A little blood on Halloween seems almost redundant

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I used to love carving pumpkins.  I was one of those weirdos hoping to have the most creative pumpkin on the block, so I bought a carving kit and some patterns and locked myself in a room to avoid distraction.

Walls were spattered with stringy pieces of eviscerated pumpkin.  Elongated strings of profuse verbiage slithered under the doorway, assaulting the ears on the other side of the door, and small drops of minor arterial spray infused themselves into the paint on the wall.  But at the end of the painstaking process I achieved success!  The copious amount of band-aids, blood loss and light-headedness were worth the effort.  My pumpkins were the talk of the town.  My then-boyfriend’s children (who I still refer to as my step-children) were even proud to acknowledge the creativity on our front doorstep.

After my first attempt, I became a little less guarded when it came to the carving process and the whole family would get involved.  Where there were originally only two arms covered in pumpkin guts, eight sticky arms reveled in the joy of dissecting the large gourds and separating the seeds from the gooey mess.  Each of us skilfully created our masterpieces and sat back with a smile as the toothy pumpkins returned our stares.

The house would begin to smell of the roasting pumpkin seeds and, after a massive clean up, we would light our pumpkins and snack on the seeds in the darkened living room.  The memories of those nights of laughter and camaraderie are the ones I still hold close.

As the eve of Halloween approaches, I am slightly saddened that those years are so far behind me.  I live on a street where no children trick-or-treat so there is no need to create any more scary faces.  Perhaps this year I should take advantage of the fact that my digits are all still intact and drag out the carving tools once again.  I’m sure my dog would like to sit in the dark with me staring at faces like these:

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Happy Halloween everyone!

Which side of the road should the chicken be on?

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It is almost November and the weather is going to great lengths to remind us of the impending torture of unpredictable temperatures and precipitation for the next thirty plus days.  Today was a glowing example of that.  The remnants of Hurricane Patricia swirled hungrily around our little town and brought with them the feeling of doom that always precedes winter.  The rain fell sideways and the South West wind systematically unzipped our coats to leave us feeling exposed to the elements.

On my drive home from work, watching the storm-laden sky become even darker, I could think of nothing more than crawling into a cave of blankets in my living room and allowing myself to succumb to the heat that would soon be escaping from my baseboard heaters.  The thought of having to cook a full dinner did not impress me at all so I visited the grocery store and purchased a warm, fragrant pre-roasted chicken.

There is nothing better than comfort food on a cold, grey night.  The pungent smell of the chicken permeated my kitchen as I boiled some potatoes and made a somewhat deconstructed stuffing.  Onions and celery were left to saute with some bacon as the potatoes were mashed into submission.  I usually love to add some flare to the presentation of my meals, but comfort food speaks loudly and needs neither pomp nor circumstance to assert its message.

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The food was delicious.  My heaters obliged by taking the chill out of the air but the meal lacked a certain something.  I love my solitude.  I enjoy my own company and I have several friends, one close friend in particular, who admire me for being so content on my own.  But my “Thrifty Thursday” Chicken (as the store labelled it), my mashed potatoes and bread-less stuffing would have tasted much better had I been able to share it with someone special.

There is much to be said about living on your own.  That privilege of freedom defines gratitude better than a thousand dictionaries.  But the joy of being in a room with someone who helps accentuate your happiness is immeasurable.  Whether those moments are shared in silence or lost in a cacophony of laughter and endless conversation, those are the moments that create memories.  And those are the moments that can sometimes make solitude feel a little more like loneliness.

 

Find me in the middle of nowhere

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My heart is here.

This could be my absolute happiness.

The day I find it will be true bliss.

the middle of nowhere

The land will curl around me for miles,

and the noise of reality will be non-existent.

The only sounds I will hear

are the crackling of the fire,

and the sound of the night

putting the day to bed.

 The crickets will sing their rhythms

in that four-part harmony

that hushes the night into sleep,

and the dawn will paint a new day.

My heart is here.

And with it lies my soul,

and my true passion.

For life breeds love,

and my love lies here,

forever waiting for me,

surrounded by nature,

soothed by its song.

I should have saved at least one

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My mother and I never had a traditional greeting when we called each other.  Instead of the banal “Hi Mom”, I could not help but deviate to the voice and the very unusual way Steve Martin used the word in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.  If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll know what I mean.  For those of you who have not had the pleasure of viewing this 1980’s masterpiece, allow me to introduce you.

When she was still with us, I would dial my mom’s number and when I heard her voice say hello, the first words out of my mouth were “Muther, muther”, doing my best to imitate Steve Martin as the classic character of Ruprecht.  She would always respond with an elongated “yeeeessss”.  It was our thing.  It was something only the two of us shared and it made me want to call her all the time just to hear that extended response because it made my heart smile every time I heard it.

It’s been just over a year and a half since she left and I still find myself nonsensically picking up the phone to call her.  There are still things in my life that I only want to share with her and, although I know she has all of the details of my life, I just want to hear her voice one more time.

I think back to all of the voice mails she left for me and I berate myself for not saving any of them.  Even if it was the most trivial narration of what had happened in the dining hall, that simple communication contained the timber and gentleness of the voice I have known for longer than I have physically been on this Earth.

Sometimes I think I have been able to pull that sound from the vault of my memory but it will always be missing that special element.  It will always be missing her, just as much as I am.

All arrows pointed to Chile….I mean chili

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With the days growing shorter and the nights becoming cooler, my natural reaction to this autumnal phenomenon is to adorn the apron, plant my bare feet firmly on my kitchen floor and cook.  Today the universe made the signs of my nesting tendencies abundantly obvious when our grocery store flyer found its way to my desk and had every necessary ingredient for chili at a discounted price.  As beautiful as the landscapes are in Santiago, I opted for some ground beef, kidney beans and the two necessary ingredients for my chili that others may frown upon but they make it mine.

I find a deep sense of comfort in my kitchen.  While chopped onions feverishly jump in the Dutch oven and the rest of the ingredients lay in wait to join the party, the smells of happiness assuage any other feelings I may have carried home with me from the remnants of my day.  The food in the pot is not just food – it is my sanctuary and my resolve to end the day on a positive note, regardless of how it began or how it ensued.

Cooking and baking are a tonic for me.  They are a natural drug I can always count on to make me feel like myself again.  And they are not just there to pull me from a sullen mood but also there to heighten my well-being on the good days, which thankfully far outweigh the bad days.

I have often pondered the idea of taking a leap of faith and pursuing this passion to make it a career but I am always left with fragments of an unfinished conversation that always takes place in my head.  ‘If I do it for a living, will it just become a job and will I lose my passion for it?’  I would hate to have something I take so much pleasure in become a prosaic way to pay the bills.

Until I become brave enough to get within range of that bridge, I will not even entertain the thought of jumping off of it.  For now, I will remain content with the wafting smell of chili from my kitchen, the collection of frozen soups in my freezer and the anticipation of the already-marinating pork tenderloin for dinner tomorrow.

“Cooking is like love; it should be entered into with abandon or not at all.” ~ Julia Child

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a bad math exam

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I lived through a very tumultuous marriage.  It was a great lesson for me but, in mathematical terms, the product of my relationship was divided by the sum of our differences and eventually created a result that lacked a remainder.   There were so many variables and so few constants that our bond was doomed from the beginning.  I should have been the operator but, instead, I felt like a fraction of my true self.

The formula for a successful bond relies on a form of symmetry.  The arrangement of the most fundamental parts of our lives need to align to create a true collaborative bond.  You cannot expect to live a happy life in a paradox.  You cannot create an answerable question without supplying the linear equation that gives you those answers.  All of the pieces of your life need to make you happy, not just the sum of the happy parts.  Going through the motions and cancelling out the negative parts of the bigger picture subtracts from the value of each day.  Sure you will make mistakes along the way, but those mistakes should add to your education and not take away from your self-worth.

I lived that equation.  The perfect number may exist in the glossary of mathematical terms but it does not thrive in real life.  Perfection takes effort and, at the end of the exam, all of the negatives never added up to a positive for me.  I was in the wrong equation and it was glaringly evident.  It was time to subtract myself and cut my losses.

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Once my math exam was over I learned to breathe freely again and I felt empowered by my freedom.  I learned to enjoy my own company more than I ever had and it was liberating.  What I currently perceive as solitude some would call loneliness but they don’t have the numbers to back up their hypothesis.

I now spend my days knowing that I passed that math test and that my final grade has truly helped me balance my life in a way that I never thought possible.  And now that I have erased the errors of my past, I am free to create a new formula for my happiness.  I can choose to remain constant or I can choose to add or subtract the things that will bring me the most happiness.  Regardless of what I choose, I know I will only add the people who fill the gaps in my life and not those who subtract from my bliss.

Even the greyest skies can be beautiful

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Mottled grey,

monochromatic morning

lending a painting

as the ceiling of our day.

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The sky need not be pink

for us to see its splendor.

There is beauty in all things,

we just have to look beyond the norm.

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A storm will come and go

but there is always artistry

in the wake of its anger.

From darkness blossoms light.

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