If You Could Read Me Now

The Daily Prompt :  Audience of One – Picture the one person in the world you really wish were reading your blog. Write her or him a letter.

AP English Books

AP English Books (Photo credit: Dave Kleinschmidt)

Dear Mr. Thornburn:

I don’t imagine that you will remember me, one of a thousand students you taught over your long career, so here’s a little memory jog for you.

You taught English Literature to my grade twelve class in 1966.  I was seventeen years old.  I thought at first that you were way beyond the point where it was healthy for you to still be teaching, and imagined you must be in your seventies with your bifocals and your grey hair and your vivid memories of the ancient history that happened in your lifetime before we were even born.

Once you actually called me by my mothers name because you had taught English classes to her too, and I wanted to shrink down under my seat and disappear.  No teenage girl wants anyone to think she’s anything at all like her mother.  You shook your head as if to clear it and laughed and then went on to highly praise some little thing I’d written, reading it aloud to the rest of the class and explaining exactly why it was so brilliant.

Sketch of William Shakespeare.

Sketch of William Shakespeare. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was embarrassed, but I was also elated and inspired by your words.  You, lover of literature and grammar and composition, who made Shakespeare come alive for us by reciting some soliloquy on top of your desk while wielding a plastic sword – you  really liked something I’d written.  You made me want to write more.

That’s why I wish you were still around to read my blog.  It’s not Shakespeare, but it is words from my heart.  Almost always grammatically correct.  Except right there of course, since that wasn’t a real sentence, and this one is a bit of a run-on mess, but you know what I mean.  You were so enthusiastic and encouraging and supportive.  You always pointed out the good stuff.  You brought out the best in me.

You saw that spark inside me and you blew on it until it became a fire that would never burn out.  I am reading, I am writing, and I am appreciating the power of the written word. When a book or a story or even just some delightful little phrase makes me joyful, I think about how much you would have loved it.

So thank you Mr. Thornburn.  I will never be a best selling author or famous for any other reason, but that doesn’t matter.  Someone, somewhere will be inspired by some small thing I decided was important enough to write down.  I wish it could be you, because I owe you.

Yours sincerely,

Not My Mother, but finally able to see what a compliment it was to be the one who made you think of her.

A House Elf for Christmas

My house husband (he’s like a house elf except taller) is either bored out of his mind being home all day or really super excited about Christmas.  Just a second while I check the calendar .  It is still November, isn’t it?

Never EVER have we had our outside lights up, our Christmas tree decorated, and our cards on the table ready to be signed, sealed and sent before the middle of December.  Until now.  Every day some new Christmas thing magically appears on a doorknob or a shelf or a table or some random wall space.  Things I’ve had packed away and forgotten about are surfacing everywhere.  It’s a little scary.

For instance, there’s this card that I brought home from Scotland in 2007.  Because that’s what people do when they travel to Scotland – they buy Christmas cards and bring them home across the ocean.  I did that, so it must be true.

There was a box of different designs by Thomas Joseph and somehow I missed sending this one out to anyone. So now it’s a keepsake.  It was in a rather large box filled with a random assortment of unsent cards from years gone by which W is strongly suggesting I use up before purchasing more.  (Too late, but he doesn’t need to know that right now.)  And he also may have mentioned the many rolls of unused Christmas wrapping paper in the store-room.  As well as the fact that the whole house is full of an insane amount of shit.

So on the one hand he’s telling me to get rid of all this crap, and on the other he’s wondering whatever happened to that plastic ice holder thingy that used to be in the freezer because he’d like to put ice in it.  The more I think about it and search for it, the more convinced I am becoming that I probably threw it out last summer.  I went through a crazy stage in my life where I was making a supreme effort to get rid of a bunch of the shit that our house is so full of.  And see what happens when I try that.  So I’m not doing it again without supervision.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not in any way being critical or trying to discourage whatever the hell he’s up to around here.  Even though some of my cupboards have been rearranged and he hangs things up that should go in the dryer and vice versa and he threw out my half glass of wine that had been sitting on the counter for about 48 hours.  Maybe I was letting it breathe.  He could have asked.

Nope, I’m actually thrilled that I didn’t have to wrestle with the stupid tree this year or figure out where to hang that snowman with the dangly legs which end in giant jingle bells.  When W goes to bring in the paper tomorrow morning with that thing hanging on the doorknob, whatever happens next will not be my fault.

Christmas tree

I think it’s excellent that he discovered we already had parmesan cheese out of sight in the back of the fridge, but his timing was off and he should have let me know that before I came home with more.  He’s been doing most of the grocery shopping and apparently I just mess up his system, so perhaps I should gracefully hand that responsibility over to him in its entirety.  I’ve done it for forty years, the next forty can be his.

I can’t get out of the Christmas card writing though. If he did the cards with his House Elf handwriting most people wouldn’t have a clue who sent them.  Sometimes he can’t even read what he’s written himself. So I’ll let him off the hook for that Christmas chore.  And I’ll probably still cook the turkey.

But everything else – wow – he’s doing a bang up job.  I will try to stay happy cheering from the sidelines.  For the next thirty days.  It’s gonna be a long Christmas.

Pictures From Moms Kitchen (Part Four)

This was the most special of occasions, because it was the only time we ever celebrated our daughters July birthday at the farm.  Our son has his birthday in February and we were never off to Ontario at that time of year.  But you don’t have to be the guest of honor to have a good time.

I’m just here for the hat and the food.

Make a wish! Ask for one of these awesome Gretzky shirts!

Hanging out on my birthday with my baby cousin and the headless man.

Oh. My. Gawd. Getting money for your birthday is the Best. Thing. Ever.

Time marches on, the kids keep growing up, the bricks days are numbered and will be coming down.  Yes, sadly, no longer will we pose in front of the faux brick background.  The wallpaper gets replaced, along with the orange curtains and the orange back splash.  On to a lighter and brighter tomorrow.

The great meals and the card games continued, but our family showed up less and less often – that’s what happens when you live far away. The rest of the family was nice enough to send us photos.  And nice enough NOT to say look at all the fun we’re having without you.













Mom and Dad loved to play cards, and UNO was a game that even the littlest guy could play. (In that last picture, does he not look like he’s never had quite so much fun ever before in his entire life?)  When there were so many people around the table and so many skips and reverses, you could stare off into space or take a quick nap before the play ever came around to you again.   These get togethers and card games went on until finally there were those among us who grew wise enough to win against grandpa.  Well, sometimes, anyway.

There was a new house, a new location, a new kitchen, but the games went on.  There are some things you never want to outgrow.

P is for Putto

It’s a mystery to me how I have lived so long without knowing this word.  I also don’t know why I have neglected my Alphabet Soup category since the 23rd of October.  Mine is a life filled with wonder and confusion and maybe I’ll get into all that later, but for now, here’s a picture of a putto, (plural putti) (also known as an amoretto or an amorino when it depicts cupid);  a representation in baroque painting or sculpture of a small chubby naked boy with wings.

Sleeping Putto, by Léon Bazille Perrault, 1882

Sleeping Putto, by Léon Bazille Perrault, 1882 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That would be Cupid, right?  Looks like cupid to me.  Or a cherub.  Apparently it’s common to get these things mixed up, and that’s why there’s Wikipedia to help straighten everything out for us:

Art historian Juan Carlos Martinez writes:

Originally, Cherubs and Putti had distinctly different roles, with the former being sacred, and the latter, profane. That is, Cherubs and Seraphs (Cherubim, Seraphim) are Angels, occupying the highest angelic orders in Heaven and are thus the closest to God. On the other hand, Putti, arise from Greco-Roman classical mythos (i.e., non-Christian). They are associated with Eros/Cupid as well as with the Muse, Erato; the muse of lyric and love poetry…
….By the time the Baroque Era came about, which might arguably have been the high point for Cherubim and Putti, both of these little beings were usually being depicted in the same way. Which one they were, simply depended upon the theme of the painting or sculpture: If religious (sacred) – they were Cherubs. If secular or mythic (profane) – they were Putti.

Wenceslas Hollar - Jesus, John, and four cheru...

I suppose it depends on the artist whether these putto/cherub illustrations turn out to be beautiful or butt ugly.  I think if I tried to paint one it might end up in that second category.
Anyway, enough putti pondering for this Grey Cup Sunday.  I guess since I’m in the West I should be cheering for the West.  Even though that means rooting for Calgary, which is probably against some obscure Edmonton bylaw from the baroque period of our shared city histories.  If they all dressed like cherubs I’d watch the whole thing.  But my becoming a football fan is probably not sufficient motivation for the players, especially in November.  That could get butt ugly fast.

So… Can you Connect the Dots?

Daily Prompt: Open your nearest book to page 82. Take the third full sentence on the page, and work it into a post somehow.


Here is the book that is on the top of my pile of real (as opposed to electronic) books  to read.  It was definitely “nearest” as I was able to take a weird angle picture of it on my I-Phone from where I was sitting, and then still without getting up I reached for it and picked it up and opened it to page 82.  So far this prompt is going extremely well for me.  (By the way, why have I not read this book yet?  It’s The Red House, by Mark Haddon, author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.  It looks really GOOD.)

It’s hard cover, red with a black binding and has a lovely crisp new dust jacket full of excellent information which I should have referred to for that last prompt about the writing of dust jackets, but too late for that now.  Time to zoom in to the top of page eighty-two and discover what fate has in store for me today.

I am in love with that first sentence.  Stuck on the dashboard there was a toy camel with rubber legs which wobbled when the car went round corners.  Who could not write an entire essay with that sentence for inspiration?  The second one is equally amazing.  There was a diamante cat collar in the footwell.  How easy would it be to write a page or two about the glittery ornamentation of sequins and rhinestones?  Because if the collar belongs to a cat I don’t think they’d be actual diamonds.  Although I could be wrong – some people are just that enamoured of their cats.  And I’m not sure what a footwell is, but it doesn’t sound too complicated.

Moving right along in chronological order, the third sentence is next.  It is rather short.  One word short in fact.  So…  Come on.  Seriously?  That’s my sentence?  Is it even a real full sentence?  It starts with a capital and ends with a period (or three) and the next word is also capitalized, so it must be sentence number four.  The woman lit a cigarette. 

Are you running away from home?   Well, no, but I am a little disappointed.  However, when I further peruse the page and see all that greek coming up I can’t help but feel I have also dodged a bullet.  At least I know what the word “so” means.  Here are some sentences to illustrate.

1.  I am so sorry.

2.  Do it like so.

3.  And so it was.

4.  It has always been so.

5.  So how much do you think this duplicate opticians license which was printed with the old picture on it and sent out before they received the new picture would be worth on the black market?  Nothing?  Oh.  So I just thought I’d ask.

6.  So what?

7.  Is not – is SO!

8.  Not so fast!

9.  He’s just a stupid so and so.

10.  I am so done with this.  So long for now.

So what does all this have to do with connecting dots?  I so do not have a clue.  Unless So… becomes So___ but then it would look more like filling in the blanks.  I’m going to read the book now, so I can let you know if it contains any more one word sentences.  I am so sure you’re holding your breath waiting for that.  So…

Complex and Tricky Book Reviews

Folks like what you’ve got to say today and you should be able to get them to keep listening for a lot longer than they would otherwise. If you’ve got anything tricky or complex to get across, go for it!

Yeah.  Feel  free to copy and paste that somewhere if you think it might apply to you, because for me it’s just one big astrological blunder today.  What they should be telling me is something like this:

It’s snowing, you have a killer headache, you probably should call work and tell them you’re sick, and for pete sake let go of those tricky and complex thoughts, they’re making you crazy.  Go back to bed. 

Yep, I should just start writing these stupid things for myself.  I do have something interesting to share though, because I’ve read two and a half books even though my aching head is being all stubborn about processing information.  So if these mini reviews are less than stellar, consider the source.

Swimming Home by Deborah Levy is a story about a poet and his wife and daughter on holiday in a rented villa in the south of France.  It’s also about the sexy, mysterious, quite possibly crazy Kitty Finch who walks out of the pool naked and into their holiday, invited to occupy a room in their suite by the poets wife.

And after that it just gets more complex and tricky and weird.  It was hard for me to understand anyones motivation to do anything they did.  The characters were all confusing as hell.  However, I guess that’s why the book was short listed for the Man Booker Prize, because the writing is allusive, elliptical and disturbing and it’s a stealthily devastating book.

Well I did read the whole thing, so something kept me going, although I’m hard pressed to figure out exactly what it was.

After that I needed something simple for the brain-dead, a minimum amount of thinking required, just entertaining enough to keep me awake.  And that’s why I read Leven Thumps and the Gateway to Foo by Obert Skye.  It won an award for Juvenile Fiction in 2005, has one of the best named heroes ever, and is great fun.  The fate of the world lies in the hands of a fourteen year old boy.

Leven, a.k.a. “Lev,” lives a wretched life at the Rolling Greens Deluxe Mobile Home Park in Burnt Culvert, Oklahoma. But his life is about to change and his destiny be fulfilled as he learns about a secret gateway that bridges two worlds — the real world and Foo, a place created at the beginning of time that makes it possible for mankind to dream and hope, aspire and imagine. “Foo is an entire realm hidden in a fold of the mind, a very real place,” says author Obert Skye. (Amazon Book Description)

Where do I find these things? you might very well be wondering as you scratch your head and roll your eyes.  But seriously, this book was just what the doctor ordered.  Some days you need to escape to a different realm.  Well, I do, anyway.

Last but certainly not least (and I’m only part way through but could not wait a second longer to recommend this one) is The Cursing Mommy’s Book of Days by Ian Frazier.

I’ve been laughing since the first page and it’s the kind of thing where the more you read the funnier it gets.  So when you share an excerpt from it with someone who doesn’t know what’s going on, they will look at you with a complex combination of confusion and fear for your sanity on their faces.

It’s the journal of a housewife and mother of pre-teen boys who tries to offer tips on doing various things around the house, is eternally optimistic, but invariably ends up in a complete mess, cursing and swearing (often from the floor) about the frustrations of everyday life.  You can’t help but love her.  Unless you’re offended by foul language, but I didn’t have a hard time forgiving her for that.  Because for some situations those are the only words that can make you feel better.

You know what?  My head isn’t quite so achy now.  Apparently it was just full of crap that needed to get written down.  There’s your health tip for the day.  My shift at work is a short one – surely I can survive six hours knowing that there’s three days off coming up when they’re done.  I’ve had my spinach cocktail and its no longer snowing, so I guess I’m good to go. Happy American Thanksgiving, happy reading, happy cursing, happy whatever you’re up to day.