In Good Times and Bad

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They  travel by snow machine pulling a heavy komatik behind them, for hours and hours across the tundra and the ocean ice towards the horizon, getting nowhere.

The sunlight reflecting off the ice and snow is blinding and the cold dry air makes her face feel like frozen leather, chilling her body to the bone.

This is not the life she imagined.

Back home at a dinner party he is animated in the telling of their great adventure while she sips her wine with fever blistered lips and a puzzled stare.

Roxy looks at one and then the other and back again, suddenly raising her glass to drink to the notion that theirs is surely a marriage made in hell.

Lillie McFerrin style=

Five Sentence Fiction is about packing a powerful punch in a tiny fist. This weeks word – Marriage.

Things You Can Say About Soup

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Yesterday was my two-week follow-up to learn the pathology results from my day surgery lumpectomy.  What can I say?  I’m just a mysteriously lumpy person.  Yet another young doctor poked and prodded my neck and jaw and performed my third ever exploratory scope up the nose and down the throat.  This one without any freezing.  I’d like to say I’m getting used to this procedure and that it hardly bothers me, but that would be a big fat lie.  My eyes tear and my nose runs for the rest of the day afterwards.  This handsome young doctor (yes, I’m not so ancient that I don’t notice and appreciate such things) wanted to give me a clean bill of health because this more thorough lymph node biopsy showed the same thing as the needle biopsy did.  Nothing more than inflammation.  From an infection.  But of what, and from where?  The ENT surgeon is still curious to figure it out and wants more pathology tests done.  He also wants me to take Prednisone for five days. And come back to see him in a month.

The wait in the office was over an hour, during which time we watched, on an overhead waiting room TV,  the latest updates on the situation in Ottawa from Wednesday.  Social media and news coverage seems to be centered on information about fallen soldier Nathan Cirillo and the heroic actions of Sergeant at Arms Kevin Vickers, with very little about the perpetrator of this cowardly crime.  And that is as it should be.

I am happy to be alive and to once again be declared cancer free.  I never know how stressed I really am about something until it’s over and I suddenly feel lighter and able to breathe great refreshing deep breaths again.  A lone gunman in the nation’s capital will forever be associated with this little moment in my life.

After my appointment, W decided to look up a former co-worker from back in his government days who now works at the University Hospital doing bookings.  I met her once at a long ago Christmas party which I barely remember being dragged to, so she and I didn’t have a lot to talk about.  I mostly listened to her and W catch up on what happened to every person they ever knew.  She decided to give us a little tour of the Edmonton Oilers Ambulatory Clinic at the Stollery Children’s Hospital.  At the U of A hospital everything is connected to everything else.  I just wanted to go home and make soup.

Because this is exactly the kind of brilliant and exciting anti-social personality I have been nurturing these days.  I just want to stay at home, read books and blogs, watch movies and sneak Halloween candy from the cupboard.  All of this activity gives me so many topics to blog about (stop – you can’t see the computer screen when your eyes are rolling like that) I just can’t seem to make myself focus on any one thing.  Until – SOUP.  And the things that can be said about it.  In list form.  Why not.

1.  The process involved in making home-made soup is very therapeutic.  At the dinner table a much-loved uncle used to say, with the passing of every dish – “here, have some of this, it’s good for what ails you”.  Well the making of soup can be curative and good for what ails you.  If you have no clue what I’m talking about, make some and find out for yourself.

2.  Butternut Squash will make soup orange.  I don’t like the taste of squash on its own, so I mixed in all of the following things – white onion, the last of the cabbage, a parsnip, one small white turnip, lots of celery, a zucchini, 2 cloves of crushed garlic, some red and green pepper, a can of chick peas.  All of this was added to vegetable broth, a couple of packages of chicken broth powder, vegetable seasoning, fresh ground pepper and sea salt.  So no ordinary salt and pepper in this house.  There could have been more things than this added, I can’t remember.  I put a yam back in the fridge because the pot was full.  Maybe I threw in a carrot.

3.  When everything is happily boiling away and you turn the heat down to simmer, the house fills with the best aroma ever.  Assuming you like the smell of stuff cooking.

4.  Creamed soups are more yummy than the ones in which you are able to pick out all the vegetables you don’t like.  I don’t like adding flour or cornstarch, so I don’t.  My little hand mixer turns this concoction into a smooth and creamy hot mess delight.  I throw in some butter, because the body absorbs vitamins from vegetables better when there’s fat involved.  Never mind how good it makes things taste.

5.  A piping hot bowl of orange soup on a windy fall day restores your faith in whatever you’ve lost conviction and confidence in.  It’s good for whatever needs rejuvenating.  It promises you that everything will once again be all right.  It’s damned near magical.

And now I’m hungry.

Sharing My World 6

 

A street very close to the street where I live.

A street very close to the street where I live.

What would be your preference, awake before dawn or awake before noon?

There’s something magical about getting up before the sun rises.  It’s easy enough to do now that the days are so much shorter.  I don’t have to be up and on the road to work an early shift anymore, but this morning W had to have his truck delivered to an auto body shop a good half hours drive away, by 8 a.m.,  so I followed him there in the car to drive him home.  We headed east, away from the city while it was still dark, and watched dawn break.  I had forgotten how incredibly gorgeous the morning sky can be, with white clouds painted in yellows and pinks against a striking blue sky.  Couldn’t attempt a photo while sailing down the highway at 110 kph, but I imagined the colors I’d mix with a wide brush on white canvas.

Last night I had a strange dream in which I was driving down a dirt and gravel road, going way too fast, narrowly avoiding head on collisions with on coming traffic.  There was something about a school bus, and an old rust coloured chev but that’s all I remember.  Then suddenly I was dispensing glasses wearing just my lab coat, with nothing on underneath.  It was topless Tuesday and we were breaking the rules.  By wearing a top, I guess.  There are always crazy details in my dreams that don’t make sense and thankfully bump me back into the real world where I often have to sit up and shake my head to clear it.  If I try to sleep the morning away, my dreams get increasingly more bizarre until I wake up with a pounding headache.  Lately we’ve been getting up to the early daylight and quiet mornings in which W putters around in the kitchen making breakfast.  He has become quite the breakfast chef, actually.  Bacon and eggs, fried tomatoes, hash browns, orange juice, fresh coffee.  Yum.

Sorry, what was the question again? Oh yeah.  Before dawn will always be my preference.  That way the day is deliciously long.

If you could choose between Wisdom and Luck, which one would you pick?

Well there’s all kinds of luck, isn’t there?  Good, bad, dumb, beginners, that of the Irish.  I’d rather be wise and create my own luck.  Wisdom is supposed to come with age, right?  Well, something good should come of it.  I’d settle for wisdom.

If you were given the opportunity for free skydiving lessons would you take them? Why or why not?

Gawd, NO.  I’ve just discovered recently how afraid I am of heights and realized how I’ve spent a large part of my life avoiding putting myself high above terra firma.  I’ve always been afraid of falling.  When we were young and daring and foolish my siblings and I used to climb up to the high beams in the barn and jump into the hay.  I’ve never forgotten that adrenaline rush and the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach all the way down to the awkward landing.  It happened every time.  I was happy to finally outgrow the need to be just as brave as my older brother and pretend for my sister that I was having fun.   I’ll have to ask her if she thought jumping off into space was fun.  Maybe she was pretending too.

Is the glass half empty or half full? What is in the glass?

The glass is half full of red wine.  Since you don’t ever fill a wine glass to the brim (according to wine etiquette 101) the halfway mark could be misconstrued as full, really.   Because wine should be swirled and sniffed and stuff and you need to leave room to do that.  I am no wine connoisseur or expert and could be making this up for all I know.  I’m sure there’s different rules for different wines.  Anyway, make mine red and not too dry, fill the glass one-third to half way and then endeavour to keep it like that.  Those are my rules.

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I’m grateful for a visit from our daughter and granddaughter on a sunny warm October Sunday, along with our slightly crazy Jack Russell grand-dog who sits on the back of the couch by the window and warns us of impending doom from passers-by.  Apparently the next door neighbors are especially not to be trusted.  W barbequed some ribs and D made her famous Quinoa Salad.  We drank some red wine and did some artwork while Kenzie worked on making her own Halloween costume from yards and yards of tulle.

This week I’m looking forward to getting a flu shot on Wednesday and seeing my specialist doctor for post op follow-up on Thursday.  How madly exciting is that on a scale of one to ten?  I have also signed up for Blogging 201 here on Word Press, and the first thing they expect me to do is set three goals for my blog.  This made me realize I have been floundering around totally goal-less for a long time.  Perhaps my world is about to change.  Perhaps pigs will take up sky diving.  Who knows what might happen in the next week full of magical pre-dawn hours.

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Share Your World 2014 Week 42

Holy Thursday Walk in the Park

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It used to be extremely important to me, knowing what day of the week I was waking up in.  Now I don’t care; as long as I keep waking up, it’s all good.  And I didn’t suddenly say to myself today “Holy, it’s Thursday!”  in case you were wondering about that title.  This is the origin of my version of Holy Thursday , an old joke from my working days (which ended two weeks ago.)    I noticed there are bloggers out there doing throw-back Thursdays so this is my version of joining in, doing a ping-back to myself.  Weird but fun.  Or maybe fun because it’s weird.

Our poor old tree in the backyard is looking rather bare these days, but on my walk I saw lots of leaves still hanging on, waiting for the next strong north wind to send them flying.  It’s still beautiful weather for us in the middle of October (we often have snow here by Halloween) and on these walks I’m learning to appreciate the benefits of being near-sighted.  Even half dead hedges look good close up.

And then there’s this.

holy thursday 002Yes, it’s a picture of an almost empty 3.78 litre jug of apple juice.  My pre-op instructions advised me to drink three cups of apple juice the night before surgery and 2 cups of it three hours prior to my scheduled surgery time.  So I sent W out to pick up some apple juice.  If I had done a litre to cup calculation I could have let him know that one litre (4.2268 cups) was close enough.  He did pick up a one litre carton, and this jug as insurance I guess.  So if I needed to go for about six more surgeries, we were all set.  We’ve made a good dent in it, in a little over a week, drinking a cup or so each for 8 breakfasts.  I used the last of it in my smoothie this morning and retired the jug to the recycle bin.  My fridge looks empty.

In other ground breaking news (obviously I don’t know the meaning of that phrase) last night I watched the last episode available on Netflix of The 4400.  I’ve started a new book called “The Bone Season” by Samantha Shannon.  I am in la-la land and loving it.

Hope you’re having a great Thursday too.

On Being Human

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The Humans, by Matt Haig is a book I downloaded because oregana at As I See It  posted a lovely review.  That’s really all you need to read to be enticed, but I was never one for failing to add my two cents worth, so that’s what this is.

What a delightful summation of human life from an aliens point of view.  Well, sometimes not so delightful, since the blunt truth can give us a jolt.

I know these are long quotes, but seriously, I had to stop myself from quoting the entire book.  That’s how good it is.

“Humans were always doing things they didn’t like doing.  In fact, to my best estimate, at any one time only point three per cent of humans were actively doing something they liked doing, and even when they did so, they felt an intense amount of guilt about it and were fervently promising themselves they’d be back doing something horrendously unpleasant very shortly.”

“….they are born, they make some friends, eat a few meals, they get married, or they don’t get married, have a child or two, or not, drink a few thousand glasses of wine, have sexual intercourse a few times, discover a lump somewhere, feel a bit of regret, wonder where all the time went, know they should have done it differently, realise they would have done it the same, and then they die.  Into the great black nothing.  Out of space.  Out of time.  The most trivial of trivial zeroes.  And that’s it, the full caboodle.  All confined to the same mediocre planet.  But at ground level the humans don’t appear to spend their entire lives in a catatonic state.  No.  They do other things.  Things like: washing, listening, gardening, eating, driving, working, yearning, earning, sighing, reading, gaming, sunbathing, complaining, jogging, quibbling, caring, mingling, fantasizing, googling, parenting, renovating, loving, dancing, fucking, regretting, failing, striving, hoping, sleeping.  Oh, and sport.”

“Humans, as a rule, don’t like mad people unless they are good at painting, and only then once they are dead. But the definition of mad, on Earth, seems to be very unclear and inconsistent. What is perfectly sane in one era turns out to be insane in another. The earliest humans walked around naked with no problem. Certain humans, in humid rainforests mainly, still do so. So, we must conclude that madness is sometimes a question of time, and sometimes of postcode.

Basically, the key rule is, if you want to appear sane on Earth you have to be in the right place, wearing the right clothes, saying the right things, and only stepping on the right kind of grass.”   ― Matt Haig, The Humans

It’s another one of those books that made me laugh out loud on one page and shed tears on the next.  Can’t give it any higher praise than that.

Sharing My World 5

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Would you rather take pictures or be in pictures?

My dad used to say the only pictures people liked of themselves were the ones that didn’t look anything like them.  Maybe that’s why we can look back at photos from years ago and finally see them objectively because that’s not who we are anymore.  Hey, look at me, I was kind of cute back in the day, who knew?  In real time I have never considered myself photogenic so I’m the one snapping pictures and shying away from being in them.

What did you most enjoy doing this past week?

I most enjoyed being the recipient of attention and concern as to my well-being.  Who doesn’t enjoy that?  Best to milk it for all its worth when it happens, hey?  I have been filling my “healing time” with lots of reading, sleeping, coffee drinking, drawing, pencil sharpening, pill taking and movie watching.  Maybe I’ve died and gone to heaven.

What is your greatest extravagance?

I am always trying to curb my many excessive and unnecessary expenditures.  It’s hard to decide what exactly the greatest one might be.  You could sell me pretty much anything in a health food store, for instance, even though the same products might cost much less somewhere else.  I’m a sucker for skin care products.  Coffee is hugely important to me.    But for the sake of making myself sound slightly less self-indulgent, let’s say it’s books.  I would like to line every wall in my house with book shelves and fill them all up.  So far I’ve done only a wall and a half.  I could do another wall full if all my e-books were real.  I used to have a library card, but discovered that it was much too stressful having to give books back.  Now I buy them and keep them and cherish them.  I will never be rich as long as people keep writing books.

Which letter of the alphabet describes you best?

I don’t know – M?  It’s the thirteenth letter of the alphabet.  Thirteen has been a significant and even a lucky number in my life.  The top of a horned owls head looks like the letter M  and I like to think I’m at least as wise as some pointy headed bird.  I am a MOM.  I like M & M’s.  “Mmmmmm” is the noise I make when I can’t think of anything intelligent to say.

Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming?

I’m grateful for not having to make a Thanksgiving dinner.  Is that a selfish thing to be thankful for?  Probably.  I should have said my alphabet letter is Z because it figures prominently in the word LaZy and signifies sleep.   (zzzzzz…..)  I’m also grateful for four seasons of the 4400 on Netflix and a theme song that is now stuck in my head forever.

It drives me a bit crazy every time that bath tub overflows.

Next week I’m looking forward to sharing with you whatever happens next.

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Share Your World – 2014 Week 41

The Cats Pajamas

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“We carry our ancestors in our names and sometimes we carry our ancestors through the sliding doors of emergency rooms and either way they are heavy, man, either way we can’t escape.”

“Her father is fastened to his room, with his records and his drugs and his quiet. She crawls under her covers. It is her fault for triggering one of his spells. Normally she can tightrope through his moods. At least it had been brief. Most girls do not have to deal with a father like hers. They would be afraid of the way she lives, lawless in a roachy apartment. They would be scared of his fits. Madeleine would be scared too, she thinks, falling asleep. If she had only experienced finished basements and dads who acted like dads. But Madeleine loves her father, and how can you be scared of someone you love?”

Marie-Helene Bertino, 2 A.M. at The Cat’s Pajamas 

There is no picture on the cover of this book so I drew my own damn picture.

There is no picture on the cover of this book so I drew my own damned picture.

I don’t know why I included the word “damned”  in that caption.  Maybe because convalescing is dull and I think profanity will jazz up the experience.

Anyway, speaking of profanity and jazz, here’s the blurb about this book from Amazon:

Madeleine Altimari is a smart-mouthed, precocious nine-year-old and an aspiring jazz singer. As she mourns the recent death of her mother, she doesn’t realize that on Christmas Eve Eve she is about to have the most extraordinary day—and night—of her life. After bravely facing down mean-spirited classmates and rejection at school, Madeleine doggedly searches for Philadelphia’s legendary jazz club The Cat’s Pajamas, where she’s determined to make her on-stage debut. On the same day, her fifth grade teacher Sarina Greene, who’s just moved back to Philly after a divorce, is nervously looking forward to a dinner party that will reunite her with an old high school crush, afraid to hope that sparks might fly again. And across town at The Cat’s Pajamas, club owner Lorca discovers that his beloved haunt may have to close forever, unless someone can find a way to quickly raise the $30,000 that would save it.

I was a bit in love with Madeleine from the first page.  And crazy about her by the last one.  Sometimes the quirky prose in this novel reads like poetry.  It’s a good story, written from several different perspectives, over a time span of just 19 hours.  You’d be surprised at how much can happen to so many people in such a short time.

It’s a book made to be read in one sitting I think, and I might have done that if I hadn’t been so doped up on pain pills and falling asleep so much.  Today I haven’t taken anything, so I guess I can’t blame my sketch on mind altering drugs. This is how my brain sees a bar in the middle of the night.  What can I say.

I hope Marie-Helene Bertino writes another book soon.  I’ll illustrate it for her if she asks.  Huh.  Maybe the drugs aren’t completely out of my system.  But I’m very clear-headed when I say it’s the mark of a great author when she leaves you wanting more.