Eat the COOKIE!

This week’s newspaper column (and if you are wondering, Ruthven is near my hometown):

Question: What do you call a story about a broken pencil?
Answer: Pointless

Most scribes fight against “broken pencil syndrome”. To have an article, a column, an essay or a book deemed pointless (useless, futile, meaningless, stupid, inane, needless or worthless) is a cut that does not heal. We combat this by trying to be topical, interesting, current, and sometimes an advocate on the side of the devil just to make things a bit more stimulating. I have oft been told that I err on the side of the angels, but so be it. I can be downright curmudgeonly, but I choose not to be (for the most part) in this column.

The source of my opening “quote” is the Reader’s Digest, a magazine I much maligned in my younger days for no reason other than that someone once made the remark that while the contents were not drivel, they were also not cutting edge. I now disagree with that assessment, not only because my oldest brother gifted me a subscription to the 5” x 7” tiny tome for Christmas, but because I really enjoy the articles and funny and thoughtful tidbits throughout.

In the latest edition I read with some interest an article called “36 Questions to Love By”; “The 2015 Trust Poll Winners”; “Body of Evidence”; “It’s Funny What You Remember”; “Gone Strolling”; and “13 Things You Should Know About Breaking Bad Habits.” And that is only about half of the titles that appeal to me. I learned a lot in those few articles—and found them stimulating and entertaining. None were pointless.

“36 Questions to Love By”, written by Mandy Len Catron tells the story of her experiment with social psychologist, Arthur Aron’s supposition that he could make two strangers fall in love, first by answering 36 questions, then staring into the eyes of the object of your affection for 3 minutes. Mandy called the exercise “accelerated intimacy” and admitted that she and her acquaintance did fall in love, but concluded: “Love didn’t happen to us. We’re in love because we each made the choice to be.” I think that the experiment though did “generate trust and intimacy, the feelings love needs to thrive.”

Who Are Canada’s most trusted influencers? The 2015 Trust Poll Winners counted down the top 20 movers, shakers and opinion makers chosen by Canadians. David Suzuki (who just happens to hail from Ruthven originally) was number one, and Galen Weston (of President’s Choice Loblaw’s fame) was number 20. Only 5 of the twenty were women, so I would say we have a little work to do there. I was surprised and pleased to see airwaves (both radio and TV) personality Marilyn Dennis as number 19, but as they explained, she has been doing her business for over 30 years and “spends more hours engaging the public than most people spend talking to their spouses or children.”

Respected author Jane Smiley penned “It’s Funny What You Remember” about catching up with a classmate she had not seen for over 40 years. She was surprised about what he remembered about her, but more surprised by what he did not know. She made this observation which is very telling: “…most of your life is hidden from people you see day after day…”

In the “13 Things You Should Know About Breaking Bad Habits”, I came across one that I found gasp-inducing. Luc Rinaldi, the author of the article noted in number 12 that: “Draining your energy by kicking one habit can make others more tempting. Case in point: a 2012 study in The Journal of Social Psychology showed that people in relationships were more likely to be unfaithful after resisting a plate of freshly baked cookies.” I am with Cookie Monster here when I say we should all adhere to his advice: “EAT THE COOKIE!”

I am an avid supporter of magazines and books and newspapers. And while I read online via my computer and my newly minted cell phone (yes, I am finally in the 21st century), and I have a kobo, I still love the feel of a book, a mag, or newspaper in my hands. They are solid carriers of the written word—and the smell of the printed word is one that should be bottled.

Published in: on March 24, 2015 at 3:31 am  Comments (28)  
Tags: , , ,

I need a belief system

on thehomefrontandbeyond:

This is wonderful and a great addition even if you already have a belief system………….

Originally posted on Live & Learn:

sleep-rest-light-sun-woman

Heather Havrilesky, Like a Prayer:

I don’t believe in God, but I need some kind of a prayer to repeat when things go haywire. I need a prayer because, as a writer with several unruly dependents under my roof, each day is a rollercoaster, a crapshoot, an exercise in uncertainty.

[…]

See how the tiniest events can shift the barometer just enough to stir up a storm? My buoyant mood sinks. The day that felt so full of promise sags, landing in a haze of exhaustion and niggling worries by the time I crawl into bed.

I need a belief system. I need a morning ritual. I need to say some bold and glorious words out loud at the start of the day, to remind myself who I am and what I’m doing and what the point of it all is. Unfortunately, I don’t like saying bold and glorious words…

View original 266 more words

Published in: on March 22, 2015 at 2:13 pm  Comments (2)  

Wearin’ of the Green

Leprechauns, fairies,
Four leafed clovers, pot of gold
All are hard to find.

Green beer, jolly cheers
A raised glass to the high road
Easy reach today.

Published in: on March 17, 2015 at 12:35 pm  Comments (14)  

Always Up

I dedicate this to David Kanigan who is my inspiration–this poem was on his blog–this is also my column for the newsaper:

“The second half of my life will be ice
breaking up on the river,
rain soaking the fields,
a hand held out,
a fire,
and smoke going upward,
always up.” – last stanza of Joyce Stuphen’s “Crossroads”

In her poem, Crossroads, Joyce Sutphen sets the course for the second half of her life. She vows to “dress for the occasion” and her hair will be “whatever colour” she pleases. In essence she is determined to be herself. I can relate to her poem, being in the midst of the second half of my life, but I do not want those who are still in the first half not to take the same advice. She counts birthdays not as other people do as the years piling up—but as the beginning of something new, something to celebrate. She says:

“Everyone will go on celebrating the old birthday,
counting the years as usual,
but I will count myself new from this
inception, this imprint of my own desire.”

She says that the second half of her life “will be wide-eyed/fingers shifting through fine sands,/arms loose at my sides/ wandering feet”. I say that we should approach all of life and all it has to offer with wide eyes, open arms, and wanderlust—not just the late summer, fall and winter of our lives.

I was heartened by a story on the television program Sunday Morning today. It was about Late Bloomers, and the fact that it is never too late to find your passion—or to find a new passion. A professor was interviewed and asked by the reporter if he thought it was ever too late to follow a new passion, and while he admitted that a 90 year old might not be able to fulfill their dream of being in the NBA, they could certainly be a poet.

Numerous examples were given of people who started a new endeavour at a later age—Julia Child did not start her cooking television career until she was 50; and Frank McCourt did not write his first book (Angela’s Ashes) until he was 66 and it turned out to be a Pulitzer prize winner. And of course let us not forget painter Grandma Moses. Anna Mary Robertson Moses did not start painting until she was in her 70s. Even Martha Stewart did not start her television career until she was 40.

Each of these people had a full first half of their lives—in fact, it was probably the first half that inspired the success of their second half. So take heart those of you who are still youngsters—enjoy setting the pace now, but know that the second half still has lots to offer.

In her poem, Joyce forecasts that in the second half of her life:

“There will be new dreams every night,
and the drapes will never be closed.
I will toss my string of keys into a deep
well and old letters into the grate.”

I am not so sure about dropping my keys into a deep well except perhaps metaphorically, but I love the idea of “new dreams every night” and drapes that “will never be closed.” New dreams, new aspirations, new imaginings, new wishes and desires, hopes and ambitions—these are the things we should never lose (along with the keys to our front door and car).

Not closing your drapes keeps you open to life. And is that not what keeps the heart beating?

Published in: on March 16, 2015 at 7:03 pm  Comments (15)  

Always Up

I dedicate this to David Kanigan–the poem I use in my newspaper column was on his blog:

“The second half of my life will be ice
breaking up on the river,
rain soaking the fields,
a hand held out,
a fire,
and smoke going upward,
always up.” – last stanza of Joyce Stuphen’s “Crossroads”

In her poem, Crossroads, Joyce Sutphen sets the course for the second half of her life. She vows to “dress for the occasion” and her hair will be “whatever colour” she pleases. In essence she is determined to be herself. I can relate to her poem, being in the midst of the second half of my life, but I do not want those who are still in the first half not to take the same advice. She counts birthdays not as other people do as the years piling up—but as the beginning of something new, something to celebrate. She says:

“Everyone will go on celebrating the old birthday,
counting the years as usual,
but I will count myself new from this
inception, this imprint of my own desire.”

She says that the second half of her life “will be wide-eyed/fingers shifting through fine sands,/arms loose at my sides/ wandering feet”. I say that we should approach all of life and all it has to offer with wide eyes, open arms, and wanderlust—not just the late summer, fall and winter of our lives.

I was heartened by a story on the television program Sunday Morning today. It was about Late Bloomers, and the fact that it is never too late to find your passion—or to find a new passion. A professor was interviewed and asked by the reporter if he thought it was ever too late to follow a new passion, and while he admitted that a 90 year old might not be able to fulfill their dream of being in the NBA, they could certainly be a poet.

Numerous examples were given of people who started a new endeavour at a later age—Julia Child did not start her cooking television career until she was 50; and Frank McCourt did not write his first book (Angela’s Ashes) until he was 66 and it turned out to be a Pulitzer prize winner. And of course let us not forget painter Grandma Moses. Anna Mary Robertson Moses did not start painting until she was in her 70s. Even Martha Stewart did not start her television career until she was 40.

Each of these people had a full first half of their lives—in fact, it was probably the first half that inspired the success of their second half. So take heart those of you who are still youngsters—enjoy setting the pace now, but know that the second half still has lots to offer.

In her poem, Joyce forecasts that in the second half of her life:

“There will be new dreams every night,
and the drapes will never be closed.
I will toss my string of keys into a deep
well and old letters into the grate.”

I am not so sure about dropping my keys into a deep well except perhaps metaphorically, but I love the idea of “new dreams every night” and drapes that “will never be closed.” New dreams, new aspirations, new imaginings, new wishes and desires, hopes and ambitions—these are the things we should never lose (along with the keys to our front door and car).

Not closing your drapes keeps you open to life. And is that not what keeps the heart beating?

Published in: on March 16, 2015 at 6:06 pm  Comments (14)  

The second half of my life will be ice breaking up on the river, rain soaking the fields

on thehomefrontandbeyond:

Read the comments on this blog too……..

Originally posted on Live & Learn:

middle age,

The second half of my life will be black
to the white rind of the old and fading moon.
The second half of my life will be water
over the cracked floor of these desert years.
I will land on my feet this time,
knowing at least two languages and who
my friends are. I will dress for the
occasion, and my hair shall be
whatever color I please.
Everyone will go on celebrating the old
birthday, counting the years as usual,
but I will count myself new from this
inception, this imprint of my own desire.

The second half of my life will be swift,
past leaning fenceposts, a gravel shoulder,
asphalt tickets, the beckon of open road.
The second half of my life will be wide-eyed,
fingers shifting through fine sands,
arms loose at my sides, wandering feet.
There will be new dreams every night,
and the drapes…

View original 80 more words

Published in: on March 15, 2015 at 3:13 pm  Comments (6)  

tweedle-lee-dee……..

My column this week (for the Kingsville Reporter which will become relevant as you read this):

This morning I just acquired my 100th Twitter follower! What does that mean? I am not sure but I remember that Sheldon from the sitcom “The Big Bang Theory” was excited when he hit three digits—thus so am I. I have a bobble head of Sheldon sitting on the shelf just above my head and for the moment he is my muse. My youngest son, Tyler, has some reservations about the program, but since my taste is not as sophisticated as his, and laugh tracks don’t bother me, I remain a fan of the geniuses even if, as Tyler points out, sometimes the humour is a little clichéd.

Back to Twitter. On occasion I tweet, but mostly I love to read the 140 character words of wisdom of those I follow. I follow both Nelson and Steve from the Reporter, and a lot of other news sources, authors, political commentators, and even our Prime Minister—and surprisingly I find that a few minutes spent on Twitter keeps me totally up to date on what is happening in my community and the world.

For a long time, Twitter baffled me. As did Facebook. I now use both of them as tools—Facebook keeps me caught up on the happenings within my far flung family and friends (I have reconnected with old roommates and friends from university), and Twitter keeps me caught up on the world beyond my nose.

I must admit though, if it were not for my kids, I would not have made the rise to either—for a long time I stayed off Facebook as if it were a phenomenon beyond my reach, and Twitter because I did not see the need for it. I guess there is no real need for either one of them, but now that I have been bitten by the bug—I enjoy both.

Several years ago, I joined the blog world and have a blog on WordPress along with about 76 million other people. I felt oh-so-up-to-date when I joined. Now, it is part of my everyday world, and has expanded my friendships to include people as far away as Australia and as close as Milton, Ontario. But I have come to the world of Facebook and Twitter much more recently.

My Writers’ Group (made up of some fascinating and worldly women) are mostly sceptical of Twitter at this point and not quite as enthusiastic about it as I am. And I understand—140 characters does not give you a lot of room to express yourself—but once you get the hang of it—it is interesting to see how much you can find out in just a few words. Kind of the haiku kingdom of an alternative world.

Twitter calls itself an “information network” and as such provides little snapshots of bigger things, and many times includes a link so you can find out more about a subject if it catches your interest. When I first joined the “Twitter” world I wrote some cryptic or wise guy (or in my case, wise gal) little entries—but now I treat it more seriously.

Yesterday was International Women’s Day. There were a number of tweets respectfully pointing out women who deserved to be pointed out. My argument with International Women’s Day is that there is still a need for such a day. I was brought up in a household where equality was never a question—years later my father told me that he had not been brought up that way, but that he had come to be enlightened in a large part due to my mother, and his two daughters. To me, equality should not be an issue, though I am smart enough to know that it is. Back in the early 1970’s I was referred to as a “women’s libber”—a mantle I proudly took on—but I was confused too. I never once thought of myself as inferior to the male species. Not once. Ever.

So my tweet, in 140 characters or less about International Women’s Day is this: “May the day come when we no longer need a day to celebrate women but to celebrate all people instead.” My fervent wish is that a speech by Oscar award winner Patricia Arquette about women being paid equally becomes a thing of the past, and that all people be treated equally. I am not criticizing her or Meryl Streep for standing up and applauding her speech. But it is a pity that in 2015 declarations such as this still have to be made.

Now before I fall off my soapbox, I will get back to the topic at hand: Twitter—how did some of us live before you showed your tweet face?

Published in: on March 9, 2015 at 5:34 pm  Comments (17)  

Kurt Vonnegut: Creative Writing 101

on thehomefrontandbeyond:

Am reblogging this so I can keep it close at hand–love his wisdom

Originally posted on Indie Hero:

Kurt Vonnegut: Creative Writing 101

vonnegut (1)

“Kurt Vonnegut created some of the most outrageously memorable novels of our time, such as Cat’s Cradle, Breakfast Of Champions, and Slaughterhouse Five. His work is a mesh of contradictions: both science fiction and literary, dark and funny, classic and counter-culture, warm-blooded and very cool. And it’s all completely unique.”

With his customary wisdom and wit, Vonnegut put forth 8 basics of what he calls Creative Writing 101:

  1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
  2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
  3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
  4. Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.
  5. Start as close to the end as possible.
  6. Be a sadist. No…

View original 94 more words

Published in: on March 7, 2015 at 6:49 pm  Comments (6)  

Betrayal

This is what I wrote for a writers’ workshop I attended last night. The topic was betrayal:

Betrayal can be subtle. It does not have to mean unfaithfulness, infidelity, or duplicity. It can be in the simple things. The blue veins in my hands betray my age. Unlike Madonna who now wears gloves to hide her blue cords, mine have surfaced with no anonymity.

People who have not seen me for decades declare “You look the same”—but I know they are being kind. I do not look the same. I do not need to list how I have changed—in case you have not noticed—but I tend to keep a half smile on my face so it does not fall into the frown of old age. I do not always remember, thus I betray myself.

As we get older, our bodies betray us. Aches and pains become daily companions. Skin wrinkles. Hair turns grey. Weight needs to be watched. But this is a betrayal that has a happy ending at least for the time being. I am still alive to turn grey and wrinkled and hobble about. So far I am winning the race against my disloyal body.

Published in: on March 5, 2015 at 11:13 am  Comments (20)  
Tags: , , ,

Eating to Live/Living to Eat

This week’s newspaper column:

I have fallen off the wagon. Though I must admit, at best my perch was pretty precarious. I ate two toaster strudels this morning (yes, with the icing) for breakfast. I am saved somewhat by the fact that at least I had a glass of 1% milk with them—so I upped my Vitamin D. I have been a bit fastidious of late concerning my sugar intake, having given up my usual three teaspoons in my morning coffee. I no longer enjoy coffee and while I still partake of one in the morning (it is rumoured to ward off Alzheimer’s) it is no longer a warm and cozy sweet treat. I have tried it with just a splash of milk. With stevia. With sweetener. But nothing replaces sugar for taste.

Last September I gave up sugar in my coffee. Perhaps if I had been satisfied with two teaspoons I would not have been so adamant about giving it up. But to make coffee palatable to my somewhat unsophisticated taste buds, I need three, and that seems excessive even to me. And anyway I was a few pounds over my self-set limit. As a young woman I was considered “skinny” which in itself is not all that attractive, but I had come to delude myself that I was still a “thin” person. Until I got on the scales. They told a different story.

even a cup of coffee is not safe anymore

It was a picture my sister took of me on the dock of her cottage in Quebec that convinced me that I needed to shed a few pounds. I have a full length mirror—-but use it as an accent piece in my living room. It lives behind a green velvet slipper chair, which I tend not to move. So I guess I was not aware that I was, well to put it kindly, kind of dumpy looking.

I aspire to accepting my body for what it is, but a little tweaking (not insufferable twerking—although that could be counted as exercise I guess) was all I really needed to get down to a weight I am more comfortable with. And now that I have lost a little weight I find that I am no longer stumping down stairs on slightly chubby legs but descending them with a lighter step. I will never be the picture of elegance (except in my mind) but taking a bit of pressure off my knees was a good thing. And I fit into my jeans a little more easily now—the stuffed sausage look I hope a thing of the past.

I am not totally diligent in watching every mouthful I eat, and I tend to treat myself to sweets a bit more on weekends (at the suggestion of my sister who also follows this “diet”). In making the decision to eat the toaster strudels this morning I told myself that if the sugar content was over 12% (I was giving myself a lot of leeway here) I would put them back in the freezer. Much to my delight the sugar content was only (I know, I know) 9 percent in each 180 calorie patisserie. Bonus! And they have a little tiny bit of fibre, and hey—some iron. I just ignored the saturated fat. Sugar was also not one of the first three ingredients (okay it was the fifth) after glucose-fructose and before dextrose and corn syrup, which of course are all sugars – but darn it, those two little pastries were good.

Despite my fall from grace today, I am finding that eating better translates into feeling better. But feeling better does not include denying myself all of my old habits—I still partake but much more moderately, coming somewhat late to the philosophy of “everything in moderation”. I realize that my metabolism has now slowed down to a snail’s pace rather than that of the energizer bunny, and have to take that into account when I eat.

I would like to adhere to the “eating to live” rather than the “living to eat” school of thought, but I am going to content myself with taking a few courses from each of their curriculums. I enjoy eating. I enjoy reading about food. I enjoy watching the Food Channel. I sometimes enjoy cooking (something I would enjoy a lot more if there were no clean-up). Food is one of the glorious things that this life has to offer—but a little restraint, a little portion control, and no sugar in my coffee are all things I find pretty easy to follow (most of the time).

I do drink more tea now. I do not need sugar or milk to make it more palatable. But I find I enjoy it much more in a social setting. Anyone want to join me for tea?

Published in: on March 2, 2015 at 1:00 pm  Comments (30)  
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 658 other followers