Monday, June 29, 2015

DOWNEY'S FARM

For those of you who have been following my blog posts, you know that I was born and raised in Newfoundland, Canada, and was an avid berry-picker from the time I could hold a berry in my small hands. When the season started mid-June with strawberries, my cousins and I were out from morning to evening until the season ended with the last of dwindling blueberries and early frost in September.

A lot has changed since then, but my taste for wild berries has not. I still go back home during the summer to go berry picking, although, actually finding some is a job within itself.

Now that I live in the suburbs, I just get in my car and drive ten minutes to Downey’s Farm, where I can still pick strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries. Of course, it’s not the same, but the fact that I am picking my own gives me a sense of satisfaction. I control what goes into my basket. However, they are not organic, but I am told that “little pesticide use is necessary in the beginning.”


I pick until I have no more room in my freezer and use the berries all winter long in smoothies and baking; sometimes, I put some in my oatmeal. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that berries are the greatest food EVER.


My mother and son helped out during this outing. 













Sunday, June 28, 2015

I WAS FLYING!

When I was a kid I spent a lot of time at my Grandma’s house. My aunt, Ruby, who was just a year older than I, was my best friend, and every Sunday, after the dishes from Jigg’s Dinner was done, we would go out to visit our elderly relatives in the community.

I remember one time (late 70s), when I was about 12 or 13, Ruby’s sister—and my aunt—Judy, came with us. Since it was a small fishing village, everyone we visited lived relatively close. We leisurely walked to each house, crossing fields of knee-high grass, jumping fences, and avoiding guard dogs.

Wherever we went we were welcomed with cake, pies, and wonderful sweets. Oh, how the old people could bake! We listened to stories of the old days and sometimes mopped floors and did dishes, and we were happy to do so.

Upon leaving the last house, the sun was setting in the cloudy sky. As we were walking up the main road, laughing and talking, darkness fell upon us, minus the moon and stars. Dimly lit porch lights helped us to see where we were going. There were no street lights and nobody in the community owned a car yet, so you couldn’t depend on hitching a ride. Darkness meant bedtime, which meant silence, and not the serenity kind of silence, but the evil kind of silence, the kind that could drive a man crazy. Being God-fearing people, we were afraid of the dark, afraid of what lie waiting in the woods, just out of sight.

We were just passing the last house, and the last porch light. Up ahead was a winding turn. On the left side of the road was a steep embankment with alders and spruce trees at the bottom. Beyond the spruce trees was marshland, a haven for moose. On the right side of the road was elevation, a large hill. Alders and spruce trees lined that side of the road as well, which was a great hiding place for bears and other smaller creatures.

It was pitch black. You couldn’t see a hand in front of your face. We stopped and psyched ourselves up: there’s nothing to fear but fear itself; it’s only darkness; there’s nothing there; it’s only one more turn; we’re almost home. Judy held my arm on the right side and Ruby held my arm on the left and then we went on, walking fast and barely talking, whispering when we did. We could not see the yellow line of the two lane road and it was difficult to stay in the middle of the road because Judy was pushing one way and Ruby was pushing the other; we were walking in a diagonal. When Ruby would hit the gravel she would immediately push away as she was terrified of falling into the steep ditch. Judy wasn’t too bold herself as she was scared of bears, so when she hit the gravel near the hill, she pushed us back to the other side. I felt safe; I was in the middle. So far, so good.

We were entering the sharpest part of the turn now, and starting to see the glow of Grammy’s house lights beyond the turn. I felt Judy’s arm begin to loosen and Ruby let go of me to swipe at a mosquito. Next thing we know, a huge growl came from the woods and Ruby took off, like her ass was on fire. Judy grabbed me by the arm and I could feel my feet, at first on the pavement, then rising, floating, parallel to the pavement. I felt like a flag and Judy was the flag post. I flew, I literally flew, that’s how fast she was running. I kid you not. I WAS FLYING!  





I don’t know how far Ruby and Judy ran. Ruby had come to a stop at a small stream, just before a neighbor’s house, well beyond Grammy’s. Judy stopped short and my feet finally hit the ground. Here they were—I couldn’t see clearly, but I’m sure they were pale as ghosts—huffing and puffing, trying to catch their breaths, and I was in shock because I HAD BEEN FLYING! I didn’t have time to respond to the growling or feel any sense of fear because I couldn’t get over the fact that my feet left the pavement. I was stunned. It’s like I had been grabbed by the arm and whisked away by the wind.

We stayed there for a few minutes.

“What the hell was that?” Ruby questioned.

“I don’t know,” Judy answered.

“I was flying,” I blurted.

They stopped and looked at me, but only for a second, something stirred in the grass and Ruby took off running toward Grammy’s, and then Judy took off and I followed.

We busted into the house out of breath. Grammy and Grandfather jumped up from the sofa.

“What’s going on?” Grandfather said.

We relayed what had happened, sometimes talking all at once, not stopping to take a breath. When I told them that Judy had been running so fast that my feet left the pavement and I was flying, they started laughing.

A few minutes later my uncle, Gary, came in, and we told the story again. That story went around the neighborhood like wildfire with many speculating that it might have been a rabid animal or just the imaginings of three scared children. Either way, I never did get over the fact that I had been flying.

The following Sunday, we were reluctant to go out again, but Gary, being the trickster that he was, admitted that it had been him in the ditch. So, after the teasing he gave us and rehashing the whole thing again, we had Jigg’s Dinner, did the dishes, and went out again, but, of course, Ruby and I made sure the sun was still in the sky by the time we got home. Judy never came out with us again.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A GREAT START TO SUMMER



Not only was Sunday, June 21, the first day of summer, but it was also Father's Day, and what better way to celebrate than watching the Blue Jays play at the Rogers Centre.



Okay, so they lost on Sunday, but it's not whether they win or lose, well at least not for me, it's the excitement of the game. The home runs, the fabulous catches in the outfield, the stance of the pitchers; the decisions of the umpires, the popcorn and beer vendors, and the camaraderie of the fans.


It was our first time ever watching a MLB game, not as exciting as a basketball game, but nonetheless, despite the pace, it went fairly quickly. It was great to see the entire field, instead of just the bits and pieces you see on TV. I grew up on baseball and have always wanted to see the Blue Jays play, but never got around to it until now, and I have to say, I wasn't disappointed. As a kid, baseball was my sport of choice, and we played, a lot. As a matter of fact, I don't remember being interested in hockey or any other ball sport. It was really nice to finally fulfil a childhood dream. Thanks, Blue Jays, and good luck with the season.

















Tuesday, June 16, 2015

MY FAVORITE ALL FEMALE ARTISTS PLAYLIST


In Alphabetical Order by Artist



1. Does Your Mother Know – ABBA
2. Still Got This Thing – Alannah Myles
3. Knock On Wood – Amii Stewart
4. Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves – Aretha Franklin
5. Venus – Bananarama
6. Call Me – Blondie
7. Holding Out for a Hero – Bonnie Tyler
8. A New Day Has Come – Celine Dion
9. Dark Lady – Cher
10. She Bop – Cyndi Lauper
11. I Touch Myself – Divinyls
12. Goodbye Earl – Dixie Chicks
13. Hot Stuff – Donna Summer
14. I Will Survive – Gloria Gaynor
15. We Got the Beat – Go-Go’s
16. Don’t It Make Ya Feel – Headpins
17. If Looks Could Kill – Heart
18. Flashdance…What a Feeling – Irene Cara
19. Piece of My Heart – Janis Joplin
20. The Sound Of – Jann Arden
21. Somebody to Love – Jefferson Airplane
22. I Love Rock N Roll – Joan Jett
23. Big Yellow Taxi – Joni Mitchell
24. Tattoo – Jordin Sparks
25. Stronger – Kelly Clarkson
26. Gloria – Laura Branigan
27. Whatcha Do to My Body – Lee Aaron
28. Kiss Me Deadly – Lita Ford
29. Express Yourself – Madonna
30. Hero – Mariah Carey
31. Torn – Natalie Imbruglia
32. 99 Red Balloons – Nena
33. All Fired Up – Pat Benatar
34. Because the Night – Patti Smith
35. Straight Up – Paula Abdul
36. Where Have All the Cowboys Gone – Paula Cole
37. I’ll Stand By You – Pretenders
38. Harden My Heart – Quarterflash
39. High School Confidential – Rough Trade
40. The Warrior – Scandal
41. Let the Music Play – Shannon
42. A Change Would Do You Good – Sheryl Crow
43. Talk to Me – Stevie Nicks
44. Tell It to My Heart – Taylor Dayne
45. Manic Monday – The Bangles
46. It’s Raining Men – The Weather Girls
47. Better Be Good To Me – Tina Turner
48. Fast Car – Tracy Chapman
49. Edge of a Broken Heart – Vixen
50. It’s Not Right But It’s Okay – Whitney Houston

Friday, June 12, 2015

WHERE DID MY DREAMS GO?

When I was a young girl, my father moved us from a perfectly good home into a half-built home and left us before electricity was connected and plumbing was installed. My aunt and uncle lived nearby and had a small black and white TV where I remember watching Charlie Chaplin. Years later, my mother found a new boyfriend and he helped us to get a generator and a small TV. We were able see two channels, one snowy and the other clear, the latter being CBC.

I used to sit down in front of that TV so often that I could recite every commercial that came on. For some reason, I was enthralled by commercials. It came to a point where visitors—we had many back then—would comment on my silly ability. Sometime during the years between six and ten, I got it in my head that I was going to move to Hollywood, become a star, and buy a house in Beverly Hills. I guess that was my first dream or, what I like to call, illusion of grandeur. 

When I started puberty, that phase passed, and I went on to drawing and sketching evening gowns. I thought I was pretty good, and the people who saw my sketches liked my designs. I imagined myself with my own sewing machine and would spend hours daydreaming about famous movie stars wearing my designs. I guess that was my second illusion of grandeur.

At thirteen, I was fully immersed in rock ‘n’ roll. My mother got me my first ghetto blaster. She ordered it from a mail-order catalogue from a company called Sovereign. Columbia House gave away 8-tracks if you signed up for membership, and back then everyone I knew had a Columbia House membership. I eventually wore out the little blue 8x8 stereo system, which was a good thing because soon after, my stepfather went out and brought a new used one, and man, the sound system on that thing rocked the neighborhood. Well, okay, there were only three houses in that little neck of the woods, but I bet the forest animals also rocked along with Billy Joel, Blondie, The Police, Cheap Trick, Santana, and ELO. I used to sit on the roof of an old car wreck with my notebooks, studying, while rock played in the background; those speakers carried sound from 300/400 feet. My aunt—who was only a year older than I was—and I would belt out Pat Benatar songs like there was no tomorrow. That Heartbreaker song lived in our vocal cords. We could carry a tune better than anyone we knew and hence, the third illusion of grandeur: becoming a rock star.

After I graduated high school, I didn’t know what to do with my life. I thought that going to college or university was only an option if you had money to go. I moved away and got my first job as a housekeeper. I was really into The 20 Minute Workout then and the lady of the house suggested that I become a fitness instructor, and that idea played on my mind for a very long time. I dreamed that I had my own studio and became like Kathy Smith, a famous—and probably rich—fitness guru. And many years later, when the idea came upon me again, I did do a fitness instructor course, but before I could take the final exam I got pregnant and well, that was that.

Odd jobs just weren’t the thing for me, so once I learned what a Student Loan was I decided to go to college. I applied to a business college to take a Legal Secretary course and, once again, illusions of grandeur made me a fine lawyer, the first in the family to ever hold a job of such high esteem.  I finished the course, moved to Toronto, and got an entry level position as a receptionist. I applied to the University of Toronto and was all set to start law school, but I was in a very abusive relationship and became a mess. I went through a divorce and lost everything. I was broke with nothing to show for ten years of marriage but a few suitcases of clothes.

I went back to my hometown to live with my mother, and after I got my life straightened away, I went back to Toronto with a new partner and went back to work. I did the fitness instructor course, but didn’t make it to the final exam because I felt that it was too strenuous; I was carrying a baby. Once the baby was born, we moved back to our hometown where I attended school to be a Pharmacy Technician. Yes, once again, illusions of grandeur made me a wonderful Pharmacist with a fantastic bedside manner. I ran my own pharmacy, took great care of my customers and employees, and was very satisfied with my career. At the time that I was thinking about applying for pharmacy, my sixth “dream,” I got into a car accident and didn’t work for eight years.

Now, I do a little writing for magazines, am working on a novel, enter writing contests, and work on this little experimental blog. I do not have any dreams of becoming a great writer. If I get a few dollars from something I write that’s fine, but I will not be fooled into thinking that I can become something that I am not, for fear that something will happen to my fingers to prevent me from typing on the computer.

Does my story sound familiar to any of you out there? Did you once have a dream, but it just didn’t come to fruition? Sometimes, I wonder where my dreams went. Perhaps I did not work hard enough, perhaps I gave up to soon; maybe I didn’t put my heart into what I was doing, or maybe circumstances got in the way. Most times, money was the issue. Maybe the universe was trying to tell me something, maybe I just didn’t believe in myself. When I really think about it, I think maybe they weren’t really dreams at all, just thoughts to occupy my mind at the time.


Anyway, this is what I was thinking about on Tuesday, June 9, when I turned 48 years old. Where did my dreams go? 




Monday, June 8, 2015

JESSIE TEMPLAR - THE RETURN OF ELI

Jessie tried to get up. A jolt of pain cut across her forehead and she fell back. “Ouch. What the hell?” she said, touching her forehead for cuts or bumps.

“Hold on,” Eli said, coaxing her to lie still. He was kneeling at her side.

Jessie looked up at him, trying to focus.

“It’s okay,” he said. “I was in the neighborhood.” He chuckled.

“What happened?  Where’s the old man?” Jessie said.

“I told him I knew you, and he said that he was sorry, but he couldn’t stand on his leg any longer. He waited for a while, but I could tell his knee was hurting really badly so I told him I’d take care of you. He gave me his phone number. He wants you to call him so that he knows you’re okay.” Eli unscrewed the cap off a bottle of water and gave it to Jessie.

“Oh, thank you,” she said. She drank some and then tried to get up again.

Eli wrapped his arm around her waist and helped her to her feet.
 
“You’ve got a nasty bump there.”

“How long was I out?” she said, trying to get her balance.

“At least a half hour, are you okay to walk back?”

“Yah, I think so; my head hurts like a bitch, but I’ll be okay.” She drank the rest of the water. “So did he get his dog down?”

“When I showed up, you were on the ground and the dog was still up in the corner digging. I tried to wake you, but you were out cold. You must have hit your head on the railroad tie when you fell. So, I got the dog down and tried to wake you again. He said he couldn’t wait any longer or else I’d have to carry him home, so I just told him to go.”

 He still had his arm around her waist.

Jessie found herself staring into those deep blue eyes.

“Shall we go?” he said.

She shook her head, “Yah, I’m ready.”

She put her arm around his neck and he held her steady. They tottered along through the first field and after they got to the woods, she was able to make it on her own.

“I’m surprised to see you here. How do you know about this place?” Jessie said.

“I have been coming here since I was a child,” he said. “My parents used to take me and my sister here.”

“Your sister?”

“Yah, remember the Valentine party you had?”

“Yah.”

“Remember the drunken girl who came looking for me?”

Jessie felt like she just got struck by lightning with the realization that her secret admirer was not in a bad relationship with a crazy girl after all. Her heart started to race, her face felt flush, and her legs gave away. Before she could hit the ground, Eli caught her, and they both gently fell into the wildflowers.

“Are you okay?” he said, looking down into her hazel eyes, beyond her eyes, into her soul.

She watched the leaves above dance in the breeze, and then she met his mesmerizing gaze. “I am now.”

He leaned closer, his golden blond hair falling around his face. Her heart pounded in her chest, a hundred butterflies fluttered in her stomach, and blood raced in her veins. There was an absence of time and space as, as last, his full, moist lips enveloped her bottom lip, her top lip, her entire mouth. He caressed them at first, then, as the hunger grew, he became intense, fierce. With every touch of his lips on hers Jessie’s stomach ached, her heart seemed to pound in her ears, and her pelvis started to come to life.

Eli found his way on top of her, his left hand under her head, in her hair, his right, under her top, undoing her bra. He pressed against her and she let out a cry of ecstasy.  She writhed like a snake in the grass, wanting him so badly that her groins seemed to be on fire. He kissed her neck, fondled her breasts, found his way to her zipper. She was lost, lost in the passion, craving the contact, filled with desire for him. He slid his hand down her shorts and found that she was more than ready. Her pelvis danced with delight, her thighs tensed. He unzipped, and when he dove into her she screamed. They were like animals; wild, untamed, running on instinct, pumping like well-oiled machines, racing to the finish. And when the end was in sight, they howled like wolves baying at a full moon until finally, he collapsed beside her.

When their breathing became normal again, and they had composed themselves, Eli explained to Jessie what had happened the night of the party. He had promised his sister that he would take her back to Australia to visit their parents’ grave—they had both died in a car accident ten years ago on Valentine’s Day—but he wanted to go to Jessie’s party. They got into an argument and she showed up hurt, drunk, and angry. Eli told Jessie that he meant to call and explain, but he and his sister left the very next day. His sister wanted to stay there with relatives, so he had spent a few months with her, helping her get settled and find a job.

Jessie was quiet; her head began to ache again.


She asked him to take her home. He was glad to. They got up and he took the leaves out of her hair. She smiled at him. They walked through the woods single file and when they reached the weeping willows, he took her hand in his. It was getting chilly with the evening coming on, but all Jessie felt was the calming sensation of warmth in her heart.