Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

May 8, 2018

Catharine writes:

 

 

To my surprise I was sitting in a restaurant this morning, enjoying a cup of Mocha coffee and having a riveting conversation about writing and all its’ possible permutations and combinations with a young waitress I had never met before. Earlier this morning I had been thinking about Barbara Moser’s comment about Neil (Barbara is publisher/editor of Montreal’s Senior Times) she wrote “He’s edgy, he’s provocative and he’s ours.”

This is a comment about Neil who wrote a column called Pitstop every month for the Senior Times newspaper here in Montreal.

Well, wouldn’t you know I was sitting in a dentist’s chair earlier today while my dentist described his patient, Neil, in similar terms “We had the craziest and best arguments about all kinds of subjects. Sometimes Neil would rise half out of the chair, sometimes he was furious with my point of view, but if my argument made sense, had some logic to it, he’d admit it. My sense was that these discussions owed a great deal to his Jesuit training, how to formulate an argument clearly.”

Well, why should I be surprised? There was himself, my husband, never happier than when he found himself in the midst of an argument, even in the dentist’s chair!

Neil also loved to write, starting from the time he entered an oratorical contest aged nine. I found his original hand-written version among his papers in an old black suitcase that had been stored unopened in our cellar for some twenty years. The title was “When Grandad was a Boy” and will be included in the book about Neil being published later this year by Shoreline Press in Montreal with veteran journalist Alan Hustak as editor.

Over the years, Neil tried his hand at all types of writing – at age fifteen he became a stringer for the Peterboro Examiner under Robertson Davies. He went on to write 5 books which you’ll see <here>

I had the fun of working on two of these books with him. From the time I was ten I had scribbled stories and playlets for my cousins and friends. Never in a million years did I expect to write a book. Too much work, I thought, as I watched Neil hour after hour at his typewriter (later his computer of course).

Has anybody else reading this felt the same and left bits of writing hidden away in a cupboard?

I did recently get an iPad but I see myself as more-or-less computer illiterate. And when I did find myself compelled to write a book (launched at my 79th birthday with the best Irish band in the city), believe it or not the whole thing was written by hand. Years ago, in 1970, I had started typing lessons, then landed a job as speechwriter for the Ontario Minister of Education, complete with secretary. End of typing lessons. I was working six days a week, researching, writing and rewriting, to keep up with my boss who was a splendid orator, when I met Neil on the dance floor.

Two weeks after our August honeymoon in 1972 he landed the job as Editorialist for CJAD, known as the best English-language station in Montreal. We moved lock, stock and barrel down the 401 to Montreal. He would be writing editorials in one corner of our tiny apartment on the 21st floor of a building behind the old Montreal Forum, while in another corner I was scribbling a story for the Reader’s Digest. I had landed a job there as researcher, then was lucky enough to be sent to Quebec City to write a piece for their Explore Canada book.

Another piece I wrote, about 2 Quebec children’s writers, never got published, but it landed me a rewarding experience as literary agent for one of the sisters, Suzanne Martel. Then one of her publishers, Heritage, asked me to take all his French-language children’s books to sell to libraries and bookstores in Toronto. I ended up collecting all the new French-language children’s books from his and other publishers at the Christmas Salon du Livre, lugging them on the train, and having a ball going around Toronto to sell them. This gave me enough money to visit my mom in Toronto every 2 months. That experience also stood me in good stead when Michael Price of Price-Patterson published our book on the early days of skiing in the Laurentians and Montreal (Skiing Legends and the Laurentian Lodge Club, now available on Amazon as book and ebook). We had more fun tootling around with the trunk of our car loaded up with copies, to all the local bookstores in the Laurentians, Montreal and Toronto. Thanks to Neil’s skill in writing, this book became a best-seller, and won the international Skada award 2002 for the Best Skiing History at Vail, Colorado.

Working on this book with Neil and going to Ireland with him earlier ( a first for both of us) must somehow had an encouraging effect on my own interest in writing.

Neil had been asked to write the biography of a remarkable Benedictine Monk, John Main, who had been invited by Bishop Crowley to found a monastery right in the heart of Montreal, based on an ancient tradition of silent meditation found in early Christianity. This, at a time when many English-speaking Montrealers were leaving the city in the wake of the FLQ crisis.

Going to Ireland sparked Neil’s interest in his own O’Shea ancestors (on his mother’s side) and my determination to find the farm that our Fleming family (on my mother’s side) had left in 1847, in the midst of the famine. Neil’s family were Catholic, O’Sheas from the south and McKentys from the Glens of Antrim in the far north. My family were Northern Irish Protestant, from the Dromore/Omagh area, not all that far from the Glens of Antrim as I realised later.

Those visits to Ireland with Neil strengthened my awareness of the riches of Irish history, far deeper than sectarian differences that in many cases had economic and political causes.

The long-term result was that the book I eventually wrote, Polly of Bridgewater Farm – an unknown Irish story – was reviewed in both Catholic and Protestant newspapers and accepted into Catholic, Protestant, and integrated schools in the North.

A Dublin broadcaster told me he had never realised that Protestants suffered along with Catholics during the Famine,” the Great Hunger” as it has been called. I was asked to read from the book by the mayor of Monaghan at the first ever memorial in their city of the Irish Famine. And an Omagh school principal wrote me that “we need more books like this, that speak of hope in the midst of adversity.”

All the above experiences have shown me the power of each of our stories, to build connection with other people, and to bridge differences of outlook, age and background. Also the importance of making sure these stories don’t get lost.

This raises questions about writing. What kind of writing interests you most? Have you tried your hand at poetry? Writing your family story or a novel? Trying a short story?

Have you done a lot of essay writing? Is anything of this a labour of love or a drudge? Do you re-write?

Have you done an article for a student newspaper or any other publication?

I loved Vin Smith’s story of his 40 books, some published, some not.

Have you tried to get a book published, what was your experience?

When Neil wrote his memoir, The Inside Story, I tried 40 publishers without success. Some would say “maybe in a year’s time” then someone gave me the name of Judy Isherwood, founder of Shoreline Press. I will never forget what happened next. But that is a story for another time.

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

May 1, 2018

The Girl Who Got The Better Of The Gentlemen.

 

 

THERE was an old man with a girl of thirteen years, and he was begging. He came to a gentleman, and begged of him. The gentleman said it would be better for him to go and earn wages than to be begging. the man said he would go, and willingly, if he got anyone to pay him. The other said he would himself give him pay, and a house to live in for himself, and for the girl to come to and wash and cook for him. He gave them the house, and they went to live in it.

They were not long there when the gentleman came to the girl one day, and thought to take liberties with her, but she kept herself free from him. When he saw that, he went to his workmen, and he spoke to her father, and said to him that he would hang him at twelve o’clock next day unless he told him which there was the greater number of, rivers or banks. His intention was to put the old man to death, that he might have his way with the girl.

The old man went home sorrowful and troubled. His daughter asked him what ailed him, and he told her he was to be hung at twelve o’clock next day unless he could tell which there was the greater number of, rivers or banks.

“Oh, don’t be sorrowful,” said his daughter, “eat your supper, and sleep plenty, and eat your breakfast in the morning, and when you are going to work, I will tell you.”

In the morning said she to him, “Say, when he asks you the question, that there is not a river but has two banks.”

When he went to work the master came and asked him, “Which is there the greater number of, rivers or banks?”

“There is not a river,” said he, “but has two banks.”

“Your question is answered; but you must tell me tomorrow the number of the stars.”

He went home in the evening sorrowful and troubled. His daughter asked him what ailed him, and he told her. She bade him not to be sorrowful, for she would tell him in the morning. And in the morning he went to his work, and his master came and asked him to count the number of the stars; and he said, “I will, if you put posts under them.”

And he could not do that, but he said, “I will hang you at twelve tomorrow, if you don’t give me the measure of the sea in quarts.”

And he went home to his daughter and told her, and in the morning, as he was going to work, she said,

“Let him stop the rivers that are going into the sea or out of it, and you will measure it in quarts.”

So he gave that answer to his master, and his master could not stop the rivers.

Then he asked for the girl in marriage, and the old man told him not to be making fun of the girl, she was not fit for him. He would get a lady.

“I will not do that,” said he, “you must give her to me to marry.”

“Well, I must see the girl; she will know what she will do.”

He went to his daughter and told her what the gentleman said, and the girl answered her father, and said to him,

“I will marry him, but he must give me a writing under his hand that on the day when he puts me away, he must give me my choice of all that’s in his house, to take away three loads with me.”

And he said he would give her that, and she got it in his handwriting and signed by the lawyer.

Then the girl came and lived in his house with him until she had two children. At that time there was a dispute in the village between two men, one of whom had a horse, and the other a mare and a foal, and the three beasts used to be together. And the man who owned the horse said that the foal belonged to the horse; and the man of the mare, said no, that the foal was his.

The man who owned the horse put law on the man who owned the mare, and they left it to arbitration; and the man who was brought in to decide was the gentleman, who said he would settle it between them.

He said: “Put the three animals into an empty house and open two doors. The foal is to be with the one it follows.” The horse went out first and the foal followed him. Then the foal was given to the man who owned the horse.

All was well till there came some gentlemen to the house. They went out hunting. And when they were a while gone the woman took a fishingrod, and she went fishing in the lake, and she was catching white trout until she saw the company coming, and she turned her back to the lake, and she began casting her line on the dry land. When her husband saw that, he went towards her, away from the other people, and he came and said it was a great wonder she should be casting her line on the dry ground and the lake on the other side of her; and she said it was a great wonder that a horse without milk should have a foal. That made him very angry, and he said on the spot, “After your dinner get ready and go from me.”

“Will you give me what you promised?”

“I will give it.”

After dinner, when the gentlemen were gone, he told her to be going, and she stood up and took with her her own child as a load and laid it down outside the door. She came in and took the second child as her load and put it outside.

She came and she said, “I believe yourself are the load that’s nearest to me.” And she threw her arms round him and took him out as her third load. “You are now my own,” said she, “and you cannot part from me.”

“Oh! I am content,” said he, “and I promise I will not part from you for ever.”

They lived together then, and she took her father into the house, and he was with her until he died. They had a long life afterward too.

 

Source: oaks.nvg.org/irish-tales.htm

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

April 24, 2018

The Daffodils

by William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced, but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A Poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

-What is your favourite poem?

-Do you write poetry?

 

Tuesday writing conversation: a conversation in Dublin

April 17, 2018

Michael Lane talks with Catharine McKenty about her book ‘Polly of Bridgewater Farm’ in the gardens at Trinity College, Dublin.

IRISH FOLKTALE

April 11, 2018

 

The Three Daughters Of King O’Hara

 

There was a king in Desmond whose name was Coluath O’Hara, and he had three daughters. On a time when the king was away from home, the eldest daughter took a thought that she’d like to be married. So she went up in the castle, put on the cloak of darkness which her father had, and wished for the most beautiful man under the sun as a husband for herself.

She got her wish; for scarcely had she put off the cloak of darkness, when there came, in a golden coach with four horses, two black and two white, the finest man she had ever laid eyes on, and took her away.

When the second daughter saw what had happened to her sister, she put on the cloak of darkness, and wished for the next best man in the world as a husband.

She put off the cloak; and straightway there came, in a golden coach with four black horses, a man nearly as good as the first, and took her away.

The third sister put on the cloak, and wished for the best white dog in the world.

Presently he came, with one man attending, in a golden coach and four snow-white horses, and took the youngest sister away.

When the king came home, the stable-boy told him what had happened while he was gone. He was enraged beyond measure when he heard that his youngest daughter had wished for a white dog, and gone off with him.

When the first man brought his wife home he asked: “In what form will you have me in the daytime,—as I am now in the daytime, or as I am now at night?”

“As you are now in the daytime.”

So the first sister had her husband as a man in the daytime; but at night he was a seal.

The second man put the same question to the middle sister, and got the same answer; so the second sister had her husband in the same form as the first.

When the third sister came to where the white dog lived, he asked her: “How will you have me to be in the daytime,—as I am now in the day, or as I am now at night?”

“As you are now in the day.”

So the white dog was a dog in the daytime, but the most beautiful of men at night.

After a time the third sister had a son; and one day, when her husband was going out to hunt, he warned her that if anything should happen the child, not to shed a tear on that account.

While he was gone, a great gray crow that used to haunt the place came and carried the child away when it was a week old.

Remembering the warning, she shed not a tear for the loss.

All went on as before till another son was born. The husband used to go hunting every day, and again he said she must not shed a tear if anything happened.

When the child was a week old a great gray crow came and bore him away; but the mother did not cry or drop a tear.

All went well till a daughter was born. When she was a week old a great gray crow came and swept her away. This time the mother dropped one tear on a handkerchief, which she took out of her pocket, and then put back again.

When the husband came home from hunting and heard what the crow had done, he asked the wife, “Have you shed tears this time?”

“I have dropped one tear,” said she.

Then he was very angry; for he knew what harm she had done by dropping that one tear.

Soon after their father invited the three sisters to visit him and be present at a great feast in their honor. They sent messages, each from her own place, that they would come.

The king was very glad at the prospect of seeing his children; but the queen was grieved, and thought it a great disgrace that her youngest daughter had no one to come home with her but a white dog.

The white dog was in dread that the king wouldn’t leave him inside with the company, but would drive him from the castle to the yard, and that the dogs outside wouldn’t leave a patch of skin on his back, but would tear the life out of him.

The youngest daughter comforted him. “There is no danger to you,” said she, “for wherever I am, you’ll be, and wherever you go, I’ll follow and take care of you.”

When all was ready for the feast at the castle, and the company were assembled, the king was for banishing the white dog; but the youngest daughter would not listen to her father,—would not let the white dog out of her sight, but kept him near her at the feast, and divided with him the food that came to herself.

When the feast was over, and all the guests had gone, the three sisters went to their own rooms in the castle.

Late in the evening the queen took the cook with her, and stole in to see what was in her daughters’ rooms. They were all asleep at the time. What should she see by the side of her youngest daughter but the most beautiful man she had ever laid eyes on.

Then she went to where the other two daughters were sleeping; and there, instead of the two men who brought them to the feast, were two seals, fast asleep.

The queen was greatly troubled at the sight of the seals. When she and the cook were returning, they came upon the skin of the white dog. She caught it up as she went, and threw it into the kitchen fire.

The skin was not five minutes in the fire when it gave a crack that woke not only all in the castle, but all in the country for miles around.

The husband of the youngest daughter sprang up. He was very angry and very sorry, and said: “If I had been able to spend three nights with you under your father’s roof, I should have got back my own form again for good, and could have been a man both in the day and the night; but now I must go.”

He rose from the bed, ran out of the castle, and away he went as fast as ever his two legs could carry him, overtaking the one before him, and leaving the one behind. He was this way all that night and the next day; but he couldn’t leave the wife, for she followed from the castle, was after him in the night and the day too, and never lost sight of him. In the afternoon he turned, and told her to go back to her father; but she would not listen to him. At nightfall they came to the first house they had seen since leaving the castle. He turned and said: “Do you go inside and stay in this house till morning; I’ll pass the night outside where I am.”

The wife went in. The woman of the house rose up, gave her a pleasant welcome, and put a good supper before her. She was not long in the house when a little boy came to her knee and called her “Mother.”

The woman of the house told the child to go back to his place, and not to come out again.

“Here are a pair of scissors,” said the woman of the house to the king’s daughter, “and they will serve you well. Whatever ragged people you see, if you cut a piece off their rags, that moment they will have new clothes of cloth of gold.”

She stayed that night, for she had good welcome. Next morning when she went out, her husband said: “You’d better go home now to your father.”

“I’ll not go to my father if I have to leave you,” said she.

So he went on, and she followed. It was that way all the day till night came; and at nightfall they saw another house at the foot of a hill, and again the husband stopped and said: “You go in; I’ll stop outside till morning.”

The woman of the house gave her a good welcome. After she had eaten and drunk, a little boy came out of another room, ran to her knee, and said, “Mother.” The woman of the house sent the boy back to where he had come from, and told him to stay there.

Next morning, when the princess was going out to her husband, the woman of the house gave her a comb, and said: “If you meet any person with a diseased and a sore head, and draw this comb over it three times, the head will be well, and covered with the most beautiful golden hair ever seen.”

She took the comb, and went out to her husband.

“Leave me now,” said he, “and go back to your own father.”

“I will not,” said she, “but I will follow you while I have the power.” So they went forward that day, as on the other two.

At nightfall they came to a third house, at the foot of a hill, where the princess received a good welcome. After she had eaten supper, a little girl with only one eye came to her knee and said, “Mother.”

The princess began to cry at sight of the child, thinking that she herself was the cause that it had but one eye. Then she put her hand into her pocket where she kept the handkerchief on which she had dropped the tear when the gray crow carried her infant away. She had never used the handkerchief since that day, for there was an eye on it.

She opened the handkerchief, and put the eye in the girl’s head. It grew into the socket that minute, and the child saw out of it as well as out of the other eye; and then the woman of the house sent the little one to bed.

Next morning, as the king’s daughter was going out, the woman of the house gave her a whistle, and said: “Whenever you put this whistle to your mouth and blow on it, all the birds of the air will come to you from every quarter under the sun. Be careful of the whistle, as it may serve you greatly.”

“Go back to your father’s castle,” said the husband when she came to him, “for I must leave you to-day.”

They went on together a few hundred yards, and then sat on a green hillock, and he told the wife: “Your mother has come between us; but for her we might have lived together all our days. If I had been allowed to pass three nights with you in your father’s house, I should have got back my form of a man both in the daytime and the night. The Queen of Tir na n-Og [the land of youth] enchanted and put on me a spell, that unless I could spend three nights with a wife under her father’s roof in Erin, I should bear the form of a white dog one half of my time; but if the skin of the dog should be burned before the three nights were over, I must go down to her kingdom and marry the queen herself. And ’tis to her I am going to-day. I have no power to stay, and I must leave you; so farewell, you’ll never see me again on the upper earth.”

He left her sitting on the mound, went a few steps forward to some bulrushes, pulled up one, and disappeared in the opening where the rush had been.

She stopped there, sitting on the mound lamenting, till evening, not knowing what to do. At last she bethought herself, and going to the rushes, pulled up a stalk, went down, followed her husband, and never stopped till she came to the lower land.

After a while she reached a small house near a splendid castle. She went into the house and asked, could she stay there till morning. “You can,” said the woman of the house, “and welcome.”

Next day the woman of the house was washing clothes, for that was how she made a living. The princess fell to and helped her with the work. In the course of that day the Queen of Tir na n-Og and the husband of the princess were married.

Near the castle, and not far from the washerwoman’s, lived a henwife with two ragged little daughters. One of them came around the washerwoman’s house to play. The child looked so poor and her clothes were so torn and dirty that the princess took pity on her, and cut the clothes with the scissors which she had.

That moment the most beautiful dress of cloth of gold ever seen on woman or child in that kingdom was on the henwife’s daughter.

When she saw what she had on, the child ran home to her mother as fast as ever she could go.

“Who gave you that dress?” asked the henwife.

“A strange woman that is in that house beyond,” said the little girl, pointing to the washerwoman’s house.

The henwife went straight to the Queen of Tir na n-Og and said: “There is a strange woman in the place, who will be likely to take your husband from you, unless you banish her away or do something to her; for she has a pair of scissors different from anything ever seen or heard of in this country.”

When the queen heard this she sent word to the princess that, unless the scissors were given up to her without delay, she would have the head off her.

The princess said she would give up the scissors if the queen would let her pass one night with her husband.

The queen answered that she was willing to give her the one night. The princess came and gave up the scissors, and went to her own husband; but the queen had given him a drink, and he fell asleep, and never woke till after the princess had gone in the morning.

Next day another daughter of the henwife went to the washerwoman’s house to play. She was wretched-looking, her head being covered with scabs and sores.

The princess drew the comb three times over the child’s head, cured it, and covered it with beautiful golden hair. The little girl ran home and told her mother how the strange woman had drawn the comb over her head, cured it, and given her beautiful golden hair.

The henwife hurried off to the queen and said: “That strange woman has a comb with wonderful power to cure, and give golden hair; and she’ll take your husband from you unless you banish her or take her life.”

The queen sent word to the princess that unless she gave up the comb, she would have her life.

The princess returned as answer that she would give up the comb if she might pass one night with the queen’s husband.

The queen was willing, and gave her husband a draught as before. When the princess came, he was fast asleep, and did not waken till after she had gone in the morning.

On the third day the washerwoman and the princess went out to walk, and the first daughter of the henwife with them. When they were outside the town, the princess put the whistle to her mouth and blew. That moment the birds of the air flew to her from every direction in flocks. Among them was a bird of song and new tales. The princess went to one side with the bird. “What means can I take,” asked she, “against the queen to get back my husband? Is it best to kill her, and can I do it?”

“It is very hard,” said the bird, “to kill her. There is no one in all Tir na n-Og who is able to take her life but her own husband. Inside a holly-tree in front of the castle is a wether, in the wether a duck, in the duck an egg, and in that egg is her heart and life. No man in Tir na n-Og can cut that holly-tree but her husband.”

The princess blew the whistle again. A fox and a hawk came to her. She caught and put them into two boxes, which the washerwoman had with her, and took them to her new home.

When the henwife’s daughter went home, she told her mother about the whistle. Away ran the henwife to the queen, and said: “That strange woman has a whistle that brings together all the birds of the air, and she’ll have your husband yet, unless you take her head.”

“I’ll take the whistle from her, anyhow,” said the queen. So she sent for the whistle.

The princess gave answer that she would give up the whistle if she might pass one night with the queen’s husband.

The queen agreed, and gave him a draught as on the other nights. He was asleep when the princess came and when she went away.

Before going, the princess left a letter with his servant for the queen’s husband, in which she told how she had followed him to Tir na n-Og, and had given the scissors, the comb, and the whistle, to pass three nights in his company, but had not spoken to him because the queen had given him sleeping draughts; that the life of the queen was in an egg, the egg in a duck, the duck in a wether, the wether in a holly-tree in front of the castle, and that no man could split the tree but himself.

As soon as he got the letter the husband took an axe, and went to the holly-tree. When he came to the tree he found the princess there before him, having the two boxes with the fox and the hawk in them.

He struck the tree a few blows; it split open, and out sprang the wether. He ran scarce twenty perches before the fox caught him. The fox tore him open; then the duck flew out. The duck had not flown fifteen perches when the hawk caught and killed her, smashing the egg. That instant the Queen of Tir na n-Og died.

The husband kissed and embraced his faithful wife. He gave a great feast; and when the feast was over, he burned the henwife with her house, built a palace for the washerwoman, and made his servant secretary.

They never left Tir na n-Og, and are living there happily now; and so may we live here.

 

 

Source: http://www.worldoftales.com

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

April 3, 2018

 

 

Musical Instruments

 

The wind sings songs among the trees.

Andante when boughs groan weighed down by snow

Allegro as the branches, brown but lighter now

Can wave more freely, shake the nests of squirrels or of crow

 

Then the springtime gift of green is given,

First buds, then leaves begin to show

The sound of breeze is richer now, a softer music

when leaves, not branches touch and dance.

The trees breath in the carbon particles,

Breath out the oxygen we from the animal kingdom need.

 

The music of the spheres surrounds us,

Let us open wide our hearts, our eyes, our ears.

All sings to us of beauty if we listen

As music gathers volume through the years.

 

The orchestra gathers all its many voices — each one is needed.

each can indeed be heeded as they add their special sounds.

To bring cacophony to harmony needs skill and love …

Love for the miraculously rich melody of life, the singing wind, the

words of sages — the chattering people all around — the music of all

life resounds and echoes through the ages.  Let us pay heed.

 

Clare Hallward

 

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

March 27, 2018

 

The Greedy Fox.

 

 

There was a woman in Connemara, the wife of a fisherman; as he had always good luck, she had plenty of fish at all times stored away in the house ready for market. But, to her great annoyance, she found that a great fox used to come in at night and devour all the best and finest fish. So she kept a big stick by her, and determined to watch.

One day, as she and a woman were spinning together, the house suddenly became quite dark; and the door was burst open as if by the blast of the tempest, when in walked a huge red fox, who went straight up to the fire, then turned round and growled at them.

“Why, surely this is foxy,” said a young girl, who was by, sorting fish.

“I will teach you reverence,” said the fox; and, jumping at her, he scratched her arm till the blood came. “There, now,” he said, “you will be more civil another time when a gentleman comes to see you.” And with that he walked over to the door and shut it close, to prevent any of them going out, for the poor young girl, while crying loudly from fright and pain, had made a desperate rush to get away.

Just then a man was going by, and hearing the cries, he pushed open the door and tried to get in; but the fox stood on the threshold, and would let no one pass. On this the man attacked him with his stick, and gave him a sound blow. The fox, however, was more than a match in the fight, for it flew at him and tore his face and hands so badly that the man at last took to his heels and ran away as fast as he could.

“Now, it’s time for my dinner,” said the fox, going up to examine the fish that was laid out on the tables. “I hope the fish is good today. Now, don’t disturb me, nor make a fuss; I can help myself.”

With that he jumped up, and began to devour all the best fish, while he growled at the woman.

“Away, out of this, you furry beast,” she cried, giving it a blow with the tongs.

But the fox only grinned, and went on tearing and spoiling and devouring the fish, evidently not a bit the worse for the blow. On this, both the women attacked it with sticks, and struck hard blow, they thought. But the fox glared at them and, making a leap, tore their heads and arms till the blood came, and the frightened women rushed shrieking from the house.

But the mistress returned, carrying with her a bottle of druid water. Looking in, she saw the fox still devouring the fish, and not minding. So she crept over quietly and threw druid water on it without a word. No sooner was this done than a dense black smoke filled the place. Nothing was seen but the two eyes of the fox, and they were burning like coals of fire. But when the smoke gradually cleared and disappeared, the fox had run away.

From that time the fish remained untouched and safe from harm, and the greedy fox was seen no more.

 

 

Source: oaks.nvg.org/irish-tales.html

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

March 20, 2018

 

 

 An Irish Folklore Story

 

Children Of Lir

 

 

The Children of Lir is a well known legend that can be recounted by ay Irish school child and most adults too. Lir was an ancient king and ruler of the sea, and was married to a beautiful and kind woman named Eva. Eva gave him four children; the eldest son Aodh, a daughter called Fionnula and twin boys, Fiachra and Conn. Sadly, she died while giving birth to the twins, so to ease his broken heart Lir eventually married Eva’s sister Aoife. Aoife, who had magical powers, became increasingly jealous of the time Lir was spending with his four children. The children were especially close to one another and to their father, and feeling more and more isolated from the family unit, she plotted to destroy the children. Knowing that if she killed them they would come back to haunt her forever, she instead took them down to the lake near their castle. She transformed them into swans and bound them to spend 300 years in Lake Derravaragh, 300 years on the Straits of Moyle and 300 years on the Isle of Inish Glora. Only when they heard a bell tolling for the new god would the spell be broken.

Aoife returned to Lir and told them his children had all drowned. Devastated, he went to the lake where Fionnuala in her swan form approached him and told him what happened (apparently Aoife’s magic was not so powerful that the children lost the ability to speak or sing). Naturally, Lir was appalled at what his wife had done and banished her, spending the rest of his days down by the lake with his children. The swans served their 300 years on each of the designated lakes, passing the time by singing and flying. Before long they were well known all across Ireland, with everyone wishing to see and hear them for themselves. One day they heard a bell toll and knew their time under the spell was coming to an end. They returned to the shore and met a priest there who blessed them, and they transformed back into their now withered and elderly human bodies. In some versions of the ending, they died immediately after their transformation, although in others they lived long enough to be baptised first.

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

March 13, 2018

 

 

Mid-Term Break

by Seamus Heaney

 

I sat all morning in the college sick bay
Counting bells knelling classes to a close.
At two o’clock our neighbours drove me home.
In the porch I met my father crying—
He had always taken funerals in his stride—
And Big Jim Evans saying it was a hard blow.
The baby cooed and laughed and rocked the pram
When I came in, and I was embarrassed
By old men standing up to shake my hand
And tell me they were ‘sorry for my trouble’.
Whispers informed strangers I was the eldest,
Away at school, as my mother held my hand
In hers and coughed out angry tearless sighs.
At ten o’clock the ambulance arrived
With the corpse, stanched and bandaged by the nurses.
Next morning I went up into the room. Snowdrops
And candles soothed the bedside; I saw him
For the first time in six weeks. Paler now,
Wearing a poppy bruise on his left temple,
He lay in the four-foot box as in his cot.
No gaudy scars, the bumper knocked him clear.
A four-foot box, a foot for every year.

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

March 6, 2018

 

 

 

Catharine writes:

One third of Neil’s listeners were francophones. During that first referendum he kept everyone talking on his CJAD open-line show. He also interviewed Premier René Lévesque on the show more than once, with the last time being only a couple of week before Lévesque’s death.

A well-known Montreal lawyer later told me that without Neil’s efforts to keep people listening to each other there could have been violence on the streets of Montreal.

My question is: is there anyone out there in the United States in the midst of this divisive election keeping people listening to each other? The most divisive in US history. Is CNN doing that with its’ panels of commentators from both sides? My impression is they are trying hard – what do you think?