CMMC: Daisy, Daisy

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Daisies are like sunshine to the ground.

Drew Barrymore

Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do
I’m half crazy all for the love of you

Daisy Bell, Nat King Cole

This is my post for Cee Neuner’s Midweek Madness Challenge: September Close-Up

Happy Wednesday!

What’s In My Cup: Tropical Tango

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Emerald hills and turquoise seas
Endless canvas brushed with trees
That sway so gently in the hue
Of watercolor azure blue

Waves that ripple through my mind
Touch sun-kissed sugar sands of time
As whispered winds so softly sigh
A dreamlike lazy lullaby

Douglas J. Olsen, Paradise

OK, so I may not be in a tropical location this morning, but we’re still experiencing tropical temperatures, high humidity, and sunshine sparkling off a backyard pool. I’m hanging with my folks and my kids this week, and that’s paradise for me.

Iced tea is essential and David’s Tropic Tango fits the bill. This caffeine-free sweet and fruity infusion contains apple, candied mango, candied papaya, hibiscus blossoms, beetroot, carrot, and cornflower blossoms.

This tea has a tart, fruity flavour that makes your mouth water. Like a vibrant tropical flower, the beetroot ensures a bright, appealing, rosy colour. The predominant flavours are mango, papaya and coconut. It is sweet and tangy, with a slightly artificial flavour, that is accentuated when served as a hot tea. But as an iced tea it is quite refreshing! Sweet enough in fact, I didn’t feel the need to add any sweetener. Someone suggested adding soda water or a pop like gingerale for the perfect party punch! Now to just close my eyes and let my imagination sail away…

You look out into the water; the waves make the most beautiful sound. A place you find peace and comfort…
A place to clear your thoughts and leave everything behind.

Ralph P. Quinonez, The Peace of the Beach

Happy Monday!

Dear Quarantine Diary – Week #34

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Dear Diary – Every day Pinterest emails me posts they’ve chosen for me ‘cuz they think I”d be interested. They’re usually completely wrong. However, the chart of yoga poses did catch my attention, not because I do yoga, but because I live with men and have been conditioned me to zero in on certain things. It was actually one pose in particular: wind relieving.

I had to laugh out loud because all I could picture was a sign on the studio bulletin board for a community ChiliFest, and a room full of doughy, mature ladies in spandex suits, tights, headbands and ’80s leg warmers… with cartoon toots.

Dear Diary – My basil plants, the only seeds that grew from the 7 packages of seeds I purchased from a local flower farm, are on steriods. It’s been about 2 weeks since I last harvested a big bunch. This weekend, I plucked and dried 8 cookie sheets of herbs. Three days later, I harvested another half sheet, and could have plucked more. Guess what everyone’s getting in their stocking this Christmas!

Dear Diary – I got to eat dinner out…sort of! It was a catered meal in a church parking lot. I had to bring my own chair, but I didn’t have to cook and it was a big step up from McDonald’s, so it counts as “out”.

Dear Diary – I was blessed to be part of a worship team on Sunday morning, but the expression “early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise” did not apply. Instead, it was more like “late to slumber, early to tumble, makes a tired, overworked woman grumble”. Except everyone was still abed when I got up, and comfortably snoozing when I left. There was no one to complain to and no amount of caffeine in the world to perk these old bones. My eyelids felt like sandpaper except for a brief period between 12 and 12:05. It was a pretty gritty day.

The trip to the church is about half an hour, and in a pitiful effort to be joyful, I put on perky music. Obviously I wasn’t thinking clearly. It could have been a mistake had the sun not been shining. The bright rays caused my eyes to tear up, and as I blinked away the dewiness, I noticed a rainbow to the left and right of the sun.

A sun dog or sun bow can appear when light passes through ice crystals in the atmosphere at an angle of 22 degrees, creating a halo effect. Usually it’s just a bright spot that mimics the sun, but occasionally, it is an actual rainbow. And this rainbow was bright and colourful.

As the beauty of this strange phenomenon infused my fatigued brain, lines from the song boucing through the speakers also seeped into my consciousness:

Your resurrection power burns like fire in my heart…

You are the fire that cannot be tamed…

You are stronger than our hearts, You are greater than the dark, with You, we are victorious.

Rend Collective, “More Than Conquerors”

Rainbows have long been a symbol of hope and promise. Remember Noah? There have been a few times in my life, when things seemed bleak or blah, that God painted a rainbow for me, and I couldn’t help but marvel at His faithfulness and creativity.

This past year has certainly had some bleak and blah moments. I have mourned losses of people, places and positions. I have often felt lonely and lost. I’ve kept busy but deep down there’s been a longing for a place and a crying out for a purpose. Breathing and taking up space just isn’t enough. And here’s God, painting rainbows and singing reminders that He is the Light in dark places, early in the morning to someone He didn’t create to be a morning person. Hallelujah!

God has a sense of humour. If you don’t believe me, tomorrow go to Wal-mart and just look at people.

Carlos Mencia

Dear Diary – As much as I hate bathing suit shopping…the wrestling, the sweating, the loss of dignity and the complete breakdown – even before I’ve even tried one on, but I may have to take the plunge into that Little Shop of Horrors again. When I purchased my black bathing suit, I was looking for something a little sexy but my options were limited by my shape. I ended up with the one that I didn’t get so tangled in, that I ended up laughing hysterically in the dressing room, frightening the waifer-thin, doe-eyed adolescent sales clerk who was new and hadn’t experienced the trauma of serving middle-aged sausages women in spandex!

It was incredibly hot this week, and since we’re about to undergo major (and incredibly expensive) plumbing surgery at home, I ran away from home. To cool off, Mom and I decided to go for an evening swim. Auntie M was joining us.

I was thankful I had had the foresight to use the bathroom before I put I attempted to put my suit on. When I purchased this sexy suit, I had less fat to stuff in weighed less and was slightly more bendy than I am now. This suit had very thin straps, which has to support very hefty weight. These tiny straps are also part of an elaborate corset-style back on my suit. The longer I wear the suit, the longer all those strings become as they try to hold everything in place. The suit itself, fits snugger than it used to, so pulling it on is kind of like stuffing meat in a sausage casing. You just kind of have to squeeze your eyes shut and keep wiggling and stuffing until everything is contained. So I stuffed and squeezed and succeeded, only to realize, the suit was inside out. To add insult to injury, the padding in the bust, which serves no purpose, was wrinkled and folded in on itself, giving me the appearance of a tween who has stuffed her top with tissue. I know this because I tried it once in Grade 5 and I got caught. At school. In front of boys. It’s not really a story worth sharing.

I wasn’t sure which problem to fix first – the whole “it’s inside out” or the “stuffed with tissue” texture. I opted for the whole suit, which meant more wriggling and squeezing. Dry or wet, this suit does not come off easily. Instead, the strings roll together into a jumbled mess, that creates a roll, that tightens around the waist, making it even more difficult to roll down. And once off, I have to repeat the whole nightmare to get it on again. Having successfully done so and now sweating profusely, I have to spend an inordinate amount of time um….unfurling the bust pads.

I could have worn my bikini but it was still sunny and no one needed to be blinded by the Pillsbury dough babe. I’ve tried wearing a t-shirt over it but when you get out of the water, unlike plastic wrap, it clings like a toddler to whatever Mama wants to take away. It also rolls up the back and becomes a giant knot that threatens to squeeze the air from your lungs. And it’s humiliating, at 48, to have your parents undress you.

I enjoyed my swim, but not what came next.

It may be time to visit the Little Shop of Horrors again.

“Men have an easier time buying bathing suits. Women have two types: depressing and more depressing.
Men have two types: nerdy and not nerdy.”

Rita Rudner

Wilderness Wednesday: Rose of Sharon

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From sunrise to sunset, my rose of sharon trees are buzzing with activity – honey bees, bumblebees, wasps…and an occasional humming bird. They are all enjoying the glorious sun while it lasts, and preparing for winter’s deep slumber.

Let us not go hurrying about and collecting honey, bee-like buzzing here and there for a knowledge of what is not to be arrived at, but let us open our leaves like a flower, and be passive and receptive, budding patiently under the eye of Apollo, and taking hints from every noble insect that favours us with a visit –
sap will be given us for meat and dew for drink.

John Keats

Happy Wednesday!

Just Breathe

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That soothing sensation of serenity when you’re on vacation, particularly in the Great Outdoors, is irreplaceable. But even if you can’t get here, thanks to Covid, there’s still a way to capture (or recapture) that sense of peace…

Studies have shown that just by looking at photos of nature for as little as five minutes can have a similar calming effect on the brain. How? The images engage the part of the central nervous system that helps us relax, and therefore help to calm our anxiety and fear. Especially photos with just a little green in it!

Another study encouraged people to take photos of either themselves, things that made them happy, or things to share because they know it would make others happy.

Those who took selfies found themselves more comfortable in the their own skin, and therefore, more confident.

Those taking photos of things that make them happy reported an increased sense of appreciation and joy in the day-to-day.

And finally, those who snapped and shared photos with others in mind reported less stress and an increased sense of connection in these relationships.

So take some time this week to look at photos of the people or things that make you happy, share an image or two, or take your camera for a walk in your home or your neighbourhood. Engage your senses. Appreciate your blessings.

Breathe!

Happy Monday!

Dear Quarantine Diary – Week #33

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Dear Diary – Oh, the joys of country living. At night, the bugs gather around the lights and when anyone opens the door, they rush in like teenage girls at a BTS concert. The most bothersome are big black beetle with exoskeletons that rival cockroaches. They couldn’t simply be smacked with the fly swat. In fact I watched Little Guy beat one until he was red in the face, and the bug just crawled away, laughing. They also liked to ping along the ceiling and drop behind the chair by my bedroom door, lying in wait.

Earlier this week, I captured 2 by covering them with a glass and leaving them until morning. But Friday night, as I settled into bed with a book, I kept hearing rattling by my door. I thought it was Little Guy playing a prank, but when I opened the door, the living room was dark and quiet. I soon discovered one of these big black beetles in the room. It pinged off the ceiling and hurtled to the floor, so I went on the hunt. I didn’t need it pinging off my face in the night or laying eggs in ears.

I found it hiding under a pile of quilts, so I ran to the kitchen and grabbed a cup. But just like spiders, once you take your eyes off it, it disappears. I hunted in desperation for another 20 minutes until I realized how ridiculous it was and went to sleep…on the couch. It was a rough night. Something kept setting off the porch light outside, and the kitchen ceiling fan ticked lazily. Little Guy wandered out at around 4 a.m. The pop of his door startled me awake and I gasped, which startled him.

It’s very hard to sleep with someone standing over you, watching you sleep. I did my best to ignore him and eventually he padded off silently like a cat. I think he went back to his own room.

I woke stiff and sore in the morning…and I still have a bug in my room.

Dear Diary – I finally got my hair cut. It’s been 21 months since my last hair cut. My hair was so long that the hairstylist made me stand for the initial snips. While I feel like a million bucks (and at least 10 lbs lighter), I am still broke and my clothes don’t fit.

Dear Diary – I started the week with high aspirations and ended it exhausted and defeated. I think I should stick with sewing face masks and nothing else. Or give up entirely and sing kumbaya in the corner while gently rocking.

Since I STILL don’t know what I want to do when I grow up, I thought it would be cool to expand my sewing repertoire. I would love to have an Etsy business, to be able to work at something I enjoy doing in the comfort of my bathrobe home. I have tried papercrafts before, but most people don’t understand or appreciate the effort or cost of supplies in crafts, and therefore were unwilling to pay $3.00 for a handmade card when they could buy one at the dollar store for a buck! Once upon a time, I sewed old-fashioned pillow-case dolls, and it was the same story. And I certainly know better than to try sewing clothing. I have successfully sewn dresses, but if you looked closely, I had to fudge a bit here and there, and my patient father repaired tear-stained seams more than once.

I decided to try sewing specialicized hand bags. I chose 2 “easy” patterns from the internet to start. I made the hard one first, a circular bag that lies flat, and pulls together with a drawstring to make a little sack for your makeup, prescriptions or jewelry. For a first attempt, it went pretty smoothly. The prototype has more pinholes in it that a strainer, but it still…

Next up was a Japanese Knot bag. Instead of a few hours, it took days. I spent more time ripping it out than sewing. Even my father spent time ripping it out while I wept in the corner in the fetal position. Whoever said this was an easy pattern, lied! While the toiletries bag also involved some ripping, it never resembled…whatever this is!

It looks Sponge Bob’s friend, Patrick, had an unfortunate encounter with a steamroller

If insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, then I am not insane. Because I didn’t do the same thing over and over again…just the result was the same, over and over again! Still, determined to make my dreams come true, I took a day off to go shopping, for more fabric.

That action alone either shows I’m a resilient and hopeful woman, or bat crap crazy!

On the fifth day, a Saturday, I started the day fresh. Dad had ripped out the latest catastrophe the night before and pinned it together for me…again. All my new fabric was washed and pressed. Surely I could get 2 done today.

Somehow we still got it wrong. I was so upset, I was wailing, and I was no longer wailing words. As I neared hysteria, my mother shoved a piece of dark chocolate in my mouth like a pacifier. And once I calmed down, we looked at the website for the 43rd time. It turns out the step-by-step instructions missed an entire step, thereby setting me up for certain failure. OK, it wasn’t entirely the instructions but after ripping, tugging, stabbing, freaking out all week, I finally produced this:

Now I have beautiful fabric, but lack the heart for mass production. Or anything, really.

Dear Diary – It was nice to have company this year. Little Guy and I stayed up too late to watch the meteor shower. I saw more falling stars than ever before, and they were longer and brighter. They were worthy of “oohs” and “aahs”, and I was so stoked to get to share this with him.

I made a few wishes too..but I still haven’t woken up a younger, blonde bombshell!

Dear Diary – Mom and I picked up a few things at the frozen food place in town. As we were leaving, Mom commented: “it was busy, but then there are people camping… and it’s nearly the weekend”.

“Mom”, I said, “it’s Tuesday”!

This is what Covid has done to us.

Dear Diary – The conversation took a dark turn during our card game, when my Mom asked, “do you know what I seem to be doing more as I get older?”. As is often the case, every family member’s mind turned to gas. This prompted me to share this story…

I had an older friend who, as she aged, started passing wind on a regular basis, usually in short staccato bursts. One time, we were in a tiny elevator and she let one go. She tried to talk loudly over it, but how could I not notice a rump trumpet that blasted like a semi? Not only that, but the room filled with a transparent green haze that made my eyes water and my throat constrict. I squeezed my eyes shut and started fanning my face for air, willing the elevator to rise faster. She continued to play dumb and asked me what was wrong. I mumbled, “you farted” as quickly as possible because I didn’t want to taste what I was smelling. “oh,” she said, “I didn’t think you’d notice”.

I’m pretty sure elevator patrons an hour later, noticed!

By the way, gaseous expessions were in no way related to Mom’s answer.

Dear Diary – I can understand cats and dogs, a wallet or bicycle, but this is crazy. I saw this ad in the classsified of a local small town paper.

It listed the two towns where it could be roaming free and wild. How wild? I can just imagine.

Apparently, losing a bull isn’t such a rare thing. When googled, I discovered police were looking for the owners of a lost bull in another area in the province only a few hours away, less than 2 months ago! They described it as “Found: one Highland bull, no tag or collar, not co-operative, well fed, horns very pointy.” You think?!?!

So the moral of the story is…the next time you go for a wander in the woods, keep your eyes open for livestock. And that’s no bull!

“Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the rear or a fool from any direction.”

Cowboy Proverb

What’s In My Cup: Blueberry Fields Forever

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What do you call a sad strawberry?

A blue berry.

Don’t be sad, because even in the midst of winter, you can enjoy the delightful taste of summer’s blueberries.  They’re the most nutrient-rich berry, packed with antioxidants, vitamin C, and potassium, and plenty of healing properties.

I brought in another tea connoisseur this week: my Mom. We did a taste comparison of David’s Blueberry Fields Forever tea and David’s Blueberry Jam. While we liked both teas a lot, both we each had a favourite!

Mom’s pick was Blueberry Fields Forever. This tea blend has an oolong base and includes apple, bean peels, blueberries and blueberry leaves, elderberries, hibiscus blossoms, violet blossoms, cornflowers, butterfly pea flowers, natural flavouring and stevia extract. It had a delicate, fruity scent and the butterfly pea flowers, a Southeast Asian flower, gave it a rosier hue. Just what you’d expect from blueberry tea! Mom felt this tea had a more natural and sweet, spirited blueberry flavour.

My pick was Blueberry Jam. This tea has a black tea base, and some of the same ingredients. Blueberry Fields has more florals and therefore was slightly sweeter. Since black tea is oxidized longer than oolong, it was a darker hue, more akin to plain black tea. The aroma was stronger and I thought the flavour was more a blend of various berries, not just blueberry, but still rich, vibrant and delicious.

Both blueberry teas are fruity and flavourful…and caffeinated! Blueberry Fields is less expensive than Blueberry Jam, but not “less than” in terms of taste. The difference is likely that Blueberry Jam’s ingredients are organic and Fairtrade. Blueberry Fields’ oolong tea supports the Ethical Tea Partnership program.

In terms of tea, neither blend left us feeling blue!

Forget who you are and why you’re here-all that foolishness.
In the woods the bushes are full of blueberries; go and pick some.

Marty Rubin

Happy Monday!

Dear Quarantine Diary – Week #32

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Dear Diary -Guess who got a lot done today? Not me, but congratulations to someone!

I wake up every day planning to be productive and then a voice in my head says “hahaha good one!” and we laugh and laugh, and take a nap!

Unknown

Dear Diary – An ad for movies on the W channel came on the other night, you know the kind: sappy, romantic drivel. Some guy embraced a pretty blonde, and stared into her baby blues: “I want to spend the rest of my life being spontaneous with you”. I couldn’t help it. I started making gagging noises and apologizing. “Sorry, ” I said, “my chips are just backing up…spontaneously”.

Dear Diary – Since we were already in the store and my sandals’ soles are surviving by a thread, I went shoe shopping. I saw Saturday Night Fever heels that rivalled John Travolta and gladiator sandals with more braids than Daenerys Targaryen’s hair. I think I’ll stick to my sagging sandals until the next season. I prefer to be barefoot anyway!

Dear Diary – I keep forgetting that I can’t just blurt things out on the phone because without context, these random points in the conversation can easily be misconstrued. For example:

Hubby: what are you up to?
Me: Waiting for my eggs to warm up.
Hubby: I thought you told me we pasat having babies. Is there something I should know?

No honey, my uterus is an empty, dry husk and there won’t be any more babies. Unless we happen to get guinea pigs and the vendor gets it wrong…

Dear Diary – After spending a week with my parents, I can say with certainty, the apple doesn’t fall from the tree. While the inevitable disasters of everything I touch come with greater frequentcy than my Mom, I can certainly see from where I get it. I’m not telling tales, but a few things happened that made me smile discreetly when her back was turned. It was safer that way! 😉

Dear Diary – My brother called Mom for her birthday from his cell. He’s camping! Lg and I were really tempted but pick up the other phone and start heavy breathing. It was that or shout “ hey hoser”, giggle and run away.

For Mom’s birthday, I baked a Torta al limone dei 12 Cucchiai (Lemon cake of 12 spoons). Since I’m approaching 1,000 consecutive days on my Italian lessons, I was excited to try this Italian recipe. Plus it looked easy! The original recipe used 12 TBSPs of every ingredient but it was modified to reduce the amount of sugar and that’s a good thing for bathing beauties. I think the biggest challenge for this cake was trying to figure out how to put together the bundt pan. While the cake didn’t rise very much, despite beating my eggs on low for over 5 minutes as recommended, it was light, airy and very delicious. A perfect dessert after our Chinese supper.

Enjoy yourself; it’s later than you think.

Chinese proverb

Dear Diary – I recently read a Facebook post that said I shouldn’t say people are refusing to get the covid vaccination because “refusing” is a “manipulative word”. We should say “choosing not to” instead. I understand what they’re trying to say, but I confess, I felt like replying something like, maybe you should choose to not wear a helmet when you ride your motorcycle or a seat belt in the car, or choose to ignore the safety warnings on your appliances, like don’t use your toaster in the bathtub. But I spurned the impulse and abstained from saying anything. Still, obviously someone felt the need to make toast during their bubble bath, which is why such a warning exists. Let’s chalk it all up to natural selection. I think I’ll go make some toast and then dig it out with a fork.

Dear Diary – I’m still trying to figure out what to do for the rest of my life. In the meantime, I bought more fabric and I’m trying some new patterns. If I don’t break my mother’s uncooperative sewing machine, I may have some nifty “product” to take up residence in my closet. I think I’ve spent more time this week ripping out seams than I have sewing them in.

Superheroes wear masks to hide their identity. If we have to wear masks, why not show off yours?

Dear Diary – I’ve definitely instilled a quirky sense of humour in my boys. The other night we played a game of Scattergories, with Little Guy. Each round, we list words that start with whatever letter was rolled, according to a card of categories. The trick is to come up with words that no one else has written. Little Guy came out with a couple of loo-loos. Under “Things Found in a Park”, he wrote, “Crystal Meth”. He’s not wrong! Then under”Things to Keep Hidden”, he wrote “Hooker”. He’s not wrong again, but I’m wondering if I should worry about that boy. Little Guy also thought alimony was a leisure activity. Auntie M piped up, “ that might fit better under “Allergies”!

Dear Diary – While I’m still enjoying the sunshine, the sundresses and the slow schedules, I’m getting sick of the heat. And I’m not talking about the weather. But I’m slowly learning how to balance the raging inferno of my dying youth: ice-cream sundaes chased by hot tea!

Summer is proof that Mother Nature is menopausal.

John Wagner, Maxine

CFFC: It’s a Small World

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It’s a small world and we share it with small creatures. Take great care!

“Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.”

Albert Einstein

This is my post for Cee Neuner’s Fun Foto Challenge: It’s a Small World.

Happy Wednesday!