Monday, February 27, 2017

H is for Happiness

ABC Wednesday
March 1st, 2017

The letter is H for Happiness

My home is awash with wicker baskets!

Some of them are stuffed with balls of wool
Or skeins of cotton,
Awaiting the loom

But many of them are full of cards.....

Birthday cards, anniversary cards, Valentine's...
All too precious to be thrown away
(by me, anyway)

Occasionally I have a lovely reflective time digging through them.

The other day I found this little book

The best things in life begin with "H"

Some dear soul gave it to me, and I pass some of the pages on to you....

May you find happiness, peace and contentment

More Hs here at ABC Wednesday
with thanks to all who work to bring us ABC

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Sunday again......

The sun shone yesterday and I pooh-poohed the weatherman's sly allusion to "maybe a small skiff of snow overnight", but when I woke and opened the door for Bruce's early morning foray in the garden I was dismayed to see a brand new white coverlet snugged up in the garden, and up and down the apron to the garage (which, alas, contained no car - it was out the front all frosted up).

A few years ago I would have thought nothing of this situation, but today it caused a little stir - car cleaned of snow, or a walk with cane!!!!  Only a half a block to church.....

I walked.  It was delightful.  Not cold, nice conversation with neighbours cleaning their walkways.  And by the time I came home the sun was shining again!

We are just a Worshipping Community here in what was once a thriving parish, and we rely on visiting and often retired clergy.  Our minister today was an old, old friend.  He came to our parish in the early 1950s when he was just graduating from seminary, and when I was young and involved with the Sunday School.  After a few years he went on with his career in other places, and Charles and I stayed here and farmed and continued at St. John's.  But when we all grew older and retired he came back to help us in our hour of need!!!  And he is so comfortable and his services so familiar and enduring....

We are on the cusp of Lent - Ash Wednesday on the 1st of March.  The gospel for today was from Matthew, and the Psalm a small Stone of Wisdom.

I still my soul and keep it quiet, like a child upon its mother's breast
O Lord, I am not proud; I have no haughty looks.
I do not occupy myself with great matters, or with things that are too hard for me,
But I still my soul and make it quiet, like a child upon its mother's breast; my soul is quiet within me.

And the Matthew gospel was all about the lilies of the field and the birds of the air 

and the faith that we require to avoid the anxiety and the worry about what we will drink, what we will eat, what we will wear, what will be our place, here on earth, tomorrow and in the future."so do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own.  Today's trouble is enough for today" 

Did  you know that anxiety and worry affect our longevity, and that faith and trust will add days and months and years to this wonderful experience of being alive on this earth????

Day by day, - one day at a time!

I am reminded that the stillness, the faith and the trust, - and the humility - are all part of this struggle I have with the Ego!!!

Oh, this getting old is so complex.  I have a book called "Lasting Words" - A guide to finding meaning toward the close of life".  When I first dipped into it I was too active to absorb the admonishment to relax and meditate, but now I think I am more resigned to making room for a little stillness.  

Today I am flying low and I'm
not saying a word.
I'm letting all the voodoos of ambition sleep.

The world goes on, as it must,
the bees in the garden rumbling a little,
the fish leaping, the gnats getting eaten.
And so forth.

But I am taking the day off.
Quiet as a feather.
I hardly move though really I'm traveling
a terrific distance.

Stillness.  One of the doors
into the temple.

Mary Oliver  TODAY

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

G is for Grooks

ABC Wednesday
February 22nd, 2017

The letter is G for GROOKS

The first book (and there are many)

The Author

Piet Hein (1905-1996)

One of the most original Danes of the 20th century he was a many-sided man in the best sense.

An author, philosopher, mathematician, designer, scientist, game inventor, as well as the creator
of a new form of poetry he called "Grook".

In his philosophical writings he asserted that the great cultural divide in society was not between the haves and the have-nots, but between the knows and the know-nots - and to myself I whispered "yes, yes, yes".

"Piet Hein wrote over 10,000 grooks, most in Danish or English and published in more than sixty books....His grooks first started to appear in the daily newspaper "Politiken' in April 1940 - shortly after the Nazi occupation and under the Old Norse pseudonum "Kumbel" meaning "tombstone"

Grooks are small aphoristic verses characterized by irony, paradox, brevity, precise use of the language, sophisticated rhythms and rhymes, revealing in a minimum of words and with a minimum of lines some basic truth about the human condition."

Here are a few examples to wet your appetite.......

T.T.T.                                                                           The Road to Wisdom

Put up in a place                                                         The road to wisdom?                              
where it's easy to see                                                   Well it's plain to see
the cryptic admonishment                                            and simple to express
T.T.T.                                                                            err
                                                                                      and err
When you feel how depressingly                                 and err again
slowly you climb                                                          but less
it's well to remember that                                             and less
Things Take Time                                                         and less

On Problems

Our choicest plans
have fallen through,
our airiest castles
tumbled over,
because of lines
we neatly drew
and later neatly
stumbled over.

Today I really like this one, the February sun being loathe to appear......

PRAYER (to the sun above the clouds)

Sun that givest all things birth
shine on everything on earth.

If that's too much to demand
shine at least on this our land

If even that's too much for thee
shine at any rate on me.

More interesting Gs here at ABC Wednesday
with thanks to all who have, are and will maintain
this lovely meme.

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


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


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

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


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.