Happy First Day of Spring!

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Lilacs and Cherry Blossoms


The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another. The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month.

Henry Van Dyke (1852–1933)
Fisherman’s Luck (1899)

mar06-cherryblossom2.jpglilacs.JPG jonquils.jpg


January: National Get Organized Month


According to my sister, I’m the most organized person she knows. My daughter says I’m anal-retentive when it comes to clutter. Even I think I go overboard sometimes. But according to this NY Times article, I’m not alone. Americans spent an estimated $5.9 billion last year on products to “get organized”, and are projected to spend as much as $7.6 billion in 2009.

According to David H. Freedman and Eric Abrahamson, the authors of “A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder,” I and people like me need to get a life. They ask:

Why is it better to pack more activities into one day? By whose standards are procrastinators less effective than their well-scheduled peers? Why should children have to do chores to earn back their possessions if they leave them on the floor, as many professional organizers suggest?

I don’t know the answers to those questions. I suggest you ask my son – his bedroom (at least when he lived in MY house) was the quintessential disaster area. He could have taught Katrina a few lessons on how to make a mess.

Or perhaps you should ask my boss, whom I love dearly but who is a self-confessed procrastinator who has been telling me for as many years as I’ve known him that “next week, when things calm down, I’m going to get organized.” In the meantime, the top of his desk is invisible.

As for me, I can’t function in clutter.

If you want to get rid of your clutter and get your life organized, the work is up to you – no one can do it for you. If you think you want help, I suggest you visit Flylady.net. Flylady is free, and she will cure your home of CHAOS (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome). She will teach you how to find a peaceful, clutter-free life through the use of simple, everyday routines. She does offer some “tools” for sale, but no one is required to buy anything, ever. Membership in her group is completely, one-hundred percent FREE. My favorite price.

Vocabulary Building Exercise

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This is a week late, but fun nonetheless. If your vocabulary is up to snuff, you should recognize it. Special thanks to MoK at Six Degrees of Blondness.

T’was the nocturnal segment of the diurnal period preceding the annual yuletide celebration, and throughout our place of residence, kinetic activity was not in evidence among the possessors of this potential, including that species of domestic rodent known as Mus musculus. Hosiery was meticulously suspended from the forward edge of the woodburning caloric apparatus, pursuant to our anticipatory pleasure regarding an imminent visitation from an eccentric philanthropist among whose folkloric appellations is the honorific St. Nicholas.

The prepubescent siblings, comfortably ensconced in their respective accommodations of repose, were experiencing sub-conscious visual hallucinations of variegated fruit confections moving rhythmically through their cerebrums. My conjugal partner and I, attired in our nocturnal head coverings, were about to take slumberous advantage of the hibernal darkness when upon the avenaceous exterior portion of the grounds there ascended such a cacophony of dissonance that I felt compelled to arise with alacrity from my place of repose for the purpose of ascertaining the precise source thereof.

Hastening to the casement, I forthwith opened the barriers sealing this fenestration, noting thereupon that the lunar brilliance without, reflected as it was on the surface of a recent crystalline precipitation, might be said to rival that of the solar meridian itself – thus permitting my incredulous optical sensory organs to behold a miniature airborne runnered conveyance drawn by eight diminutive specimens of the genus Rangifer, piloted by a minuscule, aged chauffeur so ebullient and nimble that it became instantly apparent to me that he was indeed our anticipated caller. With his ungulate motive power traveling at what may possibly have been more vertiginous velocity than patriotic alar predicates, he vociferated loudly, expelling breath musically through contracted labia, and addressed each of the octet by his or her respective cognomen -“Now Dasher, now Dancer…” et al. – guiding them to the uppermost exterior level of our abode, through which structure I could readily distinguish the concatenations of each of the 32 cloven pedal extremities.

As I retracted my cranium from its erstwhile location, and was performing a 180 degree pivot, our distinguished visitant achieved – with utmost celerity and via a downward leap – entry by way of the smoke passage. He was clad entirely in animal pelts soiled by the ebon residue from oxidations of carboniferous fuels which had accumulated on the walls thereof. His resemblance to a street vendor I attributed largely to the plethora of assorted playthings which he bore dorsally in a commodious cloth receptacle.
His orbs were scintillant with reflected luminosity, while his submaxillary dermal indentations gave every evidence of engaging amiability. The capillaries of his malar regions and nasal appurtenance were engorged with blood which suffused the subcutaneous layers, the former approximating the coloration of Albion’s floral emblem, the latter that of the Prunus avium, or sweet cherry. His amusing sub and supra labials resembled nothing so much as a common loop knot, and their ambient hirsute facial adornment appeared like small, tabular and columnar crystals of frozen dihydrogen oxide.

Clenched firmly between his incisors was a smoking piece whose gray fumes, forming a tenuous ellipse about his occiput, were suggestive of a decorative seasonal circlet of holly. His visage was wider than it was high, and when he waxed audibly mirthful, his corpulent abdominal region undulated in the manner of impectinated fruit syrup in a hemispherical container. He was, in short, neither more nor less than an obese, jocund, multi-genarian gnome, the optical perception of whom rendered me risibly frolicsome despite every effort to refrain from so being. By rapidly lowering and then elevating one eyelid and rotating his head slightly to one side, he indicated that trepidation on my part was groundless.

Without utterance and with dispatch, he commenced emptying the aforementioned previously dorsally transported cloth receptacle. Upon completion of this task, he executed an abrupt about face, placed a single manual digit in lateral juxtaposition to his olfactory organ, inclined his cranium forward in a gesture of leave taking and forthwith effected his egress by renegotiating (in reverse) the smoke passage. He then propelled himself in a short vector onto his conveyance, directed a musical expulsion of air through his contracted oral sphincter to the antlered quadrupeds of burden, and proceeded to soar aloft in a movement hitherto observable chiefly among the seed bearing portions of a common weed. But I overheard his vehiculation beyond the limits of visibility: “Ecstatic yuletide to the planetary constituency, and to the selfsame assemblage my sincerest wishes for a salubriously beneficial and gratifyingly pleasurable period between sunset and dawn.”

Bathtub Party Day

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clawfoot-tub.jpgToday is Tuesday, Dec. 5, the 339th day of the year. There are 25 days remaining. Today is also, according to wellcat.com, BATHTUB PARTY DAY! Almost everyone nowadays takes showers, so here’s a day to recall some of the luxury of days gone by. Invite a few friends.

Some suggestion for celebrating:

To enjoy a really good soak, take the ringer off the phone, light a few candles, tune into some favorite music & lock the door. If you want to add a few drops of essential oils to your bath, be sure to wait until the moment you are ready to step into the tub, to ensure the essence doesn’t evaporate before you benefit from it–whether you want the relaxation of lavender or chamomile or the stimulation of rosemary or peppermint.

Don’t forget to have a big, fluffy towel ready for you! For after bath skin soothing, while your skin is still damp, apply a favorite body lotion or body oil.

If you’ve invited a few friends to celebrate Bathtub Party Day, be sure to plan ahead so you don’t have to hop out of the bubbly warmth to pour a glass of wine or serve a platter of snacks. Assign each guest a task: keeper of the towels; cleaner of the ring around the tub; trimmer of the candle wick; guardian of toiletries. Enjoy!

The Witch of November

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“They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in
great waters; these see the works of the Lord and His wonders
in the deep. For He commands and raises the stormy wind,
which brings up the waves. These men mount up to heaven,
they go down again to the depths and their soul is melted
because of this trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like
a drunken man, then come to their wit’s end.”

Psalms 107:23-7


Today is November 10, a day which is infamous in maritime history as a day of shipwrecks. Most everyone is familiar with the tragedy surrounding the Edmund Fitzgerald, who’s untimely demise was immortalized by Gordon Lightfoot in the hit song The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. It was on November 10, 1975 that the Edmund Fitzgerald left “some mill in Wisconsin” with “a load of iron ore 26,000 pounds more than the Edmund Fitzgerald weighed empty”. She was bound for Cleveland, but sank in a November storm on Lake Superior, killing all 29 aboard. Their bodies were never recovered.

portugal_cove_10.jpgThirty-five years earlier, and less well known to most (but not to me) is the wreck of the W Garland, a small passenger ferry which left out of Portugal Cove, Trinity Bay, Newfoundland on November 10, 1940, bound for Bell Island carrying twenty-four passengers, plus the captain and the engineer.

At about 5:40 p.m., the Little Golden Dawn, another passenger ferry on the same route, left Bell Island with only the captain and engineer on board. This vessel was licensed to carry freight and passengers. There were lifebelts on board but no lifeboats. The captain observed the lights of the W Garland approaching from some distance, but neglected to check its compass bearings at regular intervals. Both ferries had each other in clear view, unobstructed by snow flurries. About a quarter of a mile from Bell Island it became obvious that they were going to collide, but the captain of the Little Golden Dawn did not blast a warning because his sound signal was not in working order. Instead of pulling to starboard, which is recommended procedure, he pulled to port. At the same time, the captain of the W Garland pulled to starboard and crashed into the starboard side of the Little Golden Dawn.


An eye witness said that the Garland continued on her course without reduction of speed, heading straight for land. However, with her bows stove in, she quickly sank, taking the majority of those on board to their doom. She was only 600 feet from the point of beach.

An empty cask was bobbing on the surface over the grave of the Garland, as well as a hatch and to these two floating objects the four survivors clung until rescue reached them from the shore. Sad to relate, the others who were on board had no such means of surviving in the deep water.

Early next morning search began for the 22 bodies laying in the cold depths off the beach. Altogether, thirteen bodies were recovered.


One of the four survivors was the owner/engineer aboard the W Garland . He was my grandfather, Norman Ash, who said that the only thing that kept him alive in those icy waters while he waited for rescue was the thought of his baby girls (my aunt and my mother, then aged 2 and 11 months, respectively). He seldom spoke of the tragedy. He never again owned a boat for hire. A maritime inquiry found negligence on the part of both vessels involved, and both owners were fined heavily.

Look below the fold for a poem commemorating souls lost on the W Garland, as well as the words to The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.



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Just a reminder that November 19 is National Ammo Day. All gun owners are encouraged to go out and purchase 100 rounds of their favorite ammo on that day, in the hopes that the message is heard that there are more than just a few of us.

Don’t forget!


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