Out Damned Spot!

Delving into depths

Of despair; befriending angst ~

Shake off the devil.

Published in: on March 5, 2014 at 5:25 pm  Comments (18)  
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Echoes of Bliss

English: Frontispiece of the 1922 edition of R...

1922 edition of Rootabaga Stories by Carl Sandburg. Illustration by Maud and Miska Petersham. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“A poem is an echo,
asking a shadow to dance.”
Carl Sandburg

A lovely way to define poetry, but what does it mean? Pretty words undefined by our  experiences are just pretty words.

For a long time I did not appreciate poetry—possibly due to a Canadian literature course I took at university that seemed to hone in on Canadian poetry that defined our great nation as a cold, forbidding, and sterile place—which was the exact opposite of my experience. Mind you, I live in an area (southwestern Ontario) where we brag about being the “southernmost” part of Canada, so we possibly experience much more moderate weather conditions than many of our northerly brothers and sisters.

I have found that there is certain poetry that “speaks” to me, and it is generally poetry that talks of everyday things in a way that makes me look differently at the world. Each of us sees the world with a unique vision, and these visions can expand our experience.

I now collect poetry, but the poetry I collect speaks of everyday things. It is not dark and dank and angst ridden. There is a poetry contest in Canada that asks us to write poems and enter them to win a good amount of money and publication. I have read some of the poetry that has won this contest in past years and it is generally not “happy” poetry about daffodils, or hanging out the wash, or planting tomatoes. It generally has a depth I cannot plumb. I guess I like poetry that is expressed simply with beautiful language.

In an attempt to write something I think would be considered for the contest—I went to my dark place and came up with the following:

Not Safe

The shadows are cast

Shutters open to reveal a life broken

Exposed.

Just outside the door a welcome mat beckons

But it lies

No one is welcome here

Pain, hurt, and agony

Make their home here.

A red couch long abandoned

Its pillows ripped and frayed and soiled

Pillows strewn on the floor

Pretty fringed cast offs

Carpet muddied and matted……………..

Then I stopped writing the poem. It is not me. As angst ridden as the next person, I could not sustain this attitude long enough to write 500 – 600 words. I kind of depressed myself. It is apparent to me that my dark side is not dark enough, or sustainable.

Daffodil & Summer-snowflake

Daffodil & Summer-snowflake (Photo credit: ericdege)

Granted, I may live in a world of denial at times, but I like pretty words and pretty worlds, and what I so painfully came up with in my lame attempt to be considered for a prize is not authentically me. So I will write about trees with lacy limbs, snowflakes melting on tongues, and baby chuckles—and leave the dark side to those who can do it justice.

If as Sandburg says: “A poem is an echo, asking a shadow to dance” then mine is a dance of hope whose shadows are shallow.

Bliss is realizing what is authentic, and what is not. What do you think?

~ A Poohism To Get You Through Your Day ~

 

“When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you think of Things, you find that sometimes a Thing that seemed  Thingish inside  you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.” ~ A. A. Milne

Winnie the Pooh

Winnie the Pooh (Photo credit: JayPLee)

 This quote is known  as a “Poohism” and is part and parcel of the wisdom and philosophy of Winnie the Pooh, from the series of books created by A.A. Milne for his son.

Children are very wise. They understand the complicated statements made by their favourite characters. They know that Pooh is smart despite the fact that he is always saying that he is a Bear of Very Little Brain. And they know that sometimes something they are thinking inside their brains becomes something very different when it sees the light of day.

When I first read this statement I did not necessarily think of it as something positive. Sometimes when we reveal what is inside of us to other people they think we are rather odd; or the way we express ourselves does not magically trip off our tongue quite the way we imagined. But  sometimes giving those thoughts a voice can help disperse them, especially if they are thoughts of fear or revelations of angst.

Doodle You

Doodle You (Photo credit: neonbubble)

There is a sensitive blogger, summerteifi, who doodles her thoughts and by doing so gets them out in the open. Her advice is this:

“Express yourself, embrace creativity to help release these fears, pain and worry. Once out on paper, they soften and feel distant and become reassured by the motherly parenting parts of yourself. And if they don’t, keep doodling, keep sharing, keep expressing and never stop knowing this too shall pass.”

So how do you get your Thingish things out in the open?

      


Angst–or a pity party for one

Traditional Scuderia Ferrari logo

Traditional Scuderia Ferrari logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This post will be understood by fellow bloggers who have not yet hit the “big time” of being Freshly Pressed by WordPress.  For those of you who do not know what this means—it is the equivalent of (almost) getting a book deal, buying a new silver Ferrari, and thumbing your nose at your bill collectors.

How does one get Freshly Pressed? I read the instructions on improving your likelihood of being FP (as those of us in the biz call it) and have tried to incorporate the suggestions into my posts. I have tried be topical and give  proper due to those I have quoted. I take great pains to add pictures appropriate to my topics (though I have not yet figured out how to put my own pictures on the blog yet—but that will come); and I try to be as grammatically correct as my aging brain  and English degree will let me–but still no recognition! What am I doing wrong?

And today—today, I lost one of my followers. I read a blog recently where a fellow blogger  lost a follower, and I understood his dilemma, and was sympathetic,  but I had not yet been hit by the delete button. Now I fully understand—what did I do? Did I comment on a site and the comment was misunderstood? Did one of my posts offend someone? Or,… and please don’t let this be it—did I bore them to tears?

I have had my blog since August 2011, but because I am so simple-minded, my niece, Chay Geauvreau, set it up for me. She asked me my favourite colours and put a lot of thought into getting me on the right track. She knew I wanted a forum for the columns I write weekly for the newspaper where I freelance. (Of course, I passed  this by my editor, who told me that because I am freelance the columns belong to me, even though the paper pays for them: Bonus!) We tried to call this just “On The Homefront” but apparently we had to add “and beyond” as someone else was using the name, or something like that. That was okay by me, as this is the name of the column I write, so I did not have much trouble remembering it.

When I started out, I was only posting about once a week. In December I started to pick up the pace and post stuff (great works of creative literature – lol) that was just for the blog and not merely recycled columns. In the past three months I have tried to post at least four times a week, and my stats have risen dramatically. Not dramatically for those of you getting thousands, or even hundreds of hits, but dramatically for me. So what is the next step in this whole process? Why to be Freshly Pressed, of course!

Okay, the pity party is over. Even if I never get Freshly Pressed, I am enjoying this blogging experience. I have met some of the most wonderful people, and been nominated for a number of awards, which, when and if I ever become organized enough, I will be recognizing by doing my due diligence and posting the awards and naming some of my favourite blogs, which is going to be difficult because I have so many.

Spend no time feeling sorry for me, we all have to get rid of our little bit of angst sometimes. I am over it now- sort of, kind of, in a way.

(If any of you have any idea why I have not been chosen—let me know. But be gentle, as I am a rather delicate soul. And to the person who deleted me, if you still look in on occasion, I would be interested to hear from you. Maybe the reason you deleted me is the reason I have not yet been Freshly Pressed.)

English: The logo of the blogging software Wor...

English: The logo of the blogging software WordPress. Deutsch: WordPress Logo 中文: WordPress Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Published in: on June 26, 2012 at 5:50 pm  Comments (94)  
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Potlucks are not for the faint of heart

Recipes

Recipes (Photo credit: pirate johnny)

Hey, if you are going to be snobbish about it, forget adding me to your list of fans. Daniel Humm, executive chef of Eleven Madison Park in New York says that people who do not have a certain “level of skill” should relegate his new cookbook to the coffee table rather than near their cook top. According to a short article in the National Post, he says that the recipes in his book require (besides skill) a “significant time commitment, a reasonably equipped kitchen, and a healthy dose of persistence”. So I assume making a meal in fifteen minutes is not a significant time commitment, and the attention span of a baby rabbit and the skill set of an impatient “get in on the table so we can chow down kind of cook” are not the proper credentials needed to cook from “Eleven Madison Park:  The Cookbook”.

Well, Monsieur Humm, methinks your cookbook is not for me. Actually, that is not altogether true—as I treat reading cook books as kind of a hobby. I love to read about food, about exotic ingredients combined in unusual ways to create magnificence, all the while stirring 1% milk into my macaroni and cheese and warming up meatballs from the frozen section of the grocery store.

I have long made fun of my skills as a cook, and I have a friend who calls me on it, saying that she thinks I use my “phantom lack of skills” to ward off any criticism of my cooking. And she is right. I am not a bad cook—my family is not starving, and I can be creative in my own right—but I am not a particularly confident cook. I attended a small get together on Saturday night—a casual dinner party, and having volunteered to bring dessert, I had visions of all kinds of delectables I could make and offer to my friends. I usually volunteer to make the salad, but in my new quest to “take risks” I offered to bring the finale to the dinner instead.

I told my sister of this unusual offer to make dessert and she promptly emailed me an easy and foolproof recipe for dessert that she was sure would be a hit. She is aware of my skills, so sent something that had very few ingredients, and even fewer steps. I think that part of my problem is that I am a languid (synonym for lazy) cook, as well as a little unsure when it comes to feeding anyone outside my family (which includes my siblings and nieces and nephews, who are kind about my efforts).

I was determined to try the recipe. I made a list of the ingredients and was all set to buy them and “compose” a homemade dessert. Then I got cold feet. I perused the bakery section of a local grocery store and found a sinful dessert that would be sure to please. I considered buying the caramel chocolate mousse cake and putting it on a plate from home to “make it seem” as if I had baked it. But then, I decided on two things: I should practice baking before I tried the recipe on my friends, even though I knew my sister would not steer me wrong; and, to be honest. I presented the cake unapologetically in its original packaging. These were good friends—they would understand. And they did. But they did not know the angst that went into “buying” dessert.

Desserts from JusQytly

Desserts from JusQytly (Photo credit: laRuth)

I never judge when people bring “prepared” food to a potluck, as I understand their trepidation. I suffer from it too. To those of you out there who either do not care what people think about your cooking (good for you) or are such good cooks that you have great confidence from years of success, I honour your commitment to “homemade” and enjoy it immensely. There is also a faction out there who is unabashedly unapologetic—as they should be. They bring offerings that may not be “from their hands but still from their hearts” and I honour you too. We are all talented in different ways and being made to feel guilty because you do not make your offerings from scratch is just not hospitable.

So, this holiday season, as we all venture out to our potlucks, go with what makes your season bright and not stressful. If “homemade” is not your forte, that is what grocery stores and specialty shops are for. Some of us will reject Chef Humm’s cookbook except as a form of light reading, and others will relish it as an instruction manual that will garner rewards, which the Chef says is possible, if you follow the recipes “exactly”. By the way, I am going to try my sister’s recipe and report back—just not under the pressure of producing a grand ending to a great meal.

Published in: on November 28, 2011 at 9:35 pm  Comments (8)  
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