Killer Pollen?

Is that what attacked me in April?  I’m still trying to figure out what made me so sick and ultimately caused bacterial pneumonia.  Apparently I still sound funny and nasal, although I am no longer breathing like Darth Vader.

Old people sooooo love to talk about their maladies.

What I’m actually here for is to sing the praises of Kate Morden and “The Forgotten Garden”.  Just a delightful book from beginning to end, even though it began at the beginning and almost immediately flew to the end;  and then hit random chronological spots here there and everywhere as the book progressed until finally getting the mystery solved.

Whew.  I usually am not a big fan of hopping around all over the place in a story, although from my writing you might not have grasped that fact.  But while reading this book it seemed perfectly fine and natural to me to jump from 1913 to 1930 to 2005 to 1976 and all the way back and forward again without ever getting myself all muddled up and confused.  Through generations and across continents.  A lovely and splendid journey.

I wanted to post a little blurb about it while I still have the beautiful peaceful feeling of continuity it gave me.  How weird is that, all things considered.  But when one life ends, so much of it continues on in the people who are left behind; so much of the life of someone in the future can be felt before it even starts.  And then when at last you walk into the light it all comes clear.  Well, anyway, I’m hoping that’s what happens. The final epiphany.

Kind of makes me want to research the past and dig up a few scandals.  But thankfully for my family I lack the necessary ambition, so their secrets are safe with me.  (Or from me.)  I’d just jump to conclusions and make things up if the facts proved elusive.  Should have been a historian I guess.

And to skip back to the beginning suddenly for no apparent reason, never mind about the pollen.  I think it was killer snow mold.

Ode to Ovaltine

cup of hot chocolate with whipped cream and co...

cup of hot chocolate with whipped cream and cocoa powder (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Look at me!  Blogging twice in the same month!

Yesterday at Save On Foods I walked down the coffee aisle – not because I needed coffee but simply because I like how it smells there.  They have those big plastic bin dispensers with flavoured coffee in them.  Vanilla, hazelnut,  irish cream, raspberry chocolate.  Heaven.  And I’m just so happy to be able to smell things again!  A couple of weeks ago I was grinding my Starbucks coffee beans and I could not smell anything at all.  I practically stuck my face in the bag, and still nothing.  It was a sad moment.   But yesterday I had one of those blissful moments when I looked up across the top shelf  scanning the hot chocolate powders and there was Ovaltine.   OVALTINE!  I can’t remember when I last saw that sold anywhere.  Plain and chocolate.  Be still my heart.  I bought a huge jar of the chocolate one.

Mom and Dad used to drink ovaltine all the time, mostly because they were never coffee or tea drinkers,  and because sometimes it’s just nice to have a mug of something hot that’s not too sweet and actually has some stuff in it that’s good for you.  And it looks better than sipping plain hot milk like an extremely old person might do.  Ha.  As if Ovaltine isn’t the official drink of seniors.  They also used to drink Postum – a powdered roasted grain beverage coffee substitute containing no caffeine – and yes, it tasted pretty disgusting – but they don’t make it anymore.  Some old guy in Wal-Mart asked me one day if I knew where he could find it, and when I broke the news to him he looked quite stricken.  I should have told him about my dad’s hot chocolate.  He would put the kettle on to boil, drop maybe a quarter teaspoon of powdered chocolate drink mix (the kind you are supposed to mix whole heaping spoonfuls of the powder with cold milk) into a big mug and fill it up with water that had not yet come to a boil.  Because there’s no point in making it too hot to drink right away.  The last few times I stayed with them in the house in Pt Elgin he always  invited me in the evenings to join him for his ‘hot chocolate’  with cookies good for dunking.  I always did.  The dunked cookies gave the vaguely chocolate flavoured tepid water a bit of flavour.  Not as good as Postum, but damned close.

A jar of Ovaltine from the UK (2006), a mug of...

A jar of Ovaltine from the UK (2006), a mug of ovaltine made with hot milk and a tablespoon of the powder. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ovaltine has the taste of malt and grain (yech); but it’s also the taste of cozy warmth and contentment.  It’s a creature comfort.  It conjures up a lovely memory.   Besides, I drink way too much coffee and the extra milk will be good for these old bones.

It’s suddenly June and….

…..another month bites the dust.  W. has been gone since the 10th of May (returning tomorrow), and I’ve had pneumonia.  But that’s cleared up and I’m now fighting mere allergies.  Which have my head completely plugged up, ears and all, even with a cortisone nasal spray and an inhaler on a daily basis.  Boo hoo, poor me.  Actually it’s getting better, but I like to milk these things for all they’re worth.

Dream Fairy

Dream Fairy (Photo credit: Alexandria LaNier)

I continue to read until my brain hurts.  I’ve done some amazing spring cleaning, store-room and various junk collecting spots (I’m embarrassed to admit they’re EVERYWHERE in this house…) and I’ve probably developed a severe reaction to dust along with all the pollen in the air.  A little air purifier and a cool air humidifier are supposed to help me sleep, but I’m wondering if all the noise they make is counter productive.  And I’m also trying to figure out why I get my second wind at this time of night so that I don’t feel even remotely like sleeping, and then it’s a huge struggle to get myself moving in the morning.My page a day forgotten English calendar has generally been boring the hell out of me, except for this wonderful little gem from the 18th of May, which was the birthday of Elias Ashmole (1617-1692).  What an unfortunate name.  The word for the day is pigwidgeon – “a kind of cant word for anything petty or small;  a fairy. ”  Since when are fairies petty??  Maybe they meant to say pretty.  “The word is of obscure origin and meaning.  Some have identified it with the name of a fairy knight favoured by Queen Mab, the wife of Oberon.”  (A fairy knight??) That just seems wrong.

Anyway, all that aside, Elias wrote a manuscript titled “An excellent way to get a fairy”, which reads:

“First, get a broad, square crystal, in length and breadth three inches, and lay it in the blood of a hen three Wednesdays or three Fridays.  Then take it out and wash it in Holy Water and fumigate it.  (Sounds pretty easy so far, right??  Crystals, hen blood and holy water being common household items.  I’m puzzled about the fumigator though, but that can probably be googled.)  Then take three hazel rods of a year’s growth, peel them fair and white, and write the fairy’s name, which you call three times, on every stick being made flat one side.  (So if you don’t know the fairy’s name, at this point you’re in big trouble).  Then bury them under some hill whereas you suppose fairies haunt the Wednesday before you call her; and the Friday following, call her three times at eight, or three, or ten of the clock.  (What kind of hills do fairies haunt?  Are they the size of ant hills?  or potato hills? or foot hills?  This is why I can never be good at this.  I just don’t know.)  But when you call, be in Clean Life and turn thy face towards the east; and when you have her, bind her in that crystal.”

Is it just me, or do you think there’s a couple of steps missing there at the end?  And after the mysterious binding, then what?  What exactly do you do with your crystal bound fairy?  Although this all at first seems like a LOT of information, apparently I need more.  And some motivation would be good too.  Otherwise I think I’ll just let the fairies get on with whatever it is fairies do and leave them alone.  Besides, Mr Ashmole never says in so many words that this excellent method actually works, and he does throw in a lot of tricky conditions that set you up for failure.  Like if your hazel tree is under a year old or your watch is wrong, the whole project is doomed.

And speaking of doomed projects, I’ve decided to take up painting again!  So far I’ve bought some new paints and a couple of boards and have drawn two outlines on them.  Whew.  All that in just over a week!  Now I need to decide on a place to start the actual painting without taking up a ridiculous amount of space and making a colossal mess.  Where the light is good.  In a chair that’s comfortable and where the table doesn’t wobble.  And a lot more conditions too numerous to get into.  I’ll get back to you on how that’s going.  Three Wednesdays from the next rainy Friday, if not sooner.