The Torture and Temptation of the Lust for Really Good Chocolate

I’m having a small problem with chocolate… I want it! I want it often and I want it served warm and tasting like real chocolate with cream to smooth it out. I want it every day, more than once.

But, I’m trying to ignore chocolate and cheesecake and ice cream and all those soft, warm or chilled, yummy things. I lost almost 20 pounds but last month I put back two of them.

I blame chocolate, whether the chocolate truly deserves the blame or not.

I Know it will be Warm, Rich and Creamy – Everything I Lust for in Chocolate

Did you know how nice and easy it is to order chocolate to be delivered to your door? I ordered a box of chocolates from a Canadian chocolate company out on the west coast, Vancouver, British Columbia. To get to my house that chocolate had to travel across thousands of kilometres, several provinces and it made the trip a day early. I opened the box, reverently. I tried to be mindful and enjoy every moment and each nuance of chocolate. But, I had eaten three of the milk chocolate bars before I could make myself put the box away.

So, ordering chocolate is not the best way to deal with a craving for chocolate.

I’m still looking for alternative ideas. Today I noticed this Bialetti hot chocolate pot, mostly for the photo. I can taste that chocolate. I know it will be warm and rich and creamy… Everything I lust for in chocolate. I haven’t decided whether or not to order the machine. It’s a risk. What if I like it too much?!

Then I started looking at other well known (to me) chocolate companies who will send packages of chocolate to your door, via Amazon. Oh, the torture, the temptation… I can taste it and it tastes GOOD!

The best I can do is give in to the craving for chocolate but moderate it. This means letting myself have the chocolate but only once a month and then making sure the chocolate I have at that time is the best possible chocolate on the planet at that particular place and time. No supermarket chocolate bars. No packaged hot chocolate mixes. Only the best, real chocolate and I want it smooth, rich and creamy. A chocolate pudding, but not something out of a cardboard box.

I’m adding the hot chocolate maker to my list of things to buy, along with a bathroom scale. Next month there will be chocolate! Better chocolate.

Polka Dots Cheer Me Up

I think I have had a thing for polka dots since I was a kid and read about some creature with polka dots in a Dr. Seuss book. I don’t remember which book. But, since then, polka dots can always cheer me up.

Emma Bridgewater is known for her polka dot designs. I picked out the teacup and saucer even though I seldom drink tea. I guess it is just a tea party thing. If you’re having a down day find things that cheer you up and keep them around. Buy a polka dot teacup and saucer and use them on days you need a lift. There’s no rule you have to use it for tea only. Hot chocolate is very nice in a teacup too.

Get your fill of polka dots with these groups of photos at Flickr:

Just Empty Space

I think of space when I think of that day. Kind of odd I guess. But space as an element, a thing you can almost reach out and touch, something that you could hear if you listen during a quiet time.

An empty space is mysterious and unknown. That’s likely why we fear it. Around the corner, at the other side of a dark room, the backseat of the car when you know no one is sitting there. Our hitchhiker was like that. Something in the space that you could almost feel but not actually see, smell or touch. Just something sensed enough to give a creepy feeling and start us looking into dark corners expecting to see her there.

Her, was the girl who died, of course. Alone, in the rainstorm, under a bridge, she drowned in her over turned car. I thought it was a sad way to die. Hoping to be found and yet time passing with no help. Could she see the clock on her dashboard, watch the seconds and minutes pass as she died. The water rising but not filling the car quite enough to ease the pressure so she could force open a door and escape. Or was she already gone when she hit the water? Did she never even know she was dying until she was dead?

Did she now wait on the bridge, looking at the world of the living and want to come back, to join us again or just finally get home.

My husband parked the car there, at her bridge. He’d noticed the floral offerings at the side of the road and wanted to take a look. We often made road trips to cemeteries, abandoned farms and houses. He liked to put them in a more gruesome and haunted light. He’s into horror. I’m not a horror fan, not someone who’d stay up after midnight to watch movies about murderers, violence and gore.

He remembered hearing about the accident and her death on the news. We talked about it. I was sad for her. There was nothing left of the car of course, it had all been towed away, put away and dealt with. He wanted to take a better look, maybe find some car part left over or something of hers which had been overlooked. So he picked his way down the weeds and stepped around the muddy shore searching for a souvenir.

I took some photos of her flowers. They were looking pretty weathered and shabby but I was glad her family and friends had given her a memorial, a tribute. Then we got back in the car, thinking of how welcome a hot chocolate would be. The girl was in my mind, as any tragic figure lingers awhile before becoming just a memory and passing thought.

Did he look over his shoulder first or did I? I’m not sure. More likely my husband did, he was driving and had a reason to check the rear view mirror now and then. He didn’t say anything. Just drove on down those wet dirt country roads, splashing through puddles but not laughing about the spray of water as he usually would have. I decided he was feeling a bit somber, as I was myself. When I noticed he was a bit jumpy I laughed and asked if we were being followed, maybe he wanted to play at being secret agents and spies as he sometimes liked to do on drives along quiet roads.

He didn’t answer right away. Then he asked if I could see, or did I feel, anyone in the car, in the backseat. I gave a quick look, humouring him. I was all set to say “Of course not”, but I did catch something out of the corner of my eye. Just something in that space. I turned around in my seat, pushing the seat belt off my neck, for a better look. Nothing. Of course nothing. We hadn’t brought anyone else along, not a dog, not so much as a goldfish.

“No”, I said. I didn’t laugh or make a joke about it though.

We drove farther, closer to the road into town. Each of us would sneak backward looks. I could see him look in the rear view mirror several times on a road where we were the only traffic.

He pulled the mirror down to focus on the back seat. I scrunched down to watch the back from the passenger side mirror. It began to feel really creepy in that car. Something was in that space of nothingness, something we couldn’t see.

Just behind my head I could feel eyes, keeping silent, soundless as the dead, ironically. We hardly dared to breathe ourselves. I wished my husband could find the bravery I lacked and flip on the radio. Surely something as normal and ordinary as the radio could chase away the skin crawling creepiness of whatever lurked in the backseat.

She must have been so cold, dying in that deeply chilled water. How desperate she must be now to find some warmth, something human, to not be alone and quite so dead. If you believe in ghosts surely you could see how she might want to sit in our warm backseat with the heater making the car so toasty warm. Only now I was getting chilled just thinking about heat sucking ghosts sitting just out of sight, right behind me.

Another quick flick of my eyes to the backseat. My imagination pictured her sitting there. Her eyes dark and haunted, bruised looking. Her body so cold, right through, unable to feel warmth. Dripping water. I imagined hearing the little plop, plop, plop of water as it dripped from her cold, dead self. Maybe she would shiver, not knowing that a ghost isn’t alive and wouldn’t need to shiver.

It was a long trip back to town, we didn’t speak again. How can you speak about what isn’t there.

At the coffee shop, back in the living world where the spaces are all filled with artificial light, noise from the living and the smell of bacon and eggs, it was very easy to shake off the creepy feeling and put it down to just imagination. But, the feeling came with us when we got back in the car. I feel it still.

It’s been days since we took that road trip. I’m often alone in our apartment after my husband takes the car to work. Those spaces of time which I used to do laundry, make dinner, wash dishes and vacuum are no longer just the passing of time. My space is captured by something I only feel, see out of the corner of my eye. It’s her I’m sure. I think she is sad, missing the people she knew and the things she liked to do.

Since that day at the bridge I’ve stopped looking in the backseat when I’m in the car. I avoid mirrors especially, they give me a very creepy feeling. When I brush my teeth each morning I look down, avoiding my own eyes and anything that might be in that space behind me. I never take that space for granted any more.

You see, she isn’t the only one there now. I think they followed her to our home. Someday they’ll fill all that space. Taking it all. I hardly dare to take a real breath any more. I never look into corners and I always have the lights on. Someday they will suck out all the space around me. I don’t know what will happen then, when the dead fill the space of the living. My husband thinks I’m crazy so I just don’t talk to him about it any more. But I can see he gets nervous too, sometimes after dark when the apartment is quiet and he gets that creepy sense of something else, something that hitchhiked back into the living world with us and won’t now let us go.


My Halloween story. By me.

Get 31 Days of Halloween chills and thrills on Calpurnius.

Outside the Envelope: Spider Catching Grrls

Outside the Envelope – Spider catching grrls. This is one I drew and then my nieces added to it. I was teasing them about making hot chocolate including fresh spiders as one of the ingredients. (Likely it’s just one of those things you have to be there for at the time). Anyway, when we were doing arts and crafts I drew the three of us catching spiders. I had the bucket and the girls were going to pick them up. Neither liked that idea.

Then Emma Jeanne drew a big sunshine in blue at the top and a big spider in blue at the bottom. Roxanne wanted to make sure everyone would understand the action. So she drew circles around the spiders and arrows pointing to the bucket.

Nice how for me it was just a drawing, something to do while spending time with them. But, for them it was important. So important that they wanted to make sure it was done right and well. That’s why I kept it. I like to remember how important the little things are, especially when you’re still a little person.

Outside the Envelope

Friday Fun: Yummies Edition

Friday Fun

1. What is your favorite guilty pleasure yummy food?
2. It is snack time. What do you reach for? Chips? Ice cream? Something healthy?
3. What is your ideal breakfast?
4. What are you craving right now?

1. Hard to choose between cheesecake or ice cream.
2. Coffee if I’m trying to avoid the ice cream or don’t have any around.
3. Traditional bacon and eggs with toast.
4. Cold night so something hot. A real hot chocolate with real whipped cream.

Green Christmas Meme

Found this one on Sandier Pastures and liked it.

What is your favorite Christmas gift?
An angel ornament my Mom gave me for the Christmas tree many, many years ago. I still put it up when I actually do get the tree up.

What is your best memory of Christmas?
Sitting around the tree in our old house in Scarborough, Ontario. Everyone together on Christmas Eve, hot chocolate and the whole works.

Depending upon where you live, do you have a hot or cold Christmas?
Cold, more snow again today.

What do you prefer in a tree? Fake or real?
Fake cause the real trees shed too much. Plus the fake tree is nice to have every year the same tree and each time I have moved I move the same box with me. It’s become a traditional of it’s own.

What is your favorite Carol?
Silent Night. When I was a baby my Grandmother had given me a music box angel which played Silent Night. It doesn’t work now but it is still in the Christmas ornament box.

What is your favorite Christmas Dinner?
Whatever someone else makes. Homemade is best, we used to make everything, nothing came prepackaged.

Do you wear a Santa hat at Christmas?
No. A red sweater.

Have you ever seen Santa delivering gifts?
I’ve been Santa delivering gifts.

I am tagging: Anyone inspired to do it.

Festive Maiming from Rainy Pete

A meme from Rainy Pete’s blog. Why not?

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? Hot chocolate. Actually, cold chocolate, warm chocolate, spiced chocolate… I’ll take it all.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? Santa doesn’t wrap them, the deers kept snacking on the fancy paper and ribbons. Cost him a fortune in vet bills.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or clear? White or coloured, as long as there are a lot of them.

4. Do you hang mistletoe? No.

5. When do you put your decorations up? In theory, on or after my birthday on December 19th.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding desserts)? The vegetables with fresh butter on them: carrots, potatoes, whatever… butter makes it better. Sometimes we have fresh baked buns and bread, cabbage rolls and those are really good too.

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child? My Aunt Sally playing the piano at Christmas with our tree all lit up and mostly everyone there.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
I don’t remember.

9. Do you open gifts on Christmas Eve? Yes! We always had a special present from Santa Claus which my Mom gave us to open on Xmas Eve. Oddly enough it was always new pajamas, took me a long time to really clue in on that one.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree? Lights, ornaments bought and home made and inherited, sometimes tinsel… on top is an angel which my Dad bought for our first Xmas tree a few days after I was born.

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it? It looks really pretty, especially when you come in from the cold and sit by a window with hot chocolate to warm up your hands.

12. Can you ice skate? I think I still could.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift as a kid? No.

14. What’s the most important thing about the Holidays for you?
Family and lots of lights and decorations.

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert? icebox cookies and assorted chocolates.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? The Christmas tree.

17. What tops your tree? An angel bought 42 years ago now.

18. Which do you prefer—giving or receiving? Giving by far. I don’t like shopping but I really life finding just the right thing for someone. I never make lists ahead, I just look around till something just right comes along.

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song? It used to be Silent Night. Not sure any more.

20. Candy Canes! Yuck or Yum? I really like them on the Xmas tree.

21. Stockings? Or no Stockings? Stockings are fun. We always fill them with oranges and other snacks to keep kids busy while the adults are still waking up and making coffee on Christmas morning.

22. Do you like sledding? Yes. But I haven’t done it for many years.

23. Farthest you’ve traveled for Christmas day? From Toronto to Vancouver. Just for myself, alone.

24. Do you leave out cookies or carrots for when Santa comes? My sister did this year. I don’t have any kids.

25. What gets you into the holiday spirit? I’ll let you know if I get there again. It’s been a lot of years since I really felt excited about Christmas.

26. Does your wrapping colour coordinate? Never.

27. Favourite gift you’ve ever given? I have no idea.

28. Most fun holiday memory? Sitting under the Xmas tree with my Mom when we still lived in the house I grew up in. I remember we were the last two people awake. Around that time she had begun talking to me more like a friend than a kid and it was really great having conversations with my Mom about important/ real things.

29. Do you wrap your own gifts? Of course. But I don’t really wrap them anymore. The odd time I use those Xmas bags cause they can be carted around easily and don’t require tape and other extras.

It’s Quiet..

The all day destruction constructions seems to be stopped now. It’s quiet. No hammering, no stomping, no sawing, no yapping or yelling. I have the TV on to watch some Christmas movie or other and I can actually hear it.

Nice.

I made a tuna wrap for dinner. So good with fresh salad on it. I have to add pepper to my next grocery list. I missed it on the wrap tonight. It was still really good even without it.

Maybe I will put up the tree tomorrow. Still early, I thought I would put it all up after my birthday but I just thought of a good place to stick it, so it may get stuck there.

Tonight I plan to watch Christmas movies, wash dishes and make hot chocolate. What are your plans for the last weekend before Christmas Eve?

The Train Not Taken

This is the story I wrote yesterday. It started from a post I read on Craiglist, in the Missed Connections section. The rest was likely influenced by a certain person I haven’t heard from since July.

He was on the train again. The guy with a shaved head, charcoal grey suit this time and a red silky looking scarf. No hat, he never wore a hat no matter how much it snowed or rained. I always watched him, shy, from my seat. Sometimes he noticed me, sometimes he didn’t.

I hadn’t seen him this past week. One whole week of commuting without seeing him. I had nearly cried on Friday night, thinking he must have moved or changed jobs and I would never have the chance to meet him now. I regretted not doing something, even something really dumb.

But, there he was back again. Same shaved head, same suit and that same smiley face. He was just one of those people who seemed to smile easily. Sometimes he had conversations with the people around his seat. He laughed easily too and it was a laugh that made me smile, even on the hardest days when I felt worn down to a stub of myself.

I had to meet him tonight, finally. I couldn’t let another day pass by. Maybe he had moved and today was one last trip on the old commuter train. My palms were slick and my stomach in knots but I just had to do something this time.

I knew I looked ok, not one of my better days for looks but it wasn’t too bad. Hopefully I didn’t get too wind blown while I was waiting at my stop for the train. I couldn’t quite dare reach up to pat my hair, he might look over at just that moment.

Before I could think about what I was doing I made my legs stand up. I shuffled my purse and laptop over my shoulder and made myself take that first step. I was committed then and couldn’t go back. Besides, some jerk stole my seat before I had even gotten into the aisle.

He looked up and watched me coming along the aisle. He smiled and I smiled back. I hoped my teeth didn’t have any leftover lunch and then I just hoped my voice wouldn’t come out in a squeak or not at all. “Hi”, brilliant, I thought. All these months and I couldn’t do better than a Hi.

“Hi,” He answered, “Was it too cold there by the door?”

“No…” I couldn’t think of a thing to say, rot my brain.

“It’s always colder by the door. John gets off at the next station you could sit in his place then.” He gave a nod to one of the men sitting across from him. They’d been talking awhile, I’d been listening but really only hearing one of them.

“Sure, that would be great.” I let my purse and laptop slide down to rest at my feet. The train moved on, snow and darkess blurring past the windows. No one said anything for awhile and I began to feel like an intruder, the odd woman in their group of guys.

I looked down at my boots, still dripping snow and slush. “You should be wearing a hat. I never see you wearing one and tonight is going to be freezing they say.” I braved a look up at him through my hair.

He laughed, in a nice friendly way. “I like to freeze my head, keeps me thinking.” The other guys laughed a bit. One of them started making a joke about freezing something else and then stopped, kind of looking at me. I had the feeling he was a well trained married guy, careful what he said in mixed company. I grinned over at him. After that we had a steady conversation. The next stop came and I sat down with the guys. We talked about our jobs and car repairs and the coming Christmas holidays.

I didn’t realize it was just myself and Greg until the last guy left and we were the only two sitting there. It was too late to be ackward by then. We’d already been talking for half an hour and I knew his name.

“It’s really nice to meet you, Jane.” He said. “I thought about bumping into you or something for awhile but you looked like you didn’t really want to talk to anyone. Shows how easy it is to be wrong about people.” He smiled. “Would you like to go for a warming up coffee at the restaurant in the station before we head out?”

“I’d like that.” I said. “They have a really good hot chocolate. I bring my nephew over once in awhile on the weekends.”

We spent the next hour talking. Talking about everything under the sun it seemed. We talked as we got off the train, we talked as we had our hot chocolate and we talked until he noticed it was already after 8:00.

“I didn’t think it was so late. I can’t stay longer. We moved my Mother into a nursing home last week and I promised I would visit her tonight. They close the doors at 9:00.” He put cash on the table, enough for both drinks and a decent tip.

We walked out to the parking lot together. The snow had kept up, all the cars in the lot were coated in a thick layer of white.

“Could be a challenge just to find your car tonight.” I said.

“People coming on the late train will be stuck getting a cab home it looks like.” He pointed to where the snow was piled up from the plough, a huge mountain already. One of the cars was very close, at least a third of it was under the mountain. Why did it have to be my car?

I moaned, thinking about getting it out.

“That’s not your car is it, really?” He sort of laughed and grimaced at the same time.

“It sure is. I have a window scraper in the trunk. If I can get it open.”

“I think you will just have to leave it here. Do you have CAA so you can call them to tow it or something?”

“Yes, do you think they would come for something like this?” I asked, hopefully.

“Probably.” He said thinking. “What else can someone do when something like that happens. You can hardly wait for the Spring thaw.” He laughed and I had to laugh too, even though I seemed to be stuck without a car.

“I know we’ve just met but I could drop you off at home. I’m sure my Mother would understand if I’m late due to helping a lady in distress.”

How could I say no? Spend more time with Greg and get a ride home.

He parked in front of my building and held my hand, rubbing his thumb over my skin. He leaned over and kissed me then, a good kiss. I leaned in closer, took off my winter gloves and slid my hands up inside his coat, under his suit. I held him that way while he deepened the kiss. His heart beat against the palm of my hand.

“Jane…” He moaned, his breath feathering over my face. “I thought of so many things to say, to break the ice, to meet you. It was all so silly sounding when I looked at you.” He pulled back to look at my face close up, just a whisper away. “I really want to make love to you, tonight. I’ve thought about what you must look like under all those layers of clothes. I’ve thought about how much I want to feel your body pressed against mine.” He unbuttoned his coat and pulled it off.

I said nothing, I could hear my own breathing, heavy and fast and excited. I licked my lips. My fingers began working on the buttons of his suit jacket and then the shirt under it. “Jane, not here in the car. Let’s go somewhere at least warm where we can have some room and enough light to see each other.”

“We can go inside, to my place.” I felt so brazen, like a slut. But it was what I wanted and I had been sweet and shy a long time, spending too much time alone.

I would have liked more time, a long slow lovemaking. My clothes were off and on the floor before I had thought about how I should ask him about using a condom. He had one and had it on himself by the time we stepped into my bedroom. On the bed he ravished me, just as the fictional heros in a romance novel did. I never thought any of that was based on reality. Yet, it felt good, quick and fast and deep and penetrating. Even though it was over too soon I felt I had really been loved. My orgasm hung on for days and then the final release was shattering, thundering through my body. He rested beside me, our hearts still pounding and our breath not yet slowing down.

“Thank you.” I said, in a whisper.

He got up then and began pulling on his clothes. I was startled that he would be in such a hurry to leave after that. But, he did.

Almost like a real old fashioned date, I even got a good night kiss from him. He gave me his phone number and his email address. Pressing his business card into my hand he looked into my eyes and told me he really hoped I would call, tonight even. I said I would.

I did too, once I called CAA and heard them laugh over the phone about my snowbound car. The tow brought it to my house. He even made sure it started before he left. Said it happened a few times every winter and suggested I don’t park there just because it seemed like a good spot while there wasn’t any snow.

I had a hot shower and nuked something for a single girl’s dinner. Then I phoned Greg, or I would have. I couldn’t find the business card he had written on. Of course I looked everywhere it could possibly be, even a few places it really couldn’t have been. I was frustrated but at least I would see him on the train tomorrow.

I never did though. I tried to find him in town. I looked at the nursing homes in the area, I asked about any new women who had just moved in the past week. No luck. I wrote a list about every smallest thing I knew about him but each clue I followed up on ended up getting me nowhere.

It was a big mystery.

I stayed living in that small town and working downtown for a few years more. Eventually I met a guy and we married and had a few kids, three of them. We moved to his town. I created my own business from home, gift baskets. It did quite well. The kids grew up happy and my husband and I got along well. It was the white picket fence life, revamped for the digital age.

One day out of the blue I saw Greg again. He looked just the same. I was older, more than 15 years had gone by. But, there he was, the same. He was at the train station of all places. I had gone in to get a schedule for my sister who was planning to visit us. Greg was sitting on one of the benches.

I stopped, just looking at him, totally surprised. Life seemed to swirl around me and come back full circle. As if I had just stepped out to make a phone call and now I was back.

He turned and faced me. He smiled but it wasn’t the same. He recognized me but his look was rueful, as if he regretted something but could do nothing about it. Somehow my feet moved and I sat down beside him. My face felt kind of stiff and no words were coming to my mouth though plenty were spilling around in my mind.

“It’s nice to see you again, Jane.” He said, kindly, as you would speak to an old friend. “You look good, life seems to have treated you well.” He got up then and just started walking away. I turned to say something but he wasn’t there. Vanished. I sat there, stunned. The bus schedule I had been holding slipped from my fingers.

“You dropped this.” One of the station staff handed me back the schedule.

“Thanks” I muttered.

“Funny, you look like you’ve seen a ghost.” she smiled. “Funny, I took yesterday off work cause it was the anniversary of my brother’s death. He was killed by a drunk driver here, fifteen years ago.” She smiled again, “Did you see him? A nice tall bald guy in a suit? Always a smile for everyone.” She sighed, “I still miss him.”

She walked off in her own thoughts. I sat there awhile longer, remembering a young man I used to know from the commuter train.