Sunday, 20 May 2018

Widow's Endorphins: Long Train of Thought On Meghan, Duchess of Sussex...

Widow's Endorphins: Long Train of Thought On Meghan, Duchess of Sussex...: Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is strong as death, passion fierce as the grave. Its flash...

Long Train of Thought On Meghan, Duchess of Sussex



Set me as a seal upon your heart,
as a seal upon your arm;
for love is strong as death,
passion fierce as the grave.
Its flashes are flashes of fire,
a raging flame.
Many waters cannot quench love,
neither can floods drown it.  
- Song of Songs (8:6-7) from the Song of Solomon, in the Bible

Tomorrow is Victoria Day in Canada...a national holiday named in honour of Queen Victoria.  We're the only country in the Commonwealth (including Mother England) that celebrates Victoria's birthday (we do it in style, with beer and BBQs).  Today's blogpost is not about her...it's about the newest member of the Royal Family, the brilliant and beautiful Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle...and the power of love. 

Meghan Markle is a powerful and inspiring woman...and always has been.  When she was 12 years old, watching newscasts as part of a Social Studies project with classmates, she heard the words to a Proctor and Gamble dish detergent commercial that disturbed her:  Women are fighting greasy pots and pans with Ivory Clear.  She was "furious".  

She handwrote letters to the President of Proctor and Gamble, then First Lady Hilary Clinton, and prominent lawyer, Gloria Allred.  She wrote that the commercial's message was that only women do dishes. She said that the boys in her class agreed, saying, "Yeah, that's where women belong - in the kitchen".  She later said that that "hurt" her feelings.  "They're going to grow up thinking that boys are better than girls...that girls are less than them". In her letter, she writes, "I was wondering if you would be able to change your commercial to 'people'".  Three months later, the commercial announced that people are fighting greasy pots and pans with Ivory Clear.

Interviewed on the news, the 12 year old Markle said, "If you see something that you don't like, or you are offended by on tv, or any other place, write letters, and send them to the right people...and we can really make a difference, not just for yourself, lots of other people."  



The Victorians of Queen Victoria's day may have been shocked to see a young black bride, gracefully walking up the steps of St. George's chapel, towards her Prince, her sixteen foot bridal train being held up by John and Brian, the seven year old twin grandsons of former Canadian Prime Minister, Brian Mulroney - young, privileged, white boys dutifully serving the future Duchess.  It was beautiful, and natural, and perfect.

As the New York Times reported, In a time of tribalism and separation, it was a clear move toward an integrated modern future from the oldest of houses.  Seated directly opposite Queen Elizabeth II was Ms. Markle's mother, Doria Ragland, the descendant of slaves on plantations in the American South...  One had the sense, that we were witnessing not only the intimate and emotional tears welling in the eyes of a proud Mother-of-the-Bride, we were also witnessing the tears of pride and triumph for a people who had been enslaved.

Inclusivity was embroidered in the lace of the bridal train.  Flora from all 53 countries in the British Commonwealth were embroidered into the lace, along with the California Poppy, from Meghan Markle's home State, and Wintersweet, which grows on the grounds of Harry's beloved Kensington Palace.

Almost as long as the bridal train, was the passionate sermon from the Most Reverend Michael Bruce Curry, of Chicago.  The presiding Bishop of the American Episcopal Church delivered a 14 minute sermon, unlike anything seen at a Royal wedding, with guests looking wide-eyed, shocked, stifling a laugh, annoyed and serene.  The essence of what he had to say, is a universal truth: 

There's power in love...there's a certain sense inwhich when you are loved, and you know it, when someone cares for you, and you know it, when you love and you show it, it actually feels right.  There's something right about it.

There is something right about it.  And there's a reason for it.  It has to do with the source.  We were made by a power of love, and our lives were meant - and are meant - to be lived in that love.  That's why we are here.

Love can help and heal when nothing else can.  Love can lift up and liberate for living when nothing else will.  There's power in love to show us the way to live...When love is the way, we actually treat each other well...like we are actually a family.

As sunlight bathed Harry and Meghan, and the congregation, the voices of the British gospel choir, the Kingdom Choir, filled the chapel, as they sang American, Ben E. King's classic song, Stand By Me...

When the night has come
And the land is dark
And the moon is the only light we'll see
No I won't be afraid.  No I won't be afraid
Just as long as you stand, stand by me.



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Photographs Copyright of:  Ruth Adams, Widow's Endorphins Photographic Images Incorporated.

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Widow's Endorphins: Magnolias for Mammas

Widow's Endorphins: Magnolias for Mammas: Wishing a Happy Mothers' Day to mothers, mothers-to-be, grandmothers, stepmothers, mothers-in-law, surrogate mothers, and honourar...

Magnolias for Mammas


Wishing a Happy Mothers' Day to mothers, mothers-to-be, grandmothers, stepmothers, mothers-in-law, surrogate mothers, and honourary mothers!  I've probably caught you with a mouthful of eggs benedict, or breakfast-in-bed-pancakes, but I just wanted to say, thank you for the difference you make in the world!  


Every day, young mothers share with me their pride in their children, and their secret fears for those same children.  Raising children to be the best they can be, takes strength, vitality and presence.  The energy needed to just listen at the end of a long work day, let alone prepare dinner, help with homework, and do the laundry, would zap most people.  That mothers do this day after day, seven days a week, for years is awesome!  As for presence...you really have to live in the now, and know the difference between a teaching moment, and a moment that is simply meant for you to just be.

It also takes highly developed research skills, and a strong sense of what to take to heart, and what to throw out with the bath water.  To hover, or not to hover?  To encourage their interests, or a diversity of interests?  To take on the school bully, or let them learn to fight their own battles?  I've heard many mothers say how overwhelmed they are with everyone's opinons about how to raise their children.  Nothing makes these women happier than watching their child make the right choice, and be their best.  

That doesn't stop when the kids move away from home.  Just because they're old enough to vote, or have children - or grandchildren of their own, doesn't mean that mothers stop worrying, offering advice, or praise.


My Mum was quiet.  She was also hard of hearing.  Nevertheless, she was observant, and had a highly developed sense of people's body language and facial expressions.  She could read people, and subtly shared her knowledge with me.  In later years, when she lost most of her ability to speak, her naturally expressive eyes would tell us so much of what we needed to know.

It's ironic that I - a multi-sensory being - who surrounds herself with sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch, is the daughter of a woman who lost, or was deprived of most of these senses.  I love perfume, the fragrance of flowers, and the smell of cookies baking in the oven.  Mum lost her sense of smell when she was seven years old.  Although she was an amazing cook and baker, who made her own bread (ground her own flour), preserves, jams, mustard and mayonnaise, she survived for eighteen years on a feeding tube, unable to taste anything.  She was hard of hearing, which didn't stop her from playing music.  We would come home from school to find her listening to our record albums while ironing (big Fleetwood Mac fan).  She became profoundly deaf in her last years.  Two massive strokes robbed her of feeling on her right side, yet, she never lost her sense of touch in her left hand...a hand I held until a few hours before she died.     
 

Ours was a home that other kids came to, to play and eat.  It was a safe place to be.  A great place if you were hungry for a bowl of soup, or some cookies.  Mum loved having us at home, and welcomed all of our friends around the table.  I see pictures of my young friends' homes, with neighbourhood kids' boots and shoes in piles at the door, or kids sharing sandwiches on the back porch...and I know how blessed those children are!

Mum ironed a lot.  With four kids and a husband who needed fresh pressed shirts every day, she was always ironing.  When we were younger, she also embroidered flowers on our blouses, and sewed many of our dresses by hand. 

So, our teenaged years in the early '70s were especially painful for her.  One sunny Spring morning, as we crowded into the laundry alcove near the back door, putting on our shoes, she looked at each one of us in exasperation.  My siblings wore jeans and t-shirts.  I was wearing a robin's egg blue knit top and matching skirt...with camel coloured desert boots and a World War I soldier's torn canvas kitbag as a purse.  In our own defence, we explained that, "all the kids dress like this".  To which she replied in her French Canadian accent, her voice choking with emotion, "it's to whom will look de stupid!"  

No contest - she was the best!



Photographs Copyright of:  Ruth Adams, Widow's Endorphins Photographic Images Incorporated.

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Widow's Endorphins: Cherry Blossoms, Little Richard and Tutti-Frutti I...

Widow's Endorphins: Cherry Blossoms, Little Richard and Tutti-Frutti I...: Imagine Little Richard screaming across the stage, A-wop-bop-a-loo-bop-a-lop-bam-boom !  That's the perfect description of the arri...

Cherry Blossoms, Little Richard and Tutti-Frutti Ice Cream


Imagine Little Richard screaming across the stage, A-wop-bop-a-loo-bop-a-lop-bam-boom!  That's the perfect description of the arrival of Spring in Toronto.  Winter drags on for months, then - kaboom - an explosion of Spring colour, as everything bursts into bloom all at once. 


Little Richard's 1955 release, Tutti-Frutti takes its name from tutti i frutti, Italian for "all fruits".  With Spring in full bloom here in Toronto, ice cream shops are reopening their doors, and tutti-frutti ice cream is an ever popular choice.

These photographs remind me of cherries, lemon peel, grated orange, lime - and dollops of whipped cream!  Searching through recipes, tutti-frutti ice cream is often made with dried and fresh cherries, raisins, candied citrus, papaya and pineapple.  There are as many variations as there are ice cream shops around the world.


If you have an ice cream churner (who doesn't???), this is a great recipe for homemade Tutti-Frutti ice cream, using fresh stone fruits and berries:

500 ml (2 Cups) peaches, apricots, and/or cherries chopped into small pieces
175 ml (3/4 Cup) sugar
350ml (12 oz) evaporated milk
250 ml (1 Cup) whipping cream (35% MF)
15 ml (1 Tbsp) lemon juice
45 ml (3 Tbsp) orange juice
5 ml (1 tsp) vanilla
2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) almond extract
500 ml (2 C) mashed raspberries, and/or strawberries

If you haven't already, remove all the pits from the peaches, apricots, and cherries (otherwise, you'll find out the hard way why they're called stone fruits).  Also, remove the skins from peaches, and apricots by blanching them in boiling water, and peeling the skins off.

Puree all of the ingredients, except for the berries.  Chill.  Churn in the ice cream machine.  Pour into a large bowl, and stir in the mashed berries.  If you like soft ice cream, get a spoon NOW!  If you plan to scoop the ice cream into cones, then it has to harden in the freezer.


What's with the derogatory word "wop", all through Little Richard's Tutti-Frutti?  The word has been around since the early 1900's in America.  Many think it stands for "without papers", or "without passports", and described illegal Italian immigrants to the US.  Impossible, since not having immigration papers wasn't an issue until the World War I era.  Actually, the word originates from the Sicilian, guappo, which means a swaggering thug.  That in turn, came from the ancient Romans, who described a worthless man as vappa, meaning sour wine.

As far as I've been able to determine, lyrically speaking, wop is just a sound, like sha-boom.  Don't read anything into the lyrics.  Little Richard described the wop-bop-a-loo-bop line as the drum beat sound inside his head.  Boom!


With the exception of the song title, nothing in the song Tutti-Frutti has anything to do with Italian ice cream.  The original lyrics - which might not be approved by today's censors, let alone censors back in the mid 1950s - had to do with gay sex.

Little Richard's original song was "cleaned up" by a woman he referred to in a Rolling Stone interview, as, "some chick".  Dorothy LaBostrie used to like going to the neighbourhood drug store to buy ice cream.  One day she and her girlfriend, went into the drug store and discovered a new flavour, Tutti-Frutti.  "Right away I thought, 'Boy, that's a great idea of a song'.  So I kept it in the back of my mind until I got to the studio that day."  Years later, all through the 1980's, that "chick" made ten to twenty thousand US dollars a year in royalties from the song.  Aw rooty is slang for, all right!


A musical genre that works with Italian ice cream (besides authentic Italian music) is Doo-wop (sometimes called Do-wop).  It wasn't created by Italian-Americans, but they certainly made it their own.  Think of urban street corner and subway acappella groups in the late '50s and early '60s.  Just Google, Denise by Randy and the Rainbows, or, A Teenager in Love, by Dion and the Belmonts, Hushabye, by The Mystics, Juke Box Saturday Night, By Nino and the Ebb Tides, or the Capris hit, There's a Moon Out Tonight, to get a sense of the Italian influence on the genre.

There's a lot to be said for a full multi-sensory experience...sights, sounds, tastes, fragrances.  If you're going to venture out to photograph this Spring's lovely blossoms, bring music with you, and perhaps pick up some ice cream cones on the way!



Photographs Copyright of:  Ruth Adams, Widow's Endorphins Photographic Images Incorporated.

Friday, 27 April 2018