This is the Word of the Day prompt, whose host defines this term thus: GABBLE-RATCHET. As well as being an old English dialect word for a noisy child, a gabble-ratchet is any nocturnal bird (particularly geese) that makes a lot of noise at night, once considered to be an ill omen.
I was attracted to this prompt today due to this unusual word!! The definition I found for gabble-ratchet is a bit different, from New Miriam-Webster Dictionary online:
Definition of gabriel ratchet Miriam-Webster says the term derives from gabriel-ratchet, whose definition is:
dialectal: the cries of migrating wild geese flying by night which are often popularly explained as the baying of a supernatural pack of hounds and to which various superstitious significances (as forebodings of evil) are attributed.
I like the first definition better, but I am very familiar with the sound – a lot of Canada geese hang around our community’s campus when the weather is warm enough, and when they fly, they gabble-ratchet! So I am incorporating this unique word, with two other prompts from Fandango’s FOWC and The Daily Spur into my poem about
Canada geese everywhere In pond and grass, and in the air They leave their poop all over the place When I walk, I look down, just in case At the path where they have wandered Poop here, poop there and over yonder A gun is fired to scare them away But they don’t care, they come back anyway The swans in the ponds only chase after them When their cygnets are young, but mostly ignore ’em In the fall, those darned geese fly overhead In V formation, full speed ahead Their gabble-ratchet is music to my ears They’re finally gone…until next year! BUT I wish I could say they really go away But mild winters invite them to stay! Call grounds crew to complain or snitch But Canada geese have found their niche I guess living with geese is just the price We have to pay for a campus so nice!
I felt guilty even as I was dialing my sister’s phone number. This was the first time I had called her since the pandemic started, but what better day than on her birthday?
She answered on the third ring, saying, “Hello” in the way she always does, as if it’s a final statement, not a question. I sang Happy Birthday to her.
She was surprised to hear from me but not being the emotional type, I could tell she was glad I called.
“So what’s news?” I asked her. (I may as well get this over with – my sister can talk non-stop for fifteen minutes, at least.)
“Oh, nothing much. I’m staying home a lot, not going out much. But I keep myself occupied.” My sister lives in a senior community where she’s involved in many things. During the pandemic it’s slowed down, but not completely.
“How are your beautiful granddaughters?” My sister has two very cute granddaughters, aged six and five.
“Oh, they’re fine. Ginny is really getting into distance learning with Molly. The teacher has the kids doing projects. They go around to various places to experience them, they look for things, like a scavenger hunt. Ginny says she’s exhausted, what with her new job and Molly’s kindergarten teacher keeping her occupied!” My sister chuckled as she said this.
“Sophie’s okay. I’m worried about her though – she’s getting confused, first with remote learning, then living in the house with only her mom one week and her dad the next week…”
“Huh? Why’s that?”
“Oh, I thought you knew. Nate and Julie are living apart. They each have their own place to live, so Sophie lives in the house all the time, and the two of them alternate living there with her.”
“Weird. Expensive, too, I imagine.”
“Oh, yeah. They couldn’t agree on who would get the house, so they left it to their six-year-old!”
“Why are they split up?”
“Well, a lot of things built up over time — Nate’s been taking this computer course, you know. He dropped all his piano students to do it, while Julie works all the time. Apparently she also suspects him of infidelity, but he doesn’t have a perfidious nature. Nate can’t handle her frustration and accusations, so he blows up at her. Then she rants about how she’s having to support the family, while Nate gets to just ‘do his thing,’ you know.”
“Wow, I’m so sorry! They’ve been together so long! I hope they reconcile their differences.”
We moved on to lighter topics and chatted for another fifteen minutes.
Posted for Fandango’s One Word Challenge, Ragtag Daily Prompt, and Your Daily Word Prompt.
The word for Fandango’s One Word Challenge today is assume.
I think many of the conflicts we have with others, and the rifts between large swaths of society in the U.S. today, are due to the assumptions we make about each other. When we assume things about others, we create or reinforce stereotypes. Here are some examples:
“I assume he is a racist because he supports Trump.”
Although it is hard to understand why a person who is NOT racist would support Trump, there are many people like this. Perhaps for them, racism is not a central issue. I mean, there are even a few Blacks who support him (that I really cannot understand!). While we may think such people are stupid, ignorant, or supporting a president whose policies go against their own interests, it doesn’t necessarily follow that they are racist. Many Republicans hold their noses and put up with Trump because they want to stack the courts with conservative judges or they want abortion to be further restricted or outlawed altogether.
2. “She is college educated, graduated summa cum laude, top of her class. I assume she would never vote for Trump.”
Wrong again! Can you believe there are smart, college-educated women who vote for Trump? We assume the profile of a Trump voter is a person who is ignorant, not well-educated, racist, unintelligent, probably disgruntled white male. While many (perhaps a majority) Trump supporters may fit this profile, we should not assume all of them do.
3. “My son’s friends surely will vote this year! They didn’t in 2016 and look what happened. After living through four years of this moron, they’ll be willing to wait for hours in line just to vote him out of office.”
Once again, we should not assume that turn-out in November will be huge. We assumed Hillary Clinton was going to be elected in 2016, and look what happened. Part of the problem was low voter turn-out. I do not understand why citizens would not exercise their right to vote, one of our rights guaranteed by the Constitution. If Trump is re-elected again in 2024, we will most likely have fewer rights than we have now. Our democracy is already flawed; four more years of this corruption and ineptitude would put democracy on very precarious footing.
However, the mid-term elections of 2018 did have a record high turn-out, causing speculation among liberals that this was an indictment of the Trump administration. And aren’t there millions of young people eligible to vote for the first time registering? What about the kids who were passionate to end mass shootings? What about all the American counterparts of Greta Thunberg? Climate change is an existential threat, and so is Trump.
I can tell these things to people until I’m blue in the face, but it doesn’t guarantee they will get their asses off their couches and go to the polls on a nasty cold November day. If we assume that people are going to vote according to their interests, we will also be disappointed. People vote against their interests all the time, whether they know they are doing so or not. Voting is not an objective process – it is most often quite subjective. People vote according to what they feel, not necessarily based on knowledge or facts.
And looking at this from the other side, what do Trump supporters assume about liberal Democrats?
Don’t assume we are all left-wing or socialists. Some of us are, but most are not. Don’t assume that when we protest, we encourage violence. Nothing could be further from the truth. Don’t assume we want to allow anyone to come into this country, including criminals, drug pushers, and rapists. We simply want an immigration system that is humane and respectful to those who seek asylum. Don’t assume we are all in on some insidious plot to ultimately overthrow the U.S. government. Don’t assume we all want to take away all your guns. Don’t assume we want to encourage voter fraud by allowing people to vote by mail. Don’t assume we want to “discriminate” against white people. I am white, why would I want that? We just embrace the ethnic diversity that our country has undeniably become.
I think most assumptions we make about “the other side” are based on our own biases and often are “projections” (saying that ‘the other side’ is doing whatever nefarious deeds that in fact your own leaders are doing).
What we need to do, instead of pushing people away by making assumptions about them, is to communicate with each other. Engage in a dialogue. We will certainly not always agree, and probably won’t change others’ minds about most things, but we can at least understand each other. We may even end up liking each other, sometimes.
Must we have evidence to know the truth? Yes. However, people have different ideas of what constitutes evidence. For example, if someone commits a crime and goes to trial, it is up to the jury to examine the evidence presented in order to assess whether the person is guilty or not. Many times, prejudices get in the way and the person – especially a person of color – may be subconsciously judged which taints the evidence. Juries are supposed to be selected carefully in order to minimize that, but as we all know, our system of justice isn’t perfect.
On the other hand, there are people who don’t believe in God because they say there is no evidence. How can God’s existence be empirically *proven? Some would point to the wonders of nature as evidence. Some would point to the Bible. But neither of these are empiricalevidence. And for many people, it’s not just blind belief either. I myself have struggled with faith for years. I am a strong believer in science and the scientific method, as well as in empirical evidence. However, I do believe in God, but I cannot prove his/her/its existence. I may have a different concept of what God is, and I do not believe in many of the dogmas or tenets of Christian belief, yet I call myself Christian. Bill Maher, of HBO fame, seems to believe that if you believe in God, you are stupid or naïve. (This is one of the reasons I stopped watching his show, even when we had HBO.) Some of the most brilliant minds in history also have had faith in a god. But I don’t want to write a treatise on the evidence for the existence of God.
So, we get back to the question, which I answer with another question: what constitutes evidence?
How much control does a person have over their life? Not total control, but one does have the ability to deal in different ways with the things that happen that are out of one’s control. I do not believe there is some supreme being controlling our movements like a marionette. There are things that happen that are out of our control. What we do control is how to react to those situations, and what we can learn from them. Sometimes it’s just “shit happens.” Other times, there is a lesson to be learned as far as how to handle the shit that is happening.
After professing my belief in God, I must say here that God (as I perceive him/her/it) does not intervene in our lives. Sometimes, I say, “that was a God moment,” meaning a mini ‘miracle’ has happened, but not that God is controlling that moment.
What is gravity and how does it work? Gravity sucks.
Can a person be happy if they have never experienced sadness? How about vice versa? I don’t believe there is such a thing as never experiencing sadness. Everyone experiences sadness. There are degrees of sadness, and happiness, I suppose. But I do think we appreciate happiness more if we have a memory of sadness to compare it with, and vice versa.
Please feel free to share a song, a poem, a quote or an image or photo to show what you were grateful for during this past week. (Optional as always). I am grateful for the small things of “opening” – such as: I am grateful that the Arlington Heights library is open again. I am grateful that I was able to gather with three friends in person last week. I am grateful that I, along with every other resident in our senior community, was tested for COVID-19 and the results were “negative.”
*It was pure coincidence that while writing this, I realized I had also fulfilled FOWC!
Fandango’s One Word Challenge this week is the topic of risk.
Risk taking is a major consideration these days. With a coronavirus pandemic still raging, while the federal government chooses to ignore its continuation and many states “opening” – opening beaches, restaurants, other places where people gather in close quarters. Of course, one can take precautions to avoid the risk of being infected. But what if something is too important to stay at home and do nothing? When yet another black person was unnecessarily killed by the police, people all over the world took the risk of being in close contact with others to protest. And the protests, being so large and widespread, led many cities to reexamine their police departments to initiate radical reforms. So in this case, for those thousands of protesters, the risk was worth it. We may see a spike in Covid-19 cases within the next week or so that could be traced to the protests. Some of the people who marched and carried signs, even with masks on, may have contracted the virus, and some may die.
To risk one’s life for a cause – that was the choice these past two weeks. It is not a new phenomenon: people have risked their lives for causes they believed in throughout history. Those who work as doctors or nurses in hospitals overflowing with coronavirus cases without proper PPE risk their lives at work every day. Those who hid Jews or joined the resistance movements during the Nazi era in Europe risked their lives. The men and women who fight in wars risk their lives. Those who protested the disappearance of loved ones during the dictatorships in Latin America risked their lives. Young people in China in June, 1989 risked their lives by protesting in Tiananmen Square in Beijing. Refugees risk their lives crossing borders to flee war or persecution, travel in dangerous circumstances, and when they get to what they hope is a safe haven, there is the risk they will be sent back to their countries to certain death.
Yet courageous people continue to risk their lives in some way every day.
I write poetry when I address a topic that is difficult for me to write about or when I don’t have enough to say to write a decent piece of prose. In these instances, I write unrhymed poems of questionable quality. Like this one:
There’s a pro-gun lobby An anti-choice lobby Climate change denier lobby So many negative lobbies!
There’s Hobby Lobby
and hotel lobby.
Where I live the lobby is called
Where’s the lobby for
Universal health care,
Universal pre-K education,
Fresh water for all persons,
Solar panels on all new buildings,
An assault rifle ban with no expiry date,
The Green New Deal?
Why is it that lobbies
for good things never
seem to have the same influence
There should be a lobby
To cajole, persuade, advocate
for planting a garden
on every skyscraper,
for reduced rates for solar or wind energy
in every home,
for a national holiday
designated “National Arts Day,”
so people can go to museums,
paint a landscape,
practice an instrument,
or write a story.
There should be a lobby to lobby
for paying people to read
to workers in factories;
for giving out cookies
at every business meeting;
for making it a law that
every dog and cat,
has a loving home,
for planting a tree for
every person in the world, and
for renaming all building lobbies
Some birds mate for life – like swans, who tend to hang out alone or with their mate and cygnets. Ducks and geese do not mate for life, but they are more gregarious birds. Many types of birds are gregarious – that’s possibly why we call them flocks! So for Fandango’s One-Word Challenge, here are some photos of gregarious birds hanging out.
Fandango’s One Word Challenge today is finite. I have read other posts that have managed to cover several one word daily prompts in one post, which I admire. I have not attempted to do that. I don’t usually respond to the daily prompts due to lack of time or lack of inspiration. But the concept of FINITE got me to thinking…
Is there really such a thing as infinity or is it merely theoretical? Energy is infinite: it cannot be created or destroyed so it just moves around from one energy-based organism to another. Supposedly the universe is infinite, numbers are infinite, but the human mind cannot really conceive of infinity. In the human mind everything is finite. Our lives are finite: we are born on a particular date, we live our lives and then we die. Our experience exists within a finite framework: We live on a finite planet whose size and shape are fixed. The land forms on Earth have a beginning and an end. The bodies of water have delineated borders.
Time is finite even though we might say that we “have all the time in the world.” A day begins and ends, then another one begins. Years begin on January 1 and end on December 31, although time as we know and use it is an artificially imposed system that allows us to organize our lives. Perhaps time is infinite. Even after our deaths, the world goes on – or so we hope, if we don’t destroy it first.
Which brings me to something else that is finite: fossil fuels are finite. Eventually they will run out and there will be no more to be found. In our constant, frenzied search for sources of fossil fuels and our insatiable appetite to consume them, we are putting too much of the carbon that was safely trapped in the Earth into the atmosphere, which is essentially choking the Earth and causing changes to occur on our planet that may eventually lead to the impossibility of sustaining life.
Every natural disaster is finite, but after enduring one, there comes another one, and another one. How long can we take it? How many fires can California endure before the forests and cities become totally and irrevocably destroyed? How many hurricanes can people on the East Coast of the U.S. endure before they have nothing left and no way to even live where they do anymore? How many times can they “rebuild” in their stubbornness to stay put?
Headline: California lost 18 million trees in 2018, adding fuel to future wildfires. (NBC News)
The Arctic is finite: climate conditions are causing the polar ice caps to melt. Trees and forests, which provide us with oxygen, are finite. It’s not just individual trees that die, to be replaced with others. Whole forests can die, will die if we don’t accept that our natural resources are finite unless we take care of them and the environment in which they exist.
Flying over the Arctic Circle
Even the sun is finite – it’s halfway through its life now and is only expected to live another five billion years. That may seem like infinity to insignificant life forms with relatively short life spans and really, the death of the sun is not something humans need to worry about, but even so, the sun’s life – like the lives of all stars – is finite.
We take for granted the daily rising and setting of the sun.
We are used to and expect this finite existence. Most people who die when they get old have left behind children and grandchildren, who will continue to perpetuate life on Earth. Species may continue, but not individuals. But even species – all species – will die eventually. How long will that be? How long will we accept species to go extinct and when will it be our turn?
Without Earth itself, there will be no more human life or any life at all on this planet. All the infinite energy that has inhabited every living thing will disperse into space and find a home elsewhere. That is why we must all accept that our planet is finite and how soon the end will come depends on us. Time is growing shorter until the demise of our dominion over the planet and all living things that depend on it. We have the power to stretch the finiteness of our planet farther toward infinity. It will probably require sacrifice on our part, as we will need to consume less. However, transferring to all clean energy sources will also create employment opportunities at every level. We can do this!
The only question remaining to be asked is, how finite are we willing to be?
I live in a suburb northwest of Chicago. I also have ADHD, which craves variety. My mind constantly looks for new things to distract me from, for example, the tedium of paying bills. Life can get tedious and routine, but there always ways to create variety. Although I dislike the cold and can’t wait for winter to be over, it would be weird to live in a place where the seasons don’t change much.
This is my home town of Des Plaines, IL, a few days after we returned from Israel in January.
In Northeastern Brazil, where I lived for two years in the 1980s, “winter” is the rainy season, so there are two winters per year! Nothing much changes; it just rains more and then the fruit trees produce their delicious fruits for human variety. I admit I like the changing of the seasons, and I delight in seeing life reborn after a long winter. In this part of the U.S., the change in seasons allows us to experience the entire life cycle of plants and small critters.
snowdrops – the first sign of spring, these are the first flowers that appear in my garden!
Crocuses in a variety of colors are an early spring flower.
Some people like to eat the same things every day. I don’t do this, although I admit that I restrict my choice of breakfast to those foods which one usually associates with breakfast: eggs, oatmeal, pancakes, toast or English muffins with jam or honey. In the winter, I usually have soup for lunch, but that too gets boring. By dinnertime, I’m worn out thinking about what I can eat that is different but healthy, so we often go out!
Even my cat craves variety. We tried buying food in bulk with only a few selections and she soon got bored. So now we pick and choose a variety of flavors in her canned food.
Hazel likes variety in her food as well as her sleeping spots!
Travel is the way I usually get variety in my life. I have my habits and routines at home, which are comforting and comfortable, but there is nothing like traveling to a new place to awaken the excitement in me to experience something new! It’s even better when we travel in the winter, because even if the weather isn’t really pleasant in the places we visit, it is most likely better than being in Chicago!
Enjoying a snack after touring the 2nd floor exhibits at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam in January 2018.
Breakfast in Egypt and Israel, for example, includes salads and a variety of breads to choose from. Street vendors provide variety by offering something I have never tasted before. In Israel last month, we came across a vendor selling “Jerusalem bagels” – these are nothing like the bagels we have here! They are elliptical in shape, and easy to share, because they are soft and light so it’s easy to tear off pieces for friends.
The breads piled up in the back on the left are Jerusalem bagels. But there are a variety of different snacks on offer here.
I admit to having fallen in love with Middle Eastern food. When I got home, what did I buy on my next trip to Costco? Things that reminded me of the places I’d just been – mini pitas, hummus, pomegranates – these all went into our shopping cart our second day back!
Eventually, though, I will get bored even of these things. Then it will be time to go somewhere different – France, which is where we are going in June! I have preconceived notions about French food and culture, but I am sure that I will find a variety of things to love and to wish I had when we return home!