Saturday, March 29, 2014

A Little Rash

     The daughter who still lives with us…does that moniker make her sound like the creature under the stairs?  I assure you, she has her own bedroom and bathroom and doesn’t creep out at night to forage for food in the cupboards.

     So, the daughter who still lives with us is in nursing school. I asked for her opinion on a persistent skin rash I have been seeing a doctor about and she laughed at me. I don’t mean to cast aspersions on her bedside manner—she has a superlative bedside manner—so let me explain. Apparently, the consensus among nursing students is that as soon as one puts on a pair of scrubs the general public thinks one is qualified to assess rashes. No kidding. The checker in a grocery store stopped her one afternoon on her way home from work to ask her about the rash on his hand.

     “Well…it doesn’t look good,” she said, “but I’m not a nurse, so I suggest you go see your doctor.” At the time, she was a receptionist at an eye clinic.

     True, she is only in her first semester of nursing school, but she is a CNA and has already passed Microbiology, Advanced Anatomy and Physiology, and is currently taking Pharmacology; so I figure its worth a shot asking her opinion because she definitely knows more than I do. Her opinion was just what it should be:

     “Well…it looks a little red, but I’m not a nurse, so I suggest you ask your doctor.”

Friday, March 21, 2014

Listen to the Birdsong, Dear Fellow!

     I went out for a walk today to watch the snow melt. It is nearly gone. The sound of water running into the drains was welcome. There were other folks out too, walking dogs, soaking up the first drams of spring. We were all cheerful. And we weren’t the only ones; large flocks of Canada Geese were flying overhead. They had abandoned their pert vee formations and were floating in drifts of high joy, some of them floating so high they couldn't be seen—but I could still hear them. They were calling to one another over and over again. It sounded like a honking hallelujah chorus. I imagined them winking and grinning as they bathed themselves in the sun-drenched waves of boisterous blue air.

     It was too nice a day to go back in the house and fold laundry, so I played pickup sticks with the river birch in the front yard. It is a game we often play and after months of snow on the ground the birch tree was eager to win.

     As Irish Mise commented yesterday in response to a glum quote I posted by C.S. Lewis: “Listen to the birdsong, dear fellow!”

     Delighted to oblige.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Waiting for Spring

Patience is the Art of Waiting

Waiting for Spring

Waiting for green
Waiting for blue
Waiting for frost to melt into dew.

Banish the snow
Barren with cold
Banish the winds that shiver and scold.

Breath of the sun
Quickens the earth
Husks that have slept are bursting with birth.
First comes the leaf
Then comes the flower
Heralds of spring will trumpet the hour.

Waiting for green
Waiting for blue
Waiting for frost to melt into dew.

                                   ~ Nib of Nib's End ~

     “I’ve always found this a trying time of the year. The leaves not yet out, mud everywhere you go. Frosty mornings gone. Sunny mornings not yet come. Give me blizzards and frozen pipes, but not this nothing time, not this waiting room of the world.” 
                                                                           ~ Attributed to C. S. Lewis ~

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

My Picture Gallery - Steel Engraved Stories

Renewal of the Lease Refused
Painting by Erskine Nicol - Engraving by Robert Bell

     Mr. Mawkins sat motionless behind his paper-strewn table, a flinty expression engraved on his features. The face of the Man of Business was cunningly fashioned of flesh, a mortal flesh that was subject to the heat of the sun and the frost of winter and could be burnt or bitten respectively; but the heart, buried beneath layers of linen and silk and skin and bone, was quarried from stone. Grindstone to be precise for it had been formed by countless revolutions around an axis of Trade and could be measured in stone weight. Therein lay the foundation for the flinty face. The heart, being of such rigid quality, would outlast the flesh and sink into the grave untouched by either the warmth of human kindness or the cold comfort of commiseration.

     Farmer Goggin stood close by, hat in hand with his eyes bent meekly upon the carpet beneath his worn boots. His own breast was weighted with the passions that only the desolate can know. Blighted potatoes had blighted his hopes. There was no food for the children. His rent was in arrears. And now, at the bottom of the barrel, the renewal of his lease was refused as were those of his neighbors. Potato plots would become grazing land and Lord Dollarhide, living across the sea in London, would still get his rents. Mawkins would have his share of the business, of course, and more besides, while Farmer Goggin would bend beneath the burden of the grindstone and make shift to endure, somewhere, somehow...

The Foundling
Painting by G. B. O'Neill - Engraving by P. Lightfoot

     My husband and I found these old copies of 19th century engravings in an antique store not long after we were married. Renewal of the Lease Refused hangs in my reading corner in the front sitting room. The Foundling hangs in my powder room. Neither of them makes me happy, but both of them draw me in and make me think about other people in the world. The stories they tell could sit on the shelf with the likes of Nicholas NicklebyOliver Twist, or The Grapes of Wrath.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Snow Talk

     A couple of weeks ago, an African man who attends our church said that in his language there is no word for snow.

     On the other hand, the Inuit and Sammi people of the Far North have many. They have lyrical words to describe all the variations of snow they experience and not because they are poets. Their language has evolved to suit the ideas and needs that are most crucial to their lives. Among many, many others, there are words to describe softly falling snow, salt snow, drifting snow, snow that is good for driving a sled, snow that makes pictures in the air.

     I get it. I have a few words of my own for the stuff: sugar snow, soapflake snow, glitter snow, and as I sit here nursing a sore shoulder after clearing another five inches from the driveway and walks—wretched snow.

     I shouldn’t complain. I don’t really want to live in a place that has no word for snow and most winters are not like this one. After sweating it out on the driveway yesterday, I enjoyed my stroll through the pure, silken powder on the uncleared walks of my neighbors. I still experience that irresistible childhood delight of being the first to leave a mark on a blank stretch of white like writing on a page. Snow words whispered against my jeans, crunched beneath my boots and murmured muffled warnings of hidden ice. Talking snow. Yes, talking snow seems an appropriate word for it when that is what most of us are on about these past few weeks here in the Near North.