Sunday, July 30, 2017

Along the road......

 THE ROAD and the END by CARL SANDBURG (1878-1967)
Sandburg describes everything that a traveller would see walking down a road. He is referring  to the Great Depression, at the time, but his experiences along the road give him the determination to keep going in life no matter what.

 I shall foot it down the roadway in the dusk....
 Where shapes of hunger wander and the fugitives of pain go by.
 I shall foot it in the silence of the morning.
 See the night slur into dawn...

 Hear the slow great winds arise  where tall trees flank the way..

 And shoulder toward the sky.

 The broken boulders by the road shall not commemorate my ruin.
 Regret shall be the gravel under my foot.
 I shall watch for slim birds swift of wing
 That go where wind and ranks of thunder drive the processionals of rain.
 The dust of the travelled road
 Shall touch my hands and face....

Friday, July 28, 2017

Tea Time with Spencer, the Neighbours' Cat....

 “There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.” 
                                                                                          ― Henry JamesThe Portrait of a Lady                     
  Sugar cubes melt in  golden tea. Royal Crown Derby Mikado finds a use again on an antique embroidered cloth that  my grandmother started stitching back in the 30's, before she lost her eyesight. I try to remember to  pull out the old dishes and linens. To enjoy them again.
 My mother continued to embroider the tea cloth, then one day handed me the cloth . I remember stitching outside, under the shade of trees. Then for years was squirrelled  away  in the sideboard. Folded beneath  tablecloths  and placemats. Forgotten.
 Now I  finally remember to  let it see the light of day. It has a place. At last. When the Mikado is  plied into service on days like today.  I know that somewhere deep down inside I would love to be running a B and B. A place where I could serve afternoon tea. Endless plates of scones and butter.....
 For  now, it's tea with a friend. And , of course, Spencer. The neighbours' cat. No, he' s not our cat. He has a lovely home. But he also  likes my flower pot. The one I never plant.  He's squished himself into it so much that the dirt has taken on his form.
 Today was no different. A good friend came for tea. Mikado. Tea cloth. Goodies. Spencer part of the conversation.

 He listened most attentively , but then got really sleepy. I guess our voices wore him out.
                                   He snores.
 Then wakes up with a fierce need to wash. I served pound cake today. He was quite well behaved and didn't beg.
 In the summer, with people coming back to back, always  easy to make something even easier. I make a pound cake from a cake mix  that slices up great.  You can serve it with whip cream and strawberries, or plain, with any other fruit. Freezes well.
 1 pkg yellow cake mix, 1 pkg instant pudding mix, 4 large eggs, 1 cup water or orange juice, or sherry ( Now THAT  is a great combination), 1/3 cup veggie oil. Mix all together. Pour into a long french bread pan, or large loaf pan. Bake about 50 mins or so. Cool and slice. 
 My mother would serve this with cream, not whipped, and fresh strawberries sprinkled with sugar.  She'd serve it to friends,  outside  in good weather under the trees on a large table  she kept covered. The leaves , in fall, would fall and litter the  dishes  with their yellowed offerings, and the days would grow cool, but the tea would  be hot.
 And then , there's days like today, where friends come, and Spencer  makes himself part of the scene. He purrs and snores . The tea and cake get passed. Friends talk and laugh. It's really quite wonderful....
 “I like pouring your tea, lifting
the heavy pot, and tipping it up,
so the fragrant liquid streams in your china cup."
                       ― Carol Ann DuffyRapture

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Summer 1954 Roadtrip

 “The freedom of the open road is seductive, serendipitous and absolutely liberating.” 
― Aaron Lauritsen100 Days Drive: The Great North American Road Trip
malahat drive, 1950's
 1954 ( I think....the year is a bit hazy, but close enough) my parents took a Road Trip. I was not even around  yet for quite a few years. They had  a "new" car, complete with seats and doors, ready for the trip. They took my grandparents along. "Trip of a lifetime", my parents told them.
 Leaving Victoria, B.C., they toddled over to the mainland.  Stopped to view Mt. Rundle. We saw Mt. Rundle in 2012,and I always wondered if we stood in the same place.)
 They drove over the Rocky Mtn Range  through Alberta all the way to the farm in Bethune. I love the farm. It  makes me feel so connected.
 Bethune. The old homestead. Now, in the 1950's, run by my mother's brother, Bill. Uncle Bill, who was  honest and shy.  I wondered what my grandparents  said when they came upon the farm they tilled with oxen; the same  place they raise four children.
 Would they have felt nostalagic at all? Would they have wanted to go back? 
 “Real traveling is not about visiting places but 're-visiting' our inner-self.”   ― Sorrab Singha
 The road trip continued. Down into California, their real destination.  They'd never been before. Through the salt water flats at Death Valley. 
 And the Mine ruins. Dust and sand and heat. Onwards to San Juan Capistrano.
 My mother always wanted to visit  there. She wanted to walk the Mission walkway. See the pigeons and the doves. See the ocean, the sand, walk the stone path.
 And she did. She talked about it years later.  How the doves and pigeons  would sit on her shoulder. On her brand new travelling coat. Dressed to the nines. On a road trip. That was my mother. Always looking glamorous.
 And my father. Not very well that last decade of his life. But well enough to take my mother and her parents,  to see San Juan Capistrano. Dressed to the nines of course. In his best suit, I learned later.My mother insisted that he look sharp.
 Dressed to the nines of course. In his best suit, I learned later.My mother insisted that he  wear a tie. He didn't want to. She said it was scandalous not to. He wore a tie.
 “And I felt, in the silence that followed, everything that had happened on the trip to bring me to this place.” ― Morgan Matson,
 On the same trip, they went to Santa Monica. Sat on the beach and had a picnic. Mum wielding the camera. Capturing her mother, now blind,  my dad, and my grandfather.  
 My grandmother  could only hear and touch. They sidetracked to Yosemite, just to drive thru on their way home.  I hope they yodelled from the top of the lookout. Grandmother Isabella Glen Shiels  had a jar of sand she brought back in the car. Sand she collected from the beaches they stopped at. I'm not sure if she put the sand in the jar.
  She made it to California and back. And that jar of sand made it home in one piece.  I heard she liked to run her fingers through the sand, often. She died in 1957. My parents never did a long trip like that  again.  "Trip of a lifetime", my mother would tell me, later.  Many years later, when my mother died, in 1988, I was going thru her dresser drawers, and  found that little syrup jar , with just a tiny bit of sand left inside.... 

Vintage photographs 2017 from 1950's file