Saturday, May 30, 2015

Hymn Book and Ukulele

Lately, I have tremendously enjoyed my new Ukulele, a concert size, quite flat, easy to squeeze under the elbow.  See the picture below.

With it, I have tried some great songs from a book of popular songs, which are also well selected, although largely unknown to me.  The chords are pictured on top, which has helped me learn many of them quickly.

Now, I have pulled out my latest German hymnbook.  I have sung its praises previously because of the great features.  Low and behold, it also has chords over top of all the songs.  Well, here we go.  Now, I can also sing hymns from the German hymnbook accompanied by the Ukulele.  So good.

I wonder if it would help people sing hymns in more places, if we sang them this way.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Note for me: German Comedian

My husband was in Germany and Poland.  Three main impressions have made it into my consciousness so far from his tales.

1.  The German is train system is not what it was before some sort of restructuring or privatizing.  In fact, it was a complete disaster because of strikes, and he lost the used of a pre-paid ticket, with no way to get his money back.

2.  A Polish nun, in the town where a family member was baptized, in a place that was formerly Germany said, that the Polish don't view the area as Polish even in the third generation.  They have lost their land further East, that they pine for, even now. -- It must add to this feeling, that ethnic Germans, from as far away as Canada,  still make pilgrimages to these places, a generation down the line.

3.  In the cities, many black African immigrants are begging in public places.

Well, to make up what I've missed, I binge watched a German comedian last night, on YouTube.  His name is Rainald Grebe.

To make up for it, too, I have ordered a book, written by a poet from Berlin, a non-state-church Lutheran, I know from Facebook.  It is a novel, set in Berlin, at the turn of the millennium, highlighting the lack of direction in society.  It is so brand new and I ordered it so quickly that I will have the first problematic edition:  the title on the spine will run to wrong way, for German books.  This problem is now fixed, but my book has already shipped from

It is titled "Rain Dogs", but, of course, it is in German language.

I think that there are enough books on the go for the summer, now.  I will keep you posted.

Catch up

My husband was gone on a trip and now he is back.  I had to hold up this end of things by myself in a major way, but I lost weight while he was gone.  No cooking for a man--equals weight-loss--who would have guessed.  Doing all the labor around house--equals weight-loss--who would have guessed.  Having no time for knitting baby blankets equals weight-loss...  Getting hardly any reading done...

No, no, some reading got done, in the last month.   I read all of  "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn."  

Comments tell us that this is a very important work.

"Referring to Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, H. L. Mencken noted that his discovery of this classic American novel was 'the most stupendous event of my whole lif'; Ernest Hemingway declared that 'all modern American literature stems from this one book,' while T. S. Eliot called Huck 'one of the permanent symbolic figures of fiction, not unworthy to take a place with Ulysses, Faust, Don Quixote, Don Juan, Hamlet.'"

"A seminal work of American Literature that still commands deep praise and still elicits controversy, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is essential to the understanding of the American soul. The recent discovery of the first half of Twain's manuscript, long thought lost, made front-page news. And this unprecedented edition, which contains for the first time omitted episodes and other variations present in the first half of the handwritten manuscript, as well as facsimile reproductions of thirty manuscript pages, is indispensable to a full understanding of the novel. The changes, deletions, and additions made in the first half of the manuscript indicate that Mark Twain frequently checked his impulse to write an even darker, more confrontational book than the one he finally published. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title."

It did seem like an important work to me on two fronts.  Twain gives deep insight into the society and its ways, at the time.  It always is the non-fictional aspect of it that draws me.  It is a goldmine in that respect.  It was not very funny to me because of the serious notes, though there were places where I had to bust out.  In the end, Twain lets himself go, however, and we suffer through a protracted, but satisfying, somewhat silly conclusion, which probably means to tell us about the writing process.  (It does bother me, usually, that so much about what is written is about is about writing as a process.)

What Twain explored were the inherent contradictions in the civilizing process.  It seems to me that none of the many females in his real life ever quite succeeded in civilizing him, even though he tried to comply.  Twain, himself, seems to be Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn rolled into one, from what one can read.  Tom has the great imagination and can force his agenda on a situation.  He is not terribly considerate, as he does exercise these strengths. Huck feels inferior to him, feels uncivilized, or only marginally civilized, yet, he is the one who uses his own conscience more and is humane.

Huck's conscience is trying to grapple with what he has learned from civilized people about slavery, and his own experience.  Experience teaches him that love compels him to the side of the abolitionists.  This is traumatic for him, as he can't reconcile the sides.  In the very end, it turns out that a civilized person set the negro free and the point becomes mute.

So much about all that, in my uneducated opinion.  I think I will read the book out loud to my husband, next winter, God willing.

There is another book, I have on the go.  It was recommended by a friend and I am finding it interesting due to its connections to Jewish and Christian thought.  It is quite legalistic, and I have never been one for legalism.  I am more like Huck Finn, there.  Thankfully, Jesus was not like the scribes and pharisees, though they knew some things, too.  As the Jews said:  "He teaches with authority, not like the scribes."  

Chofetz Chaim: A Lesson a Day: The Concepts and Laws of Proper Speech Arranged for Daily Study

We are told that the author is a Rabbi from Poland from the nineteenth century.  The book represents an authoritative summary of Jewish teaching on speech, ranging from avoiding gossip to speaking no unpleasantness in order to have cohesion in the community.  

On one hand, one could call it a meditation on the law.  The Psalmist, at times, rhapsodizes about meditating on the law and therefore being ahead of the game. I think, in our day, we hardly know what he means.  This book can show something of what it means.

But I don't know.  There is, of course, a point, but, sorry to say, it also explains the stoning of the prophets...  not to mention to throwing the Messiah under the bus...  Anyways, I will try to learn what I can and figure out how it applies to us, maybe, and how it does not, maybe.

So much.  I will probably blog about this last one, a bit.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Front Porch in Spring

Imagine a front porch,
not the southern, wooden veranda,
but a solid concrete and stone place,
on the north side.

The modern, tall and narrow, fake, black plastic wicker
planters have just been filled with roses, lavender in topiary shape,
trailing lobelia and something white.

The grey stones are wet from watering and hosing down,
glistening even in the shade.
They remind of cobble stones in a European market place,
and sitting beside it in shiny, contemporary bakery cafe.

Two Muskoka chairs sprawl under the spread of the Amur cherry.
Birds fly to the birdfeeder, but there is no more birdseed.  The tree will provide.
Birds come here of every color, alone or in swarms:  a virtual bird paradise.

The Bergenia blooms in extravagant pink.
The Lily of the Valley is almost getting there.
There is also the Prairie Crocus.  It does well.

It is still too early for mosquitos, but the shaded spot already feels like a refuge,
on this first hot day of the year.

Everything is perfect.

Except it is not.

The place is for sale.
The realtor's lock-box is on the door handle.

No one lives here any more.
And many who used to come here, live no longer.

How can this perfect moment only be a moment?
How can it only be a glimpse?

The birdsong reminds me of my grandfather
who had little wild garden with birdfeeders.
He identified their songs and reveled in them,
tried to teach them to me.

He, too, had a shaded porch by the front steps.
He hung up a swing in it for me--a Haven for a time.

Women and Tools

When I was growing up, my Dad taught me how to do a few things, such as hammering in a nail with good strength, roofing and changing a tire. He taught me how to drive and how to arrive in time by aiming to be 10 min. early.

My husband is slightly the opposite.  He always wants to do a great job and does not trust others to do as well.  He likes to drive fast and rush and get there barely on time.  He must thrive on the adrenalin.

So it goes.

However, as an adult woman, I have found the greatest hindrance to doing jobs myself has been the disappearance of tools.  Nothing is where it was the last time.  In spite of the moaning about always having to look for things, nothing gets put back where it belongs.  "A place for everything and everything in its place"  is not a motto around here.

I do have a little hammer in the kitchen drawer.  If it goes missing, there is bloody murder and usually it is there.

Lately, I have found the solution to the problem:  I have been buying my tools at IKEA.  As they are somewhat small-ish and underpowered, no man who thinks of himself as a man would touch them. Most definitely there are not enough RPM's.  Thus, I now have a power drill, a level, plenty of wall anchors, and so on.  In great loving concern, even a gift has been made to me of a set of drill bits.  But this was not until after the one of my two IKEA drill bits was abducted.  At my complaint of loosing 50% of my severely limited stash of drill bits, I received a very nice man-type set in a sturdy container.  It has not been taken, so far, and I have had the use of it when I wanted it.

Another great idea, was mentioned to me, yesterday.  There is a lady who gives all her nieces a pink set of tools when they grow up.  Now, this really takes the cake!  PINK tools!  I love it.  No self-respecting male would think of even picking that up and be seen with them.  Therefore, he can also not loose it.  I LOVE it.  If nothing else, if I see the pink one lying around the house, I would know that it is mine, and get it back to the right place.

So, here, to all those who wish to get women independent on the little jobs around the house, get them a pink took kit.  Where on earth do you get one, though.  Let's google it.

Aha, Amazon has a collection.

A drill and some kinds of saws would be good, too. Where are the power tools?  HM.  Sigh.

Apollo Precision Tools DT9706P General Tool Set, 39-Piece (Pink)

Monday, May 18, 2015


I have been painting, cleaning and staging this house.  The realtors come tomorrow for pictures.  It's been hard work because Martin has no time, but I've liked it.

If you want to buy it, let me know.  It is located close to the new bitumen upgrader.  On the horizon you can see the huge electrical line towers they have erected to go to the billion dollar plant.

Off to Home Depo for more supplies.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Poem by me

Holy Joy

The land is laid out in quarter sections here.
The road leads straight North.

From a hilltop the prairie displays itself
In a huge flat expanse, lifting the heart.

Toward the Northwest the sun sets slowly,
The large ball hanging orange, radiating pink
over the entire, wide, cloudless sky.

By this sun we have seen all day.
By it we have had the light of life.
By it we are fed and take strength.

The silos stand at rapt attention,
Greeting their master with a reflection.

O, Lord, you are glorious.

Stock Photo titled: Gorgeous Prairie Sunset In Scenic Saskatchewan In ...

Pictures hung / spring time in Alberta, May 15

Friday, May 15, 2015

One of the best of weeks / one of the worst of weeks / ukulele purchase

It has been quite a week.  I will skip the "worst of weeks" part.  I have complained lots but I won't put it on the internet...

What's good is that we had some great spring weather for a change.  This means there is much work to be done.

What's the best is that I bought myself a Ukulele and a song book, and I enjoy both so much.

This is the Ukulele here.  It is concert size and has a pick-up.  This means I can plug it into Stefan's guitar amp when I get around to trying it.

I love, love, love, love my Ukulele.  Because of its small size I can hold it closer to my head (that is not to come right out and say:  over top of the boobs).  The guitar never quite worked for my body.  My short stubby fingers can play all the chords on the ukulele.

The songbook is also amazing.  It is here.


Though I don't know most of the songs, it seems like a good collection.  What is best about it for me so far is that the chords needed for each song are pictured right above and you can keep on referring to them.  There are very many different chords in the songs making for a more sophisticated accompanying.  I love singing to the ukulele.  You can belt it out much better with the posture you are in.

I told my husband that finally there is a musical instrument he can play without having to put in any practicing.  He cooperated and quickly learned to play his first song. My favorite song so far is Annie's song: "You fill up my senses."  (That the kind of popular songs which are contained in the book.)

Here is John Denver singing "Annie's song."  Isn't it lovely.