Unblissful Signs

Coat of arms of the town of Kingsville, Ontario.

Coat of arms of the town of Kingsville, Ontario. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A note of explanation: As many of you know, I am the municipal reporter for my small town paper, but I also write a column. This week’s column was the subject of yesterday’s post, but I also wrote a second half. This is the second half. The woman mentioned in the article, Mary-Ann was a legal secretary and she and I worked at different firms years ago (she was a real legal secretary, I was someone  floundering in  a sea of unemployment until my father-in-law hired me). Steve, the associate editor is my colleague. The signs that I am talking about are the portable signs that seem to be popping up all over our lovely town of Kingsville in southwestern Ontario (we brag about being the southern most town in Ontario)–and as you can see from the column, I am of two minds–I believe businesses should be able to advertise and prosper, but I also wish that they could find another more attractive way to do it. I tend to stay away from opinion pieces having to do with the municipality–because I want to maintain my subjectivity–but sometimes you just have to speak out:

 On a Different Note…..

            “Signs, signs, everywhere a sign

            Blocking out the scenery breaking my mind….”

           

            Many of us of a certain age remember the song, “Signs”, from the early 1970’s. It was performed by an unknown Canadian rock group, Five Man Electrical Band and composed by Les Emmerson. It was written during what Wikipedia calls “an era of social and political change.” I would argue that all times are eras of social and political change, but that is an argument for another time.

            A few weeks ago, Mary-Ann Costa wrote a letter to the editor about the proliferation of signs in our little town that tend to take away from our quaintness. Intrepid associate editor Steve I ‘Anson then took up the gauntlet and expressed his dismay at the way some signs do not add to the attractiveness of our town.

            I usually like to sit on the fence in matters having to with do the rights of others, which is not to say I do not have an opinion but I generally do not voice it. In this case it is the rights of the business people vs. the rights of aesthetics—and to say that one is more important than the other would be wrong. I do not have a solution, but if someone came up with an attractive way to display what businesses have to offer they would be instant heroes.

            I am not crazy about the proliferation of these signs. I cover municipal council and I know that they have come up with a by-law to deal with the signs—but the matter to my mind is complicated.

            Civic pride should not suffer at the hands of business, nor should businesses suffer at the hands of those with delicate sensibilities (my husband says I suffer from this), but there should be a solution. There must be a middle ground—a way to advertise that does not offend or to paraphrase the song “Signs”: block out the scenery breaking our minds. We need to put our thinking caps on.

            Our town is quaint and lovely and a wonderful tourist destination—but it is also a place of business. Can’t the two come together?

 What do you think? Do you have any suggestions that would make our lovely town more blissful?

Enjoy the Rest of May

 “The world’s favourite season is the spring; All things seem possible in May.” ~   Edwin Way Teale

May is a lovely transitional month—not too hot, not too cold, much like Goldilocks’ favourite bowl of porridge—it is just right.

Over the long weekend my family, like thousands of others, planted their gardens as this is the weekend it is considered safe—there should be no more frost or cold threatening our delicate plants. As foretold from my crystal ball, which is really just learning from experience, half of my vegetable garden is taken up with peppers—most of the hot, hotter, and hottest variety, as the avid gardener in the family, my eldest son has a penchant for peppers. We do have four green pepper plants for my more mild taste buds. We planted a row of radishes, a row of carrots, two rows of onions, tomatoes (a few yellow as I just love these) as well as some lettuce and chives.

And, we planted Swiss chard—that most prolific and hardy of vegetables. In fact, we had Swiss chard from last year come up in the garden this year—now that is my kind of plant! Now I just have to learn to like it a little better. I kind of like it—but do not love it.

 

English: Geraniums, Omagh Still in bloom along...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I write this, I am multi-tasking (which may explain a lot)—because I am trying to come up with a plan to plant some flowers that take little care, yet are pretty. So far I have come up with geraniums, which are the Swiss chard of flowers–hardy yet always impressive, and my go-to flowers– Impatiens. I do think I should step out of the box a little and get something different this year, but I am not sure what.

Do you have any suggestions for easy and pretty flowers–remember I am not much of a gardener. Bliss for me is an easy care garden–how about you?

Published in: on May 20, 2013 at 2:49 pm  Comments (50)  
Tags: , , , ,

Take Two

English: Double pink tulips and filigree acer....

These double pink tulips have nothing to do with this post but I thought they were pretty. My business cards are pretty too.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I was a novice blogger in May of 2011, I did not have the “following” I have now (lol). I wrote a blog that asked the question: “Have you ever received something for free that was not really free?” My sister Peggy, (who has been a faithful follower since the beginning) said: “I  get lots of free advice and I don’t even ask.” At first I missed her witicism, but then I thought her observation was hilarious.

Here is the post many of you did not read because you were not around then:

“The writer experiences everything twice.”  ~ C.D. Bowen

This is the quote that appears on my “business card” which I designed myself for free. As we all know there is no such thing as a “free lunch” and this pithy piece of advice was proven (unfortunately) correct in this instance as well. I had to pay for the shipping, which was reasonable, but on the back of each of my lovely mint coloured cards is an ad for the business that printed the cards. Had I known that this was the cost of “free”, I would have paid for the cards, or at least saved my pennies up until I could afford them sans advertisement.

Perhaps I overlooked the important (but non-existent) sentence that stated: “You can have these cards for free, plus shipping, if you agree to have an ad for our business on the back, thus spoiling them.”

Perhaps I was so taken with getting something for “free” that I was not careful enough.

Perhaps I should charge the company for “free” advertising.

Whatever the case, I now have about a zillion of these cards (which are quite lovely by the way) that I have to “make do” with. I do this by applying a label on the back and writing in my email address and a little “check out my blog: onthehomefrontandbeyond.wordpress.com”. The labels probably cost more than paying full price for the cards. Oh well, live and learn.

Have you ever received something for “free” that was not really free? Or, on the other hand, have you ever received something for free that was blissful?

Published in: on May 18, 2013 at 6:17 pm  Comments (37)  
Tags: , , , ,

It’s okay and so are you

This was my question I am not too embarassed to say and it was answered perfectly — Read on

Joy and Woe

Earlier this week I asked readers to send me a question, as part of this week’s writing challenge.  My favourite question, and my answer, below:

Dear J/W:

Is it okay to just ask people over for coffee and dessert when you know you owe them a dinner but for good reasons cannot do it?

~ Genoise’nt Sure

One of the reasons I chose this question for a response is because of its brevity.  Of course, lack of a backstory makes providing useful advice a bit of a challenge, so bear with me while I walk through a few different possible scenarios, based on some key words …

People
I’m starting at the beginning of the question, so have a feeling I’m going to want to say “this is the crux of the matter” about a dozen times more, but I genuinely do think the “who” is key here. …

View original post 597 more words

Published in: on May 18, 2013 at 10:36 am  Comments (2)  

All Things Are Possible

A Wild Cherry in flower. Français : Un Merisie...

A Wild Cherry in flower.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“The world’s favorite season is the spring.
All things seem possible in May.” ~   Edwin Way Teale

Do you find possibilities of bliss in May?

Published in: on May 17, 2013 at 4:00 pm  Comments (27)  
Tags: , ,

On the Banks of the River

English: Village stream Avening stream close t...

Village stream Avening close to bursting its banks  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Civilization is a stream with banks. The stream is sometimes filled with blood from people killing, stealing, shouting, and doing the things historians usually record; while on the banks, unnoticed, people build homes, make love, raise children, sing songs, write poetry, and even whittle statues. The story of civilization is the story of what happens on the banks. Historians are pessimists because they ignore the banks for the river.” ~ Will Durant

I opened a favourite book of mine, Storycraft, by Jack Hart, and by pure chance found this quote on page 142 of Chapter 9. Now you can open a book at random and not find anything of consequence. This time I opened a book at random and found a quote that pretty well sums up all of the important things that need to be summed up.

It is the everyday, the lives that we live, the families we make (and family is a big word–you do not have to be related by blood to be family), and the things we do and create that are important. Like a headline ripped from the paper–civilization is given short shrift if you only look at the extremes.

The “story of civilization is what happens on the banks” in our everyday lives. That is the interesting stuff. Leave the other stuff to historians and the headlines. (Not all historians keep account of the killing, stealing, and shouting–Will Durant is himself a historian).

Bliss is what happens on the banks–what do you think?

Dedication

Our most popular cake. Of course anything choc...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is the first of my dedication posts. I will choose one lucky recipient a week to receive one of my fractured haiku.

Dedicated to Ms. Loony:

This delicate and highly philosophical  haiku is dedicated to my friend Cindy of photosfromtheloonybin. Needless to say she loves chocolate cake. And is a great photographer. Check her out on Fridays–she has a mystery photo post she submits every week that is designed to stump us. I think I have guessed correctly twice–and that is only because I looked at the other comments.

Cake

The very essence

Of my being calls out for

More chocolate cake.

Published in: on May 15, 2013 at 1:35 pm  Comments (37)  
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Just Wondering

English: Blogs on JoopeA

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you tend to have a different personality when you comment on blogs? I do.

There are some blogs that I really admire, and feel that my response should be somewhat intelligent. Though I have always thought I was fairly bright, sometimes there is a chink in my armour and I discover (somewhat nonplussed) that I have vast reservoirs of things I should know, but don’t.

Then there are the funny blogs, where I feel not quite up to the challenge, but I try anyway—sometimes successfully, but sometimes I probably come across a bit lame. I have a gentle sense of humour, sometimes clever (I think) but never of the slapstick genre which could make me look a bit like a stick in the mud.

I am awed by many of the poetry blogs—their way with words is amazing and sometimes (if truth be told) I am not positive about what they are alluding to—so I read the other comments first to see if I am on the right track. But I so admire those who can describe things beatifically.

Most photography blogs are pretty straightforward and I can appreciate the talent that goes into the photos (I can appreciate but not duplicate). These blogs open up a whole wonderful world—but I can only comment on how the photos make me feel, and not their technical expertise.

I love food blogs—I cannot add much but my admiration though. But I enjoy reading about food—always have, always will. (And of course, eating it!)

There are some blogs where I just click with the author—anything I say is accepted with a laugh or a smile and I am free to express myself as myself, with no fear of being misunderstood. These blogs represent the good friends I have made in this cyber world.

I have had a few rare comments that seem set on trying to get an uncomfortable conversation going—where I am affronted by an opinion rather than presented with one. I try never to do this as I am not sure how to respond and do not want to put others in that position. I have learned not to comment when I am tired, or in a bad mood, or upset. At the beginning of my blog career I may have left a comment or two I was not proud of—and they haunted me. So I try very hard to be, what is that elusive word?—nice, which does irritate some as they want what they call real feedback that shows backbone. I have a backbone, but prefer to keep it out of my comments.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde po...

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde poster.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I always strive to be myself, but have come to the conclusion that I have several selves.

Bliss is the realization that we have alternate personalities. So—do you have a different personality depending on the blog you comment on?

Published in: on May 15, 2013 at 12:07 pm  Comments (71)  
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Too Normal

William Blake's "The Tyger," publish...

William Blake’s “The Tyger,” published in his Songs of Innocence and of Experience is a work of Romanticism (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Just because you haven’t seen something—doesn’t mean it’s not there.” ~ Narrator from movie “Epic”

One would think I would not go near the genre of poetry after last month’s demand of one a day, but this “poem” is one I wrote a few years ago and it reflects the fact that I want to live a more fanciful and magical life.

 I am a believer, I have faith, and I have hope, but none of these things come easily—hence the poem. I think by now you recognize me as a prose poet rather than one who follows rules, or writes pretty verse (though I would like to make that rise).

Here is the preamble I wrote to the poem “Too Normal”. Note to readers: you will not recognize this type of poetry. It is from the school of fractured thoughts, lack of discipline, metreless cadence, and incandescent whimsy:

 

Too Normal

My feet

are planted solidly on the ground

mired in the mud of

my own disbelief

 

My brain

will not accept

what it cannot explain ~

and it cannot explain a lot

 

I say I am open to the

spirits, the muses

the fairies

and the hobgoblins

 

But I am only of this physical world

Aware of what I can see,

feel, smell, hear

or taste.

 

Blind to anything I cannot see

Oblivious to everything but the obvious

I still have hope

that something will sway me

Move me

Make me believe

beyond a shadow of a doubt.

 

I want to believe

there is something

More.

 

I do.

 

Bliss is being sure of what you believe—I have not achieved this totally yet—have you?

Published in: on May 14, 2013 at 12:22 pm  Comments (50)  
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Garden Bliss

English: Easter egg radishes, just harvested

 radishes, just harvested (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Over the weekend I bought a package of carrot seeds and a package of radish seeds. The garden has been tilled and is almost ready to plant. This year is the year we will take excellent care of our garden. We will pull the weeds as soon as they show up, nurture the carrots, stake the tomatoes, make wonderful salads from the lettuce, freeze some of the tomatoes, enjoy the different variety of peppers I know my son will want to plant, and….

There is a lot of satisfaction in having a garden but I have to take it up a notch and actually take care of the garden after it is planted. I love it when we first plant it—the neat rows staked out in fairly straight lines; the packets on little wooden stakes so we know what we planted where; the healthy little plants so lovingly planted and watered. But I cannot stop there—I have to keep up the momentum, even during those hot and humid summer days in July and August.

The radishes that I bought are called Scarlet Globe—doesn’t that sound like an intriguing character name for a short story or novel? They only take 20-25 days to grow to maturity, so they can be planted several times if the whim hits, and according to the instructions they “may be sown again when weather cools for a fall crop”. Now how cool is that? The package calls this variety a “time honoured favourite”. Once grown they will be olive shaped and about one inch in circumference. Their “dazzling scarlet red skins give way to crisp and crunchy white centres”.

I don’t know about you, but I have never really taken the time to actually read the instructions and descriptions on these little packets of seeds before. They are really quite entertaining besides being instructive. The package says that the variety I purchased will have a delicate flavour (which means pick them before they get woody and hot). If I plant the seeds correctly, I am supposed to end up with a 16’ row—but just to be contrary—I think I will plant two 8’ rows—I am such a rebel. Apparently, should I be up to it, I can make several plantings of these little scarlet and white wonders—the package suggests 10 days apart until the weather becomes warm (which means I better get going here—as it is going to be warm again mid-week). And do you know what else? Radishes like company. “Growing leaf lettuce with radishes will make them more tender.” Who knew?

I love growing leaf lettuce—it is the gift that seems to keep on giving all summer. And I use an old recipe I remember my mom using as a dressing—it involves milk and sugar and vinegar—that is it—and it dresses the leaves just right—giving it some tang and sweetness. It is one of those recipes that you just sort of do without measuring.

So, now if you have not had enough excitement for one day, I am going to reveal some secrets of the carrot—did you know you could freeze and can them? I did not know that—I guess because of all the things my mom froze and canned, carrots were not among them. She canned pickles and beets, plums and peaches, tomatoes (with onions and peppers) but never carrots. I do not can, as it seems to take in a lot of boiling and dealing with hot things—and I am dangerous enough in the kitchen. My thumb is now just healing from an infection I got from a couple of cuts I acquired while producing my famous gourmet (not) meals.

So, the carrots take 65-80 days, which means I best be getting them in the ground pronto. And they are also quite

Carrots of many colors.

Carrots of many colors. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

social, even more so than the radish. They liked to be planted near beans, peas, tomatoes, onions and leeks. Alrighty then—will do. The carrots we will be planting are Red Cored Danvers, and for best flavour we are supposed to harvest them when their roots are not more than 2” in diameter. Also—I must make note: “uniform soil moisture is critical.” These instructions are a little demanding for my taste—but then again, I am not much of a gardener.

What else will I be growing (not really me, more my eldest son—but I help): tomatoes for sure—probably some cherry, but most definitely the kind you slice and add a little salt and pepper to or a dash of balsamic; leaf lettuce to keep my radishes happy and tender; some onions and the aforementioned tomatoes to keep the carrots’ social life booming; peppers—many of the hot variety as that is what my son loves; maybe peas—though we did not have much luck the one year we tried to grow them. So, wish me luck and perseverance. It is time to get my nails dirty (cause I always forget to put my gloves on.)

What will be in your garden of bliss?

Published in: on May 13, 2013 at 5:22 pm  Comments (55)  
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,