Sunday, February 19, 2017

Sunday morning thoughts.....

Sunday, February 19th, 2017

Well first, the Weather Report....

The clouds are skirting the bottom of the hills and the sky is overcast and dour.  A little while ago I saw a very small patch of blue (enough to make a sailor a pair of pants, as my grandmother would say) edged in a little reflected light from the sun that lurks behind, and shines on the higher hills.

The forecast is for more of the same, - perhaps even a little snow.  But February is almost as fickle as April, and one never knows what she will cast down for us to cope with or enjoy.

I went to Penticton on Friday, and on the way home the setting sun made vision impossible - shining in the eyes and obliterating the road.

I went to Penticton with  third son and his dear wife to attend the funeral of what would have been my oldest living friend.  A very beautiful Celebration of Life, Anglican style.  With a few little modern additions much appreciated by the non-church-goers.  The Presider sang a lovely song. with guitar accompaniment, and my friend's granddaughter played a beautiful farewell lament on her violin, as well as an enchanting dance tune, for Granny.  The grandchildren did readings and prayers. The church was full.  On her 90th birthday the Arts community in Penticton paid her tribute for her years of creative contribution, both in painting and encouragement to younger painters.


Charles started Grade One with Jill.  I met her soon after we were married, in 1947.  After her husband entered the Ministry he was at St. John's for almost ten years, and in that time a friendship for life was cemented and grew stronger and dearer.

our last lunch together - ladies with canes.....


As I took part in the old familiar service I noticed that many of the congregation  participated more as spectators, and I guess it is rather a drama in some ways.

But sometimes I think that those who are not familiar with the church, - who maybe left her to go their own ways after Sunday School age, - who maybe have a slight disdain for the intellect of the people who they think believe in the "Sunday School God", (Old Man with Beard recording misdeeds) - sometimes I think that they don't realize most church-goers have advanced beyond that view and have a more mature and sophisticated image of Life and Spirituality, and "God".  And that their Services are a reminder of the morality and mysticism, of a human realization that this is probably only part of our journey......

Anyway, it was a fond and loving farewell.  And I like to think that Charles was there beside me, saying his adieu (and welcome?), to a friend who was dear to him too.  So few left.  I can count them on one hand!!

The dear old priest who gave the homily ended with the analogy of death, as a sailboat setting off from shore;  the friends and loved ones watching as it fades from view in the distance; and the friends and loved ones on the other side, waving their welcome when it comes into sight.

Comforting.....thoughts of Tennyson and Crossing the Bar passed through my mind - " Sunset and evening star/ and one clear call for me/ and may there be no moaning of the bar/ when I put out to sea......

I see a bigger patch of blue, above me, - and the clouds are billowing white in favoured places where the reluctant sun hides but sends a few rays to illuminate and tease.

I go to play the ukulele this afternoon, - how we who are left amuse ourselves, looking for pieces with easy familiar chords and tunes that echo our youth..... I found that the Chattanooga Choo Choo
is something I can manage quite nicely!!







Monday, February 13, 2017

F is for Frog and also Freakin' Fantastic Fried Rice

ABC Wednesday
The letter is F for Frogs
and F for Freakin' Fantastic Fried Rice

When one can not make up one's mind
then it falls to one to present
F in Twos....

Shall we start with Hilaire Belloc, who wrote a compassionate
poem to The Frog


1870-1953

A twentieth Century English Poet
controversial, but nevertheless praised
for his humour and poetic skill
Belloc was said to be the best English writer
of light verse 
since Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear.

Here is his poem to The Frog.....

Be kind and tender to the Frog
And do not call him names
as "Slimy-Skin" or "Polly-wog."
Or likewise "Uncle James,"
Or "Gap-a-grin".
 or "Toad-gone-wrong,"
Or "Billy Bandy-knees":
The frog is justly sensitive
to epithets like these.

No animal will more repay
A treatment kind and fair,
At least so lonely people say
Who keep a frog (and by the way,
They are extremely rare).


Hilaire Belloc's Book of Beasts,  to be followed by
More Beasts (For Worse Children)
are quite hilarious and I don't know why I have not
thought to buy them for the great-grands...


And now let me tell you about this Fantastic Fried Rice recipe
which was one of my father's creations
in his later years, when he was alone.

To get the perfect fried rice you will want to use yesterday's rice
as it will have had a chance to dry out a bit.

Let your pan warm up nicely,  It will ensure that whatever ingredients
you use will fry quickly and that each grain of rice
gets hot to the core.

Don't poke, prod or turn and make the rice all soggy,
and if you are going to add other ingredients
(like shrimp, or veggies)
cook them separately and put to one side,
adding them at the last.

You will need two to three cups of day old rice, sixteen shrimp, or thereabouts, medium sized.  
a half to one cup of red onions, and garlic if that is one of your staples.
half a cup of peas and half a cup of corn
or whatever other veggie you might have in your fridge
and a little bit of chili powder

Wash and marinate the shrimp with a tsp of chili powder and salt
for about half an hour.
In a wide mouthed pan heat 1 tsp of oil and add the onion to saute.  
mix up the peas and corn (or other veggie) and stir in....

set aside in a separate container....

Then, in the same pan heat another tsp of oil and cook the shrimp 
till it is just done.
Add the rice, check for salt, let it stay in the heat
until the rice is heated through.

Mix all together gently, and enjoy!!


My Dad was very casual about this dish
as I am, too.

All sorts of interesting things go into it.
Try some mushrooms.
And a dab of pickles.
An egg or two - oh, but that's something altogether different....

More interesting Fs here
at ABC Wednesday
with thanks to those who maintained this charming meme
in the past, who do so in the present
and plan for the future.





Thursday, February 09, 2017

Turning a corner...

Thursday,  February 9th, 2017

I am glad to report that my ego is subsiding!!  And what a comfortable feeling that engenders....

It appears that things that I thought (at one time)  only I was capable of doing properly and creatively are being competently and creatively accomplished by others, with ease and aplomb!!!  How arrogant my ego must have been, (she said, shamefacedly).

I now find it is amazingly wonderful to accept this epiphany quite humbly, and to relax into lovely old age, content to read and knit and weave and muse and listen to music.  I have even gone back to a 'cleaning lady' - in my case a sweet daughter-in-law, - and a son-in-law who keeps the snow at bay and the lawns trim and neat.

What does all this mean?  Have I turned a corner and am I now ambling contentedly along the grassy path that stretches out deliciously into the future, and ends in the 'next adventure'.

Before I was REALLY old I used to keep this poem on my fridge door to remind myself of the pits the years might lead me to stumble in to.

"Lord, thou knowest better than myself that I am growing older and will soon be old. 
 Keep me from becoming too talkative,
 and especially from the unfortunate habit of thinking that I must say something 
on every subject and at every opportunity.

Release me from the idea that I must straighten out other people's affairs.
  With my immense treasure of experience and wisdom it seems a
pity not to let everybody partake of it.  
But thou knowest, Lord,that in the end I will need  a few friends.

Keep me from the recital of endless details;  give me wings to get to the point.

Grant me the patience to listen to the complaints of others;  
help me to endure them with charity.
  But seal my lips on my own aches and pains -
 they increase with the increasing years
and my inclination to recount them is also increasing.

I will not ask thee for improved memory,
 only for a little more humility and less self-assurance 
when my own memory doesn't agree with that of others.  
Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be wrong....

Keep me reasonably gentle. 
 I do not have the ambition to become a saint
 - it is so hard to live with some of them 
- but a harsh old person is one of the devil's masterpieces.

Make me sympathetic without being sentimental, helpful but not bossy.
  Let me discover merits where I had not expected them, 
and talents in people whom I had not thought to possess any.
  And Lord, give me the grace to tell them so.  Amen'

But that was in the days before I got ancient.  The days before I became so irked at the necessity of having to scroll down dreadfully far on my computer screen to fill out online forms with my year of birth.....

I am seriously thinking of giving up meetings where I have to read the minutes to know what has evolved, - especially the meeting for organizations where I pass myself off as a Secretary!!

It is so sweet when the little ones lisp, I am almost three......  not so adorable when one has to admit that they are almost ninety-three!  But it does elicit a gasp of what? Surprise? Sympathy?  A lessening of expectations?

Still, I am so glad to be rid of that dratted ego that sent me on so many wild goose chases!!!!

I have a vague feeling (not unusual these days) that I may have posted on this subject before, but there!  I am quite used to repeating myself.....


"The older I get the less I know.  It's wonderful - it makes the world so spacious."
Swami Chetanananda

Monday, February 06, 2017

Elephant

ABC Wednesday
February 8th, 2017
The letter is E for Elephant




 Here is a little offering to celebrate the elephant
in nonsense verse

Eletelephony

Once there was an elephant,
who tried to use the telephant -
No! no! I mean the elephone
Who tried to use the telephone -

(Dear me! I am not certain quite
That even now I've got it write.)

Howe'er it was, he got his trunk
Entangled in the telephunk;
The more he tried to get it free,
The louder buzzed the telephee -

(I fear I'd better drop the song
of elephop and telephong!)

Laura Elizabeth Howe Richards


Laura Richards was an American writer of the late 19th century


who published more than ninety books, and was best known for the nonsense poems
 she created for children.

Laura Richard's father was Samuel Gridlely Howe, who ran the 
Perkins Institute for the Blind
where Helen Keller and Laura Bridgman were educated.

Her mother, Julia Ward Howe, 
wrote the words to the famous song
"The Battle Hymn of the Republic"

When Laura Richards grew up she and her sister
wrote a biography of their mother
that won a Pulitzer prize.

One of Richard's best books of nonsense poetry is called Tirra Lirra.
The poems use techniques like rhythm, alliteration
and startling imagery
to tell an imaginative story.

and they are downloadable.......


More great Es at ABC Wednesday here

with many thanks to all who maintain
this great meme..
in the past, in the present and in the future.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Dragons

ABC Wednesday
February 2nd, 2017

The letter is D for Dragon




"The Dragons of the mountains have scales of a golden color, and in length excel those of the plain, and they have bushy beards, which also are of a golden hue;  and their eye is sunk deep under the eyebrow and emits a terrible and ruthless glance."

Greek scholar Philostratus (cAD 170-245)

This is a Chinese New Year Dragon, parading in the streets 
in all his fiery glory.

A dragon is a mythological representation of a reptile.
In antiquity dragons were mostly envisaged as serpents
but since the Middle Ages they have grown legs
and now resemble a lizard.

And they are able to emit fire from their mouths,
as many a mythical hero has found out!

Different cultures have different stories about monsters
that have been grouped together under the dragon label.

They are often revered as representative of the primal forces
 of nature, religion and the universe
and possess some form of magic or other supernatural power.

The Dragon has not been forgotten by the poets......

Here is J.R.R. Tolkins take on dragons
as expressed through Tom Bombadil

There was an old dragon under gray stone;
his red eyes blinked as he lay alone.
His joy was dead and his youth spent,
he was knobbed and wrinkled,
and his limbs bent in the long years to his gold chained;
in his heart's furnace the fire waned.
To his belly's slime gems stuck thick,
silver and gold he would snuff and lick:
he knew the place of the least ring
beneath the shadow of his black wing.
Of thieves he thought on his hard bed,
and dreamed that on their flesh he fed'
their bones-crushed, and their blood drunk:
his ears dropped and his breath sank.
Mail-rings rang.  He heard them not.
A voice echoed in his deep grot:
a young warrior with a bright sword
called him forth to defend his hoard.
His teeth were knives, and on horn his hide,
but iron tore him, and his flame died.


Then, of course, there is Ogden Nash's version of a Dragon

Belinda lived in a little white house/with a little black kitten and a little gray mouse/and a little yellow dog and a little red wagon, and a realio, trulio,little pet dragon.




Now the name of the little black kitten was ink,/and the little gray mouse, she called her Blink,
and the little yellow dog was sharp as Mustard/ 
but the dragon was a coward, and she called him Custard.

Custard the dragon had big sharp teeth; and spikes on top of him and scales underneath/
Mouth like a fireplace,chimney for a nose,/and realio, trulio, daggers on his toes.

Belinda was as brave as a barrel full of bears/and Ink and Blink chased lions down the stairs/
Mustard was as brave as a tiger in a rage/But Custard cried for a nice safe cage.

Belinda tickled him, she tickled him unmerciful/ Ink, Blink and Mustard, they rudely called him Percival./They all sat laughing in the little red wagon/ at the realio, trulio, cowardly dragon.

Belinda giggled till she shook the house/and Blink said Week! which is giggling for a mouse./Ink and Mustard rudely asked his age,/ When Custard cried for a nice safe cage.

Suddenly, suddenly they heard a nasty sound/and Mustard growled,and they all looked around./
Meowch! cried Ink, and Ooh! cried Belinda/ For there was a pirate climbing in the winda.

Pistol in his left hand, pistol in his right,/and he held in his teeth a cutlass bright/his beard was black, one leg was wood/it was clear that the pirate meant no good.




Belinda paled and she cried,Help! Help!/but Mustard fled with a terrified yelp / Ink trickled down to the bottom of the household/    and the little mouse Blink strategically mouseholed.

But up jumped Custard, snorting like an engine/Clashed his tail like irons in a dungeon./With a clatter and a clack and a jangling squirm/He went at the pirate like a Robin at a Worm.

The pirate gaped at Belinda's dragon. and gulped some grog from his pocket flagon./ He fired two bullets, but they didn't hit/and Custard gobbled him, every bit.

Belinda embraced him, Mustard licked him/No one mourned for his pirate victim. |Ink and Blink in glee did gyrate/ around the dragon that ate the pyrate.

But presently up spoke little dog Mustard./I'd been twice as brave if I hadn't been flustered/ And up spoke Ink and up spoke Blink/ We'd have been three times as brave, we think../And Custard said, I quite agree/That everybody else is braver than me.

Belinda still lives in her little white house/with her little black kitten and her little gray mouse, /and her little yellow dog and her little red wagon, and her realio, trulio, little pet dragon.

Belinda is as brave as a barrel full of bears/and Ink and Blink chase lions down the stairs/Mustard is as brave as a tiger in a rage/But Custard keeps crying for a nice safe cage.




And there is Puff, the Magic Dragon, but we all know about him
so will leave him for another time.

And Silverstein's.....



More Ds here at ABC Wednesday
with many thanks to all who labour at this meme,
and make it possible to go on, and on, and on....



Monday, January 23, 2017

C is for Cheese Cake

ABC Wednesday
January 25th, 2017
The letter is C, for Cheese Cake

Ginger Pear Cheese Cake

I have made this cheese cake, and it is delicious

but then I am a great lover of ginger!

If you are too, here is the recipe.....

You will need 

one and a quarter cups of crushed ginger cookies
A quarter cup of butter, melted
one can of pear halves, patted dry
three packages of cream cheese, softened
(250 g each)
three eggs
three quarters of a cup of sliced almonds, toasted.

Mix the cookie crumbs and the butter and press them into the bottom
of a springform pan

Arrange the pear halves over the crust

Beat the cream cheese and the sugar until well blended,
add the eggs, one at a time
mixing on low speed after each addition

Bake forty-five to fifty minutes in a 350 degree oven
(until the centre is almost set)
Run a knife around the rim of the pan to loosen the cake
then cool it completely.

Refrigerate the cake
and before you serve it
sprinkle it with almonds!

an aside.....

Those of you who go back a ways into the last century

might remember that pin-up girls
(ever popular with young men of that era)
were known as "cheesecake" in the slang vernacular.

Probably the most famous of all was the actress, Betty Grable
who was said to have the most beautiful legs in the world.


This was as far as I ever got in the world of "cheesecake"


More Cs here at ABC Wednesday

Many thanks to those who maintain
this great meme, and to
Melody who has offered
to continue it.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Sunday afternoon again....

And such a dreary day.  I write this on my IPad as I watch a Mozart program on the Knowledge Network.  The music and anecdotes are lovely but as I gaze to the south, out the window, I see grey clouds  swirling just above the floor of the valley, hiding the mountains in a pewter mist.


My mood is inclined to fall in with the general malaise the weather suffers. and even the pure white amaryllis that deigned to bloom for me from last year's bulbs makes my eyes glad, but doesn't make them sparkle!!


Perhaps a little summer collage will do the trick


Or a summery smilebox

video





Dream on....dream on......