Wednesday, April 24, 2013


I have sat down to write a bit several times this week, and each time an alluring distraction has led me down the various rabbit trails that run through my life. To write is hard, really damn hard. Where the rabbit trails and distractions of the day have to be fought and beaten back so that there is one quiet moment that allows the thoughts to be captured is the hard part. Every single day there is a story to tell, a moment to grasp and jot down so that it won’t fade away like the dream you think you will never forget, but you do.  And the days just go right on by and the memories continue to be born and die, all in a whirling rush that makes it so hard to stop for a moment to contemplate them.

I feel a bit of guilt that it takes a selfish decision to allocate the time to sit and write, to chronicle. Perhaps in future days my time keeping a log of some of the few stories I have jotted down will give some insight to those who will follow me as to what life was like here on this farm, and the periphery of my days. I wish that there were written journals from my family members who came before me, to know the moments and thoughts of their lives. Stories from my elder relatives are all that I know of, verbal renditions that change with each telling, growing fuzzier, the truth and the facts fading as memories do. 

I have enjoyed writing since I was very young. Before I could read or write, I wanted to be read to over and over, and like an addict there was no quenching my thirst for words and stories. I still remember one of my earlier books about a little boy who had a red blanket and in each cardboard page there was a cut out where I could touch the soft fuzzy blanket all the way at the very end. My parents, and my grand father especially, used to hide it from me so that they wouldn’t have to bear reading it to me one more time that day, but I always managed to get it back. Pretty quickly I was writing my own stories, primary focus was horses of course. My voracious appetite for reading and writing came in handy as I got older and in school it showed up well in my grades, the teachers mistaking literacy for intelligence and aptitude.  

Now it has become my job to read to my grand daughter. In, what seems like an all of a sudden flash of understanding, little Margaret is now absorbing words, and is putting pictures, thoughts and words together at an exponential rate. She is learning like a sponge and wants a word for everything she sees, and she forgets nothing. Books are her favorite and if no one can read to her at the moment she studies the pages of her sacred books in quiet contemplation, soaking it in. She will never find boredom as she grows up if her love of words continues and my guess is that it will.

Her parents recently asked us if we were up to a bit of baby sitting duty on a few nights. Well, heck yeah, we told them and began to pick up the sharp objects and whatever inappropriate items that a curious little girl might want to peruse and put them away. We were given a heads up that she would be asking for bubbles for entertainment. Not being well supplied with bubble making equipment and, being the dutiful grand father that he is, Mark went on a mission to solve this problem and came home with small bubble jars with the wand inside it, the one bubble at a time basic. He also bought a bubble gun which we found fired a continuous stream of perfectly round and consistently sized bubbles as long as you held the trigger, easy to get quantity but was somehow lacking in mystery. The best potential bubble devise he bought though, was the wand.

The wand came in two parts, not including the soap, a plastic dish which looked suspiciously like an upside down Frisbee and a large plastic loop with a long handle. The idea was to pour the soap into the upside down Frisbee and let the hoop down into the soap to get a film across the ring for some potentially super sized bubbles.

After she was dropped off for her visit Margaret made the rounds checking out her toys inside the house, then she started saying “side” which we finally figured out was short for out-side, so in compliance with her wishes, out we trod. Mark pretty quickly got the bubble making going to her delight, and very much to our amusement and laughter at her obvious delight. As a bubble floated across the porch she would squeal and laugh and say in the cutest possible way a baby could say it, “BUB-bles!”, at which point we would helplessly laugh too. After playing with the small bubble generators for a while it was time for the hoop and the big bubbles.

We set up out on the front yard between the house and the pond. The wind was blowing from the south at a pretty good clip so the wind would theoretically blow the bubbles towards the pool area. We began by settling the hoop into the soap and then slowly picked it up allowing the wind to push the film into the beginning of a huge long bubble. Most of my attempts popped before leaving the tray of soap but some formed tremendously long tubes of color that gracefully undulated across the yard. A few were nearly thirty feet long or so and two feet in diameter and had a very ghost like appearance and movement. Some broke off into large misshaped prisms that floated slowly along with the passing wind. On these large ones I could see the reflection of the things it passed as it drifted by, a perfect oval mirror of the house behind me, the spring grasses, the sky above and all things in between, the smiling faces of me, Mark, and Margaret’s aunt “Cray”, and the face of the little girl who chased them with delight on little legs that tried so hard to catch them, but couldn’t.

 Margaret would squeal again and again and try to chase these lovely bubbles but they usually popped right before she got them. She would run back and wait for the next ones and repeat the same. We all were laughing and in such a deliciously nice place. There may be few things as good for the soul as taking time to make silly bubbles. To do so, and in the process of, make a baby laugh and happy is icing on the proverbial cake. It was a very good moment to savour, and like the bubbles, it too was beautiful, magical, floating, and ultimately, ephemeral.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Sinuses and Cinnamon

I had really thought I was immune to falling prey to such things as the effects of an unreal amount of pollen that has been floating through the air for the past month or so. I have listened to the whining of my friends who are prone to the sinus clogging, head ache inducing, sneezing, watery eyes, misery from their allergies and have felt sympathy for them and have to admit having been a bit smug in not having had to share their experiences with such, until now. Now, I do feel their pain, and then some. My head is exploding as I write, a throbbing so badly that I think a nice drill bit between the eyes might be a good thing to ponder.

I can remember very few times when I have actually gotten a seasonal allergy. I woke yesterday with a stuffy nose and figured that was courtesy of having had lunch with our granddaughter the other day. She had been carrying around a case of the day care snots for some time now and so I figured that she had shared some of it with me. Bless her heart. She is generous that way, but by the evening that a simple stuffy nose began to feel like there was an elephant standing just under my left eye. This was no cold. I guess I had finally breathed enough of the pollen that my body gave up to its effect. So I headed to our medicine cabinet to find relief of some form.

Like I said, I do not get sick often and am not prone to allergies, except for flying stinging things. After getting the bandaid boxes out of the way, way back in the back of the cabinet I found the boxes of cold and sinus remedy stuff. The one I really wanted to use said that it had expired in 2000, so I kept looking until I found one that had only recently expired and took one. Then I woke this morning to the full brunt of a major sinus attack. My head reeled with pain when I lifted it, and still does despite the various drugs I have ingested in failure to combat the intense and incessant throbbing. 

My younger daughter took some pity on me and gave me an oil to put under my nose for clearing the breathing tubes. A while back she had dated a guy who was into Chinese and homeopathic medicine. He was certifiably nuts, but he did give her this oil that was supposed to cure what ails you, and she suggested that I try it, so I did. A very strong smell of eucalyptus, menthol, peppermints, and cinnamon hit my nose when I sniffed it. I was told to put a drop under my nose, which I did, and instantly I could feel the nasal passages responding to the scent. Then where I had put the drop on my skin began to tingle, and that made me remember another time when I had encountered cinnamon oil. 

I don’t remember what grade I was in at the time, maybe seventh or so. I had gone over to a friend’s house for the afternoon when school had let us out. Lyn’s  older brother was there and he also had a guest and the two were sitting in the den with a bag of marshmallows and a small bottle of something. They were taking the marshmallows and putting a drop of the liquid onto the little puffs of sugar and then popping them in their mouths. It looked like a fine plan to me and the smell was of cinnamon toast, my favorite, so I asked for one too.

I should have known better, one from the fact that this was an older brother, whether it was Lyn’s, or mine, is not the point. In the rules of engagement with older brothers a younger sister needs to always be looking out for possible pranks. Then secondly the exchange of smiles and glances between them was the next clue to something coming up.

Bill, I think the other guy’s name was, pulled a marshmallow out of the bag and poured a very generous helping of the oil onto it, and handed it to me. I put the thing in my mouth and instantly thought I might die then and there. I spit it out but the burning liquid had already done its damage. My entire mouth and my chin and lower face were on fire where ever the oil had touched. The unchewed marshmallow fell in my lap and stained my windbreaker. I remember looking at them and wondering how in the world they thought that was going to be hilarious. I was shocked at how mean spirited what they had done was. I ran to the sink for water to wash the stinging away but it did little to make it stop. The scent never left that coat, which I never wore again, and I could not stomach the smell of cinnamon for years after that. I left that house in serious searing pain, and in no small amount of confusion, feeling betrayed and stupid for having been the brunt of such a cruel joke.

Later I learned about toothpicks that were soaked in cinnamon oil that were either sold, or made, and one day one was presented to me. I nearly threw up at the smell, the scent memory still lingering. There was a hard candy ball available too, bright red “Red Hots”, that were very hot with the cinnamon oil taste and I never could figure out how people enjoyed them. It was many years later that I made up with cinnamon powder enough to use it cooking or to dust a piece of toast. The little drop under my nose today was enough of a memory jogger that I nearly panicked when I realized what it was, but I have to say that my nose is semi-functional at this point, just wish I could say the same about the head ache.   

The swirling winds outside keep the never ending supply to this year’s pollen moving through the air. The yellow stuff has seeped into the house, has filled the barn, has hidden the color of my truck, and has covered any and every surface, including but not limited to the lining of my nose. My old mare Limerick came up to the gate at feeding time the other day with her nostrils absolutely encrusted with solid yellow rings around them. She seemed grateful that I wiped the mess off. The pollen that has landed on the ponds’ surfaces has made sickly yellow green patterns as it has pushed around by the wind and water, but  at least, it, won’t make it to a vulnerable nose anymore.

The forecast, thankfully, is for rain soon and the stuff will be washed away for a day or two and hopefully too, that soon the trees will stop filling the air and my nose, and be done. This allergy stuff is surprisingly not fun to deal with. I had forgotten. My sympathy for those who regularly go through this, is much higher and is empathized with now, and any of my previous smugness, gone. Seeing how as I am vulnerable after all, I guess  it is time to restock the medicine cabinet and buy some kleenex, or get a bigger towel. AAAAAAchoo.