Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Nonsense on New Year's Eve

Wishing all my fellow Toads, all contributors and readers in the Imaginary Garden, and all readers of my blog, the very best of the coming year.
Thus I leave you, and the outgoing year, with this bit of nonsense.

From Wikimedia Commons,
the free media repository
Leah and Clia

and Frank and Sam

went out in a beautiful boat

and then, when

the boat,

it sank,

two swam,

and the other two eloped.

Kay Davies, 2013

Monday, December 30, 2013

Our world Tuesday: lots of snow

Snow on the west coast of Canada, yay!
I remember coastal snow well. I had to get to work in it, for years, and nobody on the west coast is very good at driving in it. It is heavy wet snow and causes more traffic jams than rush hour. In rush hour, it was worse.

Maria Davies photos
However, it was a happy occasion earlier in December when my brother Clint got to take his grandson Malcolm out to experience the fun side of snow. Buttoning and zippering and mittening done, Malcolm was happy to look at the 5-tiered snowman someone built .

Meanwhile, here in Alberta, we had snow galore. Snow in Medicine Hat, and in the town next door where we live, snow on the Trans Canada Highway (also known as Highway 1) and north on Highway 2 when we went to visit Dick's daughters in Red Deer. We were joined there by his eldest daughter who lives in the Far North, along with her daughter Taylor Dawn and also Taylor Dawn's daddy. It was great to see them.

The snow in Red Deer was
very deep, so Lindy was
unable to wear the snow
boots she wears near home.
Richard Schear photo
Lindy enjoyed our time at the Red Deer Lodge, and especially liked sitting in the lobby where people would see her and come to pet her. The lobby has a nice seating area where we visited with Dick's youngest daughter, her husband, and their children, who arrived from Medicine Hat and were headed farther north. These are the grandchildren Lindy knows best, so she was very happy they came.

We were all glad to get home safely, and looking forward to getting some rest after a lot of traveling.

Posted for Our World Tuesday

Thursday, December 26, 2013

X is for a musical cartoonist

Xavier Cugat
the Latin lover
I'm pretty sure Roger has used Xavier Cugat, the Catalan-Spanish-born Cuban-American bandleader on ABC Wednesday before, but here's my take on him, just in case Roger somehow missed him.
Xavier was a real 20th-century man, who was born January 1, 1900, and who lived until he was 90. He often performed with his band while holding a chihuahua in one hand and his baton in the other.
Charo, aka
Mrs. Xavier Cugat

One of the many remarkable things he did in his lifetime was marrying his fifth and final wife, the flamboyant Spanish-born American actress-comedienne and flamenco guitarist, Charo, when he was 66 and she was 21 or probably younger, depending when and where the question is asked. When she divorced Xavier after 12 years of marriage, and applied to become an American citizen, her "official" birth year was taken as 1951. Taking that as true means she was 15, or 16 at the most, when they married.

Xavier Cugat recorded on many different record labels, and many of his signature tunes were popular for years, but none of them more than Perfidia which he recorded in 1940, and which has since been performed by many singers and countless orchestras.
Wikipedia photo

Another of Xavier Cugat's claims to fame is his career as a syndicated cartoonist. At right he is drawing one of his famous self-portrait cartoons, many of which appeared on the covers of his long-play recordings or LPs.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Our World Tuesday: Christmas Eve

Wishing a lovely golden light to all!

From Kay and Richard and Lindy
posted for

Photo by Kay Davies, December, 2013

Monday, December 23, 2013

Open link opens Christmas week

I'm joining Kerry and all other members and contributors at the online writers' group Imaginary Garden with Real Toads for Open Link Monday this Christmas week. As usual, if I'm not given a word list, a photo, or a topic as a prompt, I set my brain on idle and see what comes. Today, I think my tummy contributed more than my brain did.

we all know
when the moon hits your eye
like a big pizza pie, that’s amorĂ©
when the pie hits your eye
and you tremble and sigh
then it’s Christmas...
mince pie,
pumpkin pie,
apple pie,
custard pie and more,
you have to try
each one you eye
but still fit through the door.

and then you swear
it’s diet pie
or else just pi
from January onward:
nothing fits
and you have fits,
then call it quits,
and give up on
your diet.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The nose knows: Camera Critters, Pet Pride

Photos by
Richard Schear
December 2013
Lindy's poor old eyes ain't what they used to be, but a dog's nose knows all.
When Lindy came in from the yard this afternoon, she decided to sit in her mom's recliner. It's not big enough for her to curl up and sleep in, but she sat there for a long time, even after her daddy took some photos of her with his cellular phone.
The pink pillow on the right is on Lindy's new ottoman. It is 32 inches by 32 inches, so she can lie down, and fall asleep, but won't fall off!
Even though her daddy used his cel phone to take her picture, she knew he was doing something sneaky, and turned her head.
Posted for Camera Critters, hosted by Misty Dawn, and Pet Pride, hosted by Lindy's friend Bozo and his family in Mumbai, India at their Pets Forever blog.
Lindy and her family hope that every blogger who is celebrating a holiday this week will have a super time, and so will all their pets.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Kerry asked for tanka today

First things first: I am seldom a serious poet.

Secondly: the word tanka is not pronounced like tonka, but it's closer to that than to anything having to do with thanks or tanks. More like tahn-kah, rather than tawn-kuh.

Just thought I'd get that out of the way, in case any of my friends and relatives are reading this. Otherwise, I'm preaching to the choir, because this is posted for, and might only be read by members of the Imaginary Garden with Real Toads, and for contributors whom my friend Fireblossom calls "toad roadies" (a name I just love, by the way, FB).


"The 31 syllables divided into the units of 5/7/5/7/7 can create a poem, whether or not it is an English tanka," says Kerry, quoting Dr. Hisashi Nakamura’s Thoughts on Tanka at the Imaginary Garden.

So, here are my 31 syllables, suitably divided into a poem, whether or not it is an English tanka. 'Tis a poor thing, but mine own, to misquote The Bard.

Thanks for a challenging challenge, Kerry. My brain has been suffering from lack of use lately, so it needed some exercise. 

Photo by Richard Schear

some snow fell last night
enough to brighten, whiten
all that I could see.
as of tomorrow, the days
will be longer than today.
Kay Davies, December 21, 2013                                         

Friday, December 20, 2013

Fireblossom Friday in the garden

This Friday at the Imaginary Garden with Real Toads, my friend Fireblossom has asked us to write about angels, any kind of angels we like, except Christmas angels. No. Christmas. Angels.
Okay, this conversation didn't take place at Christmas time.

Calling All Angels...

You know, Dad, back when I was five...
Yes, he said, and thought,
olmiite, edited and cropped
from wikimedia commons
you were still five last month.
Well, you know, she confided,
back when I was five,
there was a ball...
A ball, he repeated,
what kind of ball do you mean?
I don’t know what kind it was, 
but it was beautiful,
and it followed me everywhere,
right there, she told him,
indicating a spot
behind and above
her right shoulder.
I don’t think anyone else could see it,
because nobody said.
But I could see it,
and it made me feel safe.
Don’t you feel safe now? he asked.
Oh, yes, I do. I can’t see the ball any more
because I’m six now, but I still feel safe.
And, besides, you’re holding my hand.
Kay Davies, December 20, 2013

Sky can be seen in reflections

When the cartop carrier came off his car's top on the Trans Canada Highway, my husband was very pleased no one was directly behind him. Not only that, but the carrier landed on the shoulder and not on the pavement. A man with a truck soon stopped and offered to follow Dick home, bringing the errant carrier in his truck.
Pictures, of course, had to be taken to prove to the friendly insurance people that there was some damage to the car.
During this process, the roof, hood, windshield and windows all reflected blue sky, white clouds, and trees, while the metal and glass even reflected my intrepid photographer his very self (if you look closely in the second and third photos).

Photos by Richard Schear, 2013
Posted for  Sky Watch Friday

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Christmas memory for Real Toads

Over at the online writers' group, Imaginary Garden with Real Toads, Peggy has asked members and contributors to write about a Christmas memory, either from our own point of view, or from a different point of view—perhaps a child's or a pet's.
Public domain photo
Yesterday, I told Peggy I thought I might try to write from the point of view of a wonderful dog my parents and young brother once had. A cross between the Ortega kids' Mexican mongrel, and Nana Ortega's black poodle, our dear Chiquita was smart and funny, loved Christmas, and always knew which gift on the tree was hers, no matter how many layers of giftwrap Mom used.
I was very busy yesterday, and am feeling under the weather today (although I must admit it is sunny, blue-sky weather above the snow) and I couldn't quite imagine myself as Chiquita, so I opened a page on my word-processing program and decided to see what happened.
And so...what did happen turned out to be a true story about the first year Mom, Dad and our much-younger brother Rob weren't home in Canada for Christmas, when what happened then was a surprise to us all.

Mom and Dad had
their retirement planned
before Mother had
our young brother.
when people asked
“now what will you do?”
they said “he’ll come along,
 he’ll like travel, too”
and, yes, he was two
the first time they went
and they all fell in love
with the Baja,
and soon the year came
when they left in September
when it wasn’t the same
for us in December.
we all sat around
and some of us frowned
“what happens now?
 we just don’t know how
 to celebrate Christmas
 without them”
our grandparents tried
to cheerfully hide
missing Mom, Dad and Robbie.
but Nanny cried
and yes, so did I
and my sister
(who’d never admit it).
my brother Clint’s wife
said “what a strange life!”
we agreed she was right
and we nodded,
until someone thought
we should all put our thoughts
on a tape 
to send down
to the Baja.
“Merry Christmas, Mom!”
“Happy New Year, Dad!”
“was Santa good to you, Robbie?”
and we started smiling,
then laughing—
we could love them as much
when they weren’t with us
as we did when they were among us.
Kay Davies, December, 2013

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Walking in a winter wonderland

Posted for the letter W at ABC Wednesday

The thing I like best about Winter is how Wonderful it looks before the snow has had a chance to melt, how lovely it looks before the sanding trucks and snowplows, and the householders with shovels and snowblowers get out there to mess it all up. It looks particularly lovely on evergreen trees.

The evergreen in the bottom photo (taken after dark, with a flash) is a spreading juniper, three of which are slowly taking over the boulevard between our house and the road. In the photo below, you might just be able to see the outline of my left arm and leg, made when I took a tumble into the snow, and the Worst of my fall was broken by one of the big spreading junipers. I don't go out Walking by myself very much any more, and you can see Why.

Photos by Kay Davies

For my lost, blue love

"Isala" by Ikea
photo by Ikea website
I fell in love
when I shouldn’t have—
I fell in love today:
her name is Isala,
she lives at Ikea,
and she can’t come here to stay.

I’m drawing plans:
I’m planning to
the living room
in a clean,
crisp style,
that’s easy to maintain.

But while searching Ikea
on the internet,
for wall lamps with cords
(and finding them, too, I might add)
I somehow spotted Isala there
and she’s driving me quite mad.

She’s so blue
she’s nearly grey
but despite all that, she’s gay
and bright, and lively, too.
I’d love to possess her,
I would, wouldn’t you?
I would, I would, but she won’t do.

I’m looking instead
for black and white
and greyer shades of grey,
and lines that don’t attract the dust,
and cause all kinds of dusting fuss,
as her lovely legs would,
wouldn’t they?

So, farewell, Isala,
it has been fun
to have you
on my desktop
for a day,
where I could take a peek at you
when life got in my way.

 Posted for Open Link Monday
at the Imaginary Garden with Real Toads

Saturday, December 14, 2013

How does Lindy know it's for her?

A delivery truck driver brought this cardboard box to the house today. It is large, almost 3 feet by 3 feet, but it is quite flat, so I decided this would be a safe place to store it until Lindy's daddy can help me open it tomorrow, and then we'll put it together for Lindy. It will be a large ottoman, a place for her to sleep between our two recliners while we watch television.
I might have said something to Lindy as I took it across the floor, to put it upright between the kitchen island and the bench, but I don't remember what I said. It must have been "This is for you" however, because not long afterward I saw her sleeping between the box and the kitchen island.
"Oh, Mom," says Lindy, "this picture makes my tail end look too big."

Photo by Kay Davies, December 14, 2013
Posted for Pet Pride, which is hosted by Lindy's friend Bozo and his family in Mumbai, India, at their Pets Forever blog.
and for
Camera Critters, hosted by Misty Dawn. Thanks, Misty.
Lindy says, "Hi, Bozo, I'm glad you're back from your holiday." And she also says, "Hi, Misty, I know you're very busy but it's so nice to see a picture of one of your dogs."

Kerry talks to toads about Mandiba

'Finally we managed to see and hear the father of a nation that had yet to be born'
Richard Ramsden, about Nelson Mandela’s
release from prison on February 11, 1990
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela
10 May 1994–14 June 1999

The woman behind the online writers' group Imaginary Garden with Real Toads is Kerry, a South African poet, teacher and mother who has taught us many things about writing poetry, and has gently mothered many of us through our growth as poets.
When Nelson Mandela died earlier this month, Kerry was working long, hard hours marking official exams, along with many other teachers. We, her far-flung group of toadlings, were unable to communicate with her until today. It was a strange, even eerie, feeling for me and, I'm sure, for other Real Toads worldwide, to be unable to reach out to Kerry at such a time.
However, she and all the other people working at the marking centre "came together in respect and communal sorrow to offer up prayers in 6 languages, representing 4 religions...the people of a land so long torn apart by unnatural divisions...(and) that we were there, joined in brotherly love, is a direct consequence of Nelson Mandela's life."
Today, Kerry has asked us to write, if we care to, about Nelson Mandela, familiarly known to South Africans as "Mandiba" (his clan name) or "Tata" (father) or "Tata Mandiba".
 I was only a year and a half old when the system of apartheid became law in South Africa. I'm sure no one in Canada spoke to me about it at that time, but I'm equally sure my parents must have spoken about it when they thought they were alone.
I was a very inquisitive child, even then, and listened carefully to everything I heard.
I was also sensitive to moods and, I'm sure, to opinions. I certainly grew up with a deep antipathy toward apartheid, toward segregation of any kind, and even, I realized when I first met the people who were to become my brother's in-laws, toward the Dutch...perhaps unreasonable of me to blame the Netherlands for what happened in their former colony.
Although I dropped my negativity toward my sister-in-law's family, I maintained a hard line regarding segregation, and carried, almost unbeknownst to myself, a bitterness toward white South Africans, even after Nelson Mandela's release from prison in 1990.
As it happened, I was living in a very small town in south-central British Columbia in the early 1990s. I was on a disability pension and visited the local medical clinic quite regularly. I had a nice Irish-born doctor who, for reasons I've now forgotten, moved away, and I was transferred to the new doctor, a white South African.
"No," I declared. I was at my most charming, obviously. "I won't. I don't believe in white South Africans."
(Apologies, at this juncture in 2013, to my South African friends: Kerry, Jo, Jo's husband Grant, and Jo's brother Phillip.)
Fortunately, for the good of my soul and my digestion, I had long since learned to forgive some of the white people from some of the southern US states, because progress had earlier been made with regard to American segregation policies, and only once had I thrown someone out my door for calling Martin Luther King "that nigger"!
Back to the small-town medical clinic in the 1990s...
"What," said the nurse, "do you mean? How can you not believe in white South Africans?" in a tone of voice suggesting I had lost most, if not all, of my marbles.
So I saw the new doctor, and let him see me. He was wonderful. He was young, kind, considerate, gentle, friendly, and asked my advice about writing because he enjoyed writing and wanted to try it in English, which wasn't his first language. He listened to my opinions, and took my chronic pain seriously. I absolutely adored him until he moved to New York to become a radiologist, because they enjoy regular working hours.
Meanwhile, far, far from that small BC town, Nelson Mandela had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize together with F.W. de Klerk, for bringing about the end of apartheid.
Mandela also received the Order of Canada and was the first living person to be granted honorary Canadian citizenship.
Awards and honors from many other countries were bestowed upon him, and it was becoming obvious, even to that little girl who still resided deep in my heart, that Nelson Mandela, Tata Mandiba of South Africa, no longer needed my help.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Asking someone else for a line for Toads

Over at the Imaginary Garden with Real Toads, our hero Corey suggested we ask someone else to provide a line with which to start a poem.
So I asked my husband, when he came home from refereeing high school basketball.

Silly me.
He first suggested "my husband is such a wonderful guy" and when I said "no way" he changed it to "I am such a lucky gal" and then went off to have a shower.
I tried. I tried his first suggestion, and came up with:
my husband is such a wonderful guy
I can’t think of anyone wonderfuller even if I actually try
his humility is exceeded
only by his modesty
followed by a couple of seriously uncomplimentary lines. Not nice. 

Then I had a go at his second suggestion. Still not particularly complimentary, but at least I wrote more than half a dozen lines.

I am such a lucky gal
my husband is the perfect pal—
he doesn’t listen when I talk,
at my suggestions he will balk.

he leaves open drawers and doors
and seldom sweeps or mops the floors,
he chews gum beside my ear
so no other sound I hear.

when we, together, watch TV
and there’s something he can’t see,
he will question blind old me
despite my cataract surgery.

however, I think I’ll keep him, despite
the number of times per day we fight
he’d be difficult to replace alright
because who else could stand the sight
of me in the morning, hair all messed,
teeth in a jar, and Kay not dressed?

Cheating for Weekend Reflections

Cheating? Yes, it's true.
I, who am committed to rigorous honesty, cannot pretend to have taken these pictures. Nor did my husband, nor did any other of my friends and relations. But you can see how the light reflects in both photos, and the light of the laser reflects in the first one as brightly as the light of the fire does in the second.

Photos from Canadian Tire online flyer
These are my Christmas gifts. One is from my husband, and one is from myself. For some reason, Dick said he'd rather not give me a mitre saw. He did, however, accept my money, then go to the store to buy it. Yay! I've always wanted a mitre saw. Merry Christmas to me!
And, said husband got me a TV stand with an electric fireplace in it. So now I won't have to watch the fireplace channel any more— or perhaps I will, this Christmas season, because there's really no point in putting new furniture together before we install the new flooring in the living room and dining room.
I've always wanted an electric fireplace. I've done my time chopping wood and keeping the home fires burning when I was much younger and stronger. A remote control is now my speed.
I must admit that, just today, I told a blogger friend I don't like shopping, and it's mostly true. I don't like rushing through shopping malls to buy this, that, and the other thing for people on a list. I love the people who are there, on the list, but I don't like Christmas shopping.
So I have a remote control for shopping, too. It's a two-parter. The first part consists of my computer, and the second part is Richard Schear, my husband, who loves crowds and shopping.
Now, I had just typed the previous paragraph, when the fireplace arrived. It turned out to be too big to fit in Dick's car, so it was brought from the store by two wonderful women, our friend Bonnie and her daughter Lacey. Bonnie also brought her granddaughter "Zaffy" to play with the dog while she and Lacey struggled with the weight of the huge box.
Dick, who could have helped them with it, arrived home just after they left.
Thanks, ladies, we really appreciate it!

Posted for
Weekend Reflections
hosted by James of Something Sighted

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Time to "get listed" in the Imaginary Garden

Fireblossom has provided us with a list of 23 words from Edgar Allan Poe’s story “The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether” and asked us to use at least five of the words in a new poem written in any style except haiku.
This should be fun and not very difficult for members and contributors at the Imaginary Garden with Real Toads.
Of course, I will try to use as many of the words as I can, dealing them out with a lavish hand in my poem entitled:

Tarr and Fether

as amusements
during this degree of lunacy,
glasses full of feathers
from a cadaverous crow
are oh so soothing—
their oddity examined
in a frenzy of whispers
by several devilish madmen 
and one vulgarly natural lady
By Kay Davies, December 11, 2013                                   

Fireblossom's list follows:

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The letter V is for variable

could be blue skies 

could be grey

could be near

or far away

could be wind

or could be snow

weather varies, don't we know?
Posted for
the letter V 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Our World Tuesday: 'tis the season

Charlie Brown tree
bought when gold one
couldn't be found in
the crowded cellar
last year.
It seems 'tis the season to be decorating in Our World. Canadian Thanksgiving has come and gone. Hallowe'en has come and gone. American Thanksgiving has come and gone. My birthday has come and gone. Shoppers are rushing home with their presents, and people are posting photos of their Christmas trees online.
The other day I told my husband it was too early to put up a tree, and he wondered why.
"Because," I answered, as a wife should.
A day or so later, after he brought my little gold artificial tree up from the cellar (when he was finally putting his Hallowe'en decorations away and wanted to save a trip down the ladder), I told him, "I said it was too early because, when I was young, we didn't put our Christmas trees up a week after my birthday, we put them up a week before Christmas, because we had cut trees. Dad always went out to cut a tree when we were kids."
My little gold tree, found in
the cellar this year.
That's true. The environment was then referred to as "the mountain" or "the forest" when trees were plentiful, and were also free on Crown Land (aka government land). It was a long, long time ago.
We lived in what was then a small town in British Columbia, and everyone's dad went out to cut a tree. Then they cobbled up tree stands from whatever bits of lumber they had available, to keep the tree upright while it stood in a bucket of water (judiciously replenished by the moms) on a bathmat (to save the floor) in the living room. This tree stand contraption was then draped with tin foil, with only a few strategically placed pieces of tape to hold it there but still allow for watering cans.
Gifts were hidden until a day or two before Christmas, because my mother and sister almost always peeked, and our "big" gifts (i.e. skates, toboggans, or bicycles) were put, unwrapped, around the tree while we slept the night before Christmas.
Cut trees, dads knew, would dry out if put up and decorated too soon, and would become fire hazards. People who lived near forests knew about fire hazards. City people, not so much.
I miss the smell of cut trees, and of the live trees I had when I was an adult on the west coast, where trees could be planted outside after Christmas. I miss the smell of trees, but I don't miss the smell of forest fires.
Our little Alberta Spruce in the front yard.
I'm thinking of putting lights on it, if we can find
the outdoor lights, the nearest outdoor power source, and
the long outdoor extension cord I know we have somewhere.
So now my husband (did I mention he's Jewish?) knows why I thought this past weekend was too early for a tree.