Canning Season

August 30, 2015 at 8:15 am (Memoir) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Harvest is upon us. It is canning season. I have not canned in a long time.

Growing up, I helped my mother can & freeze & store our harvest every late summer and into September. This was the food that would sustain us all winter when the garden was finished with. This is how we survived.

Garden

I do not garden now. In fact, I hate gardening, and all the other outdoor maintenance involved with having a lawn and flower beds, with an unbridled passion. I remember the hard work, the bugs, the sore muscles and the dirt forever under my fingernails. These are not pleasant memories.

However, I do like the harvest. I will haunt farmer’s markets for outdoor produce to enjoy in the moment but I do not can or freeze even though I do remember how much better garden produce tastes. The problem I have with canning is that we were not allowed to enjoy the produce in the present when I was growing up – things had to be stored up for WINTER. Everything, it seemed, was always saved to be enjoyed later.

My father (absent) would take my two older sisters with him to B. C. to pick fruit and they would bring back cases of cherries, pears and peaches that would have to be canned RIGHT NOW!

The peas would need to be frozen as soon as they were ripe.

The potatoes were dug and sent straight down to the cold room.

Glenlivet_Raspberries

We picked pails of raspberries to be frozen. This was my favourite harvest chore because I could hide in the raspberry canes and eat and pick. I always felt I got enough raspberries for both me and the freezer.

We headed out to the bush to pick gooseberries and other fruit.

I didn’t mind that all the rhubarb got frozen – it was too sour no matter how you prepared it.

But I wanted to eat my fill of peas straight off the vine. I wanted to eat too much butter dripped fresh corn. I wanted to gorge myself on fruit until I burst.

I wanted.

I got what I needed. I got enough to eat, all year, because my mother is a gardener and an ant. I did not inherit the gardening gene. I will cook and clean and can but still I feel guilty every time my mom or sister commiserate about their gardens.

My sister canned peaches, tomatoes and cucumbers last weekend. They were all lined up, pints and quarts, beside her stove. I should have taken a picture. The jars were bright and full of shining red, green and yellow goodness.

Why is it I always see what I can not do instead of what I can? Next year, I plan to purchase a farm fresh box so that I will get both the benefit of good food and the chance to help local gardeners do what they love to do (and I do not).

I need to find that fine line between want and need. I want to be able to enjoy fresh food all year long. I want to stop feeling guilty over doing what I like to do instead of doing what everyone else thinks I should do!

I hope everyone has the harvest they enjoy this Lammas season.

Stirling Castle_Kitchen

This weekend is the 10 year anniversary of Katrina. This is the best book that I have ever read on the subject.

I’ve never been to New Orleans. I hope one day to visit.

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That Stings?

August 23, 2015 at 10:08 am (Book Commentary) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Franz Kafka said, “we ought to read only books that bite and sting us.” What’s the last thing you read that bit and stung you?

How_Music_Got_Free

Books don’t sting me anymore (I’ve become too numb to emotional pain) but they do make me think.

I read more fiction than non-fiction. Right now, I’m really not in the mood for thinking. I just want to be passively entertained.

But yesterday I finished a book that was both entertaining and educational. In spite of myself, it made me think.

How Music Got Free is a riveting story of obsession, music, crime, and money, featuring visionaries and criminals, moguls and tech-savvy teenagers. It’s about the greatest pirate in history, the most powerful executive in the music business, a revolutionary invention and an illegal website four times the size of the iTunes Music Store.

Perhaps this book bit and stung my mind a little bit. It didn’t hurt but it did make me think. It also annoyed me slightly as well. The author, Stephen Witt, argues that it was his generation that was primarily responsible for music piracy and though I don’t dispute his point it aggrieves me that he dismisses the older generation as being too computer illiterate to have participated in the crime.

(Is this a confession? Don’t we all have questionable MP3 files stored on our various devices. Even some of us so-called old people.)

I liked the book. It made me think in spite of myself. I recommend you read it and decide for yourself how much piracy affected the way we consume music!

 

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Tattoo Me!

August 16, 2015 at 8:15 am (Meme) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

The Daily Prompt from August 5th asks:

Do you have a tattoo? If so, what’s the story behind your ink? If you don’t have a tattoo, what might you consider getting emblazoned on you skin?

and this week’s photo challenge is “creepy“!

I don’t have a tattoo, but if I did it would portray something a lot of people find creepy.

To many people bats are frightening, eerie, disturbing, menacing, and literally hair-raising –

even the cutesy Halloween bats shown here!

I’ve coveted this tattoo ever since I saw it on the Contrariwise: Literary Tattoos’ blog (unfortunately no longer supporting pictures). That was way back in 2010.

I have twin nephews who go all out with tattoos – sporting full sleeves and elaborate back & even face tattoos.

Many of my other relatives (brother, nieces) also sport the odd tattoo.

I won’t be getting a tattoo anytime soon. I avoid pain.

But if I did get a tattoo it would be inspired by this:

Twinkle, twinkle, little bat!
How I wonder what you’re at!
Up above the world you fly,
Like a teatray in the sky.
Twinkle, twinkle little bat!
How I wonder what you’re at!

And it would look like this (not my picture – it was originally on Contrariwise so I do not know who to credit. If it is yours and you want it removed email me and I will).

twinkle-twinkle-little-bat-tattoo-design-on-feet

I wonder how painful it would be to get a tattoo on one’s foot (and just how expensive this design would be)?

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Travel Theme: Grey

August 9, 2015 at 12:58 pm (Meme) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Here are some seasonal additions to Ailsa’s new travel theme; which this week is Grey/Gray. I’m Canadian – we consider either spelling correct. It makes spelling bees easier!

I was in the city yesterday. My sister and I have an annual tradition of going to the Fringe and the Ex’s Saturday night free grandstand concert. Before the fun started, we went to a craft store where the pre-Halloween decorations were out. You need time to create the perfect scary display! But, then again, the Halloween candy is also out (who buys it this early? I would have it all eaten before Halloween if I bought it now).

Anticipation

Seeing all the orange, black and grey has me anticipating Halloween and Fall. I want a shorter summer and a longer autumn!

Bones

The greyish skeletons remind my sister of death and she fears them. I see fun and mystery in them. I see dancing skeletons and ghosts yearning to tell their stories to all willing to listen. She sees reality. I see story.

Black, Grey, White

I like the raven pillow here. It makes me want to going around murmuring “Nevermore” under my breath. The tombstones dream of becoming sinister props in a fake graveyard. They yearn for pithy says.

Reflected Clouds

The day started out gray. By the time we hit the festivals the sun was out and bright. There was a nice breeze flowing through the grandstand in the evening (it kept the mosquitoes away. Hooray!).

We traveled home in the dark and encountered greyish northern lights.

I wondered how they would top the Pirates and skeletons and moonlight, because that’s a pretty cool concept. ~Orlando Bloom

That country where it is always turning late in the year. That country where the hills are fog and the rivers are mist; where noons go quickly, dusks and twilights linger, and midnights stay. That country composed in the main of cellars, sub-cellars, coal-bins, closets, attics, and pantries faced away from the sun. That country whose people are autumn people, thinking only autumn thoughts. Whose people passing at night on the empty walks sound like rain.
― Ray Bradbury

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A Year’s Worth

August 2, 2015 at 8:15 am (Blogging) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I published my 365th post last week and just wrote an amazing blog post about blogging that I lost as I was trying to save it!!

I don’t think I can recreate it.

It’s been a hard year. The blogging has been okay but life has been annoying.

There have been lessons learned – like always copy your words before you hit save draft!

I’ve been blogging since September 22, 2008. My one goal when I started was to blog weekly. I’ve done that. This is the first time I’ve lost a completely written post. I am feeling frustrated. I am eating while writing. It calms me. Thankfully, I am eating watermelon which is healthy. (The cat thinks she wants to try some). Damn, it was a good post – the ones that get away always are.

What happens in a year?

This is what I write about. My life. My interests. I write memoir. I write using other people’s challenges and memes. I write about yearly occurrences – expect another International Pirate’s Day post in September.

I write for fun. I write for obligation – if only, obligation to my self. In the beginning, my posts were longer and more structured. Now I am more comfortable writing off-the-cuff (like now!).

I can write off a frustrating occurrence like losing a damn good post and keep on. This is good. Especially if it means I eat less junk food along the way.

I write to learn. After seven years, I’ve gotten better at photography, writing and thinking. What inspires me. Today, I inspire me. I lost. I went on. I recreated something. I didn’t give up. Yay me!

I write, therefore I am.

I write in spite of it all (the lost post WAS better).

Birthday Cake

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Grass Close-up

July 26, 2015 at 10:24 am (Meme) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Photo Challenge: Close Up

Travel theme: Grasses

Back Yard

This is my back yard. I view it mostly through my kitchen window. It needs work. The grass is spotty and the weeds in my garden space are tall. The trellis needs to go as does the rhubarb. I don’t eat rhubarb – it is too sour. I ate it, as a child, raw dipped in sugar but now I know that there is not enough sugar in the world to sweeten rhubarb enough for my tastes.

As I may have mentioned before, I am not an outdoor person. I used to be. As a child, it seems when I wasn’t reading I was running around outdoors. Then I started working after school (when I was thirteen) and time to myself was devoted to reading because reading kept my sane. I would read outdoors then. There was a small forest right in the middle of town, beside the Catholic manse, with a gazebo perfect for reading. They tore the forest down to build fancy houses. I don’t know where the gazebo went. I stopped going outdoors.

My eldest sister has a back deck that she uses as a second kitchen as long as she can until the snows come. She revels in improving and enjoying her garden and yards. She takes after our mother and grandmothers. I do not.

An untidy yard and garden depresses me but I hate the thought of spending precious reading and writing time fussing about outdoors.

My gardens and yards came with the house. I enjoy the flowers but have no desire to replant and replace what is there. If the condos around here would have allowed pets I would have bought one and then would have no outdoor space to worry and fuss over.

A Mess of Weeds

This is my garden space right now. It is a mess of weeds. I get depressed every time I look at it so I avoid looking at it. When I have the money it will be converted to grass. The flowers will be pulled up (or moved to the side space) and I will convert my outdoor space to maximum low maintenance.

No weeding. No watering. Just a small green space outside my dooryard.

With lilacs, of course. The lilacs will stay as will the roses. But it will be every flower for themselves. They will survive (or not) as Nature attended with no help from me.

As Ailsa wrote “if you don’t like mowing the lawn, let there be meadow.”

Front Yard

This is my front yard. I like my front yard. It is just grass and a bench that nobody ever sits on. There are no flower beds. There is no weeding needed to keep it pretty. It needs only rain and mowing. I do not waste water on my lawn. It survives (or not) as Nature intended.

Sun-dappled

Yesterday, it was all sun-dappled and pretty. I love how freshly mowed grass smells. The spotty green (it has been a somewhat dry summer) doesn’t bother me. The grass grows as nature intended (or not). I would be happy surrounded by meadow as long as there was a path to the house so that I could get in.

The perfect summer reading experience is indoors in a screened porch with comfy couches and a deep big chair and a pot of tea with summer breezes blowing in the scent of roses and lilacs and freshly mowed grass and the salty smell of the sea or the crisp mountain air.

Do I ask for too much?

Pig in the Grass

On my walk to the hospital (long story) yesterday, I encountered a pig in the grass. It stood happily in the shade enjoying the summer’s day. It made me smile when I needed to smile.

That’ll do pig. That’ll do.

 

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I Did It!

July 19, 2015 at 8:15 am (Life) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

What did I do? I finally cut off most of my hair. You may remember that about a month ago I asked for hairstyle suggestions.

Long

This was my hair then. It was about to the middle of my back. The last time I got a major haircut was about seven years ago so around 2007. That cut was slightly longer than on this picture of the actress’s hairstyle that I took for reference. The last major cut before then was about 1993 – it seems I yearn for shorter hair about every ten years or so.

Especially in the summer. In the summer I yearn for shorter (cooler) hair.

Ponytail

Getting few responses (ie hairstyles), I left the decision mostly up to my hairdresser. We started off by chopping off the ponytail. I knew I wanted the back to fall just to the nape of my neck and she suggested that I leave it slightly longer in the front. I have a natural wave to my hair so this short cut works okay.

Dead & Gone

I didn’t keep the ponytail. I am not the sentimental that way. It is dead and gone. I am confident that no one is using it for nefarious means.

Though, if I start sounding weird(er) on here you might want to send a necromancer to check up on me. Thanks!

Short

So, here I am, with my new short hair cut. I am getting use to it. I need to figure out how to style it. It is definitely lighter and cooler.

Now, I start the process of growing it out again.

😉

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Photo Challenge: Symbol

July 12, 2015 at 10:55 am (Meme) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Photo Challenge: Symbol

large-librarysymbol

Do you know what this symbol represents? I do. It is my home, my third place, my heart. I fear I have known this symbol since birth if they had used that signage then. I am a reader. I have been a reader forever.

I am also a huge library user. Last year, I borrowed over 400 items (books, graphic novels, CDs, DVDs) from my local library. Even if I were rich, I could never afford to buy every thing that I want to read.

I love my library. They never look askew at the variety of items I borrow. Right now, I have out 2 picture books, 1 young adult novel, a non-fiction book about Rain, a ton of mysteries, a graphic novel, a fan-girl geek guide, and the Big Gay Ice Cream book.

I love all libraries. When I travel, like to Alaska last year, I like to visit at least one library. I still regret not popping into the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh when I walked past it. I didn’t go in because I was lost and stressed. If I had gone in I would have become less stressed and (probably) less lost!

My ideal trip would be a tour of the world’s libraries. I’ve been a patron of at least half of the libraries in my province and have used one library in 3/4 of all the provinces in Canada. So, this is where I would start – visiting every library (public, private, special, university) in Canada and then moving on to the rest of the world.

I would need a list of how to translate the word library world-wide in every language possible. I tried to find such a list. I know this list exists. I saw it in a library book when I was in library school. After an hour sucked into the endless depths of the universe via Google, I cannot find the list. I wish my library was open on Sunday then I could just go find it in a book!

How long do you think this would take me? Keep in mind that my average library visit is usually two hours long. I think I might need another lifetime or two for this task.

If I start now, how long do you think it would take me to visit every library in the World? When I’m done, can I travel with the Doctor (please) to visit every past and future library also.

Sorry, no actual photo for this photo challenge. I have no car and the signage is on the road about a mile out (and I am not walking that far on this too, too hot day).

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Red Hair Fantasies

July 5, 2015 at 8:15 am (Life) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I am a faux Redhead. My hair colour is artificial, an imitation, not genuine.

I love red hair. Right now, my hair is mostly red with patches of grey at the part and temples.

I resent the fact that you might think my hair colour is not genuine. I may not have been born with red hair but it does define me.

Crabapple Red

I’ve wanted red hair since I was a teen. I was born with blonde hair (I am so not a blonde) which slowly evolved into mousy brown. I didn’t call my hair mousy, I called it chestnut brown, – everyone else got my hair colour and personality mixed up. I was a very quiet, unobtrusive slightly skulking mouse of a child.

All the book heroines of my childhood had red hair.

The infamous Canadian Anne.

Pippi Longstocking with her parrot and pirate papa.

Madeline, the smallest of the 12 little girls who went out in two straight lines.

Charles De Lint’s Seven Wild Sisters.

Jo March (as portrayed by Katherine Hepburn) in Little Women.

Also, My favourite feuding queens both had red hair.

Snapdragon Red

Redheads were feisty and true to themselves. I wanted to be one!

I am not an impossible redhead. I have the pale colouring for it. I do not come across as a faux redhead at first glance. Red hair runs in the family. I have ancestors in Scotland. I have a cousin with natural red hair who won freckle contests in his youth. I have a nephew who goes all out strawberry blonde if he works in the sun too much. Red hair is superfluous on men!

Poppy Red

I experimented with red hair for the first time when I was in my early twenties. I was a bridesmaid in my younger brother’s wedding so I decided to colour my hair with henna. Which was a long and messy process that I got done in a hair salon. I have long hair and I read so I don’t mind spending the time getting my hair dyed by someone else. Plus, I hate messy!

Then I got married to a man with an aversion to redheads because one had bullied him as a child. He believed the propaganda that:

redheads were evil, wanton, and hot-tempered. Throughout history, they’ve been subjected to discrimination and fearful prejudice, being viewed as untrustworthy, mischievous, temperamental, and lustful. In ancient Egypt, red hair was seen as so unlucky, red-haired girls were burned alive. According to Greek myths, redheads turn into vampires when they die.

British tradition says that on New Year’s Day, your first caller will bring you luck. Brunettes bring the best luck, blondes bring none, widowers are bad luck, and redheads bring the worst luck!

Even before our divorce was final I was back to dying my hair red. I went strawberry red, copper, maroon, and auburn. I’d just find the perfect shade and then I switch hair stylists. I’ve gone through a lot of hair stylists – either they would move or I would.

Tulip Red

I discovered I was definitely not a strawberry – that colour was too light and flighty for my personality.

Maroon was too purple. I didn’t want purpley. Maroon was too dark of a red for me. Maroon was too serious. Maroon was yachts and polo shirts and croquet.

Copper was too bright. It sparkled in the sun too much and drew attention to me. I didn’t want attention. Copper was the two guys walking behind me discussing how much fun & trouble I would be in the bedroom. True but I didn’t want that aspect of my life pointed out so rudely in public!

Auburn was just about right. Auburn was me – a reader, a quiet doer, a book heroine just waiting to happen. Auburn with low copper lights is my go to red right now and probably will be until I decide to finally go all out grey.

Which may be soonish. Sometime after I finally get all this long, over-processed hair cut short.

Then I will be grey and I will have to recreate a new me.

Are we who we appear to be?

Are we what we appear to be?

“While the rest of the species is descended from apes, redheads are descended from cats.” – Mark Twain

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Happy Canada Day

June 30, 2015 at 11:59 pm (My City) (, , , , , , , , , , )

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Canada Day Challenge 2015 Winners.

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