Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Word study #1 - Mawkish

My husband is amazed that I have the followers I have. How many people would read a blog on the importance of a word (or two), especially when it's particular importance has nothing to do with them, personally.

Well, you never know. One of these days you might just happen to need to use the word, "mawkish." I don't know, maybe you are about to buy a card for a mother-in-law, sister-in-law, distant friend and you settle on one of the very soppy cards you find in the racks at a drug store, (there is a reason why they are sold in drug stores) and you say, "Eureka," I think that this is mawkish(soppy) enough to suit the tastes of Belinda B - exactly!

OK, here's the back story. I do crossword puzzles - go figure - and the clue was "Mawkish girl gets nothing in return."  I was fascinated by a word, I don't hear often. Mawkish means, overly sentimental, soppy. The sound of the word, itself, does not complement, its meaning - mawkish doesn't sob - it snaps.

I was stumped for a while, then I finally figured out that the girl's name was Maud and the "nothing in return" was "nil or lin." The answer was "maudlin" -  another soppy, somewhat sad, word.

Wait!! It doesn't stop there. I am a lateral thinker and as often as I try to straighten out my mind, it decides to bend and lead me down paths, I have (had) never intended to wander. There are a number of "Mauds" that now have to be considered.

1. Tennyson's Maud.

Come into the garden, Maud,
     For the black bat, night, has flown,
Come into the garden, Maud,
     I am here at the gate alone ;
And the woodbine spices are wafted abroad,
     And the musk of the rose is blown.

In addition to planting the flowers, that grew in my grandmother's garden, I grow the flowers from poems I have read. I grow roses, and soon, passionflower, and bleeding heart for all the poems that don't mention flowers, but bleed so much passion, they have to be remembered!!

PS: I don't have the dates on the gravestone, but it is amazing that someone who died maybe 50 or so years ago is now posted on the internet. This requires another post. I'll go back and get the information. This is time immemorial.

2. Maud Gonne

W.B. Yeats' muse was Maud Gonne. There is something about the tension (not Tennyson) in unrequited love that spurs the poet. Yeats proposed to Maud Gonna many times, only to be rejected. Here is his poem to her.

When You Are Old

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

The picture? Taken in Mt Pleasant Cemetery. Perhaps as mawkish, as the tributes on tombstones. Come into the garden, indeed. The evil in me has to tell you that mawkish comes from the old norse for maggot. Tempus fugit - Gather ye rosebuds while ye may - and maybe read a few poems along the way!!

Have a meaningful day!!

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Ongoing...going on...

Our writing word again, after a break, is "ongoing." Certainly this lock down for the pandemic has been ongoing, but we keep going on. We keep believing that it will all be over soon and that we will get back to "almost normal" before we know it.

I think we have to keep believing this, even though we know that many will have lost their jobs and have to start looking for other jobs at less pay, poorer conditions, etc. etc, if they can even find a job.

Many companies will have closed. Consumers will be buying less, taking on less risk and generally making do, with what they have. The future looks grim. What can we "go onto" doing? Well the human race is pretty creative. It has come this far through many pandemics, wars, recessions, depressions and "still we rise" or more correctly, "have risen."

Maybe, we will become part of a smaller, more closely knit community than before. Maybe, we will gather people around us, keeping them near and dear. Maybe we will enrich what we have, rather demanding to have more.....the list goes on.

In fact, Covid 19 has shown us a lot -

1. We can make do with what we have. We don't need to buy more.
2. We can spend hours with ourselves, alone and survive.
3. We can find productive things to do in small spaces or large time slots.
4. We can find joy in simple activities - baking bread comes to mind.
5. We respect more deeply other people - their space and their way of coping with life.
6. We can create more fresh space without expanding, by cleaning and decluttering.
7. We can appreciate the simple pleasures of a walk.
8. We have come to realize how creative, resourceful and resilient we really are.
9. We have had time to think and understand what is really important for us.
10. We are now more open to accept a changed future.

Add to the list - it's ongoing, as we keep going on.

The pictures? Flowers always give me pleasure.

Have a spectacular day!!

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Purposeful progress....

As we work (or not, as the case may be) through this lock down, I am reminded of the need to have purposeful activity. Day 3 of my 27 day writing exercise was a poem about saving an ant. Well, I have too many ants and more than a dozen ant traps in the house to have any sympathy with saving the life of one ant.

No, my purposeful activity has been to water the seedlings that have started to sprout from the seeds I ordered in April. I know I'm a little late to hope that any of these will bear fruit in August, but I can't see them wither away either, because the timing is all wrong.

Nothing says hope and promise like a sprouted seed. This is the beginning of life. OK, plant life, but it is still life and the perfect analogy to life, in all its many forms. It is, with this hope and this analogy in mind, that I water these seedlings every morning.

They may never go outside. I may just have these vegetable plants on my windowsill all summer, fall and winter. Why not? I have started something and I plan to see it through. We have to move beyond the present at times and look into the future. This is not to waste away the days, at hand, but simply to find a way through the "tough bits," to find a reason, however, simple to carry on.

Now, it may only take me ten minutes or so to water the trays, but I can look at them during the day and everyday there is something different to look at. So what do I do with the other 14 hours and 50 minutes, that I have left in the day? You had to ask, didn't you. Well, I have now written about the seedlings. I did listen to the podcast about the writing idea and I did do 15 minutes of writing - longhand - before I came up with this post.

The rest of the day was survival - a little cooking, no cleaning - but I thought about it, lots of looking out of windows for a change in the weather, a flutter of bird life or a return to life of the flowers that were ill prepared for three days of snow in May. Clearly, I don't need a lot of stimuli to function. My heart goes out to all those children with boundless energy, who are shut in, to the parents and caregivers, who have to cope and to the many others, who have not found a purposeful activity.

Have a focused day!

Saturday, May 09, 2020

This is the wrath of God.....

.....snow in May. He is angry - very angry. OK, I'm not much of a believer, but there are times when I feel that the cosmos is trying to tell us something. Mute nature, finds ways of communicating. Time to listen to the snowflakes.

Poets have been trying to tell us for years, that we are worshiping the almighty dollar instead of worshipping the Almighty or Nature or something like that -

From William Wordsworth - 1807

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers; -
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!

Perhaps this pandemic is a wake up call. Probably not. We didn't learn much from the Spanish flu, which killed 50 million people.

Too many have not observed the lock down. Too many places are opening too soon. For profit care had the greatest number of fatalities. The list goes on....We need to change.

From Gerard Manley Hopkins - 1877

...........Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
    And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
    And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

What to do? Turn back, where we can. Go back to walking, cycling; go back to locally produced products, local communities, stay home, foster what is within your reach. Research, support truth, start leading rather than following. Be the change you want to see in the world.

Pictures for a snowy day in May. Stay safe, well and warm!!

Monday, May 04, 2020

Curbside Curtsies......

During the shut down for this pandemic, retail has "kept a light on" by doing curb-side pick up, as well as, shipping out and deliveries. I have ordered a few things on-line and specified curb-side pick up. Well, spell checker decided to change "curbside" to "curtsied." I'm not sure why. I thought it was just me, until the other day, I saw a post on FB from a Toronto blog I follow. They had listed one of the ways you could collect your on-line order, as "curtsied" pick up. Eureka! It wasn't just me!!

Now, who should be doing the curtsying? I might, but I'm inside the car, with the trunk open. The store employee is too busy running my order out to me, that it wouldn't make sense. Plus they are at the back of the car, in jeans and a mask. Somehow the grace of a curtsy would be completely lost, especially if the curb-sider were male. Sigh!

Alas, ordering on-line, even without the curtsy, has its drawbacks. I tried to order garden soil from a nursery only to be told, in a note on-line, that soil was not available at my chosen location. Well, I saw it there, yesterday. I called the store and had soil added to my order. I curtsied on the other end of the phone.

I tried to order wood stain at another store. I found the stain, but it had to be tinted. However, there was no way of adding the colour of tint to the stain, on-line. I did not curtsy. Plus I had several other items to order including "fairy lights" (it's an English thing) for the apple tree. Maybe no midsummer dancing and curtsying this year in the garden. I also needed to buy spray paint for my garden ornaments - twelve wooden cats - they needed to be "refreshed." Again maybe not this year. Anyway, I've never seen a cat curtsy, a dog, yes, but a cat, never.

The pictures? My cat ornaments, plus the real life model. I bow to cats :)

Have a fulfilling day!

PS - May the fourth be with you!

Saturday, May 02, 2020

The Darkling Thrush......

It's a phrase that was written a long time ago in a newspaper one Spring and it caught the attention of the staff room on a giddy day in early May. The complete phrase is :

"In Spring, nothing looks more like a clump of earth than the Darkling Thrush.." or something like that.

It took on a life of it's own and throughout the day it became...

The Darkling Thrust - when the VP in charge of staff poked his nose into the staff room and frowned.

The Darkling Rusk - when someone's toast was overdone.

The Darkling Gust - when a chilly wind blew in through an open window.

The Darkling Lust - yes, there was always the weird one salivating in the corner.

The Darkling Musk - to the teacher who always wore too much scent.

And so it went, here and there, now and then, a clever punster would resurrect the phrase to peals of laughter. Such is the headiness of Spring, when we are finally released from months of hunkering down in the darkness, waiting for a time when we can revel in the lushness of green, the warmth of air, the scent of earth and the trill of birdsong. Come clumps of earth and morph into thrushes, rushes, ruses or fuses that through the green leaves drive the flowers.

My staff room story is a moment in time I want to remember. I also want to remember the Spring of this pandemic. How the easing of the lockdown has sent waves of hope through those prisoned in tiny rooms, afraid to go out, terrified of catching, what could be a coughing death. Has IT "passed over"? Are we safe to open our doors?

I also want to remember the animals that came out of hiding, when we were in our hiding. I want to remember a boardwalk with a foxes' den under it. I want to remember all the stories of all the animals that walked fearlessly through city streets and parks, empty of people.

I, also, want to remember the birds in the garden - so many more than we have ever had in the past - blue jays, cardinals, robins, chick-a-dees, house finches, yellow finches, juncos, sparrows - several different kinds and one that we may have wrongly identified as a hermit thrush - perhaps the original darkling thrush.

An engineer once told me that, if you were to give nature 50 years, it would take over all this development and return it to forest - how about 5 weeks?

Bring on The Sparkling Rush!!

Have a Spring Day

Thursday, April 30, 2020


OK, it's starting to get to me. Can't go outside - it's raining. I've cleaned the bathroom - there's nothing left to clean. Well, maybe there is, but I'm not doing it today. Yes, I have knitting to do and several books to read, but I'm climbing the walls. This is where it really gets "silly."

I posted parallel poems to a poem by William Carlos Williams - The Red Wheelbarrow - in my last post and found some old pictures. OK. I like looking at pictures. So I decided to find another short poem and do some more imitations - with pictures. Here it(they) is(are).

From Ogden Nash

The Cow

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

From me:

The Pig

The pig is of the porcine kind;
One end is oink, the other rind.

Bacon anyone?

The Snake

The snake is on the elapine list;
One end is rattle, the other hisss..t

Well, you get the idea.

I can't believe I came that close to even take a picture.

The Horse

The horse is in the equine group;
One end is neigh, the other poop.

Well, I think it's time to go :)

Have a poetic day!

So much depends upon.....

The title of this post is the opening line of a poem, "The Red Wheelbarrow," by William Carlos Williams. It came to mind the other day when I saw the same line under a picture in one of our Toronto newspapers, either the Globe and Mail or the Toronto Star. We get both - it's all about the crossword puzzles :)

Here's the poem.

The Red Wheelbarrow

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

The newspaper imitated the poem under a picture of a closed park, because of this pandemic. I would often take a small poem and have students imitate it in their own words. Here are some pictures and my imitations.

The Pink Flamingo

so much depends

a pink plastic

hung in winter

beside the grey

The Red Tulips

so much depends

ten red

accented with yellow

beside the white

The White Mountains

so much depends

white marble

misted in soft

beside the small

That's it! My poetry contributions for the day, inspired by a picture in the newspaper. We take our muses where we find them. They are not completely accurate imitations. There are too many syllables  in some places and the wrong parts of speech here and there. These days there is little discipline.

Have an amazing day.