Children of the Snow

New Brunswick New Years week
Snow falling hurricane style
Nor’easter they say – it’s just
White and swirling and
The flames on the log in the
Woodstove dance to the
Music of Leonard Cohen playing
In surround-sound from a
Tribute concert and I’m alright
Now.

Thoughts of when I first heard
These words come back in
Snap shot glimpses of my children
My daughter holding a snow globe
Up to the falling snow and wishing
Her grandpa could come home
Angels in the snow
Ice skates on a polished
Mississauga rink.

Son on skis up and down a
Pakenham hill flying free
In goggles and bundled against
The cold and snowshoes on
Trekking to the ice caves where
A small troupe of Cubs and
Tic Tac and I curled up in
Sleeping bags while the ground
Shook from an earthquake
That we survived cold and wet in
Parc Lafleche Quebec.

Seems I blinked and suddenly
I’m in my 50s boldly going
Forward on my own and
Those days seem so long ago
And just like yesterday
So for now I treasure
Those small moments
Warm percolating
Back through time
Each of us in our grown up
Far flung spots in Canada
We
Children of the Snow.

©January 4, 2018 Catherine M. Harris
All rights reserved.

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Cathi’s Comments for December 31, 2017


I’m a day late writing this, mainly because a big part of me wasn’t sure I even wanted to post it. But then I thought, why shouldn’t I? If I go back to my very first Cathi’s Comments there’s a whole lot of water under the bridge, so much soul searching not only in the time when I posted almost every day, but also I’m constantly doing that in my essays and poetry and in a more abstract way in my fiction. So yes of course I should post my thoughts on this god-forsaken year.

I’ve been depressed since late last summer and I’m doing my best to keep my head enough above water to keep functioning and on really good days, be laughing but it isn’t easy. I try to look always at the possibilities of things but again its hard when the outcomes all seem kind of dark. When that silver lining is just aluminum foil, what do you do? For me I look at the causes then figure out what, if anything, I can do to make stuff better and if I can’t, what to do to get out of the situation. I’ve got a lot situations right now.

In short they are: family, money, work, perception of self, future of my career. Kinda heavy stuff. So let’s see: it’s a long story but one year I made enough because of one-time payments (one of which I paid back at gross for over two years) put me in a higher tax bracket. I owed taxes but in a few years this would go down by itself because I always get tax back. This August I found out I was losing 30% of my net pay for almost a year. Add to that the acting position I’d been doing for over 2 years was ended and I went back down two levels at the end of October. Somewhere in all of this there are still bills to be paid and I really don’t want to or even know how to get a part time job here. Jim tried for 3 years for a part time job before he gave up. I’m not sure what I’m going to do so I’m just putting my faith in the fact there’s always something that saves me just before I go over the brink. I just have to find it.

Family: it’s no secret there’s people in my family who won’t have anything to do with me. Why? Because I don’t fit the mould, and they won’t listen to my explanations of why my life has gone the way it has. I don’t live up to their expectations, and they didn’t listen to me so they’ve made up stuff that unfortunately is now being fed to other people which I find out about of course. If any of them read my essays or my comments they’d know what they think is wrong, but they don’t. Unfortunately I find myself in another situation where I’m blamed again for things that are misinterpretations. Rather than listen to my explanations, it’s discounted and erroneous stuff is believed. And it hurts to be in that situation. Nevertheless, I won’t apologize for falsehoods and for decisions I made for reasons that people don’t know the whole story of. I also am very good at keeping secrets. Where it’s important I won’t be telling the whole story even if it hurts me. So there we are. I can only be who I am, live my life the way I see fit, and if people really want to lay down the sword and actually come talk to me and then believe me when I tell my truth then maybe there’ll be some hope. I’m not holding my breath. It’s just that this year someone I didn’t expect did the same thing to me and so yes, I’m at a loss because if they aren’t willing to understand the truth as I lived it, well…. That one came out of left field because I honestly thought they knew
me better than that. So I can only let the ache die down and carry on.

Work and perception of self are kind of tied in together though perception of self is also a part of my family issues. Here’s the thing: I’m 55. I have officially 36 years service in my employment though it’s actually a little longer. Now I could – and did if you remember 5 years ago – retire. Thing is, as much as I want to, I can’t. I still have bills to pay that go back to when my ex and I split up 16 years ago if you can believe that. It’s almost paid off but it’s still there. I can’t retire really until all my bills are paid off and I have enough to live on for at least a year, preferably a year and a half. That’s how long it’s taking to get pensions these days, not everyone but many and I have no doubt I’d be one of the ones waiting and living on nothing. For me to pay off stuff I need to get paid properly. I also need not to be paying back pay at gross or back taxes at insane percentages. I need to be in a job that pays consistently at the level I have been for the better part of the last 8 years but for some reason can’t be it officially. A couple of years ago I was told “hey you came in third (for a promotion that had 2 positions) but you’ll have lots of acting. It’s all just pensionable time, you have 4 years to go don’t you?” (this is paraphrasing but the words are the same). To me that was age discrimination but to nobody else I’ve complained to it is. I was recently put on a waiting list for a course I needed for my certification after someone told me they told the person organizing the course I didn’t need it because I had 35 years service. It was one of the last ones I did need for the certification. I complained. At least that one got corrected and I took the course. Then came the news that the new way of hiring is based on pools, and the pools were “upping the bar” – you had to have a degree, a diploma or certification. Gone was the high school with x years of relevant experience. Last summer I was an expert. Now I’m nothing. So if I wanted to apply for my job at the moment, I couldn’t. So much for 36 years of my life devoted to what I do. This hurts. A lot. I have some things to still do for certification but it’s hard when my heart isn’t in it, knowing they don’t really want me. Maybe it’s the depression talking but that’s how it feels.

The thing is, 55 isn’t old. Most places you can’t retire before 65. Many people of my age range who would like to retire and even are allowed to at full pension simply can’t because life got really expensive 30 years ago and it hasn’t stopped. We’re the people who were crazy enough to buy houses at 20% interest rates, who saw credit cards go up to ridiculous levels and wages get frozen so we used them, especially when our marriages went down the tubes. So yeah, freedom 55 is a pipe dream for an awful lot of people. And most of us reject the notion that 55 is old, especially when we’re healthy. My mom is 98 years old. Don’t put me out to pasture yet, in many ways I’m still just starting.

I am pleased with myself in that I did submit to the CBC Creative Non-Fiction contest – I didn’t win but it feels awfully good have submitted. This can be read at mrssauga.wordpress.com under Essays. I also submitted to the CBC Short Story contest for the first time in a few years. I don’t expect to win but I will say the same disclaimer I do with all my fiction: it’s fiction, if you want the truth read my essays; and, my mother is wonderful person who has been a strength in my life, the character in the story is not my mother 🙂 You’ll get to read it whenever it’s rejected or if they accept it, when it’s published.

I’ve also been painting (in the middle of a painting called Ben After The Rain), and playing my guitar again. I’m still working on other writing and yes, I keep saying this but I do intend to update this web site to something more relevant to me now.

Here’s hoping that 2018 is the year I reverse all this nonsense and my money and career problems are solved. I can dream can’t I? I wish every one the very best and I truly hope that you live your life with compassion, show empathy for others and maybe just try to put yourself in someone’s footsteps before you react. Things are never as they seem. Remember that.

À la prochaine,

Cathi …..

Predictions for 2018

Here’s my annual “looking ahead” exercise. I’ve explained what I do before but first, this is something I do mainly for amusement. Since I’m sometimes right I do post them because I was told I should by friends. So here they are.

Basically what I do is a form of remote viewing but it’s my own form, something I’ve done for as long I can remember which is: clear the mind, think of a date or a season or a place in the future and basically describe what’s happening. Who is there? Who isn’t? For my year end thing I think of the end of December 2018, and then imagine I’m reading a news year end wrap up. That’s pretty much it. Take it for what it is, which is imagination.

However, just for fun, why don’t you try that and see what happens? Don’t forget to write it down 🙂

Here goes:

  1.   Rolling rivers of lava or mud – this is a major disaster but I don’t know if it is volcanic or a landslide or a tsunami.  It’s swampy muddy thick and wet, grey colour and scary to look at.
  2. Not long after Harry and Meghan get married they will announce a pregnancy.  I think it’s twins – a boy and a girl.  They will have several children in short succession over the next few years.
  3. Something about the mineral gold.  I see raw chunks and gold bars, lots of them.  I have no idea what this means.
  4. White mountain flowers in green grass.  Switzerland in the summertime, there’s an earthquake?  Shaking ground.  There’s also something about the Hadron colider but I’m not sure if it causes this or is shut down as a precaution for a few weeks because of this event.  Not a deadly thing, just a bit worrying.
  5. There’s a widespread outbreak in North American that has a rash (looks like measles?) and is somewhat drug resistant and there will be some deaths.
  6. Something about a 3 wheeled bicycle tour around the world.  The world is fascinated by this journey – it’s a 30ish year old woman.
  7. Weather – there’s a big tsunami in the same area as the previous huge tsunami, but this time people are a little more prepared, still an awful lot of damage.  Japan is involved here.  Overall this looks like a year of volcanic activity, earthquakes and lots of water again.  The drought is worsening and will continue in California and smoke in the atmosphere will cause cooling in the US west.  There’s earthquake activity on the west coast of North America as well as a serious one in Chile.
  8. Politics – a lot of upheaval.  The US will continue to be unstable for the whole year.  The middle east is building up for a break out against old ways?
  9. It looks like Canada will have a good year economically, and our weather won’t be as extreme as elsewhere.  There is a hurricane that touches the east coast, and it will be a hot and dry summer in the east.  The oil industry is beginning to shut down and some new companies are starting up in Alberta and Saskatchewan to bring inexpensive energy for home uses.
  10. A female politician dies suddenly.  Don’t know who.
  11. A very popular religious leader pops up – young man.  He isn’t what he seems:  “snake-oil salesman” comes to mind.  In general though, people are turning away from fundamentalism, and more towards humanism.
  12. A heartbreaking death of a young child (infant?) – known around the world, seems very unnecessary and is a tipping point for something.  Female, known because of who her parents are (not the royal couple, other people).

Have a wonderful 2018 everyone, and please, show compassion in everything you do.

Cathi

#MeToo – A Poem

Hidden memories, buried darkly
Best not to ponder over, just move on
That’s what I grew up with.

Little girl me who said she was a tomboy
Two unknown young men
Attempted something to a friend and I
We were six or so.
They didn’t really get to try
What I think they wanted
Before we got away
But I saw enough to know:
This is dangerous.

Later on, modelling was my thing
Dreaming of acting, it all went well
Until I was told I’d have to be nice
To clients so I asked what that meant
I was told it was do what they want.
Thanks but no thanks said I and
That was the end of the modelling career.

Buses have been places
To stand on guard
From hands on my bum to
A hand on my thigh
Not a nice way to go home at
The end of the day.

One going home meant
Being followed by a stranger
From the elevator –
I ran and got in the door
But he kept trying to break in
The police could do nothing
Eventually they said I
Must be making it up
Because he was always gone
Before they got there.
I moved.

How about the stranger
In a store who
Asked a question
Then copped a feel?
The clerk told me they’d
Call the police.
Don’t bother I said,
I know how that goes.

One gigantic boss took a photo then
Pushed me into a filing cabinet
And grabbed my boobs and
I froze, terrified.

Another coworker liked to
Grab a cheek as I walked
Upstairs in front of him.

Another thought a Christmas hug
Meant a kiss and shoving a tongue
Down my throat.

Yet another gleefully told me
Of the wonderful dreams he had
Of me.
In detail.

Those are the ones at the top
Of my head.

If it’s any consolation this
Has died down a bit
Since I’ve gotten older.

Sadly just reading all the
#MeToo posts I’m sorry to say
No, it most definitely
Has not gone away.

Here’s my small voice to the pile.

(c) Catherine M. Harris, Nov. 3, 2017

 

 

Eggplant Chicken Instant Pot Pasta

20170925_eggplant pasta

This is a one pot meal.  The Instant Pot is great for making spaghetti and sauce meals so why not add fresh vegetables?  Here’s my experiment.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground chicken or turkey
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 2 cups chopped and peeled eggplant
  • 1 cup chopped zuccinni
  • 1/4 chopped red or green pepper (or both)
  • 1 square of frozen chopped spinach (that’s about a cup frozen or cooked)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • Italian Seasoning to taste (I put about 1 tbsp)
  • 1 tsp chopped garlic
  • 1/2 can of diced tomatoes (400 mg/14 oz)
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup spaghetti sauce
  • 1 cup pasta
  • 1 bay leaf
  • parmesean, salt, pepper to taste

Instructions

Cook the ground turkey in oil on sauté (about 10 minutes).  Push the ground meat aside, add a little more oil or liquid if necessary to deglaze the pot, saute the garlic for a minute then add the chopped vegetables and sauté for 3 or 4 minutes just to soften.  Add the spices, liquids and pasta.  Cook manual on high for 8 minutes.  NPR for 4 minutes.

Note:  This is all approximate because it really is to taste – adjust the liquids if you want soupier or drier; also the time should be adjusted depending on the type of pasta and how soft you want it.  Basic thing is 2 cups liquid to 1 cup pasta, in general it’s 8 minutes manual to cook.  I put longer because I was using macaroni and I need to make it on the soft side so when I did 10 minutes it was very soft – 8 is better.

 

 

Lady Ashburnham Pickles

20170924_pickle2

There’s a story behind these pickles:  http://www.heritagefredericton.org/node/197 .  The reason for me making these is that they are a local signature food, and last year I had purchased a lady ashburnham cucumber out of curiosity because it was huge.  It was also a bit sour so I wondered what purpose they had.

This year I found the story and the recipe so I went back to our wonderful Country Pumpkin https://www.facebook.com/Moxons-Country-Pumpkin-404378682958393/  where I found the cucumber last year.  It’s the only place I’ve seen those cucumbers.  They’re also the only place I’ve seen potato squash (delicious, I stocked up this year).

Next was trying the recipe.  There are several versions which is why I’m posting what I did so I can add my middle of the road attempt.  The Barbour Cookbook is one of the sources quoted online as that person’s source.  I’m not familiar with that cookbook but I will look for it.

Ingredients

  • 6 large cucumbers, peeled and seeded
  • 4 cups combination of onion, red pepper, cauliflower
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 2 cups vinegar
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp mustard powder
  • 1 tbsp tumeric
  • 1 tsp mustard seed
  • 1 tsp celery seed

Instructions

Wash, peel, seed and chop the cucumbers finely (relish style).  Cover with the 1/4 cup salt and let sit overnight.  Drain and rinse the cucumber.  Put in pot.

In a bowl mix together the spices and sugar, stir in the vinegar.  When well disolved add to the cucumber and the 4 cups of chopped vegetables and bring to boil.  Cook on medium for 1 hour.

20170924 pickle1

Wash and sterilize the jars and lids.  Fill your jars and do a 10 minute hot water bath then tighten lids.  Let sit for a few weeks to set and serve.

Makes 6 500ml (1/2 pint) jars.

Note:  You can chose whatever vegetables such as green peppers and carrots or just use cucumber and onion.  The amount of sugar seems to be to taste because I’ve seen recipes with 4 cups.  Personally I don’t like very sweet pickles so I was pleased with the taste of the 2 cup version when I mixed it together. I found this recipe very liquidy, I’m not sure if I should have used more salt or perhaps smaller pickles but we’ll see later on after it’s set.

Also, if you’re not familiar with making pickles that are jarred (not refrigerator pickles) and aren’t sure how to sterilize or what a hot water bath is, please see this site before attempting any pickling:  http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can6b_pickle.html.

Magnetic Shifts

This is a great big world
We live in, you and I
Footsteps falling on earth
Joined by molecules and miles
We are all connected.

Once we were too
Blood is blood after all –
We were close or
So I thought;
Turns out
We’re not.

You won’t see this
I don’t expect you to
I won’t apologize
For doing right by you
Even if you think
Otherwise
Right now.

Someday when the dust settles
When misdemeanors turned
Epic tales of horrible thoughts
Are calmed and
A little bit of fond remembrance
Trickles in
I hope you think kindly of me.

I said this before:
You can only be you
I can only be me
And that’s how it is.

Time is a fickle creature
Endless and long at first
There comes a day you wonder
How did those ten years
So swiftly disappear?

The Earth is huge
There are infinite places to hide
If you choose to
But sometimes just next door
Is more distant than Lac Marville
Time and space is funny that way.

Magnetic shifts –
What is close
Gets pushed away
Until the pole turns.

Well, this is where you’ll
Find me
Just where I’ve been
All along.

©Catherine M. Harris, 14-September-2017