Down home cooking, you gotta love it!

There it is..Christmas cake. Yum.

I got a wonderful box of goodies in the mail yesterday which seemed apropos as the snowflake craziness took place ALL day yesterday (your dry sense of humour Mother Nature…well I am not laughing). In the box was nostalgia, taking me back to the warmth and goodness of down home cooking. Christmas cake. Can you believe it? Dark coloured Christmas cake. Mmmmm. Smack my lips. Finger lickin’ good (sorry… that’s KFC tasty line). I have not had this cake since…forever. Years for sure.

My sister, bless her heart, sent it by mail coupled with 2 pair of long woolly reading socks (for me and my youngest daughter who by the way put them on, and me too), tuna for the cats and chewy stick for my dog. Her thoughtfulness so made my day. I l-o-v-e Christmas cake but not the light coloured or fruity looking fruit cake kind …only dark. It was her attempt…nailed it sister…at making it from mom’s old recipe and since she has had time off. Oh happy day. All for me. Not sharing.

Down home cooking. How to describe it? Well for me, it’s my mom. There is nothing like mom’s home cooking (or my dad’s for that matter). I can feel my mouth water as I think of all the tasty meals that filled our table over the years; never went without for sure. Mom made everything taste good or at least for me and could do it on a dime, literally. There are so many images that come to mind that I have attempted to try with my own family but sadly for the most part did/does not quite cut it. In truth, like her hug there is nothing mom’s cooking.

Warm rice pudding; rice so soft (never mushy), creamy rich, filled with raisins and then sprinkled with cinnamon. Swiss steak melting in your mouth after a day of slow cooking…a bit of salt and ketchup to top it off (not an HP or horseradish girl). Tuna casserole, chunks of cooked potatoes with mushroom soup and peas (oh my brother did not like them peas) baked together in the electric fry pan. Popcorn on the stove, fluffy and flavourful with just the right amount oil and salt – NEVER burnt. How mom? I got the same pot, oil, popcorn, brown paper bag for popped corn to shake in and get rid of excess oil even. Is in the wrist? What did you do?

And your fish & chips. Awww the chips (The Good); Grrr the fish (the bad and the ugly). My dad’s dollar fries – thinly sliced real potatoes, circular shaped; then deep fried, laying them flat on a cookie sheet after frying, to salt them. Almost like a potato chip. Delicious. Anyway It’s a good thing dad created dollar fries because we always had fresh fish with it. You can’t have fries without fish. (Oh you can and I do. Just trying to find the best french fries place still). Anyhoo…unfortunately my dad being a dye hard fisherman of the Maitland River – rainbow trout, brown trout, bass, pike (or whatever else he could catch), fish was on the menu. LOTS and LOTS. Eew. Fishy fish taste…not for me. But fish we would have and let’s face it, it was free. Thankfully back then my mom took pity on me and got me fish sticks to eat. Highliner all the way.

Yes, I do realize I live on PEI where seafood is the bomb. Just so you know, I have stepped up from fish sticks to halibut or haddock & chips…Pigeon Coop (closed for good, too bad), Go Fish Eatery, Sout’West, and Island Pub near by. FANTASTIC.

Now for the piece de resistance. Thin crust pizza. Mom and dad’s pizza would beat any pizza I have had over the years. Not a fan of stuffed, thick, fluffy, greasy pizza. Folks had the dough, the toppings, the sauces, the seasonings down to a science…a delicious flavourful, very palatable yummy pizza. Like the varieties you get at any most pizza places…I had it at Mom and Dads Home Pizzeria long before. Who would have thought? Miss them. FYI: Piatto’s on PEI kind of close.

The funny and maybe sad thing is I am not a real big fan of cooking per se. Of course I have cooked many a meal and maybe my family would say “mom you know how”. Yes I know how to cook. That is true. I can make a mean turkey or roast beef dinner with all the trimmings…kind of got that down to a science. Do I love it? Do I see it as cathartic and calming? Bleh. I am no Master Chef, Iron Chef, French Chef wannabe chef material at all. Do not sign me up. My heart races even now when I hear my daughter, ‘what’s for dinner?’

Fortunately I have family and friends who are star quality to down home cooking and have invited me to their table or shared at mine. My girls know that my most special time is after meal is prepared, placed on table, we sit around the dining kitchen table together. Food spread in bounty, we bow our heads in thanksgiving.

So what is the recipe for down home cooking. 2 cups of love, 1-6 hands to prepare, 2 tbsp of comfort, a pinch of humbleness, 3 stalks of togetherness, stir gently with kindness, sprinkle with grace, pour into a baking sheet of daily life, heat for 1 hour with all ills of daily life, allow to sit with aroma of hope, turn onto a plate of cheerfulness, garnish with tears and laughter. Down home cooking…it takes a bit time but nothing like it. Thanks mom and dad (and my sister for a delicious Christmas cake surprise).

Bon appetit. Amen.

Let us pray for those in need today and for those whose hands have prepared this meal.

The Red Pen…How It Changed Me

Delivery is everything.

It’s a good day to just kick back here on the island. It is raining quite a bit so no walk for Maggie May and I. She does not really care for the rain as I watch her whip her little ears back and forth and then shake her furry bootie as she makes a dash outside for her morning constitution. Her shake is like a wave from the tip of her nose to her tiny nub of a tail. At this moment, I can hear her grumpy groan below me as I sit at my desk to write. I guess she is tucking in, curling up for a lazy hazy nap. Oh the life of a dog. I can honestly say I never expected to have a pet in my life, nor to have one as devoted and loyal to me. Maggie May is attached to my hip, literally. Some part of her has to be right at my side, touching me or at least in close proximity to sniffing. Is that normal? Blah.

Funny how things suddenly pop into my head space, stirring my heart chords, of moments that have touched me, changed me, awakened me. Not sure why they stick in my head but they do. The ordinary becomes extraordinary in its wake. Take a red pen for example. An ordinary everyday tool for writing, not a thing to get your knickers in a twist. Right? But, I never use it, never buy it, and will get rid of it, if a red pen happens to be part of multi-package of coloured pens. What in the world? Yes, a red pen. Misery to the nth degree. The red pen has caused me a deep-seeded grief over many years beginning from my early childhood schooling days. I think teachers back in my day got an excellent deal on red pens. It seemed to me that was the only colour I saw plastered across my pages of writing over and over. Why? Oh Why? I loved to write – stories, poetry, ditties, instructions, riddles – you name it. I even liked to write personal cards to my family, rhyming lines about them; expressing my love. But for some reason, the red pen with its circles, lines (double and triples underlines) and numbers crisscrossing across my thoughts, became the enemy from a teacher’s hand; a hand that is to make a difference in young hearts and minds. I even remember that we were told that we could only use the red pen for certain things like underlining the date, the title, the subtitles, numbers.

It hurt. Whether the teachers realized it or not, they left an indelible mark on me. I mean I may not have been the best writer and I know I certainly could use some help to this day from the grammar ‘police’ (auto correct …that would have been sooo good), but was I that bad? Grammar was certainly the be all and end all. Terms like subjective completion and adverb and predicate. Oh I get all a flitter…bit of sickness. Creativity and imagination…not so much. My little mind trying to put pen to paper (yes old technology the pen – hard to believe!) and thinking I got this. Maybe I had conversations about my writing but the red pen taste lingered. So visible. Imprinted. Delivery is everything no matter how young or old you are. It was not until I got into grade 12 that my old English teacher Mr. Smallwood gave me a glimmer of hope. He did not use a red pen (I hope they sold out) but a pencil. Erasable. No circles or triple underscoring but he left comments, suggestions. I want to thank him and wish I could. I felt worthy.

However, I could not have been that bad because the extraordinary thing happened the College of Teachers let me in….I became a teacher. Who knew? Of course I cannot speak for the students I have taught…not sure what they would say about me. Hopefully I wasn’t a ‘red pen’ teacher to them. I know that writing takes a great deal of courage, to make visible one’s thinking and open to being vulnerable. I think about Peter Reynolds in his book The Dot…a story of a young person believing they could never be an artist…and by word and deed by an a teacher…an artist was born. Love that story. Keeper. To this day, I have never used a red pen when working with my students. They could and did if they so choose to, but not me. I do have to say, funnily enough, that I did keep a single red pen in my pencil holder each year on my desk. Reminder maybe.

It is amazing how one experience, one word, one action, one thing can touch you in ways everlasting. I am not going to pretend that I am scholarly in my writing by any stretch of the imagination, back then or now, but if you love to do whatever…do. Give it a go, I am but a little pen, but a pen nevertheless.

Mother Teresa has a beautiful prayerful poem she adapted from Dr. Kent Keith, “Do It Anyway” So I think I will take poetic license here and add my own line in acknowledgement of the red pens around the world; something ordinary to some, becoming extraordinary in me…. “When you want to put down your thoughts, others might not accept by word or deed. Write anyway.”

Blessings today.

Let us pray for those who are in need of strength and courage..

Patience is a verb…oops a virtue

Patience comes a knocking.

Holy lightning! All that is holy, rest for goodness sake!! This is the Lord’s Day, a day of rest, prayer (well everyday if inclined – just saying) and rejuvenation. Time for receiving the goodness of the week, in gratitude and thanksgiving, into the heart and mind, allowing the rattling and twitching to calm down. Knowing that this too shall pass at some point. So pause. Be still. Be attentive. Breathe in and out, in and out, in and out. Aaahhh. Well, that took about one minute, give or take. Now what? Oh to be patient and allow the day to come in. To just be. To accept what is. So yes, Sunday, the Lord’s Day, I pray for….

Patience. Patience is a verb….oops a virtue. No, it is most definitely a verb. And practice makes perfect. Oh how to begin! Well, first off… Lord give me strength (not too much because I may need bail money too – just kidding). I mean really. Is the water going to boil any faster if you stand over it and watch it? Is the turtle going to move any faster as it crosses the road to get to the other side? Is the seed you just planted going to sprout wings? Is the waiting going to change when going to the doctor’s office? Is Bell or Rogers or Koodoo going to answer you any sooner? Is the lingering snowbank going to melt any faster by taking the shovel and spreading it out (yes it does but seriously)? And don’t even get me started hearing that little angelic voice coming out of the back seat, innocent and pure, asking “are we there yet?” I’ll get you there. You betcha. Grrrrr. Is that growling? But somewhere along the way, I have gained an appreciation for patience with my grandson, who funnily enough, asks the same question…regularly. Oh well.

However, why is patience so hard to live out? I can be patient around a ton of things and then other times, impatience rears its ugly mug OVER THE LITTLEST THINGS which afterward I have to laugh at myself. Get a grip for heavens sake. But there is one situation that I have a real hard time being patient with. It has been honed over many many years of raising three teenage daughters (especially one in particular), aching my heart. I still shudder when I hear these words – “just 5 more minutes”. I think, and I may be wrong, but research suggests most teenagers have a hard time getting up early. In my experience, I nod whole-heartily and as an educator teaching teenagers, I definitely had more than my share of morning late slips and sleepy heads. Unfortunately, my knowledge did not compute to my love and nurturing department in me when it came to this. GET UP. Yep not subtle. Morning mode…check check check knock knock pound. Waiting patiently to wakey wakey times a wasty. Urgency in being patient. Jeckle and Hyde me. Bat call. Let’s just say, I do not miss that particular time of the ‘good old days’.

Funnily enough at this very moment, I am experiencing patience as a virtue, Right before my eyes, I am watching my 9-month old granddaughter being fed her food by mommy during our FaceTime talk. As the spoonful of food gets closer to her mouth, she turns her head quickly. Oh you are fast mommy!! How many ways does mommy bring the food in…waiting for the moment when babe opens her mouth to…gotcha little one. Your mommy is patient. Averted the chin, nose, cheek. No wipes. No airplane spoon needed today. Roger that.

Oh to be patient. Yes, of course patience is a virtue. It is not beyond reach; but it does need to attended to. I think I can take a page out of my dog, Maggie May. Really!? Yes. Have you ever watched your own cat or dog as they wait patiently for food as an example? Maggie May sits there. Her eyes follow me very carefully. If I put something in my mouth, her eyes move, following me carefully. The patience she shows is mind-boggling. She will wait. And wait. And wait. Then if there is even a droppling falling to the floor from a plate or the sink or the stove, she is on it like a barracuda. No patience then. Haha. Life of a pet.

I have been reading some quotes around being patient, reaching for a little nugget or two to help with cloaking myself with more patience. Maybe take patience from the humour side of things ; not do as I say.

…I wish I was as thin as my patience…I had my patience tested, I’m negative…if you think patience is a virtue try using the net without highspeed internet….Oh Lord give me patience and give it to me NOW…patience is what parents have when there are witnesses….find your patience before I lose mine…c’mon inner peace I do not have all day…I started this week with a big box of patience and now my box is empty (its Tuesday).

Some things take time. Love fully and unconditionally. Blessings.

Let us pray for those in need and to those who seek the strength to accept what comes in life.

Get ready for 5 outside

Getting ready for 5 outside.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Yesterday I got to spend time with two of my grandchildren and two of my daughters – 5 outside. Yes, colour me happy. It is difficult concept to grasp or believe… permission needed to be together?!! How the world has been flipped outside down? I hope I never take for granted again the ability to do what I want when I want with whom I want. I know we are not even close to being there at this present moment in time with the journey of COVID-19 but my heart is full of gratitude. It feels like I’m coming out of the desert and taking my fill of a cold glass of water. Best feeling.

The excitement on my daughter’s face as she pulls into the laneway, smiling from ear to ear is worth it. I get to see the whites of her eyes up close and personal (well 6 feet or 1.8288 metres close). I know. I know. There are still restrictions around the 5 outside but I am so able to sit around the campfire pit (fire – no can do), across from them, watching and listening. My granddaughter can crawl…tears in my eyes…as she moves across the blanket on the lawn. Oh yes mommy everything in the mouth now. And my grandson, swinging on the wooden cedar swing nearby, telling me whatever is on his mind. He has A LOT. Imagination to the moon and back. He and my youngest daughter going at it with another language…gaming 101 (or maybe advanced 501). Bright. Smart. And tall (oh so tall – better watch out daddy!). Later, my two daughters (third not here physically but in spirit), sitting across from each other, talking a mile a minute, real time, face to the face (6 feet apart remember). Animated. While my grandson plays with his sister, she on his face, pulling his hair, and my boy giggling away. Of course, my grandson, bless his heart, as he reminds me of his growing appetite, “Do you have any treats, or maybe a healthy and 60% treat?” Oh I miss you and you bet Rara (grandma) is always prepared. Thank you.

They did not stay as long as I would like but really…where to pee? Yes there are still things to work out. Haha. You gotta love life. So we say goodbye…air kiss and hug. I know that this is supposed to go for another three weeks, testing the waters, and then introduce 5 outside to inside near May 24. Who would have thunk? This time last year, what was I doing? Anyone doing? Not like this year for sure. I really hope that islanders pay attention and be respectful of the parameters set in place.

I worry (fruitless I know) that people in the community will do the ‘give an inch take a mile’ kind of action. By our very nature as humans, we are social beings, like to control (everything) and let’s face it, who likes to be told ‘no’. It is kind of like a bull to a red flag or Sylvester the cat to Tweety bird or baby to her mother or sight is to eyes or rudder is to a boat or fish is to swimming or coffee is to Tim Horton’s. At the end of the day, slow and steady not Nascar.

I have to laugh as my daughter calls out just as she is about to get in her car to leave that she cannot wait for sleep overs. Lots and lots of them. Here are the kids, ma, see you. My smile kind of fades a bit (just kidding daughter of mine). But I realize in that moment how hard it must be, not just for her, but families with children. The dynamics has changed drastically in the household. Stay home. Stay safe. That’s the mantra, That’s the reminder. That’s the life lived now. To be surrounded by your own kin 24/7…squirrelly comes to mind. Patience as a virtue may fly out the door. Do as I say, not as I do…may be tricky. Children who normally are at school…now home ALL THE TIME. Then you have TEENAGERS. Eeeeee. NO is not in their vocabulary on a normal day. Whew!! Wipe the brow, moms and dads, “do not pass go and you do not collect $200.00”.

Am I grateful for 5 outside? Absolutely. For now, I just have a teeny request. “Mr Sun, sun, Mr. Golden Sun…these little children are asking you (ME, I am) please come out so we can play with you”.


Let’s pray for all those in the frontlines and for those who are in need this day.

If the shoe fits?

Yes it does

Oh my, I just put on my new pair of running shoes from 361 One Degree Beyond. Never heard of the company nor the brand. Honest to goodness who comes up with these names. But if the shoe fits? Yes it does. Thank the Lord. I was taking a chance on this purchase especially with shoes. I am not really an on-line kind of purchasing person; rather like to see and feel what I am getting. And shoes…well they are very personal to me and I am quite finicky about them. Not in an arrogant-too-good-for-me kind of finicky but the shoe needs to fit. At least that is the wisdom of my mom and you do not argue with your mother.

I have to agree with her because let’s face it, of any part of the body that needs to be taken care of, besides your heart, is your feet. Feet carry you everywhere, a burden they must bare everyday. And my mom, bless her, always made sure we had the best on our feet especially in our younger years. The old Oxfords and Buster Browns of the day with the boot shoe style, wider sole, allowing for a good first step of many for baby. That has stuck with me forever and I have practiced it with my own daughters and now I will encourage them with my grandchildren (not interfering, just being a grandma because grandma knows best). Yes loves, I’ll put my money where my mouth is and pick up the tab too.

Right now, my face has a bit of a grin on it as I just had a tune pop into my head. Nancy Sinatra. You know the daughter of Frank Sinatra, the crooner. Or maybe you don’t know him either. Well it was back in the day for me. Anyhoo… she was famous for her song in the 1960’s “These boots are made for walking”. Of course I am thinking of only that line in the song of ‘made for walking’, not the bone crushing intent of putting the boots to someone as her song talks about. Sidetracked here…sorry. But I really needed running shoes for walking and my crocs…well they do not make the cut. Surprise!!

Relief. How do you spell it? Not what you are thinking. S-H – O-E-S. Taking a chance on these 361 running shoes, I have to say yabadabadoo. I have never ever not had a pair of running shoes in my closet since ever. Usually I have two pairs on the go; indoor and outdoor. Not going to lie here, they end up being both indoor and outdoor. But last November I finally had to throw out my worn out, hole in the bottom, Saucony OMNI ISO runners – best brand for walking for me – and did not even think about not being able to get a new pair in the early spring. Well we all know that story.

So why not Saucony? Not on sale for one. But the other thing was my size 8 and 8 1/2 were not available. What? Why? I even went to another style and colour of Saucony…not in my size. 5, 6 and 10 left. To make a long story short, I went for the sale of running shoes. Brand not important, just style and colour and size. Then it got down to style and size. Then size. Well colour me happy…I got a sale, style and size. It was meant to be. A shromance.

I have to say walking in my running shoes today felt great. Tony the Tiger G-R-E-A-T to the beat of walking on sunshine. A kick in my step kind of shoes. Hopefully no one was watching me twirling down at the shore. Lobster boats too far out. So does the shoe fit? Yes it does….thankfully. Message to me, ‘don’t leave it to spring next time’.

Blessings always.

Let us think of those who are in need of our prayers this day.

Well, what’s to celebrate!?

Turning 1 yr old.

Birthdays. Woohoo. Celebrations of life, welcoming another new year with an openness to the possibilities ahead. A day put aside each year to honour and commemorate the joy of your birth many moons ago (many many many moons ago). Okay, got it. Oops my bad. I forgot about the babies born on Feb. 29- leapling babies. Hey you get to be a kid for so much longer as you have technically a birthday every four years. So if someone says grow up or act your age or whatever ‘adult’ kind of ping on your behavior…you are acting your age. Like turning 31 and being a leapling, you are sort of around 7 or 8 years old. Wow! Sounds like a plan to me.

I do love birthday celebrations…at least for other people that is…not so much for me. I do not mind my birthday and age turning, it is what it is….seasoned 60; and getting better I hope. I kind of choke up and slither in my seat so to speak when on the receiving end of kindness and goodness from others. Not really into being the focus. I am more of a background, wallpaper (or wallflower), blend in with the furniture kind of person. I am a giver, delighting in the arranging and planning. Love it. My daughters tell me to get over it as they were raised in birthday tradition from me doing my thing for them; do I say not as I do. Does not work. It’s all good.

As I think back over the years, I realize I have breathed tradition into the birthday day for my girls (and other family members) as it took on a certain kind of look, a ritual of sorts. It certainly came from a place of unconditional love…Sonny and Cher kind of “I got you babe”. The kitchen table would have gifts on it, decorated in some way, with a homemade mushy poetry-style card attached (sometimes that card would be huge in size; a bristol board folded in half, with writing on all four sides interspersed with pictures of themselves over the years), wrapped gifts (sometimes I will get little gifts with one large gift that matches their new year – you know if they turn say 10, they get 10 gifts), then birthday supper of their choice, followed by the traditional birthday song and cake with candles.

Tradition taken to the extreme. Imagine not 10 but 60 gifts!! That’s right. My two sneaky sisters for my 60th birthday this past year, put together two boxes filled to the top with 60 gifts (my grandson and I counted) of all kinds of things that I could use or like or wanted but did not say aloud. Need to play down my little loves of a Mars bar, barbeque Fritos, big chocolate jujubes, love of vanilla or apple pie smelling candles, Christmas decorations, interesting quotes. Someone has big ears and eyes. Oh well, my grandson, bless his soul, said to me as he looked at all the gifts in the two boxes, “Rara (that’s my grandma name) how come you have so many gifts? I want them. It’s not fair.” Out of the mouths of babes. Yes little one, one day you will turn 60…I’ll let your mommy know for you. Okay?

Gifts. Well they are great to get. Of course they are. My grandson would give me the stink eye (eye brow would lift way up) if I said anything else but gifts being good. However the gift comes and whatever it is, you were thought of.

Anyway, I do not think I can ever get old of hearing the birthday song sung or the cake coming in right after (cupcake or icecream cake or a special treat just for them) holding candles to be blown out. Have you ever looked closely at the person getting the cake? Watching their eyes light up as the ‘cake’ draws near. Eyes focused as they make a wish. Their face takes on a glow from the candles. And funnily it does not seem to matter how many candles are lit, the light shines fully on the face, catching every expression. So yes birthdays are a beautiful gift to give to another in remembering them, knowing them, calling them by name.

Today marks one of my daughters’ birthday (Happy Birthday); the other two already had theirs in the last couple of months. Wow!! I look at them and cannot believe who they have become. Each in their own way are spectacular human beings. Not one moment did I want a return policy (although I could have skipped a chapter or two – just saying). And probably as siblings they would be more inclined to say ‘your adopted’ at one point in time or another. Where did the time go? In a blink of an eye 33, 31 and 26 – are you kidding me? Seriously. You betcha.

Well, what’s to celebrate? You.

Blessings today and let us pray for those in need.

Get the grumpies out

Marble, Royal Queen Grump

Oh for heaven’s sake. I refuse to be grumpy today. I mean what is there to be grumpy about? It is not like I just went on the weather network to check in to see the forecast for today – wet snow. Weather like that makes you want to put the old running shoes on, heavy rain jacket, mitts and hat, and leap for joy…let’s go for my morning walk. Yep, that won’t make me grumpy. And no I am not going to turn on TV to the channel dedicated to and called COVID-19 channel for updates so I can see the results of the wake of the pandemic across Canada nor decisions possibly, cautiously, hesitantly being made maybe to opening up at some point sectors of what…Nah, not a glitter of grumpiness there. Nor am I going to think about the group chat video I had yesterday with my two of my daughters as I watched their own two daughters – one was crawling being busy busy busy, moving over the floor with her little hands and knees a slapping on the floor; or my youngest grandbaby with her squishy little beautiful face and the priceless expressions she does as she stretches her little 6 week old body while doing tummy time with mommy. Both babies growing so wondrously and healthily, 8 km and 1800 km away, and I CANNOT touch them. Nope that won’t make me grumpy.

And don’t get me started for goodness sake on not being able to celebrate my parents 63rd anniversary face to face on Saturday, enjoying a delicious supper made by my sister (fish and chips which unless it is haddock or halibut I really wouldn’t be too grumpy about missing; I do not care for fishy fish) topped by ice cream cake (not really my dessert either so that would be okay to skip too). But still in all to not give them a hug and kiss. Oops I forgot for a hot minute. I would not be able to anyway, hug and kiss them, as I could be a carrier of the virus that would prevent me from being there in the first place. Never mind reminding myself that I moved to the island 1950 km away. It is not like I could pop in to see them anyway. Absolutely nothing to be grumpy about.

Wow! Can I get any grumpier? I feel like searching on CRAVE TV to find Walter Mathau and Jack Lemmon in Grumpy Old Men or that classic movie The Odd Couple. Or how about Clint Eastwood. He has that face and seems to star in a number of movies that has him being grumpy like Trouble with the Curve or Gran Torino or even his Dirty Harry movies. He kind of has that don’t-mess-with-me face all grumpiness, snarly looking. But my favourite is Shirley MacLaine’s role as Ouiser in Steel Magnolias. Just thinking of her makes me laugh. Now she gives grumpiness a whole new meaning, especially when Olympia Dukakis gets her going. I must like grumpy characters or at least ones that get your funny bone going.

Oh Lord give me strength. I think I must be missing my old cat Marble. Now if I wanted a grumpy fix, I certainly did not need to go too far to find her and her royal scowl and hiss look. Yep she could be mean, queen of grumpiness. I never knew what to expect especially in the last few years before she passed away. If you touched her tummy or paws…run. She did not like certain things which from my perspective, just about anything would tick her off. And don’t get me started on her love, NOT, for Maggie May. Maggie gave her a wide berth. There would be some reason in the day for Marble to take her clawless front paws, and swat Maggie on the nose. Not one swat but quick, firey, swats – bat bat bat. “Hrmp” Maggie would whine after another bout of Marble love. Yet there were times (not many) she could be affectionate…allowing you to pet her for a second or two. Miss her. Boy it hurt to see her leave this earth in March of last year; right before my eyes lying next to me. I held her little paw as she took her last few breaths…now that made me grumpy.

I guess today I needed to get the grumpies out. And that’s okay. For there is so much to smile about too. I’m looking at my dog lying beside me right now as I write. Now, she does not have a grumpy bone in her body. I mean a little bark, no scratch that, a lot of bark comes out of her but not angry or grumpy….just annoyingly yippy. That does make me grumpy at times because honestly she barks at the breeze for goodness sake. Maggie May sees the world for what it is, a great big playground to pee and poop in, followed by sniff a whiff on whatever blade of grass or lump of dirt she finds. Little nub of a tail waggling back and forth, ears flopping up and down, she flits to and fro happily. Best ungrumpiness, you ever want to meet.

Well now that grumpy has settled down, oh what a day before me. Blessings.

Keep healthy and safe. Let us pray for those in need.

Choices in Life

Living simply

Gaslighting, what in the world?! Where do people come up with these terms?!I Is this another new 2020 term like social distancing that we are going to wear? Life has certainly changed drastically in every household across the globe (at least I believe it to be true) ever since the term social distancing was introduced into our lives and has become an everyday behaviour for us all. I just finished reading this article that my youngest daughter had shared on our group chat (her sisters and myself) in Messenger yesterday – Prepare for the Ultimate Gaslighting (Julio Gumbato). I have never even heard of the term gaslighting…oh google. So I look up the word (from Quora on google) and it is not a word of goodness. It is a term describing a form of psychological abuse where a person is manipulated over time to believe they are doubting own sanity or not. Really!!

Although Gumbato’s message is addressed to the American public, there are so many things that he is saying in his article that are stirring my heart strings big time. He is basically saying to me wait for a grand manipulation that will strike at the very emotion and core of our being – getting back to normalcy. The powers that be will light the flame of mass messages to get back to normal, blurring the lines between needs and wants, in a bid to fire up the economy. Making a Hallmark moment of all the things missed and here they are…ready and waiting. Without doubt, we have lived in a world with easy access to almost anything and everything…the world is our oyster. 24/7 availability, all day, everyday. Wants become needs. Coupled with the tension of wants/needs to the inequity and destruction of the very lives and world we live in across the world from driving needs/wants. Then, a tsunami of epic proportion, a chaos from COVID-19 blasted to bits normalcy (life as we know it) – spiritually, emotionally, financially, socially, physically, mentally – the whole kit n’ kaboodle. Leaving the heart and mind open to being vulnerable, at the mercy of, even safe to say an easy target for….what he refers to as gaslighting. I am afraid he may be on to something. Holy lightning.

What happens when the restrictions from COVID-19 are lifted or ‘open back up’, slowly or quickly? I mean it is going to happen sooner or later right. But what I am sensing is his underlying message, is we as people have been given a profound gift. One that has been given to us unsuspectedly – a GREAT PAUSE (Gambuto’s point) – a quiet. Getting down to the basics, living simply instead of simply living the lived spin. Rat race. Me me me mentality. Have I really lost anything? Not so much things in as much as human contact. After reading the thread in group chat between my daughters – they miss being able to be with one another. Camp. Explore. Be on front yard together. I tear up when I read that because oh boy can I relate and sooooo agree with them.

All in all, I guess it comes down to how I want to continue to live my life, with me and with others. I remember when I retired from education, I promised myself that I would slow down, get off the spin. In that decision, I had freedom of choice. What do I really need? It is not a negative thing to want or have things but is it okay to be in gratitude for having things? To be able to have them? And to really be in wonder and awe to the pause? I remember travelling back from Ontario to the island in later March, going through Toronto in early morning. Honestly it was kind of eerie because there was little traffic. My head was not turning up down all around to change lanes. Nope. I certainly do not miss the traffic. Islanders have no idea what rush hour is let me just say.

It is a big question for me. What happens? I am not sure we as human beings are very good at being told no. And let’s face it, being flexible like gumby (you know that green stretchy character), that’s a stretch too. But having choice…winner. But choice was literally taken away, necessary, but still taken away, in an instant. So a knee jerk reaction to me…give me give me give me. Just need to remember the old adage “Give me give me never gets, don’t you have any manners yet.”

I pray for the coming months as choice and normalcy…well I’m thinking maybe hide the matches or lighter or at least for starters, build a campfire.

Praying for those in need this day. Blessings.

Its the little things today

Labour of the farmer, freshly toiled

Oh glorious day…Sunday, a day of rest (seems like a lot of Sundays lately). Opening my eyes to see the sunrise flickering through the wooden landscape of bared trees and branches, it cascades its rays of light upon my bedroom walls. I painted my walls a sunrise burnt orangy colour and boy when the sun comes in during the morning hours and touches the walls…love the feeling of colour. Vibrant. Warm. Inviting. Yes it is time to wake up and smell the coffee; not literally mind you, as I am not a coffee drinker. Water, almond milk and a wee bit of herbal tea…that’s me. I really do not need a ‘pick me up’ or a ‘wake me up’ as I have an internal clock that gets me going…way too well some mornings.

Quiet in the dawn, my walk with Maggie May was wonderful once again. I love the morning the best as it is so loud in its silence (unless crazy island winds come out to play); your senses become a tuned to your surroundings. This morning it was quiet, only a taste of a breeze. I could hear the woodpecker on the telephone pole tapping away. I think it needs some help because it was not pecking at wood but on the steel part of pole. Not sure what that’s about. Not paying attention to my feet, I stumbled at bit as Cape road (part of my daily walk) really has taken quite a beating from the winter. Permafrost has pushed the pavement up, creating patches of serious tar crumble…don’t really want to be knocked in the head by a flying object. Then I found myself sort of skating as I swished the side of my shoe, kicking and shoeing larger tar rocks off to side of road. I did not think I needed steel-toes for walking. Oh well.

Maggie May made me chuckle loudly as we found ourselves plodding along the old tractor trail beside the cliffs. She noticed something amiss as her body stood still – looking. There was a tractor up ahead with a hundred little-wheeled pull thing (don’t know its called) behind it, randomly parked in the field. Maggie of course did not know what it was but had to bark at it as we drew near; it’s on her ‘property’. How could I forget! Anyway, no one was around the tractor but Maggie has to make sure she tells it off. All yip Maggie May. All yip. So funny.

But seeing the tractor, I now recognized the smell that wafted my nostrils in the start of my walk today – freshly toiled soil. Don’t you just love that earthy clean dirt smell. Oddly enough, that smell reminded me of my grandparents farm in New Brunswick (long gone but I have a framed picture next to my door of downhome – I loved that place and its memories). Almost every summer as a child we would head down east to stay with them for the ‘best’ two weeks EVER. Anyway grandpa had a cold cellar, built underneath the house, but could only get in there from outside. When I got to go down there to get grandma jars of whatever or vegetables stored from their garden, I would open that creaky old wooden door and be greeted by a cold clean earthy smell – loved it. And still do.

Freshly toiled soil. Yeah. The farmers have been busy. I could see perfectly horizontal lines of soil dug up, spaced out, ready for planting. Those lines were not there yesterday. Great sign of spring. And to top it off, a potato truck, big burly MAC truck, came down the road, turned heavily onto the same dirt road I trek each morning. My guess would be that it was bringing potato seeds for planting. Of course, little sassy Maggie May – the truck was invading her turf. Hold your horses Maggie May. Really. What are you going to do? Yip. That’s all you got.

I think my step had an extra kick in it today. I felt the rhythm of the island shout out a normalcy. Much needed signs of goodness to feel – toiled fields, big buoys in the bay now, lobster and mussel boats out, potato truck filled with seed – and my snowplow guy came yesterday to drag my lane. Woohoo. I can bring my truck back to park, not up at the main road. Yep life is good. Blessings.

Keeping those in need in my thoughts and prayers today.

Life is…precious.

Precious of life.

I just got back from my morning walk and feeling a sense of peace, a calm of thankfulness. It’s a beautiful Saturday morning with the sun cresting over the horizon laying claim to the shimmering light spreading across its water below, with little breeze, a peacefulness comes in to my heart. I’m thinking prayer is a good way to begin today. Any day for that matter if that is what you like to do or find comfort in it. So clasping my hands together, I sit in quiet.

Yesterday (or at least that is when I saw the message) our provincial government put out a thoughtful way to communicate to our sister province Nova Scotia, to give a personal offering of sympathy and condolences on-line to those who experienced the tragedy that befell them last weekend. It may not be a big gesture, and certainly not an answer, but it might bring a glimmer of hope in words offered during the midst of the chaos. I am not sure why people do what they do but it breaks my heart to know that individuals or groups of individuals, can make decisions that are hurtful, and even fatal, in their action which is beyond one’s comprehension. Why? Oh, why? Can you tell me that?

Life is precious. Absolutely, positively a gift. I say that a thousand times over that life is precious as my family and friends can attest to. But life is…precious, fragile, graced, beloved. Each time I watch or listen to stories on the news of suffering and tragedy in and around our world, the heart splinters a bit more. Reminding me of the gift and burden of knowing, knowing how life can be taking one path and in an instant, takes off toward one less travelled. You can see it daily right before your eyes. There are no answers, whatsoever, that can come to mind, calming the shaken heartache left behind in the wake of what befalls. Where does a person find that rock to stand on, and not this feeling of sand, shifting beneath one’s feet, trying to get a foothold of steadfastness?

So today I want to pray… for those in need… for the homeless, shut-ins and sick… for those who have lost a beloved one… for those who are struggling to make sense of the impact of the COVID-19… for the elderly and fragile…for those forgotten….for those who struggle with mental illness…for families and their children, helping them cope with ‘staying home’… for the front-line workers…for loss of jobs, lay offs…for victims of violence… for political, religious, economic leaders to bring clarity and hope in the turmoil…. for a life lived.

I can go on and on and on. So much, too much. (never too much) But I also pray for joy in the heart, a beacon of the glimpses of celebration to be thankful for what we have. Just to know you are not alone and being grateful for a glimmer of hope.

So I leave a few prayers from others that I found..certainly a different perspective. But praying nevertheless, prayers out of the mouths of babes (or really older babes). Like praying to “help me to relax with insignificant details, beginning tomorrow at 7:41:23 am EST.” Or like praying “give me patience, like right now!”Or praying for “Now I lay me down to sleep I pray the Lord my shape to keep…please no age spots, please no gray, and as for my belly, please take it away”. Or from a farmer “thou shall not love thy tractor more than the wife and children; as much, but not more”. Or “Dear God, thank You for a baby brother but what I really prayed for was a puppy.” Or “Dear God, I say your prayer every night, ‘lead us not into temptation and deliver us some e-mail” but I never got an e-mail from you.. Do you have my right address?” Or from a little boy praying “if you can’t make me a better boy, don’t worry about it. I’m having a real good time like I am.” And finally to end with the Lord’s Prayer from a three-year old “Our Father, who does art in heaven. Harold is His name. Amen”

Let us pray in a thank you. Thinking of all those in need at this time. Blessings.