Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Snowy Cover

I love snow, snow, and all the forms of radiant frost.
Percy Bysshe Shelley, English Romantic poet (1792-1822)

In a matter of minutes our world was graced with a thick covering of snow. The quick change in temperature made roads a little slippery and at least one truck decided to park on the median. Driving aside, the world looks lovely under a white duvet.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.
Siddhartha Gautama Buddha (c. 5th century B.C.)

Half a butter tart left beside my afternoon coffee brought a smile to my face. Dad was very sweet to share the last treat from the baker's box.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Reducing Stew's Carbon Footprint

Talk of joy: there may be things better than beef stew and baked potatoes and home-made bread --- there may be.
David Grayson, American journalist, in "Adventures in Contentment" (1907)

Locavore eating is gaining popularity judging by the number of eat-local blogs on the Net. One for my area is Southwestern Ontario Foodie that provides lots of helpful information for those of us wanting to support local food sources. Armed with its Ontario Beef Stew recipe that the blogger had detailed with names of her local suppliers for each ingredient, I went off to my favourite grocery store known for its quality produce. Little did I know that it would take some sleuthing to find local vegetables hidden among its bountiful and beautiful displays.

The first shock, causing me to stand up and take notice, came when comprehending that each of the multiple mountains of potatoes originated south of the border. How could this be when the homeland is famous for its abundant crop from the rich red soil of Prince Edward Island? I have since learned that Canada is the largest consumer of America's fresh potatoes even though we grow them commercially in every one of our provinces. It would seem that marketing plays a big role because in my grocery store the potatoes on prominent display and available for purchase by the pound are all American but peer under the display counter and you find stacks of 10-pound bags of P.E.I. potatoes. I came to buy four spuds to accompany my stew, but for the sake of principle I left the store hauling a heavy bag. That's fine, they won't go bad.

Closer to home, the stew's onions came from Holland Landing, located about 100 km away, and the mushrooms sprouted in the neighbouring town of Dundas. It took me quite a while to find local, "Ontario" carrots amidst the stacks of multiple choices of types and brands of carrots from the U.S. Again marketing seems to be key. I can't be sure where mine put down their roots, but it should be somewhere within a 100-kilometer radius from here. Unfortunately, my mission to buy local was thwarted when it came to garlic. My choices were US "Elephant" garlic that didn't seem too fresh, unnaturally white Chinese garlic, and regular-looking, seemingly fresh bulbs from Mexico. What a choice. ;-(

I can't begin to calculate the greenhouse gases emitted through the transportation of my stew's ingredients to market but it certainly could have been drastically more if I had not challenged myself to buy local. I came away feeling proud of my little accomplishment and I had some fun meeting the challenge.

By the way, the stew was delicious.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Long exercise, my friend, inures the mind;
And what we once disliked we pleasing find.
Hesiod, Greek poet (c. 750-650 B.C.)

It will be a long time before I ever call exercise "pleasing", but my running shoes did jump out of the gym bag today for the first time in a week. Hurray for small victories in the battle of the bulge! 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Hope for Egypt

Hope and change are hard-fought things.
Michelle Obama, American First Lady

Although the revolution is not over and difficult times surely lie ahead for my beloved Egypt, I thank God that today's marking of the revolution's anniversary, by a multitude representing every shade of opinion, went off without violence. The hope that I had on February 18th last year, when I took this photo, has waned but days like today keep the flicker alive. This little fellow deserves it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Time-Motion Studies

The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once.
Albert Einstein, American physicist and Nobel laureate (1879-1955)

Time and motion study: the systematic investigation and analysis of the motions and the time required to perform a specific operation or task with a view to seeking more efficient methods of production as well as setting time standards. ( John's suspicions appear confirmed: Cat is conducting a series of time-motion studies. This evening, in the desk chair before the computer, she contemplates the results of her research.

And she's not amused to have lesser beings interrupt her ruminations!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Quilting Communion

In life we share a single quilt.
Kuan Tao-Sheng, Chinese painter (1262-1319)

Mondays bring a group of women together for an afternoon of a little learning, some sewing, and a lot of conversation. The camaraderie of our little group brightens a rainy day.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Hope in the Depths of Winter

In the depths of winter I finally learned there was in me an invincible summer.
Albert Camus, French-Algerian author, philosopher and Nobel laureate (1913-1960)

Elation swelled when I looked out the window at 5:30 this evening and found the sky still alight. I don't mind winter's snow and the cold -- in truth, I'm excited by the blizzards that are the vexation of drivers -- but I find afternoon darkness to be disheartening and wearying. Today's realization that the days are getting longer brings energizing hope! Hurray!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Ice Flowers

Adversity draws men together and produces beauty and harmony in life's relationships, just as the cold of winter produces ice-flowers on the window-panes, which vanish with the warmth.
Soren Kierkegaard, Danish philosopher (1813-1855)

On this shiny and bright afternoon Cat called me to the front window. I should explain that Cat is the 'quiet type', she seldom talks so I knew it had to be something important. Peering over her shoulder to see what caught her attention I spotted the beautiful ice crystals along the window's edge. I can only surmise that Cat, sitting on her window perch, wanted to share the beauty of the ice garden with me. Her duty done, she curled up in her bed and fell asleep, blanketed by the sun's warmth.

8 P.M. Update:
The day has ended on a purple note: a happy purple, not the sad purple of Dr. Seuss. Who knew how difficult it would be to create purple? After some worrying moments, Mom and I have just finished cupcakes to take to a bridal shower tomorrow, topping them with some glistening bling in the form of sugar. What fun!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Many Coloured Day

Some days are yellow.
Some are blue.
On different days I'm different too.
You'd be surprised how many ways
I change on Different Colored Days.
On Bright Red Days how good it feels
to be a horse and kick my heels!
On other days I'm other things.
On Bright Blue Days I flap my wings.
Some days, of course, feel sort of Brown.
Then I feel slow and low, low down.
Then comes a Yellow Day and Wheeee
I am a busy, buzzy bee.
Gray Day....Everything is gray. I watch. But nothing moves today. Then all of a sudden I'm a circus seal!
On my Orange Days that's how I feel.
Green Days. Deep deep in the sea. Cool and quite fish. That's me.
On Purple Days I'm sad. I groan. I drag my tail. I walk alone.
But when my days are Happy Pink it's great to jump and just not think.
Then come my Black Days. MAD. And loud. I howl. I growl at every cloud.
Then comes a Mixed-Up Day. And WHAM! I don't know who or what I am!
But it all turns out all right, you see. And I go back to being. . . me.
Dr. Seuss (1904-1991) in My Many Colored Days

What a day! It was full of many colours, beginning even before the Sun was up as car lights shining through the front door forecast a chilly day ahead.

A short while later, the sky glowed pinky mauve and I wondered what was in store.

A few hours later lots of snow arrived, turning everything a bright, clean white -- at least until the snowplows zoomed along the roads -- then things became rather brown. This was one of Dr. Seuss' "Mixed-Up" days full of all sorts of activity muddled together, but that's OK because it all turned out alright and I'm back to my blog being me. ;-)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Supervisor Cat (continued)

Those who sleep under a quilt, sleep under a blanket of love.
Author Unknown

Past posts have featured Cat supervising workmen in Luxor and now she appears closely scrutinizing my quilting work. She takes her job very seriously, usually settling herself on the worktable directly behind my sewing machine; today, however, she felt the need to crawl between the completed and unfinished layers. I remain uncertain of her opinion: does her expression convey satisfaction or reproach? Lesser beings such as I can never truly understand the feline mind.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Stitching Progress

Our lives are like quilts - bits and pieces, joy and sorrow, stitched with love.
Author Unknown

In a week, I've progressed from the blues through the golds to the greens. It is quite satisfying to see my quilt grow and beautifully so. I think I'm addicted (a prevalent predicament from what I've seen among quilters): I'm already contemplating ideas for quilts number two and three. ;-)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Shari Godmother

Know you what it is to be a child? It is to be something very different from the man of today. It is to have a spirit yet streaming from the waters of baptism; it is to believe in love, to believe in loveliness, to believe in belief; it is to be so little that the elves can reach to whisper in your ear; it is to turn pumpkins into coaches, and mice into horses, lowness into loftiness, and nothing into everything, for each child has its fairy godmother in its own soul. 
Francis Thompson, English poet and ascetic (1859–1907) 

Today I was blessed to become the godmother of a precious child whose little being is full of potential. I look forward to being a part of his life as his Shari Godmother.

Fairy godmothers are supposed to work their magic to lighten the spirits and souls of their charges, but this little fellow has worked his magic on me and all who gathered today to witness his baptism. He is a child of God and God has great things planned for him!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Hope for the Future

Children are the world's most valuable resource and its best hope for the future.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy, American president (1917-1963)

I sat amazed watching a two-year-old use an Ipad, learning her numbers, shapes and animals. Although it's a cliche nevertheless it's the truth: she knows far more than I ever did at her age. I could only sense that she'll go on to accomplish great things. I'm excited for her; I'm excited for the future.

And I'm thrilled to meet her little brother, the newest member of the family, who will no doubt charm the world with those eyes and that grin. He's a keeper!

He's an alert little fellow and seemed quite taken with his quilt -- particularly the green elephant that smiled on this blog a few months ago.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Shine On!

Fear less, hope more;
Eat less, chew more;
Whine less, breathe more;
Talk less, say more;
Love more, and all good things will be yours.
Swedish Proverb

Peering through the windshield and a blowing blizzard, I had to smile at the sunny reminder for how to live life. Shine on!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Winter Rain

Raindrops Raindrops
Are such funny things.
They haven't feet or haven't wings.
Yet they sail through the air
With the greatest of ease,
And dance on the street
Wherever they please.
Author Unknown

For the past two days winter rain drops have sparkled from the tips of tree branches -- at least when the Sun was shining -- and each seemed to contain another universe, similar but slightly different from our own. Looking into them gives me a different perspective on life.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


A self does not amount to much, but no self is an island; each exists in a fabric of relations that is now more complex and mobile than ever before.
Jean-Francois Lyotard, French philosopher (1924-1998)

This evening's challenge lay in interweaving fabric swatches to create a complementary whole. The permutations seemed limitless as we exchanged mates, removed those that didn't complement their neighbours only to find better matches across the way, and introduced new bits that had been pulled from the depths of storage bins. Yet none of our mutations seemed "perfect" so the challenge continues. Matchmaking is harder than it looks!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Squaring Corners

Every truth has four corners: as a teacher I give you one corner, and it is for you to find the other three.
Confucius, Chinese philosopher (551-479 BC)

My initiation into the secrets of quilting commenced today with a lesson in squaring corners. There is some profound meaning in squaring corners -- I'm not sure what that meaning is, but I know it's deep and I'll keep searching for it. No doubt my new project will give me plenty of opportunities for practical reflection.

I'm proud of today's learning achievement. Look closely, as every quilter will do, and you will see a mitred corner meeting perfectly at a sharp point. Like Confucius, the instructor walked me through the first corner and then left me to figure out the other three for myself. Thank heavens for the indispensable tool, accurately called the "ripper-outer", which enables second and third attempts for perfection. Come to think of it, there is also something philosophical about ripping out one's work -- one's soul. Ah, there is much to learn. Stay tuned.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Mushrooms Divine

'You rendered us a very important service this morning, sir,' said he (Mr. Pickwick), 'will you allow us to offer a slight mark of our gratitude by begging the favour of your company at dinner?'

'Great pleasure--not presume to dictate, but broiled fowl and mushrooms--capital thing! What time?

Charles Dickens, English novelist (1812-1870), in his first novel The Pickwick Papers

Months ago I wrote of the divine trinity of butter, sugar and vanilla; this evening I discerned another divine food trinity: mushrooms, onion and garlic. I'm quite sure that the Greek gods would have considered their combined aroma bubbling on the skillet as ambrosia; it certainly had my mouth watering. Whether served with broiled chicken as Mr. Pickwick's guest, or combined with rice and pork tenderloin as we enjoyed tonight, mushrooms are divine.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Cheerful Investment

When you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one, and a lily with the other.
Chinese Proverb

From the supermarket, the other day, I brought home a baguette and a daffodil. The baguette has satisfied tummies for a couple of meals while the daffodil, sitting in the centre of the kitchen table, continues to brighten our cloudy mornings. Three dollars can generate a lot of light and warmth when spent on cheerful beauty!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Excitement for a Bargain

A bargain is something you can't use at a price you can't resist.
Franklin P. Jones, American businessman (1887-1929)

The need for some ribbon to dress up a shower gift took Mom and I to the 'superstore' of craft shops where, even before entering, we were greeted by two bins full of colourful spools of Christmas ribbon selling for a dollar each. What unexpected fun we had, standing in the chilly wind, searching for beauties that will adorn Christmas gifts for multiple years to come.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Of Fish and Fishing

Don't stand by the water and long for fish; go home and weave a net.
Chinese Proverb

On Thursdays Dad treats us to fish and chips at the best shop in town. They certainly serve a tasty catch. Now I must go and weave my net of new skills and new approaches to catch some wonderful work; such is a positive start to the new year.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Companion Cat

What greater gift than the love of a cat?
Charles Dickens, English novelist (1812-1870)

I sit with my sewing project on my lap, a cup of tea at my side, and Cat curled up around my neck. Who could ask for more?

Monday, January 2, 2012

Passion in the Backyard

I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says "Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again."
Lewis Carroll, English author (1832-1898), in Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There

Snow brushed the gnarly bark of the tree trunks with sweet, delicate kisses this afternoon that are forecast to lead to a torrent of frosty passion later this evening leading the City of Toronto to issue an "extreme cold weather alert". Ah, Nature's wiles are so entrancing.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A Light Within

A light is gleaming, spreading its arms throughout the night
Living in the light. Come share its gladness,
Love's radiant light is burning bright. Living in the light.

So let us live in the brightness God has giv'n,
And let us rise to see the dawn.
We trust a light within, a sparkle and a blaze,
Warming all our days.
Linnea Good, Canadian singer and song writer, in the hymn "A Light is Gleaming"

As we gathered on New Year's Day to celebrate Epiphany Sunday, our minister asked how many of us had made New Year's resolutions. Not a single hand was raised. Although I have a few (well, maybe more than a few) 'leftover' resolutions from last year, my own hands stayed firmly planted in my lap out of fear that I would have to reveal my good intentions and thereby be held accountable to actually do them. I could envision being asked each Sunday, "So, Shari, how many times did you go to the gym this week?"

With no resolutions proffered by the congregation, our minister then revealed that she had "tricked" us all into making one very important resolution at the commencement of the service when we had recited a Wesleyan New Year Covenant. This resolution is easier said than done, but in resolving to trust the light within, I felt hope and comfort.
I am no longer my own but yours, O God.
Your will, not mine, be done in all things:
wherever you may place me,
in all that I do and in all that I may endure;
when there is work for me and when there is none;
when I am troubled and when I am at peace.
Your will be done when I am valued and when I am disregarded;
when I find fulfillment and when it is lacking;
when I have all things and when I have nothing.
I willingly offer all that I have and am to serve you as and where you choose.
Glorious and blessed Triune God,
Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer,
you are mine and I am yours.
May it be so forever. Amen.