Monday, 24 September 2018

Poetry Monday: Games

It's Poetry Monday, and today's topic is "games we liked to play."

Join Diane, Delore and me as we play "the poetry game" and reminisce about other games we have enjoyed. If you'd like, you can leave a poem in the comments, or, if you prefer to post on your own blog, please let us know in the comments so we can come along and cheer you on. You can use the topic, or veer off course, as I ended up doing today. The object is to write and to have fun.

*****

When I was a kid we didn't have computers or video games. I had a wind-up doll with a music box inside, but that was as advanced as toys got at that time. I'm sure there are a few of you who can relate to that quieter time in life.

And so we had to occupy ourselves in other ways. Among those ways were indoor games.

I liked board games all right, but I rarely had anyone to play with except my only sibling. My brother was four years my senior, but not old enough to have a particle of empathy or sympathy or any other mpathy for his little sister. His favourite game was Monopoly, he was always the Banker, and I always lost. I might still have Monopoly Resentment. (Blogging as therapy! Boo yah!)

We also played a lot of card games. In those I had a much better chance to win. Go Fish depended mostly on luck, as did Crazy Eights, and even Solitaire. (So why did my brother still beat me most of the time?)

Then one summer a cousin introduced us to the card game Cheat. The objective of this game is to be the first to get rid of all your cards, which usually requires you to cheat blatantly and get away with it.

The rules, as I remember them, were: cards were dealt face down equally to all players until the deck was gone; players took turns placing cards from their hand face down on the table; the first person said/played aces, the next player said/played twos, the next, threes, etc.; if you didn't have the card you needed you had to cheat (use a different card); if you wanted to get rid of cards quickly, you needed to cheat (play cards that weren't what you said they were). Other players could call "cheat" if they suspected  cheating was going on. If they called it right, the player who cheated had to pick up all the cards on the table. If they called it wrong, the player who incorrectly called "cheat" had to pick them all up.

Amazingly, I was very good at this game. Maybe I had a poker face, or an innocent face, or maybe my brother was exceptionally bad at reading faces. I don't know. But being able to win often at this game made me feel very good indeed.

Never mind that it meant I was good at cheating, something I knew was bad and unfair the rest of the time. It was heady fun to have a game where the forbidden was not only allowed, it was encouraged.

I've pretty well explained in prose about the game I liked to play, so for my poem this week I'm heading off on a tangent inspired by my memories, to talk about growing up with an older sibling. (One explanation: our parents both worked, thus the reference to the sitter. It was somewhat uncommon for the 1950's and early 1960's, at least in our community.)


* * * * *

Dear Brother

Oh Brother of mine - who'll always be
The oldest and best and ahead of me -
You were first to the sitter and first to school;
First to have teachers and first to have rules;
First to be tapped to do chores in our home;
First to find work and have cash of your own;
First with a license to drive, and a car;
First to move out and first to move far;
First to get married and first to have kids -
Blazing the trail for your younger sib.
The four years between us so often seemed more.
The things that I liked, you had aged to abhor.
I was too young for you, you were too old for me.
At times we did nothing but fight constantly.

But now we are older and do not compete;
We've both had our share of life's joys and defeats.
We do not live close to each other, it's true,
And emails and telephone calls are too few.
But I know I can count on you having my back,
And sharing the load when life's on the attack.
Our outlooks and interests still seem far apart,
And yet we've found ways to be closer in heart.
So here's to my big bro, a friend like no other,
The one person on earth to share my dad and mother.




Looks innocent enough, doesn't he?



*****

What games did you play when you were young?


Update:  Next week's topic is "harvest" . . .




Friday, 21 September 2018

Recipe Request: Pineapple Squares

River, who blogs at Drifting Through Life, requested the recipe for the pineapple squares I mentioned in my poem last Monday. These are not a low calorie treat, not by any stretch of the imagination, but they do taste mighty fine. The directions call for standard measuring cups and spoons rather than weighing ingredients, and I bake mine in an electric oven. Your results may differ if you use a different system of measurement or a different kind of oven.

Just one question before we get to the actual recipe. Our son-in-law, who grew up in Australia and in the United States, wanted to know why we called squares "squares" because he had never heard the term used before. When I explained that a square was any kind of sweet made in a flat pan and cut into squares or rectangles, that was confusing enough. But then when we started talking about brownies (sweets made in a flat pan and cut into squares or rectangles, and never called "brownie squares"), he was even more baffled.

I thought the word "squares" was in universal use. Apparently not! What do YOU call sweet treats that are baked in a pan and cut into squares? I'm curious to know.

Pineapple Squares

Base:
1/2 c butter
3 T brown sugar or icing sugar (I've used both; they're equally good)
1 c white flour

Cream butter and sugar together; add flour and mix well. Press into bottom of ungreased 8 inch square pan (metal or glass). Bake at 350F - 375F for 10-15 minutes. Will not be browned, but will feel firm to the touch. Do not overbake. Cool before adding frosting layer.

Frosting layer:
1/4 c butter
3/4 c icing sugar
1/4 t vanilla

Cream butter; gradually add icing sugar and then vanillal mix well. Spread over base.

Topping:
1/2 c whipping cream
1 c crushed pineapple (or tidbits work too), well drained

Whip cream until soft peaks form, fold in drained pineapple, and spread on frosted base. Chill well before serving. Perishable, so store in fridge. Keeps at least four days.

As with any recipe, you may wish to tweak it to make it healthier, more decadent, etc. I usually make a bit more whipped cream in order to accommodate the entire can of pineapple that is closest in size to one cup, because otherwise the pineapple would go to waste and also because I like the topping part the best :)

*****

Good luck, River and anyone else who takes a run at making these. Any questions, feel free to ask in the comments.

*****

I couldn't find a picture of pineapple squares on the internet that looked even remotely like the ones this recipe makes, so instead here's a funny video of Louie the beagle making Christmas cookies . . . because Christmas is only thirteen and a half weeks away . . . . . . .








Monday, 17 September 2018

Poetry Monday: Baking

It's Poetry Monday, and this week's topic is "baking."

Join Diane, Delores and me while we whip up something delectable for your reading enjoyment! You are welcome to leave a poem in the comments on any of our blogs, or, if you prefer to post on your own blog, please leave us a note in the comments to let us know where to find you. Have fun!


*****

I had a good grounding in the basics of baking and cooking, but I don't know if younger generations are as lucky.

I read an article recently, one of those lists of "Things" - you know, "15 Things Your Cat Wishes You Knew," or "10 Things You Can Do To Save The Planet," except this one was "7 Foods I Don't Buy Anymore." The author had figured out that it was tastier and cheaper to make these things at home, things like pancakes and oatmeal.

The last item in the list was "whipped cream" and I wondered what marvellous substance she had found to replace whipping cream. Instead, she gave a recipe for making . . . whipped whipping cream.

Apparently she had never realized whipped cream came in any form other than what is contained in spray cans. It certainly made me think. And it made me thankful for all the skills I learned in my mother's kitchen and in Home Economics class in high school.


*****

Warning: High Calorie Words Ahead


My mother indulged my young interest in baking;
She cheerfully supervised all kinds of making,
From brownies to cheesecakes, from cookies* to pie,
Muffins and sweet loaves, and biscuits* sky high.

A great many things that I made, she had not,
But the basics I needed to know were well taught.
Through the years I developed my sweet-making knack
For bake sales and birthdays and after-school snacks.

But then, like so many, we gained too much weight,
And baking's a rare thing, in this house, of late.

I still make a few things for special occasions:
Pies of the Christmas/Thanksgiving persuasions;
Pineapple squares for my craft group potluck;
At craft sale time, oatcakes, to make a few bucks;

A specialty cake for my beloved's birthday;
And strawberry shortcake for a hot July day.
Biscuits appear now and then for my hubby
(He's taller than me and not nearly as chubby).

Although I no longer bake as I once did,
I'm glad for the knowledge I gained as a kid.  



*cookies = English biscuits, and biscuits = English scones . . . I think the rest of the baked goods mentioned are not likely to cause communication difficulties!



I've never actually had this happen when I was baking, probably because our cats are too "fluffy" themselves to be able to jump up on the counter.


Are you a baker? How did you learn? Tell me all about it!



Update:  Next week's topic is "games we liked to play" . . .







Monday, 10 September 2018

Poetry Monday: Teddy Bear

It's Poetry Monday, and this week's theme is "Teddy Bear."

Join Diane, Delores and me as we squeeze the stuffing out of this topic!

The rules, such as they are, are simple: leave a poem in the comments on any of our blogs, or if  you post on your own blog, please leave a comment to tell us where to find you. Or just read and enjoy. Use any topic you wish; the theme is a suggestion that can be taken or not. Have fun!

*****

For several days after Diane posted the theme for this week, I kept drawing a blank. I wasn't a teddy bear kind of kid; dolls were my big preoccupation. My kids didn't have special teddies when they were young, either.

Finally I let my mind wander beyond stuffed bears and, lo! the image of a large black dog popped into my head -- a dog named Bear, owned by a friend years ago (true story). At the same time, I remembered a piece of fiction I read long ago about a black bear who thought he was a dog. I actually found that story on the internet, but I'm not linking to it because when I re-read it I found it had a lot of gory and unhappy scenes as well as the light-hearted ones, and I don't really want to inflict that on anyone. It's strange that all I remembered were the good parts.  Does that happen to you?

ANYWAY.

The rest was easy, because I let the juvenile in me take over writing.


*****

Teddy And Bear

Teddy, Teddy was a bear
Teddy, Teddy didn't care

In fact, he thought he was a dog
And joined his human for a jog

His bowl of kibble brought him joy
Along with every doggy toy

His best friend was a Newfoundland
They looked alike, you understand

Teddy's friend was known as Bear
He was a dog but didn't care

Both friends were shaggy, black and furry
Both - when running - rather blurry

Differences? they had a few
Upon the outside, it is true

One's ears stood up, one's ears flopped down
One's tail was short, one's reached the ground

But Bear and Teddy knew the trick
Of making a good friendship tick

It's what's inside that really counts
Being kind and true is paramount

Bear and Teddy were firm friends
And that is where my story ends



Teddy, the black bear




Bear, the Newfoundland dog


(Photos: Pixabay)


  *****

Wishing you a week where you do not confuse a bear with a dog . . . should be fairly easy to achieve, yes? :)



Update:  Next weeks' theme is "baking" . . . let's see what we can cook up :)






Monday, 3 September 2018

Poetry Monday: Fall

It's Poetry Monday, and this week's theme is "Fall."

Feel free to join Diane, Delores and me in writing a poem, or just read along. You may post your poem in the comments on any of our blogs, or, if you post on your own blog, please leave a note in the comments so we can find you. Use the theme, or write about something entirely different. Just have fun!

*****

Because July and August were so hot and humid, I stayed inside as much as possible. I don't do heat well.

But as a result I feel like I've been cooped up for a long, loooooong time, and that I've missed out on the things I do enjoy about warmer weather, like gardening, walking unencumbered by winter clothing, and generally just enjoying the fresh air in the evenings, after the worst heat of the day is gone.

That didn't happen more than a handful of times this summer. Often it didn't cool off until well after dark. Or not at all. The few seeds I planted are stunted while the weeds have grown just wonderfully, and have taken over everywhere. Not getting out to walk means my hips and back have stiffened up and my scale has not moved in a downward direction for a very long time. (It may have moved the other direction. And by may, I mean has.)

Normally I look forward to fall, but I don't want it to be too cool just yet.

Bloody* heck, I'm hard to please, I know! I just want my temperate weather back, please and thanks.

This is what happens when the climate change chickens come home to roost.

And that's sobering.

So let's not think about it for just a few minutes, and have a poem instead.

(* Sorry if this word offends - it's not considered a swear word in Canada. I think it may be elsewhere, though.)

*****

Fall:  What I Like About You

Oh Fall, Oh Fall
You're pretty good, overall
You're not hot
Well, not a lot
You're not freezin'
Like another season
I could mention
(Winter, pay attention)
Even if you do
Use too much orange hue
You also use sky blue
So I forgive you
You make birds swirl in flocks
And let me wear socks
Your leaves are splendiferous
On which point we're vociferous
Your breezes clear my head
You kiss our apples with red
You ripen our pumpkins
And bring Halloween munchkins
Your huge harvest moon
Makes me ooh! ahh! and swoon
Dear Fall, there's just one thing:
Why can't you stay 'til Spring?







(Photo:  Procrastinating Donkey, 2016)


*****

Two notes of interest from today's poem:

"Our apples" refers to Nova Scotia's many apple orchards in the Annapolis Valley. This blog explains all about the different varieties grown here much better than I ever could, complete with gorgeous photos.

Pumpkins: Nova Scotia is home to a couple of interesting pumpkin-related competitions -- growing them and rowing them. See here for giant pumpkins and here for a short clip about an annual pumpkin regatta.

*****

What do you like about Fall? What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think about that word?


Hope you have a good week -- and may your boat, pumpkin or otherwise, always float :)


Update:  Next week's theme:  The Teddy Bear!