Sunday, August 19, 2018

Biscuit....

Our word for today is biscuit. I love this word because it has a cluster of meanings. First it's a food. A biscuit is a British cookie. Here's a site that rates 21 of them, with phrases such as,

"As British as Michael Caine, roundabouts and glaring at but not saying anything to people who jump the queue, these are little pieces of perfection...

My husband's aunt, always served her shortbread biscuits with Sherry - a nice touch! I only make cookies (biscuits) at Christmas, when I make so many we're still eating them on Valentines Day.



In North America, a biscuit is a slightly leavened savoury scone. It's a staple in dishes, such as, chicken and biscuits. My local Second Cup, before it closed, often sold cheese scones (biscuits), I prefer cranberry, but I would buy cheese, over Blueberry with white chocolate - too sweet.

However, for a biscuit that's really savoury, it should be a "bisque," which is a soup of French origin.
Wikipedia says,



"It is thought the name is derived from Biscay, as in Bay of Biscay,[2] but the crustaceans are certainly bis cuites "twice cooked" (by analogy to a biscuit) for they are first sautéed lightly in their shells, then simmered in wine and aromatic ingredients, before being strained, followed by the addition of cream."

I have had the traditional lobster bisque only once. However, I do make pureed soups often. I always make a tomato "bisque" from the fresh tomatoes in the garden. Yesterday, I even made a cooked cucumber and avocado soup, from two runaway cucumbers I found in the weeds. It was delicious! I think, I have to do some shrimp or even smoked salmon bisques, when I need a little Paris in my life!



Finally, biscuit is also another name for porcelain, particularly, unglazed porcelain, biscuit ware, used for various types of pottery, figurines, and the delicate faces of antique dolls.

I am fascinated with dolls. I was given a doll every year I can remember, until the age of 12. I still have my mother's doll. I have books on dolls - how to dress them, how to make their fine porcelain heads and how to assemble their articulated bodies. I also have books on cloth dolls, again how to sew them, stuff them and embroider their whimsical faces. I have knit period costumes for barbie dolls and I may just have to buy this book of paper dolls from the Yves St. Laurent collection - not bisque, but I can dream.

The pictures? Bits of biscuits and bisque.

Have a charming day!



Saturday, August 18, 2018

Volatile

Our word for today is volatile – extremely changeable. I realized the last few words that I have given for our writing exercise were turbulent, circuitous and now volatile. Is someone trying to tell me something? Is there mischief afoot?

I work at staying calm. Yes, there are times when I erupt! I have to be provoked, though or see an injustice, before I go “nuts.” So let’s take a look at what has changed lately or might change to cause these potential mood swings.


-      My husband has retired. However, he is doing contract work, so there is still a cash flow, albeit reduced. I’m usually not too stressed about money. I have been poor and I know that people survive, even thrive, by being frugal.

     -     My daughter and I argue constantly about her room, but this has been going     
            on for years, coming to a head every once in a while.

-      Sales have been slow, but this is not new. Who knits from April to August?

-      My labour of love, in the summer, is my garden, which is now being slowly eroded by a pesky groundhog. I’m irritated but not explosive.



-      My labour of love in the winter is needle-felting and I should be working on projects, but this summer’s heat has affected me and I’ve managed to do very little hand work. 
  
-      I haven’t been on FaceBook that much lately. I follow the Trump resistance and every post that shows the huge numbers of his supporters makes me so depressed that I could cry. I almost never cry – partly my personality and partly early training. In households trying to keep body and soul together, everyone had to keep their troubles to themselves, so as not to make life even more difficult for others.


   
-      I get huge negative feelings every time I see Doug Ford’s face in the paper, or read a piece about how the PCs are destroying everything environmentally positive, everything intelligent, everything considerate that the Liberals have put in place.
  
-      I worry constantly about the state of the world. There are too many people, and not enough resources. Climates are less predictable, more destructive. There are fewer democratic countries, and more selfish tyrants. There are fewer freedom fighters and more people willing to follow their own stupidity.

-  The economy is skewed. There are few jobs to be had. The pay is low, with fewer benefits or none at all. Owning a home is out of the question and renting is barely possible. What is there to inspire people?


Top all this worry off with a heavy dose of aging and you have the makings of a volatile situation. There are days, when I think, "Where can I go?" "What can I do to make this better?" "How is it all going to end?"

Writing is therapy. I do feel a sense of purpose, when I write. I know these daily positives will spill over to the other areas of my life. I'm already working on Remembrance Day kits. Now if I could only get to that book!!

Have a thoughtful day!

Friday, August 17, 2018

Cigarette...

Our word for today is cigarette... I want to say it's an old word. Not many people, I know smoke and the ones that did are dead. But there was a time, in film particularly, when smoking added to the allure of life. Most movie stars smoked and the famous ones are remembered for their cigarette roles or maybe that should be rolls.

I think of Humphrey Bogart. He may have had a cigarette in his mouth in Casablanca, because that was what made you cool. Your props were a martini and a cigarette (were they funded by the tobacco companies?). I think of Marlene Dietrich, Lauren Bacall, or every cowboy you can name. What made you was a fag hanging out of your mouth or held between fingers - first and second or first and thumb. The positioning said so much.

We have, now, had to invent new ways of being cool. I don't watch a lot of movies, so I'm not sure, what those ways are.  I look at handhelds. Certainly the phone has become a focus, as have sunglasses. Are there some classic photos with twirling sunglasses, or the ear on shoulder sandwich with phone as filling? Not sure. I choke at the thought of tattoos. Do you think that our status is, now, measured not by the number of cigarettes we smoke, but by the number of tattoos we sport? Have we just traded one organ for another - lung for skin or something like that?



My mother never smoked. She said her father put her off it, by having her take a deep drag of a cigarette, when she was quite young. She threw up and never tried it again. My father smoked until he was thirty. He gave it up one day, giving all his cigarettes to the first guy he saw on the street that smoked. That was 73 years ago. He's now 103. My grandfather, a heavy smoker, who rolled his own, died of lung Cancer at 63. It's a numbers game.

I smoked when I was a university and quit in my first year of teaching. I had a bout of Bronchitis, which was aggravated by cigarettes. It cured me. My husband has never smoked. My sister-in-law smoked cigarillos, again as a affectation. She quit when she became a vegetarian.  My kids, if they do smoke, do it sporadically. I don't smell tobacco on clothing in the house. I have to believe that the advertising campaigns against smoking are working, at least in Canada.

The picture? The question still remains, though. Did Jesus smoke?

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Secrets...

Our word for today is secrets.....So I guess I have to be "out" about this. I have been secretly writing a book. It's not really one of those straightforward books, it's being written in chapters here and there. Every once in a while I post a paragraph or two to see how it looks in public. Here is a short passage.

It was a grey day in November when Tessa called to say she had given birth to a boy, whom she would name, Liam. Would I come to see him? I didn’t hesitate. I threw on some clothes and caught the central line at Ealing Broadway. My two hour ride to Epping Forest gave me time to think about Tessa and her situation. Tessa was 28, unmarried and Catholic. The first time she had ever had sexual intercourse was with the father of her child. He was a friend of a friend, in from out of town and asked, if he could stay at the flat. This was not an unusual request. We often put people up in the living room. What was unusual was that Tessa fell in love with him, almost immediately.

Patrick knew he had charm and used this charm on women. Tessa was just one more notch in his belt. On the other hand, Tessa's life was Patrick. When she realized she was pregnant, she wrote to him. He did have the decency to come to London and talk. 

Tessa was thrilled to see him. She wanted to fall into his arms and be told everything would be all right.

He began by saying, "Well, this is unfortunate, isn't it. Have you considered and abortion?"

Tessa was stunned, she couldn't speak. 

He droned on, "I believe, they're in the neighbourhood of £100.00" I could offer you the money".

When she finally found her voice, Tessa, stood her ground, "You said you were in love with me. I think we should be married."

It was Patrick's turn to be dumbfounded. He cleared his throat and with a slight rasp said,"I, I don't think that's possible. You see, I'm already engaged."

Tessa didn't see. In a blind rage, she screamed, "liar, cheat, coward. You told me you had no one and you needed me. I believed you. You weren't interested in me, just yourself. Abortion is out of the question. Take your filthy money, and your filthy body out of here. Just remember that a child of yours will, one day, wander the earth looking for you."

He left. A month later, we heard through a friend, that Patrick had married and moved to Tanzania.

I spent days consoling Tessa, commiserating with her, willing the pregnancy to end. She spent those days in and out of tears, both loving and hating Patrick, wondering about the child she was carrying, and worrying about herself. It was one of the saddest times in my life.

I arrived at Epping Forest and took a taxi to the convent. It was a quiet home both for the Sisters of Charity and for unwed mothers. It was not the Magdelene Laundries. Tessa took me into the nursery. She had been crying. 

"I know I have to do this for him," Tessa said. "I've signed the adoption papers. I love him too much to have him grow up without a proper home. He needs a father." She sobbed again.

When I saw this newborn in his crib, I could have cried too. I have never forgotten the moment. He was a beautiful child and she was going to have to leave him there. I hated Patrick for creating all this grief.

I often wonder, if the child had been a girl, would Tessa have kept her. 

Years later, I was at a rugby match. We were playing a visting team from Britain. Suddenly, I realized that one of their coaches was Patrick's father. Rugby, even international Rugby, is a small world. People know each other. I stood across the room, while he give a short  speech and thought, you probably don’t know that you have a grandchild, who was adopted at birth. I wonder if Patrick has had children and if our speaker has grandchildren. The irony, of course, would be, no. 

How many people know things about you or you know things about other people that can never be told. Perhaps it's the secrets we carry through life, that bind us to one another.

The pictures? This is not a picture book :)

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Circuitous II

I wrote about circuitous the other day and didn't really have a great example of how I complicate my life in wild circuitous loops. Well, one of those loops happened yesterday.

I have decided that I want to do some interesting walking tours, abroad. Most of these adventures require you to walk 15 to 20kms a day. In fact the Camino has a quota of 25 or 26kms per day. Clearly, I have to practise. Yesterday, we did our usual 5km walk. At least I'm guessing it was 5kms. Maybe it was more. I now need an odometer to measure my walking distance. I have an odometer for biking, could I use that?



Well, yes I could. First I googled for information. I was directed to several YouTube videos explaining how I could affix my Garmin bike meter to my wrist. However, I needed some equipment. More googling directed me to M.E.C. who was supposed to have what I wanted. Not so. The parts had to be specially order and the reviews weren't great.



I pressed on. If I didn't use the wrist strap from the Garmin kit and bought my own, I could orient the odometer more like a watch than the kit could. Back to google. This time I went to Gears, where we bought our bikes. They had the parts. However, online, they were $13.50. When I called the store for availability, I was told that the parts were were $22.50. Sigh!

Finally, I decided to buy what I needed online and have them shipped to the store. I know there was a time when life was not as circuitous.

Room....

Our word for today is room. It's an amazing word, because it's not only your environment, it's also your well being. I often say, "you wouldn't go for a swim in dirty water, so why would you spend time in an messy room. "But, water touches my skin," you say. Yes, but a room touches your soul.

I know, some people don't really care about their surroundings. I've been in their rooms, the atmosphere is troubled. Don't get me wrong, I'm not the perfect housekeeper, by any means. I don't need spotless, but I do need a sense of harmony - soft colours, balanced settings, good light and space.



I remember staying in a Bed and Breakfast once and found it quite claustrophobic. I don't mind small rooms, nicely arranged. However, this room, although fairly large, was full of clutter. It had three side tables, six lamps, two beds, three large chairs and various knick knacks on all the walls and surfaces. I would have taken half the "stuff" out and re-arranged everything.



The B&B's or Air B&Bs we re-book are places where someone has taken care to select and arrange the furnishings. The space is relaxing, nurturing. I have trouble understanding hoarders. I have to believe, there is a mental imbalance that makes people treat their rooms like dumpsters. Your room should be your refuge, your oasis. You should be surrounded by peace and harmony to keep a balance in your life.



There is, now, a whole industry to help people de-clutter, get organized and free their minds. I remember once reading a list of quick pick-me-ups. One was to clean out your handbag, pockets, or briefcase. Think of what an amazing pick-me-up it would be to clean your room (s). My mother was a hoarder, my husband has trouble parting with things and my daughter lives in chaos. I work at keeping a balance!

The pictures? Harmony in space, light, and flowers.


Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Spirits

Our word for today is spirits. I'm not the one in our family who believes in spirits. My sister does, though and maybe I should start, because the other day she won $5,000.00 in a lottery. Here is how the spirits intervened. After my sister had bought the ticket, she put it on her night table and asked both my mother's spirit and the spirit of our paternal grandfather, whom we have never met, to make this a lucky ticket, because she needed a car. Bingo! She ended up splitting a million dollar pot with 167 other people, which netted her around $5,000.00. She bought a car!



No my spiritualism comes mainly from nature. I could be a Pantheist, one who believes that God is in everything, especially everything in nature. I need to have trees, flowers, foliage around me to find peace. Now these would be the good spirits, the Dryads, that lift the soul.



I know there are poltergeists, meddlesome spirits that inhabit houses or buildings or places where they can interact with people in disturbing ways. I have read articles about houses, said to haunted. Old houses always have a past. Some have had their share of tragedy, I'm sure. Maybe, there are souls there, who have not been laid to rest. They remain, then, in an agitated state, taking out their wrath on anyone who tries to inhabit their space.



I think there are also capricious spirits living in auto correct. What I read, in my writing, is never what I have written. Do you think some spirit is trying to tell me something? I sometimes believe that the cosmos is trying to tell me something. You know, that spiritual energy that's out there. I think, if you meditate, you can be more in tune, with that energy and hear it's message. I have made a mental note to be quiet and listen more often.

The pictures? Photos to me are a little like reading between the lines. I wonder what these are saying.

Have an informative day.


Monday, August 13, 2018

Chicken Chicken...

Our word for today is "chicken." It always reminds me of the classic fight between Pizza Pizza and Chicken Chicken, a business a former employee of the pizza chain tried to start, using the same business model. The case went to court and Chicken Chicken lost. St Hubert has gone back to Quebec and Swiss Chalet is downsizing, here anyway. Chicken, as fast food, maybe an endangered species!


What else is there? I do get a little frustrated with our biodiversity, as far as meat is concerned.  Our choice of fruits and vegetables is massive. Whereas, our choice of meat is really just four - pork, beef, lamb and chicken, OK, there are a few other varieties of fowl and I decided not to add rabbit and goat, because they aren't as popular. Now, for someone who wanted to be a little different, I'm wondering, if a fast food chain based on rabbit would work? There are now restaurants, Le Lapin in Quebec City, for example, that offer rabbit only, on their menus. You could call it "Bunny Bunny." Somehow I don't think so. And I'm not even going to think about "Nanny Nanny" for goat.



All joking aside, I was fascinated with the idea of having chickens in my backyard, until I started reading a column about a woman, who is keeping chickens, in the city. You actually buy the coop and all the essentials, then rent the chickens. In theory the eggs are free, but you pay for everything else. I think she nets out at $1.00 an egg. Tsk, tsk or maybe cluck, cluck, this is expensive. Renting chickens, probably has some drawbacks, as well. These, then, would be used chickens. Is there a way to look at their egg laying stats. - like mileage on a car? Presumably, you don't kick the tires or the chicken equivalent there of.



As you can see, I have given up on the idea of chickens in my backyard. In fact, I'm re-thinking doing even a vegetable garden next year. It seems we've acquired a resident groundhog, who likes tomatoes. Although, we live in the heart of the city, we have a number of wild animals, who visit, regularly. Raccoons are the given. They live in our maple tree and have for thirty years. There's also a skunk that pops in every now and again, probably as often as, the rabbit, and both are more often than the opossum, which we've seen just once. We see the groundhog daily.



I'm wondering, if we could add these critters to our biodiversity for meat? Somehow,  I can't see Hog Hog or Coon Coon working either. Sigh!

The pictures? Variations on a theme!