The simple things of HOME (SJT)

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HOME – what a huge topic. I love it!

As I have wandered more into the world of art, subjects of home hold the greatest appeal. Ordinary things can become beautiful when one takes the time and attention to reproduce them on the page.

When I look closely at the things in my home and think about homely activities, I gain a sense of contentment and wealth. Significance can be found in the smallest of things, the humblest of activities. So today, a few images and a poem (written in 2014) that represent HOME to me.

Welcome mat

“Welcome Mat” – Sketch journal entry for Jan. 16/19 (© 2019 V. Nesdoly)

potatoes

“Potatoes” – Sketch Journal entry for Jan 20/19 (© 2019 V. Nesdoly)

Making Soup

When I boil those leftover bones
to loosen the flesh and eke out
every bit of gelatinous goodness
—the kitchen a damp, steamy womb of a place—
I feel like I’m part of the marrow of motherhood
answering the call of nature to nurture.

When I chop the carrots, onions
celery and cabbage, add the meat
scour the fridge for halves of potato, tomato
tubs of leftover veggies, the cup of last week’s chili
add lentils and quinoa
season with bay leaf, basil, cumin and salt
I feel like the Proverbs woman
who brings her food from afar.

This is no Dickens gruel
grey, thin and greasy
or the meatless tin-bowl ration
of a concentration camp
but the savoury red pottage with which Jacob
lured Esau to trade his birthright

and I, the temptress, add soup
to my stock of quilts and afghans
knitted slippers and crusty breads
flannel sheets and apple pie
—the seductions of home.

© 2019 by Violet Nesdoly (All Rights Reserved)

supper

“Dinner” – Sketch journal entry for Jan. 30/19 (© 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

oranges

‘Dessert” – Sketch journal entry for Jan. 15/19 (© 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” Hebrews 13:5

The sketches, above, are from my sketch journal. I try to do some art in it every day in an attempt to improve my drawing skills. This journal has its own Instagram account: @vi_nez.daydraws. Visitors welcome!

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This post is part of Spiritual Journey Thursday, hosted today by Donna at her blog Mainely Write.

Dear After-Christmas Leftovers

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I love this week between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day! After the busy time of shopping and gifting and cooking and hosting, it’s wonderful to sink back into the chair of “it’s all over!”

These days do have their hazards, though. This little breakup note to the Christmas leftovers is a poem I wrote a year ago today.

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Where the leftovers live (Photo © 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

Dear After-Christmas Leftovers

 

Three days ago before the Christmas feast
I eyed you, in your cling-wrap-covered bowls
and labelled cartons, with anticipation.

On that night I gave your contents unrestricted
access, made a holiday food exception
in all its buttery, crispy, tart and tasty,

poultry, stuffing, cabbage-rolly
glory—then savoured
trifles of cake, eggnog, those very

rich chocolates filled with brandy
melted by sips of creamy
fresh-brewed coffee.

But now I view your half-full cartons
with a different eye, though they still
tease and mock: “A spoonful

of cold dressing, dollop of cranberry
doesn’t really count. Surely you wouldn’t
throw out half a dessert!”

I’m sorry, but I would.
We’ve had our little fling
though just three days ago
I said yes to everything.

© 2017 by Violet Nesdoly (All Rights Reserved)

poetryfridayThis post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by Heidi Mordhorst, who takes us into the wonderful world of trees.

 

Mustard

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We had a snow day on Sunday. No church. No walk. (Superbowl for hubby, though – the TV wasn’t snowed in.)

I used the gift of those extra hours to tidy up my gmail and in the process came across a poetry prompt that I couldn’t resist. So I also wrote a poem.

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Mustard

Seeds the size of faith
ground and added to young wine
became the fiery condiment
must-ardens*

Sauce as ancient as Indus and Rome,
modern French’s, dyed paprika and turmeric,
drips from every summer hotdog
stains every childhood shirt.

Hulled or whole-grained, sophisticated mustard
mixes congenially with vinegar, wine, water
lemon juice, whiskey, beer; remains
a wholesome but tart foil to ham, chicken, cheese.

Bavarian or Dijon, sweet or hot
honeyed, spiced, fruited, or Poupon
yellow to brown this world citizen
is welcome at tables on every continent.

A jar of French’s still lives in my Canadian fridge—
faithful standby for sausages, wieners, mayonnaise
parson at the emulsification nuptials of oil and vinegar
and a spread for a 5-year-old’s favorite sandwich.

© 2017 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

* How it came to be called “mustard”:

The first element is ultimately from Latin mustum, (“must,” young wine) – the condiment was originally prepared by making the ground seeds into a paste with must. The second element comes also from Latin ardens (hot, flaming).

Source: Wikipedia.

The post that contains the prompt: “Eating and Drinking Poems: Barbara Crooker’s ‘Ode to Olive Oil’“ quotes Barbara Crooker’s wonderful poem in full.

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Poetry Friday LogoThis post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by Katy at her blog The Logonauts.

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Doodling Supper (NPM ’16-Day 10)

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I love how Robert Brewer describes a “doodle poem” in his April 8th prompt:

“So for a poem, I’m thinking this could start off as something small that stays small or builds to epic proportions.”

On reading this prompt, almost at once I thought of cooking a meal. It may start leisurely enough but inevitably builds to that crucial moment when all the cold and cooked dishes must find their way to the table at the peak of their crisp, or piping hot goodness. And then, of course, it all ends with the call.

A counted-word cinquain seemed a good vehicle to deliver a doodle poem.

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Photo: pixabay.com

Doodling Supper

Mix beef
eggs, oatmeal. Peel potatoes.
While meatloaf bakes, tear lettuce, toss
radishes, cucumbers, tomatoes. Set table. Done? Cut. Mash.
Supper’s on!

© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

 

My thing to eat (NPM ’16-Day 7)

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egg-944495_1280

Photo: pixabay.com

My thing to eat

Not too sweet and not too savory
not a bread and not a cake.
Not a square and not a doughnut
in a pan of cups must bake.

To your basic butter, flour
sugar, eggs and leavening
you can add whatever’s handy
you can add most anything!

Muesli, wheat germ, bran, granola
poppy seed, flax, chocolate.
Almonds, carrots, orange, cranberry
peanut butter, apricot.

Pumpkin, lemon, bumbleberry
ginger, pear, banana, fig.
Apple sauce, cream cheese and cherry
make them small or make them big.

Food of breakfast, lunch or snack time
served with any drink a treat.
Streusel-topped, so rich and yummy
MUFFINS are my thing to eat!

© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

 

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When one of the prompt sites I consult during April suggested a poem about food, I knew just what I wanted to write about. You see, on our recent jaunt to the Island, one of our group recommended a fabulous muffin, available from a market kiosk in the ferry terminal. This wheaty, nutty, flaxy, carroty, fruity concoction transported me to muffin heaven. And so the poem.

I love baking muffins too. The Spiced Squash Muffins I made for Christmas morning (pictured below) were topped with crunchy sugar-cinnamon goodness and filled with dried cranberries. The recipe is here.

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Poetry Friday LogoThis post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by Laura Purdie Salas at Writing the World for Kids (where she’s writing a whole series of putrid poems for National Poetry Month—pimple popping, head cheese, a mouthful of ocean water anyone?).

 

Fine Dining

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I love the one-little-word SIMPLIFY, Linda Kulp‘s word that we are exploring this week. (I think I will chose it one of these years.)

I love a clean counter top in my kitchen, my desk cleaned off at the end of the day, Friday afternoons when all my house surfaces gleam after dusting.

I love the idea of an uncomplicated, straightforward life where little is enough (except for books—and I need to have another go at simplifying my closet).  I once had a poster picturing an old-fashioned wooden bucket with the words “Very little is needed to have a happy life.” I had it up so long it faded to monochrome.

I bought a framed print to take its place. In our old house it hung on the wall beside our kitchen table. In the house we live in now it’s on one of our stairway walls—still reminding me to keep it simple.

A couple of Bible verses that ground me in simplicity are:

“And what does the Lord require of You? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” – Micah 6:8.

and

“And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content” – 1 Timothy 6:8.

That is the ideal. Sad to say, I don’t always live it. But I know I am happier when I don’t feel the hot breath of wanting more and having more on my neck.

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My “Simple Life” print – Photo © 2016 by V. Nesdoly

Fine Dining

This is not about fashionably late
with candlelight shimmering in glasses of Pinot Gris
snowy napkins, pewter flatware
and stacks of food on square plates
over smudges of condiment reduction,

but about two Corelle bowls
heaped with spinach salad at five
green beans steaming in brown Corningware
mushroom chicken bubbling in a Pyrex casserole
a stainless steel pot of fragrant rice.
a tub of margarine, pocked as pumice
and three bottles: Balsamic, Raspberry, Ranch
all on wood trivets to protect the old tablecloth.

Now that it’s light
we watch people stroll babies and dogs
on the path below our townhouse window.
It’s not the view we would get
at Pelagos on the Beach

but the sum of it is certainly
dining at its finest.

© 2011 by Violet Nesdoly

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Sonnet to a Potato

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A couple of weeks ago, I found inspiration for a couple of poems in response  to the found photo prompts at Laura Shovan’s blog (where the fun continues).  A photo of a “Loaded baked potato” was the prompt for February 14th.  That photo plus the fact it was Valentine’s Day and love sonnets were in the air of my brain inspired “Sonnet to a Potato,” a parody of the classic “How Do I Love Thee?”  by  Elizabeth Barrett Browning. (You can read the original HERE).

PotatoCollage

Collage from photos at pixabay.com

Sonnet to a Potato

(With apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning)

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee boiled, peel-mashed, deep fried as chips
in gravy drowned, sweet, baked, spiced hot with dips.
I laud thee for thy subterranean days,
thy secret growth all hidden from sun’s rays.
Fair starchy flesh, thou’rt comfort to my lips.
They calories they fortify my hips.
Sweet staple nightshade fruit, I give thee praise
for skin of white or yellow, russet, red
for Yukon Gold, Kerr’s pink, purple or blue.
Thou give’s thyself in pancakes, latkes bread
skins, salads, hash browns, scalloped, soup and stew.
Though sometimes called tater or spud instead
to thee, Potato, my taste buds stay true!

© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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Poetry Friday LogoThis post is linked to Poetry Friday, where you’ll find all kinds of delectable poetic fare. PF is hosted today by Elizabeth Steinglass.

Kitchen monster

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I love the garburator that is part of the sink apparatus in our townhouse. Love it, but rarely use it now because we’ve been asked not to in favor of collecting our organic scraps for recycling and conserving water. (For those not familiar with this gadget, you run water as you feed organic stuff down the sink into the garburator with its blades that grind scraps tiny and send them on their way to join the rest of the sewage.)

Much as I liked it,  I also found it to be temperamental in that it didn’t like scraps of a certain kind. Potato and carrot peelings were the worst. More than once it plugged up on me in the middle of preparing for guests. Yikes!

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(Image: ariesa66 / Pixabay.com)

 

Kitchen Monster

My handy kitchen monster’s maw
loves peels and water, stems and pits
but if I make it eat too fast
it goes into its little fits.

Sometimes it chokes
on pip or core
plugs up the sink
backwash—“No more!”

Then I must soothe
its circle lips
with Heimlich cup
of icy chips.

It growls mechanic
cough “Ahem!”
then swallows all
its veggie phlegm.

© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

 

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Poetry Friday LogoThis post is linked to Poetry Friday, a collection of poems and poetry-related posts for your Friday reading pleasure. Poetry Friday is hosted today by Keri at Keri Recommends.

Thanksgiving Lunch at the Mennonite Church

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Pie

(Photo © 2015 by V. Nesdoly)

Thanksgiving Lunch at the Mennonite Church

We’ve been smelling coffee for a while now
as the sermon drones on and on but finally
it’s benediction time and “Thanks
for the food we are about to partake. Amen.”
Old and young crowd down the stairs
to the warm, fragrant basement
claim chairs at the long table
where we usually have Sunday School.

The food committee hovers in the kitchen
as we start filling plates with potato and jello salad
zwieback and butter, sliced tomatoes, cheese
homemade dills, platters of cold pink ham
roast beef, plump fried chicken.
Soon they come with coffee and tea in steaming kettles
then serve plates of pie—apple, cherry, chocolate
lemon meringue, peach, rhubarb, raisin.

Chairs push back. Farmers swap stories
of combine breakdowns and how many
bushels of oats and wheat to the acre.
Women tell of covering the tomatoes
before last Tuesday’s frost, how Suzy’s not liking school
and did you know Adilman’s has a sale on winter coats?
Kids play tag, hide-and-seek
dash between legs back to the table to snitch
sugar cubes, pickles, pieces of cheese
while the food crew clears the end of the table
nearest the kitchen, gathers up
their twelve basketfuls of leftovers
and lingers over their Thanksgiving lunch.

© 2015 –  Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

 

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Though in Canada we celebrated Thanksgiving in Canada over a month ago, I post this today in honor of the U.S. Thanksgiving celebration. Happy Thanksgiving to all my U.S. friends!

We did a lot of eating in our small town Saskatchewan Mennonite Church but I remember that the Thanksgiving spreads were particularly sumptuous, and loaded with enough pie to last till Christmas!

When I think about my upbringing, I am full of gratitude for the seeds of faith that were planted in it, and the example of service I saw in the adults around me.

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This post is part of Spiritual Journey Thursday, a series of reflections on my spiritual journey.

Poetry Friday LogoThis post is also linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by Carol at Carol’s Corner.

SJT – Mercy (In the DNA)

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Mercy is one of those words we bandy about so freely in Christian culture, it becomes almost invisible. I gained a fresh appreciation of its richness when I looked it up in the dictionary before writing this post:

Mercy:
1. Kind or compassionate treatment of an offender, adversary, prisoner etc. in one’s power; compassion where severity is expected or deserved.
2. A disposition to be kind, forgiving, or helpful.
3. A thing to be thankful for.

Mercy comes from compassion, kindness or other ennobling sentiments.

Opposites of mercy are harshness, severity, implacability, punishment, chastisement, vengeance. – Funk and Wagnalls Dictionary

It’s what God had for us when He sent Jesus and had Him take the penalty our sins deserved. It’s what I’m supposed to extend to others. And there’s the rub. For like so many Christian qualities, showing mercy is counter-intuitive. It goes against every atom of fairness to let the person who hurt me get off free. Look at how the crowds clamber for justice when a policeman has shot someone in the line of duty. Suggest mercy to that crowd and you’re likely to start a riot. It’s in me and all of us to want to get even, to make things right with our own style of justice.

I was pondering why we, or at least I, find that giving mercy is hard. I think it has something to do with feeling that I’m giving up control. When Christians extend mercy, we give up control to God. We’re saying with our actions that we believe He has the situation in hand and will sort it all out fairly in the end, better than our scolding, punishment, or tit for tat ever could.

The Bible story that illustrates this beautifully is David’s behaviour when his father-in-law and deadly enemy King Saul is hunting him. One day David finds himself in the cave with Saul. His men tell him, This is your chance.  Take matters into your own hands and kill him.

He resists them, and instead, just cuts a piece off Saul’s robe to prove how close he was. Later even that seems to bother him. 1 Samuel 24:1-12 where this story is told, ends with these telling words from David to Saul:Let the Lord judge between you and me, and let the Lord avenge me on you. But my hand shall not be against you” (emphasis added).

The challenge for me is to get to the place where extending mercy becomes my default position. I want it to be in my DNA.

Kale

“I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food” – Job 23:12 (Photo of kale from Pixabay.com)

In the DNA

We bite into apples
bread, cake, meat
taste, chew, swallow.
They disappear, digested
become absorbed into muscle, bone
fingers, toes, skin, lashes
brain cells, our very DNA.

We bite off Your word
Blessed are the merciful …
   Be reconciled to your brother …
   Forgive up to seventy times seven …
meditate on these things
swallow them into the busyness of our days
Now that they’ve been ingested
are they being digested
becoming the muscle, bone, skin
of loving acts, kind words, patience
mercy, forgiveness
altering our very DNA?

© 2015 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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spiritual-journey-framedThis post is linked to Spiritual Journey Thursday, hosted by Holly Mueller at Reading, Teaching, Learning. Today the theme is MERCY.