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Thursday, September 29, 2022

Too Happy To Be Sad

 A recent conversation...

Me: "I heard that this cancer can cause depression, and that I should be open to speaking with a mental health professional."

Barb: "Quite so."

Me: "But I have NO IDEA what I'd say to a depressed mental health professional!"

Barb: "Uh...."

The thing is, I don't get depressed, or frustrated. Sure, I can't sleep for the pain, and yeah, five steps and I'm out of breath, but so what?

It's life.

Last time I went to my (sadly deceased) doctor...

Doc: "You must be depressed."

Me: "Nope."

Doc: "I'll prescribe some antidepressants."

Me: "I don't need 'em."

Doc: "I'll give you some samples."

Me: "I'm not depressed."

Doc: "Okay."

And then he left, and the nurse came in
 with a prescription, and samples.

So, I don't know. I should be sad, personally and existentially, and I am not.

I'm living the dream.

So, here, tongue mostly in cheek... mostly...

I expect you'll be impressed
with sterling qualities I've got,
like, I'm supposed to be depressed,
but, dude, I'm truly not.
It's not that I'm superior
(that is, of course, a given),
and not by deep ulterior
motive is my virtue driven.
It's just that I'm a happy bloke
(or, a drongo, that's your call)
to whom all life is but a joke,
and the final curtain call
will be a spinning swirling jig
with two Heelers and a pig.

Music from Cat Stevens, with Another Saturday Night.

The Five Minute Friday prompt this week is ROAD. Tough one!

This is the path I'm taking,
but not the one I chose;
still, I am not forsaken,
and my sore heart still knows
that through the darkness of the night,
and through the stormy day,
I can depend on Holy Might
to guide my twisting way.
And so, my friend, I'll skip along,
not fear to stub a toe;
I need not be hard and strong
for I now truly know
that this here is my own Green Mile,
and I'll walk with God in style.

Four minutes!

Here's Barb wearing her anniversary present. Stylish, yes?

The only thing that makes Sylvia sad is lack of ice cream.

Never happens.


Thursday, September 22, 2022

God's Attic


This is a morning rainbow over a mountain called Ladron, which means 'bandit', and is fittingly the peak after which my dear service dog was named, for she stole my heart.

But I can't stop to look back. Not so much because there's a lot ahead, but because the pain of loss leaches the joy from today.

I think that for anyone with cancer, maybe more is lost than is realized.

Like, a shared cup of coffee, or a stroll around the block, or the comfort of a marital bed.

I can scarcely remember what these things were like, and don't want to, because loss will weaken resolve needed for the present moment. There may not be a vast bright future, but I believe, and HAVE to believe, that I still have something worthwhile to give in the now, and that it's wrong to allow sentimentality to dilute that.

So I leave the memories in God's hands, to be unpacked, to live again, in another time and place.

I think back to The Good Old Days,
the hikes, Starbucks, and pillow talks,
offer for them thanks and praise,
then put them in God's attic box
that is marked 'Not To Be Opened'
as I walk upon the Earth;
its seal will stay strong and unbroken
until I pass that great rebirth
into the place of God's own time,
when yesterday lives side by side
with today, fresh in its prime,
and there is no need to hide
from sorrow over what is gone,
for there the past's a bright new dawn.

The Five Minute Friday prompt this week is REPRESENT.

I come from far Mongolia,
perhaps birthed in a tent,
no scent there of magnolia,
so I shall represent
the line to which I have been born,
the Horde and Genghis Khan,
and from this I cannot be torn;
it's simply who I am,
ready now to go and ride,
to raid and loot and pillage;
try to run, or try to hide,
we're coming to your village,
and we'll live in your memory
in our ruthless majesty.

Three minutes flat. Maybe that says something I maybe didn't want folks to know?

Music from The Moody Blues, with I Know You're Out There Somewhere.

 Ice cream keeps Sylvia in the Now.


Thursday, September 15, 2022

I'm Always Chasing Rainbows


Rainbows are one of the things that make life worth living. I should say it's because they're the symbol of God's promise to Noah, but when I see one, I have to be honest, I don't think about that.

They're just pretty. And pretty can overcome the bummer cancer can be.

As, yeah, so does Barb, who took the picture.

Pain's the gift that keeps on giving,
reminder with a flaming touch
that it's rainbows keep me living
even when it hurts too much
to live as normal people do,
go to Starbucks, take a walk,
watch a movie full way through
or, even, sit down and talk
about the small gay things in life,
like when the pool guy, tan and hearty,
ran away with neighbour's wife,
and neighbour's days are now a party
to which I have not been invited,
but I hurt so much, I don't feel slighted.

The Five Minute Friday prompt this week is SPONTANEOUS. I shall now sonnetize spontaneously.

Spontaneity of rainbows,
and of shooting stars,
sudden touch of dog's cold nose,
no-warning fights in bars.
Alarums sound without a clue,
ceasefire comes without a hint,
bills immediately come due
when I'm really truly skint.
I wonder if God queers these pitches
to keep us diligent and fit
according to His inner wishes,
or is it needed that He's lit
a flame beneath lazy backsides
that we may stay alert and wise?

Four minutes! YESSSS! (As the reader cries, NOOOO!)
For a Rainbow Connexion, over, now, to Kermit the Frog.

Sylvia prefers plain vanilla to rainbow sherbet. Strange dog.


Thursday, September 8, 2022

Accepting Grace

OK, so that's about 200 lbs of Dog that has just shredded my bed. Belle and Henry clearly work as a team in areas beyond CPR.

Barb says, with justification, that I accept help and comfort from dogs far more readily than from her.

She's right, and it's wrong, and I need to do better.

 You may sometime meet a day
when you can't do it alone;
no matter what your pride might say,
you, kneeling, will atone
for keeping others at arm's length,
refusing aid with scowl or smile.
When you find the end of strength,
then let it go in style,
and reach out with and open hand,
and, vitally, an open heart,
with prayer that you may understand
the need to do your part,
to let another have a place
at the table of an offered grace.

The Five Minute Friday prompt this week is GENEROUS. Will you be generous in the time I take? This is hard.

The world threw me beneath the bus
when it learned that I had cancer,
but God, it seems, is generous,
and has supplied an answer.
Mostly we don't know the why,
we just live in the what,
but since I'm really gonna die,
God stirred the cooking-pot
and let me know just what had come
to the top of the life-stew,
that I'd be forever young,
and said what I had to do,
was witness love with tears and laughter
for all those who would follow after.

A bit over five minutes. Ah, well.

Music from NeedToBreathe, with Keep Your Eyes Open.

 Sylvia will always accept grace, especially in the form of ice cream.


Thursday, September 1, 2022


Death tried to take me again today.

Saw him coming.

Exhausted, but elated.

Here is a description of the experience, written to a dear friend as soon as possible after the fact.

"I was sitting at the edge of my bed, working on (a present for Barbara),
when I started floating backwards through the bed. I was not a ghost; the furniture became insubstantial as mist.

"I grabbed hold of something, I know not what, and pulled myself back to what I now see as the dream-world of this... I was about to say corporeal place, but it's the other side that's solid.

"Belle helped; I think that dogs perhaps have a paw in each realm.

"I am so very happy to stay."

I would not deign to stop for Death,
and so he stopped for me,
gently taking all my breath,
proclaiming victory,
but his lesson's not been learned,
for he should know me better,
and he perforce was badly burned
as I torched each fetter
with which he tried to bind me to
the carriage at his station,
but he's been vanquished, done and through,
and Valhalla's destination
to which will go this man of strife,
to fight through the Eternal Life.

The Five Minute Friday prompt this week is ROOT. Sounds like what pigs do, but I'll have a lash.

Each day I need to root around
like a hungry pig
eating that which can be found
and getting pretty big.
But it's not food I'm snorting for,
oh, no, oh no, indeedy;
I'm on the hunt for something more,
that for which I'm greedy:
I need a reason to survive
when house of cards doth fall,
a reason just to stay alive,
a cause to give my all
when cancer's fatal hemlock cup
makes me want to just give up.

Three minutes thirty. Snort, snort.

Music from Led Zeppelin, with Immigrant Song from Thor: Ragnarok. Join me, please, in the celebration.

 Sylvia is celebrating with ice cream.


Thursday, August 25, 2022

Refugee From Silence

This post might have been about another trip to the edge, an out-of-body experience, and hours of the shakes, from just this Monday.

Belle and the Chihuahuas and Red the Red Heeler brought me back with much yelling and rib-cracking CPR.

But it's been overtaken by events.

So let's talk about Henry instead, a deaf Pit Bull puppy (80 lbs at seven months) who really needed a home.

Now he's got one (in the picture below he's being welcomed by Belle The Service Wolf).

He's friendly beyond words, and just wants to be around us, and around his new canine family.

And he has a job. He's attuned to me, and knows that if I fall, he's to brace that strong back to help me up.

The Chihuahuas absolutely LOVE him. So does everyone else.

He deserves it.

God has said we should take in
the at-our-doorstep waif,
and so I think this is a win
that Henry now is safe.
The world is not so very kind
to a Pit who cannot hear,
and so my wife was called to mind
what He made crystal clear
when told of Henry's dreadful plight,
refugee from a silent world,
and so she went to shine a light
that he could know, and led him toward
a gentle and forgiving place
where he could live his life in grace.

The Five Minute Friday prompt this week is SHOW, and here's a paean to the dogs that lately saved my life, incorporating the prompt.

I don't like to go to sleep,
night shows me what I'd fain not know,
for instead counting sheep
I may count flowers from below.
Belle, Red, and ChiChis do agree,
for yesterday I passed away,
and rather than in panic flee,
the dogs stepped up to win the day.
The Boys were screaming in my face
giving all, their very best,
while Belle The Wolf gave saving grace
with hard compressions on my chest,
so therefore I am back again
and enjoined thus to remain.

Just under four minutes.

If you are wondering what canine CPR looks like, I found a video. 

Clearly I didn't see it from this angle, didn't see it at all, in fact, but could feel it through the mist. Belle The Service Wolf is not small.

Sylvia's willing to share her ice cream with him. Maybe.


Thursday, August 18, 2022

Dancing On The Edge Of Forever

This was originally intended to be quite a different post (pertaining to the lovely evening picture above, which Barb took from our front door), but coming back from near death earlier today... well, that may be worth a few words.

It was a hard experience. I realized, very suddenly, that I was about to go down very hard, and, vision fading, managed to lunge across my bed.

There followed a period of passing in and out of awareness, and I can liken it to drowning (I was once trapped beneath seaweed when diving).

I became too weak to fight, and handed the situation over to God...and gradually my breath came back, and I could, later, see again.

Barb came home from lunch shortly thereafter, and was horrified to find me ice-cold, with pale, and with very poor veinous return at the fingernails.

Now, several hours later, I'm as shaky as a shopping cart with a bad wheel.

And what does it mean? What's the lesson from this terrifying morning?

God is.

No matter how proud, nay, arrogant we are in our own strength (I have cornered the market, here), there's a limit.

And there God stands, shaking His head, perhaps rolling His eyes, sleeves pulled up, ready to work.

Perhaps to put you back, perhaps to take you home.

Or something in between.

He holds all the cards.

I paid out in arrogance
far more than I could fain afford,
and, as if in recompense
I was forced unto the Lord,
unwillingly into His arms,
where He smiling bade me hide,
safe from earthly harms,
but not from that which lurked inside.
'Twas pride that led me to resist
in my heart, with pious face,
and it's hard, with tight-closed fist
to receive the gentle grace
that the Lord so wants to give
through every moment that we live.

Music from Soundgarden, with Live To Rise.

The Five Minute Friday prompt this week is VIEW. Let's take a look.

Come and visit us, right here,
yes, we do mean you!
My friend, we hold your friendship dear,
so let's enjoy the view.
A mountain range lies to the east
across the desert plain,
and its best matches its least
when peaks are clothed in rain.
Un-named mesas in the west
will shine red in the morning light,
and receive the sun in rest
at the fall of night.
But beauty goes on, have no doubt;
just wait 'till all the stars come out!

Four minutes. Good enough.

Sylvia learned long ago that trading pride for ice cream is a good exchange,
and that ice cream presents a lovely view.


Thursday, August 11, 2022

What 'Terminal' Feels Like

One of the most frequently asked questions about terminal cancer is... what does it FEEL like, knowing that you're under a death sentence, date of execution unknown?

It was hard to answer until I had an epiphany while watching Pirates Of The Caribbean. No, the revelation did not involve rum. Unfortunately.

What It's Like is walking the plank, blindfolded. You can't stop, let alone go back, and you don't know if the very next step might be a really long one.

It's incumbent on a Christian to say, I'm falling into the arms of Jesus!, and while this is my secure belief, the truth is that we have to go through a one-way door to get there. We can believe what's behind the door, but we can't SEE it, and that's scary.

Normally, when at least reasonably healthy, we put it off, channeling Scarlett O'Hara... I'll think about that tomorrow.

But for me, and for many, many others, it's tomorrow.

(For the record, another common question is How Have You Lasted This Long...I don't know, but Olivia Newton John fought cancer for thirty years. Quite an inspiration.)

Each footfall's further in the dark,
over the vast abyss,
dominion of the hungry shark
(am I on his to-do list?).
I don't know where the plank will end,
and though I tread with care,
there's courage I just can't pretend
for when I step, and nothing's there,
and so I lift my shrouded eyes
unto the Lord who reigns above,
somewhere beyond the darkling skies,
that He might look down with love
that when that final step is taken,
I land in His palm, unforsaken.

The Five Minute Friday prompt this week is FORGET. Had something in mind, but I already forgot. My brain's like a shelf without a rear wall; put something on the front, something falls off the back.

Well, here goes.

It's easy to forget 'bout God
when things are going well,
but we remember (oh, how odd!)
when life goes straight to hell,
and we cry out, "Catch me, Lord!"
with all our strength and might
when we think we're spinning toward
an endless Stygian night.
I wouldn't blame ol' God at all
if He laughed and turned away,
but He will not let us fall
on this or any day,
so He lends faith we can borrow
'till He's ignored again tomorrow.

Four minutes. Does it show?

I couldn't find a musical accompaniment the fit with walking the plank, but here's Tightrope Walk, by The Damned, set to stunning scenes from 'The Walk', a film about Phillipe Petit's high-wire walk between the towers of the World Trade Centre.

Sylvia knows she's in God's hand, and that hand holds ICE CREAM!



Thursday, August 4, 2022

The Embrace Is The Test

I used to think of myself as a warrior, and of cancer as the enemy.

Didn't realize I could be that dumb.

No, cancer's not pleasant (and having a perpetually broken arm due to metastasis kinda sucks), but it's real, it's what's there...and it's not personal.

Fighting it as if it was a kind of single-combat knightly joust was helpful for awhile, but in the end it was draining.

Learning to embrace this experience, however much I might prefer it to be something else...it's the hardest thing I've ever done.

It's also the most rewarding, because I can, at last, clearly see and feel the blessings in which I have been daily bathed.

I did not see this truth at first,
but know now it's a test:
if you cannot embrace the worst,
you won't accept the best.
This life's a chiaroscuro game,
light and shade defines the rules,
and in our hearts we find the same,
saints and beggars, knaves and fools,
and thus we must take in the whole, drink it down without a flinch
to nourish an expanding soul,
ounce by ounce and inch by inch
until we come to gifted right
that Christ bought, eternal light.

The Five Minute Friday prompt this week is TOGETHER. Hmmm...

Together we have got this far,
together we have chased the sun,
together we have wrecked a bar
or three, just while having fun.
Together we have danced in glee,
together we have wept in sorrow,
but now I fear that there will be
no 'together' on the morrow.
I think I will be leaving soon,
and know that I must document
the mundane done from noon to noon
with a clear precise intent
that taxes, mortgage, these and more
will have no fell surprise in store.

Four minutes of hard truth. Don't want to do THAT again.

Music from the Fab Four, with Let It Be.

Sylvia is delighted to embrace ice cream, especially McDonald's vanilla.


Thursday, July 28, 2022

On The Acceptance Of Grace

Barb, bless her little cotton socks, is hard at work transforming parts of the yard...making safe footing for me, so I can walk the dogs.

Because the thing is my legs don't work properly now, and a misstep will send me into a flailing fall worthy of the Three Stooges.

I am thankful that I have been able to put resentment against cancer aside, to let pride be a discarded cloak by the wayside, and accept this offered grace with a full heart.

And now the gate is far away,
the ladder can't be climbed,
and I've lost much that yesterday
I truly thought was mine,
beholden unto me alone
in my long-flower'd youth,
but circumstance calls to atone
and face the cold hard truth
that spring (so treasured!) will not last,
and in this life not come again,
that I cannot live in the past,
and only forward, through the pain
can new meaning still be found
to keep my heart on solid ground.

The Five Minute Friday prompt this week is BE. Not hard.

I know you did not want to be,
my dear, what life's demanded,
and it truly hurts to see
that you have been remanded
to a life of wearing care,
to a tether firm and close;
I wish that you could breathe free air,
live the days you would have chose,
a biker trip 'cross mountain passes,
a visit to the Windward Isles,
toasts with friends, and upraised glasses,
bright evenings ending in bright smiles,
but, by, God, I'm glad you're here
as the scary dark draws near.

Three minutes. Truth runs fast.

Music from Dire Straits, with Walk Of Life .

Sylvia happily accepts the Grace of Ice Cream.


Thursday, July 21, 2022

Attitude Of Gratitude

Past the sorrow of losing my service dog, Ladron, past the rapidly increasing infirmity of cancer (Barb needed to replace a ceiling fan, and I can no longer climb a ladder to help...but I COULD read her the directions), one still needs to cultivate the Attitude of Gratitude.

So, this is for Barb, with love.

She walks like a happy camel,
has the style of Superfly;
hair is cut like skater, Hamill,
soft brown eyes for which to die.
She can raise your spirit higher,
just like falling off a log,
when she sings in the church choir,
sounding like Kermit the Frog.
As caregiver she's a collie
faced with some unruly sheep,
but remaining ever jolly
'fore dawn when she'd prefer to sleep,
and as accountant (more than grace and looks),
she can really cook the ledger books!

Now don't you wish YOU had married a poet?

The Five Minute Friday prompt this week is CHANCE.

Another one for Barb.

If you had another chance,
a second try at What To Do,
would you change things to enhance
the life of years that you'd walk through?
For my part I am truly blessed,
but as a spouse I think I've failed,
lost the paper for the test,
and I'm just glad you haven't bailed.
Every court must have a jester,
and daily, here, I am class clown,
but in despair, regrets do fester,
and cancer's got me feeling down,
but then your smile shines through our pain
to say you'd do it all again.

Five minutes, just barely.

Music from the OC Supertones, with "Superfly".

Sylvia wonders if she can eat ice cream while rolling her eyes.

Thursday, July 14, 2022

The Goodbye

 Snow melts from the temple eaves,
and the first tears of spring
fall to the stones.

RIP Ladron, my PTSD service dog.
August 2008-July 12, 2022
She made my world sane.

The picture of the Kosho-Ji temple in Fukukusa comes from https://terebess.hu/zen/sojiji/koshoji.html

I hope that it's OK to use it here.

Music from Sir James Galway, with Nakasendo.

The Five Minute Friday prompt this week is PROPOSE.

I cannot propose an end to winter
beyond faith
that there is spring.

Thursday, July 7, 2022

Yesterday's You

God made you, yeah?

Knew you before the womb?

OK, maybe you've gone off the rails. We all do, to some degree.

But when Jesus makes all things new, He's using what you were, and making that into what you can be.

Even in the times you were furthest from God, no part of you was a throwaway. 

No shame, for with Christ, disgrace is clothed in glory.

Look back on the emptiness
of all the years now dead and gone,
but that death's all a sham unless
you refuse to take along
the younger self that lived those days,
did best or worst with what he had,
who daily offered curse or praise
to our patient Heaven-Dad.
Why take him when he was a jerk,
a scoffer at the bright and good?
Well, it's true he needed work,
but really in your heart you should
know this to be well and true,
that part of him still lives in you.

Appropriately, the Five Minute Friday prompt this week is TWENTY.

I was twenty way back when,
convinced that I would never die
until that weirded moment when
I bet my life against the sky
and drove an aeroplane straight through
some 250 kV wires;
it seemed that 'twas the thing to do
in matching madness to desires,
and by God and His mercy hand
that He keeps prepared for fools,
I was able then to land,
and having broken many rules
was asked that I not soon return,
but, dude, I flew again next morn.

The only quote I can think of here is 'stupid is as stupid does', but I've had a blast.

Music from America, with Work To Do.

Sylvia shall meanwhile work on her ice cream.

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Why Can't I Die?

People ask, with a dreadful diagnosis, and awful symptoms (I can see tumours in the mirror, for Pete's sake!)...why are you still here?

And I don't know. I'd ask my doctor, but I outlived him.

Maybe it's to help Barb with her life and with the dogs, maybe it's to write a few more sonnets... I just don't know, and sometimes I do wonder as to the point of it all.

It's gone on for far too long,
and I feel so alone,
and so far from being strong,
Lord, why can't I come home?
I have done that which You ask,
have tried to write and live in hope,
but I cannot fulfill this task,
and can no longer cope
with the blood and with the pain,
with what makes me weep at night;
why, oh, why must I remain
in this hopeless fight?
And God's answer never fails,
"Accept your Cross, and take the nails."

The real reason I'm staying, of course, is that I never went to a trade school that had surrender in the curriculum, and I see no point in learning it now.

Maybe you can decide to die, but I know that you can decide to live.

The Five Minute Friday prompt this week is TRUST.

Trust the Lord with all your might,
trust when it's all you can do.
Trust Him in the final fight,
and trust that He will carry you
across the blazing coals of hell,
across the raging storm-tossed seas,
'cross ruined lands you knew so well
where golden years were spent at ease.
Trust that there's a better place
that soon you'll see from His strong arms,
trust that there's a solid grace,
a wall between yourself and harms
that would leave you sore bereft;
trust with all the strength that's left!

Four minutes thirty. OK.

Music from Parsons Ghost, with Go Down Swinging.

Parsons Ghost's debut album is self-produced, and has real country roots; if you like them, support them through iTunes.

Sylvia suggests a simple reason for staying alive...ice cream!

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Skydiving For Catholics

Just for a change of pace, here's an old Catholic joke, set to rhyme. (I'm Catholic, so I guess it's OK for me to tell?)

The canopy, it didn't open 
(and thus the rigger showed his worth),
and the jumper would be broken
upon that hard unyielding Earth.
"St. Francis, save me!" was his cry,
his face turned to onrushing land,
and in a twinkling he did lie
in a great and tender hand.
"Son, I must know you called on me
in truth; you see, I must be sure.
Did you call Frank of Assisi,
or Francis Xavier?"
And thus the moral here for you,
you'd best know who you're talking to.

Music from the Foo Fighters, with Learn To Fly.

The Five Minute Friday prompt this week is AWARE. I don't know...

I really thought I was aware
of life, and what I need,
and then I had an awful scare
when cows ate all my weed.
I'd put it out there in the sun
to get that crispy creme,
but then it all just came undone
and they came on the scene
and dipped their faces in the bowl,
and chewed, then showed pure bliss,
and in my heart it took a toll
that things came down to this,
that I knew not that the herd was nigh,
and now, alas, the steaks were high.

Four minutes, and hey, you were expecting Tennyson? And for the record, I don't use the stuff.

Sylvia knows who to talk to for ice cream, but while she's eating it, you can talk to the paw.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Hold On Tight

The author Steven Coonts once said that a young person should never whittle down dreams to fit into his or her hometown.

True for cancer, as well.

Dreams carry your heart into the future, and having given up on mine, I can now understand that its being a future you'll never see in this life is irrelevant.

The point is that when you keep the dream alive, you're already there.

When you let it die, the best part of you dies with it, and God weeps, for the killing of even an impossible hope is the biggest betrayal of His love.

Where, now, do I go from here,
when all's been left too late,
and circumstances make it clear
that my job's just to wait
for that fell knock on the door,
a cold hand on my shoulder;
I always thought there would be more.
I thought I might grow older.
I've fallen now to little things,
in hope of self-respect,
while shadows cover spreading wings
in dust of sad neglect,
and sometimes I wonder why
I have lost the will to try.

The Five Minute Friday prompt this week is GUESS. I guess I can do this.

Dude, I did not think I'd guess
so long ago, in glory days
that life would become a mess
and dreams would vanish in a haze
of pain and puke and things far worse
(humiliation in the dunny),
and that I must not choose to curse
the Lord my God, though it be funny
that I am felled from higher places
in which the learned looked up to me,
but in falling I've found graces
and a kind of victory
in smiling when most would blaspheme,
and, in smiling, live the dream.

Three minutes, and I'll stand by it 

Music from ELO, with Hold On Tight.

Sylvia is delighted to share her Ice Cream Dream.


Thursday, June 9, 2022

Smartest Dumb, Or Dumbest Smart?

The whole cancer thing's gotten so laughably awful (stand up, get lightheaded, and fall over... REALLY?) that I thought I would throw a question out there.

Would you rather be a dumb smart person, or a smart dumb person?

 Some folks learn by being told,
some from books upon a shelf,
but I will say that I ain't sold
'till I try it for myself.
Now I won't claim to have a lock
on smarts or wit or common sense,
and that is why I got a shock
by peeing on electric fence.
The spark, it moved from wire to me
with bright flash and almighty CRACK!,
and I was felled just like a tree
to rest a bit upon my back,
and wafting up into the air
was smoke from, yeah, you do know where.

Music from Smash Mouth, with All Star.

The Five Minute Friday prompt this week is stir. Challenging.

Did the angels stir the waters,
or was perhaps the boiling pool
lure for simple sons and daughters
who in hope would play the fool,
pushing to the sad line's head,
giving elbow to a chin
from a heart that went quite dead
in the hope that it might win
a path from the black despair,
from the generation-curse,
breathing foul miasmic air
with no shekel in the purse
of the soul condemned to rue
faith in magic shown untrue?

Three minutes, and that's probably obvious. Less Shakespeare than Oh, Dear.

Sylvia always knew dogs were smarter than people. She didn't need more evidence.


Thursday, June 2, 2022

Hijacked By A Fish

This post was originally supposed to be about the importance of a sense of purpose in one's life, but along the way it was waylaid by a punny fish.

The pain of cancer's really hard,
and time is like a tortoise,
so there's a pool in my backyard
for a senseless porpoise.
This is not what you might wish,
still less what you would ask,
but know, please, that this dotty fish
is well up for the task
of puncturing pomposity,
of soaking down the grave and grim
to banish faux-solemnity
with deluge from flapping fin
that leads into a back-flip path
which splash makes even Zealots laugh.

If you're interested in how these things get written, I came up with the first three quatrains in my head while taking care of the dogs. I figured that it would be easy to remember it, and so didn't write it down immediately.

Yeah, well...at that point I could only recall the first quatrain.

So I wrote the version shown below...and then recalled the original!

The pain of cancer's really hard,
and time is like a tortoise,
so there's a pool in my backyard
for a senseless porpoise.
He will soak the pompous
with joyful fins a-flapping,
infuriate the serious
(if they are caught napping)
with water from his blow-hole,
aimed with gleeful care
to wash the grim unsmiling soul
and let it breathe free air,
because there's not much we can do
but laugh, until this life is through.

Funny thing, though, this does kind of describe the Christian life, in which self-important solemnity is punctured (with, I think, a Holy glee) by rebirth in Christ, which restores the true and pure innocence of the soul, in which fun can take its deepest and most stable root. And the symbol early Christians used was...a fish!

Yeah, I know. A porpoise isn't a fish. Barb told me.

No accident, I think, that C. S. Lewis' autobiography is called 'Surprised By Joy'.

If you're with me so far, the Five Minute Friday prompt this week is DANGER. Oh, wow.

There's a danger upon waking,
there is danger when I sleep.
Jesus, do not be a stranger,
and please hold my soul to keep
if the ending comes in dream-time,
or it ends in sand outside;
either way I go in full prime
for the cancer just can't hide
a heart that jollies up the fear,
and guffaws at wracking pain,
letting loose of what's held dear
so that humour can remain,
and I'm gonna hit it big
in my Heaven stand-up gig.

Three minutes thirty. OK.

Music from Coldplay, with Life In Techicolour II.

Sylvia will investigate fishy happenings... after the ice cream. 

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Uvalde's Mirror

And so the finger-pointing goes on.

Too many guns!
Not enough armed teachers!
Red flags ignored!
Slow response!

I won't debate any of the above, here, rhetorically, or in comments.

First, I'm not qualified, and second, like Melville's Bartleby, I would prefer not to.

I will say this, that no-one is talking about the root cause of the problem... alienation, and a carefully nurtured cult of individualism, and non-belonging, watered with angst and fertilized with anger.

Was it Benjamin Franklin who said that we've got to hang together, or we'll surely hang separately?

I think he would have found wry irony in our fashioning our own noose.

For further reading, I'd like to suggest Robert Putnam's Bowling Alone , which looks at the deterioration of the American social fabric through the lens of decreasing participation in bowling leagues. First published in book form in 2000, before the almost complete fracturing of community by the Internet, it's all the more relevant today.

Barb added her thoughts, that there is really very little disciplining of children in these years; a spanking is considered by the government to be tantamount to child abuse, and I have heard tell of kids going unpunished after physically assaulting teachers.

We've got troubles; it's up to us, and not our elected officials, to solve them.

Oh, right. The sonnet.

Our nation's fabric has been rent
way past social distance,
for we've gone where we always went,
the path of least resistance.
Once we had bowling and bridge,
a BBQ for all the block,
but now it's Netflix and the fridge;
front door's got a double lock.
We might wave to our neighbours,
but have we heard their heart's?
We claim to have a Saviour,
but still we keep apart
from His edict; we resist,
"Two or more, I'm in your midst."

The only music I can think of for this is Ed Ames' Who Will Answer?

Please give it a listen. It's really a song for our time, and he's got a lovely voice.

The Five Minute Friday prompt this week is HEAL.

You can't heal by making rules,
you can't heal in public speeches.
Better to be rum-soaked fools
lolling on Caribbean beaches.
You can't heal by written word,
or by heartfelt YouTube talk.
You can't heal with sharpened sword,
but only if you walk the walk
and use your life as an instruction
of danger we won't face, but see
of convenience as destruction
of what should be community,
so put aside the screen and start
a healing with in-person heart.

Sylvia approves this, and...she sez: "Be doggy, be part of a pack, but I'm NOT sharing my ice cream!"