Three Stories

I was inspired by rich, of Brainsnorts, who turns out little pieces of wonderful creativity every Friday in 100 words–so I tried an experiment when I had to get away from the book work which has engulfed me this week. It was fun, and I needed a little fun. Be kind in your critique and remember my mind has been taken over by facts and figures, numbers and……

Surprise 1

A full moon spotted the weary traveller on the bare, shiny road. He pushed the button on his umbrella and it collapsed. He used it as a guide, its quick clicks cut the night silence.

A figure approached, her shadow enveloped him. No words were exchanged. She took his hand and led him up the stairs. Putting her fingers to her lips, she silently hushed him.

Nodding he followed her. She knocked a staccato message on the door. It opened, but no light escaped the room. She beckoned. He hesitated, then “Happy Birthday” poured out in loud, happy unison.

Surprise 2

Brandishing the black 45, he twirled it expertly on one finger, then returned it to its holster. He turned his back and walked away. Was it over before it started?

Bewildered, the town’s people started to disperse. A shot rang out. It hit him in the back, not quite dead centre.

He fell to the ground. The crowd froze.  Engulfed in a pond of blood, he did not call out for help.  A kid with a limp stumped over to him calling for Doc Howard. Someone ran to the Doc’s office. He tripped on a step and fell.

“Cut!”

Surprise 3

She knew she was a good dancer. She knew he was watching. Her feet turned to lead. Her once graceful moves turned robotic. She could no longer keep the beat. Her face turned pink, then red—then she blanched.

He turned away. She saw him turn; she left the dance floor. In the washroom she flooded her face with cold water, not caring that it washed off her makeup and made her eyeliner run. She hunched her shoulders in defeat, wiped off the black streaks. The night was over.

He was outside the door. Waiting for her. She took his proffered hand.

Published in: on November 30, 2012 at 5:07 pm  Comments (55)  
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~ Back for a Minute ~

English: The minute hand on 0

The minute hand  (Wikipedia)

This sums up my philosophy of life:

“LEARN THE RULES THEN FORGET THEM!”  ~ Basho

Painfully, this week I am following the rules.

Published in: on November 29, 2012 at 1:24 pm  Comments (41)  
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*~* My Favourite Things*~*

Line of light

(Photo credit: Evil Monkey Ali)

Note: While I will not be writing any original posts this week–I thought I would “post” (sounds like I am mailing this to you) my weekly column that will be appearing in the Kingsville Reporter this week. So hot off the presses, I present this to you: ( now must get my nose back to the grindstone–I hear the sound of a cracking whip–better go~)

“Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens; Bright copper kettles and warm woollen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings ; These are a few of my favourite things.”

I know I do not have Oprah’s status (and money and fame and success) but I do have some favourite things. She does not have the corner on this (although she could afford to buy that corner).

Her favourite things include an Easy Rider electric bike with an ugly lime green helmet; $198 cotton knit cable sweater; some spa products she discovered at David Copperfield’s (when I was at David’s I was not that impressed with them); a $395 pink leather bag from the Tory Burch store, which she saw and just had to have as “she was strolling down Madison Avenue” (I am holding out for a Burkin bag); some soap that only costs $238 for 14 bars, which she gave to Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Colbert; a mattress for $2,699 (which she now has in every bedroom of her house—which means her mattresses are probably worth more than my house); an elliptical cross trainer that was originally $3,099 and is only $2,789 with a coupon; and the piece de resistance, and the only thing I can afford from her list of 95 favourite things is a blue velvet cake with cream cheese icing and sugar snowflakes. At $42, I could think about it.

A Hermès Birkin bag.

A Hermès Birkin bag. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am going to be upfront: my favourite things do not include things such “as raindrops on roses, or whiskers on kittens”. I am a bit less, shall we say, whimsical than that. I mentioned the Birkin bag, which is, according to Wik E. Pedia, “a handbag by Hermès, handmade in leather and named after (British) actress and singer Jane Birkin.” It is “a symbol of wealth due to its high price and elusiveness to the public.Its price range? $9000 to $150,000. Costs apparently “escalate according to the type of materials.” They are fashioned “on unpredictable schedules and in limited quantities” to create scarcity and exclusivity. I am sure Oprah has a few of these, but was afraid to include them in her favourite things as they are out of reach of everyone but the 2% (or is it 1%?). I am including it because I plan on the winning the lottery. Soon. The big one. (Did you know that people who think they are going to win the lottery do not have their feet planted securely on terra firma?)

I have no argument with Oprah–she chooses a bunch of lovely stuff, then proceeds to give it away to some lucky people—I have not yet figured out how to be one of those lucky people, so I have created a list of my favourite things. Much more modest than Oprah’s, it consists of:

1. Anything that sparkles—I think I was a magpie in another life. Sparkly things have a wide range in price—I am not too choosy unless it is gaudy. Now, gaudy does not include an 8 carat yellow diamond (in case you were wondering).

2. Books—all kinds—books you can write in, books you can read for enjoyment, books you can learn from (as long as I am not being tested—went to school for about a hundred years—no more tests!); books with pretty pictures, kids’ books—okay, I think you are getting the idea here.

3. Boy boots. Seriously an odd choice I know. But, my husband who looks out for me and loves, loves, loves Canadian Tire saw a pair of women’s boots (that look like men’s boots) on sale for 60% off. They have laces and felt liners, and big treads on the bottom (I am prone to falling down, hence earning the name grace). Now, they look clunky but are kind of gold in colour (almost sparkly) with black rubber toes. So, my feet will not get wet and stay warm and toasty in the winter to come. So, my boots, while they are not sleek and leather and fashionable, are my new favourite thing.

Oh, and I do like surprises as in “brown paper packages tied up with strings” but you can keep the raindrops and whiskers (sorry Kitty Bob), and bright copper kettles. The mittens though would go with my new almost sparkly “boy boots”.

A Blogcation

James Taylor at Christmas

Wikipedia

Just a little heads up:

I am taking a week off from blogging to concentrate on a number of things that need my attention–so while I will be responding to commenters today–I will not be seen or heard from much until December 1st. Enjoy this last week of November and see you back here next Saturday.

Note: Make a note in your calendar to come to my virtual Christmas Party on Saturday, December 15th.

Here is my Formal Invitation:

Virtual Christmas Party

Date: December 15th

Where: Virtually Here

Why: It Is Christmas!

Theme: Come as your favourite author or character in a book.

Co-host: Robin Coyle (she does not know this yet)

Bring: Your favourite appetizer from the 1970′s

Music Provided by: James Taylor and Rodents & Rebels

Special Entertainment: Margaret Atwood. She promises to be festive.

Requirement: Description of your author or character’s outfit, appetizer, and favourite song request from either James or R & R.

I will provide an update closer to the 15th. Idea stolen from Robin Coyle who threw a virtual Cocktail Party that was a raving success. You can wear your shoes in the house if they are clean. Reindeer socks will be provided at the door for those who need them.

See you in a little less than a week!

English: Author Margaret Atwood attends a read...

English: Author Margaret Atwood attends a reading  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

~ A Little Early Snappy, Happy Ever After or A Little Magic in the Air ~

Cover of "A Family Christmas"

Cover of A Family Christmas

Ever notice how Christmas comes at the right time of year? When it is at its darkest, and starting to get cold and dreary? Even without snow, Christmas lights brighten things up a bit. Last night we had a light shower of snow and it is gently snowing right now, adding a little frosting to the still warm ground. Just that right festive touch for getting into the spirit.

One of my favourite little Christmas ditties is “We Need A Little Christmas” by Jerry Herman–and these lines just seem to embody the season we are about to embark:

“For I’ve grown a little leaner,  Grown a little colder, Grown a little sadder, Grown a little older, And I need a little angel, Sitting on my shoulder, Need a little Christmas now.”

We seem to make Christmas into a hassle with endless lists of things to do to make it merry and bright, and sometimes lose out on the magic of the whole season.

I read an interview with Santa in the book, “A Family Christmas” compiled by Caroline Kennedy, and the word magic was used no less than six times in answer to various questions.

Asked how reindeer fly, the jolly elf said that they are fed a magic mixture of corn and oats that only grows near the North Pole.

Magic was also the one word answer he gave to the questions, “how do you fit down the chimney”, and “how do you get into a home that does not have a chimney”.

How does he fly around the world in one night? Santa says it takes “a combination of lots of practice, judicious use of time zones, and of course, a little magic.

And how does he know who has been naughty and who has been nice? You got it: Magic.

What is magic? I have a two part definition: it is the suspension of disbelief; and the belief that there are things that happen we cannot explain. (It could be argued that this is also the basis of faith—but that is a topic for another place and another time.)  The best dictionary definition I found, (among many) is that magic “is a supernatural power that makes impossible things happen.”

Right now, there is a group of people who want us to only believe in those things we can prove—Darwin is their main man, and they only want to deal in things that can be substantiated. I have no argument with these people—in fact I think it is easy to follow this dictum as it takes us out of the world of imagination, into a world of grounded thought.

At various times in my life, I too have wanted proof positive, but have come to the conclusion that it does not exist. I like to think that there are things that happen that there are no easy or worldly answers to.

I am not talking magic as in the world of potions and spells, enchantments and bewitchments. I am talking about magic as inexplicable and astonishing, miraculous and exquisite.

If reindeer do fly—it is magic. When Santa makes it down the chimney unscathed-it is magic. By the way, when he does get to

English: Santa Claus with a little girl Espera...

English: Santa Claus with a little girl: a magical moment (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

your house, he made it very clear in his interview that he likes all kinds of milk except buttermilk, and loves all kinds of cookies, but most especially Christmas cookies.

Santa’s  favourite colour is red (who knew?); he has hundreds and hundreds of elves; and can remember without hesitation the names of his reindeer. And yes, he does count Rudolph as one of his reindeer.

When asked how old he is, Santa replied: “As old as my tongue, and slightly older than my teeth.”

So there you have it, from the horse’s mouth so to speak. And what is it that Santa wants for Christmas? Without batting an eye he says:  “Peace on earth, goodwill towards all people.” Now where have we heard that before?

Do you believe in Magic?(Wasn’t that a title of a song from the 1960′s? The Barefoot Baroness  would know.)

If It Is Saturday~Must Be Recipe Day Favourite Easy Recipe of All Time

Mixinsg chocolate chips into cookie batter.

Mixing chocolate chips into batter. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Don’t be fooled. I have lots of “Favourite Easy Recipes” of all time, because that is just the way I roll. This recipe is from a magazine and was included in a “Teens in the Kitchen” article. I figured if kids could do it, I could do it. And—this is the important part – it is from scratch and uses real flour. I used to have a fear of flour. I have conquered that fear. I still have a fear of yeast.

My youngest son loves these bars and asks for them all the time. That is a good indication that it is a good recipe. He is one very picky eater.

This recipe also meets my all important criteria of not having more than five ingredients so  I do not get confused.

So, without further ado:

TOFFEE BARS

1 ½ cups butter

1 ½ cups firmly packed brown sugar

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla

3 cups of flour

1 cup of chocolate chips

1. Heat oven to 350 F

2. Put butter, brown sugar, and vanilla in large bowl and mix on medium speed for 3 minutes until completely combined. Add flour and mix on low for 2 minutes. Stir in chocolate chips. (This is not for the faint of heart—by now the cookie dough is quite stiff—good for the biceps!)

3. Put dough in an ungreased 15 X 10 inch baking pan (I don’t have one so use a 10 x 13 I think) and press into an even layer. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until light golden brown. Let cool for only 5 minutes then cut into squares. (If you let them cool longer, they will crack when you cut them).

This is a very forgiving recipe as I am a distracted cook—I think I have added the flour with the butter and brown sugar and vanilla, and I usually mix everything on high (remember my brother’s motto—everything is better on high). Sometimes I do not have vanilla. But I always have chocolate chips. This is like a moist brown sugar shortbread with chocolate chips—could there be anything better?

Seriously easy and seriously delicious.

Anyone have suggestions for me on how to get rid of my fear of yeast?

Active dried yeast, a granulated form in which...

~ A Poohism To Get You Through Your Day ~

 

“When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you think of Things, you find that sometimes a Thing that seemed  Thingish inside  you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.” ~ A. A. Milne

Winnie the Pooh

Winnie the Pooh (Photo credit: JayPLee)

 This quote is known  as a “Poohism” and is part and parcel of the wisdom and philosophy of Winnie the Pooh, from the series of books created by A.A. Milne for his son.

Children are very wise. They understand the complicated statements made by their favourite characters. They know that Pooh is smart despite the fact that he is always saying that he is a Bear of Very Little Brain. And they know that sometimes something they are thinking inside their brains becomes something very different when it sees the light of day.

When I first read this statement I did not necessarily think of it as something positive. Sometimes when we reveal what is inside of us to other people they think we are rather odd; or the way we express ourselves does not magically trip off our tongue quite the way we imagined. But  sometimes giving those thoughts a voice can help disperse them, especially if they are thoughts of fear or revelations of angst.

Doodle You

Doodle You (Photo credit: neonbubble)

There is a sensitive blogger, summerteifi, who doodles her thoughts and by doing so gets them out in the open. Her advice is this:

“Express yourself, embrace creativity to help release these fears, pain and worry. Once out on paper, they soften and feel distant and become reassured by the motherly parenting parts of yourself. And if they don’t, keep doodling, keep sharing, keep expressing and never stop knowing this too shall pass.”

So how do you get your Thingish things out in the open?

      


~ Be Still ~

“Poetry is pulling images out of the sky, the air, the universe, and bringing them down to earth.”  ~ Marisa De Franceschi

"The Listening Place", South Lochboi...

“The Listening Place”: Be Still (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The chairs were fairly comfortable. The room was not crowded, but neither was it bare. It was filled with people who love the written word. I must admit that my appreciation for poetry has been acquired—like the taste of beer or olives or octopus. And now that I have acquired it, I like to feed it.

Recently an opportunity to feed the poetry beast was offered at my local library. Three local poets were featured. They provided the audience with three very different flavours of the genre. To say that one poet was better than another would be a misnomer, but of the three, one appealed to my sense of the familiar more than the other two. One poet drew on the raw realities of life beautifully—but her poetry was to my mind uncomfortable.  Another was a true poet, in that if poetry is not his first calling, it most definitely is his primary form of expression. His was an educated palate and his poetry brilliantly executed. I was jealous of his implementation of the English language.

I tend to understand and like the simple written word—if its imagery is too opaque or its metaphors too tangled, I lose patience.

The poet who “spoke to me” at the poetry reading was Marisa De Franceschi.  She believes in “pulling images out of the sky, the air, the universe and bringing them down to earth”. When a poet does not do that, does not bring their poetry down to earth, I am lost in their wordiness.

Her book of poetry, Random Thoughts, is rift with images brought down to earth. One of her poems, called “Be Still” spoke to my depths. She said that it was derived from her personal observations of the ships on Lake Erie that she could see from the windows of  her summer cottage in Wheatley, Ontario. Here are a few of my favourite lines:

“Out on the Lake,

When the gale turns ferocious

There is only one thing for the mammoth ships to do.

Stop and stay put.

Be still….

They sit still and wait…

They wait for the winds to calm,

Wait for them to have their say.

The ships will continue their journey

When the tempest dies down….”

I think this poem provides us with great wisdom. As we venture out into the fray of everyday life–sometimes we just have to sit still and wait and let the tempest die down in order to head out again. This is good advice for the holiday season as we rush around–we need to be still sometimes to appreciate all that it has to offer.

What steps are you going to take this holiday season to “be still”?

Tranquility

Tranquility (Photo credit: EclecticBlogs)

Do You Need Shoes to Party Hardy?

Shoes!

Shoes! (Photo credit: Cynewulf)

“Abandon shoes, all ye who enter here.”  – National Post

Sometimes you can’t make this stuff up.  The subject of “peace on earth, good will to (wo)mankind” seems to no longer be a hot topic for this time of year. The new hot topic? Whether you should leave your shoes on or take them off when you enter a private home for holiday parties. The topic is so hot that the Canadian newspaper, the National Post devoted the front page to the subject.

It seems people have very strong opinions about the topic.  One of the “experts” quoted in the article said she did not mind if people left their shoes on, but noted quite pointedly that she did not have white carpeting. (So, I am thinking that if she did have white carpets she might not be so open-minded). Another woman  put the responsibility squarely on her visitor’s shoulders. She said quite adamantly that they should come prepared to leave wet footwear at the door, and bring a pair of shoes to wear inside. (I am thinking she is not a “party hardy” kind of gal.)

Another responder to the question of “shoes on or shoes off” said that “guests should leave their shoes on. Any decent party will involve a lot of spilled drinks, passed out people, and possibly, a flood. If you’re worried about a bit of slush on the carpet, you’re probably going to react badly when your brother-in-law falls through the coffee table”. He has a point. One might wonder about the type of parties he goes to. (I have not been to one of those in years–I sort of miss them.)

A highly fashion conscious woman sniffed at the question and said that shoes must stay on as they “are the most important part of an outfit.”  She stated: “May as well wear my pyjamas if I have to take my shoes off.”

My opinion, shaded on the side of “make your guests comfortable” is to not ask people to shed their shoes at the door, and let them make up their own mind. In fact, most of the time I encourage people to wear their shoes in my house especially if they are unexpected so that their socks do not gather up the dust tumbleweeds that tend to float willy nilly around my house. (If I am expecting guests though, I tame the tumbleweeds beforehand, spray furniture polish in the air, and use candlelight, not so much for the ambience but to hide my lack of housekeeping skills.)

The easy solution—in Canada in the wintertime?

Fancy Yelp KC Party 146

Party! Party! Can’t tell if they have their shoes on. (Photo credit: Yelp.com)

Wear your boots to the door and put your shoes on after you have discarded your outerwear. Easy peasy. Or wear cute socks. The ones with the reindeer are especially nice.

Where do you stand on the shoes on, shoes off controversy this holiday season?

A Timely Quote

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” ~ Cicero

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on Broadway in ...

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Broadway  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends. Eat, drink and be merry, because the holiday season is upon us.

Published in: on November 22, 2012 at 10:52 am  Comments (18)  
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