Archive for the ‘simple living’ Category

Troglodyte life…

May 18, 2007

There is a wonderful snippet of a scene in the movie “Delicatessen” where troglodyte dwellers in a subterranean service and sewer world  arrive at a momentous decision by playing “Rock, Paper, Scissors”. This quirky and charming bit of goofiness is but one of many surprising elements that play through this movie of dark humour. The idea of troglodytes was rather fascinating to me, as I do recognize pervasive troglodyte tendencies in myself and have experienced a number of years of below the surface living.

When we first arrived in Canada, some charity agencies that provided hard goods to newcomers delivered a wooden apple crate full of comic books and magazines among which were several issues of National Geographic.  It was in one of these where an article on the cave dwelling people of Anatolia accompanied by strange and wondrous photographs of an alien terrain provided many hours of fascination and rumination for me. In my imagination, I could feel the dim moist coolness of the hollowed out sandstone chambers, the hard-packed grittiness of sandstone floors on my bare feet and the abrasive brush of stone walls agains my exploring hand and fingers. A bed could be a ledge hollowed out from the wall, small niches could support necessary utensils – a lamp, a jug, a few tools.  I entertained myself for a long time, elaborating on what life might be like living in such caves.

It was during high school years that I began to study art history. Particularly fascinating to me were the early Renaissance paintings of saints who had withdrawn from the hubbub of common life to live in ascetic solitude, in landscapes sere and harsh. The illustrated terrains were rocky, austere and uninviting. One could imagine  a saint’s life being stripped to the bare essentials of daily survival. Yet, the various saints looked beatific, serene and satisfied, content to find themselves in such forbidding settings.

At age 23, having fallen from grace, a single, unwed mother, I embarked on a number of years of living below the surface.  The only accommodation that I could afford for baby Renaissance Man and myself were basement suites with minimal services – electricity, ambient heat from the central heating of houses, rudimentary stove, shared fridges and bathrooms and tiny sliver-like windows set high up on walls that allowed watery light into these cave-like environs. In the first few years, these basement apartments were furnished by the landlord.  Table with mismatched chairs, a box-spring and mattress, a bookshelf and an old overstuffed chair perfect for lounging on to read and study late at night. To these dwellings I brought Renaissance Man’s crib, then bed, his clothes, books and toys, my clothes, dishes and cooking implements, my text books and school stuff and an alarm-clock-radio. We spent much time out during the day, enjoying weather of all kinds, the neighbourhood, the playground and sometimes longer treks to the beach a couple of miles away.

One such abode, one favourable and comfortable to recall, was a tiny two room basement suite in the area just outside the University gates. It had tiny windows, cedar clad walls with built in shelving and cleverly concealed built in closet which house all of our clothes. There was a small alcove built into the wall separating the two small spaces – in this was a fitted mattress which became Renaissance Man’s little bedchamber. One little room became his playroom, with rolls of large paper taped to the long wall where he could draw with crayons and pencils to his heart’s content. His books were accessible from the small book-case, and his toys were placed about here, ready for play. My mattress and box-spring bed I dragged into the space adjoining the two rooms and this gave an illusion of privacy for both of us. The large abstract painting my art schoool friend Barry gave me for my 23rd birthday, provided beautiful jewel-like colour on the dark wall above my bed. On the door hiding the closet hung my friend Carol’s hard edge painting from one of her series of closet abstractions. The book-shelves in the kitchen housed my collection of text-books, few art books and some of my pottery dishes and mugs.

We lived a quiet life here, cocooned and comfortable.  It was spare living, but very comforing. There was a park with lovely shrubbery and trees across the street, a playground, a view of the North Shore mountains. Grocery shopping was close by, in fact, my University, RM’s day care provider, doctor and friends were within walking distance. My Statistics prof lived two houses over from us, and her little daughter was RM’s age.  Her nanny would bring her over to the playground across the street in the park, where she would stand transfixed and terrified to move and get herself dirty, arms upraised in a “Yuck” gesture while Renaissance Man did his best to entice her to play with him by demonstrating how to make sand landscapes with his little shovels and pail. He reveled in the unrestricted freedom of the open spaces, while she recoiled from them.  They never managed to connect in play, in spite of all his friendly overtures toward her.

I loved our little lair and its environs. My Mother, on her occasional visits would curl her lip, disdainful of our apparent comfort. My Father said it reminded him of a hermit-in-the-woods cabin.  To this day, I recall fondly this marvellous cosy underground home.

Fifteen years later, Rumpole, Renaissance Man and I travelled by car to the Four Corners area of the U.S. southwest where we were completely fascinated by the cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde and spent several days wandering about and considering how a population of people could make safe homes for themselves in close communal groups using the natural features of the landscape to provide the basic structure of their living spaces.  These cliff-dwellers were New World troglodytes.

When we travelled to Moab in Utah I was struck by the gorgeousness of the landscape.  It did seem rather strange to me, however, that the town of Moab was built out of materials that obviously had to be transported from a different landscape; ther was no attempt whatsoever to use the indigenous red sandstone to build this community.  Was it a collective failure of the imagination that caused this poor integration of built environment within its given landscape? There were no pioneer builders with troglodyte tendencies?

I have developed a natural abhorrence for voluminous living spaces, of the kind that are much desired for living in North America. The outdoors seems to be more than adequate to experience feelings of expansiveness and freedom.Needs for privacy can be met within small, intimate spaces; the need to let one’s spirit and mind soar freely can be fulfilled by moving about outdoors. I suspect there is a duality operating in human nature – one aspect, to contain and distill into concentrate  impressions, and the other to let range and roam gathering information and sustenance. A troglodyte needs sun, wind, rain and stars, food and water, the companionship of others as well as comfortable enclosure in small private spaces.

Do you have a bit of the troglodyte inside you?

The crows…

April 5, 2007

Cold, spring crispness,

gravel crunches underfoot,

a scattered cupful of sugar.

“Tall cathedral-spire cypresses loom ahead.”

Look up!

Crows are playing falling-leaf,

first one, then another,

tossing themselves against

spring-solid air,

calling joyously,

tumbling, then

at the last moment

catching on wing,

they labour back

to the top branch.

I walk by, earthbound,

wishing to be with

the crows.

Why?

March 15, 2007

Why is the flowering weed spied at the side of a gravel path more precious than the rows of flourishing, exotic and foreign blooms gathered in profusion at the grocery store, or flower shop?

Why does the small gift of a sack of beets grown by a friend provide a more tasty feast than the binned piles of Superstore ones?

Why is the scabbed apple you pluck from a branch more tasty than the perfectly waxed and massed specimens more readily available.

Why is the ordinary so extraordinary?

Special needs…

March 1, 2007

About 16 years ago I was hospitalized in a municipal mental hospital for acute depression. At that time, a part of me realized that the sparse environment provided by the hospital ward had a purpose – to not stimulate and to desensitize the mentally ill. All surfaces had to be unable to provide a means for us to hurt ourselves.  There were no decorations upon which we could fix in a symbolic way and thus be stimulated to construct obsessive symbolic scenarios.  Despite this, I am embarrassed to admit, when a lovely woman was presented to me as someone to provide pastoral care I fixated upon a necklace she wore ripe with symbolic content which frightened me and caused me to fancifully elaborate a completely implausible fabrication. It so happens that these many years later I find myself living in the same community as this pastor lady and that I hold great admiration and affection for her as an individual.  Circumstances change, insight becomes possible with the passage of time and with submission to wise medication.

Thus, having regained a more or less normal functioning in society and being able to concentrate on my own goals and making them come to fruition, about 7 years ago I was determined to find a way to give back to other mentally ill people some of the support that was so freely given me.  A good friend had just resumed her career as a mental health worker, having found herself to be in the circumstance of a divorce and needing to support her children alone.  She found employment in the local mental health commnunity. She was one person with whom I had always found it easy to be candid about my circumstances and experiences, and I expressed to her that I would like to find a way to personally give support to other mentally ill people using  my skills in the visual arts. She knew of a group home where an art and pottery program was required, and which was equipped with a kiln and wheels that the occupational therapists didn’t know how to operate. So began my experience in delivering an art program for a group of very heavily medicated individuals.

I was initially quite nervous and fearful that I would not be sensitive to the individual conditions that people taking the workshop had to operate under, or that my patter would tax them unnecessarily or that what we were about to undertake together may provide frustration rather than satisfaction for them. However, it was spring, and we were able to go out into the unheated workshop  for us to begin to work with clay, that giving medium.

I unearthed my few modelling tools, gathered bits of wood, spools, junk and combs and string and rope, a 50 pound box of clay and carted them to our first session. There were 5 persons taking the workshop. We first met and had coffee in the dining area, chatted, talked about ourselves and then trooped out to the shed at the back of the building.  All 5 people were heavily medicated; some had tremours that caused their hands and arms to tremble. No one wanted to make eye contact but were eager to feel and palpate the clay, to press and squeeze it, to spread it into a lumpy pancake and leave their hand and finger marks.  We added a little water to make the clay slippery to handle, and to discover how quickly the moisture disappeared from it. Bob, a young man, very shy and quaky, admitted he really liked the feel of the clay and asked if he could make a small object.  “Sure, go for it!” I said. He quietly formed three small figures that looked like chess men.  They were remarkable for their freshness and direct form.  He said he missed being able to play chess which he loved to do as a young boy, and which he no longer could due to not being able to concentrate enough.  This was so heart-breaking an admission!

Ralph, a 30 something young man of very flat affect, said he would like to make a beautiful little bowl, and he struggled with pinching a little bowl and trying to control his grip on the clay to make little grasping  thinning increments while turning a ball into which he plunged his thumb and which he squeezed between his thumb and forefinger.  He experienced quite a lot of difficulty in applying gradual repetitious pressure and turning the little form in his hand. I suggested he do several to try to develop the “feel” and then determine which little bowl met his requirements the best.  He concentrated so well on this task!

May, a chatty, disorganized woman in her 40s, very hearty and very pleasant, decided to make a doll’s head which she fussed over for a long time. She handled her clay for too long, and maybe her body temperature was high, for her clay kept drying quickly, so we had to apply light misture to the clay.  Finally she became frustrated and dunked the doll’s head into water and then was really upset when the clay became too slick to handle. We dried off the clay with a cloth and I showed her how to hollow out the head to make it dry evenly without cracking. She was finally pleased.

Cyrus, an older man with severe tremours had great difficulty in handling the clay, but he was all right in molding the clay with blocks of wood a task which didn’t require fine motor control. So he built slabs of clay with interesting pressed textures using the block of wood and other mark-making materials.  He was quite content and pleased with what he was doing.

Muriel, a swarthy woman of middle years, sat with her clay pressing and poking, unsure of what it could do for her.  She didn’t look at the clay, but kept her focus on a middle distance and absently manipulated it.  This was fine also and she kept repeating this activity and seemed relaxed.

An hour and a half sped by like mere few minutes. These individuals were engaged temporarily in an activity which broke the tedium of their day.  They didn’t linger  at the front doorway obsessively smoking their alotted cigarettes, or sit in a daze in the activity room fixated on a game show on the television set.  We parted after a communal cup of coffee in the dining room where we planned to make a trip with the occupational therapist to go on a field trip to the major supplier of ceramic tools and clays the following week as a group.  We were going to look at tools and materials and people could be part of the process.

Our good byes said we promised to reconvene the following week and embark on a journey of clay exploration all together.

We had a most fruitful summer and fall in the pottery studio, and I made some new friends!

How she travelled from home to work….Transitions…

January 31, 2007

Friends are revealing all sorts of fascinating preoccupations, joys, sorrows, questions everywhere in suburbia.

This morning a really wonderful gift arrived form a “friend” in Karachi. It makes me want to go out and find cans of automotive paint and paint my sedate old truck with all sorts of colours, and stick on its body some decorations.  Yes, it reminds me to realize that “Real Men” do make embroidery, in all kinds of ways, though!

Drop in and visit – www.idiopathicidiocy.wordpress.com

Stuff in life….landscapes of consumption…

January 29, 2007

This Canadian photographer has made an amazing body of work during his career….

The result of our obsession with novelty , status,  acquisition of  power, pleasure and need to ease of innate fears has had profound consequences on us – in how we live, where we live and our ecologic impact as a species.  Sure, we read all about this every day, but think back on the way the bombing of the Twin Towers in 01 held most of us spellbound (because it so closely affected us).

As I type this on my rebuilt computer and brand new monitor…. niggling in the back of my mind are the pictures Burtynsky has captured.  They should be played all day without surcease on Televisions in suburbia.  Pictures can sometime be worth a thousand words!

http://edwardburtynsky.com/WORKS_Ground/Breaking.html

This film  of Burtynsky’s has been playing in Canada in 2006…..Profoundly affecting…..a dirge!

Manufactured Landscapes

www.mongrelmedia.com/films

Applying labels…

January 26, 2007

Yesterday morning, as “Rumpole”was leaving suburbia to go to his office downtown, he asked what my plans were for the day.  I told him that the reason why last night’s spaghetti was so oddly flavoured of cilantro, and which he found so unpalatable but nevertheless ate (he made faces and didn’t manage to eat everything on his plate) was due to the fact that I hadn’t paid close enough attention when refilling the cilantro and basil jars, and put the wrong spice in the wrong bottle.  He was tapping his feet, rolling his eyes as he was waiting for me to get to the point. Finally letting the penny drop, I told him that the spice jar labels needed to be corrected so that’s what I would do this day.

A while later,  I took out the mislabelled jars, scrubbed off their paper labels but had difficulty removing the adhesive that had been used to stick the labels to the glass jars. As I went about this chore I tried various methods to remove the sticky stuff . It was tough going and took awhile. My thoughts, for whatever strange reason,  roamed around and oddly settled onto my lifelong preoccupation with lawns. This may have had to do with the fact that while both dried chopped cilantro and basil tasted completely different they looked very much alike, but also a lot like grass clippings. Grass clippings brought to mind lawns.

Lawns are a hot topic, here in the suburbs. Sherry (the feminine half of Sharold) is pretty religious about maintaining the lawn at their place, both front and back. She monitors weed growth and grass height,  does the weeding and watering, but leaves the cutting, fertilizing, aeration and pest removal to Harold. He takes the clippings to the dump after each cutting. Their lawn looks really good.

By comparison our lawn is a sorry sight. Our neighbours, kindly enough, don’t make outright comments about this, because a) we’re older, b) we obviously try to maintain at least a semblance of lawn ( we keep it cut, but never fertilize it, or aerate it, or weed it) and c) suspect we really don’t care but are too polite to ask. Sharold  and others  living here in suburbia affectionately call this neighbourhood “Pleasantville. They really mean this, unfortunately sometimes they take pot-shots by mentioning our weeds, the strange uneven cuts which never twice look the same.  They really get worked up by all the moles living in our lawn which create little piles of earth all over it. They never actually come out and say ” mole”, but instead offer advice on how best to kill them, and have even gone so far as to gift us with mole-eradicators!!!They have never suggested that we read the definitive book on Lawns, but some provided good references in case we wish to learn all about them. “Rumpole” and I  occasionally wonder what  names our neighbours might call us,  but don’t dwell on this too long. From time to time we admit fleeting embarrassment.

Before our move here  ten years ago, we lived on acreage in the Northern bush.  On our lot were trees, upright and fallen, shrubs, an interesting succession of undergrowth plant and even some pasture. We could see several different kinds of woodpeckers, owls and other birds. Occasionally on misty spring morning we might see a moose browsing in the pasture. On clear cold winter nights we’d sometimes hear wolves howling. We thought our place to be our own private Garden of Eden.

 When I am woolgathering, my thoughts skip around. Once, I allowed myself to think frivolous thoughts about the Garden of Eden such as the fact there have been no clear descriptions of it. There were all kinds of flora(clover , moss and dandelions, I presume), and fauna,( moles, and even a snake!!!). No mention of lawnmowers and Mole-be-gone! I have seen artists renderings of the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve are never shown cutting lawns or drowning  moles with a garden hose . Eve is always handing Adam an apple.

I like to imagine that Sharold, like Adam and Eve, have been expelled from the Garden of Eden, as have the rest of us here in suburbia, in “Pleasantville”.  We are all destined to be obsessed or pleased by,   uncaring or worried about our lawns.  For certain we  sure have to do a lot of maintenance to keep them up and use lots of  energy to do so. This seems to me to be wasted effort, with really uneven results. I wonder why we do it. Grass that grows tall, waves about in the breeze, contains plants that vary from season to season and allows moles and birds, molehills and even an odd snake might be preferable to the regimented sameness of lawns.

“Rumpole” and I really miss living in the bush. Occasionally he was known to have taken an apple from my hand. We really enjoyed our life there! It was a great place to raise a child, we like to think.

Ceramic Rescue – Undercover Division

January 23, 2007

 I love things CLAY. Walking barefoot on a tamped-down earth path during and right after a warm summer rainfall  is an experience that yields distinct pleasures. Simultaneously one smells that fresh, humid and slightly metallic scent (“Rumpole” defines it as ozone smell) that accompanies summer rain. Each step taken along the wet path is an adventure of trying to remain upright; the slippery clay  squishes up between the toes – a sensation that can be enjoyable or uncomfortable. On some places along the path the combination of water and earth creates a clay that one easily slips along. One comes upon potholes where the clay is heavy: each step is hampered by the grip of the clay on the foot – one has to struggle to extricate oneself from  being mired. Falling down means becoming covered by a layer of clay.  This, at first, feels nice,smooth, however, water begins to evaporate from this covering skin of clay. The more water evaporates the tighter the clay skin becomes. It shrinks, cracks and becomes dry and brittle – as this happens one’s skin feels pinched, dusty, itchy. But, one can wash the clay off – just run enough water, sometimes more, sometimes less – depending at what stage, from slip to dry, the clay is.

These things I learned about clay while visiting with my paternal Grandmother who lived in a clay house in a village 3 miles from the Hungarian/Ukranian border.  There I learned that clay also had utility – her house had clay floors. In the summer these clay floors were cool to walk on. During the winter the floor warmed up from the heat of the woodstove. Mixing bowls, pitchers, mugs and plates here were different from the ones we had at home – they were made by a potter who lived in a nearby village.  These were decorated with strange and unfamiliar patterns, rather curious symbols of flowers, bands of dots, chevron stripes, straight and wavy lines and checkerboard. My Grandmother’s house was one which I recreated in my mind while reading Grimm’s Fairy Tales. In my imaginings the Witch’s house in Hansel and Gretel also had clay floors.  The Witch walked on clay floors and drank her water from a mug decorated exactly like one my Grandmother used.

Later, pleasant associations with this material, Clay, were added to  and reinforced. In high school came my first opportunity to make things with clay.  Mr. Waldie was the teacher in this Ceramics class. He loved clay too – a lot! He showed us how to use a kick-wheel to throw cylynders. I soon learned that clay can be an accommodating, forgiving and co-operative material but also had characteristics that must be understood and respected. Awareness, patience and perseverence were virtues, if practiced, which helped one learn to make more successful results. Learning through trial and error, we learned to make clay cylinders on the wheel that with time were straighter, less off-center and had thinner walls. Mr Waldie taught us different ways to make handles for mugs, how to apply these firmly, how to dry the finished mug so the handle wouldn’t dry before the cylinder and thus crack and fall off; how to apply glaze; how to load a kiln. He shared our delight or disappointment when our mugs came out of the kiln after the firing.

My idea then of what a hand-made mug should be was much influenced by my memories of Grandmother’s ones.  The first ceramic mug I made was a poor imitation, but I was encouraged by the fact that it could be comfortably held and that it held water. It was no beauty! Mother, however, liked it ( for reasons I could not then understand, but which I now do). She placed and kept it on her coffee table.  There it lived!  Going through and dividing among ourselves Mother’s collections after she died  i found my first mug among her collection of teacups. I took it home with me, otherwise it would have been donated to the Salvation Army Store to be put among many other mug foundlings.  No one would have wanted it to take home – it was too ugly!

This simple act of taking back my ugly mug caused me to think about beauty, utility, sentiment, encouragement, desirability, boredom, novelty and fashion, ego and feelings of self-worth.

I know, as a “maker of things”, of the feelings  I experience whenever something I produce is greeted with various reactions. While I am browsing the mug section in the Salvation Army Store, and come upon a mug which has a pleasant form and weight,  a smooth rim that feels silky to the touch, a handle which allows a firm and comfortable grip, a beautifully finished foot,  which isn’t cracked and which has an interesting glaze without many flaws and which holds the right amount of liquid without leaking I wonder.  Who made it, when it was made, who used it and why  did it end up remaindered at this second-hand store? It is still useful and can serve well for its intended purposes.  I like to think that the potter who made this mug would be quite pleased to think that this mug was making its way out in the world being valued for its usefulness and beauty.

There is an organization that I would like to initiate.  There is a need for such an organization. It is one I would like to name SCAM ( Society for the Conservation of Abandoned Mugs) There are many people who are likely candidates to belong to this group, but they are not yet organized. Currently they operate informally, solo, if you will.  This is very good and they do valuable work. Some of them are my friends and family. These people have undertaken to work as seekers to collect unwanted hand-made mugs.  Our mission is to find the beauty in whatever hand-made pottery mug we find, to rescue it from an eventuality that it may not be wanted and be discarded. My clever sister has come up with a name for this group of rescuers – CRUD (ceramic rescue – undercover division).  I like this name – it has a truthful quality!)

As members of CRUD, each of us is casually but persistently engaged in our mission to rescue unwanted mugs.  We happily compare our finds and share our pleasure  and satisfaction with our efforts to rehabilitate these to let them carry on their purpose.

Over the past two years my CRUD activities have resulted in collecting and using, so far, 10 mugs. They are my prized possessions and when friends come for tea, on every occasion they can select the cup they wish to use. We negotiate who gets to use which cup.  This can be a enjoyable time spent with each other, before we settle down to drink tea and converse..

I have noticed a curious thing – many of these friends have broadened their recue efforts.

Their operations involve rescue of what they value, and what they value is varied.  Being in such an organization brings many benefits to all of us.

Chicken…

January 18, 2007

During the time of our courtship, “Rumpole” aka my husband, kept chickens on his 1/4 acre plot on the outskirts of the city. Every one of our courting activities were timed around the needs of these chickens. When we were about to depart for a romantic holiday in San Francisco, he rounded up the chickens, placed them in crates and drove them to a friend’s acreage in the neighbouring municipality. This was the beasties’ baby-sitting situation for two weeks duration.

“Rumpole’s” favourite fowl was his rooster, McTavish. McT marched around with self-important airs and mercilessly bossed anything which moved on two legs, people included.  He was sneaky and nasty.  He crept up on one stealthily and attacked from behind.  His rabid behaviour didn’t endear him to me; I did a little dance for joy when my loved one “gifted” McT permanently to his friend. Hah!  Some gift! I imagine he eventually ended up in a stock-pot.  Good riddance!

Other people have varying opinions about and relationships with chickens.  For many, familiarity begins and ends with cellophane-wrapped chicken, whole or in bits, posed enticingly on a styrofoam slab. For my Daughter-in-law, chicken is only tolerable if skinned and de-boned.  I like to poke, perversely, at her squeamishness by regaling her with stories of my family’s habits of chicken consumption and our own “chicken lore”.

My Father and Mother raised two of us girls in post- WW II Hungary.  We lived in the fourth-floor apartment of a then relatively modern 1930s style. The apartment had no central heating, but each room had a capacious tile stove with which to heat the rooms. There were two balconies, one that overlooked the street at the front, and the other which gave a view onto the back yard and “garden”.  There was an empty, cracked swimming-pool on the yard, half covered over with planks.  This defunct pool served as the chicken house for the apartment dwellers. In the spring and summer, the building’s housewives would foray into the open central market and purchase one or two live chickens and carry them home, hung by their feet.  These chickens were then let loose in the back yard.  Here they could poke around and hang out until the housewives decided it was time to butcher and make them into delicious Paprikas Csirke.

Our Mother, a born and bred city girl, really hated butchering chickens. She would bring the selected fowl upstairs and keep it on the back balcony for several days while she worked up the nerve for the butchery she had no way of avoiding. My sister and I would visit the chickens on Death Row, feed and water them, and generally treated them as temporary pets.

When it was time for “the act”, Mother would herd us girls into the back bathroom and gave us the knife and a deep bowl to have in readiness. She fetched the chicken, which would be cooing and clucking, little suspecting what fate awaited it. By the time Mother and the chicken arrived in the bathroom, Mother was almost hyper-ventilating.  Sister, being the older one, was given the task to extend the chicken’s neck over the toilet bowl.  My job was to hand the knife to Mother, hold the bowl under the neck to catch the blood, and to guide the knife to the area which was about to be slit. Mother kept her face and eyes averted, meanwhile desperately grasping the chicken to her side and making messy, sawing motions with the knife. Once the cut was made, the animal had to be kept firmly in hand until it finally bled out. Otherwise, there would have been a blood-bath for all three of us. And, that would have meant that sister and I could not taste our favourite treat, blood-pudding. No blood in the bowl, no blood pudding.

This telling is one with which I regale my daughter-in-law at carefully chosen moments.  It so grosses her out! The one I am holding in reserve is my remembrance of chicken soup, as made and served by my Mother. Maybe I’ll hold off entertaining her with details of chicken plucking. It is particularly messy and gruesome, and as a story can be safely exaggerated and embellished with graphic details.

Back, in the mists of time, I partook of some Home Economics courses. At no time was there mentioned any unsavoury detail of whence our foods originated, and what processes they had undergone in order to arrive at our pantries, refrigerators and freezers. No mentions of the messy, but necessary, business of animal husbandry. I think it is a mistake to forget old ways of doing things, and in this urbanized culture of ours, most of us have scant idea of the origins of the many things we consume and use.

I sit and type this at a computer, with which I can express and share ideas and musings with unknown persons. The computer is a machine which cannot provide the sustenance which an animal, such as a chicken, can.  Yes – the whole chicken – blood, brain, heart, gizzard, liver, skin and body. Even its bones can be converted to bone meal.

Of course, my daughter-in-law, along with thousands of other modern women, is completely disgusted at entertaining such thoughts. However, in the not too distant future they will find themselves obliged to do so!