This, That, and the Other

A Little of This, A Bit of That, and The Other: Hickory Nuts is the original title of this, my weekly column. I am getting a little tired of having to thank David for his inspiration once again, but David, once again, thank you.


As a self-proclaimed wordsmith, I found a term which I bequeath the “Word of the Year” award. The word is one I have never come across before—but both its spelling and meaning are soothing. Susurrus, pronounced “soo-sur-uhs” is defined as a soft, murmuring sound.

A favourite blogger of mine is a Canadian living the American dream. His blog, Live and Learn is one where I find the most charming quotes and astute observations. It is where I discovered my new favourite word, its definition, and subsequent context. Described as one of the most beautiful words in the English language, it “resembles the rustling symphony of the fallen leaves moving across pavement or the whispers created by the branches of the trees on a windy autumn day.” The vivid picture painted by such a description is one that I would like to be water coloured into.

The definition goes on to say that “uttering susurrus also stimulates the acoustics of nature’s effect” and is “one of those rare words where it’s aesthetic, sound, and feel coincide beautifully.”


I was watching Jamie Oliver’s Food Channel program “15 Minute Meals” early this morning, and while I really like the chef, I have a bone or two to pick with him. The secret to his 15 Minutes Meals is all in the preparation. He has all his utensils out, the food processor at the ready, and the water boiling for his pasta or potatoes or whatever culinary delight he is preparing that needs some boiling. This is cheating. Everyone knows that to get a decent boil going for a pan of water takes some time—yet this is not part of his 15 minutes. Nor is the time that it takes to set up the meal—getting everything out and half-prepping it (washed greens, unwrapped cheeses, and unscrewed lids).

I am not particularly fond of spending time in the kitchen on a daily basis. On occasion I like to cook, but the daily grind is just not something I look forward to. So when I am promised a 15 Minute Meal, I want to only spend 15 minutes. Any more than that, and I feel cheated. Seriously, Jamie’s meals would take most of us at least 40 minutes—and that is still not too long to spend on fixing a meal if we are told the reality of the situation. But to advertise something as 15 minutes and it to turn out to be 40 is not a good thing (I asked Martha and she said I could use her tagline).

So, Jamie, while I still love your show—quit trying to pull the wool over my eyes.

The Other: Hickory Nuts

I am pleased as punch. Now, how pleased that really is, is a complete mystery to me—but I am using this phrase to tell you how happy a mystery benefactor has made me. Someone, who will remain unnamed at this point (mainly because I do not know their name), left me a bag of hickory nuts after reading my columns nostaligizing the lovely nuts.Their note read “I enjoy your columns, particularly the one on hickory nuts” or something to that effect (the note has been lost in the plethora of papers that surround my desk—but I did not misplace the little nuggets of goodness).

So, to that person I have two things to say: 1. Who are you? 2. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Your writing looks somewhat familiar, but I could just be fooling myself into thinking that I recognize it. I must tell you that I am enjoying the hickory nuts immensely.

In the old days, I used a hammer on my parent’s brick outdoor fireplace to break into the little fellows, and capture their nutty goodness (some of which I had to forego as we were tasked with getting the meat of the nuts for a cake my mom would make). Instead of getting the hammer out, I found my nutcracker (until this point only used at Christmas) and a little utensil that comes with it to dig the tiny pieces from the crevices of the shell. Now, this is no easy task, but once a morsel is successfully unattached the reward is a gustatory delight. You may think I am overstating it, but the hickory nuts have brought back wonderful childhood memories. They taste of the woods, autumn, and times past. Again, I say thank you.

Published in: on November 12, 2014 at 12:38 pm  Comments (21)  
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Happy Thanksgiving

I have probably written about sixteen columns for Thanksgiving over the last sixteen years and after a while you just get real with the titles–Happy Thanksgiving may not be an original title–but is says it all. This is my weekly column for Thanksgiving 2014:

Esoteric though it may be, I love the Encarta Dictionary’s definition of Thanksgiving: “A Public acknowledgement of divine goodness.” It is important to note that it is not the first definition given in the dictionary, but it is so much more satisfying than the other two, which are serviceable but more mundane. The first is short and to the point: “a prayer that offers thanks to God.” The second is more secular and self-explanatory: “an expression or an act of giving thanks.”

I really like the third definition. Thanksgiving, the holiday, is a public acknowledgement, but adding “divine goodness” puts it on a higher plane. I love the whole idea of Thanksgiving—the excellent and abundant food, the gathering of friends and family, the gratefulness for the harvest. Chef Marcus Samuelsson agrees with me, or I with him—whatever the case may be.

He says:
“I love Thanksgiving because it’s a holiday that is centred around
food and family, two things that are of utmost importance to me.”

Though I am not a chef, food and family, with the addition of friends are of utmost importance to me too. Though I have professed in this column many a time my lack of love for preparing turkey, I have found a foolproof method of not having to handle the beast too much at the suggestion of a friend who I think was tired of my eternal complaints about handling and stuffing a big bird. At her recommendation I now buy a stuffed and butter basted bird from the freezer section of the local grocery store. You do not even have to thaw the little devil and there is very little work to it before it can be thrown in the oven. Sure, a frozen bird takes more time to cook, but that is little to ask in the stress it relieves. I would like to be the type of person who buys a fresh turkey or thaws out a frozen one, but I know my limits and work with them.

I must confess that I did try to get out of even cooking the frozen stuffed turkey this year and asked my family if they would be satisfied with a nice roast. My youngest, Tyler responded by saying, “Mom, you always try that. It is turkey day. When was the last time we had turkey—last Thanksgiving? It is tradition—we have to have turkey.” So, I went out and got my turkey, and it is nestled in the freezer among the frozen veggies and ground beef—just waiting for the grand day.

My Favourite “Gratitude” Quote

Authentic is a word that is bandied about a lot lately, but I think that Thanksgiving is an authentic holiday. It asks very little of us other than to enjoy and give thanks for good food. At its core, authenticity is genuine and real, and what could be more real than thankfulness in the guise of gratefulness.

This is one of my favourite quotes and it is by author Melody Beattie:
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough,
and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to
clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger
into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today,
and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

What are you thankful for?

I put this question on my Facebook page and of the responses I received no one said that they were thankful for turkey or the harvest or their Lamborghini. Almost everyone expressed the importance of friendship and health. One I felt particularly meaningful while still being funny was a woman who declared that her “drugs” (prescription may I add quickly here) were her saviours, and made every day worth living. Another had just survived a tricky eye surgery and even though she was in pain, she was glad that it was over and she was recovering. Several others expressed that our friendship was dear to them which of course brought a tear to my eye and warmed the cockles of my heart (though I have yet to discover exactly where the cockles are.)

So what am I thankful for? In a nutshell: my family, friends, food, and good health. If Thanksgiving is “a public acknowledge of divine goodness” then it is the people in my life who help bring that goodness to the fore.

Published in: on October 10, 2014 at 9:44 am  Comments (18)  
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november // bois de boulogne

november  (Photo credit: kygp)

   I have been largely absent in the blog world of late. Plying my trade in haiku—17 syllables at a time. Good discipline. Clarity of thought. But now I find writing anything longer to be quite a task. I am now thinking in syllables. I come up with something, and count the syllables in each of the words. It can be creative. It can be limiting.

          I feel almost as if I have nothing to say that cannot be put into three lines of seventeen syllables. I am adrift and must find my way back. It is as if I have nothing worth saying that cannot be edited down, parsed fully in few words.

          It is November, and on the face of it—this poor dreary grey month suffers as much as my writing. But it can be a full month where autumn has not yet given way to greyness. Where the sun shines not quite as warmly but brightly. Where anticipation of the holidays is joyful as the deadlines are still comfortably far enough in the future that we can enjoy them before being caught up in the whirlwind.

          In November, anything is possible. I can dream of a white Christmas, of a homemade Christmas, of a Christmas wrapped in gold and silver, red and green. Yet it is still far enough away to be a dream and not a nightmare.

          I have always thought of November as the bridesmaid and not the bride. But there is honour in being a bridesmaid—you get to share the limelight without being the focus. You get a pretty dress but no huge change in lifestyle. You get to celebrate, have fun, and come away unscathed (not of course that marriage is scathing, but it is life changing).


Christmas in the post-War United States

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

         I love to read all the December magazines in November, celebrating the perfect Christmas, the best Christmas ever, without the anxiety of making Christmas perfect and the best ever. I will enjoy this lady in waiting month—switching over my autumn décor mid-month to neutral before readying for the festive holidays.  I will enjoy November, take a deep breath, and get ready to plunge heartily into the month of endless celebrations.

What are your feelings about November?


Published in: on November 3, 2013 at 5:04 pm  Comments (46)  
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Wafting and Waning

Cairngorm autumn

(Photo credit: GaggieITMI)

Waning October

Wafting autumn fades gently ~

Late fall enchantment.

Published in: on October 29, 2013 at 12:45 pm  Comments (22)  
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Wind Surf

Gust of wind blows leaves

Helter, skelter, hither, yon

Neat piles scattered…………

Fallen autumn leaves

Fallen autumn leaves (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Published in: on October 26, 2013 at 2:56 pm  Comments (20)  
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Burning Leaves

Flavoured with burnt leaves

Autumn air tastes sweetly sharp

Smells acridly pungent.

Published in: on October 20, 2013 at 12:43 pm  Comments (28)  
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Finally in Mid-October

Weathered beauty

Weathered beauty (Photo credit: kuddlyteddybear2004)

Crispness in the air

Summer has now surrendered

Breathe freshness deeply

Published in: on October 17, 2013 at 2:27 pm  Comments (26)  
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Fall Party


(Photo credit: tombabich24)

Leaves gently falling

Red, gold, orange confetti

Celebrates autumn

Published in: on October 15, 2013 at 2:09 pm  Comments (10)  
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Season Changes Overnight

Inside Preview of Wet Fall Foliage

Wet Fall Foliage (Photo credit: catchesthelight)

Wet, cooler and brisk

Authentic fall at the helm ~

A relief of sorts.

Published in: on October 8, 2013 at 12:20 pm  Comments (14)  
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October Fairies

fairy wings

fairy wings (Photo credit: Jo Naylor)

Autumn afternoon

Cool morning mist has lifted

Fairy wings flutter

Published in: on October 5, 2013 at 6:08 pm  Comments (15)  
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