"Be glad of life because it gives you the chance to love, to work, to play, and to look up at the stars."
~Henry Van Dyke
Dying comes naturally to us all, having the courage to live does not. Let’s face it . . . our lives are pretty much ours to do whatever we want with. Full of it’s ups and downs, we can either accept what comes to us with a sad sort of acceptance and resignation, or we can rage against what drops on us with human passion. We can choose to find life as an exaltation or as a subjugation, as cause for bliss or something sad that we pound ourselves with every day, happy and full of joy, or sad and empty. The choice is ours to make.
I’m not little Miss Sunshine or perfect to be sure, but I like to think that I approach life with a most positive attitude most of the time. When I hit a big bump in the road, I try to look at it with a positive perspective, hang on and enjoy the ride as much as I can. In short, when life hands me lemons I make lemonade . . . Or lemon cake, lemon cookies . . . Lemon pie. I do try to make the best thing possible from it. That way I can remind myself daily of the pleasures that life has to bring, rather than it’s grim offerings. Walking around in doom and gloom really doesn’t help. I may cry briefly and deeply at times, but then I try to shake whatever it is that is causing me angst or sorrow off, and pick myself up and move forward. I make a pro-active choice to live and forge ahead, instead of giving in and dying. There is ever so much more good to find in this life, than there is bad. Why dwell on the negative?
Each day I am greeted by ordinary miracles . . . The sun comes up, whether it is cloaked in rain or not. The birds still sing. The grass still grows. What a wonder these small things are, and still we take them for granted. I am reminded of one day when I was working hard at the kitchen sink polishing copper. It seemed I had been doing it for hours. A menial task, I often lose myself in thoughts and imaginations as I work away. As I looked out the kitchen window, and across the courtyard, my mind lost deep in thought, a rainbow appeared in the sky just above the hedgerows. It was not a really bright one and I would have missed it, had I not been looking so closely at the clouds that the wind was pushing past my window's view. How beautiful it was, however faint, and what a reminder to me of a God’s promises that are true and sure. It made me glad to be alive, even though I was standing up to my elbows at a sink full of soapy water. Let's face it . . . the alternative hardly bears thinking about!
Today I pray that, no matter what challenges you are facing, or that I shall face on this day . . . that we shall all be able to look through the clouds and see a rainbow . . . the promise of better things to come, hope in the midst of dismay.
My grandmother’s sister, Orabel, lived in a big white house up in a small rural Nova Scotian village on top of the South Mountain called Inglesville. As a child, my mother used to take us up there to visit her on occasion. She seemed quite old to me and to be perfectly honest, we children were more interested in feeding the old half blind horse that lived in the field next to the house than to be sitting in the kitchen listening to old people talk. I wish now that I had stayed in the kitchen and listened more, but such wisdom is wasted on the young. She did make awfully good date squares though . . . another recipe from my big blue binder.
*Aunt Orabel’s Date Squares*
These were always a childhood favourite and remain so to this day. I try to tell myself when I am eating one of these that they are good for me. Dates and oats can’t be bad can they? In some circles these are also known as "Matrimonial Bars." I have no idea why!
2 cups chopped dates
2 TBS brown sugar
1 cup boiling water
1 cup plain flour
½ tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
¾ cup butter
1 cup packed light soft brown sugar
2 cups oats (not instant)
Pre-heat the oven to 160*C/350*F. Lightly butter an 8 or 9 inch square baking tin and set it aside.
Put the dates into a saucepan along with the first amount of brown sugar and the boiling water. Bring the mixture to the boil and then simmer for about five minutes, until the dates are soft and smooth and most of the water has been absorbed. Mash with a fork and set aside.
Put the flour, soda, salt and brown sugar into a large bowl and give them a good mix together. Rub in the butter until it resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the oats and give them a bit of a rub again to mix well. The mixture should stay quite crumbly.
Put half of the crumbs into the prepared pan and press it down evenly. Spread the cooked date mixture evenly over top of it, then sprinkle the remaining crumbs evenly over top. Press them down very lightly to even them out.
Bake in the heated oven for 25 minutes, until set and lightly browned. Remove from the oven to a wire rack to cook before cutting into squares to serve.