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.”
Early morning. Five o’clock. I am alone in a small room. I stare at the wall facing my bed. Chipped and battered from beds being pushed in and out. The only decoration a faded cork board and a sign advising one how to wash your hands. Nothing beautiful to look at. Nothing to bring me up from the black abyss. I am alone with various tubes attached to my body. I weep tears of utter despair. A few years ago my breast cancer returned. The first encounter I had a right breast lumpectomy. This time a mastectomy in the other breast. I am alone. Feeling so sorry for myself when my nurse enters my room with a gift wrapped package. Pillows! Soft, comfortable pillows covered in a happy flowered pattern. Pillows to give me under the arm and breast protection. In that moment the sun came out.
I’m smiling. I’m not alone.
The package contained pillows hand sewn by a group of woman who are members of the Delta Hospital Auxiliary. The hospital is located in Ladner, British Columbia. They are post-operative pillows tailored for post mastectomy surgery. The pillows are a gift from the Delta Hospital Auxiliary. These amazing women known as THE PILLOW PALS cut, sew, stuff and package these pillows. A thoughtful card with encouraging words are enclosed with the pillows.
I am giving back.
I am a proud member of the Delta Hospital Auxiliary. I search for wonderful fabrics to be sewn into pillows by dedicated woman known with great affection as THE PILLOW PALS.
I am giving back.
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 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 stamped 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 enjoy nibbling 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. Than off to the hardware store for the makings of a rabbit proof fence.
One has a rather small window to make this classic French dessert. It’s a bit of a waiting game. First you wait patiently for the first of the dark, sweet cherries to make their grand appearance. I shop almost daily in our lovely, quiet and delightfully old-fashioned village. We have a wonderful locally owned grocery store in Ladner. JARRY’S feature local and regional products. I have been buying shiny, ruby red cherries every day for a week or so, and today the cherries were deeply rich and sweetly ripe. This is where the waiting and tasting game pays off. The cherries are perfect for clafouti.
Clafuti is a crepe like batter poured over cherries and baked in a very hot oven. There are many recipes for this seasonal dessert and they are all variations of melted butter, flour (not much) a bit of sugar, several eggs , milk and ripe, plump cherries. It is traditional to leave the pits in the cherries. It adds to the flavour of the clafouti. Just remind your guests about the pits.
This very, very French dessert is easy to whip up and pop into the oven about two hours before you want to serve it. At the last minute I dust it with a little icing sugar. You can serve it warm or cool.
The recipe for CHERRY CLAFOUTI awaits you in MRS.BUTTERFINGER’S kitchen. Bon Appetit dear friends.
I’ve been away. Traveling to my fantasy little house in Paris. Heavy green velvet curtains cover the tall windows. They keep out the cold wind that whistles and tugs at the window panes. The house is snug and warm and I’ve filled it with treasure from the Christmas markets. The flea markets have been scoured for bits of Christmas pasts. I’ve wrapped fat white candles with brown paper tied with twine. Angel wings hang from coat hooks and the kitchen is rich with the intoxicating aroma of a welcoming holiday feast. My Paris friend, Theadora, and our worldly traveled Tin Man will dine tonight. Joyeux Noel we shout from the balcony to the street belong. Joyeux Noel!
Joyeux Noel! Merry Christmas! The perfect words to welcome dear friends and family to our house in the country. I’ve brought memories of Paris home. I shall wrap candles in brown paper. I will conjure up golden angel wings. And I will paint the words Joyeux Noel. There is only a few short street of stores in our tiny Ladner village. It’s a charming , calm place to shop. Far away from hustle and bustle of malls. Quite by chance I found these letters on unpainted blocks of wood. The perfect do-it-yourself project. A little dark paint. A little white paint. Voila!
My slow and happy enjoyment of this season continues. There are presents to be wrapped. More decorations to make to adorn our home. A Christmas tree to decorate, but all in good time.
(If you visit TripSavy you will discover the Christmas markets and other magical places to visit during the holiday season. Photo of a Christmas market by TripSavy.)
The lot that sells Christmas trees is on the main street in our Village of Ladner. Around the third week in November I begin watching for signs the trees are arriving. First the fence goes up, then the poles for the trees. At last the trees arrive. For me Christmas has begun.
The ritual for selecting the trees is always the same. The Good Husband goes in one direction. I go in the other. Each searching for the perfect tree. It’s a gentle day. I walk through a forest of evergreens. A carpet of cedar chips mingles with the fragrance of the pine needles. The secret to finding the perfect tree is to look for one with the broadest base. It should have the thickest branches. The Good Husband holds up a tree. Too sparse. I spy a fat looking tree with a broad base. It is the one. But then every year the tree we pick regardless of what it looks like, is the perfect tree.
Putting up the tree is a two-day event. The first day is the complex procedure. The Good Husband sets up the tree, and then arranges the lights. Sister Heather has sent me a pair of sparkling red birds. The newest decoration is the first decoration to adorn the tree.
I bring out boxes of memories, and hang them on the tree.
Fifty-five years ago my Mother gave me this tiny copper kettle. It is time worn and part of the spout is missing. I hang it front and center.
I pour a glass of sherry. The tree is taking on a sparkling attitude. I love the whimsey of this monkey.
Birds perch on the branches singing Christmas Carols.
The last decorations are “the angels”. They are my favorite. So much so one year I couldn’t put them away. The Christmas angels spent a lovely year in various rooms in our home.
I adjust a glittering ball or two. Step back and admire The Tree. Sparkling, twinkling, happy Tree.
I’ll wrap more presents This tree is calling for them.
The ritual of the Christmas Tree ends.
Sit by the fire.
Watch A Christmas Carol. The best one with Alister Sim.
The Good Husband and I enjoy our “slow Christmas:”.