In The Meantime

Mist Cottage is a tip. Our home has been in a state of disruption, and waiting, since early July when we began clearing areas of the basement for removal of the oil furnace and tank, and the installation of the new wood stove, furnace, and ductwork. For five months we have had stacked food storage in the living room, the kitchen, the bedroom, all waiting to be properly stored until the hydro upgrade is undertaken and the furnace install complete. Chaos, and waiting. One of my least favourite things, waiting, a close second behind taxes.

Other projects are on hold, waiting for a time when the basement storage becomes available again. Projects like sewing the new apron have to wait; the pattern and fabric sit in a pile of other sewing projects, waiting, waiting, waiting.

What to do in the meantime? Every day has routine projects to undertake, such as milling flour, baking bread, baking muffins, making soups, cooking meals, keeping up with canning jar and storage container management, etc. But not all time is spent on these projects.

I spend some time interacting with people, day to day social interactions of life… doctor’s appointments, grocery shopping, correspondence.

I watch a movie here and there, listen to audio books now and then. Digital text seldom keeps my attention, I prefer to hold books in my hands.

This morning I was tidying up near one of our many bookcases, and glanced at a stack of vintage books stored on the shelf. The one with a missing backboard on the spine caught my eye. I wondered what the title might be, who the author might be. Pulling the book down, the front cover presented me with the title, Poems Chiefly Narrative, published in 1930. I purchased this book at a used bookstore, a long, long time ago. My copy was a discarded copy from the Timmins Board of Education, in Ontario, Canada. It includes several poems by Alfred Noyes, one of my favourite poets, and most likely his inclusion was the reason I chose to purchase this particular book.

The use of the computer for social contact, and as a sometimes reliable sometimes unreliable reference, has diminished my attention span, my vocabulary, the complexity of concepts explored, and my range of verbal expression. I have a love/hate relationship with the digital world.

But books, books are my first love. With books there is only expansion, growth, tears, joy, epiphanies, companionship, solace, and so much more. I can hold a book in my hand, that I have read, feel the connection to it, and know the meaning I have drawn from its content. Books have always been my friends, nurturing and challenging, scolding and encouraging, uplifting and saddening, the world came to me in books.

As a child I was always read to, as were my siblings. Mom would recite poetry to us as we lay in our beds, and she would sing. My Mom, Granny, and Aunties would read to us as we lay abed in the upstairs of Granny and Grandpa’s house. Mom and Granny taught me to read by the wood stove in the kitchen of my Granny and Grandpa’s house. I independently read my first book, propped up on a pillow in the bed, on a sweltering summer afternoon in the bedroom above my Granny’s kitchen; a story about little Eskimo children. My Granny bought Toronto library discards by the boxful, and her house always had books for us to read, and from which we were read to.

Until I was taught to read, I regarded books as a form of magic, quite literally magic. It seemed to me that when the book was opened, it put my Mom, or whoever was reading it, under a spell, as their eyes became fixed upon, mesmerized by, the page and markings upon it. As they were transfixed, they began to speak of wonders and marvelous things. For me the spoken word, read or recited, has always been a form of alchemy.

Learning to read was an initiation into the world of magic. It was astounding, disappointing, miraculous. It was astounding how such a powerful transition, from the inanimate page to liquid sound, could be so easily learned, so simply technical. I was disappointed that the act of reading could be so logical rather than magical. I found the conduit, from thought to communication through words and symbols and paper and contrasting colours, miraculous. I find it so to this day.

Ah, but I digress, so easy to do when thinking about books.

Back to Poems Chiefly Narrative. Having pulled the book from shelf, I decided to read it. As I opened the cover and began to read the title page to myself, and to turn the pages, Ginger gave a great sigh, as he lay on the footstool beside my chair.

I thought, “ah, my friend, you too wish to enjoy this book!”

And so the idea came to me, to read this book aloud to Ginger. This morning we began with the preface. Reading aloud, at first I found the prose difficult to verbalize smoothly, awkward to comprehend. How my skills have deteriorated by spending time in the digital world! After a few paragraphs I began to feel the rhythm of the words, the complex sentences came easier to the tongue, to flow more easily in my mind. Within a few pages I ceased to struggle with the complexity of the writing, the easy relationship between the written word, my voice, and my mind had been reestablished.

Encouraged by the enjoyment felt at reading the Preface aloud, and the obvious contentment of my audience, Ginger, the first poem was also read aloud. That poem was Lord Randall, by Anonymous. I knew of the poem, but had not read it before. My reading of it was awkward, pronunciation proved challenging. Ginger and I enjoyed the poem so much, that tomorrow I will attempt it again!

I plan on reading aloud to Ginger every day, it relaxes him, and delights me.



Updated on Fri, Dec 9, 11:15 AM
-1 °C
Partly cloudy
Wind 15 NE km/h
Humidity 73 %
Visibility 23 km
Sunrise 7:31 AM
Wind gust 22 km/h
Pressure 103 kPa
Ceiling 9100 m
Sunset 4:28 PM


“And still of a winter’s night, they say, when the wind is in the trees,
When the moon is a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
When the road is a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
A highwayman comes riding-
Riding- riding-
A highwayman comes riding up to the old inn-door.”

Alfred Noyes, The Highwayman
1880 – 1958

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Ah, The Highwayman. That brings back memories of studying it in Highschool English class. The line”The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas.” is perfection. I always tell myself that I will return to reading poetry in my dotage, sitting in my rocking chair. Only then will I have the quiet time for contemplation and, one hopes, the mental facility to go along with it. We are fellow book lovers! Books have always been central to my life. I find I am getting greedy about them as I get older. I always have many piled up calling to me.


Maggie, how well I remember the day I “cracked the code” of reading. I had a book about a tiger that I loved and which had been read to me many, many times. Those repetitions had led to my memorizing of most of it. I sat there with my book, looking at the lines and hearing my mother’s voice in my head. There was an epiphany and I realized that a small group of symbols equated to a particular word. The word was “the.” It was not the noun tiger (that came second) or even a descriptive adjective, but a simple article. I went through the book looking for that word over and over again and discovered I could recognize it consistently. I ran to my mother, book in hand, and told her I could read! She let me practice with other words in the book and it was all uphill from there.

Joan Lansberry

I love what you say about reading. Visualizing you reading to the cat brought a smile!

Eileen Barton

What a great idea to read to Ginger! I love books. In order of importance…family, my cats and books and then everything else. I do read books on my ipad but I also love to buy real books. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love to read.


I looked up Lord Randall. It was a bit rough to read at first with the writer using the colon in an unusual way, but interesting.

I’ve always loved reading and tended to stray from simple English. By the time I was a freshman in high school (9th grade, 13 yrs old) I would do things like read the assigned Lady of Shalott in the Old English from a picture of a tapestry that it had been embroidered on. Also enjoyed Beowulf in the Old English.

I’m so sorry that your furnace hasn’t been put in, yet. Do you think calling the Better Business Bureau would help?