#AtoZChallenge 2020: P Is for Poem and the Prefrontal Cortex

I was reading the dictionary. I thought it was a poem about everything.Steven Wright

My random brain, which seems to be in the ascendency where the A to Z is concerned, thought first of the dictionary again today. The first word that jumped out was

  • pachmann, who turned out to be a Russian pianist, not a computer game

followed by, among others,

which sounds like something I might have ended up with when I disinfected my eye

and

  • pachycephalosaurus – A large herbivorous dinosaur of the genus Pachycephalosaurus of the late Cretaceous Period. It grew to about 7.6 m (25 ft) long and had a domed skull up to 25.4 cm (10 inches) thick that was lined with small bumps and spikes. The thick skull may have been used for head-butting during mating displays
  • pachychromatic – having coarse chromatin threads [not thick musical scales]
  • pachydactylyabnormal enlargement of fingers and toes
Restoration of a specimen with a cranial lesion. By Ryan Steiskal. CC BY-SA 2.5 Generic.

I figured out pachycephalosaurus and pachydactyly before looking them up, I’m pleased to say, since it means I haven’t forgotten all my Greek roots.

I then thought about random thought, and so googled “random brain,” and found an article (Cosmos, May 18 2017) describing a study in which

Neuroscientists at the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown (CCU) in Lisbon, Portugal, reveal the unexpected finding in a report that aims to unpack how humans and other animals decide how and when to act.

Neuroscientists have long accepted that even in strictly controlled laboratory conditions, the exact moment when a subject will decide to act is impossible to predict.

In short, the scientists found that “‘[t]he brain’s prefrontal cortex – the seat of decision-making – has no input into the timing of random actions,'” but that

“‘[t]he medial prefrontal cortex appears to keep track of the ideal waiting time based on experience. The secondary motor cortex also keeps track of the ideal timing but in addition shows variability that renders individual decisions unpredictable.'”

The researchers were surprised at discovering the “‘not-well-appreciated “separation of powers” within the brain.'”

Human brain. Via Wikipedia. Public domain.

Personal observation underscores the finding: It’s four p.m., and William and Ernest are lying in the kitchen, watching David prepare their dinner and insulin injections. Several times a day they watch David go to the kitchen but at four o’clock they follow him. Their actions must be based on experience; hence the medial prefrontal cortex determines their action, and David’s as well. Human experience shows that if dinnertime is random, cats chew the carpet, a consummation devoutly not to be wished.

In the course of my mental ramblings, I thought of other things: Miss Petunia, an old neighbor well worth two or three posts, and more appropriate to the day, but better left to my putative novel.

Then there was my misuse of since in the paragraph following pachydactyly, because since means because, which I just used properly.

I also thought of stories about Mr. F., Mr. J., and Miss Fl., also not the best post material. To get them out of my system, I just put them in an email to a friend who has long suffered random thoughts I can’t make post-public.

I thought about changing the appearance of my blog, because I’m tired of looking at it, but how would I display my photographs so prominently?

Gorilla in San Francisco Zoo. By Brocken Inaglory. CC BY-SA 3.0

Continue reading “#AtoZChallenge 2020: P Is for Poem and the Prefrontal Cortex”

#AtoZChallenge 2020: O Is for Obligate

Again I am reduced to browsing through the Os in the dictionary to come up with a topic. Maybe it’s isolation, maybe it’s inactivity, maybe it’s too much original Law & Order, maybe it’s general cussedness, but whatever it is—I will not dignify it by calling it writer’s block—I’m grateful to Dr. Samuel Johnson and his literary descendants for aiding in the A to Z endeavor.

Disclaimer: Anything in this post that sounds like science only scratches the surface. Don’t believe it.

The first thing that jumps out on the O page is names:

The second thing that jumps out is that although the lexicographer included the name of a Supreme Court justice, an artist, a playwright, and a fictional character, he didn’t include Peter O’Toole. That’s a great failing. Surely Peter O’Toole deserves as much attention as Scarlett O’Hara.

The third thing that jumps out is

The phrase has been stuck in my brain since 1976, when I took a summer course in microbiology. I’d gotten my degree three years before but thought spending several hours a day in lecture and lab, growing and observing little dots under a microscope for five weeks, would be fun. That says something about my concept of fun.

Obligate parasite stands out because of the professor’s indignation over the misuse of the word mildew—in TV commercials, for example, advertising detergent to wash mildew out of clothing.

“It’s not mildew,” he said. “It’s mold. Mildew is an obligate parasite!” He said it several times during the semester.

Since 1976, every time I’ve come across the word mildew, I’ve thought obligate parasite.

Wandering around the ‘net, I came across claims that mildew can grow on some natural fabrics, such as cotton. I’m not qualified to speak to that. I’ll stick with what I learned in the micro course, most of which wasn’t about mold and mildew. I also noticed authors often use mildew and mold interchangeably.

I’ve always wondered, though, about the phrase obligate parasite. It sounds redundant. Doesn’t the word parasite mean that it’s obligated to a host?

With the world at my fingertips, I googled and discovered that there’s also a facultative parasite.

Obligate parasites can survive only with the presence of a host. Facultative parasites can pass important stages of their lives without a host.

A virus is an obligate parasite.

Which brings us back to where we’d rather not go but can’t get away from.

Oh, well.

I looked at pictures of parasites but decided to post one of Peter O’Toole instead.

***

The microbiology course was fun.

***

Image of Peter O’Toole via Wikipedia. Public domain.

#AtoZChallenge 2020: Lost in Time & Space

I got mixed up and posted on Sunday, April 12, which was supposed to be my day of rest. But I didn’t realize I was off schedule until after I posted yesterday’s Day N, on what was really Day M.

I could pretend I’m in an advanced time zone, but that would be dishonest.

So I’m taking today off. Tomorrow, I’ll post my Day O post on Day O.

And if I’ve got this wrong, too, don’t bother telling me. It won’t do a bit of good.

Here’s Henri.

#AtoZChallenge 2020: N Is for No, You Don’t.

Ernest wanted a share of the chili I had for dinner. I was not into sharing.

He’s never had people food and thus has no concept of tummy ache. He also has no concept of, “It would burn your mouth.” Or, “You wouldn’t eat it. After you get one sniff, you’ll walk away.”

Or, “I don’t eat your food, so you’re not going to eat mine.”

Truth to tell, I wasn’t crazy about it myself. It came from a can. Thinking canned chili appropriate for sheltering in place, which I assumed would be like spending several years in an underground bomb shelter, I bought two cans. After a month inside I gave in and opened one.

When I say I wasn’t crazy about it, I mean it it’s okay, but it doesn’t measure up to my mother’s. Well, what does?

She didn’t use as much chili powder as the factory does. She sautéd onions, browned ground meat, and added Chili Quick. She might have used a little chili powder, but not much. Chili Quick did the job. No catsup, no tomatoes, no jalapeños. Sometimes we spooned chili over rice, but the two were never combined at the stove. Like rice, pinto beans were served on the side.

She usually delighted my father by making it for the first cold snap.

“Oh, I can’t cook,” she often said. When I disputed that, she said she didn’t cook exotic or complicated dishes. I told her she was a plain cook. For the most part, she made what my father liked, which meant she cooked what his grandmother had (for example, fried chicken unencumbered with layers of crust, homemade peach ice cream, meringue pies). There was one exception: She served only one kind of meat dish per meal. The Waller women put three meats on the table (for example, roast beef, ham, fried steak); his aunts apologized if they served only two.

My father ate everything my mom cooked, even fried liver, which he hated, but he never complained. When he wasn’t home, she cooked creamed chicken on toast. Home from World War II, he had banned creamed everything, Irish potatoes, and Spam. He got over the Irish potato phobia but not the other. My first week in second grade at a new school, I reported that the cafeteria offered a choice of ham or something else that was flat and sort of pinkish. I’d never heard of Spam.

I understand I’m not the only Baby Boomer unfamiliar with that delicacy.

Having been stationed for several months in Scotland and England, my dad also banned mutton. For a while after the war, mutton was the only meat my mom could get. She pretended it was beef.

Casseroles were not a favorite so we didn’t often have them. Once, when I was in high school—a good twenty years after D-Day—my mom came home from work with a new recipe for tuna casserole and said she liked it and was going to make it, so there. It was terrible. We ate peanut butter sandwiches and gave the casserole Desiree, our Collie. Desiree looked at it and walked away. Randy, the enormous yellow dog who lived next door, came over and finished it off. How he managed to gobble up every scrap, even soupy white sauce, and leave the asparagus I don’t know. I guess it’s a dog thing.

Back to Ernest. He was interested in the chili but ignored the green beans. Also canned. I sympathized. I love fresh green beans. The green pintos that came from my great-uncle’s Maurice’s garden on the farm were delicious. So were the mature pintos.

I’ve picked rows and rows of those, then sat at home in the air conditioning, shelling same. Most went into the freezer, as did black-eyed peas. Cream peas, rarely planted, we’re exquisite.

Uncle Maurice was generous with his produce, but gathering it could be hazardous. Once when a group of women were picking beans and peas for a Methodist Church dinner, one of them came upon a rattlesnake. The story goes that she ran but her shoes stayed put.

One year, Dick Ward, of nickel ice cream fame, stopped my father outside the ice cream parlor, then went back inside and brought out a paper sack of dried cream peas and asked my dad to plant them on his farm, where Dick had once lived. At the end of the season, my dad delivered to Dick the entire crop—one pea. The seeds were either old or passive aggressive.

Ernest, wondering where the chili went

Back to Ernest again. As I said, he wouldn’t have eaten the chili. But he would have snuffled it, and eating chili that’s been cat snuffled is almost as bad as eating chili that’s been cat licked. I’ve caught him licking cream cheese off English muffins I’ve carelessly set on the table beside my recliner and walked away from. I can’t be sure he won’t branch out, and that would be a certain recipe for tummy ache.

And, most important of all, I’m Ernest’s mother. I should do as well by him as mine did by me.

Except for the tuna casserole.

***

Find more Blogging from A to Z posts here.

 

Image by Wow Phochiangrak from Pixabay

Image of green beans by flockine from Pixabay

Image of rattlesnake public domain via Wikipedia.

#AtoZChallenge 2020: M Is for Machine & Misconception

 

Yesterday I loved Nancy Drew. Today I love washing machines.

The latest model is a year old, and it’s still a minor miracle. It balances the load, pours in about a teacup of water, goes swish . . . swish . . . swish . . . and, when it’s finished, plays Schubert’s “The Trout.”

Delightful.

I intended to write more about washing machines, but I’ve decided instead to address a misconception related to my novel in progress: the use of the title Miss.

One of my characters, Miss Emma, is what used to be called a little old lady. She’s a widow with a forty-year-old son.

Two editors who’ve critiqued the early chapters have the character should be called Mrs. Emma, because Miss is reserved for unmarried women.

No.

Miss is an all-purpose title. I understand the issue can be confusing, but I know whereof I speak:

Miss Ethel, Miss Edna, Miss Pearl, Miss Beulah, Miss Louise, and Miss Bessie were spinsters.

Miss Blanche, Miss Gladys, Miss Minnie, Miss Mamie, and Miss Cora were widows.

Miss Jessie, Miss Bettie, Miss Katie Maude, Miss Sammie, Miss Polly, Miss Carmen, Miss Essie, Miss Janie, Miss Lily, and Miss Sallie were married.

That’s all I have to say about that.

***

But one more thing about the washing machine.

#AtoZChallenge 2020: L Is for Love, Falling in

 

For my eighth Christmas, my grandmother gave me two Nancy Drew Mysteries: The Secret of the Old Clock and The Hidden Staircase.

And I fell in love.

Nancy Drew was so lucky. She was eighteen years old and had a housekeeper, a steady boyfriend, two best girlfriends, and a blue convertible.  The convertible seemed to have a perpetually full tank of gasoline.  She was also a blonde, which meant she had fun.*

Her father, prominent River Heights lawyer Carson Drew, was not the average parent. He rarely, if ever, asked where she’d been all day, and when he found out, he never said anything like, “Nancy, the next time you climb into a moving van driven by thugs and hide under a rug, you’ll be grounded till you’re thirty.” Or, for that matter, “Time to get serious, Nancy. Either enroll in Emerson College and start working on a degree, or find yourself a job. You can’t play detective for the rest of your life.”

Hannah Gruen cooked and cleaned, so Nancy did no chores. Boyfriend Ned Nickerson escorted her to dances when appropriate but otherwise stayed busy at Emerson College and didn’t get underfoot. Friends—tomboy George, whose pet phrase was, in 1959,  an anachronistic “Hypers! You slay me!”; and George’s “plump” cousin Bess—provided companionship as well as help with investigations.

What was there not to love?  Well, Nancy herself wasn’t perfect. She teased Bess about being plump; I didn’t like that.  And her unfailing self-confidence sometimes grated; I’d have been happier if she’d expressed self-doubt now and then.

But she was eighteen and could take off in her convertible, wind blowing through her hair, seeking and finding adventure, solving mysteries along the way. To an eight-year-old convinced she’ll never be old enough for a driver’s license, much less a car, Nancy’s freedom sounded like heaven.

But Nancy wasn’t a party girl; she took detective work seriously. She solved mysteries because she wanted to help people.

In The Clue of the Tapping Heels, for example, she helped restore a child’s trust fund. In The Secret of the Wooden Lady, she found the lost figurehead belonging to a historic clipper and helped the captain establish clear title to the ship. In The Clue of the Leaning Chimney, while looking for a valuable Chinese vase she stumbled upon a gang using immigrants as slave labor. In The Secret in the Jewel Box, she reunited Madame Alexandra with her long-lost grandson, a prince.

In addition to enjoying the stories, I picked up some interesting bits of information. From The Clue of the Black Keys, I learned about obsidian; from The Clue of the Leaning Chimney, about kaolin.

And Madame Alexandra, her long-lost grandson, and Mr. Faber, the jeweler who created the ornate jewel box, took on new meaning when I later read about the Tsarina Alexandra of Russia, Tsarevitch Alexei, and the Faberge eggs.

I said earlier that I fell in love with Nancy Drew mysteries, but I could just as well have said I was hooked. Two years after I read the first ones, I was penciling, in my neatest handwriting, letters to Joske’s Department Store:

Dear Sir:

Please send me the following books:

1 copy of The Secret in the Old Attic                   $2.00
1 copy of The Clue of the Tapping Heels             $2.00

Please charge my account.

My mother signed them. It was, after all, her account.

By my eleventh birthday, I’d moved along, fallen in love with Zane Grey’s westerns—society ladies from the East meeting up with cowboys down on the Mexican border, very romantic—and was writing to Joske’s about those.

But even though I no longer read Nancy Drews, I’m still hooked—on mysteries. Every time I pick up an Agatha Christie, a P. D. James, a Ruth Rendell, an Elizabeth George, a Martha Grimes, a Tana French, a Donna Leon, a . . . as I said, I’m hooked.

Nancy Drew made me a mystery reader. And Nancy is the reason I write mysteries.

From what my friends tell me, a lot of them are in the same boat.

That Nancy Drew has a lot to answer for.

***

How did we know blondes have more fun? Television told us so.

***

Image of clock by stux from Pixabay

Image by opsa from Pixabay

#AtoZChallenge 2020: K Is for Kangaroo

 

kangaroo: on a multiple choice test, an answer that is so obviously incorrect that no examinee with the sense God promised a monkey would ever select it

I learned about kangaroos in a senior level education course. There were two professors, one who taught testing and measurement and another who taught what I think of as the softer side of counseling. The info about kangaroos came from the T&M prof. He frowned upon them.

After a test covering the softer side, a student informed the SS prof that he’d included several kangaroos. He’d never heard the term. He also didn’t appear concerned.

Concern. Sometime I’ve got it. Sometimes I don’t.

If I were concerned about sincerity, truth, design; about beauty and art; about, to quote the Duke, preserving the unities, I would end, as I began, with kangaroos.

But I have nothing more to say about them. And the videos I’ve examined don’t do a thing for me.

So for kangaroos, substitute kittens.

***

“Now,” says the duke, “after to-night we can run in the daytime if we want to. Whenever we see anybody coming we can tie Jim hand and foot with a rope, and lay him in the wigwam and show this handbill and say we captured him up the river, and were too poor to travel on a steamboat, so we got this little raft on credit from our friends and are going down to get the reward. Handcuffs and chains would look still better on Jim, but it wouldn’t go well with the story of us being so poor. Too much like jewelry. Ropes are the correct thing—we must preserve the unities, as we say on the boards.” ~ Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn

***

Image by saratarshouby from Pixabay

#AtoZChallenge 2020: J Is for Just One Story & an Inconvenient Prayer

Just one story, then I’m gone.

***

Around the year 1900, several miles outside the little farming community of Fentress, Texas, a boy working in the field looked up and saw a funnel cloud. He ran home, shouting that that a tornado was coming.

The family gathered in the kitchen. They were frantic. The whirling black cloud was headed directly for the house. At any second, it would hit. All they could do was pray.

So they dropped to their knees and closed their eyes, and the father prayed the only prayer he could think of:

“Father, for what we’re about to receive, make us truly thankful.”

And then he jumped to his feet and shouted, “Oh, no! That won’t do!”

 

***

The story is true. My great-aunt Bettie Waller, who had known the principals, told it while her husband, Uncle Maurice, sat by and shook with silent laughter. Last fall, while going through old pictures, I found a piece of paper with story notes written on it—in my great-aunt Ethel’s handwriting—a scrap of the history of a small place.

***

Epilogue: The tornado turned, missed the house, and hit the barn. Neither humans nor animals were harmed.Everyone was truly thankful.

#AtoZChallenge 2020: I is for I

I did not sleep last night—I mean, I did not sleep at all—and no sleep means no post. Not the post I’d planned anyway.

Here’s the thing: I didn’t sleep last night because I’d been writing the Day H post. I was engaged. I was focused—hyperfocused. My brain buzzed. I was on. I was up. I was wired.

That is my process: I’m most creative at night. And once my brain starts buzzing, it doesn’t stop.

I completed the post, clicked Publish, went to bed. . . .

. . . breathed deeply, emptied my mind, mentally repeated Ommmmmmmmmmmmm, breathed deeply, emptied my mind . . . thrashed around . . .

Three hours later, I got up, read for a while. Drank two cups of chamomile tea, which proved neither soporific nor tasty.

And here I am, nearly midnight, still awake. But not for long.

I’m writing, true. But hyperfocusing? Buzzing? On? Up? Wired?

Heck, I ain’t even creative.

G’night.

 

***

Image by LoggaWiggler from Pixabay

#AtoZChallenge 2020: H Is for Husband

Day H. I’ve worked my way from “Herman” (a kitchen monster) through “Here’s the latest from SIP” (bo-ring) to “Husband,” which I should have thought of in the first place.

Here’s the low-down.

After careers focusing on criminal codes and tax codes, David Davis creates. His Alien Resort cartoon has appeared in newspapers in the United States, Great Britain, and Australia.

Now the developing story of Alien Resort appears on his website, Alien Resort: A Website That Is Actually a Story.

A little background on that: Coy crash landed his spaceship on a Pacific island and has since been joined by other ETs—Plucky, Deadpan, and Lmao—who help him write comics. A group of earthlings, the Beacons of Night and their leader, Rash Lambert, oppose the efforts of Coy and his friends (“We stand for a united earth. If you were born here, you’re one of us. When Alien Resort makes comics, they’re stealing our jobs.”)

Before becoming a cartoonist, David Davis produced, directed, wrote, and sometimes acted in sci-fi videos. His work has appeared at the 2017 Fort Worth Indie Film Showcase; the 2017 Dallas Medianale; the 2012 Boomtown Film and Music Festival in Beaumont, Texas, and the 2012 CosmiCon and Sci-Fi Film Festival in Roswell, New Mexico, as well as other venues.

After Reverse Effects was screened at the 2015 Fantastic Fest (Austin), Andrew Whalen of Playerone.com wrote that the film “is almost like a living comic strip, but undeniably vigorous and fascinating.” He also labeled David “eccentric.” The jury is still out on the latter.

Last Saturday, his first animated video, Blood Bank, was screened at the Dallas Alt Fiction film festival—online, of course, in the comfort of everyone’s living room.

He’s recently completed a second animated short-short: Time Capsule.

In all his creative endeavors, David is self-taught. He also excels at  producing award-winners on a shoestring. Where some directors spend millions, David reaches into a drawer, pulls out a vegetable steamer, applies a few special effects, and—voila! a spaceship rises from the ground and makes for Venus. Or somewhere in the vicinity.

My favorite of David’s videos is Invisible Men Invade Earth, which received the Judge’s Choice award at the 2017 What the Fest Film Festival (Dallas); the Out of This World award at the 2016 Lionshead Film Festival (Dallas); and the Most Original Concept award at the 2016 Houston Comedy Film Festival.

See what you think:

Here’s a link to Blood Bank.

And one to Time Capsule.

All of David’s videos can be viewed on his Youtube channel, here.

***

The Blogging from A to Z Challenge 2020 master list is found here.

Find the Challenge on Facebook here.

#AtoZChallenge 2020: F Is for Face

 

The good thing about going themeless through the A to Z Blogging Challenge is that the field is wide open: You can write about anything you please.

The bad thing about going themeless through the A to Z Blogging Challenge: see “good thing,” above.

There are days when the brain is empty.

There are days when nothing pleases.

There are days when both of those conditions occur simultaneously.

You’d like to blame it on twenty-five days of sheltering in place but that would be wrong.

You’ve made it for five days, can’t cop out now, so you browse Dictionary.com for something, anything, that would start a spark.

And you scroll down . . .

Aha! face mask! So obvious! So timely. A post about Sheltering in Place Day 18, when you realized you would be going to the doctor on Day 21 sans mask, and you decided you had to have one, so you would buckle down and make one.

But then you think back over the experience, the tea towels, the patterns, the videos, the having to ask David for needle and thread because, manual dexterity not being your number one attribute, you gave up on that kind of thing years ago, and he’s a better seamstress than you ever were anyway.

You remember how fast you gave up on mask-making, and just as fast, you give up on writing about giving up on making them.

And you resume scrolling down through

and you come to

And that sends you directly to Youtube and Nat King Cole, Fred Astaire, Rita Hayworth, Eleanor Powell, and Ginger Rodgers.

You’re welcome.
***

Image of face masks by Juraj Varga from Pixabay

#AtoZChallenge 2020: E Is for Egregious Error

All right, let’s try again.

In “B Is for Bowser,” I announced that I would write about a mistake I’d made. In Part 1, I said I would get to the heart of the matter the next day. Then things (Day C and Day D) happened. I didn’t get to it the next day or the next.

On Day E, however, my egregious error will be revealed.

I’ll recap (“B Is for Bowser”) as fast as I can:

There’s an old narrative poem entitled “Curfew Must Not Ring Tonight,” about young Bessie, who saves her lover from a death sentence by climbing to the top of the bell tower and clinging to the bell’s clapper, preventing curfew from sounding when the rope is pulled.

Famous in its time, the poem is almost forgotten now. Its best-known modern use might be Katharine Hepburn’s recitation in the movie Desk Set.

Now to the Egregious Error:

Years ago, I ran across a parody of “Curfew Must Not Ring Tonight”—”Bowser Must Not Bark Tonight.”

It tells the story of Bessie, a young woman who fears the family dog will chase away her boyfriend when he comes courting. Papa says the dog must guard the melon patch and therefore cannot be tied. To ensure that John Henry gets all the way to the front door, Bessie takes matters into her own capable hands.

I don’t know why I thought about the poem—maybe I was running through mental files for a B-word and came up with Bowser—but I love the parody and thought it a likely topic for a post, so, before looking for “Curfew,” I googled, Bowser must not bark tonight.

Nothing.

Bowser shall not bark tonight. Nothing. Bowser will not . . .  Added poem and parody and other likely keywords. Nothing.

Or not exactly nothing. The very first hit, before all the methods of teaching a dog not to bark, was Exodus 11:7—”But among the Israelites not a dog will bark at any person or animal. Then you will know that the LORD makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel.” (New International Version)

Talk about dreams shattered and balloons burst. Google, access point to the universe, was a big, fat liar. Second only to the knothead who failed to enter “Bowser” into the database.

Coming up: one spoiled B-post. “Curfew” alone was nothing. Without the parody, why bother?

In a nasty state of mind, I went ahead and googled “Curfew Must Not Ring Tonight.” And from Amazon.com, access point universe of retail, popped up Curfew Must Not Ring Tonight’ & ‘Towser Shall Be Tied Tonight’ Audible Audiobook – Unabridged.”

Oops.

“Bowser Must Not Bark Tonight.”

Towser Shall Be Tied Tonight.”

Bowser = dog’s name.

Bowser rimes with Towser.

Bowser / bark = alliteration = Towser / tied.

A mistake, a mistake, a palpable mistake. But a reasonable one.

Had anyone been looking over my shoulder, I’d have blushed from shame. Because I was unobserved, I ate a Cadbury egg and determined to turn shame into a story.

Authorship of “Towser Shall Be Tied Tonight” is attributed to Anonymous, so, assuming it’s in the public domain, I include the entire poem. Blogger William Lee says, “As far as I know the writer is still unknown and if still living probably wishes to remain ‘Anon.’ but I would have loved to meet him or her because it is the kind of poetry I like.” I’d love to meet the author, too.

 

Towser Shall Be Tied Tonight

Slow the Kansas sun was setting,
O’er the wheat field far away,
Streaking all the air with cobwebs
At the close of one hot day;
And the last rays kissed the forehead
Of a man and maiden fair,
He with whiskers short and frowsy,
She with red and glistening hair,
He with shut jaws stern and silent;
She with lips all cold and white,
Struggling to keep back the murmur,
“Towser shall be tied tonight.”

“Papa,” slowly spoke the daughter,
“I am almost seventeen,
And I have a real true lover,
Though he’s rather young and green;
But he has a horse and buggy
And a cow and thirty hens, – –
Boys that start out poor, dear Papa,
Make the best of honest men,
But if Towser sees and bites him,
Fills his eyes with misty light,
He will never come again, Pa;
Towser must be tied tonight.”

“Daughter,” firmly spoke the farmer,
(Every word pierced her young heart
Like a carving knife through chicken
As it hunts the tender parts) – –
“I’ve a patch of early melons,
Two of them are ripe today;
“Towser must be loose to watch them
Or they’ll all be stole away.
I have hoed them late and early
In dim morn and evening light;
Now they’re grown I must not lose them;
Towser’ll not be tied tonight.”

Then the old man ambled forward,
Opened wide the kennel door,
Towser bounded forth to meet him
As he oft had done before.
And the farmer stooped and loosed him
From the dog-chain short and stout;
To himself he softly chuckled,
“Bessie’s feller must look out.”
But the maiden at the window
Saw the cruel teeth show white;
To herself she fiercely whispered, – –
“Towser must be tied tonight.”

Then the maiden’s brow grew thoughtful
And her breath came short and quick,
Till she spied the family clothesline,
And she whispered, “That’s the trick.”
From the kitchen door she glided
With a plate of meat and bread;
Towser wagged his tail in greeting,
Knowing well he would be fed.
On his well worn leather collar,
Tied she then the clothesline tight,
All the time her white lips saying:
Towser shall be tied tonight.”

To the melon patch she took him
As he bounded at her side
To an apple tree she led him.
And the knot she firmly tied.
“There’s Pa’s melons, you must guard them
All day long you stay right here
When John Henry comes to see me
He’ll be safe and have no fear”
And her steps were light and happy
As she thought of joy so bright
When her lover would be coming
Towser would be tied tonight

Up the path the young man sauntered
With his eyes and cheeks aglow;
For he loved the red-haired maiden
And he meant to tell her so.
But her little brother, William
In a fit of boyish glee,
Had untied the slender clothesline,
From the harvest apple tree.
Then old Towser heard the footsteps,
Raised his bristles, fixed for fight, – –
“Bark away,” the maiden whispers;
“Towser, you are tied tonight.”

Then old Towser bounded forward,
Passed the open kitchen door;
Bessie screamed and quickly followed,
But John Henry’d gone before.
Down the path he sped most quickly,
For old Towser set the pace;
And the maiden close behind them
Showed them she was in the race.
There’s the clothesline, can she get it?
And her eyes grew big and bright;
Then she sprung and grasp it firmly;
“Towser must be tied tonight.”

Often times a little minute
Forms the destiny of men.
You can change the fate of nations
By the stroke of one small pen.
Towser made one last long effort,
Caught John Henry by the pants,
But John Henry kept on running
For he thought that his last chance.
But the maiden held on firmly,
And the rope was drawn up tight,
All the time her white lips saying
“Towser must be tied tonight”

Then the father heard the racket;
With long strides he soon is there,
Where John Henry and the maiden,
Crouching, for the worst prepare.
At his feet John tells his story,
Shows his clothing soiled and torn;
And his face so sad and pleading,
Yet so white and scared and worn,
Touched the old man’s heart with pity,
Filled his eyes with misty light.
“Take her, boy, and make her happy, – –
Towser shall be tied tonight.”

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“Curfew Must Not Ring Tonight” sometimes appears as “Curfew Shall Not Ring Tonight.”

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The Blogging from A to Z Challenge master list appears here. It’s up to 510 blogs. Something for everyone.

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Image by Pexels from Pixabay

#ATOZChallenge 2020: D Is for Disinfect & Darn

 

This Challenge is not going as I intended.

Part 2 of B Is for Bowser was to run on Day C.

A spring allergy attack, however, turned Day C into C Is for Consequently & Can’t.

I then promised to finish Day B on Day D. Day D would have been titled D is for Dog.

Unfortunately, this afternoon, I sprayed a solution of Clorox and water in the wrong direction and disinfected my eyes. And thus Dog turned into Disinfect. And Darn.

Seven hours later, my left eye isn’t in the best of shape—it sees but doesn’t feel like seeing. According to the reflection in my hand mirror, it doesn’t feel like being seen, either.

Furthermore, applying a cold compress to the left eye precludes typing with the left hand.

I hate to do this, but Day B, Part 2 will post on Day E.

I don’t know what E will be for.

 

 

 

 

 

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A to Z Challenge master list is here.

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Image by agnesliinnea from Pixabay

A to Z Challenge badges designed by Jeremy Hawkins.