Friday, 28 December 2012

Christmas Presents

A Christmas present that just does not fit.

 We have all had occaions where we received a very well-intentioned gift that just did not fit - either our size, our personality, or some personal trait of ours that just renders that gift inappropriate and necesitates a return or an exchange!  Life is a series of adjustments, corrections, and exchanges.  Some of those returns or exchanges are are painful for the giver, or the reciver, or both.  It is an unfortunate fact of life that just cannot be avoided.  We learn from these mistakes and  will not repeat the faux pas again in the future.

Hopefully, few of you fell into this category, and that you all had a wonderful Christmas and got only "proper-fitting" presents. I hope that you all enter the new year in a wonderfull state of  a happiness and conentment.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Chain letters

Chain Letters
Sometimes I feel I am being used.  Well not me, but my name is.  Like everyone else, I have a long list of email friends and some of them I keep in touch with personally and often.   We share news of family, of what we are doing and even a joke every now and then, that I know that particular person would enjoy.  There are others that share just jokes or pictures. That is interesting if it is within my line of interests.

 Then there are those that just use my name as a receptacle  for those chain letters that say "send to x number of people within the next x number of minutes and you will win big money or something wonderful will happen to you tomorrow  If you do not comply and send this out to all those people immediately you will have terrible bad luck for x number of years or some evil will immediately befall you".  These people need names (who cares if they are friends or not) as long as they have "averted their years of bad luck" or "assured their big windfall" or whatever other gimmick the chain letter writer used to insure propagation of his chain letter.  "I don't dare break this one!" I have been informed as a prelude to yet another chain letter.  Your name just has one purpose for these people.  It is a name they can click on when they need receivers.  You are not even a person to these people.  You are convenient recepticle they can click on to get that chain letter off their inbox.  They are not thinking that you would enjoy getting that email.  They know full well you won't appreciate it but your name served its purpose.  It added that extra click they needed to fill their "required Quota".  Don't you just  love having that kind of value!?! Some people just beg to be blocked!

BTW, none of the senders of these chain letters have won that 649 jackpot yet, so perhaps my name was not as valuable to them as they thought. Surprise???????  I wonder if the senders of these chain letters realize that those chain letters all have cookies attached.    And they definitely are not the edible kind!  What a (blessing?) that is to all the people they send those letters to!!!!!!!!

Monday, 3 December 2012

Now I Am a Snowman

I Am a Snowman

 I am not crying the blues
I've no reason to complain
Winter's here, my nose is cold
But I can take the pain.

'Twas really's not a bad way
To start a new day free
Till I ran into a snow blower
A blizzed just for me

I tried to duck but to no avail.
To hide, get outta the way
But he was on a mission
He had the right-of-way

Refusing to heed my plight
He just kept on blowing snow
I almost got buried alive
But it wasn't my time to go.

So now I am a snowman
With nose and eyes with tears
I'm waiting for the sunshine
To come and thaw my ears.


Thursday, 29 November 2012

Mid-thought Rests

When Patience Fails

When patience fails, gets mushy
And logic  takes a powder
Waning wits, tangled thoughts
Announce our flaws much louder.
It's not that we don't mean well
It's not that we don't care
It's just that we now operate
On a totally different fare
It's not that we are senile
Cause we know just what is wrong
We'll get to it out eventually
It's just waiting on our tongue
It just takes a little longer
For our words to reach your ears
We've just used up all our slick tricks
Over all those many years

You bright and nimble young things
Don't laugh or ridicule
You think that you'll outsmart it
And change the aging rule
But that is not how the rules work
As us old folks can attest
We're just slower than we used to be
Cause we're taking a mid-thought rest! 

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Remembrance Day

We Remember
With a haunting and poignant pathos
We recall those heroes
We never really knew.
Those unfamiliar faces
Warriors all, bold, intrepid,
The guardians of our freedom borne.

With distant visions yet undefined
Noble passions, valiant aspirations
And willing hearts they faced the dark unknown
They left behind their peaceful homes
To wander in uncharted regions
To face distress, life fraught with danger
To bravely fight a war that was not their own.

Can we even ever change age old ideologies
So unlike our own, yet so ingrained
That foreign concepts just cannot grasp
Nor accept? nor consider? nor renounce?
Yet our heroes go to battle
They strive, they struggle, they sacrifice
To make life just a little better
For strangers they will never know!



Thursday, 8 November 2012

Winter Adventures

Tubing Down The Ravine
Another one of winters pleasures was tumbling  down a ravine in a huge tractor tube. This could be fun providing you didn't hit any unexpected protruding rocks on the way down, or else you would go sailing into the wild blue yonder and hopefully just land on soft snow and not on any hard surface.
Alas, this is but a memory.  Those days are long gone and the only thrill I can get now comes from reliving those pleasures as I leaf through old picture albums. Oh, but what fun that was!! Remember this, Mixers????

Monday, 5 November 2012

Skis, Skates or Cleats

Skates or cleats
We're back to the snow and ice again.  I really don't mind winter.  If you dress for it,  it can be comfortable. And it can be fun!  It is a beautiful time of the year, especially when the hoar frost turns the landscape into a glistening  wonderland of white! Even summer' blossoms can be hard pressed to compete with that phenomenon.

However before we get to that stage, we often must go through that that "freezing rain" season.  I don't think there is a single Canadian (or perhaps even some Americans) that actually enjoy that hazardous stage of our changing seasons.  I was walking to church yesterday and I usually enjoy the walk (eight city blocks), but yesterday, I almost turned back in surrender. Overnight the streets  had turned into a veritable skating rink, replete with miniature unexpected dips and slides
.
It seems that we do this every year.  In order to get to the good times we must first get through the bad ones.
Oh well, since I hung up my skis and my snowshoes, perhaps I should invest in a pair of skates.  Better still, considering my advancing age and my declining agility, perhaps it would be wiser to just go with sharp-point cleats!

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Halloween Fun

Halloween Holstein

Sorry about the delay folks but  I was waiting for this picture, to show you our Halloween party fun.
These were some of the guests at our annual Halloween party. It was a riot of an evening! Age is no barrier to having fun and many of our residents just let their hair down, donned masks and costumes and just naturally hammed it up.  A mask allows you a freedom  to act silly with wild abandon.  It transcends the boundaries of "prim and proper decorum" and gives you license toss your inhibitions to the four winds and just let it happen!  It's all just in the name of harmless fun! Halloween is fun for all good sports.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Family Tree



Frustration  In Spades

When I first started working on our family tree, it was but a whimsical idea.  My sister and some cousins thought it would be interesting to see how our tree had grown, how many different nationalities and cultures we had embraced into our midst, how far abroad we had spread our branches, how many career paths we had imprinted, how many lifestyles we had wandered into, how many beliefs we had adopted, etc. etc. etc.  A fascinating subject, right?  Well, try it!

This sounded like an intriguing project and my sister got it started by gathering some basic genealogical facts.  She did not have a computer and did not type so she did it all in longhand on foolscap sheets that she kept in a large envelope in her desk drawer.  As she got older, she found the task burdensome as she had reached the limits of her personal knowledge and found other sources of information beyond her reach.  So who gets stuck with the continuation and the extension of this fantastic project?  Of course, the most likely candidate will be 1) someone that expressed interest in the project originally, 2) someone who has some basic computer knowledge, and most importantly 3) someone who is too naive to realise what she is getting into. The sum total of those factors at that time equalled ME.  I took that pile of foolscap home and entered a phase of my life that I had never encountered before.

With the aid of a computer program called the “Family Tree Maker” I organised the information, ran up monumental phone bills tracing (or visiting) reluctant or indifferent relatives, browsed through reams of Homecoming Books from places I had never even heard of, searched through countless unproductive archive files, visited graveyards throughout the prairies peering at unreadable gravestones and performing other unspeakably lunatic manoeuvres.  

Consequently, I have learned several very important lessons.  This project is monumental. It is exhausting.  It is “never-ending”.  It is time, energy and brain consuming.  It is costly.  It is thankless.  And worst of all, it is hopeless!   I give up!


Monday, 15 October 2012

Losing ground

When the Brain Doesn't Work
This started out as "humor" but ended up "lament"

When your tricky brain goes AWOL
And you feel you're losing ground
And the thought you're trying to retrieve
Just doesn't hang around.
You try hard to remember
But it seems to no avail
You may as well be hauling rain
In a leaky water pail.
Your mind gets so frustrated
And you fear the end is near
You seem so close to losing all
The brainpower you held dear.
You fight the sinking feeling
You're ageing much too fast
You're so afraid that intellect
Your clever self has passed
Your wit that used to be so sharp
Has hardly is now an edge
To get a thought delivered now
You almost need a dredge
Your youthful vim and vigour
Is gone without a trace
It did not stay to bid adieu
Just left you in disgrace
It's sad to see you're failing
And worse to be aware
That all that worldly wisdom
Is just not yours to share.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Thanksgiving


Thank You Lord

For good health and life serene
For friends, family, often seen
For sunny days and moonlit nights
For heavens full of starry lights
For trees and flowers, around and near
For air we breathe that’s sweet and clear
For food enjoyed that sustains our life
For peaceful times that hold no strife
For laughter, joy, – and – sorrow, too
All life’s experiences you guide us through
For all the blessing you give each day
We’re truly grateful and we humble pray:
Thank You Lord! 

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Friends that are always there for us


Friend

For those people that are always there for us but whom we never seem to acknowledge or appreciate enough.  I just thought that with Thanksgiving coming up, such people should have a bit of recognition
I have entitled this little poem as simply

Friend

What do I see when I look at you
I see the bright sun shining through
A cloudless sky of azure blue
A lovely rose that’s sprung anew
I see a friend that’s always true
I see pure love reflected too
And I see you smile like you always do
So what do I feel when I think of you
I feel so grateful, I have you!

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Autumn Splendor

 Autumn Spendor
 Enjoy  The colors of Fall are out there but don't even blink or you may miss them.  I love this season of the year.  It is so spectacular, but so fleeting!  One morning you look out your window and you behold this vibrant kaleidoscope of nature's beauty so awesome to behold and you want to drive out into the country to embrace this phenomenon but alas, today you have to go to work or to do something that you just cannot postpone so you make great plans with family and friends for a grand picnic next Saturday, out in those gorgeous outdoors.

All week long you eagerly anticipate a fantastically scenic rendezvous with nature's glory.  You pack mountains of food and refreshments, at least a couple of cameras, extra batteries and film, and make sure you charge up your batteries on your cellphone as well as any other photographic devices(because they snap great pics as well) and plan, plan, plan for this party of all parties.

Then on Friday, the day before the big day, after all the preparations have been finalized to perfection, a big wind whips up.  You wake up Saturday morning and look with dismay at the bare branches of the trees all around you. They resemble more of a barren winter scene than that glorious visual banquet you had been gearing up for all week.  Sound familiar???  Been there??? Done  that???  Just another example of "Don't put off for tomorrow what you can do today".

When I was in Australia, they told me that they import our colorful trees to get color into their seasons because their own indigenous trees are ever green.  Until that trip, I had never appreciated those fallen colorful leaves.  They only represented a tedious fall chore - raking up the leaves.  Now I see those colors with wide open eyes and an appreciative mind.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Worthy Ambassadors of our City

I was walking to the library today and I met a fellow that very much impressed me.  Now this man was not a famous person nor was he, what most people would consider an "important" man. Nonetheless, I was extremely impressed by him and by what he was doing, and in my book, he is worthy of the "important" label.  Now I don't know the man's circumstances, nor do I know if he was "employed" to do what he was doing or if he was simply doing it as a goodwill volunteer.   I certainly have not seen others like him before so his is not a "common"job, though I do believe this city, or any city, could benefit from at least several of these fellows doing "the job" that this man was doing.

With the help of a long handled pair of claws that picked up cigarette butts, pieces of paper, crushed paper cups and all sorts of other garbage left behind by uncaring, inconsiderate and messy people, this man was cleaning the street by collecting all that garbage into a garbage cart that he pulled along behind him.

I certainly hope he was getting paid for this wonderful service he was providing for our city.    It is too bad that we have so many uncaring and messy people that leave their garbage so carelessly behind.  I wonder what these peoples' homes are like.  Are their floors, counters and furniture strewn with all sorts of debris?  What a pity that folks cannot take some pride in their surrounding and clean up their own garbage by depositing it in proper receptacles instead of dropping them at random on the street. Our city streets could be beautiful minus that mess.

How many of us sometimes wish we had a broom in hand while we walk down the street?  If these street-cleaners are not being "hired" as I suspect this fellow wasn't, perhaps the city could reward those worthy city ambassadors somehow. Wouldn't it be wonderful to see our city streets free of debris and garbage for a change? Or is that a pipe dream?

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Soul-mates, the Spice of Life

Ode to Soul-mates 

How often do we run across that one person who is so in tune with our way of thinking that we need to be in contact with them almost constantly because that link is so vital to our life.  I'm not talking here about men and women, that "Partner in Life" thing though I admit there is profound validity in that.  That is a totally different subject, and I will not go there, certainly at not at this time.  But there are "soul-mates" out there whom we may not see on a regular basis but with whom we keep in touch by mail, or telephone or an occasional visit or whatever other method. When you have a great moment (or a bad one) you need to share it with only that one person.  You  share your innermost thoughts and feelings with them and are totally confident that they understand what you are talking about. Few of us are fortunate to find these soul-mates and it is a pity, because they truly complete our life no matter what the distance or the physical differences between us.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Is It Fall Yet?

Is It Fall Yet?

I walk outside and I see altered
The scenes of summer somehow faltered
The sun behind the clouds keeps hiding
It's orbit's changed, it's lower riding,
It's cooler now, I hear the call
I feel the chill of early fall
The rays of heat, the suns bright glare
It's gone somehow, it isn't there.
The birds that lilted lovely strands
Have flown away to distant lands.
The flowers bow their heads and sway
They fold their petals as if to pray.
The leaves above in trees still dance
Revel green, it's their last the chance.
Jack Frost is skulking around the bend
He's marking time for when to send
The vibrant colors of autumn's glory
The sign of harvest, the age-old story.
September's here, the time is spent
I don't know where the summer went
I'm looking forward to the rustle
Of fallen leaves, as I rush and bustle
To clear the garden, the final reaping
Of Nature's bounty for winter keeping.
I could go on endlessly
Reciting blessings ceaselessly
But 'tis enough to make us treasure
A life so full, it's beyond measure!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Nine Eleven

Nine Eleven

I started to do my blog and as I got ready to post it, it suddenly hit me what day it was.  How well I remember that morning those "many" years ago.  I woke up  but I was still in bed as I pushed the button on the remote to switch on the TV.   I wasn't looking for anything specific but I was just not in the mood to get up quite yet.  I watched the plane crash through the tower and I thought "What a horrible movie! And so early in the morning.  How do they film such things and why do they show such awful movies so early in the morning?" I was disgusted. "I guess those movie stations will do anything for money," I decided.

Normally, I would just have turned to another station or shut off the TV completely, because I don't like and never watch horror movies.  I still don't know why I stayed on that channel. I was convinced it was just a "stupid movie".   But something made me watch.  When realization hit that it was "News" and not "fiction" I glued to that station and couldn't leave.   I was still in that bed, in my pj's at noon.  I forgot about getting up, washing, dressing,  eating and everything else. What I saw that day proved to me that Truth is truly stranger than fiction.

 I pray for those innocent people that died that day but I especially pray for their grieving families.  The ones that died are no longer suffering, but the ones left behind will suffer for the rest of their lives.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Live This Moment

 LIVE THIS MOMENT

As I look over my blog, I see a trend that has developed that I had not noticed before.  It's not as if I have nothing in my life in the present.  Yet so much of what I have published in my blog has to do with my life back in Dauphin.  That is not bad. I have good memories of that time.  I had a good life there.  I was very involved with the community there, probably too much sometimes.  I had little time to do pleasure things so I put them off for "when I retire". Busy doing things I had to do, I had little time for things I wanted to do. I did, however, do a lot of travelling and I am happy that I did so.  I saw a lot of the the world. It was my very appreciated reward for all my hard work.  I certainly could not enjoy that strenuous pace now, so I'm glad to sit and read my detailed travel logs and look at my captioned pictures as I relax on my comfortable couch.  This is retirement as it should be, a time to reflect on a life well spent and much enjoyed.

Now that I "am retired" I enjoy the freedom to choose my activities but from force of habit, I find I still take on more than I can chew sometimes and that is my own  fault.  This spring was an extremely busy one and I found myself running out of steam too often.  It is time to acknowledge my limitations, time to take stock of my life, time to reset my priorities.  Retirement should not be a time to gear up.  It should be a time to gear down to a more comfortable pace. I have always dreamed of writing and as I spend my time at my computer, I am thankful that I still have this wonderful opportunity to indulge my dream on a hobby that is so stimulating and enjoyable for me. Too often we are so busy making a living we have no time to live. We miss out on the most important thing of all and often go to our grave with sad regrets. I am trying to avoid that.  I am living and enjoying my life now.  It's a much more relaxed pace and I like it that way.

I talked to a friend recently who was bemoaning the fact that all her life she had dreamed of painting pictures but she still has had "no time" to do it.  (She has been retired for fifteen years). How many of us can identify with that problem?  We keep putting things off over and over until we find that our time has completely run out.  We are too ill or just otherwise too incapable of accomplishing those beautiful dreams anymore.
What a waste of a life and opportunity that is!  It really is OUR CALL!  Live this moment!

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Farewell to Summer Birds


The Robins are packing for their trip south.  Or perhaps they have already left because I have not heard or seen any robins lately.  Not that we get that many birds here.  Outside of the ubiquitous magpies, we see or hear only an occasional robin, sometimes a sparrow and if we are really lucky, we are treated to the flash of grey as a little chickadee flits happily among the branches  teasing us with his sweet "chicka dee dee dee".
Otherwise I have not seen too many bird species here in the city.



 I used to have tons of gold finches, purple finches, house finches and pinesiskens at my place when I lived in Dauphin.  They provided me with many hours of pleasure watching their antics at the feeders and the birdbath.   I also had a few humming birds , though not as many as I would have like to see.  My cousin, on a farm in Ethelbert, had dozens of them on her yard.  I so envied her.  Humming birds are so pretty and delightful.

We did see a purple finch this spring in my daughter's apricot tree.  I think he was scouting for feeders but although we had a feeder hanging in the other tree, I think we scared the him off with the loudly rustling blue plastic tarp that covered a trench below for some electrical cable.  The poor fellow never came back after that first reconnaissance trip.   A pity too.  I was so looking forward to seeing him and his family and friends visit us again.  

 I don't see any finches at all in my area of town (almost downtown Edmonton).  Perhaps the magpies are scaring them off.  Magpies are mean to the other species particularly to the nests and the young fledglings.  The magpie is not an ugly bird but I don't like their aggressively brutal behavior to the other birds and I don't particularly like the sound of the young magpies after they hatch.  They sound so raucous until their  "voices change".

Oh well, I do have my memories and my pictures.










Monday, 27 August 2012

Summer Storms

Memories from a Past

We had a hail storm the other day.  It was not too bad.  The hail was about the size of marbles. It did not scare me too much this time.  I felt safe and secure in a solid brick building. When I was in Dauphin,  I lived in a mobile home which I loved very much.  A mobile home is light and airy, not like a regular house.  What also helped to make it pleasant was that I liked the area I was in.  We all owned our lots so our subdivision was always well landscaped and meticulously manicured by owners who took pride in their yards as well as their homes.

Then came that fateful day in August of 2007 when a viscous storm rolled in from the northwest and trashed us mercilessly, leaving the whole town of Dauphin devastated.  No home was spared, no car was undamaged and no garden or flowerbed was salvageable.  The baseball sized hail whipped by forceful winds left me with a lasting fear of summer storms.  As I sat cowering in my mobile that day, I felt totally exposed and vulnerable to elements I had no way of escaping.  Fearing a tornado, I vividly recalled a whirlwind I had seen when I was a child.  I watched it pick up a frantically flapping chicken and carry it up into the wild sky.  I never did see that chicken come down.  As this storm raged around me and I heard the glass shattering under the onslaught of the hail, I imagined myself, in my mobile home, being hurled into the great beyond of outer space.

Luckily, both my mobile and I escaped irreparable damage. After replacing the siding, windows, fences and repairing the fist-sized holes in my roof, my life returned fairly well to normal except for my uncontrollable fear of  storms.  My love for my mobile home was now tainted with a feeling of vulnerability and helplessness.  Coupled with some other factors, I decided to move away.  I am happy here and I love my apartment, but I still think of that "home" I had in Dauphin where I enjoyed so many good times.  Only during that hailstorm last week, did I thank my lucky stars that I had moved and escaped that irrational terror!  

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Success or What

From the time I read my first book ("The Boxcar Children"), I had a dream.  The original "Boxcar Children"  was  an orange-coloured hardcover book like an adult novel-type book, with no pictures.  Last year, when I heard it was still in print, I looked for it but found it was only available on loan from another library.  Of course I ordered it immediately.  I could hardly wait to see the book that had inspired me so much almost sixty-five years ago.  Alas, when I got it, it was not the book I was expecting, but a children's picture book revised for children.  I think even the wording was more child-like, but perhaps my memory is exaggerating that part. Naturally, I was disappointed. I shouldn't have been, nor should I have been surprised.   Children's picture books were not "in vogue" those days and perhaps my childhood mind may have conjured up a glorified picture of that "adult" book also, though I can vividly picture the orange hard cover with the black title on it.

 As a child, I hated "Literature" as a "subject" until I actually went teaching myself.  I didn't want to "dissect" the stories.  I just wanted to enjoy them.  I probably read every book in that small Kulish library. They made me want to write my own books someday.  Now in retirement, I have finally achieved that goal to a small degree.  I have  published two memoir books, one children's picture book and am hoping to have a novel published by Christmas. I am now working on two more books.  Now I realize that to many people, this is a mere drop in the ocean.  And so it is.  But to me it is

The Fulfilment of a Dream

I used to dream a wistful dream.
Fulfilment I would find
In a vague goal not yet complete
A silent wish not yet defined

A haunting dream, persistent
Of a goal that once was bated
By authors, poets, sonnets
That thirst that must be sated

The simplest hint of glory
Success of late achieved
A victory in minute doses
My yearning soul relieved

I'm grateful for this blessing
The fulfilment of this dream
It may not be a monument
But 'tis my own sunbeam!

My books are at   http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/cmerko




Friday, 17 August 2012

Sweet Wild Blackberries

Luscious Blackberries from Mother Nature     

We just came back from Abbotsford BC and I was fascinated by all the blackberries that grow wild along the roadsides, in empty lots and along the fences. The roadsides are just loaded and obviously no one is interested in picking these delectable fruits that are free for the picking.  Mind you, you need a suit of armour to get into the middle of that bush where the best and biggest berries are.  These berries grow on the thorniest bushes you can possibly imagine and that is not an exaggeration!  The thorns literally grab you and entrap you so that you need to physically extricate yourself from their tenacious hold.  But I tell you, those berries are worth the battle.  When ripe, they are so sweet and juicy and they literally just fall into the palm of your hand.

The red ones in the top picture are not yet ripe but the picture shows you how prolific they are.  The bush in lower right is positively black with ripe berries.  The middle picture on the left is a close-up of some ripe fruit. 

We found the the ones that fall into your palm at the slightest touch are VERY sweet because they are so ripe.  If you have to pull them off, they are sour!  I guess that is why the store bought ones are always so sour -- because in order to withstand the shipping, they have to be picked before they are fully ripe.
I have sometimes purchased blackberries in the store but they were always so sour that I was not too eager to try these freebies from nature, but tree-ripened fruit is vastly different from what you get in the store.  These sweet berries are definitely worth getting yourself mauled by those ubiquitous sharp thorns!

Thursday, 9 August 2012

My Frustrating Computer


My Frustrating Computer

My computer is a cantankerous soul
Its aim is to unsettle
To bite me when I least expect
To encounter a stinging nettle.

I try so hard to be consistent
Not to ruffle its fine feathers
But still it seems to take offence
And ignores what I think matters.

It hides my curser, or stops it dead
Then makes me type so small
I never did select that font
That was not my fault at all.

My rile is mounting as I type
It makes my blood run cold
It moved this section to the end
And made it all in bold.

It highlights in bright red ink
A somewhat brazen passage
It makes me cringe and hide with shame
That I ever sent that message.

It poings in laughter at my fury
My aggravation, its hilarity
It makes a joke of my persona
And a mockery of my charity.

I am convinced there is a demon
Lurking behind those keystrokes
Its purpose, to torment us
Innocent unsuspecting old folks. 

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Now, That's a Mushroom!

                     Mother Nature's Special Gift
We called this the "Chicken Mushroom" and it actually does taste abit like chicken when fried up with butter and onions. It usually grows on top of a old maple stump cut off at ground level (which is where I found this one). I have also found them growing  on the side of an old maple that is still standing, anywhere from 2 to 5 feet up the trunk.  It can be a light brown to cream colored to this almost deep orange color.  I am told there are no other mushrooms that look like them so you are unlikely to pick a poisonous one.  It is very solid and meaty and can be canned or frozen, which helps because it is so large that unless you have a family of twelve, you cannot possibly consume it in one  meal.  It is fairly rare but a very special treat if you can find one.  I used to find them in the wild where there was a variety of young and old trees, especially maples. A walk in the woods was very rewarding if you came across this treat.

Friday, 27 July 2012

My Lonely World


I encountered a lonely Alzheimer's patient today, and I could not forget that look of desolation on the face of this unfortunate individual.  Of all the debilitating diseases of  old age, this disease and other forms of dementia scare me the most, because of its depressing tendencies.  It is so terribly sad to see because  it makes you feel so helpless and inadequate.

My Lonely World

You came into my world today
You saw, you understood
The presence of a poignant loss
Of something sweet and good

You gazed into my woeful eyes
Your sympathy profound
My smile was weak, my outlook bleak
But your empathy was sound

You held my shaking hand awhile
My fingers you caressed
My face was blank but in my mind
I knew you were impressed.

My dynamic life has faded now
Its exuberance diminished
My vibrant verve nonexistent now
My zest for life is finished

I appreciate your kindness
I am grateful for your caring
But compassion now is bittersweet
As is the Pity you are sharing.

We cannot turn back the hands of time
Or control our aging progression
We but hope to face, with a calming grace
The end without depression.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

I'd Like to Be


Today I feel wistful and dreamy, wanting to be something I am not.  I have no idea where this feeling comes from.  It's not that I have anything missing, or unsatisfactory in my life , but it's just that.......

I’d Like to Be

I’d like to be a blue bird
Trilling lilting melodies
In wild abandon, never ending
Mother Nature’s rhapsodies
I’d like to be a bumblebee
Soaring, roaring, through the air
Landing softly on the blossoms
Bright and fragrant waiting there.
I’d like to be a perfume
Wafting softly in the breeze
Melding visions, nature’s beauty
With wonderful memories
I’d like to be a dew drop
Shining bright in the morning sun
Sitting on a lovely petal
Of a blossom newly sprung.
I’d like to be a rainbow
Arched above the world so high
Glorious colours softly blending
Like a halo in the sky.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Treasures Lost


I  was just reading  letters Ruth Jackson's blog  http://www.memoirwritersworld.blogspot.com/ where she posted  her father-in-law's letters from World War I,    Ruth is very fortunate to have such personal and intimate records of her family members.


My father, Dmetro Bailuk, served in the Austrian Army sometime back at the beginning of the century but I have no records of it other than an old portrait of him in army uniform.  (This portrait was damaged in Dauphin's flood of 1975 so not even that it is in the best condition.) Both my Mom and Dad came from the Ukraine at the turn of the century, but never preserved any  records. 

I was not  trying to do extensive records like Ruth.  I simply wanted some information for our family tree but such sources of information are difficult to obtain now. I envy Ruth her rich and reliable records.  Few of us are that privileged. I tried variations of spelling but was not successful at obtaining information.  Even the 1916 census did not have him listed because he must have been away from home and working somewhere.  Mom is listed as the head of the household in that census. I even tried contacting Bailuk's on Skype in the Ukraine with no success.
My father went to work on the railroad here in Canada after he married my mom (they married in 1914 and farmed in the Mossey River municipality of Manitoba.)  I'm sure he wrote letters  home also, but Mom never thought of preserving them.  So all I can say is: those of you that have old records like that, cherish them.  They are more precious than gold!        

Friday, 13 July 2012

Give Me Time


Give Me Time

Let me revel in the splendour
Of a blazing sunset
Reflecting on a glassy lake
Is shimmering hues
Rivalling the heavens above.

Let me bask in the glow
Of an evening campfire
Brilliant tendrils of flickering flames
Reaching into the darkness
Like outstretched arms
Eager to embrace the night.

Allow me the luxury of a leisurely walk
Meandering through lush green meadows
Musing on the shyness of the violet
Watching wild daisies bow their heads
To hoards of working bees
And lazy flamboyant butterflies.

Let me savour the ticklish trek
Of a misguided bumble bee
On my outstretched arm
Searching for that nectar he’ll never find.

Grant me that enchanted moment
To smell the velvety chasm
Of an orange tiger lily
Mindless of the brown smear
That stains my nose when I get too close.

Permit me to relax serenely
On a rushy shore of a meandering brook
A refreshing coolness caressing my bare toes
And a soft breeze toying with my hair
As I listen to the haunting cry of a distant loon
The bark and howl of a lonely coyote
Echoing through the evening hush.

Let me forget for a moment
The must-be-done tasks
Those endless mundane chores
That always wait for me
And must be done - again
And again, and again, and again……

Monday, 9 July 2012

Morning Glory

The Pleasures of Summer
Nothing heralds a wonderful morning more gloriously than the sights and perfumes of summer blossoms.  I love morning glories and it is a pity that morning glory blossoms don't smile at us this way throughout the whole day.  Alas, these gorgeous blooms are at their loviest in the mornings but shyly fold in the hot sun.

The thick and luxurious vines are quite easy to grow, and, depending which  type you choose to plant, they can grow up to as high as fifteen to twenty feet if you provide some sort of a trellis or netting for them to climb on.

I had a maple that died one winter when a February thaw turned cold and killed it.  I trimmed some of the branches down and planted morning glories around it. I also hung finch feeders on the bigger branches.  Between the sights, the sounds and the fragrances, this arrangement provided me with many wonderful hours of pleasure.

I also  grew them along the side of my deck and often by mid-August through September they would almost totally cover the open side where I provided them with the netting to climb on.  They actually gave my deck the ambient  look and feel of a  rich tropical garden room.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Celebrating CANADA DAY

                                            Celebrating Canada Day

Okay, I apologize.  We got rain.  A nice downpour yesterday during the day but by evening it had cleared out very nicely to give us a most glorious evening for watching the spectacular fireworks.

 At 10:30  in the evening, we joined the throngs of people who lined up along the Promenade overlooking the serene and verdant River valley to watch the fireworks over the distant High Level Bridge.  It turned out to be a beautiful evening, balmy with just a whisper of a breeze. A magnificent moon,  like a sovereign in the heavens, watched over his dominion of twinkling city lights below.  Even  the cacophony of cheering voices failed to quell the tranquility of this nature's oasis of the peaceful river valley in the middle of the bustling city rush surrounding it.   I wish I had a camera that could capture the atmosphere.  Still pictures just don't do the trick at all.


As we walked home after the display, a hint of delicate perfumes of various blossoms permeated the air to enhance the ambiance of a perfect summer evening.  What a beautiful country we live in!   

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Oops! Somebody Goofed!

                                         UH, OH, Wrong Again

They said it was supposed to have been raining today.  They said it was supposed to be raining all last week and the week before, too. I think we only had a few light 15 minute showers out of the deal.  Where did all that rain go?  Those forecasts are just "guesswork". Instead of "Man plans and God laughs", I think the new saying should go, "Weather forecasters predict, and God laughs".

Don't get me wrong.  I am enjoying the nice weather.  It is just that I keep hauling all this rain gear with me every time I go anywhere because I am always preparing for the downpour that never comes and all I get is lots of sweat and sore arms. I'd have been better off to just leave the rain gear at home and taken my chances at getting wet.  I had to shower to wash off the sweat anyway so I could have just had a "free" shower.

Oh well, that was my gripe for the day and now that it's off my back, I'm going out to enjoy the sunshine and all that gorgeous weather.

However, I do think we should stop guessing and just admit we know nothing about what Nature is planning to do.  Perhaps God is telling us "Not thy will but Mine be done."

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Tranquility

Here is another of my poems that I wrote in my poetry days.  Perhaps I could rename it "Reminisce" because that is what I do when I recall the day that I wrote it.  At that time I called it simply:

                                        Tranquility
The ultimate serenity
A quiet evening stroll
Where the heart finds it haven
On a quiet country knoll.

In my dreams I often wander
Where time and life stand still
Pausing neath the tree top
Where sings the whippoorwill.

Through the quiet of the evening
Into the stillness of the night
Fanning feathers softly utter
The sound of the owl in flight

A hovering pair of nighthawks
Their silent wings unfurled
Gliding slowly o’er this portrait
Of an enchanted wonder world.

The aura of the meadow
Of fresh daisies doth proclaim
A wild fragrance none can capture
A sweet perfume none can tame.

With the sigh of an evening zephyr
The angels softly speak
Touching softly as they linger
Like silk upon my cheek.

In the breeze, the trees are swaying
With their branches gently bent
Mother Nature rocking calmly
In her armchair, so content.

In peaceful quiet rapture
My soul perceives its haven
This Paradise, this Eden
God has so freely given!

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Garden-fresh Veggies are Worth the Pain

                               UH, OH, Late Again
My, how the time flies!  I should add "when you're having fun."  But that would not be entirely true, though, to be perfectly honest, it would not be entirely false either.  I love gardening, and I am thrilled that my daughter now owns a place where I can indulge that passion.  Apartment living does not allow for such hobbies and most often I'm are relegated to store-bought produce that just missed the boat in the taste department. Oh it's not really bad-bad.  But anyone who has picked a sun-ripened tomato right off the plant in their own the garden will know what I'm talking about when I say that a sore back, aching muscles and dirty fingernails are a small price to pay for that special treat of your own garden-fresh vegetables.  There really is a difference in the taste!.

We spent a winter in southern Florida back in the eighties and we were dumbfounded to see how they grew tomatoes down there.  It was coral rock and fertilizer and water. Because the coral rock does not retain water, it was covered with plastic to keep the water from evaporating!  They grew lots of tomatoes and hauled them to market with big trucks where they were packaged for export to places like our grocery stores.  After witnessing that "mass production" of my favorite vegetable, I understand why I willingly put up with those sore muscles to grow my own tomatoes.  I just prefer my home grown beauties.  That chemical fertilizer and water and coral rock just cannot produce that same quality.  And that's only talking about tomatoes! Other vegetables endure the same fate.

So I can't say I'm having fun when I'm in pain.  (My body is used to sitting at a computer for the better part of the day, not bending, weeding, hoeing and digging in the soil.) But I'm still an old farmer at heart so I'm nuts enough to like working with the soil.  So it hurts sometimes. So what! It's worth it! Tomorrow I'm having fresh garden salad that I grew myself. And I've already long forgotten the sore muscles that I suffered with when I planted, weeded and hoed around it!    

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

I Miss My Deck!


I miss my deck!  I knew when I moved here that I wouldn't have one.  Still, I liked the apartment, the layout the building, and the location of it.  The place had everything!  Everything, except my own personal deck.  I knew that, but I still took it. There is a public deck up on the top floor. It's available to all of us.  It is seldom crowded so it is semi - well, almost semi-private most of the time.  I could deal with that.  No big deal.

 But as summer approaches, again, I'm finding that I DO miss having my own private deck!  Not enough to forego my lovely apartment, mind you, but Oh, how nice it would be, to  take my cup of coffee and my laptop, and step outside and work in the fresh outdoors without a major upheaval in my daily routine. I'm spoiled   I used to have a large deck before I moved here.  I  practically LIVED there during the summer!

I tried to take my laptop outside to work one day last week.  I took my cart that I use for grocery shopping and I loaded my folding chair, my folding tablemate, my laptop with cord, external mouse and mousepad (I hate using the fingertip mouse on the laptop), a sun hat for the hot sun, a jacket if it got too breezy, a can of juice if I got thirsty, then I got my keys, locked the apartment and pushed my overloaded cart to the elevator to take me up to the 12th floor public deck. There were a few people there but they were friendly so I chose the opposite corner of the deck and proceeded to unload my "work area".  There was plenty of room for all of us! Within ten minutes of setting up, I realized that the two solid walls of the deck trapped the sun's heat in, but kept the breeze out. I was sweltering and the computer was heating up.  This was not going to work.

I refolded everything, repacked my cart and took the elevator to the ground floor. Pushing the heavy cart through several heavy doors, I finally arrived in our beautiful courtyard. I unpacked everything and set up my work area again and started on my computer.  The beautiful flowering fruit trees offered shade from the sun's warm rays but the breeze had free range here. I think it had even picked up  in the last half hour. I donned my jacket but it failed to ward off the chill. Then my laptop ran out of power.  I moved closer to the gazebo and plugged it in, but the outlet there was shut off. By now, I was  too cold to be productive anyway.

 I refolded the chair and the table, repacked the computer and all its appendages, packed everything back into the cart and pushed it through those heavy doors to the elevator to go back up to my 4th floor apartment where I unpacked everything again. By the time I got everything into its proper place I was too played out to work anymore. The whole day yielded two paragraphs of writing plus my total exhaustion!

Now if I had my own private deck, I could have gone there in my PJ's and written a whole book by now and I wouldn't be feeling half as tired!  I MISS MY DECK!

Friday, 25 May 2012

Eclipse of the Sun



I am not sure if the recent  solar eclipse had crescent-shaped shadows because I missed it, but following is a poem I wrote the last time that we saw a full eclipse (early1970's).  As the moon was moving off to the side, it was a fascinating sight to see the crescent-shaped shadows.  We don't see the shape of the shadows when we're outdoors but we happened to be inside the house that day and the shadows were on a flat floor.  We were surprised to see that the shadows were in the exact shape of what we saw of the sun! Watch for this phenomenon next time you see an eclipse the sun.


 Crescent Shadows

Crescent shadows dancing on the floor
Through the maples around my door
Cast from a disk of a crescent sun
Rays of light, demarcated view
Bits of sunlight filtering through
The maple trees with teeming leaves
Dancing in the breeze.

Above
Where the sun was sovereign king
Just a short time ago
Single, alone, in the great beyond
Unchallenged, undisputed, unrivalled.

Now the moon has invaded
The sun’s imperial domain
Blocking its regal rays
Impeding its heavenly reign
Obstructing its path of light
Declaring again
Its singular subjugation
But temporary!

Friday, 18 May 2012

Ahh!!!! Wild Mushrooms!!!!

T'is the Season
I had a  call from a friend yesterday and she told me that I was missing out on a very important pastime that used to be a very important part of our life when I lived in Dauphin.    This spring ritual was mushroom picking - morels - to be exact.  Four of us  used to take off into the bush areas of the countryside and pick these special delicacies that Mother Nature provided so abundantly just for the picking.  Granted, some areas also yielded woodticks in almost disgusting abundance as well but we warded them off by wearing clothing that repelled them and the more stubborn ones, we simply  killed off.  Those mushroom expeditions  were worth any inconvenience,  any sacrifice to us!  What a delicious treat  these were, served up in a sauce of sauteed onions in rich cream, (preferably straight off the farm).  Oh the pleasures of country life.  Nothing can match it!!!! 


                                   



Sunday, 13 May 2012

Letter to My Mom


Letter to my mom

I can’t believe it has been fifty five years today since I last saw your weary face, those eyes that barely could move to acknowledge our presence.  Yet how I miss you still, and even now I am wracked with feelings of guilt about wanting it all to end.  It wasn’t that I wanted you gone, Mom.  But we could not relieve your pain, could offer you no help, could not make anything even just a little easier for you.  You were suffering so terribly those last two weeks, yet still you waited – and waited – until your last baby could be at your side.  Only after John was able to come did you let go.
I know you are in a better place where you are, and I am grateful to God for relieving your pain and taking you to His Home.  Yet even now, I still miss you after all those years. We celebrated Mothers Day today and my memories took me back to that sad day when we lost you.  I still need to talk to you sometimes, because I know you would understand, would empathize with me, would rejoice with me at the good things and would cry with me about the bad.  Yet all I can hope for is another dream.  At least I get those.  They feel so real and as we go about our dream world tasks.  I feel that peace, that connection and that comfort of working alongside of you even if we are only attending to mundane tasks together.  Thanks for coming to visit me every now and then.  Good Night Mom.  See you in my dreams.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Jackrabbit Mania

                                                My front yard in Dauphin

                                                        My backyard in Dauphin
   
                                          "That Wascally Wabbit"
I look outside my apartment window and I see our own private Easter Bunny preening himself in our courtyard four floors below.  (I am on the forth floor of our Apartment Building").  I call him "our own" because he spends alot of time in our yard.  When I first saw him, when I moved in here three years ago, I cringed.  Oh, it's not that I don't like bunnies.  I truly do.  In fact, I had some very pleasant experiences with a jackrabbit that we raised from a baby when we were on the farm. (His story is related in this blog back on January 16.)  That was a GOOD jackrabbit. It's just that I have encountered BAD jackrabbits since, so I now view these cute rascals with a wary eye.
 When I lived in Dauphin, I had a resident jackrabbit that caused me no end of frustration.  I used to plant alot of flowers around my home.  (One year I even won a prize for my beautiful flowered yard.) 
However, those flowers did not come cheap,  thanks to a resident jackrabbit that had a penchant for flowers and my petunias were his special favorite. He would eat the young plants down to the ground and I would have to replant them again – and again. One time as he sat there chewing on my painted daisies near the fence, totally oblivious to my unveiled threats, I got so angry I took a slingshot and shot at him. Of course I could not hit the broad side of a barn. The pebble zinged by between his ears and just made him look up as if to say, “What was that?” Then, unperturbed, he just went on eating, unabashedly ignoring this neurotic woman that was attempting to cause him unnecessary stress.
 As a rule, I love animals and bunnies are particularly cute, but if I could have been a better shot, I would gladly have finished that moocher off. I used tons of paprika and cayenne pepper on my plants and all it did was delay him until the next rain or heavy morning dew, though I do believe he did develop a taste for spicy   salad. He never paid room and board. He just made himself at home on my lawn between feedings, relaxing, sprawled lazily out on the grass near the flowers like it was his own private estate!
So you can understand why I didn't trust the jackrabbits here in Edmonton.  But I'm eating crow now. Alberta bunnies are GOOD bunnies.  Our gardener plants alot of flowers and in the three years I have been here, the rabbits have not touched any of them.  Are Alberta jackrabbits specially trained to be GOOD???

Monday, 7 May 2012

A Dreamer's Dream


A Dreamer’s Dream

I ask not for fame and fortune
Or great mansions trimmed with gold
Give me but a hazel thicket
And a loving hand to hold.
A babbling brook outside my window
The soft whisper of a breeze
Grassy meadows all around me
And wild songbirds in the trees.
Give perfume of the roses
Wafting sweetly through the air
The droning hum of bumblebees
Sipping nectar hidden there.
Give me cobwebs mid the posies
Glistening bright in the morning dew
Morning glories day proclaiming
In deep pink and azure blue.
Give me butterflies on my daisies
Soft white clouds in the sky above
Tender arms to gently hold me
In sweet bondage of true love.
Sweet solitude I’ll treasure
Its serenity divine
In profusion, simple pleasure
That great “fortune” that’s all mine.