A note

We have chased one another for too long. It is time to stop running and arguing right or wrong. Life is not a game to be played. Life is a bleeding certainty, too important to be taken lightly. Life is a grand test. I want to pass It. And I want you to pass It. And everything that we built together needs to stand firm because, crippled as It is, it is true. It is time to make peace. It is time to forgive. It is time to love. I want you to hold my hand when I hand it to you. No questions asked, no debate whether we should. Yes. Let this be our word. You are far away, again. I miss you and want you near. Do you?

I do. Always and forever. I do.

Victorian Tea

This past Sunday I was asked to volunteer for an organisation called Friends of the Farm. These are the people who help with keeping up the ornamental gardens at the Experimental Farm in Ottawa and I had helped them in the past in the peonies and rose gardens. 

They also organize quite a few fundraising events during the year. One of them is the Victorian Tea, which is a two hour affair where anybody in town can come and have afternoon tea and snacks while listening to live music. Here is the print-out of a little history of the afternoon tea, which the volunteers left on the tables:

“Anna the 7th Duchess of Bedford is often credited with the invention of the tradition of the afternoon tea in the early 1840s. In those days, dinner was usually not served until 8:00 or 9:00 in the evening and even later in the summer. Anna would become hungry by mid-afternoon and so would sneak small cakes and biscuits and other niceties to her room where she would indulge herself in secret. Once found out, she was surprised to learn that rather than being upbraided for her unladylike behaviour, she was applauded for her ingenuity.

It seems she wasn’t always the only lady to crave sustenance in the afternoon. Long before this, tea gardens were introduced in London. Women were allowed to gather in these places, often outdoors, with a male escort where they could relax and chat among themselves while enjoying delicate foods. In the early 1700s tea was an expensive indulgence and so these tea gardens were frequented by the upper classes only.

The Tea Garden engraved 1790 by George Morland 1763-1804

(George Morland – The Tea Garden, 1790 – source: Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum)

It was common for the lady of the house to serve the tea herself since it was such an expensive commodity not to be trusted in the care of servants. And, she alone would hold the keys to to tea cupboard. Today, we take tea for granted but we do enjoy it so.”

The Victorian Tea at the Farm is a nice reminder that heritage events of leisure are still possible in a world full of haste. Initially, only the servers dressed up in period costumes.

More recently, people have started to show up with amazing hats and fascinators, and even dressed up in 1890s original costumes. 

The event is a joy and the weather this year truly cooperated.

Some might be quick to say that this tradition of the afternoon tea is a British colonial reminder which many would like to put behind. However, one cannot disregard the sensible nature of the British: tea is tea and an afternoon snack makes sense. Plus, these events have always had a very clear healthy role in socializing. So today, being Thursday, I urge you to try find the spots in your part of the world which give a glimpse of a past worth remembering in some respects. Go out and enjoy!

Happy Thursday!

Summer Pasta

Wednesday morning. August is here. Feel like eating much in the heat? No, I didn’t think so. Still, we need to give this body some light energy. So here’s one of the best recipes I know of which does the trick for summer months.

Pasta with carrots and zucchini

450 grams fettuccine 

2 big carrots

2 zucchini 

Olive oil

Fresh basil

Salt

In a big pot, bring water to boil and add pasta and some salt. Stir immediately so fettuccine don’t stick to each other.

Remove peel from carrots and zucchini.

In a pan, heat up some oil. Using the peeler, slice up the carrots in long peels directly in the pan. Stir so they get cooked evenly. Do the same with the zucchini. The vegetables need to be mildly fried, don’t overcook.

Drain pasta and add cold water – this will cool the fettuccine off quickly and prevent them from sticking to the vegetables. Mix with the cooked vegetables. 

Separately, make a dressing from olive oil, chopped fresh basil and salt.  Add a bit of water if it looks too thick. Mix and shake in a jar so all combine thoroughly. Pour dressing over pasta and vegetables. 

Bon apetit! Happy Wednesday!

Dream

I saw you walking ahead of me

I could not keep up, you were hurrying hurrying after something not worth losing

I sat down on the edge of the sidewalk and 

I thought about you, about us, planning how to win 

I looked ahead every now and then

You were nowhere in sight. So

I raised myself from that sidewalk and

I decided: 

I shall sing and I shall dance 

I shall draw and I shall cook

I shall lead the way of this walk

I shall look up to the sky for guidance and inside myself for confidence 

I shall be free from you and my dreams 

Free like a spark in the distance. 

The Winner

I met him once at a party. Slight chances for both of us to have been invited to the same event, never mind attending it. We are in different professions, different social strata, different network circles. Close age though. In a rather ordinary manner, we crossed paths at the bar. There, he grabbed my drink by mistake. He seemed absent minded as I watched him bring the rim of the glass to his lips. 

“Excuse me, that’s my drink. And I believe you won’t like that.”

He blinked and looked straight at me. “Oh. Pardon.” He stretched his hand so brusquely, the drink spilled.

“That’s fine” I said as I took the glass and handed him his. “You look a bit lost. And more than a bit like Vincent Cassel.”

“I am Vincent Cassel.” He smiled.

“Oh. Pardon.” I smiled.

“Pourquoi?” 

“For striking a bit of conversation. You will think I am a fan.”

“And you’re not?” The smile was still there and it got an amused touch.

“I saw you in a few movies. Tough guy. But quite flexible. The Ocean 12 scene where you steal that fake jewel is literally one of my favourite. I think the background music did the trick.”

“Interesant…”

“Will you stop switching to French? This gets flirty.”

“You don’t like French?”

“What is this, an interview? I have a date tonight. Excuse-moi, s-il vous plait.”

I made myself lost in the crowd. Joined one or two other conversations. Tried to make business with an elderly couple who wanted to redecorate their empty nest. As I was handing them my card, I heard his voice over my shoulder.

“I wouldn’t mind a card, s-il vous plait.”

I turned around and smiled broadly. “That was my last. But I can send you a text so you have my number. If you have a phone, that is. Provided you tell me why you want my number.”

“I have a phone, oui.” 

I waited.

“You want the number?”

“Why?” I insisted. 

“Because I need a decorating quote for my new house.”

“That’s not true” I said.

“No, c’est pas vrai. But there’s no other way to continue talking to you. We know nothing of each other.”

“A-ha. And there are no subjects you can think of. Are you always so unsure of yourself? I thought French people had unbounded confidence.”

“And why is that?” he inquired.

“Why, French are arrogant. Who is better than the French? Does anyone dare compare?”

“What other French have you met?”

“A few from France. And lots of Quebecois. I live in Canada. We the Anglophones are not particularly fond of them. Though it really should be irrelevant. French are losers. History has proven it repeatedly.”

“Hmm… vous utilisez des clichees. I thought you’d be more interesting than that.”

“… And yet, no subject. Seulement du flirt.”

He laughed. “I like you.”

“So flattered, monsieur. Where do we go from here?”

The funny thing is that we kept talking. He was quite a conversationalist. Or in French, un causeur. The proof to that is that I do not remember one iota of what we talked about. We wandered through the crowd, seemingly open to talk to others, but I had this strong feeling none of us wanted to let go. At some point, a friend grabbed my arm and said “I got a deal for you.” I looked at Cassel and said:

“It seems like we never exchanged those numbers.”

He laughed. “You’re a sore loser, ma chere anglophone.”

“Right. C’etait un grand plaisir de faire la votre connaissance.”

There was tons of gallantry in his blue eyes. “Moi non plus, madame.”

“Oh, you French! Incorrigible.”

I haven’t heard from him since. There was no way I could have. We are in different professions, different social strata, different network circles. The only thing we have in common is a beautiful conversation we inadvertently had one evening some time ago. And in that, dear Vincent, you’re not the sole winner. 

Marriage

It’s one of the seven mysteries of the Church. Some consider it equal to monasticism, some even harder. Like any mystery, it’s hard to understand from the outside. Single people don’t really get it, and only some divorced or widowed ones do. Many of those inside it don’t get it. So why this fuss, you’d ask – and who gets it, if any? Well, those who live in it through Christ.

Remember that moment when you first saw particles of dust floating in the lit air? I still find any such moment full of awe. Even if there’s not a hint of wind, they’d dance, unable to sit still. Suspended in the light, content to just be. Part of God’s creation, tiny and unknowing as they are, they participate in the mystery of life. They’re so beautiful. And the daisies which have started blooming in my yard. “Solomon in all his glory wasn’t dressed like them.” And yet we fret, we worry, we get sick with anger and frustration and what-not at things, and situations, and people – particularly close ones. We forget God, every single second. It’s a hard exercise to remember.

And so it is with marriage: it starts off in a suspended blissful hope that everything will always be all right. He’s here, she’s here. We both are and we want to be. ‘Want’ is a key word. Free will and life – the only rights we have as human persons. The rest is invented. We get it, mysteriously, without much explanation. The world is good enough, we are enough for one another and alas, how do we take that for granted! Of course we do, we didn’t get to the ‘hard work’ part. That usually starts with the other funny blessing, the kids. But that time might come – even before the kids – of mystery breach, that moment when doubt creeps in. He’s so insensitive, why on earth did I choose him? She’s so annoying, where’s that book or beer or site? In the beginning, making up is easy. Youth helps, nice body – I’m sorry, baby (incidentally, none of the two really knows what forgiveness really is, never mind how to ask for it). You want to believe, you want to keep the mystery going. This mystery is one of the nicest ones, why wouldn’t you? Then there’s the second time, and the third time, and the fourth… you still want to believe but it’s getting harder and harder. You rely on your mind (dangerous!), body (even more dangerous!) and spirit (which is the least dangerous but it’s the trickiest ’cause it gets depleted by the second). One day, you wake up and the hope is gone. What good was it? What good is it?

It’s pretty much downhill from there. Some get divorced, others stay and bully the other –  or one another. Everybody suffers, it’s a crack in the pot which was once whole. Japanese mend cracks with gold so you can see the crack and remember. I find that Kintsugi technique wise. In some cases, counselling helps – most often than not, those are not the cases where the couple comes from a strongly patriarchal society (add to that historical or personal trauma, and you may not have any counselling at all). Some remember to pray, or if they’ve never known how, it is their high-time of learning. When both pray, the gold spreads to the cracks and makes them shine, they say. Some mysteriously mend the relationship without faith in a higher authority – or so they pretend. I do wonder where those get their strength to pick up and continue. And there are still those who will stay in the marriage and turn to Christ for love when their partner would not. Those are martyrs no less than monks and nuns who accept to be crucified along with God.

Why would someone choose marriage then?

Well, it IS a mystery.

kintsugi (pinterest)

(photo credit: Pinterest)