Friday, June 23, 2017

War and Pieces - Day 4 - #BarAThon

I am participating in the BarAThon with the blogging group, Blog a Rhythm for the weeks of June 14 to 30th.

Today's prompt is "War and Pieces." I did a poem for today's challenge.

War and Pieces

Pieces of shrapnel, pieces of bone
Pieces of metal, pieces of stone,
Fly-covered corpses, their blood brownish-red
Survivors wish that they, too, were dead.

War hungry maniacs with evil goals
Destroying lives and shattering souls,
Power hungry men, they always want more
Making life harder for the sick and the poor,

Everywhere, despair increases
Such is the life, with war and pieces

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Of Ice and Men - Day 3 #BarAThon

I am participating in the Barathon with the blogging group, Blog a Rhythm for the weeks of June 14 to 30th.

Today's prompt is "Of Ice and Men." I got my inspiration for this fictional piece from my experience living in Gjoa Haven, Nunavut way up on King William Island in 1997-98. My husband, Brian got a teaching job teaching adults for eight very long months. I thought I would go crazy at times, but managed to get through it and even enjoy some moments along the way.
I squinted through the dim greyish light onto the vast body of water, now an endless white frozen landscape of snow and ice. The sky and sea blended together like an empty white canvas, so bleak and desolate.

The wind tore at my scarf threatening to pull it right off and I had to pull it tighter around my face. Even my Snowgoose parka was no match against the frigid Arctic winter wind. My glasses iced up with each breath I took and I couldn’t see anything so I had to take them off. Now I really couldn’t see anything, not that there was that much to see.  

I’d never felt cold like this before and I considered myself a hardy Canadian, able to endure long cold winters. Winters down South in Ontario were nothing in comparison to this.

I’d arrived in September and there was already snow then. Now it was January. I wasn’t sure I would be able to endure it until July when I would get my trip back home for a few weeks.

What had possessed me to come to this desolate island so far from civilization? The darkness, the isolation and the cold were enough to push a person over the edge. Already some of my work colleagues had packed it in and returned home.

 “Why do you want to go to the Arctic, Tom?” my sister Heather had asked me, looking at me as if I was crazy.

At the time it had seemed like a great adventure to take a plane and fly up to the Arctic to work as a cook at the small hotel. The reality was all together different. Dark, isolated and freezing cold. And the Inuit were so different, too. It was like being in a foreign country.

“What are you doing here, Kabloona?” a voice called out. I turned to see Peter, my Inuk neighbour coming towards me. He liked calling me Kabloona, the Inuktitut name for a white person from the South.

“Morning, Peter,” I said, trying to sound enthused.

“It won’t be long now,” Peter said with one of his infectious grins that spread across his face.  The cold didn’t seem to bother him at all.

“It won’t be long for what?” I asked, curious.

“Wait and see,” he said, with a laugh.

We stood there for a while waiting. Nothing happened.

“I think I’ll go now,” I said, not wanting to admit I was cold.

“Wait. It’s almost time,” Peter urged, pointing to where the sea and sky met.
I looked out at the horizon, unsure of what he was talking about.

We watched  as a small sliver of sunlight peeked above the horizon, a tiny glint of light that grew stronger with each passing moment. After a few minutes, the sun burst from the horizon.

“The sun has returned,” Peter said with satisfaction, the rays lighting up his face.

I closed my eyes and  basked in the weak rays as if I was on a tropical vacation in the Carribbean.

I blinked at the bright light, a small glimmer of hope stirring deep inside me. The sun cast a warm orange glow over the frozen land and the Arctic didn’t seem so bleak after all.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Song of Seth - Day 2 prompt "Life of Pie" #Barathon

I am particpating in the Barathon with the blogging group, Blog a Rhythm for the week of June 14 to 30th.

Today's prompt is "Life of Pie." I got my inspiration from that old nursery rhyme "Sing a Song of Sixpence" and wrote a story based on the idea.

“Hurry up! We must finish these pies for the king and queen’s dinner tonight,” the cook said and boxed Seth on the ears for staring out the window at the birds again.

Seth rubbed his sore ears and nodded without a word. He rolled the pie crust out on the kitchen counter but it broke all apart in lumpy pieces.

‘Can’t you do anything right? Just my luck to be stuck with a simpleton like you for an apprentice,” the cook grumbled as he fixed the crust and made it smooth. “I promised my brother I’d train you but sometimes you try my patience.”

Once again, Seth said nothing but that was nothing unusual. Seth never spoke. 

Before he had become the cook’s apprentice, he had enjoyed long walks in the forest and meadows. He never tired of watching and listening to the birds. When he turned 13, his father, the king’s footman, told Seth that he was to become the cook’s apprentice and Seth’s bird watching days were only a memory.

“I’m going out for a few minutes to get more ingredients. Try not to get into trouble while I’m gone,” the cook warned and Seth nodded, his eyes wide and innocent.

Later when they brought the pies to the dining room, the king wasn’t there. He was in the counting house counting out his money as usual even though his wife had told him he should exercise like the doctor advised.

The queen was in her chambers eating milk and honey as she did every afternoon. She’d heard it was good for her fertility though so far it hadn’t helped much. The past seven years of their marriage had been barren, despite their longing for a child. She needed to get her husband out of that counting house for a start.

The cook and Seth laid the pies out on the table and rang the dinner bell.  Finally the king and queen arrived and sat down for dinner. Servants scurried about pouring wine and setting down the rest of the food on the long table.

The cook started to slice the pie that Seth had made. Suddenly the air was filled with fluttering and chirping as a flock of blackbirds flew out of the pie. Twenty four of them circled around the ceiling making a huge squawking noise as everyone watched in shock from below. The birds found an open window and flew outside to freedom. 

“What is the meaning of this?” the king roared.

“I’m sorry, Your Majesty. I don’t know what happened,” the cook apologized giving Seth a dirty look. Seth didn’t even notice. He was too busy enjoying the excitement of all the birds. He noticed the two lovebirds in a cage hanging in the corner of the room and went over to see them. Seth opened the cage and the doves flew out, cooing with joy to be free. They flew through the open window where the blackbirds had just escaped.

“Who said you could do that?” the king cried in anger. “Those are my love birds. They don’t belong to you!”

“I’m sorry, Your Majesty,” The cook apologized again. “He’s my brother’s son. I promised I’d teach him to cook but all he cares about is birds. I will get another apprentice immediately.”

The queen who was the calm and sensible one of the family, pondered the predicament. She smiled at Seth in a motherly way.

“I have an idea. Why not have him work with the gardener and create a bird sanctuary?”

“What? But he’s just a simpleton without a brain in his head,” the cook protested.

“That’s very harsh,” the queen replied. “Let’s give the lad a chance, shall we?”

“Thank you, Your Majesty. I will do my best,” Seth said, bowing before her.

“You can speak?” the cook said in disbelief. “I thought you were mute.”

“Only with you, Sir,” Seth said, grinning from ear to ear.

From that day on, Seth and the gardener created a bird sanctuary full of a variety of birds. Even the king would take daily walks in Seth’s sanctuary with the queen instead of spending so much time in the counting house. The therapeutic benefits of the garden worked their magic and soon they were expecting a child.

When the gardener died, Seth became head gardener. Word spread throughout the kingdom about the magical sanctuary and the queen allowed commoners to come visit the garden to experience its healing properties.  

Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Fault in Our Stares - Day 1 #BarAThon

I am particpating in the Barathon with the blogging group, Blog a Rhythm for the week of June 14 to 30th, a fortnight of blogging as they say in India. I almost forgot that a fortnight means two weeks. Such a fun British term.

Today's prompt is "The Fault in our Stares." The theme for the week is "Seven" which I have no idea how to incorporate into today's post, other than this memory took place in the 19 SEVENties. There, I did it! PHEW!

This is a memory I have of volunteering as a candy striper in a hospital when I was about thirteen. 

A loud garbled cry comes from the small shrunken man in the hospital bed. He drools from the side of his sagging mouth, his red tinged eyes pleading, as he tries to get my attention.

I have just started working as a candy striper and Monsieur Couvrette scares me with his pitiful cries and pathetic look. Most of the time, I try to avoid him as he seems so angry.

He lies in the bed, sad, helpless, shriveled and shrunken, his skin pale and greyish. One side of his face droops giving him a lopsided look. They tell me he’s had had a stroke and can’t talk. Growing old sure looks terrible from a naive thirteen year old’s perspective.

I try to ignore his yelling as I pour ice water to give to the patients. I leave his water in the covered cup with a straw on his bedside table while trying to ignore his pitiful cries.

He struggles to speak again, his voice like a wounded animal caught in a trap, garbled and pained with frustration. He gestures with his good arm, pointing to the bedside table.

I stand there frozen, unsure of what to do. He points at the drawer wanting me to open it.

I open the drawer and see a chocolate bar. He must be hungry so I take it out to give to him which gets him yelling again. He points at me in despair and his twisted mouth opens as he tries to say something but can’t. Finally I realize that he wants me to have the chocolate bar  Embarrassed and blushing, I take it and thank him. His small body relaxes and he slumps back in the bed.

How often do we look at someone, judge and dismiss them by their appearance and behaviours, making quick assumptions that are totally wrong? I certainly did with that poor sick man who had suffered a stroke. 

Years later, I am reminded that we should never judge someone by how they look and we should never make assumptions about what they’re thinking as it’s usually wrong. A difficult lesson for us all to learn, but definitely a good reminder.