Days Gone By

The first stanza of this poem from one of the Five Poets, Lenore Langs, is the perfect way to start off the week:

She Never Finished Anything

was distracted from her prayers

by the flash of a finch’s wing

decided to follow a regime

of monday cleaning tuesday laundry

but took her coffee

to the backyard for ten minutes

on the first monday

and stayed all morning

watching the light change

lilac Syringa vulgaris in bloom

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

on the leaves of the lilac.

Lunch at Saint James Cheese Company

(Photo credit: Brother O’Mara)

I love this poem for so many reasons. I remember that my mom had wash day on Monday, ironing day on Tuesday, and heavy duty cleaning day on Friday (she cleaned every day but especially on Friday); and Friday night was grocery night and on many a Saturday night we had sandwiches and potato chips and not a big meat and potato meal that we had every other day of the week. I loved the Saturday suppers — so relaxed and everyone would seem to be in a good mood. Mom would set out the cold cuts and lettuce and condiments and pickles and we would make our own sandwiches around the kitchen table. And if Mom had not baked we would have probably made a Saturday trip to town to the bake shop and feasted on jelly donuts for dessert. Heaven!

What are some of your heavenly blissful memories of days gone by?

Published in: on March 25, 2013 at 3:19 pm  Comments (42)  
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Eazy, Smeazy

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. S...

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. So if you’re feeling uncomfortable right now, know that the change taking place in your life is a beginning, not an ending. (Photo credit: deeplifequotes)

This article expands on the quote I posted a couple of days ago. This is an excerpt from my weekly newspaper column — it is longer than my usual posts–sorry:

“Everything you want is just outside your comfort zone.”  So says Robert Allen. He is the co-author of “The One Minute Millionaire”. No, I have not read his book. I just Googled him and that is what his official site says. He is apparently an author and successful. Enough said. It was really just his quote I was interested in—but people always seem to want to know who the person is that you quoted, so I have now done my due diligence. He is not my dry cleaner or the guy who cuts my lawn. Not of course that they wouldn’t have something profound to say—except I do not really have a dry cleaner and the guy who most often cuts my lawn is my eldest son.

So back to the quote. I often wonder why things always have to be difficult—because obviously being outside your comfort zone is going to be, well…..uncomfortable. I have picked up millions (okay hundreds) of books that start out telling you how to do something the easy way, but then, in the end what they are expounding is not easy at all.  For a long time, I was attracted to books that had the word “simple” in their title. My definition of simple involves things that are straightforward and uncomplicated.

Now I do not expect things to necessarily be easy (although that would be nice—it is too much to ask) nor would I want them to be effortless, as that would just take the fun out of everyday life—but why I ask you, do we always have to be ready to climb out of our comfort zone? It is our comfort zone for a reason—we are happy there.

But I guess that is the whole point. We are not always happy in our comfort zone. Things get stale, too workaday, and we find ourselves stuck in a rut without something to leverage us out of it. That is when we need to employ Allen’s theory.

So, taking that into account I have decided to climb out of my comfort zone, which will involve some hard work on my part. Perhaps, I will start out as simply as my feeble mind can conjure up, and work my way up to the bigger things. So here is my tentative list. I call it my “walking on fire” list, even though I never intend to walk on fire—I like the analogy.

Walk on Fire List

1. I will go to the grocery store with a list and follow it religiously. I will shop the outside perimeter of the store (as apparently that is where all the healthy stuff is) and avoid my evil cupcakes, my addiction to non-diet cola drinks (which I have kept under wraps since I found out how much sugar I am consuming), and my propensity for bologna (which I also try to avoid for many reasons—but sometimes I just can’t help myself). But the big thing here is I am going to stick to my list.

2. I am going to learn how to pump gas, as gas is always cheaper at those places where you pump your own gas. This is way out of my comfort zone, but I am determined.

3. I am going to write for my blog every day. (Okay this is not out of my comfort zone as I am already doing that—but I need to succeed at something on this list.)

4. I am going to become a stand-up comedian. Now this is so far out of my comfort zone that it is in someone else’s. First of all I hate memorizing, and I have never seen a stand-up comedian go on stage with notes written on a card. Second, I hate talking in front of people. Seriously, it is like a disease. Ask me my name in front of more than two people and I forget it. Third, I do not take criticism well (though a lot of comedians don’t either—but they just work it into their act.) Fourth, I try to make it a practice not to swear or be off-colour, thus cutting my audience down to about three people who would be interested in anything I would have to say. And fifth—okay this is not sounding too promising, I know—but if you don’t have dreams………..

5. I am going to stop procrastinating, get so organized I will not recognize myself, drive further than 15 miles from my home, and make a million in a minute like Mr. Allen. So there. If you can’t dream big, why dream at all?

(And yes, I know I did not spell easy correctly just in case you were wondering.)

Cover of "The One Minute Millionaire"

Cover of The One Minute Millionaire

Published in: on August 20, 2012 at 5:19 pm  Comments (32)  
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Christmas Cashmere Socks


Shoes (Photo credit: MiriamBJDolls)

“Abandon shoes, all ye who enter here.”  – National Post

Sometimes you can’t make this stuff up.  The subject of “peace on earth, goodwill to (wo)man” seems to no longer be a hot topic for this time of year. The new hot topic? Whether you should leave your shoes on or take them off when you enter a private home for holiday parties. About a week ago, the National Post devoted the front page to the subject plus half a page article within the pages of its arts, style & design, books, and food & drink pages.

It seems people have very strong opinions about the topic. In my opinion, sock and stocking feet are none too stylish, but I am letting the cat out the bag a little too soon. Suffice to say, I have a solution that will enlighten the masses about this seemingly very controversial question–but first, a few “experts” weigh in the subject.

Danielle Perry, an intrepid reporter at the National Post asked seven “experts” their opinion. Bernadette Morra,  an editor at Fashion magazine said she did not mind if people left their shoes on, but noted she did not have white carpeting. Karen Kwinter from Canadian Living magazine put the responsibility squarely on the visitor’s shoulders. She said they should come prepared to leave wet footwear at the door, and bring a pair of shoes to wear inside.

Ryan Oakley, who is called an “avid sartorialist” in the article said that “guest should leave their shoes on. Any decent party will involve a lot of spilled drinks, passed out people, and possibly, a flood. If you’re worried about a bit of slush on the carpet, you’re probably going to react badly when your brother-in-law falls through the coffee table.” I tried to look sartorialist up in my thesaurus and dictionary, but came up with nothing. Sartorial though, relates to “the tailoring of clothing in general”, so we can assume the guy is a fashionista.  A fashionista who  goes to parties I have not been to since I was in university— but I get his point—leaving your shoes on can be a matter of survival.

Stylist, Samantha Pynn (are we supposed to know these people?) says that shoes must stay on as they “are the most important part of an outfit.” She says, “May as well wear my pajamas if I have to take my shoes off.”  Noreen Flanagan from Elle Canada says that Christmas is “the one time of year when everyone prefers a “shoes-off”. But she says this takes some preparation, and suggests that one wear cashmere socks

Now, I want you to guess what the opinion of Ron White, the creative director of Ron White Shoes had to say. Predictably he fell on the “wear shoes in the house” side of the controversy. He agrees with Pynn  that “shoes make the outfit.” He would never ask guests to take off their shoes—as he says it is rude and tacky. He believes it would be the same as asking someone to take “their outfit off as you welcome them into your home.”

Arren Williams of The Bay made a lot of sense. Williams said, “If you’re hosting a swish affair and expecting everyone to turn up in their finest, then the shoes stay on.” He or she ( I cannot tell from the first name if Arren  is male or female) said that there is “honestly nothing sadder than seeing an artfully coiffed and maquillage’d guest padding around  in stocking feet while attempting to still carry off a newly purchased cocktail dress with aplomb.” (Yes, I had to look up maquillage’d too– it means “made up”).

So what is my solution? First my opinion. I do not ask people to take their shoes off at the door—I figure they can decide for themselves how comfortable they are (and how dirty their shoes are). In fact, sometimes I encourage people to keep their shoes on if I am not expecting them and the dust tumbleweeds are so excessive you cannot even find the dust bunnies. But I agree, many times shoes help make the outfit, and really how dignified is it for a man in a lovely suit to be expected to pad around in his executive style socks? My solution is old fashioned. Shoe rubbers for men.  And ladies, remember those little plastic boots that used to go on over your shoes, that folded over at the ankle and you did up the button with a little elastic loop? They were ugly, and as a kid I was made to wear them. But they did the trick.

An example of an ankle sock

An example of an ankle sock (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now, I will not bet using my own solution—I will either wear regular boots to the house and put on a pair of shoes I have brought for a formal occasion, or don cute little slippers if it is a casual. To be honest, I am comfortable wearing just my cashmereless socks when I have jeans on—but I always check to make sure there are no holes. That would just be embarrassing.

Next week: my solution to solving the whole “Peace On Earth” issue, now that we have taken care of the “shoes on, shoes off” conundrum.

Published in: on December 15, 2011 at 2:02 pm  Comments (6)  
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No Misspent Life for Me

English: Gordon Road Last minute shopping on C...

English: Gordon Road Last minute shopping on Christmas Eve in Gordon Road (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“….live creatively with collections, clutter, work, kids, pets, art, etc…
and stop worrying about everything being perfectly in its place.”
–Mary Randolph Carter

I have a new favourite book. Be forewarned–usually the book I am currently reading is my new favourite book. Not all books fit into this category though. I am quite discerning, as I am sure you are when it comes to the time we are willing to spend with a book. Reading is one of my favourite pastimes, but I do not just read anything (as I did in my youth—nothing was beyond my interest then, from cereal boxes to my father’s Mechanics Illustrated.)

My new favourite book backs up one of my prejudices—which is not a requirement of everything I read, but it is gratifying and pleasant to read something written by a fellow compatriot. The book’s title is based on my philosophy of life: “A Perfectly Kept House is the Sign of a Misspent Life.” It just so happens I have a little quilted sign with that same sentiment hanging over the door to my upstairs. What I did not know is that the saying is derived from the words of Dame Rose Macaulay who was born in 1851. She said, “At the worst, a house unkept cannot be so distressing as a life unlived.”

The author of “A Perfectly Kept House…”, Mary Randolph Carter does not have a little sign with those infamous words, but instead they are inscribed on muddied doormats at the entrance to her home and that of each of her immediate family. The mats were found one “Christmas Eve on a panicky last-minute shopping spree.” Spied in a pile of holiday rubble at a big discount store, she and her family pounced on them, deciding they were a perfect gift to give one another. The words became their family motto.

Now, before you jump to any conclusions, neither I nor the author are hoarders. She expressed it well when she said that her family home was “lived in but not unkept”. (Okay, so sometimes mine is unkept—but it is most certainly “lived in”.)
An excerpt from the book will give you an idea of its philosophy put to work. Under the banner of “The Best Welcome of All” are these words: “The best welcomes are waiting just inside the door. Nothing beats a warm hug and personal greeting from a friend, a child, or an excited barking dog for getting a visit, a dinner, or a party off to a good start. Don’t worry about the last-minute preparations or making sure everything is absolutely in its place. You can light the candles, put the hors d’oeuvres out, pick up whatever it is you’re worried about after you’ve warmly welcoming your guests.”

The author differentiates between the terms house and home–a home is what you make of a house once you put your personal stamp on it. She quotes a photographer who made his living taking pictures of “quite perfect homes” for a magazine. He happened upon a kitchen that was “unlike any room he had ever been assigned…” as “it was a kitchen to be used, not to impress. It told me everything that I didn’t already know about these people—their charm, their informality, their intense passion, a life lived without pretence or sham.”

Now that is a life worth living—charming, informal, and passionate.