Sunday, November 25, 2012

I'm back!

Hello everyone - sorry I have been off for a bit.  It has a been busy and I had writer's block.  Later, I just got out of the habit of sharing.  sigh.

I am going to try to step back up to the plate and start re-posting again.  I am going to start by posting one of the best bread recipes I have ever come across.  It is also one of easiest.  This is huge praise because I normally never use a recipe for bread, ever.  This one caught my eye for some reason and I just had to try it.  I am glad I did and now I want to share it with you because it is delicious, simple and you really need to try it.

Watch for the recipe and the link on Tuesday.  Take care until then.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Free Peonies!

I sometimes shoot myself in the foot, just because.  A friend recently mentioned he was helping his neighbour pullout their peonies and asked if I wanted some.  I said that I would love some.  Well, he took it took heart and being the generous soul that he is, announced a couple days later that he had brought my peonies for me!  I told him that I would grab them on my way out.  He then informed me that I would need about six or so boxes to put them in.  I stopped dead in my tracks and I had a feeling then that I was in trouble. 

"How many peonies did you bring me?"

"Oh, I got you about fifty or so plants." he quite proudly told me. "They almost filled the back of my truck up - what do you drive?" 

I wasn't sure whether to laugh or groan as his generosity sunk in but he was so pleased with himself and had spent all that time putting them in his truck to bring them to me that I couldn't, in all good conscience, do anything but thank him.

I went home and changed from my work clothes into my gardening clothes, stopped at the liquor store and picked up about eight boxes.  Sure enough, the back of his truck was filled with peonies!  Totally filled with them.  I filled up the boxes, put them in the back of my van, cleaned out the back of his truck and headed home. 

I love gardening and being outside but the I also have allergies.  I discovered on the way home that peonies sent my allergies into overdrive. I had to stop a couple times and get out of my vehicle just to be able to breath!  This, despite the fact that I live only about five minutes away from where I work!! 

The first thing I did when I got home was to head straight to the computer and post "free peonies!" on our local on-line market site.  I am happy to say I now have just the right amount left to plant at the lake!

Friday, April 20, 2012

O is for "O Canada"

"O Canada".  Our national anthem.  It has been much maligned in recent years.  Many young people no longer know the words because they are not expected to sing it every morning at the start of the school day.  Older individuals have become a wee bit confused because it got shortened not too long ago and are stuck on the older version and rather than embarrass themselves singing it incorrectly, they stand quietly.

I like our anthem, especially the original form before they changed the words and shortened it.  We should be proud to stand at attention and, just for a couple minutes each day, take the time to reflect on all of what being a Canadian means.  It is ok, as well, to actually stand at attention, not lean against a desk or stay seated or worse just completely ignore it.  Many Canadians have worked hard to make our country the wonderful place that it is.

Being Canadian is special and "O Canada" is just our reminder to pause and remember.

N is for Night

Night.  A word that conjures up all sorts of images.  The actual word means "the dark period between day to day" in the Concise Oxford dictionary.  Night can be a comfort for many, a time of terror for others, and a wakeful time for the night-owls.

Tonight, I am looking forward to the cocoon of darkness to soothe my weary soul and body.  The darkness will be a comforting time for me.  For many others, who work long hours, the onset of night would be a welcome break from the drudgery of labour.  For new mothers who entertain and chase small children at top speed all day, night cannot come soon enough. 

So many movies and books depict night as a time of terror.  There is a huge tradition of terror stories and films that appeal particularly to teens and young adults, although the rest of the adult population is not exempt from it.  I think there must be a basis in fact for some of it.  It is like a rumour that starts with a wee kernel of truth and grows from there to become a full-fledged thing.  I think that terror can also be a learned fear.  Other times, I just think that terror is the work of an overactive imagination, especially in young children.  Again, adults are not exempt from having an overactive imagination - I know of what I speak on that subject!

When it comes to night-owls, I think that night can be a time of reflection and accomplishment. I am far more productive in the evening and middle of the night than I am during the day.  My best times for doing things is after nine in the evening until about three in the morning.  Some of the wakefulness could be attributed to a primordial need to protect.  After all,  it was at night that danger lurked in the form of tigers, bears and other night prowling beasts. 

Is night your comfort, terror or wakeful time?

M is for Maxims

I am a little behind (to say the least) on my posts -life just seems to interfere with what I want to do. My apologies.

Maxims are defined as "a general rule drawn from science or experience; principle, rule of conduct" in the Oxford English dictionary.  There are a huge multitude of maxims surrounding us, guiding us, and teaching us to live with one another.  Many are Bible based, others come from Chinese proverbs, and others have been passed down for generations.  Maxims are small kernels of human experience generally in one or two short lines.
 How many times growing up have you heard things like - "Nothing ventured, nothing gained"?

Others that you may also have heard could include:

Slow but sure wins the race.
A rolling stone gathers no moss.
More haste; less speed.
The early bird catches the worm.

What other maxims do you know?

L is for Lies

Long on lies
Truth flies.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

K is for Kathleen

Kathleen is an Irish name meaning "of heavenly bodies" according to a name book that I have from when my kids were little. Other meanings include pure, chaste and sweet.  It is the name that my parents bestowed on me when I was born.  I have alternately loved it and hated it at the same time.

Why do I love it?  I was named after my Grandmother's neighbour, Kathleen Hill.  She was the most wonderful, sweetest English woman you could ever meet.  I treasured her friendship, as did my Grandmother.  She had a lovely sense of humour, and a gentle way about her but was incredibly intuitive.  I also love the fact that it is Irish and makes me things of fairies and other fey beings.  As a child, I had a hugely overactive imagination and the name suite me to a T.

What did I hate about my name?  The only time, other than at school the first day, I was called Kathleen as a child was when I was in trouble.  I always knew I was in for it when my mother started her sentence with Kathleen.  I literally inwardly cringed, and still do, when people call me Kathleen.  Try as I might to kick this, I cannot, lovely name or not. 

In high school, my friends called me Kat.  I like that.  It was short and to the point. Most everyone calls me Kathy and I like that as well.  Whether I am called Kat, Kathy or Kathleen I am now fine with them all now that I am an adult.

J is for Junk

Junk seems to accumulate no matter what I do to stop it.  I tell myself that I am not to bring anything else home to keep it at a dull roar.  No matter what I do or don't do,  I am surrounded by junk.  Much of it is wound up in memories that, for some reason, are too precious to abandon. It makes me sad, this being tied to objects. 

Grandma's egg cups.

Pottery from Ontario trip and lovely batiks.
Sometimes I go on a cleaning out frenzy and am able to get rid of tons of stuff. Then someone gives me a present and I groan because I know they expect me to display it proudly just because it is from them.  I like getting presents - don't get me wrong.  I like presents that are consumable or I can plant or have a function that is readily apparent.  Decorative items are wonderful but serve no practical purpose other than to be aesthetically pleasing and need dusting.  Sigh.

The pictures I have displayed are what I am talking about. ( I use the word junk only because this is j.)  These items have huge sentimental value to me.  The egg cups were my Grandmother's, the soup tureen is a memory from a friend long deceased, the pottery represents a trip to Stratford for the Shakespearean festival, the batiks a lovely gift from a relative and the topiary is just junk to make things look nice.

I is for Images

I love visual images, whether they are in our imagination or just an image from a picture.  Either way, an image can evoke strong feelings and memories.  Perhaps it is that we just want to personify an image to give us some sense of belonging and make the image fit our headspace at that time.  Sometimes an image can be so strong that you almost physically feel like you are there.  Strange when you think of it. 

Some images look tranquil.

Some are pleasant and pensive.

Some look lonely and deserted.

Some are just are.

Some can feel scary.

Monday, April 9, 2012

H is for home


Home.  The word conjures of thoughts of warm quilts, satisfying foods, family and pets.  It is where we go to recharge and get our thoughts together. 

When my husband and I were first married, we lived in an extremely old trailer for a very brief period of time.  The only thing good about it was the view and my husband. Truly.  It leaked, it was smelly and should have been destroyed years before but the rent the was so cheap and it enabled us to purchase our first home shortly after.  (Thank goodness!)

Our first (officially ours) home was a three bedroom bungalow that was so dirty that the off-white carpet in the master bedroom was gray and it took three of us an entire morning to clean out the laundry room because they had been venting it inside the house without a filter.  Despite all that, we gave a it a nice coat of paint, cleaned up the yard and it turned out to be a lovely little bungalow for the year that we were in it.  I rather like that house.  We had great neighbours and it was just nice.  When we sold it, made a little bit on it that helped us to buy our next home, where we lived for over fourteen years.

I loved my second house but as our children grew older we realized that it was pretty tight quarters.  When we would open our closet doors in the master bedroom, we had to climb over the bed to get to the other side of the room.  The two girls rooms were not much better for space.  Our yard had been bald-ass prairie when we moved in and by the time we sold it, it was like a beautiful park.  I swear that was why the next couple that lived there purchased it.  They got married in the back yard shortly after they moved in.  We made a bit on it when we sold and purchased a lovely sixties-style two-story that we absolutely love.  Sure it needs newer flooring and some updating but it has been a wonderful home to live in.  We have a gorgeous yard and mature trees.  Our neighbours are the nicest people you could ever meet. It has been a great home to have raised the girls in.

Now the girls are gone to their own homes. We are possibly looking at something a bit smaller again and thinking of a somewhat rural area with a couple acres.  It is going to have to be pretty gorgeous for us to consider moving though.  Our home is very much home to us and it will take a pretty special place to even think of moving.

G is for Geraniums

I admit that, like Dorothy Livesay, I am a sucker for geraniums.  A couple days ago Canadian Tire had their seed geraniums on for 69 cents each.  They are small - about 3 inches tall with secondary and tertiary leaves on all of them and they look quite nice.  I, needless to say, bought a flat of 32.  It seemed like such a great idea when I first bought them but now I realize that I have to transplant all the little dears into larger pots if they are going to be any significant size by planting time. Good thing I like planting even if space is an issue.

That said, I just finished transplanting a couple flats of tomatoes and a couple of Genovese basil into larger pots and containers.  I get kind of like a kid in a candy shop when it comes to planting - it feels like I really haven't  planted much until it is time to plant and I have WAY, WAY too many tomato plants and other plants.  It is not as if I live on an acreage or have a huge garden - I just like planting and kind of get on a roll.  sigh.

Friday, April 6, 2012

F is for From a Trance

She sat staring vacantly into space.  Time had no relevance, no substance.  It came and went unnoticed by her till finally the cold crept into her bones and she could ignore it no longer.  Slowly, stiffly, she tried to stand and found that her muscles screamed in protest.  With a sigh, she hobbled forward until she came to the washroom.  Entering slowly, she looked at the mirror wondering who that ancient woman was that stared at her from its depths.  Grabbing the soap, turning it over in her right hand as if it was an unidentifiable object, she turned the hot tap on with her left hand and stood there, just stood there waiting.  As the water heated up, she shoved the bar of soap into the running water and as the soap became wet the scent of lemons and lavender enveloped her. 

As if from a trance, she suddenly realized that it was time.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

E is for Elocution and Education

The iris symbolizes wisdom. These are a miniature 6" irises from my garden.
The Oxford dictionary defines elocution as a noun meaning "art of expressive speech".  I just love that word! How many times have you stood before a group, not necessarily a large group, floundering and wondering what on earth happened?  Then there are those who can stand up and speak so well expressing their thoughts (and it seems like the thoughts of others) so well?

Many eons ago, I used to debate during my high school years at a competition level.  Me! Truly!  Now, I am lucky if I can stand up and acknowledge that I exist.  I think when I was younger it didn't occur to me that I was supposed to be nervous at these competitions.  I just figured it was a lark and that I could argue in a civilized manner without getting in trouble with my parents.  Even when I competed with my partner, at a provincial level, it was no big deal.  Today, I realize that it was a really big deal and I am still in awe that I could get up in front of judges, competitors and the public to speak, rebut and actually enjoy it.  I think the harshest criticism I got from a judge was that I really didn't have to push my facts down my opponents throats.  I was absolutely shocked because I thought that slaughtering my opponent in a civilized manner was what I was supposed to do.  Other judges would back me on it but it made me think.

My father was very proud of my accomplishments and encouraged me to keep going with my education.  I remember one quiet Sunday afternoon when my mom was out and I was commenting on how one of my teachers was not the best at what she did.  His comment was that learning came in many forms and to just hang in there.  I still remember him saying very passionately that "People can take a lot of things away from you but they can never take away your education!"  You know, he was so right because you will always know what you know.

D is for Damn!

Baby picture or rather, puppy picture!
Why damn?  Damn - I can't think of anything but my dog for D and much as I love her I didn't feel like writing about her.  Yes, she is cute and fuzzy in the winter but she is still a cliche for D.  I did write a piece about death but felt that although it was interesting it was too heavy for A to Z.  So, yeah, DAMN! I wish I could think of something more in the D's to write about!

Kiwi with her winter coat.

Monday, April 2, 2012

C is for City of Brandon

I have the privilege of living in one of the best small cities in Canada.  In fact, we are rated the 6th best small city in the country.  What do we have to offer?  We have a city that is filled with trees and beautiful plantings in the summer.  We have three shopping areas that offer everything from boutiques to chains.  We have a river running through, multiple golf courses within an easy drive, a diverse population, beautiful library and art galleries, a university and a college, just to name a few of our assets.  I think what I like the best about Brandon is that, despite it's size, it still has a small town feel and a huge volunteer heart that gives generously.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

B is for Breath

He thought if he held his breath that the silence wouldn't notice him. He writhed with the agony of holding his breath and then with a sigh of despair let it out slowly, slowly, hoping... The silence was broken only by the soft rustle of the wind through the autumn leaves. All else was gone. Nothing resonated, nothing murmured. Only the silence prevailed over the meadow. It was a silence that sent shivers down his spine and sat in the pit of his stomach.

It wasn't like this a couple hours before; then he could hear the birds squawking in the trees, the horses whinnying in the field, a plane circling overhead and his mother calling him in for supper. Somehow that all disappeared before he came back outside, after he finished his supper. The birds trilled no more as if silenced by the dusk. The horses just disappeared, no sound of hoof-beats or snuffling across the meadow. The plane had long gone leaving only a small smoke trail to mark its path. A silence that was almost physical took their places and sat waiting...He could feel it's weight as he stepped down from the doorway onto the deck. He glanced behind him to reassure himself that he still had a home to return to and that he had just gone through the same door that he had entered earlier. The red door seemed like it was the only thing left as a constant.

A is for April Fool's Jokes

My oldest daughter has a really great sense of humour and anytime she can pull something on her dad she is up to the challenge.  This April Fool's Day was not exception.  However, she left me in charge of the implementation - bad idea.

Little background first:

My husband has a Jeep, a YJ to be exact.  It has a 30 inch lift kit on it and the corresponding tires and paraphernalia.  Very macho, very cool -it is his baby - literally.

That said, the three of us went shopping on Friday to TCS (a hardware store).  We went to check out their bird feeders because I wanted a couple of finch feeders to attract more songbirds. While we were there we poked around and checked out other aisles as well as the clearance counters.  We wound up picking up a maple syrup tap for our lone maple in the backyard with the hopes of making some maple syrup.  My oldest daughter noticed the nipples and bottles for feeding calves.  My husband, being himself, made some "witty" comment about them.  We nodded and kept going, being used to his rather off-eat sense of humour. 

Later on when I was doing laundry it hit me!  The perfect joke!  I called my daughter and she slipped back up to the hardware store and picked up a pair of nipples.  She thought it was a great idea!  I wasn't paying much attention to the date and decided that getting  up in the middle of the night would work the best to "decorate" my husband's jeep with a pair of nipples. I read until late and made lots of noise so it would force my husband to put in ear plugs.  I needed to be able to open the front door without him hearing the door opening and closing.  He was very accommodating and put in his ear plugs.  He rolled over and was asleep within seconds.  I read a bit longer, shut off the light and decided I had best wait until about four in the morning.

As I woke up at four, I wondered what had inspired me to pick such an ungodly hour but still headed downstairs and out the front door in my nightgown.  I felt a bit silly but hey! anything for a joke.  I tied a nipple to each of his fog lights and around the front bumper, cackling away to myself the whole time and praying that no-one came along or looked out their window...

The next morning we got up and he putskied around having breakfast, then raking leaves and finally washing the windows.  Meanwhile, I felt like the cat that swallowed the mouse but had no-one to tell.  I waited, impatiently but I did wait.  Finally, he said he was going to our daughter's to give her a hand washing her windows and doing stuff.  Off he went with nary a notion that he was sporting a brand-new pair of pink nipples!  I was laughing so hard I could hardly text my daughter to let her know he was headed her way, nipples leading the way.

He didn't notice them until about three in the afternoon when he prepared to head back home!  I would have like to have been the fly on the jeep hood when he discovered his nipples!

Also - The joke was on me as well because I had put them on the jeep a day early.  Got to love a good joke that keeps giving.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Writing as an evolution

Although I haven't been posting lately I have been writing.  I am a longhand writer and prefer to use hard-copy over computer.  Call me old fashioned but I love the tactile qualities of writing longhand - the sound of the pen or pencil moving over the paper, the feeling of satisfaction that comes with the completing a page and turning it to a new fresh sheet of paper.

I have several stories on the go right now.  One is turning out to be a sort of post-apocalypse and the other a kind of creepy/funny I'm not sure what at this point (40 pages in and still don't know for sure!!grr) - they just keep writing themselves and I feel like I am just the conduit for them.  Strange that these two are like that.  I normally write with a direction.  I decided I would just let them evolve the way they want to go and see what happens or becomes of them.  This is a completely new way of writing for me.

When I was little, I used to tell stories about anything I could think up.  I would sit and tell my dolls or whoever was around.  Later, when I was a teenager and had to babysit or entertain the younger cousins(not super young), I would make up stories that would scare the crap out of the poor kids. Kept them in line - as an adult I realize that they were probably too frightened to do anything. (A little part of me feels a bit guilty about it.) They have reminded me occasionally that I still had to finish this story or that one because they wanted to know how it ended.  Who would have thought that they would even remember I made up stories for them? 

I think what really got me actually writing was my high school teacher Mrs. Myra Hiebert.  Her and I had our  moments, as I was a reluctant student. (I realize now, as an adult, that I was bored and the work was no challenge for me.) She was a very bright and witty teacher.  I am sure I gave her more than a moments pause but she persevered with me throughout high school.  I eventually graduated and went on to fully immerse myself in  English courses at university and I knew I had found my niche.  I thought I had died and gone to heaven when I discovered the variety of courses offered at  the university.  Coming from a small northern town, I didn't know that all this existed.   I was blessed with such professors as David Arnason, Dennis Cooley and many more who were not only teachers but talented writers as well. My biggest regret was graduating, it all coming to an "end" and having to move back home to "help out".

So, I write to amuse myself and sometimes share. 

I miss winter!

Perennials are going to be lost for sure!
Today, I decided I missed winter.  Yes, I live in the middle of the prairies and traditionally we have lots of snow and good cold temperatures.  This year we have so little snow and it was so warm that it could hardly be called winter.  It would be an insult to the word.
Almost no snow! Sigh.

I love winter.  I love it when it is so cold that it feels like you get pinched inside your nose when you inhale too deeply.  I love it when the snow crunches under your feet as you walk outside.  I love how the snow sparkles like fairy crystals in the bright sunshine that pretty much always accompanies a cold snap.   I love that when it is -18 or -20 C the temperature is just about perfect because it means no slush or icy roads and my van stays nice and clean.  I hate slush - it completely grosses me out.  I love how the air is so perfectly clear and seems to hold the sunlight even more than other days.
What do you like about winter?