Thursday, December 29, 2011

Hugging A Tree...

We’ve all heard and are familiar with the expression “Tree Hugger” in reference to someone who is environmentally aware and practices what they preach. And a commendable way of life indeed!

With the subject of nature in mind – the expression “hug a tree” is used in my family to invite young grandsons to participate in a rite of Spring, Summer, Fall and even Winter. Fun, exciting and easy enough for boys everywhere – sometimes to the chagrin of their very polite mamas whose toilet training methods may not include the great outdoors!

Today it is blustery and the skies are snow-filled with prediction of a stormy night ahead. Clients from the city have come to spend some time interviewing contractors for renovations they have in mind – and with the cottage already winterized there is no running water. The lady has been dancing for about an hour or so – but felt reluctant to drive to town in case she missed the arrival of an appointment!

Eventually, the lady was all danced out and it was suggested that she seek
 a spot out of the wind and find relief. The hilarity of the idea was simply too much – the giggles put pressure on her nether regions and the only solution was to, indeed, hug a tree!

One of many “firsts” in the Muskoka experience!! Yahoo!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Jingle Bells at the Kettle...

Last Friday afternoon I had the pleasure of doing a stint on behalf of the Salvation Army during their annual fund-raising drive to help local families. During moments when nobody was either coming in or exiting, I played a little game in my head to keep myself occupied….

Keeping in mind that the only instruments available to me were the hand-held jungle bells and  my own finger snapping or toe tapping, the results were a lot of fun and actually elicited comments from several who had observed me while approaching from the parking lot or, conversely, checking out at the cash!

My own little dance party was founded on whatever song title came into my head – then hum the melody with accompanying percussion of bells, feet, thumb ‘n finger and an occasional ricochet off the kettle. I had some good rhythms going and it was a blast..Visualize the pompom on my Santa hat just bopping and shoulders rocking. I’m truly not The Littlest Elf, but the bowlful of jelly was not too remarkable either!

Ho-ho-ho…”have yourself a merry little Christmas now.”   

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas In The Country...

Many of the “baby-boomer” generation can clearly or nearly remember visits to a relative’s farm or rural address where the apparent simplicities of living seemed so unique and so desirable.

I can recall visits to “Uncle Charlie’s” where the living room sofa had horsehairs springing out of the upholstery and the indoor toilet had a truly noisy chain-pull mechanism that activated the overhead water tank to flush!

Poetically, buzzing bees and gentle breezes through the grasses sound romantic – but the sights and smells of country living are incomparable and unforgettable.
Who could forget the burst of flavour from a just-picked strawberry, or the smell of homemade soup mellowing on the back burner! My Grandma used to determine whether the wood-fired cookstove was hot enough for baking bread “ by opening the oven door and shoving her arm in to “test” the temperature.

The feeling we all cherish of “coming home” for Christmas – wherever home may be – encompasses the sights, sounds, smells and flavours -   lights on the tree, candles flickering, sometimes even bells jingling or piano ringing or glasses tinkling;  home baking and sideboards laden with yummy delights.

Wherever your heart may lead you at Christmas – the tangible spirit of the season is undeniable. Whether sad heart or glad heart; catch what you can and give back if you are able.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Taking the Skin Off...

“We’ve all heard the health recommendations about reducing our intake of fats, though it’s certain that the human body does require some. Careful choices are made at the grocery store, and preparation at home is even more diligent – fat reduced menus somehow don’t taste as good, especially until one gets used to the new process.

When I was a young girl, delicious stews, soups and other meals all had the savour of marrow bones, skins and sometimes organ meats. When cooled, the fat was more or less skimmed off the top. Gravies were always prepared from scratch on the stove top -  in the roasting pan; and for those very special occasions, Yorkshire Pudding made from the beef drippings!

So now, naked chicken breasts and bared thighs. No salt, thin soups. And heaven forbid that a lamb shank should be allowed to simmer overnight in the pot. Seldom sautéed, broiled or baked, raised lean and sometimes less flavourful. Nowadays, it’s basically “what you see if what you get”, at least food wise.

I wonder, in this interactive and social world,  whether  we would be able to identify more readily and relate to others if we too could peel away the skin that hides so much and simply see each ourselves and each other without all the layers.

No more pretense …get naked!

Monday, December 5, 2011

In The Still Of The Night...

The highs and lows of relationships – whether fresh and thrilling or more established – must be an interesting cycle for anyone observing from a distance. Some couples thrive on an adrenalin rush of conflict, for others there is no thriving…….yet whichever way people handle the inevitable challenges may be what’s right for them.

Sleep deprivation can be a huge factor, as well as the everyday stresses and frantic pace of daily living. I’ve heard that the month of August is most often when crimes of passion are committed – the summer temperatures prompt irritability and short fuses.

New mothers, and new fathers – distraught with their own feelings of inadequacy and the upheaval from what was once comfortable –  sometimes feel totally overwhelmed by the immensity of new responsibility and commitment. Addiction counselors can readily affirm the affects of users’ choices on their families, co-workers and most immediately – partners and children in the household.

When personality “types” are pigeonholed into alphabetical classifications, it’s easy to be offhand and excuse someone’s inappropriate behavior as “oh, don’t pay any mind, that’s the way it is”.  What a convenient dismissal of acting out! People are often co-dependent on each other, one enabling their partner in deference to their own sense of what may be acceptable or not. Theories and actualities abound.

The appropriate opportunity will present itself to thrash things through and come to some resolution.  Strive to do the right thing – forgive if you can, apologize if you should, and know what your options are – evaluating then if the value is there.

Retrospection and comprehension come when the dust has settled…..when the world is in slumber and you find yourself in the still of the night.