October 31, 2014

Halloween Then and Now

One Halloween at the end of the last century of the last millenium
my friend Barb and I joined our families together 
for a fun night of trick or treats.

A paleontologist, an alien and a cat (?)
went door to door 
with a knight, a wizard and a fairy princess.

When we walked down the main street of Courtenay
people kept saying, "Great costume, Dumbledore!"
"I'm just a wizard," was lost in the cotton ball beard.
Fairy princess and cat (?) grew tired.

After bags and buckets were filled
with sweets for the sweet
we gathered in Barb's street 
for the neighbourhood potato gun blasting of pumpkins.

Fireworks popped and cracked nearby
but the potato gun's blast and shatter thrilled the kids
to no end.
The parents didn't exactly stand back 
and keep their hands in their pockets either.

The knight, the wizard and the fairy princess
were followed by another a few years later.
I don't remember what she dressed up as for her first Halloween. 

This year that little sister is thirteen
and uninterested in going door-to-door calling out 'trick or treat!'
She did go to school dressed in costume today.

She and her friend will hand out treats at our door tonight.
The knight, the wizard and the fairy princess grew up and
are all away at work and college, so the mime must take over Halloween duties.

"I'm looking forward to seeing all the cute little kids," she says.

"I miss the knight, the wizard and the little fairy princess (who was
a fairy princess three years in a row)" I say.

But, I am very glad to have a mime around the house.

Happy Halloween! 

October 20, 2014

Autumn Mists and Apples

'Tis the time of year for reflecting on 
the 10 months past, 
their fullness realized
in the turning leaves
 and rising mists from empty fields.
The harvest was good this year.

The view behind our house

I have made so much applesauce 
apple crisp and apple muffins.
A friend shared her bumper crop.
She had more than she could ever use.
Her children are flying the coop
 like mine are.

The grocery bill is shrinking
but my freezer is full.

Is there any thing more perfect than an apple? 

These ones are Macintosh.
They've just been washed.
Now they will be sauced.

For your listening pleasure, a newer take on an old standard,
'Autumn Leaves'

October 14, 2014

Clean and Be Thankful

I cleaned my oven this morning, and the job was done with a parade of cleaning products including vinegar and baking soda, SOS pads, dish soap, Mr. Clean and a lot of elbow grease. I knew it would be much simpler to spray on some Easy-Off, leave it to do its magic and then simply wipe off the grime, but the last time I did so I was sick and swooning from the toxic fumes for days. That stuff is nasty.

I do not enjoy cleaning my oven, to say the least, but this morning while I scrubbed a couple of months' worth of baked-on cooking I got to thinking. (Who are we kidding here? The last time I cleaned my oven Mark Zuckerberg was trying to get into a fraternity.) Music played in the background to keep me company but my thoughts ran free - when I was not singing along to the Mamma Mia soundtrack at the top of my voice, that is, something I am only allowed to do when no one else except my youngest is home. She sings with me of course, being a Musical Theatre kid.

Two of my three living-away children were able to come home for Thanksgiving this past weekend. The third had to work and celebrated the holiday with a dinner cooked by his roommates. The rest of us enjoyed all the comfort and cheer of being together at home. We cooked and baked together, sang (ABBA was strictly forbidden) and were silly together. And while we cooked and baked the oven smoked. In fact, every time I basted the six and a half pound chicken the fire alarm went off.

Anyway, while I was cleaning the oven I was telling myself I had better not complain about the task because, as much as I detest that particular chore, I was lucky. Lucky enough to have an oven in the first place. Lucky enough to have a beautiful, plump, organic chicken carefully raised by some farming friends to cook in said oven. Lucky enough to share that chicken with a loving family, even if one of us had to be absent. Lucky to have enjoyed the delicious leftovers in front of the TV with my youngest after her siblings left to go back to their respective post-secondary institutions and her dad worked late. Lucky to have a gainfully employed husband. Lucky to have children who desire to further their educations and make something of themselves. Lucky to live in a democratic country which, while not without its problems, remains a relatively safe and reasonable place to raise a family and build a future.

I remember when I was a girl and would be out walking with my mother. As we strolled down the hills of Nelson with the timeless view of the lake below and the streets lined with trees in full flame of fall colour against a blue, blue sky my mother would invariably say, "Aren't we lucky to live in such a beautiful place?" I would generally agree. I also remember when I would whine about being hard-done-by or some such teenage complaint she would invariably say, "Just be grateful." Well, with the news the way it is these days, Mom, I can honestly say I am both lucky and grateful to be where I am and with whom, enjoying the benefits of your healthy and wholesome upbringing filled with books and walks, love and talks.

My oven looks a lot better now. I baked some apple muffins after lunch and my youngest is enjoying two as an after school snack. The fire alarm remained silent throughout.

This Billy Joel song cheered me up the other day when I heard it after a particularly bad news day in the media. The video even features a smoking oven.
 We Didn't Start the Fire

October 1, 2014

Walk of Ages

The waning year and I were both feeling our ages
so we took a walk together along the lakeshore

The clouds were heavy with moisture 
 The lake reflected the grey above it

We walked the path toward the hot springs source
in search of the fountain of youth

The trees reminded us with age comes dignity, wisdom and sheltering kindness
 beauty often forgotten in this shiny, hungry, forward leaping world

A pair of cyclists rode past us
none too young themselves, but active

Wildflowers grew among the thorny blackberry
trumpeting out messages of eternal hope and sweetness

A winding waterway, still and placid
fed the lake in a constant, quiet way
lilypads and insects giving life to its surface

Snowberries glowed pearly white in the forest gloom
heavy bunches of perfect orbs bending their fine and supple twigs 
into arcs reaching for rest on the ground

Tipped with autumn red and orange
green leaves waved goodbye in the breeze

A trio of ducks followed the shore 
keeping another woman's retriever and me at bay

The fountain of youth needed a paint job
but her water was promising and sent up clouds of steam into the cool air

Returning, I took the narrower, treelined path. 
Like the trees I leaned toward the water and the light

Rosehips glowed like little round coals in the fire
Tougher and brighter than the roses of summer
they would feed the birds in the cold days to come

The year and I having made our peace with time together
I took myself out for a birthday lunch and went home for a nap

Many thanks to my daughter, Emma, who designed my new blog header. I was ready for something different, and she was eager to use her digital design skills newly aquired at college.