Thursday, September 10, 2020

It will come to me......

 ......... I occasionally (very occasionally) read the personal essay in the Globe and Mail. I know all of them are worth reading, as they are all personal accounts of life experiences and all of them are beautifully written. Somehow, however, I just can't bring myself to read a post on a topic I'm not interested in (in which I have no interest).

Now, I did read the one written by a woman who reads all the obituaries daily. It was both humbling and hilarious. I'll never forget the line she quoted from one deceased woman: "If you are reading this, I'm passed my best before date."

I also read the essay from a person in Newfoundland, who wrote about a deceased aunt who made her presence felt, almost daily, in his life. I have borrowed his phrase "go figure" and use it often.

These are kindred souls - OK I'm a little off beat myself and yes, I do read the occasional (very occasional) obituary - "never cease to know for whom the bell tolls."

Today, however, I read a post from the most kindred of kindred souls. It was by a woman, who from the age of 16, has dreamed of owning a full set of the Oxford English Dictionary - all 20 volumes. She has, in fact, for the last 40 years gone to book sales, hunted or haunted used book stores, and literally (can I use this word here?) spent 3/4 of a lifetime searching for her dream. She did say that you could buy a full set new for about $1,200.00. I think I would spare the time and the mold and just save up to buy a brand new set!

She even had a mental picture of how she would display the books. They would be inside a glass topped coffee table, spines up so anyone could look up a word at anytime. Well, lo and behold didn't her partner of a few years actually have the coffee table built and the volumes purchased as a Christmas gift one year. This is true love from a kindred spirit.

Why do I feel so close to her? Well, many years ago, when my mother asked what sort of graduation gift I wanted, when I finished university, I said I wanted the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary. I spared them the expense of the two volume one and suggested the single volume. Its spine still measures 3.5" across and cost nearly $100.00 then. (This measurement is an aside for all those who went through university, as I did, with a measuring tape. I read the books with the narrowest spines and skipped the rest. However I did read all the poetry and then some.)

I still remember salivating over the 20 or so volumes on the library shelf and wondering what treasures they held. In fact, once I even looked up a word I couldn't find in any of the shorter volumes - "suttles." It means scraps, as in scraps of cloth and is used more often by people living on the east coast of Canada. I was fascinated by the company "Suttles and Seawinds" (they're still around btw.) and wanted to know the exact meaning of the word. Their products are quilts and dresses made from beautifully coordinated scraps of fabric.

Life has a way of taking very divergent themes and bringing them together in one piece or is that pieces?

The title of the post? When you can't find a word you need in a conversation, may I suggest a dictionary or 20.

The pictures? My suttles, sewn or knit together.

Have a meaningful day!

Monday, August 10, 2020

Of tomatoes and pumpkins....

.... I sing. The line is really, "Of arms and the man, I sing." Or, what will get you a few more marks in Latin, "I sing of arms and the man." It's the opening line of a poem by Virgil, that celebrates heroic deeds. I often use this line, adapted to the situation, when I see someone struggling to overcome various obstacles, or juggling a number of awkward items, at a time. As in, "Of diaper bags and strollers, I sing." Or accomplishing some spectacular feats, such as, growing giant tomatoes!

Yes, this year I have managed, to grow some giant tomatoes. I didn't do anything special with them - just the usual TLC, and that was it. No extra fertilizer, watering, pinching of suckers etc. Below is the biggest of the beefsteaks I planted.

When I first brought it in, it was somewhat orange in colour and looked like a pumpkin. However, within a day or two it ripen to a nice red. It weighs 1.25 lbs. has a diameter of 5" and a circumference of 15.25" It will go down in history, my history at least, via this blog (where I chronicle some of my more amazing feats :) as my biggest and best tomato yet.

Oh, and did I mention that this tomato also looks like it may give birth to some smaller tomatoes. Who knows, it is one "mother" of a tomato. I'll let you know how it tastes, when I eventually have the heart to cut it up.

Have a fruitful day!

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

45 rules to live by....

45 might be the real meaning of life, as opposed to 42. Here is a post I copied from someone else, with my notations:
"To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most requested column I've ever written. (Here it is)
My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:
Well I'm not there yet, but if or when I do get there, I would like to be able to write something like this! I also have to believe the writer is a Leo, as am I.
1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good. It truly isn't fair, but it's still better than the alternative.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step. A good friend of mine once said, "Start small, but start."
3. Life is too short – enjoy it. I'm trying to live more in the moment.
4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and family will. Cultivate friends, make family bearable.
5. Pay off your credit cards every month. Finally, yes!
6. You don't have to win every argument. Stay true to yourself. I am practising - keeping my mouth shut. It works most of the time :)
7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone. I'm not sure about this one. I don't share my down time.
8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it. Maybe, or he sends snow in May.
9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck. OOPS a bit late now.
10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile. This is probably true, but I would expand it to pie - all sorts - not to be confused with Liquorice All Sorts.

11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present. I'm still waiting for it to come back and haunt me.
12. It's OK to let your children see you cry. It may have happened once, but then I'm a stoic.
13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about. So true.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it. Nailed it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye, but don't worry, God never blinks. But I'm sure he hides his eyes, at times.

16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind. I often ask myself, will this matter in 10 years time. If not, forget it.
17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful. Clutter weighs you down in many ways. So true, now if I could only convince the rest of the family of this.
18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger. Maybe, but I have died of embarrassment many times.
19. It's never too late to be happy. But it’s all up to you and no one else. So true.
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer. I think I have failed this a few times.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special. I still have dresses in my closet, I have never worn. Just waiting for the right occasion.
22. Over prepare, then go with the flow. Always.
23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple. I see too many older women wearing purple. I will never do that - now red, red is different.
24. The most important organ is the brain. That's why I do brain exercises everyday.
25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you. Worth repeating.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?' OK I say 10 - but life is short, maybe it should be 5.
27. Always choose life. Yes, it's a matter of whose.
28. Forgive. I don't think I can ever do this.
29. What other people think of you is none of your business. I know, but sometimes they tell me :)
30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time. Sigh!

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change. Time passes and this too shall pass.
32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does. Especially my children.
33. Believe in miracles. Everyday
34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do. I wish that were true.
35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now. I like to pick my battles - like the ones I can win.

36. Growing old beats the alternative of dying young. For sure.
37. Your children get only one childhood. This I have never forgotten.
38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved. May I add, 'the right people.'
39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere. Agreed
40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back. In a heartbeat.

41. Envy is a waste of time. Accept what you already have, not what you need. I am trying to do that.
42. The best is yet to come... I sure hope so.
43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up. This one is tricky, but I'm working on it.
44. Yield. Merge, notice the bump, left turn only....etc. Signs on the road of life.
45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift." Yes it is.
The pictures? Random shots from a life lived rather randomly.

Have a great day!

Monday, July 06, 2020

Honk if you love geese...

..... Canada Geese particularly. I was in a suburban area of Toronto the other day, waiting for a friend, when I saw this parade of geese come over a rise on the west side of a busy north-south thoroughfare. They walked towards the road, stepped into traffic, waited for the cars to stop and then proceeded to waddle at a very slow, very dignified pace, on an angle, blocking 8 lanes of traffic, to the other side of the road(s).

It was a long slow journey and a long slow wait for the cars, as 18 or so geese took their time to clear the intersection. After two or more missed traffic lights, the drivers began to honk. I thought, this is ironic, usually it's the geese that honk! In any event, the geese did not change their pace, nor did any of the cars, charge the procession - good for them.

This was just a little aside, on an otherwise uneventful day. Then again, maybe this happens everyday, or maybe it's because of the reduced traffic, during this pandemic, that has allowed nature to take its course - law and order from a different source.

Have a surprising day!

PS. If you're from Toronto, you know the city is basically a grid running north from Lake Ontario. That's why we give directions from east-west/north-south axes. Before we were Toronto the Good - We were Toronto the Grid. Sorry I couldn't avoid the pun.

Sunday, July 05, 2020

Word Study #2 Mantel

I like the word "mantel." It's a covering, a cloak, perhaps. I think of phrases, such as, the court's "mantel of justice" or the skin's "acid mantel" and I think of protection. I plant the flower, Lady's Mantel, for many reasons, partly because I like the sound of the name, partly because of its concept of protection, but mostly because it reminds me of my grandmother.

Although my grandmother had lived in Canada for more than 50 years, before she died, I rarely remember her speaking English. She could, of course, speak perfect English, but she was happiest speaking German - hochdeutsch (high German). I hear her even now saying "meine mantel" - her coat (her lady's mantel) as she was getting ready to go out.

Lady's Mantel is a herbalist's herb, Alchemilla Vulgaris. The flowers have protective properties, when used in teas, and the leaves, crushed, are especially good as poultices. I don't use Lady's Mantel for it's medicinal properties, I use it, as a florist would use Baby's Breath. It's a wonderful filler in flower arrangements. I know, this is a little frivolous, certainly a come down from loftier associations, such as justice, medicine or even the memory of my grandmother.

Well, we all have our weaknesses. One of mine is "composition" as in the arrangement of "things" for display. I hate, for example, a poorly arranged bouquet, snapshot, room setting - the list goes on. Another of my weaknesses is flowers or growing "stuff." I have, at the moment, 10 pots of African Violets on my windowsill and another one in the kitchen. One of the plants needs dividing, so that would make 13 pots and I have now run out of window space. I could put them on the mantelpiece - there's that word again, but there isn't enough light. Sigh!

Maybe, I'll just have to start giving them away.

Have a glorious day!

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Word study #1 - Mawkish

My husband is amazed that I have the followers I have. How many people would read a blog on the importance of a word (or two), especially when it's particular importance has nothing to do with them, personally.

Well, you never know. One of these days you might just happen to need to use the word, "mawkish." I don't know, maybe you are about to buy a card for a mother-in-law, sister-in-law, distant friend and you settle on one of the very soppy cards you find in the racks at a drug store, (there is a reason why they are sold in drug stores) and you say, "Eureka," I think that this is mawkish(soppy) enough to suit the tastes of Belinda B - exactly!

OK, here's the back story. I do crossword puzzles - go figure - and the clue was "Mawkish girl gets nothing in return."  I was fascinated by a word, I don't hear often. Mawkish means, overly sentimental, soppy. The sound of the word, itself, does not complement, its meaning - mawkish doesn't sob - it snaps.

I was stumped for a while, then I finally figured out that the girl's name was Maud and the "nothing in return" was "nil or lin." The answer was "maudlin" -  another soppy, somewhat sad, word.

Wait!! It doesn't stop there. I am a lateral thinker and as often as I try to straighten out my mind, it decides to bend and lead me down paths, I have (had) never intended to wander. There are a number of "Mauds" that now have to be considered.

1. Tennyson's Maud.

Come into the garden, Maud,
     For the black bat, night, has flown,
Come into the garden, Maud,
     I am here at the gate alone ;
And the woodbine spices are wafted abroad,
     And the musk of the rose is blown.

In addition to planting the flowers, that grew in my grandmother's garden, I grow the flowers from poems I have read. I grow roses, and soon, passionflower, and bleeding heart for all the poems that don't mention flowers, but bleed so much passion, they have to be remembered!!

PS: I don't have the dates on the gravestone, but it is amazing that someone who died maybe 50 or so years ago is now posted on the internet. This requires another post. I'll go back and get the information. This is time immemorial.

2. Maud Gonne

W.B. Yeats' muse was Maud Gonne. There is something about the tension (not Tennyson) in unrequited love that spurs the poet. Yeats proposed to Maud Gonna many times, only to be rejected. Here is his poem to her.

When You Are Old

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

The picture? Taken in Mt Pleasant Cemetery. Perhaps as mawkish, as the tributes on tombstones. Come into the garden, indeed. The evil in me has to tell you that mawkish comes from the old norse for maggot. Tempus fugit - Gather ye rosebuds while ye may - and maybe read a few poems along the way!!

Have a meaningful day!!

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Ongoing...going on...

Our writing word again, after a break, is "ongoing." Certainly this lock down for the pandemic has been ongoing, but we keep going on. We keep believing that it will all be over soon and that we will get back to "almost normal" before we know it.

I think we have to keep believing this, even though we know that many will have lost their jobs and have to start looking for other jobs at less pay, poorer conditions, etc. etc, if they can even find a job.

Many companies will have closed. Consumers will be buying less, taking on less risk and generally making do, with what they have. The future looks grim. What can we "go on" doing? Well the human race is pretty creative. It has come this far through many pandemics, wars, recessions, depressions and "still we rise" or more correctly, "have risen."

Maybe, we will become part of a smaller, more closely knit community than before. Maybe, we will gather people around us, keeping them near and dear. Maybe we will enrich what we have, rather than demanding to have more.....the list goes on.

In fact, Covid 19 has shown us a lot -

1. We can make do with what we have. We don't need to buy more.
2. We can spend hours with ourselves, alone and survive.
3. We can find productive things to do in small spaces or large time slots.
4. We can find joy in simple activities - baking bread comes to mind.
5. We respect more deeply other people - their space and their way of coping with life.
6. We can create more fresh space without expanding, by cleaning and decluttering.
7. We can appreciate the simple pleasures of a walk.
8. We have come to realize how creative, resourceful and resilient we really are.
9. We have had time to think and understand what is really important for us.
10. We are now more open to accept a changed future.

Add to the list - it's ongoing, as we keep going on.

The pictures? Flowers always give me pleasure.

Have a spectacular day!!