Heard

I dream he is holding me in his arms again. We’re snuggled up in bed together, his arm around me, fingers laced in mine. I can feel the warmth of him against my back, his long legs twined in mine, his foot between my ankles. I lean back into him, feeling the warmth and security that he always brings to me. I feel his kiss on my neck. This is my happiest place.

He loved me like no one has ever loved me: with truly unconditional love and acceptance. I couldn’t believe it at first. Why would anyone love me like that? But as time went on it seemed that he actually did.  The little things he did every day – gently drying my shoulders and hair with a towel when I got out of the shower.  Holding my hand, no matter where we were.  Warming my sunglasses in the truck before I put them on, so I didn’t have “anything cold touching that beautiful face”. And always, always, always listening to me. Not a passive sort of ‘uh huh’ but looking right into my eyes, asking relevant questions, touching my hand or nodding his head or furrowing his brow to show that he was hearing what I said to him.

He heard me.

He heard me.

No other man had ever listened to me. Not my father or brothers.  Not my other husbands. Not my boyfriends or lovers or anyone. 

He remembered things that were important to me.  While driving across the southwestern states, we took a detour to a surprise destination.  I had no idea where we were headed other than we were off into the country outside of Amarillo, Texas. Suddenly I could see the cars sticking out of the ground and I looked at him with my eyes huge,

“I have ALWAYS wanted to see Cadillac Ranch!” I said, “How did you know?”

I couldn’t believe it! I looked into his beautiful blue eyes, and a huge grin spread across his face

“You told me. We were talking one night years ago and I remembered that you wanted to see this. I had to bring you here”.

I started to cry.  I could not believe how much he loved me, how much he listened to me, how real a person I was to him.  After so many years of being ignored, marginalized, unheard, this man not only saw me but heard me, respected me, and wanted to make me happy.  It was like emerging from a dark cave and standing in the sunlight, feeling the warmth seep into bones that had been chilled for years.  I mattered to him. 

We walked hand in hand out to the field to see this art installation. We took pictures and walked from one car to the next, talked about what the artist might be trying to say and loving that the public was encouraged to spray-paint the cars. Each vehicle had been coated and recoated in so many years of spray-paint, that the cars had a coating of what looked like foam.  Weird paint stalactites hung from the fenders and frames of each car, the admirers turning the things they adored into something beautiful and grotesque.

Finally, when we got to the end of the row, I picked up a spray can and painted S & W on the last car.  I stood back to admire my handiwork, and he gently took the spray can from my hand and put a giant heart around the initials.  I comfort myself knowing that no matter how much paint has gone onto that car afterwards, our love is immortalized there, living in the layers just like his love lives in every layer of me.

I awake and I am lying on my right side, my fingers laced together, my ankles crossed. I close my eyes again trying to bring him back to my bed but with no success. He has made sure, though, that his love is still here long after his body has gone.

I miss you my Bear.

A writers moment in Sintra

I am thrilled to have my post shared on Allyson Latta’s site! Have a look and explore her site – she’s a writer, editor, instructor, and coach. Allyson is also the one who organized and led our fabulous writer’s retreat to Portugal.

http://www.allysonlatta.ca/2019/04/05/a-writers-moment-in-sintra-guest-post-by-sandy-kenyon/

Country Music Hall of Fame!

Here’s a Throwback Thursday re-blog.

We had such a good day, and that happiness still fills my heart.

Missing you but loving the happy memories my Bear ❤️

S

Country Music Hall of Fame!

https://scarygoatfarm.wordpress.com/2017/04/05/country-music-hall-of-fame/
— Read on scarygoatfarm.wordpress.com/2017/04/05/country-music-hall-of-fame/

Portugal pops up in the most unexpected places…

I stand in the aisle looking around, uninspired.  How can everything change so much in 24 hours? Where are the friendly Portuguese? The accommodating wait staff? And I couldn’t help but notice that when I got up this morning no one rushed in to make my bed.

I step aside as an impatient shopper rushes past with a shopping cart full of cans and plastic packages. The sight makes me marginally more depressed. If I were shopping in Portugal right now, I wonder, what would I be looking for?

I turn around and head for the produce section. I walk slowly, thinking of all the wonderful meals we had when our group was in Sintra. I spy some cherry tomatoes. I hold them close to my nose and I can smell the sunshine they ripened in. A fragrant bunch of Basil follows them into my cart as the image of the caprese salad we had on our last night in Sintra forms in my mind.

I need to pick out some cheese – no meal in Portugal is complete without cheese. There are all kinds but I’m looking for the softest Bocconcini for my salad. I find a container of the small balls of cheese and put it almost reverently into my cart. I think of the ripe sheep’s milk cheese we had in Estoril while we sat on the patio overlooking the ocean drinking Sangria and laughing like the happy tourists we were. I look, but no luck. There is no sheep’s cheese of any sort that I can find.  I sigh and grab a chunk of smoked gouda. It isn’t what I was looking for but sometimes you have to go with what you can find.

There is an array of different types of olives beside the cheese, and I look them over carefully:  Dark kalamata olives, green olives with pimento, spicy olives, garlic olives, all looking very enticing. The small garlic olives are very similar to those that started so many of our meals in Portugal. I pop a container into my cart and then turn towards the bakery section. I will not find the flakey Portuguese pastries I have fallen in love with I am sure, but I could find a crusty roll, and maybe a fine-grained bread to dip in olive oil and salt, and savour with tiny bites. The rolls are warm when I get to the bakery and they smell divine. I select three and take a small dense loaf of rye bread for good measure.  It would not compare to the Paõ de milho, a dense cornbread, that soaks up the olive oil and becomes a poem in your mouth but I’m sure it will be ok. That reminds me:  I need a good olive oil.

I search thoughtfully through the selection of oils (how could there be so many different types of Olive oil I wonder?) and eventually find a small dark green bottle of oil that might not really be that different from the others? But it looks exotic enough for my meal. And is there any gray sea salt? Allyson had recounted her fruitless search for gray sea salt in Toronto – the story prompted by her excitement when she saw the cute little salt cellars on our table at INcomum where we ate on our last night in Sintra. But after an extensive search involving a clerk who clearly thought I was making things up, we could not find any either.  Ok, pink sea salt would have to do. Into the cart it went.

The fish counter was my next stop. It lacked the excitement we had at Azenhas Do Mar when the waiter brought the freshly caught fish to us on a platter so we could pick the exact one we wanted to eat. They didn’t have sea bream, or ocean bass or octopus, so I settled for a nice chunk of Halibut.

 I zoomed back to the produce section, realizing that I needed a couple of zucchinis and an onion to make the vegetable accompaniment that would be required to round out my meal.        

I also picked out a handful of tiny potatoes and a red pepper to roast with the pork I know I have in my freezer. I’m sure I can find a recipe to help me roast it like we had at supper on… which night was that? I think on Wednesday? When we walked to the restaurant past the square. I can’t remember the name, but it was just past the Café Paris where I had my Shirley Valentine moment.  Christina and I had meandered back to the hotel after our meal. We window shopped in the now closed stores, and she shared her travel stories. She has been everywhere and my god she is brave! I smile at the memory.

           I look into my basket and see that the memories of my trip have brought Portugal home with me.  And that’s when I realize that this is why I travel. This is what makes these adventures worth having – not just the moment that I visit the amazing places around the globe, but that I bring it back home with me.

Wait.

I realize there’s one thing missing. I turn my cart around one more time, pick up a carton of full fat milk, a little whipping cream for good measure, then head down the baking aisle.  I slow and carefully read the ingredients on each container until I find the absolutely correct one. With 65% cocoa, Frys is the best cocoa powder I can find in this store.  I slip the container into my cart and let it snuggle against the milk and cream. My meal will only taste of Portugal when I can finish it with a cup of the darkest and sweetest hot chocolate I’ve ever tasted.

Tchau Sobeys! Today you aren’t just a grocery store: today you’re a grocery story.

My Favourite morning in Sintra

I watch as people wander to and fro, through the square in oldtown Sintra. Everyone’s looking around, but not always looking in front of them.  I step aside quickly as a German couple in heated debate, barrel towards me. Spying the Café Paris I make a beeline over the cobbles towards it. The hostess greets me, and I tell her that I’m looking for brunch. She motions me over to the pastry counter.  

‘We have pies with chicken, shrimp or cuttlefish, and several delicious sweet pastry.’ I think about having sweets for breakfast but decide that maybe I’ll have the shrimp pie and a hot chocolate instead.  Ok, it’s an odd combination, but I’m on vacation. 

‘So, if you were to have a sweet pastry, which one would you choose?’ We both gaze at the myriad confections in front of me.  The pastel de nata, the éclair, the tarte de amêdoa. But my eyes light on the Travesseiro de Sintra – a Portuguese pastry that resembles a pillow and is filled with almond paste and cream.  

‘I think that one’ I grin, ‘but we’ll wait till another time’. 

She winks at me and shows me to a table in the sun.  

My hot chocolate appears, and I sip while I write in my journal, trying to capture the feel of this place.  A few seconds later, my shrimp pastry appears.  I break the flaky crust open and the scent of spices and shrimp waft up to me.  I eat it with gusto, savouring each bite as I watch the school children and tour groups traipse through the square.  I am content.  I feel a happiness in my core that has been missing for a while and I realise: I’m having my Shirley Valentine moment.

I reach for my phone and call a young waiter over. He sees the phone in my hand 

‘I take your picture’ he states more than asks. 

‘Please’ I smile.  He steps back and I wonder if the camera can capture how big my happiness feels.  Once he’s snapped a few photos, he steps back and pointedly stares at my journal.  

You are writing about your trip?’ he nods, clearly having seen this before.  I say yes and add, shyly,

I’m a writer. 

It’s the first time I’ve voluntarily offered this info outside of a writing group. It feels momentous.

‘Oh my god, that must be painful’ he groans, ’all that writing of all those pages’ He shakes his head, ‘This I cannot do’ 

He grins, and his charm warms my heart. He steps back one more time,  

‘One more picture,’ he says ‘the beautiful writer in beautiful Sintra’ 

My smile is even wider than before. Seconds after the picture is snapped, the hostess slides a dish with a warm Travessiero de Sintra in front of me accompanied by a scoop of mango sherbet and a flourish of whipped cream. She winks again. This morning, my last morning, has been my favourite morning in Sintra so far.