Category Archives: Light verse

A Tasteful Beginning

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Grandma treats her grandkids to only healty food when camping. Right?

Grandma treats her grand kids to only healthy food when camping. Right?

What is it about flavours that makes one person smack his lips in anticipation of digging into a dish, while another person can hardly be persuaded to try even a little bite? I don’t know what influenced you, but just about every pleasant memory I have of family, will have attached to it a smell or a flavour in my mind. Picking up cider apples in an ancient orchard on our farm with my sisters Marsha and Jeannie, and my brother Keith, to earn enough money to buy ourselves a small used stereo is a memory redolent with the scent of  the giant Wolf Apple, the size of a grapefruit, that my father snapped in two with a simple twist of the wrist that day. Memories of sumptuous meals at harvest time are accompanied by the aroma of fresh ripe red tomatoes, and sweet corn with its taffy –like smell, steaming hot from the blue enamel canner. Picnics with family and friends at tables in Springbank Park in London, will always conjure up the  taste of cold  fried chicken, juicy watermelon, and lemonade. The many bonfires we had in our own back yard over the years are remembered not only by the smell of smoke in my mind’s eye, (or perhaps I should say mind’s nose) but by the smell of sizzling hot dogs nearly blackened on their wire coat-hanger sticks.

Yesterday I sat beside my two-year old nephew Jacob at supper time as he tried a bite of Caesar salad for the first time. It was quite funny, because romaine lettuce coated in Caesar dressing tends to stick to the tongue a bit, and after his Mom put a piece in his mouth, off the end of her fork, he attempted to spit it out. It stayed there, stuck on the end of his tongue, like a moistened postage stamp as he attempted to get it out of his mouth with “Bleck! Bleck!”as a sound effect, and “Yukky!” as a comment afterwards . Sure he hated it on his initial try, but because he was with people who loved him, and he was enjoying the time at the table, you can bet that he will try it again another time. By then the pleasant feelings of family and fun will alter it′s flavour somehow.

How else do people learn to eat things like Quadrello di Bufala, an Italian buffalo milk cheese, which is described by one food critic as “very barnyard-y, you can taste the wet straw, a bit of stink and sweetness at the same time.” Yum! Or how about a nice big bowl full of  fermented salmon heads, a traditional Alaskan delight. After the heads are chopped off they are buried in the ground for a few weeks or more, until they begin to rot. Then they are dug up, mashed to a pudding like consistency and served up cold like soft serve ice cream. (For people  who don`t have such a sweet tooth, apparently.)

In honour of the five little great-nephews I now have— A beautiful new one named Brayden just arrived on Sunday morning to join future playmates, Finley, Joshua, Jacob, and Ethan— I am including a couple of poems about kids’ taste preferences  I wrote earlier. Happy Tasting!

Taste Tester

I like the spurt of lemon juice!

So sour in my mouth;

It pinches all its corners in—

Its North, East, West and South

Into one tremendous pucker—

One big jaw-ache of delight!

A kind of painful, pleasing,

Green-apple-munching bite!

I like the kind of saltinessness

That movie popcorn brings—

The kind that makes a desert rat

Go searching out the springs,

The pretzel and the peanut type

That makes me want to drink—

Until another ocean

Is inside of me, I think!

I like the syrup sweetness

Of a Sunday pancake brunch—

The lick your fingers sweetness

Of a jelly sandwich lunch,

The “Don’t forget to brush your teeth

And wash your face off!” sweet,

The taste of almost anything

My grandma brings me treat!

I like the kind of flavours

That are opposite each other.

The trouble is, I can’t convince

My menu-planning mother!

by Yvonne Rollason

                        The Izzly Fizzlies

His Mom and Dad were fast asleep, and snoring like two grizzlies,

When suddenly he felt them there— those craving izzly fizzlies!

One eye woke up and looked around, and then it woke the other;

It told his brain to wake his ears, and listen for his mother.

He didn’t hear a clatter or a sizzle from the kitchen,

But those crazy izzly fizzlies had made his tongue start itchin’

As if a thousand chickens had a barn dance in his mouth,

Or some geese had held a cookout there before they headed south,

And thrown some dirt up

on their fire before they winged away!

That’s how the izzley fizzlies had made him feel today!

Just then his brain woke up his feet and said “Now! Get in motion!

’Cause theses cravin’ izzly fizzlies are itchin’ for an ocean

To wash its surf across this tongue— it’s driving me near crazy!

Now march us to the kitchen! You guys can be so lazy!”

So off he went, straight to the fridge and opened up the door.

He took out every can of pop and sat them on the floor.

He opened up a cola and he drank it down real quick,

And then he tried the ginger ale he liked when he was sick.

Then he had a taste of orange, some grape and then some red.

When Mom and Dad heard all the noise, they got up from their bed.

“What do you think you’re doing son?” his flustered father said

“And why would you open all that pop? Just what was in your head?”

“It was the izzly fizzlies Dad, that woke me up today!

I tried to drink a lot of pop to make them go away.

I think that they are gone now, but the only trouble is

Now I’ve got the hurtin’ burps because of all the fizz!”

by Yvonne Rollason

Here’s wishing you a wonderfully sweet day!

Ghandi Would Have Understood My Gardening Dilemma

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Tomatoes

It’s that time of year again when Rolly and I lean over the white picket fence that surrounds our vegetable garden and argue. Ghandi knew the kind of arguing I’m talking about.  A  famous quote of his describes it from the perspective that one of  us has— “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” I’ll leave it up to you to guess who usually wins.  Let’s just say, that it is not uncommon for a box of plants to sit for several days before it gets planted, because somebody believes that it isn’t worthwhile to take up their valuable garden space with it because  ”Nobody will eat leeks!” or “Nobody will eat eggplant!”

Well, this year there will be leeks again, and eggplant too, and Patty Pan squash, for harvesting the tiny ones that we love to stuff and bake. We will also be growing cucumbers, melons, zuchinni, and tomatoes. However, there will be no Green Heritage tomatoes this time round because last year we were afraid to harvest them.We never knew  when they were ripe—how could we? They never changed colour! Neither will there be any more chocolate tomatoes. I’m not talking about some crazy idea somebody had for dipping them in Swiss chocolate, like strawberries; it was a variety that was called “Chocolate” because they were very dark brown.They also all fell to the ground before we picked them, because not only did we not know when they were ripe,  but we couldn’t even tell when they were rotten! The little yellow pear-shaped tomatoes, and the tiny currant tomatoes, as small as blueberries, were both delicious, but the small striped variety  were not as good for eating as they were to garnish with.

Actually, the most amazing thing we grew was planted not far from our back deck, rather than in the enclosed garden.It was a very common Sweet 100 tomato plant, which yielded so heavily, and over such a long period of time, that we handed every visitor who came some kind of recycled container(s) and told them to pick all they wanted. I’m sure, that one lonely plant gave every visitor who  liked tomatoes, all that they wanted to munch on as we visited, and enough for salads and snacks for a week. It likely yielded a bushel basket- full of cherry tomatoes over the summer months. Something else we will not ever grow again is garden huckleberries. Likely even Huckleberry Finn wouldn’t have stolen them from our garden if he had come by our way starving; they were so blah! For the first time in our garden’s history we will not be planting peppers; last year we waited, and waited, and waited, and finally harvested a bushel of peppers bitter enough to make potato bug spray! Nor will there be tomatillos for salsa verde, because they became such a  pest from the seeds that fell to the ground in the preseeding years (not a typo, just a super dual- purpose word.) that we were yanking them out all summer.  As we are feverishly scraping our hoes over every square inch of dirt to get rid of our garden’s  thick dill lawn this week we will exempt a one inch wide by twenty-foot strip. That  will save us the time it would take to plant  another row of it. Or maybe we could just hoe it all out, and buy our dill it at the market this summer, to save having to do the same job all over again next spring. So much dill and so little thyme!

The following is a little poem I wrote about vegetables, in  appreciation to my mother. Quite early in our lives, she taught us to eat a wide variety of vegetables, prepared in just about every way you could imagine. In large farm families, where finances were generally an issue, babies usually ate the mushed- up version of whatever the big people were having. This happened long before they had a chance to become picky. Ask around among your friends and you’ll quickly discover that the more siblings there were,the wider the variety of foods they usually enjoy now.While this doesn’t always hold true for young people today, whose Mom’s  may have brought them up on fast food, it is likely so for the older ones among us.

Artichokes, Beets and Chard

Artichokes, beets, and chard,

Even their names sound bad!

If they sprung up in our yard

My mother would be mad.

She’d stomp them to a mush!

Or chop them with hoe!

She’d kill them in a rush!

She’d never let them grow!

But since they cost a lot

When she buys them at the store

She cooks them in a pot,

Then makes me eat some more.

Artichoke sounds like “Ought to choke”

’Cause that’s what I think of doing.

I think sometimes I’m going to croak,

But I have to keep on chewing.

And beet is a nasty word, I’d say,

Like “They beat us in a game.”

Or “I got beat up the other day.”

Eating them feels the same.

And the last time Dad was cooking,

When the hot dogs got all hard

And burned when he wasn’t looking,

He called the black parts “charred”.

Artichokes, Chard, and beets,

I thought they were the worst!

But now that I have to eat these leeks,

I think I’m going to burst!

I’m Not In My Right Mind Just Now

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Petunia

 

Patty Palasaka planted purple Portulaca

 

All around the picket fence, surrounding her backyard.

 

She planted pink petunias, edelweiss, and big begonias,

 

Just beside the sidewalk where the wooden gate was barred.

 

Everyday she bent to weed them, to water and to feed them;

 

Every waking hour was spent with helping them to grow.

 

When her neighbours stopped to visit, she didn’t have a minute;

 

There wasn’t time for company; things had to be “just-so”.

 

When the yard was filled with flowers, in the boxes, on the bowers,

 

When everything was perfect she opened up the gate.

 

Amidst her pink petunias, edelweiss, and big begonias

 

By her portulaca border, she sat right down to wait.

 

But her neighbours rushed right by then;

 

She couldn’t catch their eye then.

 

It was past the time for company;

 

It really was too late.

 

I wrote this poem several years ago as I was working on a book of verse for kids, as part of a series of poems with kids themes; each focusing on a character with a different rhythmical name. As soon as I read the first fourteen lines I had created I realized that there was no point in going on any further as it was never going to develop into a poem for kids, no matter how many more lines I added to it. It was as if the lines that came trickling off my pen had awakened an inner voice that said “Yvonne, you’re behaving just like Patty and you need to readjust your priorities! Yvonne your motives for striving toward some sort of perfectionism in the projects you have going on just now are cutting you off from other people! You have barred the gate to your yard, just like Patty, don’t you see that!”

 

Some people journal, and as they journal they let a lot of their inner thoughts flow out onto the paper, and I suspect that it is only in  reading it back to themselves later that they actually acknowledge the real feelings behind what they are saying. They may have written the words, but the meaning behind them is usually hidden a little deeper than they could fathom at the time. This happens frequently when I write rapid- fire verse which is something I love to do. I find that I can write almost twice as fast in verse as prose and am often fairly happy with the outcome when it hits the paper. I’m not so delusional as to say that they are works of genius, just that as a creative endeavour they are rewarding to me on a personal level, and they often make other people quite happy too. Let’s face it; probably some of the first delightful moments in your life were accompanied by verse:

 

This little piggy went to market,

 

This little piggy stayed home,

 

This little piggy had roast beef,

 

This little piggy had none,

 

And this little piggy went wee wee wee all the way home.

 

Sure this old verse is no great masterpiece, but it is beloved by me. I love it first and foremost because it was always accompanied by tickling from my mother or my father when I was little. Secondly I love babies, and I love the response I get from them whenever I do its little piggy-wiggling game with them. Last of all I love it because I am not Jewish. I suppose if I was, then the glee Abba and Ima and I enjoyed while playing with all those little pigs would certainly have been a memory that was a little difficult to explain.

 

According to the experts, creativity, artistic and musical skills and photographic memories are part of the right side of the brain, whereas language uses the left. I am reminded of the scene in the movie The King’s Speech where King George VI, under the guidance of his speech therapist, seems to be able to sing without difficulty, whereas he stutters when speaking. Apparently by singing the words he is able to let them flow freely, using the right side of his brain, without using the left side where the language processing interference is causing the stuttering.

 

I wonder then if the creativity needed for rhythmical, almost musical verse writing, in my right hemisphere’s poet’s studio allows for much less inhibition and thus the ease of writing I find  there. Whereas the prose being methodically constructed in my left hemisphere’s rigid language factory is much more exhausting. Likely this is true, judging by the exhausting effect that working in the Ford Plant assembling cars all day had on Rolly versus the effect that singing songs to babies, or making fancy birthday cakes had on me on even my busiest days working in careers that required spending time at those things.

 

By now you may be wondering where I’m headed with all this. To be totally frank, so am I. I started out by telling you that sometimes what we write when we’re feeling totally uninhibited  will tell us a lot about ourselves, and if we realize that we are doing things for all wrong reasons then it’s time to re-evaluate. Then change things as best you can. If you’re doing things just to show off, then don’t expect to have any friends clamoring to come by for a visit, no matter how beautiful the “gardens” you have created turn out. As a person who loves my own gardens I’m speaking both literally and figuratively here.

 

If you think you can’t ask guests for dinner because you’re not a good enough cook and you need to become a better one first, forget it! Ask them anyway! Serve them chilli and buns, and ice cream for dessert. They’ll love you for the invitation not the meal. If you hesitate to offer someone a ride because your car is a mess, just do it anyway. They won’t care! If you think you shouldn’t ask somebody in for a coffee because the dishes aren’t done, or you haven’t put on your make-up, they’ll love you all the more when they realize that you care more for them than your reputation.

 

The worst that they could say about you,if it was all that bad is that you couldn’t have been in your right mind, and I’m asking you now— Is that such a bad thing?

 

Numerology, Cosmology,and Cosmetology

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People frequently like to use numbers in very creative ways to establish links between things, and thereby somehow give an event or circumstance greater significance, especially if they practice some type of numerology. That’s not an explanation from the dictionary, just a personal observation. I remember that on my 36th, 38th, or 40th birthday (and I shall not be revealing which one) I blew out my birthday candles and said rather enthusiastically, (considering the years of amusement it has given everyone, at my expense, ever since) “Wow! I’ve finally reached the birthday when my age and my bust measurement are the same!” Lets face it, it’s unlikely there was any noteworthy symbolic significance to that coincidental alignment of numbers. My public profession of that link was more likely to have been an indication that I should, perhaps, buy a certain undergarment in a larger size, as the blood circulation to my brain was most likely compromised.

This morning I forgot my password for online banking yet again, and as this has happened to me often, I am running out of easily remembered number sequences. When I called the bank’s help line to set a new one, I decided to use my shoe size, my pants size and my bust size. Then I had to use another number that I hope I will remember later, because I didn’t  know my ring size. Thankfully, for my self-esteem, not all of those measurements are double-digit; that’s why I needed that extra one. Guess I’ll change the password again anyway, before I post this, just in case anyone who has met me is a circus side-show size-guesser/ math whiz/ crook. They just might try to break into my bank account! Just so you know,the monetary pay-out wouldn’t be worth the investment of time, nor would there be any significant cosmological significance to the account’s total either. That number might, however, have some real cosmetological impact if I use the funds to buy some items at the two-for-one price sale in the latest Avon catalogue.

Those who have been following my blog for a while know that I tend to ramble a bit. The point that I was leading up to is this— I too have certain numbers to which I attach particular significance. The fifth month of the year is special for me because in it three things changed   forever how my world revolved on it’s axis. May is the month when both of our children, Steven and Carrie Ann were born, and it is when Rolly and I  first met  46 years ago today, on a blind date on the Victoria Day weekend. I was just 16. Despite the skeptics, who doubt the possibility that such a thing exists, it really was love at first sight! If I believed that it was all up to us mortals to line up every circumstance in our lives so that such a thing could happen, I would be a doubter too. But I know in my heart that the one who arranged it all was well aware of who was  best suited to be my soul mate, and He also was the one who made it possible. Psalm 139:1-6 kind of sums up the basis for my reasoning.

The following poem was written to commemorate that first date:

Dear Diary,

I met a great guy today—

Tall and lean and tan,DocImage000000245

Not a boy, but a man,

Best friend of the guy Marsha’s dating,

So I didn’t want to keep him waiting!

They were early to arrive,

But somehow we’d survive!

My hair at least was down;

I said “Hi” and reeled around

And ran quickly up the stairs,

And left him to say his prayers—

Or whatever first dates do

When they’ve come just to meet you,

And are swarmed by younger brothers,

Younger sisters, and your mother!

I threw on my new tan slacks

And turquoise mohair sweater.

For a picnic by the river

The weather couldn’t be better.

We drove to a place near Kilworth,

Then climbed down a very steep path.

Marsha slipped on her bum in the mud

And I couldn’t help but laugh.

Then she got mad, but I didn’t care;

This guy was a hunk, and I was there!

We ate fried chicken up on our rock

And talked and talked and talked and talked

About “Day of the Triffids” and “On the Beach”

He’d be a forest ranger, one day I would teach.

We had lockers somehow in the very same hall

And yet I had never seen him at all!

But I’d heard his name on the P.A. at school

And remembered it well because it was cool.

His friend, beside Marsha was shoving him closer,

Pushing hard with his shoulder as we sat on the boulder.

And a glimpse that I caught from behind was this guy

Punching out in some code “Don’t be shy! Don’t be shy!”

Then finally Rolly leaned in for The Kiss!

( And all of that led to this…. Wedded bliss!)

About Time

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Today’s post  continues on with the same theme as yesterday’s post  The Bologna And Beer Method of Self Evaluation. It is about “time”. The fact that yesterday’s post was extremely long, and today’s extremely short is an indication that I am not totally in control of how I allot time to the various tasks that I set for myself, as my goal is to keep my posts to a certain length.On second thought, wouldn’t that be a little like an artist only painting on canvases that would fit into the back seat of a Volkswagen Beetle ? Maybe sometimes she might need a city bus to hold her work.See how I surreptitiously inferred that I was an artist? I didn’t say a good artist, but I think I’ve got a rather extensive  subject palette to work with: midwinter blues, green with envy moments, black humor, golden years and so on, and so I don’t see any reason why something I write can’t be a work of art with mass appeal sometime. Of course I have to accept the fact that it generally only happens after artists are long dead. Oh well! I’m a patient woman.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I now present to you a new piece related to time! Drum- roll please!

Time doesn’t pass without causing a change;

It may disassemble; it may rearrange.

With each passing year, there’s another effect;

It’s simply a fact that we’ve come to expect.

Even a Cadillac  goes out of style,

And rusts at the seams with each passing mile.

Our watches stop ticking or start running late;

Our very best outfit soon looks out of date.

Beds will get lumpy and start popping springs;

Pianos need tuning and pearls break their springs.

Even our houses are far from exempt

As each passing year makes them look more unkempt,

With windows that jam and stairways that creak,

As paint starts to peel and roofs start to leak.

But still there are some things improving with age—

The works of an artist, the quotes of a sage,

And one other thing that gets better each year,

The love that I share with the ones I hold dear.

There now, I think that one is small enough to carry home in your bicycle basket if you want to!

Cleanliness Is Next To Godliness, But Godliness Is Next To Grandma

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DocImage000000488DocImage000000492I was a kid with a big imagination, growing up in the 5o’s, a much more formal time, when kids were  expected to behave with a certain degree of seriousness and solemnity, way beyond the limited capability of their years. In particular places this mandatory decorum was rigidly enforced— the doctor’s waiting room (so adults could hear the conversation between the doctor and the person in the office with him better,) in old ladys’ parlours (so they wouldn’t miss any of the whispered gossip,) but most especially when they were in church. The reason for this I could never understand because I already knew that God could hear everyone at the same time, and besides, if he was talking to anybody there, I didn’t think it was supposed to be out loud. He could do it under his breath, but in a way that they would hear it in their hearts. I don’t think he had ever talked to me like that yet, but then I didn’t think that he would, until a person was there often enough to deserve it. When Grandma Mum came for a visit and went with us to church, or if we ever went with her to church in Pittsburgh where she lived, he might have noticed that she had a couple of kids sitting next to her. Likely then he came pretty close to introducing himself, just on account of the fact that he knew her so well. I think she talked to him every day and said special grown up prayers every night. Some of them Marsha and I had already started learning for our First Holy Communion. Still, it would have been nice if I had just heard him talking under his breath to me then. I think I would have tried a whole lot harder to listen.

The Bird In Church 

The man behind her sneezed and all the feathers of her hat

Trembled like a living bird—Now just imagine that!

The man behind her sneezed again, and sneezed ’til he was blue;

The feathered thing, alarmed by this, just spread its wings and flew!

Yet no one seemed to notice as it roosted on a rafter!

They just turned round indignantly when I broke out in laughter,

For church was not the proper place for anyone to giggle,

And people thought it impolite to scratch or even wiggle.

But I just couldn’t hold it back; the sight was so absurd,

To see a hat transformed that way, into a living bird!

Quite suddenly I found myself no longer in my seat,

But being dragged by mummy, who was redder than a beet,

Down the aisle and out the door, where I received a whack!

To find that bird— a hat once more the moment I got back!

I really will try to behave myself; I have so much to lose!

But under the pew ahead of me— are those alligator shoes?

My husband Rolly read the poem above and asked “Did you really see a bird in church?” Maybe yes, maybe no. Was I spanked? I’ll leave that up to your imagination.