Sugarless tea ~
Sugarless tea ~
Sugarless coffee ~
“I love witches and magic and dress-up and make-believe.”
– Helena Bonham Carter
We are entering the lightly veiled zone this week, the dimension between this reality and the next. Like Helena in the above quote, I love witches and magic and dress-up and make-believe. So it follows that these are the elements I like best about Halloween. And, oh yes, those tiny bite-size chocolate bars are not a bad by-product of the season either.
I think witches are totally misunderstood, though I am much more comfortable with Samantha from the old sitcom Bewitched than I am her mother Endora. But I must admit there were times when Samantha was a bit too sweet and Endora saved the day with her edginess which made her exceedingly entertaining. Endora embodied the witch of fables, while Samatha in her quest to do no harm, was a witch of more modern day ethics.
Yoko Ono agrees with me that witches are misunderstood. Although we have not had a personal conversation about the phenomenon, I am privy, through the magic of the Internet and the site brainyquote.com to her thoughts. She is credited with saying, “I think that there is an incredible prejudice about witches while there is no prejudice about wizards.” (She is probably of the same mind when it comes to business when assertive men are seen as manly and commanding, and assertive women as something that rhymes with witch.)
I must say though that one of my favourite quotes of all times is seemingly attributed to a glamorous rendition of the Wicked Witch of the West. She appeared on my Facebook page about a week ago, dressed in striped leotards, pink sparkly high heels, and holding a cocktail of unknown origins (perhaps witches brew topped up with vodka?) in her beautifully manicured hand. She said, and I quote quite gleefully: “You know it’s been a good day when I didn’t have to unleash the flying monkeys.” (thanks Sarah)
I admit that this does perpetuate a certain prejudice about witches, but I love the power in those words. She could have unleashed the flying monkeys, but she didn’t because she had no need to. Now this was a discerning witch—not one that would melt with the mere tossing of little bucket of water on her by some bratty girl having a dream (sorry Wizard of Oz and Dorothy – but you must admit Dorothy did get a bit annoying in her quest to go home and her eternal mouthing of the platitude: “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home…”)
It is those self-same monkeys though that have been the basis of many a nightmare, so, even though I love the quote, it does bring back memories I would much prefer to forget. If anything embodies the dark side of Halloween, it is those screeching muscular winged primates. On one hand they would be handy to have in your tool box when confronted with some of life’s less palatable people, but with power comes responsibility, and I am none too fussy about having a house land on me, or a bucket of cold water thrown in my face.
This year I have taken the witch theme to heart in decorating my house for Halloween. Over my front window I have draped a string of witch’s hats, and in the middle of the window I have placed a sign which reads: “The Witch is In.” Living in a household of males, I find that there are times that I must put them on alert as to my powers. To punctuate my message I have hung a big silk-like witch’s hat complete with black veils and roses beside a pair of green and black striped socks—just to make sure that I will have no need to unleash the flying monkeys (which in my case is merely metaphorical).
The males in my family have found that taming any propensity I have to unleashing my winged monkeys means throwing a few chocolate bars my way with maybe a piece of cherry liquorice thrown in for good measure.
Wishing you all a Halloween filled with your favourite confections and cute little ghoulies and ghosties and long-legged beasties at your door.
What are you giving out for Halloween this year?
Beginning of sweet weekend
One more cup of joe………….
“Sometimes it is okay to give up.” – Me
I have given up. And I do not give up easily. But it was time. In fact, long past time. First I donned socks and gave up short sleeves for long. Then I started wearing sweaters. Sometimes I would put on my long flannelish housecoat (the embarrassing one with little teddy bears in their pyjamas) over my clothes. (Answering the door dressed like this causes raised eyebrows in case you were wondering.) Then I turned all the lights on in the living room to warm it up. Uncharacteristically I cooked and baked up a storm to make the kitchen a little balmier. In the mornings I ran all hot water baths to cozy the bathroom up, and at night I wrapped myself in so many blankets I felt like a mummy.
But after it went down to freezing this weekend and was a mere 31 degrees Fahrenheit Saturday morning, I threw in the towel. I finally gave in and turned the heat on. As the fan whirled and twirled the heated air, and the dusty smell of the first warm up of the furnace of the season teased my nostrils, I could feel the warmth thaw my bones.
I do not know why I fight it. Each year I try to wait it out as long as I can to turn on the furnace for the first time. I am not sure why. I am on a budget plan with Union Gas, so it does not really affect my heating bill in the short run. I guess I am trying not to wimp out too soon. When the temps get down into the 50’s I am not scared. But when it hits freezing, I figure I am no longer wimp material. I am justified in turning the heat on. And once I have turned it on the first time, it is easy to keep the chill at bay without thought. The second and third times I turn the thermostat up seem to come naturally….and so it goes….
I love the fall—the changing leaves, harvest food, the nip in the air, apple picking and pumpkin plucking, fleeting moments of Indian summer, but I still fight having to turn the heat on for the first time. Perhaps it is my latent thrifty nature (which should rear its head a little more often) or the fact that no matter how much we deny it, summer is over. Admittedly, summer is not my favourite season, but the fact that I do not have to bundle up in coat and mitts and boots is a bonus in my book.
Here is an ode to Indian Summer by the editor of the Oxford Book of Canadian Verse, William Wilfred Campbell. He hailed from Owen Sound and wrote several lyrical books of poetry with lovely titles such as “Sunshine and Snowflakes” and “Lake Lyrics and Other Poems”. Without further ado:
Along the line of smoky hills
The crimson forest stands,
And all the day the blue-jay calls
Throughout the autumn lands.
Now by the brook the maple leans
With all his glory spread,
And all the sumachs on the hills
Have turned their green to red.
Now by great marshes wrapt in mist,
Or past some river’s mouth,
Throughout the long, still autumn day
Wild birds are flying south.
Ah, they just don’t write poetry like this anymore. Written in the 1880’s Campbell was a product of his time. His poetry painted a picture, both expressive and true with seeming simplicity. But the complexity of his simplicity was his talent, and I am pretty sure he did not struggle with the question of when to turn the furnace on. But I am sure that if he had, he would have come to the same conclusion as I did: when it hits freezing, it is time. Even if we still have some moments of Indian summer left……………
P.S. wrapt and sumachs are his spelling btw.
Have you turned your heat on yet? Today, where I live in sunny southwestern Ontario it is supposed to go to 70 degrees.
I have made 1000 posts on this blog. Time for a book?
Toast me with your beverage of choice. In fact, why don’t you tell me what your toasting beverage of choice is. We will make this a mini-party.
Picture me dancing with a glass of Freixnet in my hand and a few drops of bitters. And some chocolate………….
sometimes we do………….
There’s actually no such thing as an adult. That word is a placeholder. We never grow up. We’re not supposed to. We’re born and that’s it. We get bigger. We live through great storms. We get soaked to the bone. We realize we’re waterproof. We strive for calm. We discover what makes us feel good. We do those things over and over. We learn what doesn’t feel good. We avoid those things at all cost. Sometimes we come together: huge groups in agreement. Sometimes we clap and dance. Sometimes we look like a migration of birds. We need to remind ourselves—each other—that we’re mere breaths. But, and this is important, sometimes we can be magnificent, to one person, even for a short time, like the perfect touch—the first time you see the ocean from the middle. Like every time you see the low, full moon. We keep on eating: chewing…
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Something borrowed. Something blue. Something old and something new. We all recognize these as the things brides traditionally add to their wedding outfit for luck on the day of their nuptials. The original Old English rhyme reads: “Something Olde. Something New. Something Borrowed. Something Blue. A sixpence for your shoe.” (From theknot website.)
Apparently these are “little tokens of love” given to the bride on her wedding day at the eleventh hour to ensure good luck in her new life with her mate. The explanation of each facet of the rhyme is thus: “old represents continuity; something new offers optimism for the future; something borrowed symbolizes borrowed happiness; (and) something blue stands for purity, love and fidelity.” And, “the sixpence in your shoe”? It means “good fortune and prosperity.”
Just off the top of my head I have a few bones to pick with this tradition. I like that “old” represents continuity and its first cousins steadiness, endurance, stability, and connection. Those are good things to have in a marriage, and though endurance sounds a bit unromantic—it is one of those elements that help a marriage, well….endure. Optimism for the future I cannot argue with either—but borrowed happiness? I don’t know about you, but borrowed happiness does not sound all that wonderful to me—if it is borrowed, do you have to give it back?
The other big flaw that stands out for me (see what I did there?) is putting a sixpence in your shoe. Thank goodness this, according to theknot’s definition “remains largely a British tradition.” Imagining a Canadian Looney in my shoe sounds like something akin to having a pebble in your shoe.
The whole premise for this column has been somewhat lost, as I seem to have gone off on a tangent about things old, new, borrowed, and blue without really touching on the original topic I had in mind—which is “something borrowed”. In the context of this column it is a book I borrowed from the library—which makes me understand the phrase “borrowed happiness” a bit more. Although I would love to own every book of my heart’s desire, my heart desires too many books, thus the library fills in the gap beautifully.
I tend to walk out of the library with my arms full. I think of every book as a possibility: to learn something new; to laugh; to cry; and a chance to mark a page that I find awe-inspiring or just plain inspiring. A book I am reading right now is called “Three Many Cooks”. Written by a mom and her two daughters, Pam Anderson (no not that Pam Anderson) Maggy Keet and Sharon Damelio, it is, according to The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond “a stirring, candid, powerful celebration of mothers, daughters and sisters, and of family, food, and faith.” I could not have said it better—and I just love her alliteration (family, food and faith).
The book flap blurb states that the book tells the story of three women who passionately “believe that food nourishes both body and soul”. While the main theme of the book is food, and it does provides the reader with a few favourite recipes, it is really about how food has brought the three together and how they use it to bring their families and friends together. Though the mom is an expert in her field, she admits that sometimes the food prepared gets a “B”, but its power is in bringing people together.
Now, I found this message somewhat of a relief. I am an “okay” cook. Sometimes even a good cook. But I generally take recipes (like yellow traffic lights) as just a suggestion. To learn that professionals do not always score an “A” in their field of expertise lets a lot of us off the hook.
Okay, now here is the whole reason I wrote this column. It is to share a quote that I really like. In a chapter of the book called “Eating Is Believing”, Sharon says: “We just want to eat and remember. Maybe laugh and cry a bit. Talking about love—or truth or faith or beauty—only gets us so far. We need love we can touch, truth we can eat, faith we can drink, beauty we can share.” Sharon believes that “words alone don’t cut it”—you have to show it, feel it, touch it, drink it in, and share it.
My “borrowed” book may be “borrowed happiness”, but having read it, I have made the happiness it had to offer mine. And maybe that is what borrowed happiness is all about. We borrow until we can make it ours.
Can we “borrow” happiness?
This is my weekly newspaper column:
You would think that I would jump at the chance to write about Thanksgiving, given that it is next Monday, and is the perfect topic for a column like this. Sometimes I forget to write about a holiday or celebration in a timely fashion, as I have to generally write about it a week ahead of time (unless it is Christmas, then I generally regale you with several columns heralding the upcoming festivities). But, I do not think I have ever forgotten to write a column about Thanksgiving. Almost did this year though. As I lay in bed racking what little brain power I have left, I had a eureka moment when I realized that Thanksgiving was coming up…..fast. And if I were going to write about it, this is the time to do it.
I love Thanksgiving, but I think I have almost exhausted the topic, having written about it since this column got its start in 1998. I have told you that Sir Martin Frobisher started it all in 1578 when he landed in Newfoundland. So what if he was looking for the Northwest Passage to the Orient—he found us. And he was so happy, (along with his crew) that they decided to celebrate their safe arrival on dry land with a celebration of sorts, which turned out to be our first Thanksgiving.
You already know that we beat the Americans to the celebration by about (okay 1621-1578=43) forty-three years, which I think gives us the right to celebrate it any way we want to—turkey or not.
Turkey, as any of those who have read even one of my Thanksgiving columns knows, is my nemesis. The unwieldy bird tastes delicious, but I really do not like knowing it on such an intimate basis. This year we are having ham, and a nod to turkey. My turkey is coming from a box—it is a Butterball Seasoned Boneless Stuffed Turkey Breast, which according to directions on the box is to be “cooked from frozen” and feeds 6 to 8 people. It needs about four hours in the oven. But I do not need to stuff it. Or hardly even touch it. And there will be no shaking of hands with the leg to see if it is done—my meat thermometer is supposed to register 165 degrees, and voila—I will have a ready-made (if legless) feast.
Upon reading the ingredient list, I find that the turkey is “wrapped in an edible carrageenan film” (hmmmm…..) but hey, what is a little carrageenan film among friends and family? Curious, I Googled carrageenan film in the interest of good investigative reporting (and to comfort myself with the fact that it is not going to kill my family) and found out that it is an edible film made from water-soluble polysaccharides, and gives meat and poultry a “more tender bite, and does not affect its nutritional profile”. (sigh of relief) Okay now do I want to know what polysaccharides are? I think not. I will stop the investigation now, before I decide not to cook the turkey breast.
I am not sure that I have divulged the fact that we (Canada) dilly dallied around with the date of Thanksgiving until 1957 when it was finally decided, once and for all, to celebrate the feast on the second Monday of October. I learned this fact from Amanda Green who wrote an article on mental_floss about the subject and stated that: “Thanksgiving’s a lot less confusing now that Canada’s one big tribe and can always count on the same annual three-day weekend.”
I am all for less confusing—so I am glad that there are a least a few things we can count on as Canadians—and if having Thanksgiving on the second Monday of my favourite month of the year is one of them, I am all for it.
I hope that you find some wonderful things to be grateful for this Thanksgiving. Life is not all wonder and light—but we can be grateful for those times that are, and for edible film that has a tender bite and does not affect nutrition.
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