Thursday, November 29, 2012

Miracles

 
 
There are two ways to live:
you can live as if nothing is a miracle;
you can live as if everything is a miracle.
 
Albert Einstein

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Rub-a-Dub-Dub



Rub-a-dub-dub little man in a tub...

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday...he's actually having a bath in the sink, the perfect sized tub for him.  Gary is holding him so he doesn't slip while I take pictures.  I think he looks so much like Grampy Richard here.  Sweet boy!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Hanging Outdoor Lights


Hanging Outdoor Lights

Last week, we hung Christmas lights outdoors.  The weather was unusually warm for late November, short balmy days still full of heat.  Surprising. 

The warmth drew us outdoors to begin decorating though we won’t turn the lights on for a while yet.  On the veranda, we placed the bushy evergreen wreath with twinkly white lights; on the pergola, we spread thirty-six feet of rope lights, all in white, all securely fastened.   At the front door, we set up two small evergreen trees covered with tiny white lights.  On the Fat Albert Blue Spruce, we can see from our kitchen windows, we spread out five sets of LED lights in red. 

But five sets weren’t enough.  Fat Albert Blue Spruce has grown; my, how it has grown.  So off we went to the hardware store in a panic.  Would they still have the same lights this year?  They did.  We bought two more sets and laid them among the tree branches, then turned them on to take a look.  Hmmm, not quite right, still too many bare spots.  We went off again to buy one last set.  There, finally full and lush with lights, the tree was looking good.

Today is more like real November weather, cold with bitter wind and a hint of snow in the air, just a hint.  All day the wind has rattled at the windows, buffeted the walls and sent dry oak leaves shooting straight up the sides of the house.  And the wind has thrashed the Fat Albert, unsettling the red lights.  The erratic gusts have redecorated the tree; lights now hang like garlands or have fallen to the branches below forming nests of red bulbs.  Not damaged, just different

Tomorrow, if the wind settles, I’ll drag out my small step stool to extend my height, and my stick with a bent nail on top to extend my reach.   I’ll begin again to nestle the red lights into the tree and corral the strings which are trying to escape, on wings of wind.

Hanging the Christmas lights outdoors often takes more than one attempt each year.  The winter wind entices anything that tries to stay put or tied down, whistling and singing “Come with me.”

Yet, some years, the twinkling lights are just as wonderful when they are hung by the wilful wind.

 

Words and photo are copyright © Carol Steel

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Monday, November 19, 2012

Creative Writing Class


Creative Writing Class


“Do you belong to a writers’ group?” I asked.

“Yes, it’s a closed group,” she replied.  “For serious writers,” she added, slowly emphasizing each word.

I understand the concept of a closed writers’ group for writers who have been listening to and critiquing each other for a period of time, a group whose form and format are set, a group which is working well.

But the words “For serious writers” pinched at me.  She could just as easily have said, “My group is for real writers like me; something you are not.”  I wondered how she came to this conclusion. 

She knew so little about me or about any of the others; all of us going down the stairwell with her, after the weekly writing class we all share.  The moment I had admitted to writing a blog, she discounted me and my writing abilities. 

A common reaction, it seems.  Not the first time this has happened.

There is no attempt to read said blog or to discover if any additional writing is done.  It’s simply, “Oh, you write a blog,” followed by dismissive comments or dead air.  Myopic?  Condescending?  Oh yes!

Indeed there are bloggers who write about situations of little interest to anyone but themselves, but aren’t there also many writers doing the same?  So what?  This doesn’t mean they aren’t serious about writing.  Or that they don’t write in other formats besides the blog, or that they are without talent.

What does it mean to me to be a serious writer?  Well…

I write each day, usually 3 to 4 hours or more.

I re-write and edit constantly.

I share my writing with others to gain feedback.  A writers’ group is a good place for this.

I take classes, workshops, courses to learn new skills, to reach an audience, to obtain feedback, to fuel my creativity.

 I publish the work, when I can.

I write every day.

I seek feedback even when it’s uncomfortable.  I listen and pay attention.  I take everything in and don’t defend my writing.  I re-write and re-write.

I chase the truth.

I write horrible first drafts and work on them until they’re better and occasionally good.

I write every day, every day, every day.

I am serious about writing; about learning everything and anything I can to improve my work.  I consider myself a serious writer.

To my classmate:  Perhaps you could be less hasty in dismissing what is happening around you and in discounting the other writers around you, those people who are attending the same classes as you.  And allow a new idea to rise.    

You are in a classroom of serious writers.  Otherwise, why would we be there?

And pay attention:  Bloggers are serious writers, too.

 

Photo and words are copyright © Carol Steel.

 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Grandsons



Visitors.  We've had visitors.  Two of our daughters came to see us, accompanied by portions of their own families.

Over the weekend, we spent time with our youngest grandson (7.5 months) and our oldest grandson (14.75 years).  We're fortunate to have eleven grandchildren, six boys and five girls.  With their families' busy lives, we don't see any of our grandchildren as much as we would like, so this visit was a special treat for us.

It fascinates me to see the youngest and the oldest grandsons together.  Despite their age difference, they have physical and personality traits in common.  They share blue eyes, fair hair and skin, large heads and strong hands, healthy appetites and tons of physical energy. 

Already evident in the youngest is a propensity for studying the face of the person talking to him, an attentive sensitivity to the environment around him, an easy and frequent smile, and a gentle presence; all of these are characteristics shared with his older cousin.

It is easy to note their differences but it is more fascinating to see their similarities.  They are kin; they are family.  And it was such delight to see each grandson, to enjoy a visit with some of our family.

Thank you.  It was thoughtful and generous of you to come. 

And again, thank you.

Friday, November 9, 2012

In November

 
 
In November

When October's flames
die down
to the ash of November,
the trees lift bare fingers
to scratch at the sky
and reach to rip open
the pillows of cloud.

The snow feathers fly,
white down
soft, now soft 
in layer on layer.

And Earth heaves a sigh,
as she pulls
the covers
up to her chin.

Words and photo are copyright Carol Steel.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Look Deep

 
 
Look deep into nature,
and then you will understand
everything better.
 
Albert Einstein

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Scharlachglut Roses

 
 
It's cold in New Brunswick.  Not as cold as it will be later in the winter, but cold enough.  The daytime temperatures are just above the freezing point; night times are just below.  Yet look at what continues to form new buds, to burst into bloom, in the front garden.  Amazing hardiness!  Such determined gifts of loveliness, in a landscape that is turning to the greys of November.

Photos and words are copyright Carol Steel.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Sunday Supper


 
 
 
We were invited out for Sunday supper.  What a wonderful treat it was!  The appetizer was created from cooked and pureed fennel, with Pernod and creme fraiche added to lobster.  The dish was garnished with lobster oil and fresh tarragon with fennel fronds.



 
 
 
Because I am allergic to shell fish, my appetizer followed the same recipe but had salmon and was garnished with tarragon oil.  It was delicious, mouth watering, delicate and decadent.
And then...

 
 

 
 
 
the main dish was a dry brined organic chicken cooked on a bed of root vegetables, subsequently used for the gravy base.  The gravy was extraordinary and will require its own separate post to describe.  We had homemade pesto squash gratin, local potatoes enhanced with roasted garlic brown butter and parmesan, dressing with sage and onion, sausage and miche campagne.  There were carrots and peas and edible flowers.  So beautiful, so utterly delicious.
 
But wait....then we had molten chocolate lava cakes with homemade caramel sauce, candied pecans and whipped cream, accompanied by chilled Warre's Optima 10 port.
 
It was a luxurious evening spent with family who are superb cooks.  Thank you Kyla and Mark.  We enjoyed ourselves so much, we may never need to eat again.
 
My computer is being finicky and will not download the photo of the molten chocolate lava cakes.  They were so good and so pretty, but sorry, no pictures.  Photos and words are copyright Carol Steel.
 
 
 
 
 
 


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Thank You

 
 
Thank You
 
for your wonderful gift basket
with Mourvedre wine and handmade bread,
for two kinds of homemade soup,
(carrot, and minestrone with chicken),
for carrot cake and raspberry shortbread cookies
both from Tony's Pastries.
 
It was lovely to see you,
even if only for a short time.
I was overwhelmed with your kindness
and your thoughtfulness.
 
Many thanks for this Sunday surprise. 
 
 
Words and photo are copyright Carol Steel.
Tony's Pastries is located at 137 McLaughlin Drive in Moncton.
If you haven't been there
to the bistro and patisserie,
you are missing one of the delights of this city.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Perspective

 
 
 
Perspective
I had an appointment for today at 2pm to consult with the oncologist…finally.  It should have happened two weeks ago but they “lost my paperwork.”  Today at 1:30 pm I received a phone call postponing the appointment until tomorrow morning.  “Sorry for the last minute cancellation,” she said.
I asked about whether they were doing the markings and set up tomorrow too.   “Oh no,” she said, “that will be sometime next week, if we can find a slot for you.”
 “Oh and then I’ll begin the radiation?”
“Well no, then we’ll have to see when we can fit you in to begin sometime in the next month.” 
I wondered why, and felt a little sorry for myself; sorry that obtaining treatment would take so long and be so vaguely planned.
Then I remembered.
I have a home, un-burnt and un-flooded.  I have electricity and heat.   I can do laundry and can drive where I want to go.  I don’t have two hundred year old Black Oaks falling on my roof while I wait over a month for a tree company with a crane to come and cut them down.   I have fresh food.  I don’t have to worry about the temperature dropping outside and my pipes freezing.   I have Medicare which will pay for all or most of my treatments, whenever they happen.
I’m a lucky woman.
It helps to keep the problems in perspective. 
Photo and words are copyright © Carol Steel