And so to these magnanimous awards, for the new year and for the old year, for our year.

We have a story at the end of this post, you will see why soon. But first. The giving and receiving of awards is most wonderful and most terrifying. Choices hurt. How can I possibly choose between you, when I have so many truly wonderful people reading and commenting on my pages.  Many more whose pages stand up and beg me to read them each day, much to my grateful pleasure, because you are worth the reading.

My darling Nia from Photographynia , who takes photographs of everything, sent me this wonderful award the other day.  The Candle Lighter Award.  Isn’t that beautiful.  This is a special award.  Usually you only award this to one person.  Anyone can award it, any time you like, if you come across a page that begs to be noted with this award. It is not one you have to pass on, as such.

I did some research  and I found this quote from a friend of the woman who created it. “This award belongs to  those who believe, who always Survive the day  and those who never stop Dreaming , for those who cannot quit, for those who keep trying. If that is you, you are Entitled in this Award 

Well this is indeed serious stuff. I want to give this award to two of my readers.

Lois who, last I heard, was allowed out of the hospital to visit with her family. I hope she comes back online soon so we can see how she is. But this lady is a fighter if ever I saw one!

Miss T, who sees wonder in the smallest of things. She knows why I think she is a survivor, having stayed beside her mother through the pain of Altzeimers that lasted years and years.

Claire from Promenade Plantings who is presently swanning about up in the mountains, jamming her champagne into the snow to keep it cold and generally larking about, took time out of her extraordinarily exciting schedule to award me with the  Reader Appreciation Award.

Firstly zap over to ChgJohn who also received this award from Claire – then promptly named a whole bunch of my most frequent commenters. Bloody fella got in first! So I join his thanks  to  Tanya, Greg, Katherine, Mandy.. Yes,  I mean you guys! And of course The Bartolini himself.  You are all  deeply, deeply appreciated for your consistently supportive, generous and sometimes bizarre comments. ChgJohn also has the rules on his page.  Claire also managed to nominate another of my frequent loveable commentors from a Little  Corner in Rhode Island.

You see The rules for this one are strict you can only nominate the top 6 commenters  and readers on your blog by the numbers. Well, apparently I am breaking the rules!  Nominating another six.

Kathryn, an artist and writer who never ceases to astound and surprise me with her work and words! I love her.

Phyllis from FoodFlowersHerbsandLife, who cooks lovely food, and has such a delightful intelligent outlook on life.

MadDogTVDinners. This fellow is not mad at all and his blog has NOTHING to do with TV dinners and if he is eating this food in front of TV then that must be the most incongruous sight imaginable. Plus he knows an awful lot about Barcelona and is often Online just as I post.

Lynda from Pixilated. She lives on a little farmlet and is endlessly coming to my rescue with excellent  if slightly quirky advice. She understands about naughty animals.

Ms Misk, a fiesty woman who I am sure is brave enough to tell me that the thought of my wine will make her gag. And this from a woman who is making vinegar in her fermenting room!  Of course I deeply envy her that vinegar. I will get to it, I will!!

Soul Dipper,  a woman with a big heart loaded with empathy, a gifted writer  with a soft spot for Mama.

Our leader Celia from Fig, Lime and Cordial. Beautiful food from a beautiful generous lady.

Kay from Pure Complex, a striking sophisticated page from an adorable girl. I remind her of her grandmother and I just love that. Being the old fashioned farm girl that I am!

Thank you all.  AND thank you to all the lovely people who comment on my little pages. The Farmy loves your feedback, support and advice. And to my wonderful silent daily readers I know who you are, and love that you visit with me.  You all keep me writing.

And now, much to my delight I have received the versatility award again.  From Ronnie over at Morristownmemos. A delightful sharp and witty woman who writes about all kinds of things and I suspect has a lovely big laugh! 

This versatile award gets a story.

The Still Man.

“I’ll get a box and we’ll take it with us. It will taste better  after a few drinks.” My two  sons who were men laughed to each other.

We had been at a pizza joint in the Loop in Chicago. We could not eat all the pizza, we had ordered way too much and it really wasn’t as tasty as we had expected.  So we filled a box to the brim with the last of the pizza to take back to the hotel.

This was a couple of years ago. It was very cold that winter. Dark. Snowing. I was wearing my big coat, and leather gloves, huge cuddly scarf and a hat.  My boots, over my jeans with thick socks. Everything was warm except my face.

We walked along in the lazy fashion that families often have. Together, with confident loose strings. I carried the weighty deep dish pizza with everything on it, like a waitress with a tray. My gloved hand directly underneath the wide box. I could feel the heat of it.  The streets were teeming with colourful people. Lights flashed and cars sped past, honking and laughing. The jostle of packages, flicking of scarves, the huddle of collars.  Soft snow in the air and underfoot. My tall boys, who were men, walked ahead of me.  I enjoyed watching them laugh together, shoving each other with their invisible language. Bright snow gathering on their shoulders.

We turned another corner and proceeded down another road, more shops, more people , more movement. Things began to blur in their hurry, the sounds lost their softness and became raucous. The boys were further ahead. I swapped hands carrying my tray of pizza on my right hand now.  It was getting heavy.

I saw ahead of me a Still Man. This is the only word that comes to mind when I think of him, and I think of him often. He stood straight, tall, immobile and stared up and out across the street, his arms laid forgotten at his sides, loose. His hands empty. He was waiting.  I think that he had been waiting on that corner for months. Not years, yet.  He was stood firmly on his feet, in the shadow of a closed doorway. He was not old, nor was he young. His strong head was bare in the cold and as I got closer I could see that he wore no socks, his shoes scuffed and thin, once good.  His hands were in gardening gloves. He wore a thin windbreaker. He was dressed in black, his skin as dark as his clothes, though as I got even closer I saw that he had freckles, which struck me as incongruous. A homeless person on the street with no socks and freckles.  Even closer now I found his scent amongst the other street smells, he smelt like a beach.  Windy and salty.

As I walked past him I found his eyes, they were clear eyes, dark. Dark and reflective. His eyes were mirror sunglasses. He was not begging, he just looked back. Stoic. But not quite resigned. I raised my eyebrows slightly. He raised his eyebrows very slightly back. Without thought I leaned in and touched his shoulder, his hands came up and  I tilted my body as I passed and the box of hot pizza slid from my hands to his.  It was a small movement, an effortless movement, a movement without thought. I saw my secret smile in his eyes as I moved past.

I never even broke my stride, the boys were further ahead now,  I needed to catch up. I increased my speed.

The tall black man heaved up out of his stillness and called out to me.  Hey Miss. Hey Miss! God Bless You, Miss!   Thank you. Thank you! You are an angel Miss!  Merry Christmas to you,  God Bless you.!  I looked over my shoulder. His face was shining and smiling and real suddenly. His face was a high-tide  crashing wave of joy.

I wanted to run back to him and place my fingers over his mouth. Hush now. No, no it was nothing. Oh my god, it was nothing. Hush.  I waved and walked a little further on.

Thank you Miss! God bless you, Miss!  Merry Christmas, Miss! His voice was a stevedores. A deep bell.  A huge voice above the grim walkers.  A rooftop voice. I moved sideways further down the street.

Then I stopped and turned fully back to him and he just demanded my voice in return, that Still Man.

Merry Christmas I called back, across the ducked heads. I could not help but smile at this tall, suddenly bright man. My face hiding the shame. It had been too easy for me. It had been a mere flick of my wrist.  I had not even thought about it.  I didn’t even want the pizza. Hush now, I called.  I felt my arrogance like a burn. This arrogant magnanimous gesture of left over food. I put my fingers to my own lips. Ssh. I am so sorry, I thought.

I was half a  block away now. I should have run back to him. I should have sat on the ground and taken off my thick woolly socks and given them to him. The boys were calling to me now.  I should have given him my big warm hat. All I gave him  was a pizza that I did not even want.  My sons had a taxi waiting.  I should have stood and chatted with him for a while. Thank you, Miss.

I looked back again and nodded to him. He nodded back.

I do not deserve your thanks. I gave you nothing that mattered to me. I should have given you a garden, I should have found you a days work. I should havediscovered what you were waiting for. I bent to climb into the taxi.  My son holding the door.

He stood holding his box of food but looking at me. Then the crowds closed and he was gone.

“What happened to the pizza?” eldest son said,  looking at my hands, as we settled gingerly into the back of the taxi hurtling out into the traffic.

“I gave it away.” I said.

“Oh, Cool.” Both boys who were men said in unison, then laughed at each other.

I think of him often, that beautiful black man with the freckles and no socks.

c

97 Comments on “And so to these magnanimous awards, for the new year and for the old year, for our year.

  1. Beautiful story at the end there and thank you very very much for the award. Were the chickens the audience at the award ceremony? The cat did not look amused 🙂 Miss T

    • White Cat is seldom amused. I did think that the chickens from yesterdays shoot looked like an audience that kept building. Keep the candle honey. It is not a passing on one! One day you will find a page someone writes that sings to you and you might like to give them a candle too. c

  2. Dear C, congratulations on your multiple awards. Please never worry when it comes to making choices about me as I prefer not to get awards and would not do the hard graft required to pass them on. Lovely images as usual. I wish you continued success with the blog.

    • It is hard to know sometimes. And impossible to choose. This is why I don’t name names all the time! Have a great day! c

  3. Congratulations on all of your well deserved awards, Cecilia! I just adore reading your stories and seeing your images from the farmy. You have such a remarkable gift for storytelling and the story of the still man brought tears to my eyes. You inspire. Thank you for inspiring me.

  4. Thanks Cecilia and great story. You might not have given that poor man something you really wanted or needed, but his need was great and you were possibly the only person who made an effort on that cold night. That’s what counts 😉

  5. I know people do not like to be quoted the Bible, so I hope I do not offend you, but your post reminded me of Hebrews 13:2: “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” Beautiful post, and congrats on your awards!

    • That is quite beautiful.. And you do not offend me at all. That is a wonderful quote and I am grateful.. Thank you.. c

  6. Now you´ve made me cry again with one of your beautiful stories. You are good woman Miss C. And you deserve all your awards and more. ´Nuff said!

    • Oh No I did not mean to make you cry again.. all I was saying was that I am not that good, I am too much in a hurry, I can do better.. This was like a note to myself.. out loud so I could not ignore myself.. ’nuff said!!.. c

  7. You’re a kind soul, Cecilia. We haven’t passed this on, we better get on it! Anyway, that was a nice gesture, and you shouldn’t feel bad you didn’t do more, we can’t do everything. Better to do something than nothing. Thanks for your kind mention too!

    • Hi Katherine, hope you are having a great Thursday.. You and Greg were one of the first to comment on my blog so you are pretty special to the us! .. c

  8. I already told Claire I might not get to this award thingy before all my biggest commenters were snatched-up by someone else…I can give it to my daughter, I guess! 😉
    Wonderful story, as always…no tears here, this time, just a very warm place in my heart…

    • Good, I am hoping things are picking up in your neck of the woods, you can give it your daughter too, maybe you could print it and pop it on a card! We all have some great readers who do not comment but have been with us all the way! c

  9. Beautiful story Celia, you have a big heart. Society sometimes makes us afraid to stand out and do good deeds, making us feel the discomfort of giving to less fortunate, the main thing is your heart is true and you gave without thought. Xx

    • Thank you Allison, this is not something we see a lot in NZ. Real street people in the downtown city,there are a few, quite well known characters some of them, but in Chicago downtown the poor old fellas are everywhere.. Makes us think that inner city allotment gardens would be a grand thing! c

  10. Congratulations on your awards and awardees Cecilia. I had exactly the same reaction inside to someone’s gracefulness and thanks knowing I was not as deserving as he thought so your story gave me goose bumps. Happy New Year to you!

    • Thank you chris, it was a difficult sentiment to get across without sounding like I was fishing for compliments.. but imagine what we would give if we thought ahead.. Blankets probably.. this time of year. c

    • Thank you honey, you enjoy the rest of your day…I love that you keep visiting and commenting.. you are very special!! c

  11. All these awards are perfect! You are offering such great posts – the writing, the photos, the joy. Well done, you good, honourable and talented woman.

    I love hearing you describe smells. You surprised me with this one…like the beach – windy and salty. Your boys who were men gave a response that speaks volumes.

    Now it’s time to go and write!

  12. Wiping tears…a beautiful story beautifully told about a beautiful deed. So many would have evaded eye contact and rushed on by. Your gift was in seeing him as a human being. Our gift is in your honest sharing of that moment with all of us… Thank you and a very Happy New Year.

    • Thank you so much maggie, it was one of those connections that has settled in my memory. When I am in the city I usually buy a few subway sandwiches and give them to anyone begging with their coffee cups, but this fellow was different. c

  13. Thank you for a wonderful story. You have stopped me in my tracks, and made me pause a while. You paint a very vivid picture with your words, including emotions. thank you for your story telling C
    And congratulations on the awards, I see I have plenty of new blogs to go and read.
    Sharing is the best isn’t it – whether it’s a story, an award, photos, some time or a pizza…….

    • You are so right. It is the sharing. I think that people who blog are a naturally generous bunch. We kind of circle our metaphorical blog wagons and nurture each other. And I see you have been making cookies so i am off to have a look! c

  14. Sometimes a friendly gesture is enough to help someone in need. There was a homeless man who used to wander the streets of Brisbane. He would occasionally ask for money, but I would buy him sandwiches instead as I thought he would probably buy cheap grog, or worse, metho. I often wonder what happened to him.
    Of course, it is never enough, but what can we do.

  15. Well the strangest one was a man who died on my day off and who came to me at the moment of his death. He woke me up in the middle of the night, saying he had to go on but wanted to thank me and he would tell everyone about me when he got there. You can imagine my surprise when I tried to tell him..he was sick and needed to be in bed..and he said,”No you don’t understand, I just wanted to tell you, thank you and I will tell them how kind you were.” He took me to his bedside where his body lay. Then I understood and I spent the rest of the time saying,,,please don’t tell them…they know I am not good..they know…”
    When he left it was 2:20 am. Thinking it was a dream I went back to sleep. When I returned to work 2 days later they told me he had died and when I asked when they said…2:20 am Tuesday…There is a lot more to this story..but the fact remains..sometimes we do not know the depth of good we do…

    • Chris.. how extraordinary.. how incredible.. this needs a glass of wine and a settle in for the whole story.. this cyber space cannot replace that.. you must have been in shock for days.. goodness.. c

    • Chris, this is beautiful. One of my friends was the spiritual director of the Hospice in Victoria. She had these types of occurrences on several occasions. How can we not accept and believe the higher realms when this happens repeatedly?

      And now “they” know, Chris. And now you know that there’s a huge realm working for you! 😀 and a big hug.

  16. Reading your daily posts is one of the highlights of my day, Celi, so the very idea that I’d be acknowledged for doing just that is like a cherry on top of a cupcake or an olive in a martini or banana lumps in a glass of wine. It’s pretty darned special! Thanks, Celi. 🙂

  17. It’s never enough, is it? Often, we think that before we get to the point in time, and so we don’t give at all, for fear of being condescending, or arrogant, or superior.
    But you know what? It was enough. It wasn’t the pizza, even though that was important, it was the gesture and your willingness to give so instinctively and just having another human being show a little kindness when everyone else was just walking past. Bless you for both your generosity and its accompanying angst.

    And thank you for your kind words, I’m very touched. xxx

  18. Yes, you are right, it is never enough, it is a huge pool of need, so at that point I guess a tiny bit is enough for each of us… hmm.. and i know we all try to do that bit.. c

  19. Congratulations on your awards, Celi. You deserve all that are sure to come your way. And thanks for the gracious shout-out. (Unfortunate that we all cannot be first, isn’t it?) And thanks, Celi, just for being you. Today’s blog entry, a masterwork, is a case in point. Who, but you, would take an award acceptance post, illustrate it using chick pics, and close with a pizza tale that doesn’t cause heartburn but does give the heart a tug, nonetheless? No one.

  20. You get my vote in all categories…White cat’s mustache could have gotten him marquis-ed as the “Marlboro Man” back in the 70’s…but, you get my vote in all categories…and tell old Marvin, or Hubert, or Herb,.. or whatever the guy at the post offices name is…He can write home about that…cause you are the bees knees.
    Bless You
    Happy New Year
    paul

  21. Darling Celi, you *do* know, of course, that we stopped for pizza today (a rare occurrence here–there’s little of what I’d call the real thing available hereabouts) and left carrying a box. Sneaking around in my subconscious again, you. And I’ve been contemplating a certain encounter of my own with a person in need and how underprepared, helpless and inadequate I felt–and yes, guilty–over the little I was able and willing to share with him in the moment. I *want* to be generous but am always too mired in self-doubt and overthinking to ‘do it right’. Honestly, I think everyone who sincerely wishes to be open-handed and -hearted worries a great deal about how it’s appropriate to do it and why it can’t always be done by stealth so we don’t feel so exposed. It so often ends in the kind of overwhelming moment that comes when one is in a poor place and gives a begging child a penny and is suddenly surrounded by a horde of equally needy children.

    You told it perfectly, touching in your brief narrative precisely those chords that tremble within. Your story is grace-filled. You too. No matter how unsettled you feel, you did the most logical and directly useful kindness you possibly could in suddenness of the moment. And by ‘fessing up to your feelings and being willing to tell the story, you revive in all of us readers a need to consider our own intents and opportunities, and that is a very fine thing indeed. The flame of your candle is spreading; despite the injunction against passing along the Candle Lighter Award perforce, you have brought light to a dark corner where it’s needed. Nia knows exactly what she is doing in entrusting the keeping of this flame to your care.

    Oh. And lest I seem like an ingrate, I had surely better also thank you for once again boosting my confidence with your sharing of the Reader Appreciation Award. You are generous indeed.
    Love you!
    Kathryn

    • Kathryn you are a darling girl with such a big heart. So how was the pizza anyway? You certainly deserve the award as you are such a joy in my blog comments and in my consciousness comments if that makes any sense at all.. c

  22. I agree with ChgoJohn! Only from you Cecilia, and the good part is you do it so easily and quite often and we don’t expect it. Yet knowing you thus far we should! So get to work on that book, with these long nights coming. We will be expecting that some day too!

  23. I love the way you write your stories, they flow like water and are so perfectly imagined as I read them. You should publish a collection of short stories 🙂

  24. Thank you so much for nominating me for an award :). I am truly humbled and thankful that you remembered that you remind me of my grandmother :). She was a farm girl as well and I learned a lot from her. Thank you again and Congrats on receiving these awards. The farm and YOU definitely deserve it 🙂

    • I often wonder where he is now.. and how he could have possibly managed on those freezing streets that winter,, maybe he found his way home again.. c

  25. I have many dreams for future… and one of them is to meet with you one day in somewhere else in the world. You are such a beautiful soul…woman, friend, mother, blogger, writer, photographer, cooker,…. I should be lucky that God made me to meet with you, I am so grateful for this. Congratulations dear Cecilia… I told you before, I always want to give award to you… My another dream is to have your published book one day in my hands… I wish 2012 to be the year for you dear Cecilia… Thank you, million times… For sharing with us, for carrying the beauties of life, for being YOU with a great heart, and (you can’t imagine how impressive for me) for your beautiful writing style and usage of this language… It is great reading for me… Blessing and Happiness, angels and muses be with you always. Happy New Year my dear Cecilia. With my love, nia

    • One day darling, i am sure we will find each other in a cafe with our cameras watching sparrows vie for crumbs at our feet! c

  26. I enjoy posts with awards because who know what I may find through the links. Thanks for these, although I must return later today to start the journey.

    Great story as it not only demonstrates your writing skills, it also showcases your compassion.

  27. Pingback: End of year awards and awardings « Images by T.Dashfield

  28. Many thanks for the candle award, Celi. I am home and enjoying time with my family and a little glass of Merlot sometimes to add to the enjoyment. Thanks to everyone who continues to pray for me and many, including my doctor, who pray for a miracle. I believe in miracles, don’t you? Have a wonderful New Year’s eve celebration and may 2012 bring you many blessings and much joy!

    Lois

    • I absolutely DO believe in miracles. I am so glad you are home and having a wee drinkie every now and then too.. You certainly deserve that little glass of Merlot! Keep in touch.. love celi

  29. I really loved the story at the end. Very impressive, vividly descriptive and sincerely honest, heartfelt and skilled writing. That leftover pizza may have been nothing to you, but for that man it was a meal to fill a belly that was empty, until you came along. Sometimes the smallest gestures of compassion can make a big difference in the life of another. It doesn’t matter that it was an easy thing for you to do – his life has been hard, and you made his burden easier to bear.

  30. Beautiful awards for beautiful people and a beautifully written story. It is heart breaking how what is nothing to us ‘rich middle class’ as I define myself is everything to someone else. I completely understand the mortification in knowing you’ve given nothing but to them it was everything. Merry Christmas Celia xx

  31. Hi Celi, You deserve every award that you receive and then some. You have a true gift when it comes to telling a story…whether serious as this one is or the ones that make me laugh out loud with tears in my eyes.

  32. Oh, C. Yes, a candle lighter you are, sweet lady. Congratulations on your awards, and thank you so much for sharing this story. It really is the little gifts, those tiny candles, that light the way.

  33. Pingback: Reader Appreciation Award « Misk Cooks

  34. I’ll just tag on in here and say a quiet little congrats from me too !!! CONGRATULATIONS!!! I’ll go back to being quiet now xx

  35. Cecilia, I almost cried when I read your lovely comment – thank you so very much! I am really an infant blogger – just slightly over 6 months old – seemingly too young for an award! But I have been welcomed by so many fellow bloggers who I now consider friends! Thank you again, dear one! You are so deserving of all your awards!

    • You are most welcome Phyllis, your pages are lovely and your comments on my pages are so welcome.. thank you my friend,.. c

  36. Now that candle lighter award is just perfect for you, C, I’m glad you got that one! Thank you for the story, I’ve had that same feeling – when you help someone thoughtlessly out of one’s own abundance and then must deal with their gratitude, which feels excessive. It makes one feel guilty.

    Love that cat photo, he looks crabby!

  37. Just read this for the first time and wept too thinking of all the other homeless men and women on our streets … no socks, thin jacket. A bit of food to put in their stomach seems so little to give. But you gave it. Bless you and them.

  38. This is the end of my day and my heart is at peace after reading this. I love the candle lighters award and you do deserve it. You light your own candle and then help light others. This would have been the only award I would not have turned away. I stopped accepting all others for the same reasons you did. This story, this experience so touched my heart that I gave it to my daughter to read. She had done virtually the same thing. Handing over pizza from an office party to someone she saw hungry. She does these things often without thinking so I know your heart. It’s so pure. You have raised good men as well. I will sleep even better tonight knowing there are more lightworkers in the world. It’s good work.

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