Monday, 26 June 2017

Hanging Out The Closed Sign

It's Poetry Monday again (sheesh, where did THAT week go?) and I think it's also time for another bird-y update.

I hope my poem cover both bases.

Some background to help it make sense:

- I started putting a small bird feeder out in April, following a late snowstorm.
- I bought a second feeder in May, which I filled with the caviar of bird seed--Favourite Finch seed, at a scary price per bag, because I wanted to attract the tiny, cute birdies.
- Within two weeks I was filling that feeder every day, and by noon it was empty. For a few days, I filled it twice a day. Please note that a bag of Favourite Finch seed contains enough seed for only three and a half refills.
- Finally, I sat down and added up the cost of the seed, the fact that several pushy blackbirds/grackles were getting the lion's share of it, the finches were nowhere to be seen, a couple of pigeons had joined the eight (yes, eight) doves in the back yard to eat up the seed that spilled out when the blackbirds/grackles ate in their very messy way, plus the fact that we are not made of money, nor do we have a money tree in our back yard ...and came up with an indisputable fact: I had to stop. Either stop feeding them altogether, stop putting increasing amounts of seed out, or stop using the expensive seed.
- I bought a large bag of mixed seed which was much cheaper, and started cutting back the amount I put out each day. I am now down to one-third cup of mixed seed daily, sprinkled on the back yard because the only birds that still hang around are the doves and pigeons. And the occasional sparrow.
- Within another week, the free buffet will have gradually been pared back to zero. The remaining birds probably will, too. 

And now my poem, drawn from the crucible of hard, hard experience in the bird-feeding department ...


It's A Slippery Slope, All Right, And I Have Hit Bottom

It starts with: Aw, birdies!! So cute and so sweet!
So hungry, you poor things! Here's something to eat!

And then it's: My, my, little birds, so voracious!
I'll buy a new feeder that's much more capacious!

Progresses to: Dang it, we need more bird feed ...
Didn't we just buy some? And yet we still need ...

And now it's: Okay, birds, the free ride is over!
The living's been great; you've all been "in clover";

But birdies, my wallet--it's flat as a pancake;
This restaurant is closed, though it makes my poor heart ache.

It's summer, dear birdies; there's food everywhere.
You'll get along fine if the feeder's not there.

I'll miss your sweet faces and quick little feets,
Your beady black eyes and your stabbity beaks.

Have a good summer, and raise up your young,
And come back to visit when autumn has sprung.

*****

Whew! Rhyming is hard work!

Have a good week, folks. Or at least don't hit bottom :)

On behalf of my feathered brethren, I would just like to say that we are not amused. 

NOT. AMUSED.

Do visit Diane and Delores to see what they've posted for Poetry Monday, if you are so inclined, and feel free to leave a poem in the comments or link to your blog!


(Photo courtesy of Pixabay)




Friday, 23 June 2017

Pep Talk For The Donkey

I may have said a time or two that I'm trying to get to a lower and healthier weight. So far I have lost and re-gained the same pounds several times, but have managed not to put on any additional weight in the last two years. Consider that the scale used to go in only one direction--up--for the previous twenty years, and you will understand why I am counting that as a partial win. I'm still learning and still trying, and I hope that recording the things that have worked for me in the past will help me get going again.

You can skip the blah blah blah and go straight to the lolcat at the bottom of the post if you wish!

1.  Exercise doesn't just burn off calories, it also works for me as an appetite-reducer. It's quite astonishing how moving around makes me less hungry, not more so.

2.  Distraction works wonders. If I'm reading a good book, I don't eat. If I'm talking, I don't eat. If I'm sorting things to donate or brushing the cats or typing on the computer or sewing or doing a craft, I don't eat. Etc., etc., etc.

3.  Writing down everything I eat and keeping a running total of the calories has been critical for me. I use the labels on prepackaged food, an inexpensive calorie counter book, and the internet to figure out the calories. I also use the internet to find the calories in chain restaurant meals, the few times we eat out. The numbers make my hair stand on end, but better that than making my backside too big for my slacks. Knowledge is power.

4.  I eat my food as plain as possible most of the time. Because I have excess stomach acidity (controlled by medication if I avoid trigger foods) and sensitive teeth, I have to forego acidic foods (most fruits), fat, fried food, sauces, gravy, and most salad dressings. This seems rigid at times, and can be boring if I'm not careful to eat a variety of vegetables (vegetables are low-calorie stars!) but it works well for weight loss, which makes me happy.

5.  Eating something very sweet or very high in carbohydrates sets up a vicious cycle of craving for me. Recently I caved in and bought two bags of a snack product because it was cheaper per bag than buying one. The little voice in my head told me I could set one aside for later in the summer. The little voice lied. And I somehow went from not planning to buy any, to buying two and eating them in three days, constantly hungry the whole time despite overall higher calorie counts for those days. That was 1750 calories' worth of bad decision and I didn't even actually save any money because I paid for two bags, not one ... my brain is such a sucker sometimes.

7.  The hardest part of going for a walk is just getting out the door.

8.  Taking the long view is very important. I want instant results, and it's hard to do something that I have to keep up ... well, forever. But I keep reminding myself it took me years to put on the weight, and it's going to take awhile to take it off, too. I slip now and then, but I get back up and keep going.



Now I'm off to read a book, to keep my mind busy and my cats happy (they like to join me on the couch).

Have a good weekend, all! And if you have a favourite weight loss or weight control tip, feel free to leave it in the comments :)



Me, in the grocery store the next time the snacks call my name ... okay, other people may look at me funny, but I have to drown out the little voice ... the little LYING voice ...

Photo courtesy of icanhascheezburger.com




Monday, 19 June 2017

Ogden, Alvin, and Donkey

It's Poetry Monday, and this post turned out to be a bit of a struggle.

I'm still feeling blue-ish, so at first I thought I'd try to lift my mood by posting a poem by Ogden Nash. Here were the choices:



The Cow

The cow is of the bovine ilk;
One end is moo, the other, milk. 

And:

The Ostrich

The ostrich roams the great Sahara.
Its mouth is wide, its neck is narra.
It has such long and lofty legs,
I'm glad it sits to lay its eggs.
 

But I didn't have the heart--or the imagination--to write anything to go with them. I did research ostriches to see if they really sit to lay their eggs, and apparently, it's true. I also found out that they can run so fast in part because they have only two toes, and I considered whether I could run faster if I chopped off three toes from each foot, but wasn't really interested in finding out through personal experience. The cow poem inspired me even less than the ostrich one did. And this is coming from someone who loves Nash's poetry.

So then I thought maybe if I read some poetry on depression I might feel better. You know, the old misery-loves-company approach. A Google search quickly pulled up ten poems by famous people about depression, and just reading the descriptions made me feel worse, so I abandoned that idea too.

While all of this was going on, in the background the weather kept running through my mind. It has suddenly turned hot and humid here; it's the kind of weather we usually get in mid-July. It's electrical storm weather; it's frizzy-hair weather; it's hubby-please-put-the-air-conditioner-in-the-window weather.

And just like that, a line of a Christmas song popped into my head: "the weather outside is frightful." That inspired me to write a different ending. Here's Let It Snow, by Alvin and the Chipmunks, in case you've forgotten the song I'm talking about. (Why Alvin and the Chipmunks? Just because it was there in the search results, and I've always had a soft spot for those little rodents.) 

Without further ado, here's my contribution to the world of literature this week, and may lightning not strike me for putting those words together in a sentence.


I Love Snow, I Love Snow, I Love Snow

The weather outside is frightful;
The heat makes me so spiteful--
In humidity
I will guarantee
I'm the opposite of delightful.




(And just let me say that I try very hard not to complain about winter--except to the extent that it keeps me from visiting my grandchildren--in order that I may complain freely about summer. Hah.)

Ahhh. I feel better now. Ish.

What do you do when you feel blue--do you write about it, distract yourself from it, or hide in a closet?

And do you have a poem to share today? Please feel free to leave it in the comments, or on your blog if you have one. Just leave us a link so we know where to find you. Don't forget that Diane and Delores also post poems every Monday.

I hope everyone has a week with good things in it, or at least a week where you are not chased by an ostrich, because, my friends, they can run pretty darn fast and they're so heavy one could probably flatten you if it sat upon you. More ostrich facts can be found HERE.


Mr/Ms Ostrich is slightly amused by Donkey's scribbles. But not overly.

(photo courtesy of Pixabay, as usual; big thanks to the good folks who share their pictures there)

P. S. I don't know what happened to my font but I don't have the patience to fiddle with it! Let's blame it on the heat, shall we?)


Friday, 16 June 2017

For All Who Have Gone "Into The Darkness"

This week was already a bit melancholy, as it was coming up on the second anniversary of my father's death. With the addition of the horrific fire in London, England, my heart is heavy.

So, today: a poem in honour of all those who are gone, no matter what the circumstances of their passing may be. I do not remember how I was introduced to this poem, but if it was through the blog of one of you, my blogger friends, I thank you.



Dirge Without Music
  
   by Edna St. Vincent Millay


I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely.  Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.

Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains,—but the best is lost.

The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,—
They are gone.  They are gone to feed the roses.  Elegant and curled
Is the blossom.  Fragrant is the blossom.  I know.  But I do not approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know.  But I do not approve.  And I am not resigned.







 *****

Back on Monday, hopefully with a lighter heart. Stay safe, everyone.


Monday, 12 June 2017

Poetry Monday: Fly, Drive & Walk Defensively

I keep saying I can't remember any poetry I've memorized, aside from very few pieces which I've already used for Poetry Mondays.

And then something will prompt a memory, and a verse will spill out of my brain onto my tongue, and I will think "Oh Good!" and "Oh Drat" simultaneously. "Oh Good" is easy to understand; I'm happy not to have to sit down and actually use my little brain to compose a new poem (especially when I am mentally drained from worrying about my latest haircut). "Oh Drat" means I know I lied -- again.

Today I have two very short verses; each one will cost you zero munnies, or you can have two for no munnies at all.

The first came to me years ago when I was driving my children somewhere. It must have been about this time of year, when the birds are so busy nest-building and obeying nature's edict to reproduce that they take shortcuts everywhere they go, fearing nothing, hurrying and hurtling through the air, often at eye level of drivers who happen to be in their way.

One such bird had a near miss with the front of my car, and these lines came to mind. My kids liked my little rhyme, and it has come in handy many times since, including just the other day, when yet another bird, probably the great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandchild of the one I nearly hit so many years ago, came a tad too close to my grille for comfort.


Plea To All Addlepated Birds In Springtime 

Birdie, please don't fly so low;
My car is fast and you are slow.
Please fly higher, if you could,
So you don't end up on my hood.

*****

And this verse, also about speed and cars, is one my grandfather used to recite, likely to try and impress on us youngsters that even if you have the right of way, that doesn't really matter if you end up dead. I often shout it at drivers, and even walkers, who blithely lurch ahead on a green light into an intersection or into a crosswalk without checking to make sure they are not about to be driven into or mowed down by someone whose mind is elsewhere at the moment. Drive and walk defensively, people, and live a little longer! (I don't actually shout it, although I may say it out loud, as long as I have no passesngers, my windows are tightly closed, and I don't think anyone can see my lips move.)

Grampy's Advice

He was right -- dead right --
As he sped along;
But he was just as dead
As if he was wrong.

*****

That's it for Poetry Monday, where the poems are free and you are welcome to read, critique, laugh, cry and BYOP -- Bring Your Own Poem! Contributions are always welcome. Leave yours in the comments, or if you have a blog and wish to post it there, leave us your blog address in the comments so we can come along and clap for you. Don't forget to visit Diane (who came up with the idea of Poetry Monday) and Delores (who knows a thing or two about writing poetry too).


"Who are you calling 'addlepated'? Your pate doesn't look all that non-addled to me either!"

Whoa. That bird has an attitude.


I hope you have an accident-free week, and avoid all unexpected hood ornaments :)



 Starling photo courtesy of Pixabay.


Friday, 9 June 2017

Whiny Little Complainer



Donkey is in "a situation."

A bad situation.

A bad hair situation, which is - in Donkey's opinion - one of the worst kind. (Donkey's husband isn't all that keen on her being in it, either. For different reasons. Reasons of self-preservation.)

I mentioned awhile ago that I was having some trepidation over changing to a new hairdresser. Then I reported back that I was relieved to get my first haircut by her and all had gone well. It was just a trim, really, while we waited for my hair to grow out of an unfortunate, uneven cut by someone else. And so it would seem, to anyone reading, that the situation was fine and dandy.

Well. With every haircut since then, things have edged toward bad, badder, and then baddest. And I don't know how to stop this runaway train from going off the cliff and ending up with me having no hair left to work with.

I'm prepared to take all of the blame. My instructions may be coming across as incomplete, vague, and lacking in hairdresser-y terms. I don't know all the lingo. I only know how to say things like: "my hair is too thick here (gestures to back of head) and it needs to be thinner so I don't look like a mushroom." Or: "please take off a half-inch all around, and don't worry if it's a bit more because my hair grows fast." Or even: "here is a picture of what I'm talking about."

In the first example, I leave the salon looking even more like a mushroom, because the part of my head I thought I pointed to is not the part of my head where the hair has been removed. In the second example I leave the salon looking like I have not had a single hair snipped - it is just as long as it ever was, and since my hair does indeed grow fast, by the time the next appointment comes around I will look like an afghan hound who hasn't had a trim in five years. In the third example, I will leave the salon with my hair both shorter and longer than in the picture (shorter in the back, longer in the front, or vice versa) and I will still look like a mushroom -- it's like we are seeing completely different things within the same picture.

So, I am reduced to asking begging you, my bloggy people, all of whom I feel have smart haircuts and excellent verbal and diplomatic skills, to tell me how you convey your (negative) thoughts on a haircut to your hairdresser, and how you convey what you want in its place.

I want to say "I hate, loathe and despise what you did with my hair last time, please make me look exactly like this picture instead and if I walk out of here with anything different I will not be back" but I know that's not good for our relationship and will probably end up with my ears being cut off. And I truly do like my hairdresser. She is kind and funny and is trying hard to please me. And she has serious skills in the precision department, which is ultra-important to me because my hair is very thick and hard to cut precisely.

But I need to know how to work with her good qualities but also get a haircut I don't want to cry over. And, although I do not seem to be anywhere close to running out of tears, I am running out of hair to work with. Even though a shaved head is a perfectly good look on many men, there are only a handful of women who can pull it off, and my name is not on that list.

Along with your advice, which I fervently hope you will give, do you have a hair-raising story of a haircut gone wrong? You'd be doing a humanitarian service by telling me all about it :)


No

No

No

No

No

No

Just No

Even the cat says "No"

This is my face at the hairdresser's. "What the ...?"


This is how I want my face to look -- and feel -- at the hairdresser's. "Fabulous!" (even though I never say fabulous)

Help. Please help.

Helllp.


Please know that I realize this is a trifling matter in the big scheme of things. There are wars and elections and uncurable diseases and unbearable things going on in the world. But right now I have my head firmly in the grip of a little thing, one I wish I could control.

And if you have read this far, I have a take-home gift for you, a previously-never-admitted nugget of information. When I was naming my blog, I very nearly called it today's title, "Whiny Little Complainer" ... oh yes I did.

Reflecting on this whiny post, maybe I should have.

I did have fun picking out the "No" pictures, and that's taking some of the sting out of my frustration. I may even laugh about this, given another couple of weeks (months?).


Thanks for reading, thank you in advance for any and all advice, and may you have a stress-free, frustration-free, bad-haircut-free weekend -- and may all your experiences at the hair salon be like that last picture up there :)

All pictures from Pixabay. ThankyouverymuchPixabay. You have begun my cheering-up process.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Poetry Monday: June

I've written about my father's last eight years of life after his paralyzing stroke, and his final months leading up to his death in June, two years ago. Spring, once my favourite season, is now full of bittersweet memories.

With my mother's recent health issues, I find that spring has been burdened with additional poignancy. This year's greening of land and trees took place while my mom was ill, just as it did when my father was approaching the end of his life. I had plenty of deja vu and a good dose of new anxious moments in May.

When I was helping my mom, and earlier when I was helping my dad, I often thought of the reversal of roles when our parents grow old - that is, if we are fortunate enough to have them grow old. After our parents spend so many years being the older, wiser ones in the relationship -- the ones who give advice on houses, cars, child-raising, and jobs, who still call us "the kids," who want us to call when we get safely home after visiting them -- there may come a point where the responsibility and decisions and assistance and oversight become the duty of the adult child.

I think this is why my father's death affected me so deeply and for so long. I did not resume life the way I thought I would after his death. He lived a long life, and his death released him from poor health and distressing disability, and so there were those in his life who felt I should not have grieved as I did. We were very close because we were very similar in nature, but the loss was more than the loss of a loved parent. The day he had his stroke he became, in a way, my child as well as my parent, and his death was, in a way, the death of my child as well as my father.

So that is the background to this poem on this Poetry Monday in June, the month of my father's birth and death, the month of Father's Day here in Canada, which always came on or around my father's birthday, the month when my mother is once again relatively healthy but I am all too aware that the outcome could have been different.

I know that many people out there, those I know in real life and those I know in blogland, have been through this already, or are going through it, or will go through it eventually. No matter what our relationships with our parents are like, when duty calls, many of us must answer. I am not alone; you are not alone; we are not alone.

 *****

My Parent, My Child

There is a kind of symmetry to life
When the child of the parent
Becomes the parent,
And the parent becomes --
At least by times --
The child.

In the beginning,
Mother and father care for the newborn,
Raise the toddler and adolescent,
Cheer on the young adult;
All the while
Feeding, nursing, advising, comforting.

In the end,
The child, now middle-aged -- or more --
Turns the picture on its head,
Helps to give the hourglass a final turn,
As time runs out for mom or dad;
And feeding, nursing, advising, comforting
Are gifts most tender,
Returned to the giver.

I wish for strength, for wisdom, for compassion.
I wish for patience, and gentleness, and good humour.
I wish for good memories to be stronger than sad ones.
I wish these things for me;
And, if you have ever had parents of any kind,
I wish them for you.


Image courtesy of Pixabay.

*****

Don't forget to hop over to visit Diane and Delores, who also have poetry posted today. And join us in the comments or on your own blog! If you post your poem on your blog, please leave your blog link in the comments so we can find you.


Friday, 2 June 2017

Lost & Found; Known & Unknown

I'm not generally a careless person, but I've lost my purse three times in the last seven months.

It's a small, black zippered purse - some might call it a change purse - just big enough for all the plastic cards one carries these days and a bit of "real" money. In other words, enough important stuff that losing it causes me to panic and run around wildly looking at the ground and thinking about how stupid I am and how I might be losing my mind and how if I find it (my purse, not my mind) I will always always always carry it inside a larger purse that shall be zipped up securely while I walk to and fro in my daily trips to the car, to work, to the grocery store, etc., etc.

The problem is that I pinched a nerve in my purse-carrying shoulder a decade back, and although I take my large purse to the store, I don't take it IN the store. And my current so-called large purse was bought before I started carrying my camera everywhere, so it's kind of full, and my little purse often is the last thing crammed in there. You can see the potential for trouble from a mile away, can't you?

The first time I lost my dear little purse was in a department store forty minutes from home. I was buying a lot of stuff which I was holding in my arms because I started out looking for one thing and ended up with a dozen things and no cart to put them in, and somewhere in the process my little purse dropped out of my grasp, which I didn't notice because I was clutching a pack of socks and it felt the same. An honest employee turned it in within fifteen minutes and I thanked everyone there plus my lucky stars that I wasn't facing an evening of calls to report lost cards of every description. What relief! I promised myself I'd be extra careful in future.

The second time my little friend and I parted company, it eventually turned up under the front passenger seat of my car, where it had landed after I chucked it into my large purse and it bounced out. This unnerved me even more than the first time, and I decided I'd be extra-extra careful in future.

This week I lost my %&*# purse again, and once again found it in the car, right beside the driver's seat, where it had fallen as I was getting in. Between the losing and the finding I drove around town, back to work, up and down the stairs twice, and back home, where I finally calmed down enough to see the little scallywag perched on the bottom edge of the door frame where it had sat laughing at me, I'm sure, while I got in and out, in and out, in and out of the car.

So I made a different vow. Because how many times can one lose one's lifeline to modern banking, driving, health care, health insurance, and store discounts before one does something more drastic (and effective) than making pinky-swear promises to oneself that one clearly cannot keep?

The answer, if you've dozed off and lost track, is three times, if you're me.

I drove straight to a store which sells large purses to buy a new one, one that is big enough to hold my little purse and my camera and a few other odds and ends comfortably, so that my little purse will not always be perched precariously on top of everything else, ready to jump out at the slightest jiggle or mischievous purse-notion.

(Full disclosure: I didn't end up buying a new large purse because none of them met my somewhat conflicting criteria of being large but light. Instead, I'm digging an old purse out of the closet tonight. It may be shabby but at least my precious plastic will be safe. Side note: what has the world come to that we value plastic rectangles so highly??)

And an update on my mom: she seems to be pretty much back to where she was before she fell ill. But in the course of prolonged visits with her while she was recovering, I have discovered that her pre-illness mental processing may not have been as robust as I thought. So I am wrestling with the known and the unknown in that regard.

But you know what? My mother hasn't once lost her purse. Food for thought, eh?


This is how happy I've been, going along dum-de-dum, not thinking too much about age and senility sneaking up on me (my own or my mom's) just like that cat in the back is sneaking up on the dog; a cat who, incidentally, looks exactly like our kitty #3, the one that bites at the least provocation. I wonder if she was a cat model in her life before us?? In any case, that dog and I are probably in for a big ol' butt-kicking in the not too distant future.


Thanks for reading! I hope your weekend gives your butt a nice soft cushy place to land, and not the butt-kicking referred to above :)


I would give credit for the photo but I can't remember where I found it. If it belongs to you and you want me to remove it, I will gladly do so, with apologies.