Category Archives: Poetry

The Word Father Is A Verb

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Steven is in the back row on the right.Note how many small cousins there were, and more were on the way!

Steven is in the back row on the right.Note how many small cousins there were, and more were on the way!

The following post is one I have chosen to repeat in honour of my son Steven’s birthday today.

My son Steven loves babies and toddlers and children of all ages. He enjoys engaging infants in interactions that provoke smiles and gurgles of delight, no matter how uncool his behaviour may seem to any macho type guys in his vicinity. Toddlers give him a great deal of joy too, as he plays their games, with the give and take of surprise that most of their fun is based on. Big and small giggles and smiles, and even rolling on the ground silliness often transpire.

For most of his growing up years, until he began high school, there were babies in our house, as we had a home Day Care for many years. With new little ones coming in each year at the same rate as the older ones started school, there was generally a baby in the mix, and a range of ages among the preschool children. Steven was my parents’ first grandchild, followed closely by his sister Carrie, and several years later by a dozen cousins. Because of the age gap, his role was more of a young uncle than a cousin to them. With older kids, he enjoys challenging them, with good humour, to show off what they already know, or even what they don’t. That way he can get on with the task of teaching them to learn those things in fun ways. He would make a great teacher. He is one of the few people I know who has thus far shown himself to be nonjudgemental of other peoples’ mistakes, not their deliberate wrong-doing of course, but their mistakes. In that, he has shown that he has the most necessary qualification for fatherhood.

Steven is a bachelor, but not by choice. If the right woman were to come along, I’m sure he’d be delighted. He does, however, have two girls in his life, two girls that he loves dearly, Amanda, and Samantha. He has loved them both for a very long time. They call him Dad, because that is what he is to them. He has been there for them since they were little, since the very first time they came to sit on his front step to have a visit from their neighbouring house. When things were not going well between these two sisters, and they would argue, as very close siblings often do, he would encourage them to get along, as any good father would. He was a friend to their mother, and he would often take all three of them out shopping, and even help out at times when they struggled to make ends meet.

Their mom was on her own with them, having tragically lost both of their fathers, in turn, when they were very young. So Steven gradually became the father figure that neither girl had and that both of them needed, giving help with homework, taking them fishing, or bringing them to family events. He made himself accessible and available as their protector and counsellor, and even acted as a disciplinarian if behaviour sometimes warranted a withdrawal of  any privileges that he had given them, and therefore was in charge of at the time.

This is a role that is hard to take on in today’s culture. We live in a society that is totally suspicious of even the most honourable of intentions in all interactions between men and girls, particularly when the man is not in a relationship with their mother. Simply caring about their well-being and their futures, justified to Steven his presence in their lives, no matter what anyone else might think or say about it. The first time I ever heard one of the girls call Steven “Dad” I was taken aback, and then I realized that that’s exactly what he had become; in fact in looking back, it was what he had been for a very long time. I mentioned it to Steven, who told me that for quite a while the girls had been giving him the Dad cards normally given for birthdays and Fathers Day too. I was thankful that he had remained steadfast in his determination to be there for them, no matter what, because having a father figure means so much to a girl.

On an early fall day in 2010 the girls, who were by then in their late teens, lost their mother. It was sudden, unanticipated and overwhelmingly tragic. Neither of them has a surviving birth parent now, and we still feel great sadness for them both. We are, however, incredibly thankful that God deemed to put into place for them, long before the tragedy happened, a man who chose to be their father. We know that his own life had prepared him to have the empathy and compassion to help them through.

The Word Father Is A Verb

To father is to care; to father is to share.

To father is to give, and to always just be there.

To father is to listen, to father is to know

Just what will make things better, and then to make it so.

To father isn’t always just what  matching genes support;

To father doesn’t always lead to adoption files in court.

To father is to care enough to love, and just to be

Where you are, and who you are, for the ones who need to see

That they themselves are valuable enough for you to care

To give yourself, to share yourself, and always just be there.

 

Your father and I thank you Steven, from the bottom of our hearts.

We are so proud that you are our son. Love, Mom and Dad

Love Like A Rose

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45 years together and still smiling!

On November 8, 2014,  just last week, my husband Rolly and I celebrated our 45th wedding anniversary. Our daughter, Carrie the pastry chef, and her helpmate Phil, and our son Steven, the wordsmith, put on an amazing party for us. 100 people enjoyed a delicious dessert buffet,baked entirely by Carrie. There was also a slide show of our family, friends, home-daycare children of long ago, family bakery and other workplaces, homes, gardens and holidays.Our daughter, son, niece Sheri,and sister Marsha all lauded us in speeches that were blush-worthy in their kind evaluation of our lives. After the event we enjoyed all of the evening’s highlights photographed by Marsha and put to music by Steven. It was incredible! Thank you to all who presented us with lovely cards and words of congratulations and to those who defied the best wishes only rule too! Your gifts were very thoughtful.

Rolly, on bended knees

Rolly, on bended knees

So, is it really true? Are Rolly and I truly as happy as our kids say we are? Or is that just a lot of malarkey? Well, I married a natural-born gardener and he has been on his knees all the years of our marriage (to make up for the fact that when he proposed he wasn’t. But that’s just conjecture on my part and another story entirely.)The end result has just been such a work of love.

 

Me by the wishing well  Rolly built me, with some the many roses.

Climbing roses on the wishing well Rolly built.

For all of those years, anything that could be grown in South Western Ontario in clay loam soil, he has planted and cared for— even if it required intensive hand weeding, or pruning.  At one point we had 120 rose bushes in numerous varieties! Roses are one of both Rolly’s and my favourites. I’ve written a number of poems on roses for that reason. The following is one I thought was fitting to post after 45 years together. Perhaps it explains a bit about how  we’ve remained so happy.

 

                     The Gift of a Rose

Love of one’s youth is like a rose—its petals touched with dew,

Beautiful to look upon, fresh and sweet and new,

Perfect in every detail, a joy for all to see,

Lacking not a petal— yet not what it shall be—

For if the rose is cared for, each day it fuller grows,

’Til the hand of our Creator in every petal shows.

And all the splendour present, grows with each day more intense,

’Til even being near it is a gift to every sense.

For those that are around it—and even passers-by,

It leaves a deep impression—on the heart, not just the eye.

So, cherish, nurture, dote upon, this precious growing thing,

That it might fill you full of joy, and joy to others bring.

And ask that God will care for it and shelter it through storms,

That even through adversity it will not suffer harms.

And never let a blemish or a mark be made by spite,

By selfishness, or thoughtlessness, or careless oversight.

But nurse whatever hurts may come through asking for forgiveness,

That as the years go rolling on, both God and man may witness

That perfect budding rose of love, grown to mature completeness,

A gift to every human sense of overwhelming sweetness.

 

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Me, Steven, Carrie, Phil, and Rolly

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Delicious homemade treats by Carrie

 

 

 

 

 

The Best Man From The Bayou

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free-wedding-42Family, Save your money cause the bells are ringing! Right now it’s starting to sound like a department store Santas’ Elf-helper bell-ringing training session. As time passes, it will sound like the Bell Ringers’ Convention my daughter Carrie and her team in Hospitality Food Services at UWO just hosted. Eventually the excitement will grow even more as the time for celebrating moves closer still. Maybe people will turn and give their head a shake and wonder if they are tuning Big Ben. No, that’s just a little much! You can tune a piano, but I’m sure you never need to tune clock chimes! So, what is the occasion for all this tintinnabulation? Not one, not two, not three but… wait for it now…four upcoming weddings in the family!

I’ve told you my family is big and it is getting bigger.(No, it’s not all the awesome pot-luck diners we enjoy!) I will be gaining four new nieces when they marry the four lucky nephews who have persuaded them to jump into this crazy boat of a family of mine. The Titanic was a “ship” people! The happy couples are Aaron and Andrea, Michael and Raelene, Ryan and Ashley, and Lee and Jess.

As the couples go about the business of choosing their wedding party, which is not an easy task sometimes, I am free to indulge my fantasies through verse. Here is a little bit of goofy rhyming whimsy about the best man who wasn’t. And you definitely won’t be asking me to read something special for you at your wedding now I suppose…. Oh well when the muse calls to write you write.Right?

  A Crockodickle Pickle

You’re really in a pickle if the Purple Crockodickle,

That you’ve chosen as your best man for your wedding in July,

Isn’t happy with the colour that you’ve chosen for tuxedos—

So he gets his snout all out of joint and then begins to cry!

His tears are so prolific that they’re raising the Pacific

And he uses as a handkerchief a groomsman’s new silk tie!

He doesn’t like his cummerbund— “Too snug around the waist!”

He can’t be seen in green, you know— or he “will be disgraced!”

Those patent leather shoes, you know “must be too tightly laced!”

And your pocket watch on silver chain he somehow has misplaced!

When you’re all on pins and needles while you’re trying on tuxedos

And the Crockodickle wheedles and he whines to get his way,

Just don’t say “Get lost Mr.” ’til you’ve thought about his sister,

And the “CROCKODICKLE TWISTER!!” things are likely to become.

She might go tell their mother, ’cause you know she loves her brother.

And there’s nothing more voracious than a Crockodickle’s mum!

Hey! I’m curious— how did you and the bride first meet anyway?

Sweet Dreams Little One

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Dreams can seem so real to us that sometimes it is momentarily difficult to tell the dream from reality. I have had that happen a few times in my life. Usually it is when we have a nightmare and wake suddenly and we are confused by the emotional state we are in at the moment. We wonder if what we dreamed is real because it feels real. But in the end we understand the difference because we are adults and we have learned from the experience of life  to know the difference.

I enjoyed a visit with my little nephew Joshua all on his own the other day. He is three, and we played throughout the morning, both of us having a lot of fun. At one point he started telling me about what seemed to have been a frightening dream he had experienced. He seemed to know that it wasn’t real but he wasn’t really sure how to describe it so that I would know that it was more than just something that he had just been thinking about. He just didn’t have all the necessary vocabulary yet. When I asked him if it was a dream he must have remembered his Mummy or Daddy explaining dreams to him before and he said with much relief  “Yes it was. It was a dream”. He relaxed when I reassured him that dreams aren’t real, that they are something our brain does on its own, like a movie it plays for us. They are sometimes about the things we might have been thinking about before we went to sleep, or sometimes the things we are afraid of. And sometimes we do remember those dreams when we wake up.

Having these little moments with children, and to actually watch them process so much information so rapidly as they learn about the great wide world and their place in it is a real joy to me. Thank you, dear nieces of mine,who share your little ones with me. I am blessed by it.

This poem is for Joshua. Never fear Joshua, you don’t need to be embarrassed when someone reads this to you, or even when you read it yourself  when you are older. It is not based on true fact. I just imagined it up, which is kind of like dreaming with our eyes open, where we get to decide what the pictures are going to be in our stories. You can do this too, as long as you tell people that it is a story. Because a story is just a story, a dream is just a dream, but

the truth is always the truth.

An Exciting Night At Grandma’s House

Last time I stayed at Grandma’s house,

Just before I said “Goodnight”

She patted my covers all over me,

Then she tucked them in real tight.

Right under my chin she doubled them up

And rolled them under my pillow;

She said “You know it gets cold at night

And you don’t want to get a chill –Oh!

Don’t forget to count some sheep!

And don’t let the bed bugs bite!”

And then she tip-toed out of the room

And turned out the bedroom light.

My arms were pinned down by my side

My feet were hemmed in too.

I felt just like a mummy must,

Or a pouched-in kangaroo.

That’s when I felt a little twinge!

Was that a bed bug’s pinch?

I tried to throw my covers off

But they wouldn’t give an inch!

And then I dreamed of Egypt

And a mighty pharaoh’s tomb—

Of being in a sarcophagus

In a dark and airless room.

I dreamed that my sarcophagus

Was loaded onto a plane;

I flew all the way to Australia

And was loaded onto a train—

Then suddenly the train derailed!

And I was thrown into a river—

A river so warm and peaceful and calm

That I didn’t even shiver.

Then grandma swam up with a joey

Who was free from his mummy’s pouch,

And they helped me to change into dry mummy wraps—

Then we all fell asleep on the couch!

Yes, I’m A Card Carrying Hoarder!

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imagesI have been busy reorganizing all my dresser drawers, closet shelves, and file drawers over the last few days, as a way of being productive with my time without A. Heating up the house by cooking or baking something  B. Going outside in the heat and humidity and risking a heat stoke   C. Spending any money.

The result is a large blue box of paper to bundle for recycling, a husband who is royally tired of left-overs, and a much enhanced appreciation for the people who love me, or at least care enough about me that they took the time to send me a card, or sometimes even a letter. I am about as far removed from a hoarder as Mother Teresa was from Imelda Marcos in their value systems. However, I dare not push it very far with that illustration, as I can be very un-Mother Teresa-like at times. This is something my husband, who is in the kitchen now, doing all the dishes from all the dibs and dabs I somehow assembled for him throughout the day and called meals. Offerings from containers, bowls, bins, and bags. Stuff that was as much about cleaning out the fridge as offering comfort. Some of it appeared, not only at the second, but again at the third meal today, until he practically had to cry “Uncle” to get me to say ” Just Pitch that!” I haven’t got the nerve to actually call them breakfast, lunch and supper, as they were just what happens when  I am on one of my reorganizing binges.

Some of you will likely be saying “Why isn’t he cooking his own meals, the lazy lout?” It’s because the man is just a working machine in the summer, and today he had to construct a large fenced in area for the growing ducks, weed a berry patch, and construct a hoop garden. Yesterday he hauled rocks and moved dirt for a drainage project which has totally messed up the back  yard near to the house and he is antsy to get that back to normal again, as quickly as possible. He has been a very patient man, especially as he could at times hear me at the kitchen table opening and closing a musical card with a weight- lifting chipmunk in it who was working out to the theme song from Rocky. After that there was the one with an Anniversary couple dancing to Rockin’ Around the Clock, over and over and over, every time I picked it up off my card pile again.

I just can’t help it. I’m a sucker for cards, and if you have ever sent me or given me one it is, in all likelihood, in a blue storage tote in my crawl space, or it has just now now been put with the rest of the stack that I gathered from all the places I reorganized today. These will  be placed in yet another tote. Yes, cards are my secret indulgence and always have been. I even have the first one Rolly ever gave me when we were began dating. It is covered with pink lipstick kiss marks. No, he didn’t!  I put them there myself to memorialize my first true love, and how I felt about him on the day I got his first romantic card.

I guess that makes me a hoarder then, but just a very tidy one, and in a very limited way. So, to my brother Keith, who used to call me up every time he watched the Hoarders show on TV, to my sibling who callously tormented me by saying he was holding a paper plate on a stick puppet with a picture of my face glued on it, in front of the hoarder’s face on TV every time she spoke: I can no longer deny it. All these cards are definitely becoming a problem! You should be much more compassionate now that you know the truth! Right?… I can hear your laughter now and it is not very nice!

I’m sure that no one will ever deny that cards do have their place;  they are a sweet way to let someone know that you are thinking of them. I defy anyone to just leave that pastel envelope with the butterfly sticker on the back of it unopened and just sitting there in there mail box every day for a week. That’s what happens to a lot of those Happy Birthday or Holiday Wishes you email people. Even if  Frosty does a little soft shoe shuffle across my screen, he’s not going to smell like the gingerbread cookies you were baking when you sent him to me to wish me a Merry Christmas. Your nice big red envelope with the green holly wreath sticker on it, on the other hand— if I open it ever so slowly and smell it, a little of your house’s naturally occurring  aroma therapy will enrich my day— in theory anyway.

Hey did you ever find the kids’  pet mouse yet? You might just want to check your Christmas card boxes.

I decided to add a little poem here just for the fun of it. I hope you enjoy it.

A Little Bit Of Luck

Once I found a four leaf clover—

Where the willow tree hangs over

All the stones that grandpa stacked there—

In the corner of the yard.

I thought that I should save it

So I ran inside and gave it

To my mother, who was writing out

Another get well card.

She said that she would press it

But she just forgot— I guess it

Was the rush of sending off

A card to grandpa on that day.

So the clover leaf was lost— we thought—

Or accidentally tossed— we thought—

Never to ‟bring a bit of luck”

As some folks like to say.

But then a few days after that

My grandpa called us just to chat,

And tell us he was better,

And he got our card that day.

And say “Thanks for sending over

That nice big four-leaf clover!

Whoever picked it for me

Sent a little luck my way!”

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The Angel Food Cake In Heaven

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imagesIn the large family that I grew up in there was always a very strong connection between food and comfort. I realize that experts in the health field tell us repeatedly that this is a very dangerous relationship for those who develop a deep dependency on food, using it as a form of pain dulling self medication. I am sure that the experts have a valid point, and are doing a public service to admonish us against such behaviour. I am glad that they are there to counsel those for whom this is a real problem, and to help them learn other better coping mechanisms.

But I for one am not going to advise against taking gifts of food to those who are hurting. Sometimes the significance of that kind of gesture is the thing that makes the difference between a very dark day and a manageable one. If the person you are considering giving a food gift to is on a low-fat or low-calorie diet, or you want to avoid the chocolate for their kids’ sake and still provide a baked treat then consider Angel Food Cake. I can make a really great one from scratch with the bounty of fresh eggs from our hens, but if I am in a pinch then I know that the Duncan Hines mix gives a really good result in record-breaking time. With a container of cut-up fruit, or berries, (even the frozen ones) you can provide a treat that is usually acceptable even to dieters.

Yes, I know that flowers and books are other good options, but the warmth that a nicely prepared casserole or a gift of fresh baking provides to someone who is grieving or emotionally in pain, somehow seem a little more like a hug than a handshake, and I guess I’m just one of those hugging kind of people.

The following poems were actually written to five of the most important women in my life in response to their kindness towards me during a time of grieving. 

To my Mom

My mother love me she always has,

At least as far as I know.

Did she ever have any second thoughts

About feeding me long ago?

About getting up at midnight,

When I was just a baby?

I don’t think I could say no for sure,

I guess I’ll just say maybe.

‘Cause it seems to me she’s been trying

To feed me ever since.

And my children too, and my husband.

She treats him like a prince—

Like the chicken dinner she brought us

It put a smile on my lips.

Some of it went into the fridge,

Some of it went to my hips.

If ever anyone’s saying

“Here comes dinner to the door.”

That’s my Mom and we dearly love her,

We couldn’t love her more.

To my sister Janice

Anything made by my sister’s hand

Would taste deliciously sweet

Though she may think that it’s boring or bland

To me it’s a gourmet treat.

She made me a cake on a very hard day.

“It’s only a mix.” she said,

But swallowed with tears

And a shared cup of tea,

It tasted like Heavenly bread.

Because she knows my heart so well

There was more love than sugar or spice,

So that even a crumb could have filled me up—

There was never a fullness so nice

To my sister Kathy

Meals that are made by my sister

Are warm and comforting things

Whether cabbage rolls or pork chops,

Or even chicken wings.

Whatever was on the menu

For Kathy and her spouse,

If anyone is hurting,

It goes to the sad one’s house.

Even if she and her husband

Eat cold cereal yet once more,

Because she left their dinner

At someone else’s door.

To my sister Marsha

You are there and always have been

For your sister tag-along.

You know me better than anyone;

We could finish each other’s song.

You bring me joy with all you do—

Each phone call, card, or cake—

Little do you realize,

The difference that you make.

You have made the difficult easier

In, oh, so many ways

You have been to me like sunshine

On some dark and stormy days.

To my sister Jeannie

Dearest sister who shares her heart

Whenever we are together,

And takes me out to her favourite haunts

For pastries as light as a feather,

And insists that she cannot possibly

Consume not a single bite

More than half of a mocha meringue:

Somehow it can’t be right

That you and I are sisters,

With your mandarin orange and tea,

Which you say has already filled you up

While you foist your pastries on me!

But then there’s the proof that we’re sisters

As we laugh together and cry

Over a plate of mocha meringues.

Don’t you know they’re supposed to stay dry?

I am so very blessed to have my amazing mother, and a beautiful daughter, as well as four sisters, and three sisters- in- law, nine nieces, and 5 great nieces.Two dozen very special women who mean so very much to me. Sadly two years ago I lost my husband’s Mum, Mina who was like another mother to me. Shortly after that we lost  my husband’s sister Rosalie, the mother and grandmother of some of those incredible nieces of mine. She was like a sister to me too, and I miss her every day. She was probably the most talented home baker I ever knew and even when she was quite ill herself she never neglected to send food gifts to her neighbours when they were lonely,grieving or unwell.

To my sister  Rosalie

Are you baking Angel Food cakes?

It wouldn’t surprise me a bit.

I’m sure there are feasts in Heaven

Where the meek and the lowly sit

Beside the strong and mighty,

And those with renown and fame.

And when you are slicing your cake up

You will portion it all the same,

Then you’ll pass the crystal cake plates,

To the diners one and all,

With the very best of your baking

In Heaven’s banquet hall.

Until I come to join you

Will you save a piece for me,

Of that shortbread you and Mom would make?

’Cause I’ve lost your recipe.

Love Yvonne

A Feast From The Garden Served Two Ways

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Rolly, in the middle of our picket fence enclosed garden later in the season, a few years ago. All his composting really pays off.

What to do? What to do? My day is almost through.

I haven’t even started on another post for you

I’ve been so busy gardening, and cleaning up the place,

That I need to speed things up and accelerate my pace.

As I pour it out in verse it comes to mind so fast.

I think I’ll use that method; it’s worked well in the past.

I’d really like to garden and get those veggies growing.

It’s all that I can think of now; it’s really got me going.

The seeds of thoughts are planted now, and plant seeds planted to;

So this is what you’re getting— a veggie feast for you!

A Real Corny Poem

There are different kinds of kernels,

There’s a colonel and a kernel,

But only one would let you call him “yellow”.

Either one might blow up, when the heat is really on,

Though one would simply “pop!” the other bellow!!

I know this verse is corny, but its one that you’ll repeat,

(Unless the kernel’s stuck between your teeth!)

Beets Can’t Be Beat!

Pink, and crimson, white, and gold,

And even two-toned beets are sold

In market places here and there,

For they will grow most anywhere.

Their leafy tops are good to eat;

Their roots are delicious and somewhat sweet,

In salads, in pickles, or soup that’s pink!

“Beets can’t be beat!” that’s what I think!

Let’s All Hear It For The Pea!

Flat pods! Fat pods! Snappy and sweet!

Steamed or raw! A favourite treat!

Some people shell them before they sell them!

Some people sell them before they shell them!

Either way, they’re green and sweet!

Peas are a treat we love to eat!

Mmm! Turnips! Can You Dig It?

Turnips, turnips everywhere,

So don’t turn up your nose,

Just because their cooking

Doesn’t smell much like a rose.

A turnip can grow as big as your head,

And be just as stubborn too!

As you try to pull it out of the ground

To add to your grandma’s stew.

Ogrelicious

A snarly, gnarly looking root

A troll might cook in a rubber boot!

That’s how celeriac might look,

But it’s a treasure for the cook,

Who will use it in salad, soup, and stew,

And dishes delicious for trolls and for you!

 Gets Along Well With Others

The onion’s a vegetable socialite,

Welcomed by every appetite.

Quite bold alone, but good in groups!

A really good mixer in stews and soups!

But don’t share an onion on your very first date.

That’s one time for sure when you should wait!

Doctor’s Orders

If you’re making a salad that just needs some zip,

My good friend the salad chef gave me this tip

“Arugula’s great for its nice zesty flavour;

Its toothy green leaves have a taste that you’ll savour.”

My good friend the doctor who gives out advice free

Says “Make sure arugula’s all chopped up nicely,

Because if you choke when it’s stuck to your uvula,

It will be the last time that you eat arugula!”

I hope you enjoyed my little literary repast. Perhaps you can share it with the kids, if they are old enough to digest it.

Have a good one today!

Blessings, Yvonne