When all is written and done – #SoCS

This post is written for Linda G. Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday.  Today’s prompt is a word that contains “ow” (or use it as a word).

I just finished writing a piece that absorbed me completely. It came from nowhere, triggered by a random thought, slipped in and took up residence in my head. I love it when that happens.

During those days when it occupied my mind, I’m sure there were times when it looked like I was driving to work, shopping for groceries or doing any number of mundane tasks. But no, I was writing the next bit in my head. At the end of the day, I would read a novel in bed, just to get my mind off it for a while. But when my head hit the pillow, there it was again.

It was a short memoir – maybe memory is a better description – that took me back and made me feel the emotions all over again. To do it justice, it was important to me to get the details right. Think, Linda, was the chair red or orange?  Did this happen in April or June?

I loved the satisfaction of putting it together, paragraph-by-paragraph, like a jig-saw puzzle made of words. I even loved editing it – spotting the sentences that were superfluous, or realizing two paragraphs need to be inverted to make the piece more powerful.

What I didn’t love is the moment when I realized it was all written and done. It’s the same feeling I get when I finish a great book:  Sad that it’s over; a little lost without the characters; and wondering if I will ever find another book I will enjoy as much.

To your health!

Health issues and bad weather/road conditions have meant that our New Year’s Eve plans have been cancelled, but I am fine with that. I prefer that we all stay safe at home instead of venturing out onto the roads and that my friends who have come down with nasty colds rest and recuperate.

I don’t have any resolutions but I do have one very fervent wish:  Good health for my family, my friends and myself.  There are things we can all do to improve our chances of staying healthy. It wouldn’t hurt for me to cut back on sugar or that second glass of wine on the weekend. But since I already eat fairly well and exercise, that’s about all I can reasonably do. The key word is “reasonably” because I know I am never going to become a vegan, eat a raw food diet, exercise every day without fail etc. But even all of that is no guarantee against sickness and sometimes it comes down to luck and wishing.

This year at the cancer wellness centre where I work, I met a young couple in their thirties. They were building their careers and future together when, last year, BOTH were diagnosed with cancer within a month. I also met a remarkable woman who just turned 50 and who is full of life – she is a wife, mother to two teenage boys, a teacher, a radio host, a writer, an actor and she recently took up guitar. Aggressive breast cancer slowed her down for a while, but didn’t keep her there.  And I crossed paths with dozens of others who are taking one day at the time as they try to live well with and through cancer. Why do I bring them up? Because for almost all of them, the cancer was random. They weren’t smokers or heavy drinkers. They weren’t exposed to any more pollution, pesticides or toxic materials than you and I are. Sometimes it’s just not fair.

So, my husband and I will be enjoying bouchées and bubbly by the fire to ring in the new year. And instead of making a resolution, I am making a wish for health, the best gift of all. Cheers – wishing you a Happy, Healthy New Year!

Exorcising the spirit of Martha Stewart

For 50 weeks of the year, I’m happy to be “that” woman – the one who doesn’t watch the food network or home decorating shows.  The one who dreads home renovating projects or shopping for anything remotely related to home decor. I can’t knit, sew, paint without making a mess, or whip up a do-it-yourself centre piece from scratch. (Well, maybe I could, but you wouldn’t want it on your table).  And I’m fine with that. We all have strengths but being crafty is not in my toolkit. Except for the two weeks before Christmas when I am possessed by the spirit of Martha Stewart.  

It starts in mid-December when I buy the tree. This year it was pouring rain but the vendor gamely followed me through the rows of trees leaning against wooden racks, pointing out the merits of one or another.

Finally, I asked him to pull one out so I could see how tall and full it was. I rejected it for being too scrawny and moved to the next row.  To his credit, he continued to follow me cheerfully until I spotted one that looked like it might be a winner. He smiled and looked at me hopefully as, yet again, he pulled it out and proudly held it up straight. But, no, that one was just a tiny bit too short. And so it went, his smile getting a little more forced each time, until I found one that met my standards.

I swear I saw him in my rear view mirror, watching me drive away with the tree strapped to the top of my car, one index finger to his temple as it swirled in circles. Still, having him think I’m crazy was a small price to pay for finding the perfect tree.  

Next came baking. I’ll admit that I like to bake, but not to the point where I devote a lot of time and effort to it. Until Christmas rolls around. This year was especially bad. After finding the recipes I wanted to make, I shopped for ingredients: Chocolate chips, macadamia nuts, dried cranberries and raisins along with flour, butter, eggs and vanilla.  With holiday music playing in the background and my tree glowing in the next room, I went on a baking spree.  The result: three dozen chocolate crinkle cookies; three dozen cranberry-macadamia nut cookies; three dozen raspberry thumbprint cookies and one massive, three-layer gingerbread cake with Clementine cream cheese icing. Along with the leftover turkey, we’ll be eating them until the beginning of summer.

Finally, the big day arrived. I set the table with the good dishes and silverware. I served  the appetizers and they were a work of art, if I do say so myself. (The caprese wreath on a pretty frosted glass plate was especially festive.) So far, so good. The friction between hubby and I came with the plating of the main course.

Hubby called for the dinner plates as he stood at the counter carving the turkey.  “No, no, no! Let me get the pretty serving platters that we can set right on the table,” I said and scurried away to get them. By the time I returned, he had slapped the turkey into an every-day platter; the carrots were in a storage food container and the mashed potatoes were in a stainless steel bowl!

“The food was getting cold,” he said with a shrug when he saw my horrified expression. “Who cares as long as it LOOKS pretty???” I wanted to scream.  My son, the traitor, said while trying to hide a smile, “Love this serving bowl,” as he scooped potatoes from the stainless steel bowl onto his plate. That’s when I saw the humour in the situation and felt Martha’s spirit finally go on its merry way.

We enjoyed a good holiday meal with gravy spatters on the tablecloth and cranberry stains on the napkins. There were dirty dishes on the counter and coffee spilled on the floor, but we had great conversation and such a good time. Be gone, Martha, and please don’t come back next year.