Being A Little Overwhelmed by Achieving a Goal

I am an author.

I have been saying for several years now, when asked what I do, “I’m a writer”.  It’s an easy phrase to toss off, until the inevitable follow-up question arrives.  “Oh, what do you write? Would I have read anything of yours?”  Fortunately for my ego, I can respond by saying I have been a magazine writer and editor, I wrote opinion pieces for my local newspaper, I was a radio journalist for a while, but now I’m trying my hand at both fiction and a memoir.

It is the memoir that was finished first, and it is the memoir that will be published and launched in just a couple of days. I chose October 1st because it would have been my parents’ 61st wedding anniversary and this book is so much about them.  And about my siblings and their families, and my extended, and so many friends, so many meals.  It was a work of love in very many ways to write.  Now it’s a work of faith to present it to the public and see what they have to say.

Oh, my friends and my family have been supportive in ways I truly was not expecting.  And that is both gratifying and humbling. What will be interesting is to see who else buys the book, who are the people I don’t know who might want to read my stories, cook my food.

Given the tiny sliver of success this first book has provided me, I am already considering how to follow up the experience, how to broaden the experience, so that not only do I continue to tell stories and share food, but create opportunities that will lead to stories and meals I cannot even imagine right now.

I have begun the process with the tentative step of a new blog (not that I’m giving up this one — that would be silly. And I need it!) and we’ll see how things develop over the next few weeks.

I’ll be back after the weekend after the launch (what a full first four days of October we have!!) with photos and stories and I expect a great deal more gratitude.  And somewhat calmer nerves.

The illustration commissioned for the front cover of GOOF, CARPETBAG STEAK & DIVINITY: A Memoir With Recipes.  The artist is named Kaoru Shimada or KART.

The illustration commissioned for the front cover of GOOF, CARPETBAG STEAK & DIVINITY: A Memoir With Recipes. The artist is named Kaoru Shimada or KART.

Six Months… What Goes Through My Mind in Six Months…

I should kick myself in the arse for being so… well, indecisive about continuing this blog.  Not because I don’t enjoy writing, because I do.  And not because I don’t appreciate the generally positive feedback I get from it, because I do.  But maybe because of two people and one idea.

The two people are ghosts from my life and while I try to ignore them or pretend they have little, if anything, to do with my present, they always seem to just pop up and annoy me with their ghostly presence.  They are likely see this post and knowing that – again –  I’m sharing something of myself with them is, well, icky.  But the reason for even establishing this blog was to bust some ghosts and mostly, I’ve done that.  Mostly, I’ve learned to step back and breathe, to take a second or third or tenth look at a problem and then either write about it OR accept the fact that some things in life, baby, you just can’t change.

The idea is different.  The idea was that maybe now I’ve busted those ghosts I can move in another direction.  What that would be, I wasn’t not sure but still….

But there’s more to writing this blog than just exorcising some bad ideas, some bad relationships. I write because I seek inner clarity.  I write as a way to express myself, and find myself, and be myself in a world where sometimes the masks are pretty heavy, stuck in place.  Of course, sometimes I write just pap and crap, and that’s okay!!  I love a good gossip or picture magazine at times.  But sometimes, I need to find words to figure out what the hell I’m feeling, and to get rid of the bad ones, and snuggle up to the good ones.

I’m keep a gratitude jar this year.  The idea is to jot down one small thing every day that’s made you feel grateful or happy or some other positive crap, put the notes in a jar, and at the end of the year, count ’em all up.  Well,  30 days does not make 30 notes but there are some in the jar, and there will be more than 185 by the end of the year (that’s more than 1 every other day, fyi for my arithmetically challenged friends!)

Maybe it’s been the jar, maybe it was getting a letter today from someone I did NOT expect to hear from, maybe it was a lot of PMing with a long-time colleague that just turned into silly fun… but I’m feeling really positive and lucky and peaceful this week.  A feeling which will last if the Seahawks win on Sunday.

Anyway, I’m back. I’ll be here a lot.  I hope to hear from you soon.  And I hope all the monsters under your bed are gone!

Senescence, or Seriously, How Did I Get Here?

I have been thinking a lot about ageing this week.

My birthday is Saturday and that always makes me think about ageing.  When I was a child, it was exciting to grow older, to be one step closer to adulthood and all the fun I saw come with being grown up.  When I was a teenager, it was still exciting to grow older, to start having some of that fun of being a grown-up but also to start shouldering some of the responsibilities that come with years.  When I was a young adult, it was still exciting to grow older, because the possibilities of my youth were coming true, so I was having that adult fun and yet also being An Adult and carrying more responsibility and obligation around with me. And now I am in well into my middle years, well into them, and I still love birthdays (most especially mine) but they’re not so much exciting now as they are nostalgic, sometimes Romantic, always emotional.

I must have an angel food cake for my birthday.  This is because my grandmother, Grandma Gert (whose name was really Hazel Isobel but we called her Gert), would bake one for me every summer.  We would troop up to their cottage, eat barbecued hot dogs, corn on the cob and angel food cake with a kind of inner ‘moat’ of mixed whipped cream, sliced bananas, mandarin oranges and tinned pineapple.  Sort of like this:

angel-food-cake-3

Having an angel food cake like this meets all my late middle years birthday needs. It is emotional and nostalgic, remember my grandparents and the fun having those birthday lunches with my family always meant. And now an angel food cake is Romantic because Jeffrey (almost always) bakes one for me, foregoing the ‘moat’ to make the cake last longer for just two people, but serving the whipped cream and tropical fruits on the side. The down side of having this angel food cake birthday was the location.

Oh, don’t get me wrong.  I loved the cottage life, and I loved spending all summer, every summer, at the cottage, but I never had a birthday party like my friends at school did because I was never around my school friends.  I was at the cottage!  And as much as I loved my family, it wasn’t the same thing, having hot dogs with them and not my friends.  So the year I turned 9, I decided to have a party for my cousins and “summer cousins” at the cottage.

Probably should have told my mother I wanted to do this BEFORE I invited everyone but… it all worked out in the end.  My grandmother came to the rescue with a cake, we had a field’s worth of corn on the cob, played silly party games, went swimming, and I got presents!

That was my last birthday party until I turned 18, which happened when I was in Australia, and then the next one after that was 30 and then 40.  That last one (a party planned by me but turned into a surprise by Jeff & my parents when they made it all happen a week earlier than I thought!) was especially lovely but also, in retrospect, sort of sad.  My mother was not feeling well and sort of held herself away from the crowd.  As it turns out, she really wasn’t well and died before my next birthday.  And that was when I started marking birthdays not just a matter of getting older but also of change.

This birthday brings more changes and more ageing, not so much for me, but for my in-law family.  My parents-in-law are just weeks away from their 92nd birthdays and 70th wedding anniversary, but both are facing the many changes and challenges of ageing, especially my father-in-law.  I watch them, I see how Mom deals with Dad, her impatience sometimes but mostly, especially, her love and devotion, and I feel so blessed to have them in my life, to have had them welcome and value me in their lives.

Wikipedia sugggests that ageing well consists of doing so with a low probability of disease or disability, enjoying high cognitive functions, and having an active engagement with life.  In other words, you’re healthy, your mind still works, and you’re out there having fun.  Okay, I’m three for three so far.  Well, maybe 2.5 for three, but let’s not quibble.  And I am grateful for ageing well, as opposed to badly, and especially as opposed to the complete alternative.  But still, this birthday reminds me I am ageing and while I have always changed with age, for the first time, I am seeing those changes, or more accurately seeing those changes more clearly, and some of them are… well, let’s just say I wish one needn’t see them quite so clearly.

I have a copy of the Musselman family tree (as of 20 years ago) and almost all of my mother’s father’s relatives on that very large and well spread out tree lived long lives.  I mean, long lives.  Even back in the 17th century, my ancestors lived long lives, and in the 20th, very long lives and apparently mostly healthy ones.  My maternal grandfather, who was born in 1899, once told me he wanted to live to be 101, because that would mean his life would touch three centuries; he missed by three years.  I think I am more Musselman than Staines; goodness knows I look like a Pennsylvania Dutch/Swiss farm peasant!  Perhaps this means I will enjoy that lifespan too.  I don’t know.

In biology, senescence is the state or process of ageing.  In life, the process of ageing is about grace.  It’s about facing what you have and who you are, it’s about enjoying those things you still can and remembering those things you cannot, it’s about family, still with us and still with us only in our hearts. Ageing is also another angel food cake, a bottle of champagne and a few birthday cards.  It’s also a little time reading old diaries, leafing through a few photo albums, and then enjoying a day with family and friends.

For Robert DeNiro, Mae West, Davy Crocket, Jim Courier, Belinda Carlisle, and especially for my dear friend, Richard Prazmowski, this wish for us all….

Birthday-Candles3

It Was Meant As a Joke. I Didn’t Get It.

I was never cool as a kid.  I didn’t get the inside jokes most of the time, and unless it was a literary reference or involved movies or music from the 30s and 40s, I rarely understood pop culture references.  I was middle-aged before my time, and I’m not getting any younger.

That being said, I still sometimes try.  For example, I am enamoured of Twitter and so witnessed the trending of what seemed to be an impossible film.  I gave in to my need to be cool:  I watched the re-run of SHARKNADO on Thursday night.

I am not proud of myself for doing this.  It was a dreadful, dreadful movie that the director and others have said was meant to be a bloody, gory, inside joke about horror films.   It took 18 days (that many?  given the quality of the appearance of the movie, I would have said 8 tops, and 3 in post-production) and a million dollars to make (or maybe two, depending on who you read in researching this) and earned lousy ratings (maybe up to 1.4 million people on the debut night) for the SyFy network.  Still, the network and everyone involved in making this piece of purest schlock says it was a hit! People loved it! They’re looking at a sequel, maybe with Johnny Depp!!

If you saw it and enjoyed it for what the network and movie makers say was its purpose — a light-hearted albeit gory summer movie — then good for you.  I have other movies, better movies, with which to take a break from the summer heat, starting with another movie about sharks, a cheap-to-make but easy to look at and frightening as hell little number called JAWS. Still, if SHARKNADO rocks your boat (or your Hummer or your helicopter or your chain saw or your frickin’ bar stool) then… yea??

The thing about jokes is, they’re supposed to be funny.  And inside jokes are supposed to be presented with a wink and a nod to the audience.  Yes, I got some of the references to other movies (not least, JAWS, when they paraphrased “I think we need a bigger boat”) and a couple of other pop culture toss-offs, but it wasn’t enough.  Every plot contrivance possible was built into the story: separated young-ish middle-aged couple with conflicted adult children; slightly crazy best friend who becomes hero blowing up a Hummer & dying; drunken friend who becomes hero saving dog & dying; idiot boyfriend of wife who just dies; orphan waitress, former shark victim, whiz with a shotgun, with crush on husband; bus filled with stranded children; old folks’ home — at an airport!! — in danger of sharks in their swimming pool; husband as Jonah but with a chain saw.

All those stories, with completely mis-matching footage, cheesy special effects and at least six actors who really ought to look into real estate as a different, wiser, career path all added up to 90 minutes of my time I will never get back.  Still, I did learn a couple of things I want to share:  inside jokes are great fun, as long as you’re already on the inside.  They’re not meant for outsiders and it was foolish of me to think I could be one of those people.  And the other thing I learned is

whale shark

when the life guard — or a surfing champion named ‘Fin’ — says get outta the water, get outta the water!!

(photo of whale shark from National Geographic)

Porn? I Asked Bing for Porn?

I’m writing a novel right now.  It’s kinda just pouring out of me and I’m loving the process even if I have no idea what I’m going to do with it.  A couple of people have read the couple of chapters just to help me be sure that I’m right, it’s pretty damn good reading. But this is what I’m writing about, actually complaining about:

WHY DOES PORN SHOW UP WHEN YOU’RE DOING RESEARCH THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH SEX?

I’m a little pissed off about this because a) there are times when I enjoy erotica (not stupid and/or violent porn) very much and these images just showing up are a significant reason why people protest against ALL sexual expressions and b) I’m trying to actually work not wank and this slows me down.

You may or may not have heard about a children’s book that’s actually meant for adults called “Go The Fuck to Sleep”.  I am referencing it in my book and wanted to be sure I got publication dates, history, author’s name and so forth all correct.  So I Bing’d the title and these admittedly blurry images showed up.  Good for Bing for blurring them but even so, apparently all it takes for porn to show up is the word “fuck”.

It’s a great word.  I myself have used it with great feeling and import as noun, verb, adjective and in adverbial form.  It’s also a great recreational activity but again, not when I’m working.  More importantly, and I know I’m being very naive about this, but sometimes it really is just word and should be treated that way. Leave the pictures for those who actually ask for photos.  Leave the pictures for those who pay for them.  Leave the very good word for those of us who use words to enhance our pleasure.

But were I to need a picture “to go the fuck to sleep”…. this what sends me off….

now this...

Hope y’all have sweet dreams tonight…

Lessons From the Big Screen

I watched “The Caine Mutiny” again last night, perhaps for the 10th time, and loved it just as much now as I ever have.

The remarkable thing about the performance of Humphrey Bogart is that it is the opposite of the kind of tough guy he played in so many of the thrillers and mysteries out of Warner Bros (and other studios) in the 30s and 40s.  Captain Queeg is a weak man, driven by demons of perfectionism, trying to fit in, trying to be “one of the boys”.

Bogart

(a great shot of Bogart – this one comes from the LA morgue file in 1957)

I was quite young when I read the Herman Wouk book on which the movie was made, and probably about 11 when I saw the movie. Even at that age, I recognized how painful life must be for the commander who was, after all, doing his duty well before the time most people considered it.

Maybe because I, too, was one of those people who was always looking for a way to fit in, and who tried to be the perfect kid to get there.

I’ve never said that out loud before, and I don’t think it’s affected my life in a negative in the long run.  Still, being short, being the youngest in my classes all the way through high school, being smart (and especially a smart, well-read GIRL) with pretty strict parents all played against me pretty much until university.

You don’t need to fit in when you read good books or watch good movies.  In fact, I think they can help you find a niche that works for you.

If you have read this blog before, you might remember that my favourite book is “To Kill A Mockingbird”.  Reading it again and again, I would think of myself as Scout, a girl who looked up to her smart and bookish father, a girl who was trying to find her place in the world, to understand her world!  Watching the movie gave me the same sense of looking for “fit” and hoping for understanding.

I must have been 14 when I saw “Now Voyager” for the first time.  With one exception, all the serious romantic relationships I have had in my life have been with men who were at least 7 years my senior.  Blame Paul Henreid for this.  His warmth and charm in “Now Voyager” helped give Bette Davis courage, amongst other feelings, and he did the same for me.  Not that I understood exactly what those feelings were completely but I enjoyed them!

Books get so much of the credit for expanding my horizons, opening my eyes and mind, taking me to places I both long to see and hope never to find, but movies have done much the same thing.  From the first movie I saw at the drive-in (“Pinocchio”) and the first one in a cinema (“Mary Poppins”) to the one I’ll be watching later tonight (“Deception”, again with Paul Henreid and Bette Davis) I pull things from them that enrich me in all ways.

It must seem that, with the exception of Disney, I haven’t seen a movie in colour!  I was just at the theatre last week (“White House Down” — the action was so over the top but I loved Jamie Foxx as a very liberal president).  It’s just that I have a special fondness for black & white movies — maybe it’s because of the shades of grey, just like life.  Or maybe it’s because those were the movies from which I learned the Big Lessons.

Be strong. Do right. Fall in love. Be true to your friends. Learn as much as you can. Fight the Nazis.  Smoke heavily and drink more.

Well, maybe not so much the smoking.

Instant Pen Pal-ship

In the past ten days or so, I have written a number of letters to about 20 individuals.

Some have gone by snail mail, some by email, but all have been written with the knowledge that I am sharing my feelings and ideas with friends around the world.  However, I am still so far behind in catching up with my correspondence from Christmas and New Year’s my angst is beginning to feel like a comfortable blanket.

Fortunately it’s as hot as hades right now (albeit not as hot as Texas!) and I will shake off that blanket and keep writing to my friends.

Letters are an extraordinary way to deepen relationships of any nature.  Yes, we may very well need to have the warmth and connection of speaking face to face to enrich the relationship to its maximum, but there is much to be said about the intimacy of the written word, whether it is in ink or by the magic of the internet.

When I first married and moved far from home and family, there was no such thing as email or texting, if you can imagine such a world.  Although calling people was possible, it was also expensive (again, imagine the pain of paying for long distance telephone calls) so to remain close to people, to continue to value their friendship and companionship, paper and pen were our usual, our only, option.

I still long for letters to come to my mail box — they rarely do these days — but I can’t blame anyone except myself.  I’m just as guilty as many of my friends and even siblings of choosing email over snail mail.  Even the snail mail that was posted this weekend was typed (Emily Post, forgive me) because it was the simpler way to get many letters written.

If it seems that I am decrying the loss of physical letters, well, yes I am to some extent.  There was something particularly exciting about popping a letter into the mailbox, knowing it would take a few days to reach its destination, and then perhaps a few weeks more waiting to hear back from my correspondent.  I would spend that time wondering if they enjoyed reading about my life, my ideas, even the feelings I might have confided to them.  And I would have anticipated learning about what was on-going in their lives, hearing about mutual friends, perhaps sharing some thinking about politics or books or maybe personal triumphs and tragedies.

I enjoyed having pen-pals, so to speak.

Still… the waiting could be endless.  Especially, sadly, if you were waiting to hear from me.  Procrastination is not a new hobby of mine.

Thus, email makes heroes of us all — or at least of me!

This past weekend I have shared with a friend many ideas about many issues by email.  Not long rambling letters I must say, but short notes that would bring up a point before answering the other’s last question.  This way we discussed writing, music, politics, sexual politics, diplomacy, postcards, birthdays, geography, family, food, exercise, children, poetry and (my own personal favourite because, as you may know, I am stalking) Paris.

Yes we could have shared all this information in longer letters but over a much longer period of time — weeks, even months, given the geography of where each lives.  And perhaps in hand-written letters there would be more information shared than in each of the five or six sentences (at most) that made up our emails.  Indeed, I would like exchange snail mail some day with each other but I don’t want to give up the immediacy of instant pen pal-ship (that cannot be a word, can it?)

My siblings and I have a brother who does not email; in fact, he no longer has a computer.  We all find it frustrating that we cannot communicate with him on an immediate basis when we need to.  He, on the other hand, now that he can afford to do so, delights in making phone calls to us for our birthdays, or even just for a little gossip. It is his way of maintaining a bond, a closeness, in the way which is most comfortable for him.

I have one friend with whom I Skype regularly, as I do with my sister.  I Skype irregularly with my “daughter”.  I have two friends with whom I am developing Skype habits.  It’s easy to Skype and there is a remarkable sense of instant gratification in sharing a moment (or in the case of my sister, up to three hours) with someone you treasure.  This  technology might be the new email, although I hope not.

Perhaps because I am a writer, I believe in the power of the written word.  We hear words and, unless we have used them in a particularly, emotionally powerful way, either because they are too ugly to bear or too beautiful to forget, the words can slip away from us.  On paper (or on screen) they live forever.  They can be read and re-read and cherished — in peace, in love, in sorrow, in remembrance, in lust, in joy — forever.

Pen and Paper

In just the past few weeks, I am picking up a friendship that was in long-abeyance, a cousin by marriage whose sunny disposition and warm kindness could win over any one is keen to become closer again and I am following up with her in every way we can.  Sadly though, over the past few years, I have lost touch with several friends — a woman I met at Summerfolk in Owen Sound who lives in England and with whom I am two addresses behind; a number of Navy friends; a work colleague and his partner on whose white pants I spilled a glass of red wine the first time I met her; a now-grown woman who was a child when we met and who has been beloved for nearly 30 years; an old romantic relationship turned friendship I loathe losing — and I cannot, I will not do this again.

My distant friends and family are integral to my well-being.  I am again, as I was when first married, away from “home”, from long-term bonds and familiar places.  I do not regret being here but I deeply miss the more familiar.  To embrace those people and those places, to keep them close, I must be the better correspondent I swear I will be — by email, by snail mail.

I will even, if you want, enclose a SASE because I want to hear from you, too.

Happy Birthday, AndyPandy!

Today is my sister’s birthday.

She is my younger sister by 22 months and after being an only child for 22 months, having a sibling took a little getting used to. Having her first, however, made becoming used to the next four that much easier.  Our mother always used to say that she had her two girls first to help her with the four boys that followed.  Certainly in my memory — and with the except of Andy because I was just 22 months old! — I always seemed to be taking care of babies and toddlers as a child, but to be sure I should ask Andy.  Our father and brothers always tease her that she remembers things that happen before I was born.

This has been a crappy spring for Andy.  That’s her story to tell and if she chooses to do so, I’ll let her take that on in a different place, at a different time, but I bring it up only as a preface to saying how much I admire her.  Life seems to knock her down a lot, maybe not always to the ground, but sometimes to her knees, occasionally leaving winded, definitely leaving her emotionally bruised.  And yet she keeps getting up and making changes and moving forward, finding a way to a new path, a different way to make her entire life better.

My sister and I are different from each other in many ways and I know I would not have made all the same choices she did over the years.  For one thing, she left home at 16 and  frankly I wasn’t that thrilled about going when I got married (which had everything to do with geography and nothing to do with my husband).  For another, she’s a mother to three and motherhood was never in my wheelhouse.  I adore my nieces and nephews to bits & pieces and mind terribly that geography is still an issue for me as we don’t see each other often, but mothering… not so much.

Andy’s a brilliant mother.  She has a way of relating to her kids that’s remarkable because she doesn’t make a fuss about it, she just does it.  There was one moment in her early years of motherhood; Ashley was 3, Arick was still an infant.  My phone rang and I said “Hello?”  On the other end, no ‘hello’ in return, no identifying name, simply my sister’s voice, perhaps sounding a little close to panic.  “I just said a “Joy”.  I swore I never would and I just did.”  And she hung up the phone.  Joy was our mother, very strict in making us follow her rules, very fond of the phrase “because I told you so, that’s why!!”  It took me a while to stop laughing.

Andy was the ultimate soccer mom — to the point where she wound up managing a professional soccer team for a while!  She made school play costumes and supervised homework and was pretty strict about rules and curfews, and tried to make the punishment tough enough to never warrant trying the ‘crime’ again but not so hard as to be unfair.  She’s not a helicopter mom, but she does talk with her now grown-up kids all the time, continuing to be a mom in all ways.

I know her kids are happy and content their lives because they tell me so, not in words but in the way they relate to each other and to their extended family, and especially to their mother.  Like Andy’s original nuclear family, she and her children laugh a lot and nothing expresses love and joy and peace within a life more than easy laughter.

So it’s my sister’s birthday… and you’re wondering why I’ve got a picture of Ashley‘s birthday lo, these many years ago.  Well, first, it’s because it’s a cute picture, it involves a birthday, and I think it shows my sister doing her best work.  Not the cake in the pan – being a great mom.  (Also, I have more than 5,000 loose photos still to be sorted out and put in albums and I can’t find the one of her and all her kids that I really wanted to use!  but let’s not tell her that.)

Andy & Ashley

Happy Birthday sister.  I love you, I am so proud of you, and I hope that you can blow out ALL THOSE CANDLES so that every wish you have really does come true!

A Discussion of Chairs: Or Why The Back of My Thighs Always Hurt

Having just returned from 24 hours spent in Eden (no, not paradise, but that’s an essay for another time, and for more wine) where mine hosts live outdoors from sun-up to well past mosquito time, using cheap and cheerful chairs scattered around in the sunshine and under pine trees to accommodate their guests and themselves, I have had time to reflect up Chairs.

I’m going to be frank.  I have short legs and too much bum.  Finding chairs is always a chore for me.  My niece Betsy and her family had the PERFECT chair (it was a one-and-a-half person size, very squishy, very curl-up-able) but they sold it and now I am back to looking for the right chair in which to sit when I visit people.

Of choice, if this is in your house, or garden, I will gladly sit in it:

Image

I don’t like reclining in a chair, unless I’m planning to take a nap and even then, why sit to sleep if there’s a bed or sofa nearby? Also, a ‘school’ chair like this one is much more likely to NOT cut me off at mid-thigh as well as permit my stubby little legs to reach aaaaallll the way to the ground! Plus, there’s just something solid about a chair like this one which offers my soul, if not my bum, comfort.

Were I to be a reclining sort of person, I would choose a chair like this one:

muskoka chair

Americans call them ‘Adirondack’ chairs, Ontarioans call them ‘Muskoka’ chairs, but by whatever name they go, they truly are wonderful for sitting at the beach, on the deck, on the lawn and enjoying a little summer sunshine, a little summer drinkie.

Unless you’re me. If you’re me, drinking in a chair like this is nigh unto impossible unless, of course, you’re either wearing a bib, a bathing suit (possible, at the beach) or are naked & don’t mind the bugs trying to suck up a little nectar from your chest!

The Georgian Theatre Festival (late & much lamented of Meaford Ontario), by the way, used to auction off Muskoka chairs – painted with beautiful scenes by wonderfully talented local artists – as an important fundraiser for the company. Those chairs, even if I didn’t sit in them, were very welcome additions to many area gardens and decks over the years. Those chairs were beautiful to behold for the generosity and skill of the artists who donated their time, and for the generosity of the theatre patrons who paid a lot for the chairs! Go ahead. Ask me if I miss the theatre company.

Now here’s a chair that I would be tempted to use for kindling:

Ron Arad Three Skin Chair

Of course I jest. It IS beautiful to look at, but once I get past the striking design, I can feel the pain in the back of my thighs, and I can feel myself somehow managing to tip the damned thing over. Trust me – if it can be tipped, I would be the tippee. For those of you who care about art and design, it is a Ron Aran Three Skin Chair (don’t ask me – I have no idea what skins he used making it.).

All this to come to my point about comfortable chairs and sitting outdoors.  There is no such thing in my world.  Oh, yes, you long-legged, bikini wearing nymphs will find any chair accommodating.  You also find a celery stalk a satisfying meal (again, I jest!  I am NOT making fun of any eating disorder, only my own luxurious bum!).  But I crave substance. I crave distinction.  I crave a chair on which to curl up under a big ol’ cooling, breeze-welcoming tree to read and sip a strawberry-chocolate mint-prosecco cocktail.  I crave something like this:

my chair of choice

It appears to have legs shorter than mine so, with a firm but yielding pillow behind me, I could sit up and converse with others, and yet ditching the pillow (and the others) could curl up and enjoy the passing of summer from whence we – The Chair & I are ensconced – under a tall, leafy, green & shady tree.

Nothing is perfect of course; I suspect a chair like would also require a very large cover for overnights and rainy days but still… should you happen to own a chair like this and would like to invite me over, I’d be happy to come. I’ll even bring the mixings for that happy little cocktail!

Bargaining With a Season

Oh, spring, I miss  you already.

I know that for much of North America, spring was a very difficult season this year but I loved it.  The occasionally heavy sneezing aside, this was a GREAT spring.  It was neither too cold nor too  hot.  The song birds were out in flocks.  The asparagus was delicious.  It was a great spring.

And then summer reared it’s head, with its promises of humidity and heat, with its offerings of sweat and sleeplessness.  Oh summer.  If it wasn’t for the fresh fruits and veg, I would abandon you altogether.  Because yes, it is only seasonal corn and watermelon and caprese salad that keep me from going mad in the summer.

I married a man to whom summer is balm.  He loves being hot and sweaty.  He basks in the sunshine (covered heavily with sunscreen, because he is a freckled redhead), rejoices in the outdoor sports and chores, and applauds every degree rising above 82/28 as being good, better, best!

summer-scene2

And I will admit, this looks utterly lovely.  I’m sure the lake is wonderfully cooling -assuming it’s safe to swim in it, one can’t always be sure these days.  And I bet if the flowers were watered a little more, they wouldn’t look so parched and dried out by the sun, not unlike my aging face!

If I must have summer, then please let me bargain for the sort of summer I would enjoy.  Summer, give me an abundance of shade trees, and cooling breezes all night long, and please hold the humidity.  In exchange, I will delight in the harvest and preparation of an abundance of delicious local food, I will complain less about how hot I am, and I will be less happy to see autumn arrive.

Can you live with that bargain, Summer?  Because if you make the effort, so will I!