The secret is that we don’t. We don’t, and don’t, and don’t.

on thehomefrontandbeyond:

sometimes we do………….

Originally posted on Live & Learn:


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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Published in: on October 14, 2015 at 2:05 pm  Comments (1)  

Something borrowed………..

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?

Published in: on October 13, 2015 at 5:40 pm  Comments (8)  

Happy Thanksgiving for the 17th time

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… 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.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Published in: on October 6, 2015 at 5:13 pm  Comments (16)  

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 (5)  

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 (10)  

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 (15)  

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 (8)  

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)  

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