The Elf and the Dormouse

It’s mushroom season—it must be, because they are growing everywhere. I snapped some fine specimens on my walk the other day. They always remind me of the fun little poem we learned in school—”The Elf and the Dormouse”

Umbrellas galore! (Photo © 2015 by V. Nesdoly)

The Elf and the Dormouse

Under a toadstool crept a wee Elf,
Out of the rain to shelter himself.

Under the toadstool, sound asleep,
Sat a big Dormouse all in a heap.

Trembled the wee Elf, frightened and yet
Fearing to fly away lest he get wet.

To the next shelter—maybe a mile!
Sudden the wee Elf smiled a wee smile.

Tugged till the toadstool toppled in two
Holding it over him, gaily he flew.

Soon he was safe home, dry as could be.
Soon woke the Dormouse—”Good gracious me!

“Where is my toadstool?” loud he lamented
—And that’s how umbrellas first were invented.

by Oliver Herford (1863-1935)


By the way, do you know what a Dormouse is? As I was typing this out, and noticing Spellcheck’s disapproval of “doormouse” I realized a “dormouse” may be more than a poet’s fanciful playing around with words.

According to Wikipedia and other sources that claim to know,  a dormouse is a rodent in the Glirdae family, mostly found in Europe, and known for an ability to sleep i.e. hibernate!  So Mr. Herford got even that detail right!

Poetry Friday LogoThis post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect.


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SJT – Home (Missing Home)

The farmhouse where I grew up - Photo © 2009 by V. Nesdoly
The farmhouse where I grew up – Photo © 2009 by V. Nesdoly

Missing Home

I remember squeaks and slants
in the floor of our last home
can picture the gouge
in paneling beside my desk
the crumbing rubber
on the patio-door seal.
In the shed I see
rust-freckled freezer top
shelf of garden powders and poisons
boxes of canning jars
tangle of camping stuff
all familiar—like loved homes are—
as my own hands and feet.
So the other day
when I couldn’t remember
if there was a slanted ceiling
and a south window
in my childhood bedroom on the farm
I felt as if I had taken off my sock
and found I was missing a toe.

© 2012 by Violet Nesdoly (First published in Picking Flowers – a Fraser Valley Poets Society project.)


Top to bottom L-R: top two - Destroyed kitchen; 2nd row - We ate a lot of breakfasts and lunch on the balcony; The living room; Row 3 - Living room restored; Kitchen restored.
Top to bottom L-R: Row 1 – Destroyed kitchen; Row 2 – We ate a lot of breakfasts and lunches on the balcony; The gutted living room; Row 3 – Living room restored; Kitchen-dining area restored.

Thankful for Home

As you probably pick up from the poem above, I am a homebody. I love to travel but I love to come home more. I like a social outing but home is where I feel most comfortable, relaxed, and happy.

In the summer of 2014 we came home from holiday to a flooded house. All the main floor flooring of our townhouse had to be redone, along with much of the basement den. Witnessing the change of my cozy living room to a bare shell with a splintery chipboard floor, the devolution of my functional kitchen to cupboards stacked helter skelter in the middle of the room was almost physically painful for me.

And so my heart goes out to the refugees we see on the news, streaming across Europe—homeless because their homes have been bombed, their familiar towns and cities not safe to live in any more. I can only imagine how it must feel to have no home.

We eventually got our home back, better than ever. But since our flood I have stopped taking my home for granted. Often now when I sit in my cozy living room or work in my functional kitchen I marvel at how they were brought back and say, “Thank you, Lord!” And my prayer for refugees everywhere is that may they find homes again too.

This post is linked to Spiritual Journey Thursday, hosted by Holly Mueller at Reading, Teaching, Learning. Today the theme is THANKSGIVING FOR HOME.

Join us each week at Spiritual Journey Thursday

Join us each week for Spiritual Journey Thursday



Posted by on November 5, 2015 in People, Personal


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yellow autumn leaves

Michaud Park in autumn (Photo © 2015 by V. Nesdoly)


multitudes of yellow leaves
illumine the park floor

the crop of summer’s
sunny days

for winter’s store

© 2014 by Violet Nesdoly (All Rights Reserved)


Poetry Friday LogoThis post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by foody extraordinaire, Jama at Jama’s Alphabet Soup.


Posted by on October 23, 2015 in Nature, Poetry Friday


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SJT – Doubt (Captivated)

Apple in a tree

Photo © 2015 by V. Nesdoly


Puffy white lambs
in the sky.
Iridescent dragonflies. Furry bees.
Jewel birds flitting and fluting the forest
with warbles and calls.
A plush rabbit’s coat.
Moist velvet tickle of a horse’s nose.
He, smooth, agile, muscular
climbing a palm.

These globes just above me
hanging from this tree God has forbidden
their glossy roundness inviting
a caress, a pluck, a savor…
The intelligent eyes
of the beautiful chartreuse
creature suddenly beside me
taking my measure, his liquid tones
smooth, oily, almost fragrant
“Has God indeed said…?”

© 2015 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

In this little piece, I was trying to get at the wonders of the created world as Eve experienced them through her fresh-wax senses. Ah, but there was trouble ahead.

Every brand and iteration of doubt is, I believe, in some way begun by revisiting the words spoken by the serpent to Eve in Genesis 3:1.

spiritual-journey-framedThis post is linked to Spiritual Journey Thursday, hosted by Holly Mueller at Reading, Teaching, Learning. The theme this week is DOUBT.


Posted by on October 22, 2015 in People, Religious


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Spider webs

Spider webs (Photo by V. Nesdoly)


Through the summer night and day
spider spins her life away
weaving gossamer entrapments
for her unsuspecting prey.

Threads from clothes upon the line
between my beans upon the vine
and when I go through my front door
I break more threads ticklish and fine.

Until one misty day in fall
from tiny shrubs to cedars tall
each lacy trap in white is sketched.
The fog has come, exposing all!

© 2015 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)


I wrote this poem quite a few years ago, when I still had a garden. But it’s as true as ever. Each year at about this time, I’ll go out one misty morning to see spider webs everywhere. Busted!

Poetry Friday LogoThis post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by  poetry farmer extraordinaire, Amy LV at The Poem Farm.


Posted by on October 16, 2015 in Light, Nature, Personal, Poetry Friday


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SJT – Redemption (Midwife Openings)

This week’s theme Spiritual Journey Thursday word “REDEMPTION” had me scratching my head at first. I know the traditional religious meaning of the word “redemption” is the rich concept of salvation from sin through the atonement of Christ. But one also hears the word redemption used in another way. I read or hear it used often as a theme in story or movie.

(The site, for example, has a list called “The Best Movies About Redemption.” The opening paragraph describes the theme:

“Some of the most beloved movies of all time feature the theme of redemption. These are the stories that motivate us to hold on to hope, fight to survive, always believe in the best, and recognize that anyone can change. This theme reminds us that life is a series of choices, and for every act of injustice there is justice around the corner!”)

One of the dictionaries I consulted defines this type of redemption:

“the action of regaining or gaining possession of something in exchange for payment, or clearing a debt.”

Many Bible stories include this theme. The story of Joseph comes to mind. Another much shorter tale is the one of the two midwives who defied Pharaoh’s command to kill the Hebrew male children as they were delivering them to help Pharaoh control the Hebrew population explosion. Bible commentaries suggest these two women, Shiphrah and Puah, were Egyptian overseers of a guild of midwives and that they were middle-aged. The Bible tells their story in Exodus 1:15-21.

Some years ago when I was writing a series of poems on Bible women, I wrote one about them. Here is their story of redemption:

Shiphrah and Puah (Artist unknown)

Shiphrah and Puah (Artist unknown)

Midwife Openings

Pharaoh said,
Kill each newborn boy!
Midwife code, training
each prospective mother cell
cries, Our lives, not theirs!

We will risk
raising Pharaoh’s wrath.
We fear God Yahweh.
To commit infanticide
means blood on our hands.

Hebrew boys
live despite king’s plot.
Yahweh smiles on us.
We grow great with fruitfulness!
Midwives may apply.

© 2015 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

spiritual-journey-framedThis post is linked to Spiritual Journey Thursday, hosted by Holly Mueller at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

What’s your favorite story of redemption? Have you experienced redemption in this way?


Posted by on October 15, 2015 in Religious, Shadorma


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SJT – Mercy (In the DNA)

Mercy is one of those words we bandy about so freely in Christian culture, it becomes almost invisible. I gained a fresh appreciation of its richness when I looked it up in the dictionary before writing this post:

1. Kind or compassionate treatment of an offender, adversary, prisoner etc. in one’s power; compassion where severity is expected or deserved.
2. A disposition to be kind, forgiving, or helpful.
3. A thing to be thankful for.

Mercy comes from compassion, kindness or other ennobling sentiments.

Opposites of mercy are harshness, severity, implacability, punishment, chastisement, vengeance. – Funk and Wagnalls Dictionary

It’s what God had for us when He sent Jesus and had Him take the penalty our sins deserved. It’s what I’m supposed to extend to others. And there’s the rub. For like so many Christian qualities, showing mercy is counter-intuitive. It goes against every atom of fairness to let the person who hurt me get off free. Look at how the crowds clamber for justice when a policeman has shot someone in the line of duty. Suggest mercy to that crowd and you’re likely to start a riot. It’s in me and all of us to want to get even, to make things right with our own style of justice.

I was pondering why we, or at least I, find that giving mercy is hard. I think it has something to do with feeling that I’m giving up control. When Christians extend mercy, we give up control to God. We’re saying with our actions that we believe He has the situation in hand and will sort it all out fairly in the end, better than our scolding, punishment, or tit for tat ever could.

The Bible story that illustrates this beautifully is David’s behaviour when his father-in-law and deadly enemy King Saul is hunting him. One day David finds himself in the cave with Saul. His men tell him, This is your chance.  Take matters into your own hands and kill him.

He resists them, and instead, just cuts a piece off Saul’s robe to prove how close he was. Later even that seems to bother him. 1 Samuel 24:1-12 where this story is told, ends with these telling words from David to Saul:Let the Lord judge between you and me, and let the Lord avenge me on you. But my hand shall not be against you” (emphasis added).

The challenge for me is to get to the place where extending mercy becomes my default position. I want it to be in my DNA.

“I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food” – Job 23:12 (Photo of kale from

In the DNA

We bite into apples
bread, cake, meat
taste, chew, swallow.
They disappear, digested
become absorbed into muscle, bone
fingers, toes, skin, lashes
brain cells, our very DNA.

We bite off Your word
Blessed are the merciful …
   Be reconciled to your brother …
   Forgive up to seventy times seven …
meditate on these things
swallow them into the busyness of our days
Now that they’ve been ingested
are they being digested
becoming the muscle, bone, skin
of loving acts, kind words, patience
mercy, forgiveness
altering our very DNA?

© 2015 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)


spiritual-journey-framedThis post is linked to Spiritual Journey Thursday, hosted by Holly Mueller at Reading, Teaching, Learning. Today the theme is MERCY.


Posted by on October 8, 2015 in Personal, Religious


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