A Good Home, Food

Witless Wednesday

Did I tell you about….

… that time I went on a diet, and got a nasty surprise?

It happened around this time last year – Ash Wednesday, the start of the 40-day period of Lent, a time of sacrifice and reflection.

I reflected, decided, and said to myself: “Self, let us agree that, this Lent, we will give up any food that is not healthful.”

Self wholeheartedly agreed.

Self is always up for a good-sounding plan. And this one sounded positively virtuous.

~~

Over the next several weeks, my grocery list consisted primarily of healthful stuff like the following:

  • Oats, Bananas, Pears and Berries
  • Pecans and Walnuts
  • Coconut everything and Quinoa everything
  • Cabbage, Zucchini, Green Beans, Spinach
  • Fish – especially Salmon or Trout
  • Beets, Avocado and Sweet Potato.

blog-photo-recipe-sweet-potatoes-sliced

I felt great. In fact, I felt quite saintly about it, since almost every item was a ‘super-food’. 

~~

Then came an ominous sign.

Things started shrinking.

The waist of my jeans shrank. Then my skirt. Then my other jeans too.

I was flabbergasted. 

Just to be sure, I weighed myself.

I’d gained 6 pounds.

“I don’t understand!” I wailed to my daughter. “I’ve been on a health-food diet!”

“Mom”, she said, in that deliberately patient voice one uses to a 5 year old who stamps her feet and refuses to understand. “It’s not enough to eat super-foods. It’s also a matter of portion control.”

“Portion control?” I sputtered.

“Yes, Mom.”

Portion control… I wrinkled my nose and screwed up my face and stared at her, willing her to retract those words. No luck.

“Are you saying I didn’t ….”

“I’m saying you ate too much avocado, Mom. And sweet potato. And quinoa. And other stuff too.”

Shoot.  

~~

Photo Credit: John Garside

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A Good Home, Cake, Dessert, Food, Poetry

The Hungry Philosopher

At dinner that evening, I asked a man

Who had taken three pieces of cake

One after the other

Though he paused before the last

Photo by Simply Splendid Victorian Afternoon Tea
Photo by Simply Splendid Victorian Afternoon Tea

And looked straight at me across the table

As if seeking a stranger’s approval

Then dug right in

With an almost-grunt of satisfaction

**

“What happened?” I asked him, curious,

“At that very last moment

Just before

You gave in to temptation?”

Photo Courtesy of The No Grainer Baker
Photo Courtesy of The No Grainer Baker

He smiled at the crumbs on his plate

Then looked at me and said:

“You tell yourself

That it won’t be that bad, not really

**

That’s what you tell yourself.

It is, after all, such a little thing

A small piece of nothing

That you’ll make up for later.”

Jamaican Christmas Cake - Google Images
Jamaican Christmas Cake – Google Images

The hungry philosopher smiled again

But sadly now, at his plate

Regretful, yes

And something else, perhaps

 **

A bit of shame caused by a stranger

Who spoke

When she should have stayed quiet

And let the man enjoy his cake.

**

Dedicated to everyone who knows when to keep their mouth shut.

A Good Home, Afternoon Tea, Friendship, Gardens, Joyful Moments, July Garden, Kindness, Nature, Ontario, Outdoor Living, Red currants, Relationships, Summer Garden, Vegetable Garden, Vegetables

Food, Friends, Verandah

Everybody was complaining about summer.

Not me.

Blog Photo - Muskoka Chairs and Flowers

After a painful several months – much of it spent in bed – I welcomed the summer by taking to the verandah.

Colourful cushions, simple wood furniture and time-worn rugs created a homey feel.

Blog Photo - Verandah chairs

A verandah is a place for serious summer reading….

Blog Photo - Verandah - Reading intently

Or some serious hanging out….

Blog Photo - Verandah - dogs on old rug

Blog Photo - Julius lying down

In the nearby garden, sometimes it rained and hailed and the wind was crazy.

Blog Photo - Rainy Peonies

But flowers bloomed everywhere.

Blog Photo - Peony deep pink single

Birds sang.

The air was fresh.

Blog Photo - Blue-Pink clems

Family and friends came to visit.

Some invited themselves, which I loved.

Blog Photo - Verandah - Bee Balm Single

“How are you coping these days?”

“I’ve taken to the verandah,” I replied.

“I’m coming to visit!”

It was the summer of the verandah. Of  kindness and affection. Laughter and quiet moments.

My editor Tim, returning home to South Africa, spent most of his last week in Canada with our family. He held court on the verandah like an eminence grise, saying wise, cryptic and funny things to everyone.

Blog Photo - Verandah - Tim Mischief

Some people wondered how he’d handle returning to a country which he left decades ago. Tim’s enigmatic reply: “Did I mention I’ll have the use of a heated swimming pool?”

“Long way to go for a heated swimming pool,” we laughed.

Blog Photo - Verandah Visitor 2K

Of course, one should always feed one’s visitors. Despite one’s lack of cooking talent.

“You are the best cook I’ve ever met,” Tim declared, straight-faced, to loud laughter.

I swatted him with my dinner napkin.  He complained  – theatrically –  of “the abuses I suffer in your home”. 

Blog Photo - Verandah Guest 1

We alternated between joking, serious talk and companionable silence.  If tears were hovering, we didn’t let them show. This man has been a stalwart friend to me through life’s challenging times and I shall miss him.

Blog Photo - Verandah - Tim says something wise

Marilyn visited next. Marilyn’s the doyenne of tea (See Simply Splendid Victorian Afternoon Teas.)  She kindly admired my floral arrangement and I wisely served a cold lunch… no cooking required.

Blog Photo - Verandah Guest 3M

“I caught that salmon, smoked it and sliced it,” I lied.

“Well done,” she praised, playing along.

Blog Photo - Verandah - Salmon and lettuce

Seriously, though: the lettuce, tomatoes and red currants came from our garden.

Blog Photo - Verandah - Red Currants

Longtime friend Dale arrived late one night, on her way back home from visiting family out west. I made breakfast, the only thing I cook consistently well, and we caught up on family news.

Blog Photo - Verandah Path

Marie, who lives way up north, took an evening break from her role in an important cross-country hearing. My husband cooked supper that day, as he did for my childhood friend, Angela and her family. Wonderful occasions.

Jacqui dropped in and lucked into one of the nicest dishes I made this summer.

Blog Photo - Jacqui on verandah

“But this is GOOD!” she declared.

“Don’t tell anyone!” I pleaded. “You’ll ruin my reputation.”

Blog Photo - Verandah - Dogs in Foregorund and Visitors in BG

Anthony Trollope once asked: “What on earth could be more luxurious than a sofa, a book and a cup of coffee?” 

My answer: “A verandah, a garden, and loved ones to share them with.”

Blog Photo - Verandah - Garden bed outside verandah

Dedicated, with a grateful heart, to my caring family and friends… and everyone who appreciates a verandah.