August Interlude

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Daylilies amongst the fading bleeding hearts

My favourite months are July and September, but oh how reflective and pensive I get about August. From the number of quotes and literary references I was able to find about August, I must not be alone!

“The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning.” – Natalie Babbitt

I am also defensive about all that is still left of summer, but yet the feeling of summer slipping away begins nonetheless.

“The arrival of August means that summer is drawing to a close, and that’s exactly why it should be embraced.” – Amanda McArthur

“Don’t let your August be four weeks of feeling sad that fall is right around the corner.” – Jasmine Vaughn-Hall

My garden takes on a different mood as the late bloomers make their midsummer statement. The hummingbirds have returned to the feeders which suggests the waning abundance of blooms. And of course, the crickets start to sing on cue.

“The crickets felt it was their duty to warn everybody that summertime cannot last forever. Even on the most beautiful days in the whole year – the days when summer is changing into autumn – the crickets spread the rumor of sadness and change.” – E.B. White

“Caught in the doldrums of August we may have regretted the departing summer, having sighed over the vanished strawberries and all that they signified.” – Denis Mackail

As I write this, it is about the midpoint of August — but I have pushed the doldrums away and I am still eating lots of fresh blueberries (just excellent this year!). While summer fades, I find it also energizes me. What must I plan to do or savour before we really say goodbye to summer? I am sure there are others who would agree with me that August would be the better time to make “new year’s resolutions”.

“August is a time of growing up, of forgotten forevers, full of the sweetest intent.” – Meka Boyle

The previous two summers during the pandemic seem like a forgotten blur already. I hope this August is a pleasant interlude of seasonal wonders and is also followed by much happier seasons ahead. If thinking and writing could make it so….

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Nothing Good Comes Easy

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Somehow I was drawn to this song with the same title I have used for this post. (Also the first I had heard of this western Canadian band.)

Our family has often discussed how it has felt like “nothing has been easy” since and also separate from the pandemic lately. As we continue to encourage our adult children to keep plugging through challenges and their efforts to improve their lives, careers and relationships, I thought the lyrics of this song might be inspiring for them, or anyone really (lyrics are in text below the video). The lead singer of the band also talks about the song’s meaning here.

While I was looking more into this rock song, I discovered a number of different songs with this same title! This led me to more listening, inspiration, and certainly an interesting mix of artists and genres! Rock, rap, electronic, and country — Here are a few below in videos (with lyrics where available).

“It’s always music that I run to when my life gets confusin’ ..”

If you have had a listen to some, let me know what you have liked or which one is your favourite. All the musicians are from Canada, except for the McClymonts (Australia). Do you have a song that helps you when you wish things were easier? Does it help you push through to reach a good outcome? Do you believe that “nothing good comes easy”? Do you know any multiple songs with the same title?

When it all comes together…

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When it all comes together for a good cause…

I came across a 2020 Pittsburgh Earth Day anthem by Voices for the Earth a little late for the day, but I enjoyed checking it out nonetheless.  I enjoy listening to many covers or remakes of songs in general, but this particular anthem is a Melanie Safka original, Lay Down (Candles in the Rain).  I can’t say the song is in my top 5 favourites of Melanie’s, but it was a breakthrough hit of hers in the U.S. in 1970.  She wrote it after performing (in the rain) at Woodstock (1969) and being inspired by the experience and the audience.

I thought the video of the “behind the scenes” in the making of this new version (50 years later) was very impressive and well done.

 

Melanie’s 1970 recording of it was a collaboration with the Edwin Hawkins Singers (usually known for their 1969 hit, Oh Happy Day).  This video starts with an interview about her inspiration for the song and her vision to include a gospel choir, followed by a live performance in The Netherlands:

 

Hope you enjoyed both (Melanie fan or not 🙂 )  I think it is cool how and why both recordings of the song came together — 50 years apart.

“And we all sang the songs of peace… “

Old Music and Lyrics

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Full title could be, “Old music and lyrics that align with current times now”.

In my previous post, I linked my thoughts and writing about the current pandemic to a Melanie song.  It turns out that I am not the only one who has had lyrics of Melanie’s songs come to mind during this pandemic.  I am a member of a Facebook group of Melanie fans and at some point I noticed others posting “Melanie-isms”, as in songs and lyrics that resonated with them since self-isolation and physical distancing.

Although many of Melanie’s songs can be on the melancholic side, I still had a few playing to cheer me up and fill my time at home lately.  I decided to collect and share more of the lyrics that came to mind and matched the current times for me.  Many of these songs were written decades ago, of course (although Melanie is still performing many of them).  I will include YouTube links for my own archive and in case anyone else wants to listen to the whole song.

I would have to start with Alone Together (a favourite live performance here)

We’re believers, we’ve been hurt by believing
Needing people, we know looking’s not seeing
I see needs that might be answered by forever
Together on our own
Let’s be together alone

Next, Ring The Living Bell, because the title of the song and chorus have a positive vibe that cut though some of the sad news. I first heard it on an album, but this is a great live version.

Ring the living bell, ring the living bell
Shine the living light

Beautiful People is beautiful any time.

Beautiful people
You ride the same subway
As I do ev’ry morning
That’s got to tell you something
We’ve got so much in common
I go the same direction that you do
So if you take care of me
Maybe I’ll take care of you

I just realized that the title of my previous post could connect to two songs: Here I Am and Again.

From Again,

Nothing for me to do
But be alone
Tonight
Maybe I’ll sit and write
‘Cause if I don’t
The ones I met won’t
Be my friends for life

I love singing out loud to this one:  The Good Guys.

But if we keep on trying
Though our purpose isn’t clear
We just may move the universe
We’ll learn to really care

Eventually the whole facade
Becomes more than a whim
By starting to build on the outside
We’re gonna fill up the walls within

It was easy to think of this one, title and lyrics:  Save Me.

Take my dreams on vacation to a room with a view
Out the window all I see is the space inside of me
That could be filled with you

And easy to think this at times: We Don’t Know Where We’re Going.

And we don’t know what it is
And we don’t know where we’re goin’

Bound together by something
But we don’t know what it is
And we don’t know where we’re goin’

I think this one comes to mind more when I listen to White House briefings 😀 — Stop! I Don’t Wanna’ Hear It Anymore.

Now all the things that you defend, are what you hide behind…. Oh, Stop…

Although a song about dying, it has an upbeat vibe about life and living, Life Will Not Go Away.

You can’t take it with you but there is this little part
That goes and continues in the realm of the heart
So rejoice in living and let the music play
Life will not go away!

And for fun, Jigsaw Puzzle.  It was originally written by Mick Jagger, but I have always preferred Melanie’s cover of it.

I’m just trying to do … a little jigsaw puzzle…

I am going to end with, Smile.

Wear it well and it could appear in your heart
Indelibly printed on someone a world apart
Lights in the window all through our darkest day
Human kindness outdistances being afraid

And I love people who smile
If everybody smiles, we’ll have a hometown all over the world

If you have made it to the end of this “playlist”, I would be happy to hear about your connections to old songs or lyrics that may have comforted you recently.

I thought this was an interesting article about something else that is going with lyrics of songs now.  Sub-headline:

Snippets of songs are often becoming popular faster than the songs themselves….

 

 

Good Tree Stories

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It’s almost that time of year when you will probably get asked, “Got your tree up yet?”.  You may have already been engaged in a debate as to when the appropriate date is for such.

I have read a couple of good tree stories this week in online news.  One was about a tree in Nova Scotia that Doug Peterson shared amongst his good variety of daily tweets.  The other from my home town.  Both trees were selected and donated for the purpose of an annual Christmas tradition.

The tree in Nova Scotia was headed for Boston after an official public send-off in Halifax.  There was also a cutting ceremony with a school community.  Enjoy the story here.  For this province:

The tree is a thank-you gift to Boston for sending medical personnel and supplies after 2,000 were killed and hundreds more affected by the Halifax explosion of Dec. 6, 1917.”

The tree in Kenora was headed for downtown.  Even though I moved from Kenora over 30 years ago, I still like hearing about the annual tree going up near the end of Main St.  Enjoy the story (print and audio link) of this year’s donation by a family in the community:  Here’s the Main St. Christmas Tree!  What a beauty! Recent news updates inform me that the tree is now up and the lighting ceremony will be held on Nov. 22. (A good article here about the history and recent stories of Kenora’s Main St. tree.)

I understand that not everyone will be comfortable with a live, healthy tree being cut down.  Yet, these tree stories reveal such joy and community spirit.  For me, it isn’t Christmas until the real tree is up.

Please share any similar community tree stories you know!

 

Who Knows…?

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Where does the time go? Who knows where the time goes.. ?

Who hasn’t expressed a similar statement like that?  I recall adults saying it when I was younger and now I catch myself saying and wondering it.

Where does a decade go?!  Two decades? I often tell my adult children to enjoy and cherish their 20s, as each decade seems to go faster after that.  Why is that?  Is it a thing?  (Check out this interesting post by Matthew Oldridge that helps answer that).  We can take the time as young adults for granted — I know I am guilty.  But maybe it is supposed to be that way — why worry about life going too fast when you have youth and time on your side?  Just live it, as one never knows…

It was by chance and curiosity that I discovered the music of Sandy Denny recently.  She had been a lead singer in a few early British folk bands.  One of her songs really stuck with me for some reason:  Who Knows Where The Time Goes?  Maybe it was the title…  maybe it was because the singer also died young (at 31, I learned).  Or maybe because my daughter’s best friend since high school died unexpectedly this past summer at the age of 22.  Although quite melancholy, the music and lyrics were comforting when I had a listen.  I read that it was one of her “signature” songs.  I think Judy Collins is also known for her cover of it, but I prefer Sandy Denny’s original.

Lyrics: Who Knows Where The Time Goes?

Across the evening sky, all the birds are leaving
But how can they know it’s time for them to go?
Before the winter fire, I will still be dreaming
I have no thought of time
For who knows where the time goes?
Who knows where the time goes?
Sad, deserted shore, your fickle friends are leaving
Ah, but then you know it’s time for them to go
But I will still be here, I have no thought of leaving
I do not count the time
For who knows where the time goes?
Who knows where the time goes?
And I am not alone while my love is near me
I know it will be so until it’s time to go
So come the storms of winter and then
The birds in spring again
I have no fear of time
For who knows how my love grows?
And who knows where the time goes?

I enjoy the version she sang while a member of the band called Fairport Convention:

Although Sandy Denny died 40 years ago, there have been a few recent articles written that speak well of her musical talents and contributions during her short life.

The Delicate Artistry Of Sandy Denny

Sandy Denny was the most outstanding female singer that Britain has produced

She also did a number of Bob Dylan covers, if you wish to have a listen to:  Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door

My perspective about time has shifted over the years and decades, but also recently again.  How I look at the past and present and the future has changed, but in a good way.

Chocolate by Trial and Error

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It all started with a craving for chocolate.  And pie.

Since it was close to Christmas, I decided on making a dessert that would have both chocolate and mint.  I turned to my trustworthy Company’s Coming (Jean Paré) cookbook collection.  In “Pies“, I found a recipe for Chocolate Mint Pie.  I don’t care for too much mint in baked goodies but this recipe claimed, “Just the right amount of mint”, so… I quickly set about making and baking the suggested graham cracker crust first:

Nutty Graham Cracker Crust: Melt 1/3 cup of butter in saucepan.  Stir in 1 cup of graham cracker crumbs, 1/4 cup finely chopped nuts (almonds or walnuts — I used walnuts) and 1/4 cup packed brown sugar.  Press onto sides and bottom of a 9 inch pie plate.  Bake in 350 F oven for 10 to 12 min. Cool.

I was on a roll…

Then I noticed that the filling called for eggs, but no further baking of the pie required.  Just beat, mix and chill.  I have long since stopped using recipes with raw eggs.  I just can’t do it.  So now what?  I was determined to fill this yummy cooled crust!  And hopefully with chocolate!  Maybe some mint…

I reviewed a number of recipes online but eventually turned back to the same cookbook.  There was another recipe for a “No-Crust Fudge Pie”.  Hmmm.  The filling looked good, but no mint.  It required eggs, but it did require further baking in the oven.  This recipe made the claim for a moist fudgy center that “satisfies a longing for a chocolate dessert”.  So I am winging it now….

The Filling:

Beat 3 eggs in mixing bowl until smooth.  Add 1 1/4 cup of sugar, 1/4 of flour, and vanilla.  (The recipe called for 1 tsp. but I reduced it to 1/2.. **to be explained). Beat to mix.

Melt chocolate squares ( 3 x 1 oz., unsweetened, cut up) and 1/2 cup of butter in small saucepan over low heat.  **Add 1/2 tsp. of peppermint extract.  I was determined 🙂  Add to egg mixture and beat until mixed.

This is when the recipe says to pour the filling right into a greased pie plate, but I have a crust…

I still followed the suggested baking time:  350 F oven for about 35 minutes.

It turned out great! Lovely texture, light and crisp top layer, and rich in the middle!  A No-crust Fudge Pie with a great crust (and a nice hint of peppermint)!  It was yummy, with or without ice-cream or whipped cream on top.

I had to write out the variations I made to the recipes somewhere before I forget what I did, so I chose my blog.  I am sure I have a few readers who might be on the lookout for a good chocolate fix!  So if you trust my judgement in creating this pie…

I welcome other chocolate recipes… please suggest your true and tried.. or invented!  Happy Holidays!

 

 

 

Cookbook Attachment

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I saw a post from Gastro Obscura calling out for submissions:  “Tell us about your most unusual cookbook”.  I didn’t plan to submit one, but I remained somewhat curious.  It prompted me to see if Doug Peterson wanted the topic of cookbooks for his “Whatever Happened to…?” series on his blog.  His readers had some fun interacting with Doug’s take on the topic and his questions here.  Nothing like food and cooking to start up a conversation and spark some memories!

Eventually I returned to the Gastro Obscura website to check out what came together.  There are some interesting and unusual cookbook examples featured for sure in that follow-up post.

In my (long) comment on Doug’s post, I mentioned that I should probably write my own post on the topic.  I have noticed that the topic of cookbooks often brings up stories of “first cookbooks” and stories about when cooking becomes cooking for two (remember the old saying, “The best way to a man’s heart…”, but let’s move on…).  I enjoy stories about favourite go-to cookbooks and recipes that get passed down and shared amongst family members.  It can be a such a strong connection to our past and our loved ones.

I have a very old cookbook meant for kids called Kitchen Fun.  It was my mother’s.  I am not sure how long she had it, but she still used it at times when she cooked for our family.  Most of our suppers would include a meat dish, but sometimes she would pull out that cookbook and make “Yummy Eggs”.  I found it to be a great treat.  Those beaten eggs (with butter) cooked in a “double boiler” were so tasty and fluffy!  I had forgotten that the recipe was from that kids’ cookbook until I received it after my mom’s passing.  The hard cover is worn and stained, as are many of the pages.  I was thrilled to find information about it online since — it was published in 1932 and one can still get a copy or a revised edition through Amazon or eBay (at the time I searched for it).  I also found some blog posts about it!

This blog post has a few good pictures and some interesting details about it.  I had a good giggle at this part,

I have a friend who was a pioneering food writer, and she told me she made the recipe for “Yummy Eggs” from Kitchen Fun on her honeymoon.”

Another blog post shows a few of the vintage cookbook’s pages — I always loved the graphic symbols of ingredients and the measurements required to help young cooks.  This post also mentions “Yummy Eggs”!  Both posts claim that it is a great cookbook for children to use.  (Is it “cookbook” or “cook book”?)

If you were to ask my adult children about “Yummy Eggs”, they would likely tell you that it is a dish their mom made for a quick supper on Halloween night to make sure they had some protein before going out… 😀

I am pleased to see that my adult daughters are developing skills and a good interest in cooking.  I would hope that I would have the same expectations if I had sons.  At times I hear that young adults are not interested in cooking and it gives me some concern.  I hope that is not the general case!  I know it can get very boring and tedious at times, but don’t complain to me unless you have been cooking for over 20 years 🙂

Is there a good “recipe” to keep children and young adults interested in cooking?  Is it still important?  Share your thoughts, or a good story!

And if you wish to try Yummy Eggs… I also have the easy recipe written out on a recipe card:

 

 

The Cover Debate

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I thought this tweet was both funny and engaging (and the numbers reveal…):

I had a scroll through the responses a few times out of curiosity.  It was Matthew Oldridge’s tweet that led me down initially…

I am not certain if the debate was settled, but I can easily think of covers that I like better than the original.  I might be biased if a cover is by a favourite musician though.  I am sure most people will have a listen to anything a favourite singer or band puts together.  It is likely a very subjective thing.  For example (from responses to the tweet):  The Man Who Sold the World — Bowie or Nirvana?

While there are many songs that I think could not be covered better than the artist’s original version (e.g.  Neil Young’s Harvest Moon, Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here, many songs by the Beatles…), there are many covers of songs that I appreciate and some that I only began to enjoy as a cover.

I thought of a few “oldies”:  I didn’t really care for the song Young Folks (by Peter, Bjorn and John) until I heard (sorry) James Blunt’s cover.  Bob Dylan was before my time and I am not really drawn to his voice, but I am glad that many covers of his songs by others have helped me appreciate his talent.  I didn’t care much for Mick Jagger’s Ruby Tuesday and Jigsaw Puzzle, but I love Melanie’s covers of each.  (If you wish to compare.. here and here).  I equally love James Taylor’s original of Carolina In My Mind and Melanie’s cover of the same.  (Thanks to Denise for the reminder of that beautiful “JT” one!)

Some songs get so many covers, for example, Something Just Like This by the Chainsmokers and Coldplay.  I find the original both catchy and annoying, but then I stumbled upon this cover and it appealed to me.  It would be difficult not to appreciate the effort and talent in that cover.  Someone else also commented on the video, “Better than the original..”

I love discovering new music to enjoy and I also like it when good stuff gets attention again through covers.

Please share a favourite cover, or your thoughts on covers!

I have also posted a few times in the past on this blog related to covers:

Dancing in the Dark — Then and Now

Behind Blue Eyes – Then and Now

Pass the jam

Poetry, man.

Re-Purpose – Part 2

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I didn’t plan to think and write so much about purpose, but I keep coming across interesting related reading so I pick up the thread again…. (“Part 1” here)

An HBR article, You Don’t Find Your Purpose — You Build It, discussed 3 misconceptions about finding purpose in life and each one presents good reminders.  I liked the message that our lives will have multiple sources of purpose that will also provide multiple sources of meaning to our lives.

I read another article that lists 11 myths about finding your purpose.  The author posted a subsequent follow up article that lists 11 Ways to Know When You’ve Found Your Purpose.  I found this statement from the list somewhat encouraging,

And when you find your purpose, when you find the thing that you’ve been preparing for your whole life, you will look back and realize it wasn’t a waste of your time and effort at all.”

Maybe many people are doing “the work” of finding purpose without realizing and without any pressure or stress.  Do we dwell on it too much?  Is it “oversold”?  At what age do we start to worry about our life’s purpose? At what age should we?  How many different stages or repurposes are there in a lifetime?

I thought this was a good article for parents with teens and young adults, Adolescence and Repurposing One’s Life.  I hadn’t thought about stages of growth and independence in terms of a “repurposing” before.  From the article,

So, at both the outset and end of adolescence, interest, meaning, direction, and challenge may need to be altered to redefine and reinvigorate sense of purpose for the next leg of the journey through life.”

With recent news again of another mass shooting at a school, it leaves me with many questions about how an individual may come to believe that their purpose includes such violence.  Complicated and very sad.

I have noticed that the words meaning and purpose are often used interchangeably in regards to one’s life and choices.  I found this 11 min. video thought-provoking about the past and the future:  30000 Days – Living Life with Meaning & Purpose.

I welcome your thoughts on my questions, or links to other related reading on this topic.

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