MY LONG AND WONDERFUL LIFE WITH THE WIZARD OF OZ

 

There  was never a moment in my life I wasn’t aware of  the story of Dorothy and The Wizard of Oz.     In that quiet time  when the evening becomes a silvery twilight, and I was very very young,  my Mother would read to me.   It was the children’s hour.  And this book.  This fairy tale of witches and wizard.  This story of a brave girl and her trio of unlikely saviours became an integral part of both my childhood  and my adult years.

My own copy of the book,  The Wizard of Oz,  was long lost.   For many  years I  searched for it.    I few weeks ago I discovered a copy of the book  waiting patiently for me on a Thrift Shop shelf.  Not just any book but but one published in l931. The book cover was a little worn.  The edges of the  pages  a little foxed.  But the coloured illustrations are as bright and vivid as I remembered them.

The movie The Wizard of Oz was released in 1939.  Up until that time our Saturday afternoons movies (generally Westerns)   were in  black and white.   To sit and watch the Oz movie turn from black and white to magical, brilliant colour was an experience I will never forget.   I really was in the land of Oz.  And all those years later Oz is still very much a part of me.

Nine years old and I would settle for nothing but red shoes.    I was obsessed with the ruby slippers Dorothy wore  in the movie.   In the 1940’s children’s shoes were special occasion black patent Mary- Jane’s  or  brown leather lace ups for school.  There was very little choice in  small town in Northern Saskatchewan.  I found red leather shoes in our only department store – Eaton’s.   Unfortunately a size to large.  I was  desperate for them.  My obliging Father had a shoemaker sew  a strap on  so I wouldn’t walk out of my  beautiful red shoes.

I still love red shoes ;  loafers,  sandals, pumps,high heels, court heels,  shoes with red beads, with gold buckles,  with velvet bows.   All a version of those famous ruby slippers

Then there was the Siamese cat.   In the last scene of the Wizard movie Dorothy holds a Siamese cat.  I wanted a cat with blue eyes .   That exotic breed did not exist in our northern town.   Twenty years later my first Siamese purred his way into my heart.  In the years that followed there was always one or two of these elegant creatures ruling my home.

Dorothy’s  journey to  the Great Oz takes her through a dangerous but glorious  field of fiery red poppies.   The image remained with me through the years until finally I was able to  grew my own field of poppies in our home in the country.

Finding one’s heart desire is not the easiest of tasks.   Finding a Wizard who can grant it is even harder.  L. Frank Baum wrote fairy tales that were also very much parables.  In these modern times it appears we need them more than ever.

“Home – and I’m not going to leave here ever, ever again, because I love you all.  And  – oh Auntie Emm,  There’s no place like home.”

Indeed.  There is no place like home.

 

 

 

 

 

OSWALD’S WINTER SOLSTICE PARTY CANCELLED . . . FRIDAYS FOR THE FUTURE!

YOU HAVE STOLEN MY DREAMS

Every December 21st Oswald, gentleman rabbit  marked the Winter Solstice with a wondrous party.    Once a year rabbits, big and small joined Oswald for the celebration  Rabbits are custodians and caretakers of all things growing.  This year the Friday  Solstice celebration was cancelled.  Instead  millions of  rabbits world wide  joined protests demanding emergency action on climate change.

Oswald watched and listened to the words of a child addressing world leaders.

“You are still not mature enough to tell it like it is – you are failing us. ” she said. ” How dare you – you have stolen my dreams and my childhood.”

“It has come this.” he thought.  “A child has the maturity and understanding they lack.  No country can claim to be doing their part.   No country can claim to be” the greatest” if they refuse to recognize the danger facing our world.  There will be no future for anyone.”

Outside his burrow, Oswald, gentleman rabbit,  quietly waited.  Then from the branch of the tallest tree a single bird sang.  The tiny bird sang of peace, compassion and understanding.  One by one from surrounding trees birds joined in song.  Louder and louder a song swooping, soaring climbing higher and higher until the very earth vibrated with its magnificence.

“Is anyone listening?” whispered Oswald.  “Does anyone care?”

 

 

A FRIEND WRITES OF REMEMBRANCE DAY AND HER FATHER

This morning I returned from Remembrance Day Services at the Cenotaph in Ladner Village.  Ours is a small village but the  parade route was crowded with people.   We were there to  honour and remember those men and women  who sacrificed their lives for their country.    No matter the ethnic diversity or religion we wore the red poppy and sang O Canada.  The wreaths were laid.  The honour guard departed.  The Cenotaph was given back to Ladner Village.   It was our turn to remove our poppies and place them among the Remembrance Day wreaths.

We have our remembrances on this day and I share one written by a dear friend of mine.

“The respect which remains in far away places for our Canadian soldiers warms my heart for so many reasons; most important among them is that my dear father was one who chose to serve his country as a Navigator in The Royal Canadian Air Force.

As a child I found carefully stored boxes in which were remnants from his service: reconnaissance photos, pieces of shrapnel that entered his plane from many directions and bits of a rosary mom had given my non- Catholic father in hope of keeping him safe.  The rosary in bits because it had obviously been closely held.  I asked mom about this find but never my father.”

Dad never spoke of his experience and I somehow innately knew not to question him.  If asked anything  about his service by a guest in our home his answer would be short and non- descriptive. I can only imagine his experience while being in the midst of the horrors of war.

I thank my dad and all others who sacrificed so much, including their lives in many cases, in order to represent Canada in assisting a part of the world in its time of great need. Words I so wish my father could have heard coming from me.”

 

REMEMBRANCE DAY . . . We Remember Always.

 

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If I should die, think only this of me:

That there’s some corner of a foreign field

That is forever England.  There shall be

In that rich earth a richer dust concealed:

Gave,  once,  her flowers to love, her ways to roam,

A body of England’s, breathing English air,

Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home

 

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And think, this heart,all evil shed away,

A pulse in the eternal mind, no less

Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given,

Her signs and sounds; dream happy as her day;

And laughter, learnt of friends;  and gentleness,

In hearts at peace,  under an English heaven.

Remembrance Day is one of bitter sweet memories.    We remember those who never returned, and are grateful for those who returned.

 

 

My father-in-law  grew up in a quiet town in Southern Ontario.  He enlisted and his training as a flight sergeant took place in an equally small town in Saskatchewan.  This is where he met and married.    He returned from the war to live in   Saskatchewan.

 

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My uncle,  Bertram Henry Henderson grew up in my home town, Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.  He and his two brothers all enlisted in the Regina Rifles.  He died in action October 27, 1944.  His last letter home was dated October 27, 1944.  It was written in the dim light of a candle in a bottle.  The letter was in his effects returned to the family.

 

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My older sister and myself with my Uncle shortly before he was shipped overseas.

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This document shows the location of his grave in Belgian.  It also identifies the family who would be responsible for the maintenance and care of his grave site.

 

 

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Our Uncle’s grave continues to be looked after by the Belgian Family entrusted in their care more than 70 years ago.  Members of that family continue to maintain contact with our family.

 

My father grew up in a small village in southern England.  He fought in the war to end all wars (World War One).  When war ended he immigrated to Canada to join his older brothers in Northern Saskatchewan.  The only time he mentioned the war was to tell us how  he had befriended some Turkish prison of war soldiers and they had taught him  to make Turkish coffee.

 

 

(  poem  … The Soldier – Rupert Brooke)

UNDERSTANDING THE RED POPPIES OF REMEMBRANCE DAY

My husband and I  lived in Amsterdam for a brief while.    This is a city and a people where the second world war is still very close and very personal. We lived on Gerrit van der Veenstraat .  Following  the war the street was renamed after the resistance fighter Gerrit van der Veen .   He was executed by the Gestapo.   On this street there is a monument honouring him.  I walked past it every day and always, always there were fresh flowers in the niche of the building.

At noon on the first Monday of every month the defence air raid siren would sound.  Pedestrians would pause.   Cyclists would dismount.  Men would take off their hats.  All were honouring those who gave their lives during the war.

To be a Canadian in Amsterdam is to be frequently thanked by strangers.  The  Dutch have not forgotten it was  the Canadians who liberated Holland.

I discovered the red poppies.  The poppies that grew in Flanders Field.  The poppies    despite the war ravaged land bravely showed their colours.    I found them in vacant lots and bits of forgotten land.  Anywhere these  glorious flower could take root.  It is understandable why these  symbolic flowers are so important.  We wear them over our hearts to show we remember.

I returned home with packages of Dutch red poppy seeds and year after year the poppies bloom in my garden.  Of all the flowers in my garden it is the red   poppy dearest to my heart.

 

DECIDEDLY DECADENT AND UTTERLY IRRESISTIBLE . . . CHOCOLATE AND SALTED DULCE DE LECHE TART

 

Chocolate dark as midnight.  Caramel sauce –  toffee-like  with just a suggestion of burnt sugar.    A superb marriage of flavours.   CHOCOLATE AND SALTED DULCE DE LECHE TART is a very indulgent and very very French dessert.   One sees it on the menu of discerning French restaurants.   One adores eating it.  But faced with the complex demands of making the perfect crust, the silky smooth chocolate filling and the smoky rich caramel sauce the perfect hostess pops into her favourite patisserie and picks up this tart.

This recipe takes the tears and pressure out of putting this dessert together and you can do it in about twenty minutes.  It is an uncomplicated recipe.

Chop up some roasted nuts, chocolate and oat digestive biscuits in the food processor.  Mix it with melted butter and press it into a loose-bottomed tart tin(a must).   The can of dulce de leche is opened and two-thirds of it are poured over the chilled crust.  Use the rest of the dulce de leche and pour it over cake or ice cream.  Chocolate and cream are stirred together to make an unbelievably smooth and creamy sauce.  Pour this over the dulce de leche and tuck the tart into the fridge to chill.  Sprinkle the top of the pie with the finest flakiest sea salt in your pantry.  Malden salt would be absolutely perfect.

Keep the tart refrigerated until you are ready to serve it.  Cut narrow slices (it is incredibly rich) and quickly slide the tart onto the plate.  The dulce de leche will immediately slip out of the cut tart to form a fantastic sauce.

If you are an enterprising cook you could turn this into your own personal production by making the oat digestive biscuits and caramel sauce yourself.  Uncomplicated CHOCOLATE AND SALTED DULCE DE LECHE TART’s recipe awaits you in the  kitchen of MRS.BUTTERFINGERS.

 

 

THE TRAGIC TALE OF THE EASTER TULIPS . . . a tale for lovers of rabbits and chocolate

This morning I went out to  my fence garden.  Last autumn I planted dozens of tulips.      I envisioned a glorious mass of breath taking colour.  Magnificent tulips swaying elegantly against a background weathered fence.  Instead I was presented with damp, black earth scattered with the guillotined heads of tulips.    At first I thought the high wind of the previous evening was the culprit.    In a Holmes like manner I examined the scene of the heinous crime.  Rabbit prints.  Rabbit paws.  Small rabbit paws.

“I’ll catch those maundering rascals.  And I’ll do what I always do with rabbits.  I’ll nibble their ears off.    I am so angry”, I muttered under my breath as I stalked off.  I heard a quiet clearing of throat.

“Excuse me”.  I turned to see Oswald, gentleman rabbit.  “You have planted a garden dangerously close to our burrow.    And you know how rabbits like to taste everything, at least once. Chewing a bunnies ears seems a bit excessive”, he quietly pointed out.  “How else are they going to learn about this wonderful, green, growing world we live in”. I had made a rather vocal faux pas .  Now I must confess to Oswald my guilty pleasure.  I do indeed nibble rabbit ears.

“Oswald, dear Oswald.  I would never nibble off bunny ears. If I have to choose between flowers and rabbits I would choose rabbits every time.    When my children were young I always made sure their Easter baskets were filled with the finest of chocolate bunnies.  Bunnies made from the very best Belgian chocolate.  Bunnies with very big, solid ears.  And my children obliged me by sharing their chocolate bunny ears with me.”   My secret was out.  I was a closet eater of chocolate rabbit ears.  Tomorrow I would go to Jarry’s Market in the sweet, little village of Ladner.  I would buy an armful of tulips, and perhaps a chocolate rabbit or two.