Prokofiev My Way (not about music)

Sergei Prokofiev was a Russian and Soviet composer, pianist and conductor. As the creator of acknowledged masterpieces across numerous musical genres, he is regarded as one of the major composers of the 20th century. He died in March 1953, mere months before I entered the world.

I am not very familiar with Prokofiev’s music but my son, an accomplished pianist is, and I’m sure it is lovely.

There are two things that I use for a mid morning boost. One is the 11AM coffee. It tides me over until lunch and I have to say I quite like the taste. The other is a protein shake. For this I usually put some coconut milk in the blender, followed by protein powder, a few pieces of fruit, my supplements and a handful of spinach.

I’m getting to Prokofiev, don’t worry.

My shake usually tastes pretty good, but with all the blending it gets filled with air and fills me up too fast. Then I’m not hungry for a while. And I don’t have room for a nice hot coffee, which I like.

Really, all I want is a morning boost to tide me over until lunch. So why all the other stuff in the shake? I guess it all helps me to think I’m doing something good for my body and its healthy, right?

So this morning I was going to have the mid morning coffee when I realize that I was hungry as well. What to do? Should I have a coffee or a shake? I have to admit that I also was in the mood for something a little sweet.

Enter Prokofiev…

I had the brilliant (but maybe not too original) idea to put my black coffee in the blender with a scoop of protein powder, just to see whether or not it would be palatable.

It was absolutely delicious! It frothed up just fine, was not too filling and didn’t require cream because of the protein powder. It also fulfilled the requirement of having some caffeine and a little sweet.

procoffeeiov2procoffeeiov

With apologies to all the musicians, I call it the Prokofiev…pro(tein)–coffee-of.

 

 

 

 

 

Everyone Has A Story…

Last Sunday there was a new person in church; a woman, alone, kind of stern looking. Well, I don’t know if she was new or not. It’s just that I had never seen her before. She was kind of plain looking with her hair pulled back in a tight ponytail and she wore a longer length skirt. She appeared to be middle aged.

She sat right in front of me and didn’t speak to anyone at all.

There is a point in the service when everyone passes on greetings to each other. It used to make me nervous when I didn’t know anyone in the church, but now it’s a time I look forward to: greeting everyone, shaking their hand or giving them a hug, a connection. So I went to shake the hand of the mysterious stranger in front of me. I wished her good morning. I smiled in welcome at her. She wished me good morning but she did not smile. At all.

Hmmm…

So I asked her if she was new to the church. She told me that she used to come but hadn’t been there in awhile.

Awhile…

Well, I’ve been here almost four years and I had never seen her before.

So I said, “I’m Christine, nice to meet you”, and she said, “I’m Bonnie.” But she still didn’t smile. I wondered if she was angry, sad or uncomfortable.

And then later on during a scripture reading I noticed her with a Kleenex. Wait- she was wiping her eyes.

I remembered a time a few years back, being in church and avoiding everyone. I remembered having my Kleenex at the ready, and wiping my eyes discretely. That was when I was newly divorced and felt quite hopeless.

I wondered what had brought Bonnie to church that morning. Maybe she decided that since it was a nice day, she would go to church, or maybe, just maybe, like me some years ago, she was searching for some comfort.

I’ve heard it said, ‘Everyone has a story, and some have two.’

You never know what’s behind a stoic gaze. It might not even be stoic; it might be sad.

So I prayed for Bonnie that morning.

sun

Wisdom in My Pocket

A funny thing happened on the way home from church, of all places. Well it’s not that funny, its more like pathetic, especially for a 59 year old woman who also happens to be a perfectionist.

I was driving home from church just humming along at 130 k/hr in a 100k/hr zone, feeling on top of the world from the wonderful service I had just attended. We had renewed our baptismal vows and afterwards each person dipped their hand into the fount to pull out a stone with a motivating word on it. This was to be a reminder of our baptism and what it represents.

Etched on my stone was the word WISDOM.

Fitting, I thought, since I am usually such a serious person who tries to always do the right thing.
I was thinking of that when I glanced in the rear view mirror to see flashing lights. I figured I’d better slow down to let the police pass quickly to get to whatever they were racing towards.
I slowed down.
The police slowed down.
I sped up.
The police sped up.

And that’s when I realized that it was moi they were after. I pulled off on an exit ramp and waited for what I thought was the longest minute of my life.

It wasn’t.

The young policeman cited me for going 120 k/hr in a 100 k/hr zone.
I said I was sorry, thinking that his radar gun must  have been broken because I was definitely going 130 k/hr.
He asked me why I didn’t stop sooner, and I told him I thought he was going to something very important and that there was plenty of room on the highway for him to get around me.
Wrong answer I guess.
He told me that you are supposed to pull over ANY time you see flashing lights.
I said I was sorry.
And then he went back to his cruiser and ‘wrote me up’.

Those were the longest twenty minutes of my life.

As I sat there on the exit ramp, all the other good people coming home from church could see me, plain as day, with the police cruiser right behind me. So whenever I saw a car coming, I turned my head, searching in the forest for nothing, just so as to not be recognized.

How utterly humiliating.

Finally he came back and handed me a ticket  for 224$.

Now where in the heck am I going to get 224$ to pay this?
Didn’t he know that I had spent all my spare money on the January sales?

I meekly drove the rest of the way home, fingering the stone in my pocket.

Wisdom, indeed.

What I Learned on the Way to Church

Most Sunday mornings find me driving to church between 9:30 and 10 AM. I usually listen to CBC Radio, and you could say that I’m getting an education on my way to church.

church

It used to be that on Sunday mornings all you would hear on the radio were either hymns sung by such as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, or the Catholic Mass, either in English or Latin.

Not any more!

Last Sunday on my little drive to church, I learned where the term ‘the bitter end’ came from. I always thought it had something to do with such exciting things as

the bitter end of a marriage or

the bitter end of a business or

the bitter end of a life unfulfilled.

Really, its nothing so exciting nor exotic as that.  The ‘bitter end’ is a nautical term denoting the cut end of a rope; as opposed to the working end, the looped end, the spliced end or the frayed end. So if you’re tying a knot with a length of rope, you’re working with one end of it, while the ‘bitter’ end is dangling.

bitter end

That’s what I learned on the way to church last Sunday.

The Gäst Shawl

The end of my craft show season has arrived! It’s been good, although I sold things I thought would never sell and conversely I didn’t sell much of what I thought would be in demand. Every year brings different sorts of customers, looking for something new.

For example, last winter I knit four lovely shawls from Homespun yarn. I loved them. I like to knit when we are on a long drive as it helps to pass the time. As we did a lot of driving last year I had time to knit four of these shawls.

One went to my mom for Christmas, and she found it very cozy and warm.

Another one I kept for myself, and it has become somewhat of my ‘security blanket’.  It’s warm, it’s soft, and it smacks of comfort in a  “slippers and rocking chair” sort of way.

There were two left, and they just sat in a bag in my office until October of this year. As I was preparing for my first show around mid month, my husband asked me if I was going to bring those two shawls along. I told him I would not because I didn’t think anyone would want to buy them. Also, I would have to charge 40$ for them, and no one goes to craft shows and spends that much on one item. At least not in the area where we live.

He said that I needed a little gimmick, something to attract people to the shawls. For example, the shawl would be just another knitted thing in a sea of other knitted things at the show…unless…unless it was a Guest Room Shawl. Something to put aside for when people come to visit and they find it a little cool.

Yes, he might have something there!

So he wrote up a little ‘Swedish Legend’, and looked up the Swedish word for Guest.  It went something like this:

Gäst Shawl

Legend says that in some Northern

Scandinavian villages, it was

customary to have a shawl available

for guests when they visited, as the

homes were often cold.

The shawl hung near a fireplace

or in a guest room and was

   always returned there when the guest left.

 

I agreed to pin the little legend to each shawl and put them on display.

A star was born!

Those two shawls sold at my first show, and then I went on to make and sell six more throughout the crafting season. People loved them! Actually no one else was selling knitted shawls. The one I made was a type of prayer shawl, very simple and very pretty.

There were different types of people who bought them as well. I had thought that only seniors would be interested. I was wrong.

One woman bought hers because she was going to be 40 soon and the shawl was 40$.

Another person bought one for her mother, whose shawl was old and tattered.

Yet another bought hers because it fit in with her color scheme.

A few women bought them as a gift to present to a friend, relative, or just for themselves.

And one lady bought hers to bring to work because of the air conditioning, and she didn’t want to always wear a sweater.

No one bought a shawl for the guest room, but the little sign with the legend made them stop and look.

I think I’ll knit up a few more of them this year; they were so well received, I may use some for gifts myself.

shawl1

shawl2

I Feel an Empty Nest Coming On

I can now join the ranks of empty nesters. However, I can’t say I come from a long line of empty nesters, as I am the first of my brother and sisters to experience this phenomenon.

I’ve been an empty nester now for about 30 hours.

See, yesterday Dave and I drove my youngest son to his new home, our alma mater, to join the ranks of other Faour and Jones family members who have been or are, students of St Francis Xavier University. I went to St FX, so did two of my sisters, my brother, three of his children, my husband and also his daughter and brother. We have all studied at X.

I don’t think Aaron had any idea what he was in for! On the way to Antigonish NS, we stopped at a Timmies for some breakfast. There was an incredibly long line up, which surprised me, given the hour. Aaron was surprised to discover that everyone in the line up, bar none, was St FX bound. Some had on X t-shirts, parents included, and excitement reigned, even at that ungodly hour. Us old folk flashed X rings.

When we arrived in Antigonish there were signs directing us to X. Not that you could have missed it- the Frosh Welcoming Committee were there waving signs, singing and dancing everywhere. They were dressed in neon brights: hot pink, fluo orange, neon green, gaudy yellow.

Hello? Times have certainly changed; I don’t remember any of this exuberant welcome when I arrived at St FX back in 1971.

Aaron started to brighten up. A big grin spread across his face. We got him into his room, met his roommate, a nice guy from New Brunswick. The guy next door to him is from Dubai. Interesting. Then the long line up for photo ID, business department and other necessary details. Aaron showed me a text from one of his friends who was still on the way there with her parents. Apparently her mom was crying because her baby was leaving home. Actually there were many moms crying. Not me. Aaron told me he was glad I wasn’t carrying on like that. Well.

My son was growing in stature and confidence right before my very eyes. Speaking of eyes, his were sparkling, and the excitement was palpable. I was just so darned happy for him. How could I be thinking of the ‘empty nest’ I was going home to?

All too soon the tasks of getting him 100% in were done. There was nothing left to do but to say goodbye, don’t forget to brush your teeth, make your bed, be good, call home, study hard, I love you. Hugs all around and then Dave and I were leaving.

Empty nest? Nah.

We got home several hours later and the house seemed so empty. Hell, it was empty. Not that Aaron ever took up much space in the house, just that now there would be just Dave and I.

It seemed really empty.

I went to bed and cried myself to sleep. Then this morning I told Dave I couldn’t go downstairs for awhile because I was going to lose it. The downstairs was Aaron’s, and now he and everything connected with him was residing at MacNeil House at St FX.

I miss my son, not because he’s gone to university, but because he will never live at home again. He has left the nest, and so that makes for major changes in his life and also in mine.

This is the first time in twenty-seven years that I don’t have children living at home, and that feels just plain strange…

Lavender and Blueberries

I am going to call my hobby farm Lavender and Blueberries. Nice name, don’t you think? I picked it because that is what’s growing in my front yard. Two years ago I planted 60 lavender plants in four rows of fifteen, and now beginning their third summer, they start to look like something.

Now I know they look kind of dead right now, but just wait, in a few weeks all the new growth will show and they will fill out.

See, in 2009, before moving to Nova Scotia, I worked at a lavender farm in Quebec, Pure Lavande, and I learned all about lavender, its cultivation, uses and benefits. I just couldn’t get enough of the stuff. As happy as I was to move to Atlantic Canada, I was sad to leave the farm and my friends behind. So I decided to have a mini version of the farm right in my own front yard.

The other thing is the blueberries. I just love them! I had never heard of high bush blueberries before coming East, but Nova Scotia’s blueberries are second only to their apples. I had to have some in my yard as well as the lavender.

These bushes are starting their second summer now. Maybe we’ll get more than a cereal bowl full this time! There are ten bushes, of varying kinds of blueberries; some will bear fruit mid July, some in August and the rest in September. I wanted to have a steady supply of them. Now let’s hope that our feathered friends don’t get more than me!