A Non-cook makes Curried Beans and Broccoli

I am not a cook. I am allergic to pots and pans. The sight of an oven gives me hives. I have never managed to avoid the torment of cooking, but I like to keep it simple. I like to open a package and throw it in the microwave.

Tonight I had a rare urge to create in the kitchen.

sauteMaybe it was walking in the rain this afternoon or perhaps a craving for getting back to my roots. I grew up eating curried everything. Curried lamb, curried chicken, curried eggs.. my mom’s motto was “if it’s for dinner, it must be curried”.

My problem? I wanted to use the broccoli I bought a few days ago and I am feeling the vegetarian phase rising to the surface.

Mushrooms, onions, peppers fried up, I steamed the broccoli in the same pot. (minimizing the dishes is important)

add tomatoes and beans

Throw in a can of mixed beans, a can of stewed tomatoes and a ton of curry powder. I let the flavours in my concoction blend for a little while.

Time to try it. Very tasty and nice and HOT!       Wow.. I am impressed. A Curry Dinner with no recipe. Mom would be proud. 

dinner is served


Am I Fit to Write?

SpiritSoulBody-3Fitness is all-encompassing. Our bodies are a miraculous machine but we need to do our part to keep it working properly. We need to care for ourselves, our body, soul and spirit.

When I think of fitness, I generally think of exercise but I have come to realize that fitness means so much more. If I want my body to perform to its max, I need to treat it the with care starting with the food I eat..

Eating the right foods has become a challenge. Generally I am trying to eat only “real’ food. I try to stay away from all those chemicals that I cannot pronounce. I avoid artificial colour and flavour as much as possible. It is not easy and I succumb to temptation and eat junk at times. Now there is another dilemma. Since 1994, we have been subjected to genetically engineered food often called GMO’s or Genetically Modified Organisms. In Canada and the USA there are no regulations requiring that foods containing GMO’s are labelled. Now we don’t know what we are eating.

According to  Eat Right Ontario‘s website:

“some genetically modified soybeans contain a gene that comes from soil bacteria. This gene helps the soybeans grow even when sprayed with herbicide. Some genetically modified corn has a gene that produces a toxin. This toxin kills an insect called the corn borer and allows the corn to grow without damage. These types of genetically modified foods are considered safe for humans to eat.”

Time will tell if these are safe.. Cigarettes were not considered a problem years ago and while the dangers of High Fructose Corn syrup have been identified, it remains in our food.

Many of today’s children have problems that were rare a generation or two ago. Autism, and all the ADHD and related disorders as well as a plethora of allergies are too common. (yes, we tend to label children more than in the past, when kids were either “trouble makers” or “slow”. What about allergies?… hmmm) Is it the food we eat? I am not an expert, nor am I suggesting anything, just wondering.

So what can I do? What can you do? We can join the many people trying to get better health standards in place but that takes time.

If I want to be healthier today. i need to make a commitment today.

images (2)Today I took another step on the road to total fitness.

  • Today I committed to care for my body and re-joined the gym.
  • I commit to spending at least an hour at the gym exercising at least three times a week
  • Today I will try to cut the packaged foods I consume and eat natural, mostly organic fruits and vegetables.
  • I will nourish my soul by spending time walking in the woods or sitting by the lake. I will paint and write and visit friends. I will smile and be thankful.
  • I will re-commit to my self-improvement plan 
  • I will meditate and pray because my spirit also needs nourishment.

The question is “Am I fit to write?”

Walking on the beach

Walking on the beach

I know my thinking is clearer and my concentration is better when I am healthy. On days when I do not exercise or at least go for a walk, I am sluggish. If I eat that doughnut or fill up on junk food, I have a hard time getting down to writing. If I do not spend time reading the Word and praying,I lose my joy and my enthusiasm for life diminishes. Total fitness and well-being are partners, synonyms. If I eat right but neglect exercise, I will not be as healthy as I could be. If I neglect my soul, I will not be emotionally fit. If I ignore spiritual matters, my soul will cry out searching for the meaning of life.

I challenge you to make one more change toward total fitness of your body soul and spirit.

The Nightmare Begins

Photo courtesy of Michelle Weber.

Photo courtesy of Michelle Weber

I could see them from where I stood, working together, laughing, teasing, and so obviously in love. I hated my job more than ever today. Thankfully, the evening is drawing to a close. This has been the worse day of my life.

The memory of the morning seared in my mind as if with acid, painful and burning.

I awoke to the sound of the doorbell, then loud knocking. I grabbed my robe and peaked out the window. There were two police cars out front. I shook my husband awake. He froze when I told him. I went to unlock the door.

The rest of the morning passed in a blur. My husband arrested?

“I cannot think of that now”. I scolded myself. “Pull yourself together”.

I pasted a smile on my face and delivered the plates of food to the couple holding hands in the corner. Why was everyone living their happy little lives? Didn’t anyone care that my world had fallen into a hideous hell? Another couple ordered an after dinner drink. I looked around the restaurant. Couples laughing, couples whispering, everyone in pairs. Loneliness enveloped me like a shroud. My heart turned to stone. I vowed that I would not allow this to make me cry. No one could see my pain. No one could know the horror of the morning.

I pushed through the door into the kitchen. Frank and Libby had their hands all over each other. The sigh that escaped my mouth alerted them to my presence. My legs buckled beneath me. I sank to the floor in slow motion. I couldn’t hold on any longer.

Libby rushed to my side. “What’s wrong sweetie?” she crouched beside me.

Why, at a time like this, did I bark the words “don’t call me sweetie”? She is a nice kid, she means well, but is half my age. I gathered strength from deep within and stood up. “Just a little tired, I guess” I laughed. “It’s been a long day”.  If she only knew the truth.

I wish I knew the truth. I spent the morning at the police station. No one would tell me anything. I sat alone, waiting for endless hours. In my mind floated images of young girls. Who were these children? I felt their pain. I knew their pain. I could not accept this truth. He confessed? I could not understand this truth. How could he do such a thing? Why would a man find children, little girls, nine year olds attractive, sexual?

Finally, the last customers left and the doors were locked. I went about cleaning up mechanically, like I did so many times before. Everything was the same yet different. I knew nothing would be the same again.  I slipped out the back door into the alley. The darkness was comforting. Rain fell softly.  Trudging the few blocks toward my home, I allowed the rain to try and wash the filth from my mind. It couldn’t. I allowed the tears to fall.  I cried for the girls, the victims. I cried for my husband. I cried loudest for me. I selfishly thought mostly about myself. What now? How can I face my friends? What will they think of me? I cried for the years gone by, the years I wasted loving a criminal.  This must be the ultimate betrayal and I was alone.

I unlocked the front door and flipped on the light. His shoes greeted me, mocked me. I grabbed them and flung them out into the rain. I yanked open the hall closet and his jacket, his belongings followed his shoes into the rain.  Slamming the door shut, I collapsed to the floor and sobbed. My heart knew this nightmare was just beginning.

____________________________________________________________________  Below are links to other stories written as part of the “Weekly Writing Challenge: 1000 Words” in response to the photo prompt.

My helping hand helped me.

I ignored the lady who came to church. She talked about visiting in nursing homes, about a special series of classes which would equip those who wanted to become a “pastoral visitor”. My shyness and my lack of compassion for old people prevented me from considering such an idea. I had no time for such things, I worked full-time.

Over the next month, my thoughts involuntarily turned to nursing homes. The words plagued me at the most inopportune times. I heard “you should call that lady” as I sat watching television and while I drove to work. The voice in my head became more insistent. “Call that lady!!” was played over and over in my mind until I could not shut her up any longer. I relented. I thought that if I just took the classes I would have peace.

Why I kept the small pamphlet with the number is a mystery, but there it was on my dresser. I called. Lucky me, the next series of classes started that very week.

 That week  the boss called me to his office. He offered me a job in a new office and would have to work the late shift on Thursdays. I would have the morning free.  I accepted the position.

With the new certificate in hand, I contacted the local nursing home and arranged a meeting with the volunteer coordinator. Rather than visit various residents, I asked if I could be hooked up with someone who needed company. Hannah and I were introducedplastic canvas  and we became instant friends. Some months before she and her daughter had a falling out. There was no one else to visit her. All her friends were far away. She had no other family. The multiple sclerosis kept Hannah in a wheelchair but she loved to watch TV as she did needlepoint with plastic canvas.

As I said goodbye the first day, she asked if I would be visiting her again. I told her I would come again next Thursday. Then she asked “how many other people do you visit?” When I told her “I just visit you Hannah” Her face lit up and she held my hand. “Thank you.” My heart melted. This was meant to be.

goldfinchI visited Hannah every Thursday morning. I looked forward to talking with her. She told me stories of her youth, complained about the food at the nursing home and wanted to know all about my family. I kept the bird feeder outside her window filled with seeds and we watched the goldfinches and sparrows fight for a perch. On nice days, I wheeled her into the fresh air and we walked around the gardens. I went to the local video store and rented her a few movies a week. All the golden oldies were her favorites. “Casablanca”, “The African Queen” and “Lawrence of Arabia” and any of the “Murder She Wrote” movies were her favorites. I decorated her room for Christmas and made a point of dropping in on her birthday. (even if it wasn’t Thursday)flower1

Over the years I watched her deteriorate. Her heart broke when her hands could no longer hold the needlework or a book. The time came when she could no longer change the channel on the television, insert a movie to watch or even feed herself. On Thursdays, I would often stay long enough to feed her lunch. She developed bed sores on her heels and backside. It became difficult for her to sit in her chair. She was given a reclining wheelchair and every morning they used a mechanical lift to take her out of bed and plop her into the chair. Sometimes I would come into her room to find her slumped over in an awkward position, her call bell out of reach. I became her watchdog. I dropped in after work sometimes just to make sure she was not ignored and uncomfortable. I had to remind the staff constantly to make sure her call bell was within reach.

Life for Hannah became something ugly. She spent her days in pain and alone, unable to move her legs or scratch an itch. In all the years I visited Hannah, her daughter never came even though she lived twenty minutes away. It saddened her that she no longer saw her grandchildren. Sometimes I brought my grandchildren to visit. I loved to see a smile on her face as she spoke to the children about their school and ballet classes.

I received a phone call early one Thursday morning. Hannah had died through the night. I rushed to the nursing home to say goodbye. She was lying in her bed, her face relaxed. I spent some time sitting with her, holding her hand and praying. I was thankful that she would not feel the loneliness of abandonment any longer. She would no longer suffer frustration because she could not help herself.

That very week I was again transferred to another office and no longer had Thursday mornings off. I find it amazing that, just while Hannah and I needed each other, I had Thursday mornings free.  I never went back to the nursing home.

I realized that Hannah was my helping hand. She came into my life just when I needed her. My children were at an age where they no longer needed me as much, they were grown up and independent. I was feeling sorry for myself, feeling useless. I felt I lacked value. Hannah taught me to look at all the good things I had. I had my health and a growing family, I had a job and though I was not rich in money, I was rich in blessings. Hannah needed me at a time when I felt sorry for myself and tottered on the brink of depression. She listened to me, she inspired me to make the best of even really bad situations.Hannah saved me.She truly was my helping hand and I miss her.

Coping with Stress… Ideas anyone?

We all have it. We all react.  (sometimes badly)cartoon1

Today I am stressed. Today’s battle is with the medical profession. I am trying to get authorization for a family member. He needs attention and is not receiving the proper care. I am getting the run around. Unanswered messages, long waits on hold… you know the drill.

I am far away, making it difficult to solve this issue.

What coping methods work for you?   I know constant stress can put my health at risk,so I am asking for your input, just a little survey, a chance to interact. Thanks for taking the time to give me your ideas and suggestions.(Your Name and Answers are private and are only seen by me)

Please, answer this question..

Daily Prompt: Key Takeaway  … If you’re a new blogger, what’s one question you’d like to ask other bloggers?

I have a question… I make comments on other blogs but I don’t always go back to see if they responded to my comment. I also do not always respond to every comment made on my blog.    

How important is it to respond to every comment? 

I do try to visit the blog of those that make comments on my blog however.  

Just wondering. I need your advice. What do you do? What should I do?

I Once Had a Secret.

Today the daily prompt question is: What’s the most significant secret you’ve ever kept? Did the truth ever come out?

I once had a secret. I was a child and in my childishness, I was afraid to speak. The man always made me feel important, he made me feel special and I needed that. I longed to hear him tell me I was beautiful. I knew I was not the only girl he took into the barn, but in my heart, I believed I was his special girl. It was a time of deep conflict in my mind. I hated him, I hated what he did, but he filled my desire to feel wanted. He told me that my parents would not approve, I believed him, so I kept the secret.

Old barn

Old barn (Photo credit: dbarronoss)

The day came when he no longer called to me as I walked by. That is when the real pain began, the pain of rejection. The pain of shame. I secretly endured that pain, convinced I was no longer even good enough for him. I stuffed the shame and rejection deep in my heart but it affected me in all my relationships, I was shy and afraid.
When the secret finally came to the surface, the man was already dead.

I kept the secret for a long time, I would use evasive action when talk of abuse rose in the conversations around me. Healing is a process. The story of my abuse and my healing is a wonderful story of victory. This abuse is just the beginning of my memoir, my story.

Empowered to Embrace Life

The wall was supposed to be beige, an off white neutral, unremarkable, and predictable. Greg and I were excited as we picked out the new kitchen cabinets. We had fun as we made plans to hang some black and white photos on the wall. We wanted the kitchen to be sophisticated, stylish and modern.

Before the cabinets were even installed, life went sour. Before the paintbrush dipped into the boring off white paint, I felt bitterness rising in my soul. I could feel the fingers of anguish gripping my throat, she wanted to kill me.

Four days after Greg’s horrific betrayal, the new kitchen was installed and the painters applied the almost white colour. I watched in disinterested silence. I could not speak because tears balanced precariously on the edge of my lower eyelids, waiting to fall, ready to give away my secret pain. I could not let these strangers see me fall apart.

They hammered and banged the cabinets into place. They painted and finally the men carted away the remnants of their work. They left me standing alone. Greg was gone and I faced the blank wall. I felt the abandonment, it hurt my heart and pierced my soul.  I hated the wall. I hated what it stood for and I hated how it made me feel. The wall, in its stark emptiness, screamed “prison” to me.  This paint colour was the last decision Greg forced upon me. I usually got my way but I gave in to his wishes. “No more yellow kitchens”, he insisted.  Now I resented it.  I was angry at Greg, I was angry at the colour, and I was angry at myself for falling for his lies. I felt ashamed.

I sank to the floor and cried. I let my tears fall without trying to mop them up with a tissue. They ran down my face and onto the floor in tiny puddles. I cried until it hurt. I cried until there were no more tears. I stared at the hardwood floor with blank eyes. I sat there a long time. A light caught the edge of the pool of tears and I could see a tiny rainbow. Somewhere deep within I could feel a resolve taking shape.  My scattered thoughts gathered into an awareness that I would survive. I could feel a need arising from the depths of my broken heart. I heard myself whisper “I need colour in my life”. I could sense freedom pushing sadness aside. I smiled for the first time in days. I knew what I had to do. I decided to throw caution to the wind. I decided, sitting right there on the floor, to go to the store and buy more paint.

Grabbing my purse and the car keys, I bounced out of the house and into the sunshine.

I have always been drawn to the earth colours. I have always considered yellow my favorite colour but I like all the autumn colours: the golden yellows, the rusts and browns. They are the colours of a fall day, the colour of a Black-Eyed Susan. That day I stretched my normal tendency to conform. I did not care if I fit into the mold that I felt pressured to squeeze into. I wanted to please myself. I wanted to be selfish. I was tired of being conventional. I needed to break out of my safe zone. I did something rebellious, something Greg would hate. I chose my secret favorite. I picked orange:  bright, deliciously rich, orange. I chose the colour of warm summer nights just when the sun sinks below the horizon and sky screams in delight. I chose the colour of flames, of a roaring campfire that beckons a crowd to gather and share its heat. I chose the shade that made my heart smile. I chose the comfort colour of Kraft Dinner.

I wonder what the sales clerk thought when he saw me giggling and hugging the paint chips. Inside I was twirling and dancing. My heart was singing and I could barely suppress the desire to do a back-flip  I think, if I was able, I may have. Imagine the stares and comments then. “Is that old lady crazy?” Maybe I was feeling a little crazy. Maybe I still am.

My favorite photos from across North America.

My favorite photos from across North America.

The orange wall perfectly expresses my joy. I am energized and I smile every day now. I love it.  If walls could talk, mine would tell stories about rising from the ashes, they would tell stories of hearts being healed. They would be singing songs of gladness. The colour orange has become symbolic of my new beginning. It has become my statement of freedom. Orange has empowered me to embrace life. I cannot change the past but the future is up to me and I want to live my life in glorious colour. I gathered some of my favorite photos and had them enlarged. They are photos from a different time, a happy time. They are photos from across the country, photos of flowers and scenery, all yellow and orange and green and blue. Happy photos. I smile when I look at the display against the orange wall. To me this display is a reminder that life is once again worth living. It is a reminder that I have a choice. I can live in the pit or I can rise above my circumstances. I choose life.

Daily Prompt: Million Dollar Question

journal, pen

“Why do I blog?”  A big question for someone just entering this blogging world.

I decided to start this blog to tell my story. I have heard it said that we all have a story to tell, we all have a book inside us that is trying to get out. I know I have a story.

I do love to write. I love the ways stringing words together on a page can paint a picture, can reach a deep emotion. Words can say so much, they can guide and inform and reach a heart.

My story began when I was born. A surprise baby, and from what I am told, I did not fit with the families plan. Newly immigrated to Canada, my parents already had a full family with four growing children, the oldest already sixteen. But here I am and glad of it.

There is much to tell about abuse, about heartache and loneliness both as a child and as an adult. There are joys too, many triumphs and victories. I have been able to rewrite my sad story into a story of how to overcome, how to survive and thrive in a dark and sinful world.

I am writing a book. It is still a work in progress but as I get closer to the finish line I get more excited to let my story reveal itself. I hope you join me in this blog as I present snippets of my work, and do some soul-searching.

Don’t forget to make a comment so I know you were here. Comments encourage me to continue on this path.


Third time’s the charm

The writing prompt for today is “Write a piece of fiction describing the incident that gave rise to the phrase, “third time’s the charm.” time to go in

I want to tell you a little story of how the phrase “third time’s a charm” became to be true in my life. 

We arrived at the surf shack just as it opened. The sun, still low on the horizon, promised a beautiful day. There were fifteen of us camping together, I was the oldest, the grandma; the youngest was just four. Most of them were surfing experts and owned their own boards and wet suits, but this was my first attempt. Perhaps my age was a bit factor, but I was advised to rent a Boogie Board instead. A shorter fatter version, so I could “surf” lying down. That sounded good to me. I struggled and pushed and pulled as I squeezed myself into a wet suit: I was told they are supposed to be tight but this was ridiculous. I tried not to look in the mirror as we left the store, but I caught a glimpse of a large black creature exiting the store. I turned away in horror.

We arrived at the beach and staked out our spot on the sand. My eyes were drawn to the water, dotted with surfers. The sound of the waves as they crashed over the sand, the salty smell of the air, the feel of the sun on my face as I gazed to the horizon  melted the stress away. I stood there happy for the first time in months. Today was a day for fun, for adventure and I was ready to embrace it.

My son gave me some tips as we entered the water, how to hold the board, how to wait for the right wave, how to get into the wave. OK, I said, I can do it.

Heading o the ocean

I watched for a little while, just to get the feel of the surf crashing around me. Water has never scared me and I pushed off just as I was told and the wave crashed over me, the board went one way and I went the other. I was glad I was tethered to the board, and soon got back to the perfect spot, that place  just before the waves crested. I waited again, watching, learning.

Again I jumped onto the board, my hands positioned just right and somehow the wave caught the back of the board and the nose of the board and my head disappeared into the surf. I rolled around inside the wave, not sure which way was up. I found down when my head bounced off the bottom. I came up sputtering, salt water sure is salty. I was surprised how far I had traveled under the water.

Back out to just past the cresting waves, determined to get this right. I would not be beaten by a wave. I waited and watched. My son gave me a few more tips, like push the nose down, but not as far I did the last time. In hindsight, that was good advice, a little late, but good just the same.

Catching the wave

The perfect wave rose up behind me. At the precise moment I jumped into it and felt it carry me. I could hear the cheers from my fellow campers. I rode until I was in very shallow water, stood up and raised my arm in victory. I did it. Third time’s the charm.

Thanks for taking the time to read my story, please  leave a comment below, I enjoy visitors and would like to visit your blog if you  have one.