Paint chip sestina

This week the Paint Chip poetry challenge from Linda Kruschke is to write a sestina. Do visit her blog for more information, her poem and links to the other participants’ poems.

The paint chip words and phrases you have to work with, in the order in which I pulled them randomly from the deck, are antique lace, sawdust, field of poppies, gold medal, safety orange, pinot noir, and the blues. Some of these might actually work well as end-words for your sestina. I managed to use one as such.

Linda Kruschke

Remembrance and memories

I sometimes wonder about family values.
My mother’s claim to fame as a student nurse
Was winning (in her final exams) a gold medal.
Dad fought in World War Two. No field of poppies
For him. Instead capture and farming to feed
The foe, while waiting for release and victory.

For me, not to lose my temper was a victory.
School rules instilled in pupils worthwhile values.
At home we grew vegetables and fruit to feed
Ourselves. If we became ill, Mum could nurse
Us back to health, without recourse to drugs from poppies.
Her devotion and self-sacrifice deserved a medal.

Through service Dad gained more than one wartime medal.
He had been repatriated after the allies’ victory.
Anemones were his gift to Mum rather than poppies.
Availability affected prices and hence flowers’ values.
It was after the war that Mum trained to nurse,
Learning the best ways invalids to feed.

In Trafalgar Square we bought some bird feed.
Soldiers in uniform wore many a medal.
They may have owed their health to a nurse,
And their liberty and freedom of speech to victory.
How have we lost our forefathers’ values?
They have faded and died like winter poppies.

But spring heralds new life; sprouting seeds of poppies
Lead to pepper-pots in autumn to feed
The birds, which live by different-from-human values.
Now Olympic sports competitors gain a medal
As a reward for record-breaking victory.
Never a grudge should the losers nurse.

In illness my children needed me to nurse
Them back to health. Painting tulips and poppies
Led to daughter’s art exam success – a victory.
Beauty does not fill a stomach, but can feed
The mind and spirit. A flower show medal
Is something its recipient values.

Mothers nurse, while babies feed.
Red poppies recall a dead soldier’s medal,
But Christ’s victory far exceeds earth’s values.

November notions

I’m sure that one of the reasons I never became a school teacher or considered going on the stage as a career is my dislike of having to repeat myself!  (Of course, there is also the fact that I used to be extremely shy.)

So rather than post about the same things this November as last, I’ll pop up a few links – to both my blogs and see if I can find something light-hearted to write about here.

By the time this post appears, many important dates in November will have come and gone.  Last year I was Blogging every day in November. 

Today is Remembrance Day, although our service for it was the previous Sunday.  After World War I it was known as Armistice Day.

My first year of blogging saw this post, which has already been viewed (via searches) in October on the approach to Guy Fawkes’ Night.

British people have a reputation for talking about the weather.  There are good reasons for this.

It is a safe topic.

There is usually something to say – after all we sometimes experience weather typical of all the seasons in a single day.

I am writing this in advance – on 3 November.  Today the weather forecast was sunshine and heavy showers.  That was correct.  The details have been much more interesting.  There was a beautiful rainbow – or part of one – in the morning.  Then around 2pm there was a brief thunderstorm.

The rain was so heavy that later in the afternoon there was running water on the main street of this village.  The sun set brightly leaving not silver, but rather gold-lined clouds.  The storm clouds were very interesting colours!  There is a big organised bonfire and fireworks event scheduled for this evening.  Although tickets have been sold in advance, the weather will be a factor affecting its success.  (Post script:  The evening was dry.)

Notions (a word I used in the title of this post) usually means ideas.  It also means trimmings (including thread) for needlework and other craft projects.

I’ve no notion where this is leading to.  I find notion rather an old-fashioned word.  However notional is used more.  It is a near synonym for theoretical.  Hypothetical is less likely to be correct than something theoretical.  But scientists begin with a hypothesis.  What if it were true that —?

Then they set out to test whether — is true or false.

November in the Northern hemisphere is the end of autumn (or fall as it is called in North America).  I had to read a comment twice to appreciate the meaning.  A blogger “enjoyed reading about your fall”.  In UK English “about your fall” is usually preceded by “I was sorry to hear about” or “Have you recovered from”.  Perhaps having the word autumn saves us doing all sorts of checks on the context.

I have recorded a poem I published here.

I think of autumn colours, autumn leaves (a beautiful melody) and autumn mists, fruits, fungi and the longer adjective autumnal, where we pronounce the N, which is silent in “autumn”.

Of course, if all Ns were silent in autumn we’d have to do even more checks of context.  With a silent N nous might be ‘ouse, nought would be confused with ought or (even worse) aught and notions would sound like oceans.  ‘Eed I go o’?



Remembrance Day

Blog Every Day in November is a challenge hosted by Elizabeth of Rosalilium a lifestyle blog.  Today’s prompt  is Remembrance Day.

As someone brought up to attend Sunday School and then church, I have marked Remembrance Day by attending a service on the nearest Sunday to 11th November most years.  There have been occasions when I have not been well enough to go and I stopped going to church for about seven years.  I began to go again after moving to the place where I live now.

Here Remembrance Day is an important event and many people attend the parade from the War Memorial to the church and the service which follows it.

I do not join the parade, because I sing in the choir.  We have a practice immediately before the service and cannot be in two places at once.

The choir leads the procession in silence once it arrives at the church.  This is 15 minutes later than the time the service begins for the rest of the year.  From the choir stalls we watch the uniformed organisations present their banners.

The service follows a particular form where similar prayers are said and readings used year after year.  We sing patriotic songs.  The preacher is often a visitor with special knowledge of the military life, perhaps a former padre.  During the silence I recall that my Grandad and my Dad fought in WW1 and WW2, respectively and fortunately returned – or I’d never have been born!  Had my father-in-law not returned, my husband, children, grandchildren would never have existed.  I also remember those who gave their lives in conflict and those serving in the armed forces at present.  I long for peace.

Yesterday our vicar changed our traditional way of beginning the service to ensure that we marked the silence at 11:00.  We had some opening words and then the procession, led by a processional cross walked in singing, O God our help in ages past.

The set reading for the day was Luke 20:27-38 and the sermon was about the resurrection with an emphasis on God being the God of the living (including Abraham, Isaac and Jacob).  The issues surrounding Remembrance Day were addressed, with particular reference to thankfulness for our freedoms and the desire for peace.  Famous people mentioned included Winston Churchill and C. S. Lewis, both in the context of WW2.  The central message of the Gospel was also explained.  Jesus laid down his life on the cross to reconcile those who put their trust in Him to God.  He is more alive than we are.

This year Remembrance Day falls on a Monday, which is the usual practice night for the other choir I sing in.  We are marking it with a Concert for Peace.

Related post.  http://mucktwineandthinker.wordpress.com/2013/11/09/remembrance/