. Now the past few days have been above freezing and the snow – we have a lot! – is softening, sliding off roofs. Ah, spring!

Our daughter told us she’d seen a robin in their yard this morning. Amazing! Spring only arrived yesterday and already the robins are here.

We live not far from a train track and I watched a train went by this morning. It was a relatively short one, three engines pulling 88 cars (hopper cars for grain and oil tankers.) The engineer must go slowly on the crossroad by our place as the track isn’t the best. I saw a school bus come up to that crossing right when the first cars were going through and the bus had to wait…and wait… Wonder what the students were doing as they all waited for the train to pass?

Colours of the Morning

TIME TO THINK SPRING

I’m getting weary of winter, anxious to move on to better things. Do you like my new look?

Colours of the Morning

Blue falls from heaven,
blushes the morning glory buds;
Rose awakens drowsy roosters,
coaxes them to announce the day.
Amber fire falls on the river,
dazzles the drinking deer.

Christine Goodnough

Psalm 19:1-6

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.

There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.

In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.

Writers Block or Just Spring?

Subscribing to various writing web sites like I do, I’ve read much about writer’s block. I’ve always figured that writer’s block is when you don’t know what to write, and I don’t have that affliction. I have so many of things I’d love to write about – I just don’t sit down and get started. Would you call that writer’s block or writer’s lethargy or writer’s too busy?

Or is it that age-old affliction, spring fever? Now that I think back, I can remember those last three months of the school year when I was hopeless at sitting down and sticking with my assignments. (My sympathies go out to teachers everywhere at this time of year.)

Can it really be four days since I last posted? No, I’m not lying in bed suffering, though Monday wasn’t the greatest day. I woke up with a backache and a tooth ache. Joint pain is one symptom of leukemia, but also of arthritis and my doctor tells me my joints have plenty of that. Thankfully these pains are quite manageable.

Monday morning we discovered there’s a ‘beaver leaver’ on the loose. My neighbor phoned at 8:30 am to tell me there’s a beaver sitting beside the slough between us and the highway. Someone must have left it there; I should go see it. She’d already been, had even talked to it, but it seemed so lost and bewildered it just rubbed its face with its paw and didn’t move.

So Bob and I jumped into the car and went to have a look. Sure enough, an adult beaver was nosing around on the grassy slope between the road and the slough. When we stopped the car and talked to it, the creature just looked at us; it really did seemed drugged.

My guess is someone who didn’t want it on his pond shot it with a tranquillizer or fed it something to knock it out, then dumped it here. The beaver sat in the grass beside the slough all morning but never went in the water.  But this slough will dry up in a month and then what would it do? Plus there are only a few shrubby willows nearby. So I called the Wildlife Federation and they were going to come and get the animal in the evening; we should just monitor it until then.

By afternoon the animal woke up enough to get in the water. By mid-afternoon it was behaving much like a beaver would and dived when Bob came to check on it. In the evening I drove the grandchildren over and we watched it swimming and diving. The water’s shallow and it stayed right in the ditch – the deepest part – so it was easy to see.

It’s gone now. Maybe it didn’t like being a celebrity and decided to head for home? Or the river– a 15 mile trip if he knows his directions.

Tuesday I cooked at the Villa and thankfully felt quite well all day. Yesterday I went to a friend’s greenhouse and bought bedding plants; in the afternoon I filled a couple of planters. A kind friend had ordered a tub of flowers as my birthday present, so I collected that as well. (Thank you, Sandra!)

Later I did some digging in one corner of my garden (Operation rescue: search & destroy quack grass roots) and set out four tomato plants. Little by little I intend to reclaim my old perennial patch from the quack grass that invaded last summer. I’m working on my front flower bed today and unearthed three bemused toads in the process.

Yesterday morning I looked out and saw three golden eagles soaring over the field south and a bit west of our trailer. Beautiful sight! They were closer to the slough so my thoughts went to the beaver, but I didn’t see the birds landing like they would if they’d found some carrion. (I think eagles eat carrion.) We rarely see them; it was a wonderful treat.

Makes me think of those inspiring words of Isaiah 40:31:
“But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

We have four pair of swallows nesting around our little property and the wrens recently reclaimed their house on the clothesline pole. All day long we hear the songs of wrens, orioles, robins. Brown thrashers, pine siskins, and goldfinches frequent the feeder outside our dining room window. Could we just stop time for a month now? (Oh, but the poor students and teachers! School doesn’t end up here until the last week in June.)

In my discussions with Friesen Press the question of graphics for my book has surfaced. I chose two photos from Shutterstock for my front and back cover, but I can also insert ten graphics (pictures or illustrations, B&W or color) for free and they’ll insert more for $5 each. So I contacted a genuine artist and she wants $25 apiece for drawing even fairly simple pictures. I can’t blame her; it does take time.  But…

So I’ve changed hats; these days I’m doing a few illustrations for my book. And it DOES take time – which I have more of than money. I don’t know what my readers will think, but my grandchildren love my pictures. ☺

The Tail End of Winter

Coming home from a trip Sunday evening we took note of a herd of deer wandering among the Angus cattle at a nearby ranch, helping themselves to the round bales of hay set out for their bovine neighbors.  This is unusual; normally deer won’t frequent a pasture where cattle roam free.  Coming home from the city Monday I saw them there again, at least twenty of them.

One of the other ladies at our meeting was saying that the deer are staying in the open now. We had so much snow two weeks ago that the woods have been filled in with big banks, packed hard, so the deer aren’t able to roam or graze and they’re hungry. Hay bales offered so freely are tempting enough that they’re willing to set aside natural prejudices.

I saw a dozen Canada geese go over this morning, too. One wishes the weather were more welcoming; this morning it was -12C, supposedly getting up to 0 (32F) On Monday it was -18 at 7am.  Brrr!

I think right now this is the song every living thing in this area is singing:

GOD-SPEED TO THE SNOW
by Archibald Lampman

March is slain; the keen winds fly;
Nothing more is thine to do;
April kisses thee good-bye;
Thou must haste and follow too;
Silent friend that guarded well
Withered things to make us glad,
Shyest friend that could not tell
Half the kindly thought he had.
Haste thee, speed thee, O kind snow;
Down the dripping valleys go,
From the fields and gleaming meadows,
Where the slaying hours behold thee,
From the forests whose slim shadows,
Brown and leafless cannot fold thee,
Through the cedar lands aflame
With gold light that cleaves and quivers,
Songs that winter may not tame,
Drone of pines and laugh of rivers.
May thy passing joyous be
To thy father, the great sea,
For the sun is getting stronger;
Earth hath need of thee no longer;
Go, kind snow, God-speed to thee!

 

Spring Flurry

Our First Day of Spring is a HOLIDAY for me!

I was scheduled to cook at the senior’s residence today, but didn’t have go in after all. Correction. Couldn’t. Our son-in-law surveyed the situation this morning and said there’s no way I could get to work. (Two miles at most.) He would have come and cleared our driveway if that were there only problem, but the roads are impassable.

In fact, the Department of Highways called him early this morning to help them open the #45 north-south highway just west of us. Their plows are working their way up from Outlook and apparently need all the help they can get. So Ken responded to their plea and the first drift he faced was four feet deep, packed solid. At that rate it will take awhile to get to the four stranded semis he encountered yesterday up by Donovan.

Alas! Our ‘First Day of Spring’ was blown away by a howling gale from the southeast that walloped the west-central part of the province and blocked a lot of roads, including the Trans-Canada Highway from Regina almost to the Alberta border. According to the Highways Report today they are still in bad shape or blocked and the RCMP is advising folks to stay home.

It would help a lot if the wind would cease and desist, but it wants to keep on blowing. Where the highway isn’t buried the wind has been polishing the ice to a curling rink shine and more snow has come down today, adding to what’s already in the air. Mind you, it’s only -9 C at present(15.8F) — not very cold at all. So typical of March.

No school, no mail. I’m glad the internet is working today. Up is the only route out of here right now. I shouldn’t complain, though, as this gives me ample opportunity to work on some sewing, my stories, or even my latest poem. I really should be writing it while I’m so inspired. It starts out like this:
“I think that I shall never see
a winter that’s too short for me.”

The good news: it’s supposed to be sunny and get up to +1 C next Wednesday. I remember one year in Ontario when it was an incredible 27 C (80.5 F) on my birthday.

Frosty Morning Weather Wail

News Flash: Spring is Coming

According to Weather Canada Saskatoon was registering -26 C this morning at 7 a.m.  For our Fahrenheit friends this is -15.  The predicted high for today is -13 C or 8.6 F.  And we’ve had so much snow in the past couple of weeks; our huge banks of white make the whole country look and feel like the North Pole.

I am SO looking forward to the coming of spring tomorrow. Saskatoon’s predicted high for tomorrow is -8C (17.6 F.) That will seem balmy, right?

I have another post scheduled for this afternoon, but couldn’t resist seeking a little sympathy when I saw the weather stats. ☺ Have a great day, everyone.