Friday Flashback: Night Lunch

I tackled my first NaPoWriMo in 2013, kicking it off with this homage to the Newfoundland tradition of having a snack before bedtime.

Night Lunch

What’s in there to eat b’ys, before we goes to bed?
Let’s have a little night lunch before we lays our head
There’s homemade bread for toasting, and a bit of berry jam
Root around the fridge shelf for a bit of last night’s ham

Put on the kettle, pass the cups, bring ‘er to the b’ile
The tin milk’s on the table, won’t be but a while
A bit of mustard pickle, a tomato slice or two
Tea biscuits and some butter, sure that’s enough for you?

My that tea was lovely, let’s have a second cup
Then we’ll head on up to bed now that we’re all full up
And as we drifts off into sleep, our bellies full and right
We’re wond’ring if there’s sticky buns left to have tomorrow night.

Lupper Limerick

(In which I shamelessly steal the word “lupper” from the madraGs.)

We all know the meaning of brunch,
A combo of breakfast and lunch
Late lunch/early supper?
Let’s call that lupper!
Henceforth, a late afternoon munch

What’s Eating Her?

Much has been written about how women view food and eating vs. the way men do, and I tend to agree that more woman fall into the category of emotional eaters–we eat when we’re happy, we eat to deal with stress. Some of us use food as a coping mechanism, and fall into a dietary disastrous cycle: we eat when we feel bad, we feel guilty for overeating, we eat to feel better for feeling guilty, and on it goes to infinity. And then the perception of the outside world is not “What’s eating her?” but “What’s she eating?”


Food Shame

Hot summer day
Ice cream cart bell
Draws laughing children
They see frozen treats
She sees schoolyard torment

Friday night mall rats
Gather in the food court
Adolescents giggling at formica tables
They see sharing fries as flirtation
She sees standing in corners at school dances

University study sessions
Ordering pizza into the dorms
Anxious students share care-package cookies
They see fuel for pre-exam all nighters
She sees being home alone on Friday date nights

Workplace holiday gatherings
Bars well stocked, buffet tables groaning
Lines snake around tables, loading up plates
They see a company sponsored culinary free-for-all
She sees coworkers in silent judgement of her choices

A lifetime of seeing
Unable to eat herself blind


IMG_3324As with the previous three years, I get midway through National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo) and think to myself “really? Did I really think I could post a poem about food every day for a month?” And this after somewhat cheating by already using a repeat post, and yesterday’s off topic rant. And did I really allot only 15 minutes or so per day to spend on same? Why yes, yes I did.
Inspiration for today comes from an unlikely source. Since moving west, I became an accidental hockey fan, and have been attending the Victoria Royals (same league as the Halifax Mooseheads) games. The Royals are in Round 2 of WHL playoff action, and tonight they’re playing the Kelowna Rockets (who are up 2-0 in best of 7 series). Well, the Rockets logo sports the head of Lake Okanagan’s Ogopogo which looks suspiciously like a dragon. So, dragon fruit (pitaya).

Ogopogo? Or dragon?

Ogopogo? Or dragon?

Dragon Fruit Haiku

fierce exterior
disguises mild, soft insides
never judge a book

The Other N-word & an Ode

Photo credit: Jacky Petrie. Used with permission.

Photo credit: Jacky Petrie. Used with permission.

We were enjoying supper at a casual restaurant the other night, the kind of place where there are regulars and the food is both good and relatively cheap. The kind of place where our server calls everyone “hon”, and is friendly and chatty and might sometimes forget to bring your coffee or some such, but nobody minds because she’ll remember eventually. We were sharing a piece of the homemade coconut cream pie when the aforementioned chatty server apologized for calling my husband “hon” and cited her Maritime roots as a reason for the friendliness. “From New Brunswick” she said “Imagine if I was a Newfie?”

My husband and I looked at each other and I felt my back stiffen and my teeth clench. We’re both Newfoundlanders, and the N-word is a loaded one. Long used as a derogatory term for natives of my home province, “Newfie” or “Newfy” is frequently coupled with “stupid” or “goofy” (how clever, with the rhyme, hey?) or even worse, the “Newfie” joke (I’ll get back to that one).

I remember the first time I heard “Newfie” used as an insult as if it were yesterday. Traveling with sea cadets from across the country, we were headed into the mess for dinner when one of the mainland girls said “Oh, that red stuff in the bottles on the tables is ketchup, you Newfies probably don’t get that over there”. I was stunned, taken aback by the scorn in her voice and the nastiness of the comment. You know where she was from? Nanaimo. A place whose claim to fame is a dessert square, on an island nearly a fourth the size of mine; funnily enough, on the same island on which I now live. And I can tell you, living here now, that Vancouver Island is no great bastion of gourmet ketchup.
I wish I’d thought of a response at the time, but I just stared at her as she laughed, unkindly. She made a few other comments before another Newfoundlander with us stepped in and deftly used his sense of humour to shut her up—I wish I could remember what he said.

And I wish that was the only time I’d been the butt of such mockery. Skip ahead a few years, and I’d moved to Halifax. Meeting people, always difficult for the painfully shy person that I was, became more so when I was asked where I was from. “Newfoundland”, I’d say, waiting for the comeback. Sometimes just friendly chatter “Oh, really, what part? I have a friend/family member/dog from there”
(As an aside, I don’t find it offensive at all that Newfoundland dogs are frequently called “Newfs” or “Newfies”. I’ve never heard it used derisively, but more to the point, most long name breeds have affectionately truncated names: Rotties for Rottweilers, Dobies for Dobermans, Leos for Leonbergers, you get the idea)
but sometimes, a response that went thusly: the greeter would affect their idea of a Newfoundland accent and spouted a phrase like “How’s she goin’ dere buddy?” and cackle hilariously like they thought there were making a connection while I cringed and wished for the ground to open up and suck the offender in.

But I could never find a way of expressing why I hated the word, or a way of telling the other person I found it so offensive. Then, I read an essay in the National Post that echoed exactly what I was feeling, and why it rankled me so to hear “Newfie”. I don’t recall the author, although I’m inclined to credit Rex Murphy as he wrote about it as well.
That essay somehow gave weight to how I felt, and gave me license to express my discomfort with the word.

Photo Credit: Jacky Petrie. Used with permission.

Photo Credit: Jacky Petrie. Used with permission.

Shortly after, I spotted an ad in a local real estate guide that described a home as having a “big Newfie kitchen”. I emailed the realtor and asked just what that was, and she replied that it was “a big kitchen for parties and drinking, like they have on the Rock”. Sigh. Wouldn’t “large family kitchen” or “big eat-in kitchen” or “kitchen great for entertaining” do just as well? I emailed her back and explained my position, asked her to reconsider the use of the word. Next thing, my inbox was full of vitriolic emails from her friends with whom she’d shared my message, calling me names and using disparaging comments. One read “Well obviously you ARE a stupid Newfy sorry NEWFOUNDLANDER if you take offence (sic) to that!!!” Not that quiet kid anymore, I took action by lodging a complaint with the NS Realtors Association and a letter of reprimand was placed on her file. The letter found the use of the word “Newfie” to be just fine, but her sharing of my email and address unprofessional. A tainted win, but I took it.

Back to the Newfie jokes: so offensive on more than one level—substitute any disparaged group and the meaning of the joke doesn’t change, and most egregiously, they are just not funny. Newfoundlanders are nothing if not funny, with a long comic vein stretching back to the CODCO days, through This Hour Has 22 Minutes and the Rick Mercer Report.
And lest you think we can’t laugh at ourselves, think again. We Newfoundlanders are excellent at poking fun of ourselves. Self-deprecating humour is employed with great effect. Comedian Shaun Majumber does a bit about his Pakistani father and Newfoundland mother, whom he identifies as being from two of the most maligned groups of people. “I’m a POOFIE” he cries, and the audience howls. Funny, because it has it’s edge in truth. And because he is holding the power—he is making fun of his roots, because they are his roots.

Another thing, while I’m ranting, is that it’s not only when “Newfie” is used in conjunction with negativity that I hate; I dislike positive stereotypes as well. “Oh, you Newfies are hilarious” is cringe-worthy, as is the widespread believe that we are all so warm and friendly. Don’t get me wrong, by and large, we are. We are friendly, warm, welcoming and funny, as a rule. But like all rules, this one can be broken and I know of Newfoundlanders who are neither funny nor warm and hospitable. I know cranky, humorless dolts who are bags of unfitness, miserable bastards. I’m not especially genial myself. But a stereotype, positive or negative, and the harm it can do, is another discussion.

I can express my thoughts on the word “Newfie” these days, not as eloquently as Rex Murphy or with the rapier wit of Rick Mercer, but I do feel comfortable telling someone I don’t like the word, and to please not to use it to refer to me if that’s what I want to say. And that’s the key—I don’t want my friends jumping in to say, “Oh Liz doesn’t like that word” because a) Liz can speak for herself and b) Liz will or won’t correct the person depending on the circumstances. “Newfie” is still ambiguous—some of us Newfoundlanders embrace it, some hate it, so I am not going to unilaterally jump at everyone who uses it. My perception on the speaker’s meaning or intent is key to my reaction.

As I said, not all Newfoundlanders feel the same way about the N-word; I’ve come under fire from some of my compatriots for finding the word offensive or objectionable. And that’s okay, because it’s their word too, to embrace or reject as they see fit.

Rant over, on to the business of the day–it’s National Poetry Month, and my entry today while not original, is definitely on topic with the rant. When I was in elementary school, we started the day singing O Canada and the Ode to Newfoundland. Musically, the Ode to Newfoundland is a dreary dirge, especially when croaked painfully by a group of tuneless 8-year olds. Lyrically, it’s a majestic ode that pays due homage to the splendour of our province.
(Trivia: I took the title for my work-in-progress horror novel, Silvern Voices, from these lyrics)

Photo Credit: Jacky Petrie. Used with permission.

Photo Credit: Jacky Petrie. Used with permission.

Ode to Newfoundland

When sun rays crown thy pine clad hills,
And summer spreads her hand,
When silvern voices tune thy rills,
We love thee, smiling land.

We love thee, we love thee,
We love thee, smiling land.

When spreads thy cloak of shimmering white,
At winter’s stern command,
Thro’ shortened day, and starlit night,
We love thee, frozen land.

We love thee, we love thee
We love thee, frozen land.

When blinding storm gusts fret thy shore,
And wild waves lash thy strand,
Thro’ spindrift swirl, and tempest roar,
We love thee windswept land.

We love thee, we love thee
We love thee windswept land.

As loved our fathers, so we love,
Where once they stood, we stand;
Their prayer we raise to Heaven above,
God guard thee, Newfoundland

God guard thee, God guard thee,
God guard thee, Newfoundland.

Flat as a Pancake


Flat as a pancake, is the saying tis true
But if you’re a pancake what describes you?
Flat as a board? Flat as a flitter?
Flat as a tack? Flat as a twitter?

And suppose that your pancakes aren’t flat at all?
Suppose that you stack them, four pancakes tall?
Ladle the syrup and slather with butter
Dive in with a fork, with abandonment utter

And after you’ve eaten the pancakes so yummy
What won’t be as flat as they are is your tummy!

Which Came First?


I met these beautiful chickens yesterday (yeah that big rooster to the right sure is giving me the stink eye) and came away with a dozen eggs. Local, free range, happy chickens make the best eggs! The yolks are not the pale washed out yellow that chickens of dubious feed produce, but a deep golden orange with a rich flavour.

As far as which came first, I don’t give a cluck, my feathers don’t get ruffled over such questions and I’m not going to beak off about creationism vs evolution. Let’s get cracking!

perfect golden brown sphere, hovering
over sizzling butter pool
one short sharp rap releases
treasure from it’s shell as
gently it slides, stops-
shining, center pan
like a bright