Wednesday, 28 May 2014

In My Pocket

Beauty is not in the face, it is a light in the heart. - Khalil Gibran

Some of the most beautiful things in life we miss and walk right past. In my pocket, I put a small folded piece of paper. On that paper I have written a name. It is a name of a person I almost didn't take the time to get to know. It was a name of a person I had once avoided. 

I work with the elderly and I love what I do.  Most of the time, I make instant friends with those I work. But others take a little more time. One person, in particular, made me nervous. I will call her...Madeline for this story. Every time I walked by her, she would rush from her chair and confront me. Five inches from my face she would shout, "Why are you here!?!" What are you doing!?!" Being a master of dealing with difficult situations, I would avoid her by quietly tip-toeing past.

But one day I had an unavoidable confrontation.  The bell choir that I conduct was about to have a concert. I had an audience of about 30 people...and a chime choir of 10.  All of a sudden, I heard shouts coming from the audience. Turning around, I saw Madeline...and I needed to quickly calm her down.

I walked up to her.  Immediately, she raised her fist to strike.  My bell choir gasped.  Trying to shake off my own fear, I calculated how hard a 70 year old lady could punch anyway. I stepped closer again. She shouted again.  Now, just a few inches away I reassured her and let her know she would enjoy the show and everything was OK.

I did not see Madeline for one week after that incident, but when she saw me again, I braced for more of the same.  Somehow though, things were different.  This time she followed me and asked to join my drum program. She sat just watching everyone at first, but then she joined in.  When the program finished, and everyone had left, she remained. Then she began to talk (not shout).  She told me about her family, about where she grew up and her children. And I listened.  

Then this same lady, the many months before, who would shout at me as I walked past with my guitar, asked if I could sing her a few songs.  So I did.  For thirty minutes I sang.  The entire time Madeline stared silently at the floor.

As I stood up to leave,   Madeline lifted her head. She smiled at me for the first time and quietly  whispered, "Thank you."

Until this day, Madeline confronts me whenever I walk by her, with my guitar slung over my back.  But she does not shout.  She asks when the music will be and if she can come along.  And every time I say, "Yes". And every time, she smiles and says, "Thank you, I really enjoy coming." And I smile back and say, "I really, truly enjoy being with you, too, more than you will ever know."

Some of the most beautiful things in life we miss.  I think we miss them for many reasons.

So, in my pocket I carry a name. I hope to never forget Madeline and her beautiful smile...
a smile that I almost never took the time to see...

Monday, 19 May 2014

Tea Cakes and Tea

Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Happy Victoria Day!  Today we had a small picnic to celebrate.  In Canada, Victoria Day was established to honour all present and past ruling Monarchs of the British Empire, which Canada is a part.  The holiday is held dear to Canadians as it marks the beginning of summer planting, the beginning of the final month of school, but most importantly, it heralds the beginning of the glorious warm months ahead.

Being an American, transplanted in Canada, I am always willing to celebrate.  Any holiday is good with me. Why not celebrate the Monarchy of Canada. On this day, tradition calls for fireworks, bonfires, a pack of 24, and being with family (which by the way I do think is all very grand).  But, I would like to propose a new tradition. How about serving tea cakes with tea? Sound very Monarchy-like, doesn't it? What do you think? Why not give them a try! I hope you love these treats like we did. 
Here is our Victoria Day Tea inspired picnic...

Tea Cakes(from The Kitchen Scoop )
makes about 2 dozen

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling cakes
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup sour cream

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy and well blended. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, and mix in vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg and add to butter mixture, alternating with tablespoons of sour cream and mixing well. Wrap dough in plastic wrap or sheets of wax paper and chill 4 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Dust a cutting board with flour and roll out dough until it’s about 1 inch thick. Cut out cookies with a 3-inch round cookie cutter or use a drinking glass about the same size. Put tea cakes on a lightly greased baking sheet. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove cookies from baking sheet and cool on a rack. Store in an air-tight container.

Raspberry-Lime Mint Tea 
makes about 8 cups

4 mint tea bags
8 cups of boiling water
1 cup of raspberries
1 lime, juiced
1 cup water
1/4 cup sugar

1. In a medium size container (I used a saucepan), pour boiling water over the 4 mint tea bags. Set aside to brew.
2. In another small saucepan, over medium heat, combine 1 cup of water, sugar, lime and one cup raspberries.
3. Allow the mixture to come to a boil. Lower heat to allow the mixture to simmer for a 5 minutes to ensure that the raspberries are cooked through and to infuse the taste of raspberry throughout the sauce.
4. Remove raspberry sauce from the heat source and mash with a potato masher or fork.
5. Remove tea bags from the brewing mint tea.
6. Through a medium mesh sieve, pour raspberry sauce into the mint tea (This step is to remove the large chunks of pulp).
7. Allow the tea to come to room temperature then refrigerate.
8. Serve cold.

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Friday, 16 May 2014


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

After five long months of winter...the world outside seemed to change almost over night.  As I was driving my children into town, I was amazed at the bright green grass along the way.  I was sure it was special green grass that had just been planted. Our world has been grey and brown for so long..I had honestly forgotten what new spring green grass looked like.
Though the Canadian winters are long, spring has an almost magical effect.  It can make you forget that just a few weeks ago were seemingly endless days of snow and ice.

Here is the beautiful world outside my doorstep today...

The End!

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Hello Spring!

When the world says, "Give up." Hope whispers, "Try it one more time."- Anonymous

And then spring came. Here is my world today...

The end!

Saturday, 3 May 2014

My Daughter's World - Part 4

The world is so full of a number of  things, I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings. - Robert L. Stevenson

Today is a grey day here...and so was the day before that...and the day before that...and the day before that. I am still waiting for the flowers to bloom outside...and wondering when spring will finally truly come. I suppose, if you really look, you can find beauty in "grey-ness"...
But, when I saw these pictures in my daughter's camera. I smiled...and forgot about the grey world outside. I hope you enjoy them as well.

Here is my daughter's world today...


The End!