Quiet has many moods

on thehomefrontandbeyond:

so true………….

Originally posted on Live & Learn:


Quiet has many moods. When our sons are home, their energy is palpable. Even when they’re upstairs sleeping I can sense them, can feel the house filling with their presence, expanding like a sail billowed with air. I love the dawn stillness of a house full of sleepers, love knowing that within these walls our entire family is contained and safe, reunited, our stable four-sided shape resurrected. But those days are the exception now, not the norm.

~ Katrina Kenison, Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment 


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Published in: on October 5, 2015 at 4:11 pm  Comments (1)  

You Can Observe A Lot Just By Watching

“We have deep depth.” – Yogi Berra

It does not matter to me that Yogi Berra was an 18 time All Star. To me it was his magical turn of a phrase that made him memorable. And it was for this skill that he was a favourite of even those who did not follow baseball.

Sports writer, Nate Scott, says that most of his phrases did not make any sense while “at the same time, every one had some truth to it.” And that is what I think is so magical—his wisdom was in his guilelessness. Now guilelessness has many meanings—but the ones that pertain to Yogi are these: naturalness, innocence, sincerity, candour, and spontaneity. I do not think the man was particularly unworldly, naïve or simple; he was in one word: “himself”.

I try to disguise my lack of sophistication and artlessness. But it seems to me that Yogi did not. And I so admire him for that. Please forgive me but when it was announced last Tuesday that he had gone to that big Ball Park in the sky, I did think to myself, and perhaps even utter it aloud to my husband that I did not even know he was still alive.
According to a list of Scott’s 50 favourite Berra-isms, Yogi once said, “I never said most of the things I said.” Keeping that in mind, I have a few favourites of my own on Scott’s list and I have categorized them thusly:

Those that made sense:
1. You can observe a lot just by watching.
2. It ain’t over till it’s over.
3. We made too many wrong mistakes. (You may think this one cancels itself out, but just think about it—it does make sense.)
4. Little League baseball is great cause it keeps the parents off the streets.

Those that should make sense:
1. When you come to a fork in the road, take it. (This could explain why I get lost so much—this kind of makes sense to me.)
2. It’s like déjà vu all over again. (this is my very favourite—the story of my life.)
3. Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t come to yours. (I have a fear that I am going to throw a funeral and no one will come.)
4. You better cut the pizza in four pieces because I’m not hungry enough to eat six. (I just love this one.)
5. The future ain’t what it used to be. (So true.)
And last but not least: “It gets late early out here.” (so apropos to fall)

1. I tell kids, somebody’s gotta win, somebody’s gotta lose. Just don’t fight about it. Just try to get better.
2. You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going, because you might not get there. (I have proven this to be true.)
3. Pair up in threes.
4. Why buy good luggage, you only use it when you travel.

And some I just like:
1. It ain’t the heat, it’s the humility. (tell me about it)
2. We have deep depth.
3. If the world were perfect, it wouldn’t be.

There is a bit of controversy over who inspired the character of Yogi Bear and at one time Berra was unhappy about the bear who seemed to be his namesake. But I am convinced (despite a dropped lawsuit) that the bear who loved to steal picnic baskets was based on the man who hit a mean ball. My proof? This quote from Yogi Bear, talking to his sidekick BooBoo has me convinced; Yogi (Bear) is quoted as saying: “BooBoo, you’ve tried to stop my brilliant ideas with common sense a thousand times. Has it ever worked?”

Although, I have to argue, that Berra had barrels of common sense wrapped in his uncommon turn of a phrase.

Published in: on September 29, 2015 at 7:09 pm  Comments (11)  

Welcome Fall

Fall, fleeting of foot ~
Fancy flourish of colours;
Beautifully blushes.

For purposes of this haiku, the word blushes has one syllable–but only for this haiku–generally it has two……………

Published in: on September 23, 2015 at 1:06 pm  Comments (9)  

Some Weeks I Got Nothin’

My newspaper column for the week that wasn’t:

We all have them. Junk drawers. I hate to admit this—but even my drawers that are not designated for junk look a bit like junk drawers. Organization does not seem to be my strong suit—it is a goal I will forever be chasing. But we are not here today to talk organization, we are here to talk about those indispensable drawers that hold things that are well……indispensable (read: crucial, vital, essential).

My official junk drawer holds all those utensils I only use on occasion, but are crucial, vital and essential. My corkscrew is crucial; my nutcracker essential; and my beaters vital. Let me explain: the corkscrew is crucial for those times when I have broken the bank and bought a bottle of wine which does not have a twist top (one must admit though, that nowadays there are quite a few good bottles of wine that have a twist top—not just Boone’s Farm and Cold Duck from days of yore). The nutcracker with its accompanying tools to get the meat out of the nut is essential, but generally only at Christmas time—though I have been known to use it to get corks out of sparkling wine which means it gets used a little more often than just at Christmas. And the beaters—well they are vital to the hand mixer which would be mighty lonely (and useless) without them.

I have taken the junk drawer out of its usual spot in the cupboard next to the sink to list for you some of the stuff in it that I just cannot throw away—even though most of does not get used on a regular basis. (Although there are one or two things that do not fit in other drawers that do get housed here, but for the most part, the things in my junk drawer do not see the light of day often.)

Bonus: I found a healthy looking pastry brush, and some tongs I did not know I still had. I use the pastry brush more for applying barbeque sauce than actually using it with pastry, but what the heck—I am glad to become reacquainted with it. It was at the back of the drawer which explains why I did not know it was there. And the tongs will come in mighty handy—better put them in my utensil pot I have by the stove. (Yes, I did walk out and put them there.)

Okay, what else is in here—three sets, no four sets of salad tongs. I use one set most of the time, but you never know when the others will come in handy. There are wooden ones that I am sure go with a set of bowls, an orange plastic pair, a silver pair, and the pair I use all the time that look a bit like wooden hands—they are only in this drawer because they do not fit anywhere else.

My lucky baster that I use when I am under duress to actually cook a stupid turkey is in there—guess I may be using it again soon—it is getting to be that time of year. Though I am leaning towards having steak instead (lol). An apple corer, which I would use more if I made pies. But I don’t. Two silver cake servers that come out mostly for birthdays, and a little orange thing that touts itself as “the world’s smallest juice extractor”. Obviously I have not used it—but now that I have rediscovered it (I must have been the one who put it in there in the first place) I may give it a whirl.

Ugh—found an old pastry brush that is decrepit—looks like it was used on the barbeque and seen much better days. Out it goes, along with a curvy green straw with the word Frosty on it that seems to have a small spoon at one end and is now utterly useless, and does not fit the criteria of crucial, vital or essential.

Okay, what else is in here—a big silver meat fork (that’s a keeper) and a nice (real silver) spoon that needs some polish; and hey, what’s this—a tea ball—I was wondering where that was. Oops the straw has been resurrected from the junk pile as my youngest son just found the Fonzie frog that fits on it (don’t ask—but it is a frog that wears a black leather coat and has two thumbs up). It is now crucial and vital, though still not essential.

There you have it—the contents of my junk drawer—now you know me maybe a bit more than I am comfortable with.

What’s in your wallet…..I mean junk drawer?

Published in: on September 22, 2015 at 5:50 pm  Comments (14)  

The Soft Things………….

My weekly column owes thanks to David Kanigan–he posted Hannah’s soft things first–and I ran with it:

Sometimes we need to stop and take stock. Take stock of those things that we enjoy, that please us, that make life more than a dreary “to do” list; those things that we feel, notice, think and taste. Blog writer Hannah Nicole in her post, “A List of Soft Things” does this. And inspired by her list of “soft” things I am going to explore some of the soft things that keep me from going crazy (or crazier). But first I will share some of the little “gifts” that she finds keeps the crazies somewhat at bay:

“…This is what I wait for. Gray light before the sun rises. Waking up at the lake. Musty smoke from a campfire thick in your hair, on your skin, shaken from your sweater. Earth under your fingers. Green things growing. The sound of blueberry pancakes sizzling, crackling in a buttered skillet. Laughter, when you are incandescently happy. Finding a relic. Freckles. Grilled peaches and sweet corn and watermelon juices running down your skin. Light falling through trees on a pathway empty of anyone but you. Hearing the waves. Waking to a quiet house. Coffee stains. Lipstick marks on a cup. Your spot. Being recognized. Shadows…Wonder and thinking you are something bigger and I don’t know, that somehow it will be alright. Being okay. Eating all the raspberries from the patch and going through the day with red fingers… Beginnings. Not endings. Maybe endings sometime. Words like honeysuckle and diaphanous. Smells stirring a memory deep in your mind like a stick in thick muddy banks, stirring up the water. Mud under your toes and you are five. Clear water. Green water. Blue water. Gray water more light than liquid. Sitting on the front of the boat and closing your eyes to the spray on sunburnt skin. A perfect song. An imperfect memory. Fragments…. Hearing someone hum. Watching a time happen and thinking, I will remember this.”

I love many of her soft things: waking up at the lake (of my sister’s cottage in Quebec); the sound of pancakes sizzling (and the incandescent bubbles that form telling you to turn them over); waking to a quiet house (and putting on the coffee before anyone else is up and enjoying the aroma of the just-brewed elixir); laughter (there is nothing better than shared laughter); and smells that stir up memories (even if they are imperfect).

Sometimes our imperfect memories are our best memories. Usually they are corroded by time; their edges softened; and we are left with only a deep and lingering nostalgia that the past only held good things. We know in our minds (but not our heart of hearts) that this is not true—but I like to hold onto only the good memories—and let the other remembrances fade.

Hannah’s soft things include the gray light just before the sun rises. I love the pink light just as the sun starts to rise—before it shows it face and is still only a lovely, subtle glow. I love clear and blue and even green water (as long as it is just a reflection and not algae blooms) but I particularly love the silkiness of still water—waiting for a hand to create small waves or toes to dip themselves into its calmness. I love the initial feeling of the coolness of water and its gradual coalescence when you no longer feel the difference in temperature between it and your skin.

I love my “spot” even though like our cat, Kitty Bob, it changes depending on my whims. Right now Kitty Bob is in love with our coffee table, and luxuriates on the soft cloth that I have covering it. But this too will change and he will find another favourite spot. I have favourite spots all over the house and migrate to that spot when I am in a particular room. In the living room it is my red chair in the corner; in the dining room which houses my home office—I migrate to the black chair in front of my laptop (my magical space); in my bedroom it is my side of the bed—with books strewn on the other side (which I do move when my partner in crime a/k/a my husband climbs in). These are my “at home” spots; where I am most me.

“Soft things” help smooth out the sharp edges of life. They consist of all the quiet thank yous we do not utter aloud. Maybe we should start shouting them from the rooftops.

Published in: on September 15, 2015 at 11:42 pm  Comments (7)  

My Truth

on thehomefrontandbeyond:

She is my soul sister–my life is a “zigzag” t00 – in fact “zigzag” is my magic word……………

Originally posted on Live & Learn:


My editor turned it down. She wanted me to write a novel about that marriage, what went wrong, what went right, then friendship, illness, and death. But life doesn’t arrange itself conveniently into chapters – not mine, anyway. And I didn’t want to write a novel. My life didn’t feel like a novel. It felt like a million moments. I didn’t want to make anything fit together. I didn’t want to make anything up. I didn’t want it to make sense the way I understand a novel to make a kind of sense. I didn’t want anywhere to hide. I didn’t want to be able to duck. I wanted the shock of truth. I wanted moments that felt like body blows. I wanted moments of pure hilarity, connected to nothing that came before or after. I wanted it to feel like the way I’ve lived my life. And I wanted…

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Published in: on September 11, 2015 at 12:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

death becomes you…….

Wrote this for my August writers’ meeting–used a prompt from a book I have called “Writing Poetry to Save Your Life” by Maria Mazziotti Gillan. The prompt was “why I read the obituaries”. This was something I wrote in about ten minutes and probably needs extensive editing–but you can read my draft and see if you find you have anything in common with me:

Why I read the obituaries

Not sure why I read the obituaries~
At one time I looked at the births
The weddings and anniversaries,
The milestone birthdays and the graduations ~

Now, I look at who has died
And hope that I find no one I know that day
Who has gone on to that proverbial better place.

It is an odd progression
Birth to death.
Death seems so final
But I hope it isn’t……………
When I find someone I know who has died
Feelings of regret and sorrow and maybe relief intertwine.

Regret that I did not know the person better or that I had
Not fulfilled my obligation to them

Sorrow that now I will not be able to right the wrongs
I may have inadvertently—or hey, if we are being honest here
Advertently cast on that person

And relief—perhaps an odd emotion but relief for that person
Now that they are out of pain—either physical or emotional.

Admit it, this life is a roller coaster
And sometimes the ride gets rough
And sometimes it is exhilarating

It all seems to be the luck of the draw–
When we are happy, when we are sad
When we are born, and when we die.
I like to think that death is not the end

The end of what—I do not know–
It is just that I cannot imagine no longer being here
To breathe, to laugh, to cry, to mourn…..

Death takes us all in the end
But I like to think that it takes us elsewhere
To dimensions unknown, pathways untrod
And that in those dimensions and on those paths
We have choice
Choice as to what we want to do with the rest of our life

after death.

Published in: on September 10, 2015 at 7:37 pm  Comments (13)  

Hello Fall

Stepping stones, River Esk, Eskdale

A wisp of autumn in the air ~
A touch of crispness
Leaves turn from green to gold
Summer on the wane.

Smoke from burning leaves
Curls and swirls; ghostlike
Threads it way to heaven
Fall is wafting in.

Published in: on September 9, 2015 at 5:40 pm  Comments (13)  

Summer Moments

The beginning of September, while still officially summer is meteorologically fall. I learned this recently on Facebook as I follow Channel 7 Detroit meteorologist, Dave Rexroth. Yes I know he is American, but I consider him my bud. If you think this is disloyal just ask my youngest son about my pride in all things Canadian—particularly when we watch television. I am forever pointing out to him the fact that an actor or comedian or some other famous person is Canadian. In fact, said son has threatened to have the phrase “They are Canadian, you know” engraved on my tombstone.

As always I digress in this my ode to the summer almost past. This being the first week back at school, I am reminded of that dreaded assignment we had every first day of school from second grade on. I am talking about the essay we were always expected to write about “What I Did on my Summer Vacation”. I do not know if this is still a requisite assignment, but I do remember the summer when my oldest brother got married so I had something of what I considered substance to write about.

As a kid, I did not really appreciate summer vacation and all the lovely times that I look back on with sweet nostalgia. The picnics and reunions, the bike rides and long leisurely days spent playing outside or sitting in a tree reading were taken so for granted. We expected the summer to offer nothing more than warm days, cool drinks and well….nothingness. No homework, few organized activities, lots of barbeques on the outside brick fireplace, and in my younger years, days spent in the sandbox.

As a youngster, my family went on summer day trips, most notably to Point Pelee National Park, but we never had a true family vacation where we spent time laying our heads on unfamiliar pillows. They say you do not miss what you did not have, and I find this to be very true. I did not miss family vacations away from home because we never experienced them. One summer when I was 13 I did go away to camp (at far flung Gesto) for a week—I liked it but got really homesick. Little did I know at the time that I was really only a few miles from home (I was a rather dull-witted kid.)

This year, I did not get away for a summer vacation, but I had a lot of memorable “summer moments”. I tend not to take things for granted anymore, or at the very least I take note of the good times while I am having them, as well as remembering them. I enjoyed having lunch with my Writers’ group on the patio of a local restaurant. Lunch was so long that we barely left in time for the supper crowd. I remember noshing on my favourite mushroom and shrimp pizza, listening to my friends/fellow writers read, and most importantly laughing.

There was the barbeque at our friends’ house where, after supper, we sat in their cottage (really their sun porch) and if you craned your neck ever so slightly you could see the lake. We ate wonderful food and had great conversations that solved all the world’s problems (too bad no leaders will take our collective advice). And yes, there was laughter which broke up the more sober topics of the day.

Then there was the “pool party” at another friend’s house. We sipped on sangria, ate snacks upon snacks, some swam, while I dangled my feet in the pool (as bathing suits and I parted ways almost three decades ago). Again, we solved the world’s problems. And we laughed. And laughed.

We went to a local restaurant for a friend’s 58th birthday. I ate perch, coleslaw and guiltily, French fries. But mostly I enjoyed the stories, the camaraderie, and the laughter which rang out often and lustily. (And the birthday boy picked up the bill, which was a wonderful surprise!)

These are only a few of my summer moments—but all had four things in common—friends, conversation, good food, and laughter. Every season has these moments—but summer, without the need for hats and coats and gloves, without too much planning and primping—seems to have a special flavour.

I am now ready for my favourite flavour—autumn—with all its colours, cooler sweater weather, the promise of the glow of fireplaces (or candles, if you like me, do not have a fireplace at your disposal), apple picking and pumpkin gathering. This is my time of year and I am ready to embrace it! Shine on Harvest Moon!

Published in: on September 7, 2015 at 5:44 pm  Comments (8)  

A tour of sorts……….

This post needs a bit of an explanation. The American Tall Ship, the Niagara visited our harbour in Kingsville, Ontario last weekend and we were allowed onboard for tours. This is a bit of a local piece I wrote in my column for the newspaper I work for, but some of you may find it interesting. The Jiimann is a ferry which sails out of Kingsville for a few months of the year to Pelee Island in Lake Erie (about 1 1/2 hr “voyage”).

Majestic. That was my first impression of the Flagship Niagara, the Tall Ship that docked for the weekend at the Kingsville harbour. I first saw it in a clearing at the Mettawas Park parking lot, proudly sitting next to the dock—the sails neatly folded away and the rigging in full view and splendour.

Do not expect proper nautical terms from me—I am a full blown landlubber prone to seasickness even on short forays to Pelee Island, but even I understand the romance of the open water. I picked up a brochure that described the “Live-Aboard Programs” touting “an experience you will long remember.” Perhaps a few decades ago (I will not reveal how many, but more than one or two….) I would have jumped at the chance—but today, I cannot even go below deck as the stairs leading to the mess and sleeping area were just a bit narrow and steep for me. I seem to have developed a fear of steps that are not wide and generous of late—something I find limiting, but alas….

I enjoyed the shortened tour I took on the deck, the mounds of thick ropes, the beautiful wooden decking, the navigational apparatus, and every one of the guides/seamen and women were friendly and knowledgeable. I was allowed through some of the roped areas as I could not complete the tour. No one needs to see a woman go head first down a hatch. A man (much older than I) explained to me that the ship was not handicapped accessible—making me feel just a little bit more senior than I actually am. Oh well, that MRI on my knee cannot come soon enough…..

I noticed that in the middle of the ship there was a raised portion (skylight?) that had bars on the windows. A young father told his daughter that that was where they held the prisoners. I laughed, but then I looked down and saw a woman doing paperwork below deck. I pointed it out to my husband and told him that I felt like that when I did paperwork (trapped in case you are not getting my drift). I am a self-proclaimed creative (?) and I hate paperwork, especially when it involves math any higher that multiplication and division (I have adding and subtracting down pat; formulas not so much).

We met an older volunteer on the deck who was from Albany, New York. He listened very patiently and even seemed interested while my husband regaled him with (true) tales of my ancestor, Peter Geauvreau who was a ships’ carpenter on the Queen Charlotte involved in the same 1812 Battle of Put-In- Bay as The Niagara. We must not have annoyed him too much, as he caught up with us later as we were leaving and talked to us some more about ship history and life in general.

I took some pictures on the dock and then ventured over to one of the fishing boat docks and took some more. I caught the ship with the Jiimann in the background just leaving for its voyage to Pelee Island. I waited and caught the two boats nose to nose, the juxtaposition of old and new a wonderful metaphor for the day—the past and the present entwined for a moment.

Published in: on September 1, 2015 at 2:18 pm  Comments (7)  

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