Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Change of Season

Fall has never been my favorite time of year, but after the most wonderful walk recently, I've had a change of heart. 

I started off early on a Sunday morning walk and I turned right instead of left.  Being a creature of habit, I always turn left on my neighborhood walks. That morning something pulled me to the right and what a delightful change of pace and walk of discovery it turned out to be.
It was cool and there was a light fog shrouding the tree tops. The sidewalks were covered with the last of the falling leaves still holding on to their vibrant colors.  The air was filled with the earthy, musty smells of decaying vegetation and wood smoke from house chimneys.  Overhead flock after flock of honking geese flew by, making their amazing annual migration south to warmer climes.

I found myself walking down one of my favorite streets in town.  It is in a well-established neighborhood and nearly every home is unique and charming. The flower gardens were put away until Spring, and all of the yards were neat and tidy.
On my way home I meandered through a city park which is one of my favorites.  It is called Englewood Park and it's the last of what was known as the Englewood Forest.  In our back yard we have a huge, beautiful cedar tree that is part of this old forest.  The park has paths covered with fallen pine needles and the scent of the pine trees lining the path was intoxicating. The grey squirrels appeared to be on hyperdrive as they scampered up and down the trees getting ready for the cold weather ahead.
As I came home and walked in my front door, I felt relaxed and peaceful with a new found awareness of the beauty that is Fall.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

I am thankful that my pie crust turned out beautifully on this Thanksgiving Eve.  I have fooled around with many, many recipes for the perfect pie crust and tonight I had an epiphany.  There is no better pie crust than my grandma's.  I use it for tarts, I use it for pies, and it is perfect.  The search has ended as of tonight.  I will never try a new pie crust recipe again.

As I had to work all day today and then come home and bake a pie, I don't have the energy to post a recipe.  But I will post this wonderful pie crust recipe very soon.  My pumpkin pie filling was courtesy of the back of the Libby's pumpkin can.  My mother always made her pumpkin pies using this recipe and it was always a hit growing up.  Tried and True.  That's the motto of the day. 

P.S.  I hate pumpkin pie.   Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A Tale of Two Pianos

I have two pianos in my home. The first one, pictured above, is an antique inherited from my two English great aunties who resided in Vancouver, B.C. This piano was made in England by a London company, Chappell and Company. Amazingly the company is still in existence today and located at the same address as is listed on my piano. Using the serial numbers found inside the piano, I was able to e-mail the company and found that the piano was built between 1880-1890. 
My sister Linda at the piano at the great aunties house

It is not playable due to stuck keys and grossly out of tune strings but I love it nonetheless.  I love that it has been a part of our family for many, many years. I love that it came from England, a country for which I feel such an affinity. And lastly, I love how it looks in my living room.
The second piano I obtained as a total impulse on an Easter Sunday, eight or nine years ago. I attended an estate sale in the neighborhood late in the afternoon when the sellers were anxious to close up the house.  There was this perfect Howard spinet and its matching bench with a charming embroidered seat cover, marked from $600 to $350.  On a whim I said "Would you take $300?" They said yes and it was mine, much to The Husband's chagrin.  For it was he, with the help of our friends, who had to transport said piano from that house into our house. He claims it is the heaviest piano in the world, a claim I quesion.  His efforts are still appreciated to this day.

The piano is my first musical love.  Though I spent many more years playing the flute, I first learned to appreciate and play music on the piano. As a very young girl, I would listen to my mother playing magnificently moving pieces by Beethoven, Rachmaninoff, and Chopin. I was in awe of her talent.  Her music books were a mystery to me, with page after page filled with lines of black notes I didn't understand.

I soon began taking piano lessons given by Sister Amy, a quiet, serious nun at the church we attended.  She gently taught me to read music and play songs and I have fond memories of her. These memories come to a screeching halt with recollections of the recitals that were inevitable.  Being a shy, introverted child, it was more than I could cope with, so the piano lessons came to an end. A year later in the fourth grade I started playing the flute and never looked back at the piano. Until I brought home the estate sale find. 
I immediately went to a music store and purchased some books and started playing again. It is one of the most relaxing and enjoyable pastimes I now have.  I practiced one piece enough that I even felt confident enough to play it for a group of friends one evening when we had "An Evening of Enlightenment" where we all had to bring something cultural to share with each other.

I know I will never play the piano like my mother, but I have returned to my first musical love and hope to continue tickling the ivories for years to come.