Monday Morning Musings

Posted on November 19, 2018 under Monday Morning Musings with one comment

A mountain of dishes


So many mysteries with no solutions.

Let’s start with Tupperware. As some point in life’s journey most of us has bought Tupperware.They’re convenient, great for storing leftovers and they come in all kinds of convenient shapes and sizes. They also come with lids, one per container – at least that’s what we think. After about a month, something very odd happens. It’s like the play I saw on the weekend called “Metamorphoses”.  Something changes. All of a sudden, you can’t locate the lid for one of the containers. You wash them after every use and put them in the same drawer so that they’re easy to find. Where in the hell do those lids go?

Something similar happens with the laundry. You buy a new batch of socks… different colors. You wear them, they become soiled, and you put them in the laundry hamper. After a week, it’s time to do the laundry. You empty the contents of the hamper, place everything in the wash machine followed by the dryer. You empty the dryer and go to your bedroom to fold and sort things when they’re still warm. I usually leave the socks to the last. Invariably, there’s one sock missing or even worse, one of each color gone awry. Even Jessica Fletcher and Sherlock Holmes together can’t solve this one.

Which leads me to the picture of the dishes stacked up in the dish drainer shown above. When our four children were all still at home, we had a dishwasher. There were mountains of dishes which is not hard to comprehend. But it didn’t take any time to make them disappear into the confines of the dishwasher. But every so often, this kitchen aid would go on the fritz and our kitchen counters would be piled sky high until they were dispatched the old fashioned way – by hand.

These days, we occupy a small apartment and there’s just the two of us – three when our granddaughter visits, usually on the weekend. But during the week, my wife works and doesn’t come home at lunch hour. I don’t sit around all day and eat, if that’s what you’re thinking. But really, how can a couple manage to amass this many dishes in just one day? They just seem to have a way to multiply. I am befuddled but that’s nothing new.

Tupperware lids, matching socks and mountains of dishes – three of life’s great mysteries.

My fourth book, “Chaos and Wonder: Six Months in India” is on its way to the printers. I will have hard copies for sale locally in Antigonish by mid- December and for those of you out of town, pretty well everywhere in the universe. You’ll be able to order the book on line though Amazon and have it delivered to your door. I’ll let you know when that’s up and running.

Last week, I was having coffee with a friend, literally an hour after submitting the final manuscript for my book. I was mentally beat and just about ready to throw the entire 173 pages into the Brierly Brook praying it would get passed along quickly to the harbour and eventually out to the ocean. I have spoken with other authors who have also experienced this feeling of loathing at the end of the writing and editing process. So when my friend suggested an idea for my next book, I recoiled. That would be like passing a bottle of tequila to someone the morning after doing 20 shots of this Mexican rocket fuel  with lemon and salt.

After absorbing the initial blow, I listened as she told me her idea: write a book about growing up in the sixties and break the book up into neighborhoods. Now obviously, this book would have limited appeal to anyone outside Antigonish but when you look at the large families from that era, it could be a best seller. But sales would not be the motivation. The idea would be to gather stories from people who lived a shared experience in different parts of the town and county. You could have stories from the Hawthorne/Heights crew; Hillcrest Street; Highland Drive, Brookland and the interval, Greenwold etc. And of course, the same thing would be done in the county gathering tales from Pomquet, Arisaig, James River, Pinevale etc.

It seems to a lot of us that neighborhoods today are nothing like those in the sixties. Part of that is sheer numbers. We spent a lot of time outdoors after school and in the summer because there wasn’t enough room indoors! This book would really be more about capturing a moment in time that we could share with our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. I mean, don’t you think they’d like to hear how we gathered in the field behind  Lane Hall (before it was Lane hall) at the end of the school year to burn all our scribblers, projects and the odd book?

What do you think? Would you contribute stories? You could get together with some of your old neighborhood friends and share stories and the odd lie.

I have received the first submission for a story for a new column called “Guest of Honour”. In case you missed it, I’m asking YOU to be a guest writer on my website. Send me a funny story (around 500 words) and I’ll publish it.

Excuse me. I have a pile of dishes to wash.

Have a great week.

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Mrs. Clean

Posted on November 15, 2018 under Storytelling with one comment


“Do you remember Grandma’s Lye Soap,

Good for everything in the home,

And the secret was in the scrubbing,

It wouldn’t suds and it wouldn’t foam.”

Cleanliness is next to godliness. While this phrase is credited to John Wesley, its roots can be traced to biblical times. Of course, one suspects that Mr. Wesley was talking about purity of the soul but humans as a species are known to be fastidious when it comes to personal cleanliness. Some of today’s youth take this to extremes with showers that can last upwards of 30 minutes.

Growing up in a large family, learning the ins and outs of cleaning was a part of our education. We learned how to do the dishes, vacuum the carpets and wash and wax the “battleship” linoleum floor coverings. And was there a more miserable job than cleaning the small, individual panes of a glass in a French door?

Sarah and Jane (not their real names), aged 6 and 8, were seconded by their grandmother to go to the village church on Saturday to get it “spic and span” for Sunday mass. Much like it is still today, the cleaning and maintenance of churches in rural locales fell to a group of dedicated volunteers back in the 1930’s.

The girls had been instructed to come equipped for a morning of unselfish labor in the name of the Almighty. They had gathered up cleaning supplies from home which included a cotton mop and wringer pail, Johnson’s Glo Coat, Rinso, Chipso, Oxydol, Red Devil Lye, Comet and Bon Ami and lots of rags. They also came armed with the most important ingredient: elbow grease. Cleaning a church was not a task for the timid.

By any description, grandma was a force to be reckoned with. She didn’t have a lot of tolerance for improprieties. So when the young girls showed up on the steps of the church without appropriate headwear, grandma was not amused. That was in an era that women wore hats inside places of worship. Entering a sacred place without a hat was a sacrilege.

It would have taken too much time for the young girls to go back home. Grandma was not deterred. Women of her ilk were used to improvising. She grabbed the rag bag and pulled out an old cotton bed sheet. She quickly tore it into strips and affixed a piece on each of her granddaughters’ head using bobby pins to keep them in place. She marched her young charges smartly into the church.

The girls were quite small in stature and they wondered if grandma might just grab them, turn them upside down, dip them into the wash bucket and start using them as human mops.

They toiled for three hours without uttering so much as a word such was their fear of speaking in the house of the Lord. Actually, it was their fear of grandma that rendered them mute.

The church was spotless but grandma wasn’t quite finished. She suspected that the children needed spiritual cleansing as well and instructed them to kneel in the pews to say a decade of the rosary.

One can only surmise that they began with the Sorrowful Mysteries.



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Monday Morning Musings

Posted on November 12, 2018 under Monday Morning Musings with no comments yet




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