A is for Alphabet

I have an affinity for all things pretty… including fabrics with textures, patterns and intermingling colours.  I have always loved fashion, and I have a great many memory of Saturday shopping trips with the Bobs (a.k.a. my ma) and my Sistah.  We’d scour for great deals and load up on fab finds.  Both my ma and pa had a great sense of style, with a multitude of clothes and shoes to choose from on any given day.  I remember the vast array of my dad’s wardrobe with his Harry Rosen suits, me stuck polishing his alligator shoes, and he demonstrating the art of the double windsor knot.  My mom, who detests wearing the colour green, for some reason had this hat that I vividly remember, that looked like a pale green sheer skull-cap with the lightest white and chartreuse organza petals.  I distinctly recall a flashback of the back of her head (hair tucked in), while she wore it on a car ride to church on the dusty dirt road in the old cream coloured Ford Mustang.  I desperately wish I had a photo of it for today’s photo challenge #7, but I only have my memory for this blast from the past.

My photo today instead, is of my ‘alphabet scarf’… a cute little fun find I picked up on a road trip to Hamilton on our way to visit the eastern branch of the perogy clan; when mom was up for a visit from Edmonchuk a few years ago.  As you can imagine, shopping is still one of our greatest past times and to this day, we continue to bond over a great deal on cute gear.

letter scarf re-sized

 

 

Beer Trials

Okay…  so I’m not a beer drinker … anymore.  And I suspect that getting drunk on ‘Coors Light’ in my early 20’s does not quite constitute me as being a ‘beer connoisseur’, does it?  The Big D however, quite enjoys his evening brews, and I can’t seem to keep up with all the fancy terminology and different types; though I think I need to re-introduce myself to this frothy foaming liquid substance.  There are many great craft beer microbreweries here in Ottawa, and one of Big D’s biking buds is the brains behind the brews at Nita Beer.   So in honour of “National Beer Day” I thought tonight would be the optimum time to pull a cold one out of the fridge and give it a chug,….except...ahhhhh…. there aren’t any left… which is … interesting… because I could have SWORN I saw one in there …   

So, although I was willing to give it the old ‘college try’ and tap into a brew, it seems that I am unfortunately unable to….tonight… anyway.  Although the plan was to post a pic of some brews for my photo challenge #6, I will have to instead share one of the two tasty ciders, (which for the purpose of this post I will convince myself are like ‘beer siblings’), which I DO happen to have in the fridge, which are mine…. all mine… and will soon be gone…. gone…. gone…. 

ciders

When the Cows Come Home

I was so excited to find out that the ever talented, fun and engaging Kate Green was transposing her art into delightful home decor accents, and I knew I needed to grab one of her amazing creations.  She has this innate connection with colour and brushstrokes of whimsy that match her magnetic personality.  The parcel came in the mail yesterday, when I was away from the office, and  the moment I walked in the door this morning, I plunked my butt down and feverishly tore open the envelope; with utter delight I shrieked with joy!  My Highland Cow Pillow had arrived, and I knew it was going to look smashing in my mud porch!

Many a moon ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Kate through my dear compadre, and partner-in-crime, Jelly, when I was trotting about town and running my Interior Decorating business.  We shared many a laugh and good conversation together during those days.  It wasn’t until recently that we reconnected when Jelly brought together some wonderful and talented women for a gathering of fun and chuckles; and kindly included me in the mix.  This is when I discovered that Kate had branched out from her painting and cake decorating business (yeah….  so uber talented, is she!) and was now showcasing her remarkable talents in the home decor accent arena.  (YAY for me… because my wall space was pretty much taken, so now I could add some of her colourful fun with pillows – because one can ever ever ever… have too many.)

Feel free to check out her incredible talents on the links above or through her etsy shop https://www.etsy.com/shop/KateGreenDesign  Now, Kate… when you’re ready… I would love a bird nest shower curtain...just sayin’... 😉

Photo Challenge #5 (and counting…)

Highland Cow Pillow .jpg

Tea Time

I never used to be a coffee lover, until the Big D brought me an all sugared-up flavoured coffee one morning from the local ‘Grabba Jabba’ during a visit to Ottawa in our wooing days. (It was the 90’s, when the shop was hopping in it’s hayday, and conveniently located around the corner from his basement bachelor pad.)  I never used to like the smell of coffee actually, and then, over time, I kind of became accustomed to it and learned to appreciate the intensity of the heavy aromatic beans.  Which is more of a wake-up call than the beans themselves as I tend to drink decaf.  (Hey!  No judging….) 

When my sistah lived in England a number of years ago however, I began to appreciate the fine flavours of tea.  I used to drink it straight up, until a friend here taught me the ‘art of making a good cuppa’, which includes a generous splash of milk.  And now… that is my most favourite way to enjoy a lovely brew – a great way to start the morning or to wind down at night from a long day.

My photo challenge number #4 (let’s see how long I can keep this up – now taking bets….),  is my favourite cup kindly gifted to me from The Finn for my birthday last year. (That’s right… I’m not mentioning WHICH birthday….) 😉  But, isn’t it just so purtty!?  Perfect for a sunny spring morning, which as luck would have it, was today.

tea cup

Words of Wonder

I have always loved and adored the written word, and poetry in particular has always felt very moving;  like the image of tall grasses dancing in the wind.

It has been a number of year since I was so very fortunate to visit my Uncle Paul at his cottage on Chandos Lake, Ontario.  While I was growing up in Alberta as a young girl, he had already been living in the St. Catherine’s area, so I wasn’t able to see him often.  But when I moved to Ontario many a moon ago, I would visit when I could, and wait with bated breath as I clung to the words he shared of his youth or quietly ponder life as we stared out over the lake in silence.  His blue eyes, so reminiscent of my mom’s would sparkle with mischievousness as he relived his tales, and I would feel a special connection to home.   I don’t recall sharing my love of poetry with him, but I remember what a kind and loving gesture it was when he gifted me this book, and how he instinctively knew I would cherish it.  Unfortunately, he is no longer with us, but I will always look back with fondness and gratitude for those moments in time I was able to spend with him.

Candian Poets book

Photo Challenge #3

Below is a poem from this book, written by Norah M Holland, a poet from Collingwood, Ontario. I thought this fitting, in my melancholy moment recalling memories of Uncle Paul… and seeing as our sweet Oreo (who sadly is also no longer with us) would accompany both Big D and I on our trips to the lake, it seemed applicable.

The Little Dog-Angel

High up in the courts of Heaven to-day
   A little dog-angel waits;
With the other angels he will not play.
   But he sits alone at the gates;
‘For I know that my master with come,’ says he:
‘And when he comes he will call for me.’

He sees the spirits that pass him by
    As they hasten towards the Throne.
And he watches them with a wistful eye
    As he sits at the gates alone;
‘But I know if I just wait patiently
That some day my master will come,’ says he.

And his master, far on the earth below,
    As he sits in his easy chair,
Forgets sometimes, and he whistles low
    For the dog that is not there;
And the little dog-angel cocks his ears,
And dreams that his master’s call he hears.

And I know, when at length his master waits
    Outside in the dark and cold
For the hand of Death to ope the gates
    That lead to those courts of gold,
The little dog-angel’s eager bark
Will comfort his soul in the shivering dark.

Rascally Rabbits

My young work compadre & I, thought we’d try shaking things up a bit, so as 2015 drew to a close, we feverishly sat down to come up with some fun (and some not so fun) challenges for 2016.  Each month, we draw a new dare ‘challenge’ from the Tim Hortons cup atop of the credenza (yes… the cup is clean).  For April, we selected a “photo a day”; and so, here is my April 1st photo (yes… a bit late, but I was recently preoccupied blogging about a far heavier subject).  This however, is a wee bit o’fun, as the Fromage (my nickname for her, because all those who are in my close circle seem to eventually get one from me) and I make an attempt to finally follow through on one of our challenges; though we are in fact ahead of the game as ‘blogging’ has been started again, but not yet drawn from the cup!

IMG_2007

While chillaxin’ on April 1st with Tante Hosé… we popped over to Chapters, so she could get her Starbucks fix, and we meandered through the aisles… self-help, fiction, children’s literature, and the fun trinket section at the cash, of course.   I came across the display of the very endearing book “Guess How Much I Love You”, which I read to Mouks nightly when he was just a wee lad.  And it is a fitting title accurately depicting how much love there is between parent and child, and beautifully illustrates how much my heart overflows with love for my fella.  I have the sweetest memories that I hold dear of the warm snuggles and animated words as I read this aloud to him.  There is something so peaceful and mesmerizing about the story…. and it warms my heart how it’s not until Little Nutbrown Hair thinks he has stated that loving Big Nutbrown Hair “all the way to the moon” is as far as you can love someone, and he is satisfied, and lulls off into a contemplative sleep… that Big Nutbrown hair then quietly and gently whispers, “I love you all the way to the moon…. and back”.  ❤

 

The Footsteps of My Past…

Blog Quote

It’s been 3 years since my last confession…. (Well… since I’ve posted to my blog in actuality, as blogging seems to be my confessional of choice).   Since that time I have lost and regained about 30 pounds and found myself caught in what can sometimes be described as the mundane everyday hamster wheel of life; though I feel it is more accurate a scenario portrayed within the spinning thoughts of my own mind.  I have looked at various ways to reacquaint myself with the old ‘me’, and in full disclosure I admit that some of the old me is best left to the past, though we are all a work in progress.   But, I would love nothing more than to once again walk in the shoes of the carefree and expressive ‘me’ of long ago.

A number of years ago, when I sat down to write my first blog pages, I also wrote a healing short story about a painful memory from my past, which still remains sight unseen to others.  A memory that had once upon a time been selectively shared with family and close friends; a net which became wider and wider and slowly captured a larger audience as my inability to stay quiet became inevitable.  My hurt and silence was like a kettle of water on a low boil that would eventually whistle loud enough for others to hear, and, if unacknowledged, it would spill over and blow.  This written account of events was not publicly declared, as it was pages from my life that also caused grief and probably some embarrassment from a tight lipped and relatively private extended family tribe.  It’s a story of inappropriateness pushed on a young girl who did not have the adult capabilities to fend off her perpetrator.  Granted these unwanted sexual overtures from this heinous monster (which is a more than fair and very accurate description) were not as severe as perhaps some other poor child’s accounts may have been in similar circumstances, but they were in the very bold truth… a fact;  Traumatic, Terrifying and Criminal.  And I am not trying to trivialize what happened, (to you, or in my own mind) but there are instances of abuse that can be far more graphic and horrific in nature.  These memories I have though, unfortunately belong to me, and have repeatedly traumatized me throughout different stages of my life.  And, at various points over the decades the realness of them comes back to haunt me at odd and unexplained moments, even within the waking hours.  Engulfing me in fits of anxiety, rapid heart beat and the ever present memory of feeling trapped as I did as a young girl; hiding in a bedroom alone in the darkened night during visits to the farm, shielded by a thin chenille coverlet, with the flecks of dust floating against the faint light from under the door and praying to a god I wasn’t sure existed, as my aunt peacefully slept in the room next to mine, utterly and totally oblivious to the monster she lay with.  Vivid memories are heartbreakingly recalled as I stifled my cries and begged with my heart that the stench of his vulgar whiskey breath and rough calloused hands would no longer come within my reach, and despairingly I remember the struggle(s) to push him off of me and his deep menacing and evil laugh when I was finally successful enough to do so.

Over the course of the years I tried different approaches to deal with my anger, hurt and bewilderment that someone could in fact inflict such undeniable psychological trauma to a child who carried only joy and innocence.   But to such beasts, that must be the mass appeal; a gift that can be stolen from their prey.  As an adult, I sought counseling after full blown panic attacks and agoraphobia and thought I had beaten the burden I carried.  Later, again, years down the road I worked with a life coach, after noticing the various ways I was self-sabotaging aspects of my life.  She encouraged me to write a letter to the molester, which I did.  (I very deliberately refrain from the term ‘my’, as it represents the bonded connection which he sought through his abuse, but was never entitled to.)  It was not a letter of forgiveness, because it is unforgivable.  It was a letter forcing him to acknowledge what he did, and to transfer the burden and shame where it rightfully belonged.  And, in the act of writing, the realization became clear that there was no one to blame BUT him.  That my aunt was most likely also abused in some way shape or form, and that there was a naivety of that era, where trust in others was very easily misplaced; his opportunites to abuse being a testament to that.  Though I admit, such realizations offer no comfort on the dark days when my heart feels heavy.  The option I weighed was to send or not send the letter, though I don’t believe I was ever really reluctant to do so, and therefore I recall very deliberately posting it in the mail, and the act of ‘letting it go’ in the hope of finally finding closure.  To this day, if it was read aloud to him as he lay ailing in his nursing home, I will never know.  I don’t know if it was found among his belongings after he finally died, because no one dares speak of it.  I don’t know what it feels like to be blood related to a monster; to be embarrassed of a father or grandfather who could inflict such deliberate and calculated abuse upon someone.  And for this and many other reasons, I give thanks that my own family taught me what real love means.  I know him only as a non-biological uncle that had a pattern of abuse throughout his own life, who inflicted vile and wretched hurt unto others in a variety of menacing and cruel ways during his lifetime; which still does not allow me to offer pity upon him.  It is continuing hurt though, that still lingers at times…. that it cannot be openly spoken of freely.  That the reason for my hate and disdain of him are not fully acknowledged by those who know it, but do not speak of it.  The reasonable part of my brain, tries desperately to convince myself that silence is instilled to spare my feelings, but in actuality it does the reverse.  Silence is painful for me.  It is silence that breeds shame, and the spoken truth the key to its release.  If his memory and name, (which I can barely stomach to utter aloud, and seethes out between clenched teeth) “John Tatarin”, remains untarnished, and the pain he inflicted remains unspoken, it does not accurately reflect history.

I am thankful daily though, for the ears that listen when I need them to, for those who acknowledge the trauma it inflicted upon the child who felt scared and alone and unable to cope.  And from the memory I hold of the person who tried to protect me at the very beginning of the torment; my heart will forever be connected with theirs and full of gratitude and love which overflows from my soul.  In our own way, we must all learn the art of our own healing; how to continue to forge ahead with the memories and feelings from childhood, with the coping mechanisms we now have as adults.  And it’s a very fine balance; one that we must ‘train our brain’ to do.  We are no longer living in that moment in the past, but just remembering it;  though with the act of remembering we can inadvertently conjure up the feelings we had whilst of that  age, where time stands still.  Sometimes we lose our way, when we become enveloped in that feeling… but within ourselves we have the ability to find a way out of the hurt.  Through tragedy can come a deep understanding and protectiveness of others, which my soul carries – and it’s the side I often share with the world.   And, as I take this moment in time to once again heal my broken spirit, I look for ways I can reconnect with the joy I carry within, as I walk along my path ahead.

It is my hope that these written words do not cause hurt or angst to others, but that the sentiments shared find their way to help understand the healing process that can be associated with traumatic events; that PTSD can manifest itself at unexpected times, in unexpected ways and that support can vary between individuals.

This is only a small piece of the puzzle that makes me ‘me’… albeit the most challenging dimension, and my own story keeps unfolding, sometimes with different layers: hurt, grief, love, laughter, joy.  Thank you for walking with me a while, as I regained the courage to retrace the footsteps of my past…

Brunch /brənCH/

Weekends are divine, and brunch is my favourite time. I am soooo poetic! But, it’s true. I love brunch; I love planning brunch, I love prepping for brunch, I love having friends over for brunch, and I love eating brunch. And Sunday’s are my favourite day for brunch!

brunch collage

Last weekend, we had some of our amazing friends over (well, “technically”, as Mouks would say; all of our friends are amazing – seriously!) and these particular compadres we hadn’t seen in quite a while. Life gets busy, and with kids, activities, work and coordinating schedules, we seem to only ever have time for … you guessed it – BRUNCH!

I love trying out new dishes, and am thankful, that for the most part, everything just kind of magically ‘turns out’. At least in my head it does … and everyone seems to choke it all down with a polite smile and a degree of enthusiasm … so I forge ahead with delight!

depression glass bowl labeledPart of enjoying a tasty meal, is the art of setting the table. I like to putter and fuss, and believe that everything tastes even yummier, with a delightful presentation. For this particular brunch, I pulled out some of my favourite pieces. My Baba’s cherished green depression glass bowl housed a yummy fruit salad (I often speculate on how this beloved piece came into her possession), while my antique yellow and white napkins snuggly engulfed delicious bagels in a sweet little basket.

brunch table settingAnd no table setting is complete without added  height; so one of my many cake plates was layered with a coordinating red damask napkin with additional bagels gently laid on top. A secondary stand held a yummy homemade apple coffee cake, and a cute antique glass sugar pot with a lid, held some delectably delicious whipped creamcheese. I used a painted ceramic egg cup to host the capers and put it on a small rectangular glass plate with sliced red onions. To complete the look, everyone had a special ‘spreader’ at their place setting, lime rimmed crystal goblets for water, and red antique low stemmed juice glasses. I don’t segregate kids dishes from adult dishes. (I’m all about equal opportunity for breakage). Once Mouks hit the age of 3, we pretty much threw out the plastic cups and plates, and he went right to glassware and ceramic dishes. I think it makes everyone feel special, and particularly for nice occasions. In my head, I believe it instills a sense of confidence and the opportunity to act more grown up and “M” for mature. (I use this video game analogy to bribe Mouks into acting more mature, citing that he can start getting “M” rated games, when he can act like an older guy – hey! … whatever works – we gotta speak their lingo)! My mom (Bobs) did this whole dish deal for us as well … though I know I am certainly not scientific proof that it instills maturity, because I’m still a bit of a goofball AND a bull in a china shop!; but it sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?! And, in fairness to any youngen who’s eaten in Smackiland, they have not yet broken a dish or glass. Now, that’s impressive!

tulips in milk jugI did buy some lovely fresh tulips and put them in a butter coloured metal milk jug to coordinate with my vintage inspired creamy yellow dishes, meticulously placed on a faded red floral tablecloth reminiscent of a country garden. And… ahhhhhh… my ‘pre-spring’ brunch table was set!

I like to serve a menu with a variety of items everyone will enjoy. Here is a list of my latest offerings:

Bevvies:

  • Big D’s ‘Stand-Up’ Lattes. The name says it all… a load of rich, luxurious caffeine, smothered in frothy goodness, and so thick your spoon will stand up.
  • Juice d’orange.
  • San Pellagrino, with fresh lime wedges.

Cold Delights:

  • Flavourful fruit salad, consisting of strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, watermelon, cantaloupe, pineapple and blueberries. Topped with maple infused whipped cream. Mmmm…. Mmmm… who doesn’t love just a little touch of maple syrup goodness?
  • Kettleman’s bagels (only THE best bagels in all of Ottawa); poppyseed, sesame and ‘everything’ selections.
  • Deli toppings: prosciutto ham (a.k.a. Moukie’s ‘special ham’), smoked salmon, with ultra thinly sliced red onions and capers.
  • Assorted cheese plate: stinky Rouy cheese, double cream Brie, and garlic Boursin, garnished with grape clusters and strawberries.
  • Whipped cream cheese. I find spreadable creamcheese, whipped with my hand blender makes it creamier for spreading with not a lot of fuss.
  • Delish berry jam.
  • Pads of butter.
  • Homemade apple coffee cake.  Stay tuned for this uber awesome recipe!

Warm Goodness:

  • M-mm-mmm maple sausages…. yummmm… sausages! Easy to throw in the oven on a cookie sheet, and voila!
  • Egg nests! Yeah… you heard me.. but these are different, there are no birds. My latest experiment…. I found a little recipe online, so gave it a whirl! Here’s the Smack-Attack version:

eggs in phyllo recipe

Please call ahead to book your Brunch reservation in Smackiland!

Now taking appointments….

Public Transit – Bravo or Bust?

oc bus lineupOn most days, I drive my little compact SUV into the office, a quick 3km jaunt, taking an average of 6.376 minutes. On nice, sunny, summer days, I may instead, be seen venturing out to work on my bicycle, equipped with my helmet, messenger bag, and sporting my professional work attire, avec biking shorts sous ma jupe, (I’m practicing my French!  Translation: biking shorts under my skirt) for my quick “superwoman change’ and taking an average of 11.827 minutes plus 1.592 minutes to lock up. And, on rare occasions, when the Big D loads his mountain bike on the back of the Sportage, he kindly deposits me curbside.  angrybirdcookies black shadowThe walk home takes an average of 29.72 minutes. (Including the pit stop at the BOKO bakery on Elgin Street, for Moukie’s favourite Angry Bird iced cookies). And in the winter, there are other times, when I take the bus home (12.831 minutes) … as I happen to, just the other day.

For the bargain deal (note the hint of sarcasm), of $3.30 CDN I will partake in the time-honoured tradition of utilizing public transit.  second cup revisedI suppose in many cities, $3.30 is a rock bottom deal, but I would prefer to spend my funds on a daily decaf non-fat butter pecan latte at Second Cup.   Yummmmm … butter pecan in liquid form.  This winter I’ve had more than my fair share of bus rides.  (Ohh…was that when the Big D lost my set of keys to the car you ask?  Why ‘yes’, yes it WAS the only set left after he lost HIS and not had them replaced … hmmmm…. coincidentally, it was also the same time we were out in the freezing cold with Mouks and the pooch for a New Years Day snowshoe excursion; and, you would be correct in noting that it was this particular instance in which we had to have the car towed to the dealership, and had to wait almost an entire week until we got a new set made….uhhhhhh…. Yeah.  Mmm Hmmm.. That was then.)  So, this winter, I’ve frequented the bus a number of times. And here are a few things I’ve observed:

  1. People at the bus stop rarely look you in the eye in this fair city.
  2. $3.30 is a stupid amount of change, but a great way to get rid of your coinage.
  3. A ‘thank you’, can go a long way, so I make sure to say a kind word to the bus driver. He can kick you off… right? But not for jamming all your pennies in the money-box thingy, can he?
  4. People don’t say ‘excuse me’ much.
  5. And what’s with taking up TWO seats??!!! Is there any particular reason why your bag warrants its own seat during rush hour?!! I think not! So… move… either your dumb bag or entitled ass – over.
  6. The majority of the world is attached to a digital device. Like, almost literally. I think implants will be next… If someone isn’t listening to music, they’re texting, talking on the phone or checking emails. Just an interesting little observation; I’m not offended.
  7. That smell has to come from somewhere – and it sure the heck isn’t me!!!
  8. There is a wide age range of people taking public transport.
  9. Does it look like I want to jump over a mile high pile of snow to get out of the back doors in THESE boots??!! Thanks so much, but I think NOT!
  10. And yes… of course I loved being splashed by that giant puddle! Heartfelt gratitude for your consideration!
  11. Gotta love that the city silenced one of their drivers for singing on the bus. (Again… sarcasm, but true story). There goes the value-added for your whopping $3.30. Seriously? The guy is stuck there, on his little perch with nothing but the road ahead and a bus load of people … what’s the problem with spreading a little happiness? Check out this link oc transpo driver silenced   Note the video at the bottom of the article, with him singing.
  12. And the City actually had to debate blasting a LRT tunnel through downtown?!!?  ‘Cause our roads are sooo spacious with the backlog of buses, taxis, cars, scooters, motorcycles and bicycles sharing the road while trying to flee the downtown core during rush hour. Not to mention the amount of pedestrians waiting for said transport. I mean, really, does a major city actually NEED a subway system?!  DOH! 
  13. Presto! Auto pay passes… still aren’t fully operational. Shocker. They were only supposed to roll out, I dunno…. a year ago?! Nice idea – poor implementation.
  14. Oh yes… let’s not forget the GREAT idea of double-decker buses in a city that gets freezing rain and ummmm record snowfalls. Yup. GREAT idea. THAT was a c-l-e-v-e-r.
  15. And, similar thoughts on the accordion (articulated buses)…. though, it is a little fun to sit in one of the seats in the middle; kinda like a low-grade tilt-a-whirl when you go around a corner.

oc transpo Collage

And each day, as I sit in my downtown office, overlooking the busy street, I hear the rumble of the buses, the squeal of their brakes, and I can even smell the slight faint stench of their exhaust through my sealed window; and despite all the frustrations and idiosyncracies of public transit, I am still brought back in time to the sweet thoughts of buses and babies, and the song I sang repeatedly to Mouks when he was just a wee young lad:

“The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, round and round… The wheels on the bus go round and round, all through the town…”

“The money on the bus goes ‘clink clink clink’, ‘clink clink clink’, ‘clink clink clink’… The money on the bus goes ‘clink clink clink’, all through the town …” 

…   …  …