Operation Cake Surprise

Sounds like Gill’s mom had a pretty nice Mother’s Day. I wouldn’t mind some of that cake myself.

Remember a few months ago I asked you wonderful readers to vote on a cake that I would make for my mom as a thank you for everything she does or has done for me? Would you like to know what happened?

Stage 1

About six weeks ago I enlisted the help of a friend, someone my mom knew from when she was a teenager. I called her up on a cold day stating that I wanted to do something nice for mom, and asked if she would go in on the surprise. She agreed, but told me she would be away for the Mother’s Day weekend with her own family and asked if a few days later would work. I agreed, and we set to work putting not only an elaborate deception but a symbol of caring into motion.

Stage 2

I involved my dad shortly after, as he would be the one taking me to our friend’s house to make the cake. I also told my mom that I would need to go to our friend’s to help sort photos of when I was a kid.

Stage 3

The day we baked the cake my mom became a little suspicious. She had suggested in a round about kind of way that I might be up to some kind of no good. I told her that I was looking at photos and helping our friend sort.

Stage 4

The moment finally arrived. My parents and their friends sat at the dining room table when my friend suggested I come with her for a moment. She produced the cake, and I brought it to my mom, and like the dying minutes of a sit com from when I was a kid, I confessed that there were not any pictures, but this was something I had been thinking of, scheming, and doing for the last little while. I also thanked her for the time she spent in the hospital with me last June.

Further Thoughts

The cake we ended up making was a pecan cheese cake. I stayed up beyond midnight thinking of exactly the right words to say to her.

When Will It End?

I’m glad Gill wrote this, because it’s given me the push to post a couple things that I’ve been meaning to post for a while. First, a song.

And next, this essay that really scrambled up my brain as it’s intended to do. When I found it, all that was written was below the ***’s.

Finally, before I let her take it away, I want to clarify something. When she references being shown the Nazi salute, it was in drama class as part of a play. Also, this was at a school for the blind, so the teacher assumed that the kids probably didn’t know how it looked, so had to physically show them. I know the woman to whom she is referring, and I think she would be heartbroken to think that Gill thought she was trying to encourage the kids to support what is embodied by Nazism rather than realizing she was just showing them how to act a part in a play.

Over the last several years, several acts of hate and terror have occurred. Charleston, Charlottesville, Pittsburgh, and just last week the good people down in New Zealand experienced it on a scale that no nation or person should experience it. Shout out to the Prime Minister and other high-ranking officials there for putting laws in place that would prevent this sort of thing.

Shame Game

These acts don’t just hurt the victims or their fellow countrypeople. The sadness and grief goes around the world. In my own personal way, it kicked me in the stomach and created deja vu. Over twenty years ago, I was in a high school drama class and we were taught the Nazi Salute along with the “heil Hitler!

When I woke up last Saturday morning, I couldn’t even look myself in the mirror. I felt those same feelings of shame to be white that I did twenty years earlier. I rarely spoke of them, but brought it up with my prayer group that morning at church. They told me not to be ashamed, but to feel good that I have a social conscience.


We all have, and should do something good each day. It doesn’t have to be major, but something as simple as saying hello to your neighbors, or holding the door for someone. Like my mother told me after the Paris attacks, “we can be agents for change and peace.”

Sweet Mischief

Gill is looking for some input if anyone has any. Personally I like the sound of chocolate cherry.

Normally mischief is a bad thing when it falls into the wrong hands, but if done right it can and does make someone’s day. Whether buying someone lunch or just surprising a co-worker who could use some cheering up by bringing them their favorite coffee or tea, it is a good thing.

Something For Mom

As you know, last year I got really sick, required surgery, and developed complications. I had an ally in the fight, my mom. Inspired by the fact that Mother’s Day isn’t too far away, I thought of doing something for her. A family friend and I hatched a plan to make her a cake, problem is it’s going to be after Mother’s Day as my mom’s friend is away Mother’s Day weekend with her children and grandchildren. But we set up a date to bake sometime during that week.

Here’s Where You Come In

With out giving much away, I secretly asked my mom what her favorite cake was, and in typical mom fashion she said, “any cake I don’t have to make.”

So here are several options I’ve been tossing around. If you were mom, which would you like?

  • Traditional chocolate
  • Chocolate cherry
  • Vanilla
  • Marbel
  • black forest
  • coffee cake
  • Lemon poppyseed

The Blue Vest Crew

Here’s Gill with an update on how life is going for her.

You might have a couple of questions about this. No, I’m not joining a neighborhood street gang or secret society. I am, however, volunteering.

Why The Name?

The volunteers are issued navy blue vests. It’s a symbol of recognition for all volunteers throughout the Hamilton Network of hospitals.

Why Am I Doing This?

There are a couple of reasons.

A few years back I had a minor procedure to remove a benign cyst from my left knee at the hospital I’ll be volunteering at. The surgeon and technicians were really good, and I thought I should give back to a health center that served me so well.

I’m also doing it in memory of my late great friend Eric Williams {Jan. 2 1976-Apr.22 2014}.

It Runs In The family

About 25 years ago my late grandmother Mildred Ardiel {June 22 1919-Jan 22 2009}, volunteered at our community hospital. She, and sometimes I, would go around delivering either ice cream or cookies and tea to the patients.

Fun fact: before the maternity ward shut down at that hospital, I actually saw a baby, hours old, in all its red, wrinkly glory.

What Will I Be Doing?

Probably something similar to what my grandmother did.

Mildred Myrtle Ward-Ardiel June 22 1919-Jan. 22 2009

Apparently today is the tenth anniversary of the death of one of Gill’s grandmothers and she has a few words to say about it.

Grandmas are the best, and I’m extremely lucky to still have one.

I would like to take a moment out of the business of life to talk to you about someone important to me. As you can tell, I wrote her name on the top of this essay. She was my paternal grandmother, and on this date ten years ago her life race ended.

Who Was She?

Mildred Myrtle Ward-Ardiel was born at home in a blink and you’ll miss it farming community on June 22 1919. She was one of nine children, and her early years were spent in a hard scrabble farm life. When she was approximately ten-years-old one of her youngest sisters died of encephalitis. Due to the family’s poverty and the Great Depression she pretty much left school after eighth grade. She married my grandfather Keith Ardiel in July 1940 and settled in to a rural life. She had my uncle Harold in 1942, followed in short succession by my dad in 1943. In 1951 she welcomed my aunt Sandra into the family and the family was complete. Sadly in 1967 my grandfather had a massive stroke and passed on. She did find love once again with Ray Martin 1916-2000.

What Was she like?

She was loads of fun. I will always remember going to this neighborhood park near her home and tossing stones in a river. She was a fabulous cook! I’m not saying that because she was gran, but the homemade biscuits, turkey dinners, and ice cream sundaes made holidays and visits all the more special. She was stubborn. She didn’t want to go into a nursing home, even though she couldn’t remember to take her pills. She was cute. Standing at roughly five feet tall she held court for all of us six grandchildren, and would frequently surprise us with the things she would say, E.G. about seven months before her death my mom and I were visiting her at the home, and a soap opera happened to be on, she looked at the screen and with a perfectly straight face remarked, “they love to show their asses on that show.”


Sometimes around this time of year I get kind of sad, but I will always remember trips to the park, mini-golfing, and those irresistible pancakes.

Since I Moved

Gill is here to let us know how things are going. the short answer is well, which is nice to hear.

If you talked to me three years ago you probably would have noticed I wore a frown a lot. I was very unhappy with where I lived, and was getting more and more depressed by the day. It was around that time that I also was experiencing a crisis of faith.

My Previous Church

At that time I had made a tiny amount of headway in gaining the other congregants trust, but respect was another issue. Although an adult people, they would still call me kiddo and talk to me in a rather demeaning way. I would try to avoid them as much as I could, but knowing I had to stay faithful made that an impossibility. The one shiny thing was I got to sing in the choir.


In the spring of 2016 I finally had enough, and went to the supervisor. She and I had and still have a rapport, so it was easy for me to lay out how I was feeling.

Between That Day And Moving Day

I found out I was moving a short time later. In the time between I broke my ankle, {see an article about a demonic angry hill} but was more than happy that I got the call to move. Lots of packing and other arrangements were made, and I soon was where I am today.

My New Church

Once my ankle was better I embarked on a new neighborhood church find. I not only found church, but family. They listen to, respect, and even take on my ideas. They also enjoy my contributions to Bible study and at other times. I am also not just “their blind friend”. The kids call me “auntie or Ms. Gill.”


I am so happy here! People are welcoming and reasonable.

New Year’s Resolutions

Gill has a few words about making and sticking to New Year’s resolutions.

I’m with her on her first point. If I bother making a resolution at all, I know that no good ever comes of aiming too high. If I get it in my head that I want to do something, I just tell myself that I’m going to give it a go and we’ll see what comes of it. Any result is a good result when you don’t have an unrealistic bar to clear or deadline to meet.

I’ll even take it a step further, but also disagree with her somewhat on number two. Often you’ll hear people say that it’s a good idea to have somebody holding you accountable or to do the thing you want to do in a group. For me, if you want to ensure that I don’t do something, put me in a group or have somebody bother me about it. It’s the same thought process behind the unrealistic goal. If my progress is slow, I’m going to feel judged by the group or my appointed nag, I’m going to get discouraged and I’m not going to want to do it anymore. I’ve found that I’m much better at basically everything when I’m left alone. That’s why I often don’t tell people about my goals. I know that if I do I can never speak to those people again.

I’ll let Gill take it from here.

At one point or another we all have stood there glass of champagne or non-alcoholic bubbly in hand when the year rolls over vowing to do it right this time around. It has also been said that if you can do something for 21 days it will stick, but what about beyond those 21 days? Here are some tips.

  1. Don’t set the bar too high – Don’t tell yourself your going to lose 35 pounds by your cousin’s wedding in mid February and then beat yourself up when the little red needle on the scale only moves 25 pounds. Set a reasonable goal.
  2. Support is everything – Surround yourself with encouragers not enablers. Encouragers will not only be your cheerleaders, but keep you accountable. They will make sure that when you’re about to rip chunks out of your hair due to your cigarette craving to bring you back around.
  3. Think outside the box – Weight loss, quitting smoking and getting your bills in order are important, but what about trying a new recipe a month? For the last couple of years I have worked, and am still working at not being so hard on myself.
  4. Self encouragement can help – Before the start of my journey to stop being hard on myself I would tell myself very harsh and negative things. Thankfully I have been blessed with loads of supports, which makes it easier for me to support myself.


Have you ever made a New Year’s resolution? If so, how well did it go?

Making A Day Of It With Mom

Seems like Gill had a nice Christmas. I wonder if the snow scene she describes is going to inspire a quilt at some point.

In the last few years I have begun to notice something beautiful. My mom and I are building a bond, and she gets me. I have talked about her in previous blogs, and about neat things she has done, but this one’s kind of special.

Wednesday’s Adventure

In the last decade or a little better my mom has taken up quilting. In her humble opinion she isn’t good at it, but I have received many complimentary responses to some of the projects that adorn my bed, sofa, and now wall. My mom had received some materials from my sister for Christmas, and had the creative juices perform a Niagara Falls on her. We first drove to a blink and you will miss it village about fifteen minutes away called Maxwell to see their quilt shop, but it was closed until the following day. With country music playing and good conversation flowing, we made our way to a larger town about forty minutes away called Shelburn, where the quilt shop was open. My issue was that it was rather cluttered, but it was a nice little place on the main drag.

Ice On The Trees

To our readers who come from warmer places that don’t get lots of snow I must paint this picture for you. Where I grew up was an area called The Snow Belt. If you manage to get to this little slice of heaven you will marvel at the snow on trees, making it look like a postcard. It had rained, then frozen, and with the temperatures when my mom and I left home on the colder side there were branches of trees made silver by ice. When we were coming back from our adventure silver had given way to brown and black.


What’s something you would be surprised to know about one of your parents?

Recipe For A Fabulous Holiday

Gill is back to share her recipe for a happy holiday season. Hers involves a lot less liquor than mine does, but it’ll work.

Hi friends.

It’s that time again, and one of the big things around this time is time honored recipes. They might be generations old, like your 5 times oma’s recipe for fephernus cookies, or new off the net. But what about the ingredients for a wonderful time? I have those right here for you.


Take a generous helping of family
Some traditions old and new
Go heavy on the fun and cherished memories
Add a helping of compassion and kindness for your fellow people


Blend the family moments together until the cockles of your heart are just room temperature, add the compassion and kindness gradually until warmth begins to spread. Keep this up into the next year, and the ones to come.

Serves As many as you like

To quote Tiny Tim, “God Bless us everyone.”

Ms. Gillie wishing you all the best, for now and to come. Happy holidays.

Giving Back

Gill is back.

To answer her question, the main thing I’m doing in the hopes of making the world a little bit better is just being myself. I’m not trying to sound egotistical, I just mean that I’m doing my best to do what I always try to do anyway regardless of where we are on the calendar. Listen to people when they need an ear, try to be there with some decent advice, a laugh or a smile. Give what I can where I can, that sort of thing. Even running this silly little blog helps in its own way, a fact that never doesn’t amaze me.

Normally this is about the time when I would rank awkward gifts, regional dishes, or poke a bit of fun at party guests, but right now I’d like to pause for a second to appeal to all of you out there.

Many times we don’t think too much of the lady pushing the shopping cart with all of her worldly possessions, or the guy with the rough looking clothing. Have you ever taken a second to find out what brought them to this moment? Sometimes in the business of life we don’t stop to think.

Nothing For Christmas

When I was growing up I often would race down to the sofa by the fireplace at my parents farmhouse to find what treasures were hidden in the pretty paper. As I grew up I would see different groups of folks collecting mountains of toys, or stuffing buses. Having never been blessed with children of my own, I decided this year to help someone in my community. I’m going to start by buying something for one of our local toy drives and see where it goes from there.


As 2018 marches to a close, how are you making the world a better place?