Friday, December 31, 2010

healing garden

We have a small shower. I must admit I've thought of Super Man stepping into a phone booth as I've slid open its door. It was partly because of the space issue that a container of shower gel leapt off the shelf this morning. Employing some obscure law of physics, it flew in a perfect arc and landed at its narrowest, sharpest edge on my unsuspecting toe. Not my brave big toe, but my wimpy middle toe. I felt an explosion of pain. While I was thinking dark thoughts not lawful to be uttered, I bent to retrieve the offending missile. As my bleary eyes cleared, I could just make out the brand, The Healing Garden.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

drawing the line

Skunks are not big sellers at the road kill cafe. One Monday morning, I passed a fallen creature of the woods. A skunk had shuffled off this mortal coil, its life snuffed out by a passing car or truck. I must admit, I thought of Flower from Bambi. Poor little fellow. Tuesday morning, I thought, still there? Doesn’t anything eat skunks? Wednesday morning, I averted my gaze and held my breath. The following Monday arrived. Ahhhh, a new week, I would take a different route to work. Sadly, a detour led me in a loop and spit me back out at just the right spot to pass the skunk again. Absence had not made my heart grow fonder. In fact familiarity was breeding contempt. Aromatherapy and all things natural are well and good, but you have to draw the line somewhere, and the centre line of 88th Ave. is where I’m drawing mine.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

good sport socks

You win some, you lose some.
I had been teaching my grandson to play checkers. .
"It's important to be a good sport," I counselled.
"Oh, just a minute, I have to get my sport socks," he exclaimed, dashing over to the tree. He returned, his feet snugly outfitted in new socks.
The game continued with losses in both camps, but his eventual victory.
"These sport socks really helped," he enthused.

me, me, me

Regardless of my granddaughters mood, an offer to sing Patty Cake, draws her to my lap as surely as if the Pied Piper himself were piping.  I do a pretty jazzy version, sort of Motown meets Mother Goose. The song ends with one word joyously repeated, "me, me, me, me, ME!"
A word any two year old would love.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

oh christmas tree

My Christmas tree was raised by hand. It's a tame tree. Until a couple weeks ago, it lived on a farm surrounded by a tiny forest, all the same age and size in neatly planted rows. Its trunk is as straight as an arrow. Its branches are evenly spaced and full. We just brought it home and winched it into the tree stand. Presto, a perfect green triangle awaiting lights and finery.
Not so the trees of childhood days. My father began keeping his eye out for a tree as he graded highways and byways in the late weeks of autumn. Waiting until after the heavy snows of winter made choosing a tree a guessing game. Some years, we would set out into the forest with toboggan and toque and search until dusk and numb feet hastened the selection process.
Back home, measurements would be taken.
More sawing would be inevitable.
In Blue River, our tree stand was a galvanized CN pail filled with coal. This gave way eventually, to folding metal contraptions, like those found in castle dungeons.
Just getting a frozen tree wrestled through the door and into the stand was taxing work. Getting it upright and keeping it that way through the holidays, an amazing feat of engineering. More often than not, the tree would list abit to the starboard, as though leaning toward the light.
Little wild trees stretch toward the light under the shelter of giant fir and pine and spruce. Their branches are often widely spaced. This must have been perfect for clipping lit candles to the branch tips, and for hanging ornaments straight and true in the spaces between branches.
My mother remembers lit candles on the tree. The trees of my childhood though, glowed with multicolor bubble lights percolating among the branches. Nests of angel hair softened the brightness of rainbow light bulbs. Tinsel, chunky snowball lights, blown glass birds with fish line tails, and  magical glass ornaments trimmed in gold and silver decked the festal limbs. Nobody had a theme tree and color coordination hadn't met Christmas yet.
There has been a "less is more" approach to decorating in the last few years.
Elegance is found in simplicity.
Still, the trees of yesterday with their exuberant embrace of color and glitz glow warmly in my minds eye. They prove that beauty is found not only in the perfect, but in any expression of celebration, even if it leans towards the window.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

sweet relief

There is an old fashioned Christmas candy that reminds me of plump pillows. They are even striped like pillow ticking fabric. Old grandma Johnston always had a big bowl of them on her side board and this fact nearly killed me the winter I was five.

Blue River was a beautiful town with a jewel of a lake right at its heart. For several months each year, its surface lay still and smooth, under a thick crust of ice. As winter and spring collided, fickle winds blew, and  dark patches appeared as the ice thinned.
One afternoon, as the little neighbor boy and I played outside in the snow, our thoughts turned to candy. Directly across the lake lay the Johnston home. A course was set, our goal, the candy bowl. Down to the lake we trotted and out onto the ice. I remember water laying on its surface in translucent patches, and I recall stomping to make water bubble out at the edges of darkened circles. In the haphazard fashion of preschoolers, we meandered across the icy lake.
A distant commotion  caught our ears. Yelling from the shore. A cluster of family were waving and shouting. We couldn't hear what they were saying, and since no one came and marched us home we figured all was well. Of course, the ice would never have supported the weight of an adult and our parents watched our tortuously slow progress with pounding hearts and tight throats. Unable to tear their eyes from us until we reached the safety of the distant beach, we remained unaccompanied all the way to the Johnston doorstep. As we had suspected, we were graciously invited in and were just sampling the candy when our breathless families arrived, giddy with relief. Strangely, it's the giddy relief of my parents and the taste of the candy that have remained entwined in my memory, as though the two are somehow one experience. When I asked my mother if she remembered, she shook her head. She thinks it's one of the blessings of age to be free at last from dark recollections of the past, the upside of memory loss.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

grafitti guilt

Desperate artists heeding the call to create use whatever medium is at hand, and so my grandson drew on the bathroom mirror with soap.
A face.
His mother, discovering the graffiti, noticed that the mouth was turned down.
"Why did you draw the face sad?" she asked her little boy.
"I thought you would be mad," he answered.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Eeee End

"Would you like me to read about Winnie the Pooh," I coaxed.
"OK!" my little granddaughter chirped, her eyes brightening as she scrambled eagerly into my lap.
Turning a page I announced, "Winnie the Pooh and Piglet are digging in the dirt,"
"Ewww," my little granddaughter exclaimed.
Undaunted, I flipped to the next page. "See, so many stars in the sky.
"Night, night," she said briskly, closing the book with an air of finality.
"Eeee end."

How should a King come

Words and Music by Carol and Jimmy Owens

How should a King come
Even a child knows the answer of course,
In a coach of gold with a pure white horse.
In the beautiful city in the prime of the day,
And the trumpets should cry and the crowds make way.
And the flags fly high in the morning sun,
And the people all cheer for the sovereign one.
And everyone knows that's the way that it's done.
That's the way that a King should come.

How should a King come.
Even a commoner understands,
He should come for His treasures,
And His houses and lands.
He should dine upon summer strawberries and milk,
And sleep upon bedclothes of satin and silk.
And high on a hill His castle should glow,
With the lights of the city like jewels below.
And everyone knows that's the way that it's done,
That's the way that a King should come.

How should a King come.
On a star filled night into Bethlehem,
Rode a weary woman and a worried man.
And the only sound in the cobblestone street,
Was the shuffle and the ring of their donkey's feet.
And a King lay hid in a virgin's womb,
And there were no crowds to see Him come.
At last in a barn in a manger of hay,
He came and God incarnate lay.

And the angels cried "glory glory to God".
Earth was silent so heaven rang!
"Glory glory to God."
Men were dumb so the angels sang,
"Glory glory to God,
Peace on earth good will to men,
Glory glory to God".

Thursday, December 16, 2010

goats and other gifts

"Maybe we should give him a goat," I suggested. My co-worker looked startled. "A goat...." she said hesitantly. "I've always wanted to give someone a goat," I enthused. My co-worker nodded slowly.
"You know....a goat from World Vision. "You've heard the ads on the radio haven't you?" I asked.
She hadn't. "I thought you meant for his yard." she sputtered laughingly.

World Vision has given faces, so to speak, to donations, making it a very personal way to give.
Their catalogue is inspiring. Such photographs. So many gift ideas. Our boss has coached soccer for many years, so soccer balls for children seemed an obvious choice. Pharmacy supplies were another perfect fit and our shopping was done.
We needed a way to present the gift; to let him know what we had done, and why.
Poor Clement Moore. Twas the Night Before Christmas is such a lovely poem. It was the perfect one to rewrite, so recognizable, but that's why parody works I guess.
( a few adjustments have been made so that identities remain shrouded in mystery.)

Twas not long before Christmas and all through the store,
The phones lines were ringing with orders galore.
Decorations were hung in the window with care,
In hopes that rich shoppers soon would be there.

The staff were nestled all snug at each table,
With visions of Bethlehem, stars and a stable.
And a party was planned,  what fun we will share.
A party for all, now what should we wear?

And what should we give to our boss, we all chatter,
We want it to be something BIG, that will MATTER.
Away to the catalogues we flew like a flash,
Tore open the pages and gathered the cash.

World Vision has gifts to make any heart glow,
And give the lustre of heaven to objects below.
Now, what to our wondering eyes should appear,
But a gift, picture perfect for those we hold dear.

We could give soccer balls, so lively and quick,
That’s the very first thing we easily pick.
More rapid than eagles the next choices came,
And we whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

"Now pills, now injections, now ointments, and potions!
Some bandages, pain relief, eye drops and lotions!
To the top of the list! to the top of them all!
We’ll send a whole store full, now Dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
World Visions has cargo and mounts to the sky.
So up to the house-top the airplanes they flew,
With bundles and boxes and packages too.

And then, in a twinkling, it was party night,
We headed for Newlands, with eyes shining bright.
As time came for gathering, and milling around,
Down the hall came our boss and his wife with a bound.

They were dressed for success, from their head to their feet,
And their clothes were all lovely for Christmas and neat.
A stack of gifts they had flung at the back,
And they looked like St. Nick, just opening his pack.

Their eyes-how they twinkled! Their dimples how merry!
Their cheeks were like roses! Their nose like a cherry!
Our boss and his family we honour tonight,
With a gift in their name, it feels somehow right.

The ripple effect of a generous man,
Can encircle the globe like a strong, helping hand.
When we think of this family, and what they all treasure,
A gift to World Vision is a gift you can’t measure!

So we wish you the merriest Christmas in sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"

Monday, December 13, 2010

ghost of Christmas Past

Some mornings I begin work quite early. The neighborhood I work in, and darkness of that hour tend to make me look over my shoulder, and keep doors locked. As businesses open one by one, a trickle of staff enter the building.
This morning, a voice some distance down the hallway called my name.
Three times.
I opened the door and called out, but no one answered.
"Did you hear that? Did you hear my name called," I asked my coworker.
We stared at each other.
He had heard it too.
"Maybe it's the ghost of Christmas past," he suggested.
I gasped with delight, "I'm being given a chance to change and do some good." I laughed.
The chance to change and do some good is so appealing. It must be universally so because A Christmas Carol, propelled Dickens into the limelight.
What has always amazed me in the story, is not Scrooge's transformation, but the fact that he was so readily forgiven. Forgiving and being forgiven. Good starting points for change, and doing some good.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

high and spry

I love dusky, shadowy barns, particles of hay suspended in the golden light.
Sheep make my heart beat faster. I love the sound of bells and the constant clamour of lambs calling to their mothers in the cool, mountain air.
And I love how water color can capture light like no other medium. How color mixes and runs in surprising, spontaneous ways. The hard part is knowing when enough is enough.
I had a lot of fun painting this picture because it seemed that layer after layer of color disappeared into the shadow. I think I tried almost every color in my palette, and the picture just became more and more muted. I'm sure muddy would be the technical description but it really seemed to me to capture the dimly lit interior of a barn. I read once that you have to make a thousand mistakes to become good at something, but making them can be fun too.

rituals

At meal time, we always head to the same spots around the table, like goats in a barn. My father's stall was directly across the table from me. It seemed each evening, that a combination of weariness and bad manners would contribute to a shift in my centre of gravity. Slowly and inevitably my feet would extend under the table beyond my personal territory into his. A meal wasn't complete without my toes tapping his and his mock surprise and horror causing us all to laugh. The daily rituals of life shared are a comfort, grateful memory a gift.

starting small

One year, my husband gave me Water Color classes as a gift. The instructor was a school teacher who had an alternate life as a painter. She had accumulated a cluster of devoted followers, who gathered to paint with her, and I felt awed to be able to "watch and learn." Her method of teaching was really not unlike the process of osmosis. Put someone thirsty to learn beside someone plying a brush, and nature will take its course. Amazingly, it seemed to work.
The other women in the class were comfortable, confident returning pupils. I was a timid beginner.
They took full sheets of water color paper and splashed paint and water on with reckless abandon.
I took little rectangles and squares of water color paper and hunched over the table, my brush in a death grip.
They were thinking big.
I was starting small.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

suddenly silenced

My mothers has always thought "green." Unfortunately, fruit flies think green as well, and they had gained a toe hold in the ecology of her kitchen. She appealed for help, and I consulted the source of all information, the Internet. There we found not only information on fruit fly traps, but also several methods of catch and release. Catch and release!? For a fruit fly??!!!
I've practiced catch and release while fishing. We use the term as a euphemism for fish that shake the hook free when they spot our boat.
Mind you, I once caught and released a mouse, and I have to admit, spiders and bumble bees have been spared, and lived to see another day.
My husband once made the mistake of stepping on an ant while my grandson was with him. I rushed out to sobs. "It was my favorite ant," the little boy offered by way of explanation.
There's a scene in Star Wars. A planet has been obliterated, and a Jedi, sensing tragedy says ominously, "It's like a great many voices cried out in terror before being suddenly silenced..." This is how I sometimes view the insect world. I wish fruit flies no ill, I just wish they weren't in my mother's kitchen.

comfort

My grandson is a very sociable fellow. I suppose this is why he loves to visit in the kitchen while I cook and sometimes helps out. He likes to pretend to be Chef Pig.
More than a year ago, I had been surrounded by bowls and spatulas. As I poured and strained, liquid suddenly overflowed and rushed over the counters edge and onto the floor. "Oh no," I moaned. There was a gasp from my grandson."What happened Grama," he cried, rushing to my side. "This has spilled, see," I sighed. "And now I've made a big mess on the floor." As I crouched to mop up the mess, he crouched right along side me til we were nose to nose. "These things happen," he said kindly. "It was just a little mistake," he added soothingly. He had obviously heard these words himself, offered as comfort, and he was able to give them as a gift to me.
It's one of the blessings of trouble, to be able to,"comfort another with the comfort that we ourselves have received." II Cor. 1:4

Friday, December 10, 2010

holding my breath

I've been looking forward to renewing my driver's license. It's worth $75.00 to get rid of my mug shot. Or mugged shot. It made me look like a victim in a police report. A bad hair day, the mandatory no smile policy and my own lack of photographic charm had conspired to give me the haunted look of a homeless woman with a criminal past. I was determined to raise the bar.
I hadn't counted on the Deli affect.
Halvah for my husband was on my Christmas list, and what better place to get it than a German Deli. A quick detour on the way to the Motor Vehicle Branch couldn't go wrong I thought. Into Doris' Deli I bounded.
The glass fronted cases held every imaginable, indigestible delicacy. Wonderful worst, lovely liver sausage, the sweet, the spicy; Cheeses and chocolates. Pyramids of fruited cakes and crisp cookies towered over marzipan animals. The rare, the exotic, the imported, the foil wrapped, it was all there in dazzling variety.
I found my thoughts turning to my father. He loved those kinds of treats. As age and health limited the things he could do and enjoy, edible treats became a favorite gift.
I felt a longing to see my father's eyes shining with pleasure again.
I knew a growing desire to tell someone, anyone, that my father would not be here for Christmas this year. I quickly made my purchase and dashed out to my car with the sweet notes of a German Carol clinging to my heart.
I cried so hard I had to mop up the tears at the next red light. And the next one too.
I pulled into the Motor Vehicle Branch with red puffy eyes and a pink nose.
Fortunately, there was the usual wait. Waiting and watching can be a very pleasant way to pass time and I found myself recovering.
I eventually stood on the orange spot on the floor and stared benignly at the camera, although pleasantly and with an aura of mustered dignity I hope. In a week I'll know for sure. I'm holding my breath.

Monday, December 6, 2010

won't they be cold now?

My brother raised a flock of enormous turkeys one year. The bell eventually tolled for them, and my mother and I were plucking them, up to our elbows in feathers. My little daughter had been playing with her cousins and wandered past. "Won't they be cold now?" she asked. Not where they're going, I thought to myself. I don't remember how I answered, only that I murmured something vague and reassuring. Ahh childhood, when the simple is complex, and the complex, simple.

bibbidee bobbidee boo

We were visiting at Grandma's house. My daughter, a tiny toddler, had finished her snack, and asked for more. "What's the magic word," my mother coaxed. My little girl hesitated and then brightened.
"Bibbidee bobbidee boo." she answered confidently.

after dark

Wild creatures roam after dark. Even in the city.
I came noisily up my driveway this evening, slamming car doors and chatting as I crunched up the walkway. Light from the windows above cast a silvery fan on the lawn. Suddenly, my eyes focused on a small wild rabbit, silent as a statue, crouching on my lawn. A little brown bunny. It seemed to be holding its breath. In a moment, it whisked away into the darkness. Maybe it has a warm nest somewhere in the tangled edges of my backyard. If rabbits come, can spring be far behind.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

suddenly awake

I once had a profound thought in the middle of the night, but by morning it had evaporated like mist.
Those fragments of time between sleep and wakefulness, when the mind is accessible by both memory and the moment, can yield surprising insights, or gibberish. Gibberish is the more likely default for me and I've laughingly recounted dreams and fragment thoughts alike to my patient husband.
Yesterday, a sinister virus laid me low, and I spent the morning and afternoon fitfully sleeping. As I rose and fell between wakefulness and slumber, I found myself remembering my father's death, and was trapped by thoughts whirling in a circle, ever sadder and darker. I knew I must somehow break free and in a moment, words came to me, scrolling across my mind like the news on CNN. "Man cannot thwart the purposes of God."
I was suddenly awake.

Friday, December 3, 2010

foodie

My mother has discovered the Food Network.
I found her happily watching Ricardo mince, slice and dice.
"It's eveything we love about cooking, without the work," I observed.
"And without the dishes!" she laughingly added.

frosty the snow midget

I had a Currier and Ives moment. Early last Thursday morning, I was drawn to the window, tea in hand, to gaze out over a white, white world. Snow had fallen through the wee morning hours and was still silently and steadily falling.
My morning brain jolted awake.
Grandchildren. Quick. Snow. Play.
We bundled up and rushed out the door. Our watches must have been synchronized because as we pulled into their driveway, out of their house they tumbled, like miniature Michelin Tire Men, roly poly and ready to go.
We exhausted the possibilities of snowy fun and the mitten supply, and then headed back to Grandma and Papa's house. A virgin lawn lay before us there.
Neighbors were working on a snowman. The giant snowball base could hardly be pushed, and was pulling up snow right down to the grass as it rolled slowly forward. We were inspired.
We formed the starter snowball and pushed. The snow was so dry. We tried again. And again. Advice was called across the chasm between the front yards.
They completed their snowman base and added the middle ball.
We packed the snow tighter. We rolled with a lighter touch. We rolled with a heavier hand. We rolled in deeper snow. Our starter snowball remained the size of a baseball.
They added a head.
We took to the side yard for fresh, unsullied snow.
Our ball grew to the size of a basketball. Perhaps we could push it back across the driveway before it got too heavy. Snowmen should be on the front lawn.
The snow had gradually been getting finer and the driveway was wet. As the basketball of snow was pushed across the long expanse of pavement, it diminished rapidly down to the size of a baseball again.
The neighbors snowman had a hat, and arms, a scarf and a face.
Not one to admit defeat, I rerolled a basketball sized base and added a baseball sized head. No middle, just a very small, very time consuming snowman.
"What do you think," I asked my grandson.
"Can I smash it Gramma?" he asked, his eyes sparkling. "Can I jump on it?"
"Sure, jump away,"
I noticed the next morning, that the warm wind and rain had slain the neighbors snow man. Or else he was suntanning, it was hard to tell from a distance.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

past tense

"Poo, poo, poo," chanted my little granddaughter. The man at the table next to ours gave her a side long glance. Their eyes met, and she made her "surprised" face. "Poo, poo, poo," she sang out. Her big brother giggled. Six adults consulted amongst themselves. My daughter glancing about suddenly exclaimed, "Oh, she sees a little picture of Winnie the Pooh. She's saying Pooh, Pooh, Pooh." "Ohhhhh, ahhhhhh, well then," we all chorused. The English language is so ambivalent.

"What do you say for rice," my coworker from Vietnam asked. "When it cooks, do you say it blossoms?"
"We say blossom for flowers, because they open up. That's sort of what happens to rice. That would be poetry though. You're a poet." I crowed.

"I don't knit," I had confessed. "I hold the needles too tight. I have tension issues." Boy do I ever.

Several meanings for one word, and that ever changing. Cool.

common crow

The gray winter skies are full of birds. They are silhouettes on power lines, and framed in the naked branches of Alder and Maple.
Yesterday morning as I toiled along Fraser Hwy. to work, the line of cars ahead slowed to a crawl. In the distance flashed the unmistakable lights of a police car, strobing blue and white.
As luck would have it, a cluster of crows were gathered right across the road from me, like street entertainers. Two crows bobbed forward, fanning their tails and cawing on the power lines above. They soon spread their wings and drifted to the ground to join the others. Elaborate bowing followed. One crow had a beak full of food and the others begged shamelessly. The begging and bowing clinched it. These crows were family.
There are certain rituals in crow family circles, and I suppose any family circle for that matter.
Sharing respect and food are as common as a crow.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

the refuge of silence

I'm losing my voice, and it's just as well.

"Good grief, why am I whining like this? That's it, I've used up my quota of complaints for the week." I decared. "Is that all," my husband asked ruefully. "For the month then, Ok, Ok, for the rest of the year." I declared sweepingly. Now how many weeks are left til the New Year?

A cold had me by the throat, literally and my voice was the voice of a stranger. "It's a nice voice though," a coworker had kindly offered.
Silence is the universal refuge.... a balm to our every chagrin,  ~Henry David Thoreau

Saturday, November 27, 2010

B Minor Mass

Why waste money on psychotherapy when you can listen to the B Minor Mass?  ~Michael Torke
I've never listened to the B Minor Mass but I'm pretty sure it would make me cry.  Music strikes the chords of grief it seems.

I can understand why Celtic music breaks my heart and church hymns too for that matter, but Christmas music?
Oscar Wilde said, " Music is the art which is most nigh to tears and memory." 
It's like hearing our soul.
Music says things we have only felt but could not express. 
"Its language is a language which the soul alone understands, but which the soul can never translate."  ~Arnold Bennett
I have found myself weeping as I drive, overtaken by grief, crying silent tears as I work, eyes burning in a crowded store. The malls are full of people, and full of music this time of year and the tune in my heart is definitely a B Minor Mass.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

sir galahad

As I sat limply at the table this evening, breaking several rules of etiquette at once, I had a deja vu moment.
Long, long ago, I had drooped just as limply in my school desk, my head propped up, with my elbow resting tiredly on my desk. A clock was wearily ticking. Someone was shuffling their feet.
My grade three teacher was no longer making eye contact and I was entertaining myself by sliding my elbow across the cool, smooth surface of the desk.
When my elbow reached the edge, it should have paused.
Instead, it dropped like a rock over a cliff.
I followed.
There was a flash of skirt, and two little legs shot out of the desk as I tumbled to the floor. I saw London, I saw France..........
The class was delighted.
This was clearly the most entertainment they had enjoyed all afternoon.
Everybody laughed. Well, except for me of course, and one other very sober individual. A little white haired boy rose gravely from his desk and assisted me back into mine without a word. Sir Galahad.
Out of that large classroom of children, his is the only name I still remember. Blessings on you wherever you are.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

half a mind

Some years ago, before water became a beverage, I had headed for the fridge to slake my thirst. Juice would be just the thing. So refreshing, I thought absentmindedly.
"No juice! You don't drink enough milk," I primly and rather bossily reminded myself.
Retrieving a glass and tugging open the fridge door, I poured a drink and headed down the hallway. When my glass was raised for a sip, my eyes flew open in surprise. I had poured myself juice anyway.
My subconscious mind had won!
I have referred to this phenomenon as being on automatic pilot, but it is really just a case of not paying attention. Not being in the moment.
This failing to pay attention may be why, upon crawling in to bed at night, and putting my mind on scan and seek, I sometimes remember surprising things. Usually things I have forgotten to do.
If you are my husband, I beg you, for the sake of your mental health, read no further. If you are someone elses husband, read on, but be wary.
Late one evening last spring, I slid sleepily into my soft, warm bed. My mind did an abbreviated version of scan and seek. "All the windows in the car aren't closed," my subconscious mind warned.
"They must be," my conscious mind protested. "It's been cool out, of course they're closed, don't give it a thought, la la la la la, I can't hear you."
Torrential rain awakened me in the wee hours.
In the morning, my subconscious mind was proven right, as always. The window had been open just an inch or so. My commute was moist although not as bad as it could have been. The heater set on high didn't cause the windows to fog up, although it did feel like a hot day in July.........
I've heard people say that they have half a mind to do something. My conscious mind doesn't recommend that.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

yo ho ho

Boys love pirates.
Last night I sat in a darkened theatre watching a live performance of Peter Pan.
The story had picked up steam, and pirates wielding swords were leaping about the stage. The clacking of wooden blades was accompanied by guttural grunts and muttered oaths. A little boy in the row behind us, suddenly enthused, "This just keeps on getting better!"
There's nothing like a good sword fight to separate the men from the boys. Well, except in Peter Pan. Separateness is pondered alright, but boyhood and manhood are shown for what they are. Two sides of the same coin and not worth much unless you experience them both.
Yo ho high five.

Friday, November 19, 2010

decorating for winter

Winter seems to be arriving in gusts. As I drove to work in the cool, grey morning light, a huge branch high in a tree broke away in the wind. I could almost hear the shout. Timberrrrrrrrrr! Down it dropped, like a large, dark javelin.
It's amazing what can be seen now that the leaves lie thick and sodden upon the ground. The branches fill the sky like intricate black lace.
A tiny squirrel, gripping a branch with hind feet, and hanging like a hammock between two branches, nibbles on alder cones.
Abandoned bird nests sway and bob on branches, riding the wind.
A few hearty leaves cling here and there, decorations casually hung.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

be bo banana fanna

"I don't know if I should give you something to eat right before dinner," I cautioned my little grandson as he gazed with longing at the bananas on the counter. "It's called an appetizer, Gramma," he assured me.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

surrounded

"The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make His face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you," I leaned closer to my father's face. He smiled his warm smile through the oxygen mask, "...and give you peace." I whispered. He seemed so small and frail. My mother and I stroked his hands, his cheek. He was surrounded by our love....... and we, by his.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

passions

A hundred years ago, my great grandmother and great grandfather were working their farm and raising a bumper crop of children. Minerva and R.C. Ray. 
They listened to the radio in the dim light of evening and she would do her hand work almost by touch. Resourcefully and artistically, she created her quilts and clothing, using pieces as small as postage stamps. 
My mother visited her grandparents in June 1943. It was war time and Minerva was sewing quilts for the Red Cross. Using the log cabin pattern, she took strips of dark and light fabric from her scrap bag and sewed them to fabric foundations. Patterns slowly emerged.
Passions have a great power to influence, and to inspire. My mother, finding herself surrounded by the  kaleidoscope of her grandmother's calicoes and cottons, succumbed to the charm of quilting.
Time rolled along and my mother's own grandchildren, an even dozen, grew up. As they married, she presented each with a log cabin quilt. Passion, passed from generation to generation.
A few years ago, she instructed and encouraged me, as I sewed a lap sized version of her foundation pieced log cabin "quilt as you go" pattern. Patiently, proudly.
I'm thankful that my mother instilled in me a love of fabric, with its endlessly varied color and pattern, and for giving value to time spent creating. It has brought such joy to my life.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Light

I have always loved the feeling of crawling into bed at night, and putting my mind on scan and seek. Sometimes though, my thoughts left unchecked are like a pinball machine. Lights flash and sirens sound. Or perhaps, like a minefield. Danger lurking just below the surface. I have found that confronting these nameless dreads is the best strategy. They are often shadows anyway, and can't hold up to the Light.

baker boy

My husband has learned how to bake bread.
He had casually asked if I had plans for the day.
"You want me to teach you how to bake bread, don't  you." I had responded, a light dawning.
Soon we were leaning together over a cookbook, spatula and yeast in hand.
I've baked bread for years, and do it by "feel" now. Still, seeing the ratios of dry to liquid, and the instructions to stir and knead, in black and white, seemed a wise starting point.
My husband, a rather careful and precise man, took to bread making like a duck to water. His first batch of bread rose, and baked into golden, crusty loaves. He baked again today. The house was filled with the fragrance of contentment.
Give a man a loaf of bread and you feed him for a day. Teach him to bake, and can pastry be far behind.

sweet solace

Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, oh oh.
Do you remember frantically looking for a place to hide, while "it" counted ruthlessly down?
Ready or not, here I come!

My week felt like a countdown.
I wasn't ready.
I was tagged so hard, I fell to my knees.

While looking back over my day, I had become more and more discouraged.
I turned to the computer for distraction.
Before I knew what was happening, I had entered a labyrinth of blogs.
As I crept along, gazing to the left and right at creative wonders unnumbered, I found my spirits rising.
Winsome, charming, creative people abound.
Sweet solace.
The world IS a wonderful place.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

double trouble

Troubles shared, are troubles halved.
I don't know who did the math on that one, but sometimes, troubles shared are troubles doubled. This was the profound insight my husband and I laughingly stumbled upon while out for an evening wander.
What's yours is mine, and what's mine is yours is a truism of marriage, for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health. And when we signed on the dotted line, it was to spend the rest of our lives "helping." Helping with our prayers, our patience and our presence.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

landed immigrants

Californians are in our midst.
Tall and stately giants.
A detour this morning, led me down 88th ave., past a stand of twenty three towering trees.
California Redwoods.
There is something truly magnificent about very old trees. These would be considered Heritage for sure. What a wonderful title for a tree, Heritage. Something passed down through the generations, a birthright, an inheritance.
The Antiques Road Show always talks about provenance. I wish I knew the story behind these trees. In fact, a Heritage Road Show would be fascinating. The stories behind old landmark buildings, great old barns, mansions, and gardens.
Long ago, twenty three little trees travelled north, and were transplanted into the moist, cool Canadian soil. Landed immigrants.

Monday, October 11, 2010

plaid dad

Plaid makes me think of my Dad. His own father hailed from Scotland and he is rightfully very proud of his Celtic heritage. I grew up listening to every Scottish ballad imaginable and Pipes and Drums were the background music of my childhood. A lone piper, a wild and rocky northern seacoast, these are things that stir my heart, and the first notes of Danny Boy can send me scrambling for a Kleenex.
I think there is such a thing as deflected love. I love my Dad, therefore, I love what he loves, and more than that, I love what reminds me of him.
I was amazed to discover plaid dinner napkins at IKEA this afternoon. And they were only 2.99 for a package of 50. Priced to delight a Scottish heart.

joy unclaimed

The leaves may have turned scarlet and the nights frosty, but in my childhood, fall was ushered in by the arrival of the Eaton's and Sears Christmas catalogs.
Our little town had no library, no shopping centre, and no television. The catalogues became all three. They were read from cover to cover like a book, wish lists were imagined and re- imagined, and hours of entertainment were extracted from their pages. Literally. I was probably not the only little girl who grew attached to the pictures of  babies and toddlers modelling clothing. Cut carefully out, they made wonderful paper dolls. Pages of toys and furniture were there for the taking too, and even parents if the need arose. I actually remember the faces of some of the clothing models and watched them age right along with me.
It was a sad day when Eatons discontinued their catalogs and of course, eventually their stores. They were a part of the rich cultural heritage of small town Canada.
We are so bombarded with media today that I'm glad there are still endless dreams left undreamed and unimagined joy yet unclaimed.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

T Rex

A fearsome Tyrannosaurus Rex stalks my hallway. His teeth are long and jagged. His arms are stretched out as though to clutch the unwary.
We have a large blackboard painted on one wall of our hallway for the entertainment of our grandchildren. Some amazing creatures have appeared and then become extinct, lost in the mist of time and chalk dust.
This T Rex is a particularly fine specimen. I was to have been the creator but my grandson kept giving me artistic advice and was finally forced into starting from scratch to show me what a Tyrannosaurus really looks like.
This dinosaur sketch is everything that art should be; bold, evocative and full of life and movement. It's a wonderful thing to own a great piece of art, and knowing the artist is even better.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

the value of rest

"I just got back from a cruise in the Mediterranean," the clerk confided.
"Ohh, mmm," I nodded.
"We went in to Barcelona on a Sunday."
I raised my eyebrows and smiled.
"Everything shuts down on Sundays." he added, his voice incredulous.
"Well," I countered. "God must have known what we need, when He told us to rest on the seventh day."
He nodded emphatically. "It's not religious, it's cultural," he assured me. "The whole country was out by the thousands as families. No shopping, everything was closed, but they were eating a meal with their grandchildren and sipping wine with their friends. What's wrong with us here?" he asked shaking his head sorrowfully.
"I suppose it's what we value, what we see as a priority." I offered.
It's religious and cultural.

watching the time

I don't always wear a watch. This may be why I stood beside my car, my grocery cart laden, and finally thought to check to see how I was doing for time. "Ten thirty," I thought, startled. "How could it be only ten thirty."
Heading into large stores with no windows, can be like heading into a twilight zone. The passing of time is not easily marked. We once headed into the mall on a clear December day and emerged to complete white out conditions as a blizzard systematically shut down every route home.
Well, since it was still early, I thought wearily, I really had no excuse for not taking care of a couple more errands. Into the trunk went the groceries, and back into no man's land I headed. Later, as I turned the key and my car sprang into action, the clock in the dashboard glaringly revealed that time had indeed passed. I looked accusingly at my watch. Its winding pin had popped out of place. My watch, still labouring under the illusion that it was half past ten didn't make eye contact with me.
Time does not stand still, but I don't think it marches steadily onward either. It's one of the measureless mysteries of life, capable of crawling and taking flight, all in the same day.

Friday, October 8, 2010

high ho silver

"Your scissors are toast," the woman stated emphatically. My scissors, my dear Henckel shears, sewing companion for many a year......... toast? Every sewer knows that dropping your "good" scissors is punishable in a court of law. Even cutting paper with them is a federal offense for goodness sakes and they should never, ever be handled by minors.
My scissors have been stored (hidden) and treasured (worn to the bone) although they were probably due for a sharpening when they had the fatal fall.
I'm not sure how long I would have remained in denial if they had not also been my barber shears. My husband began to resemble an orchestra conductor. He couldn't actually flip his hair back, but he had a wild and rakish appearance first thing in the morning. Compassion overcame procrastination. Refusing to accept the truth, I clutched my scissor halves and headed for House of Knives. Ahhhhh, the lifetime Henckel warranty. I had forgotten about that. Repair was a possibility although a trip in the mail would be necessary. They could also be replaced and upgraded to a higher quality steel. The price, paltry, less than postage. The plus, instant gratification and instant barber shears. Partings can give a pang, but I felt I was resting an old workhorse and harnessing up a sharp young steed. High ho silver away.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

live on

Leftovers live on. At my house, they travel to work as hot lunches, or are re-imagined into familiar yet different future suppers. I try to keep them under control though. Teetering stacks of Rubbermaid can crowd out the essentials.
I like to be sure that if a starving stranger staggered into my house, and grazed on the contents of my fridge, they would not be found later, cold and stiff. I used this argument to no avail on my mother growing up. She felt that leftovers of various vintage in her fridge were a type of home invasion protection apparently. I probably throw out perfectly good food as a back lash to such a casual approach to death, by leftovers.
Tonight, my kitchen counter is strewn with Rubbermaid containers. Our friend, is fixing herself a light supper after a late shift. Her nose could be hired out as a detection device at the airport. Just a sniff, and potatoes and broccoli are deemed "safe" for consumption. My motto has always been, When in doubt, throw it out, but our friend is fearless. She laughs in the face of danger, and like my leftovers, lives on.

Monday, October 4, 2010

happy endings

"Rock-a-bye baby, in the tree top," I sang, rocking my grinning granddaughter. "When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall, and down will come baby, cradle and all." "That's sad, isn't it," my grandson wistfully observed. "A lot of nursery rhymes aren't happy," his mother musingly added.
Jack fell down and broke his crown, Humpty Dumpty couldn't be repaired, three blind mice had their tails chopped off, Mother Hubbard's cupboard was bare, and there are a host of other sorry stories. It's never too early to learn about the good news/bad news reality of life. I suppose it helps to balance out all the happy endings of the fairy tales.

Teflon coated heart

This morning, I wished I had a Teflon coated heart. Disappointment and frustration had linked arms, it seemed, and were calling, "red rover, red rover, we call YOU over." I was never very good at that game, and when it applies to all of the interpersonal relationships that are so precious and give such meaning to my life, I have a new rule. I don't have to play that game. Love forgives, and seeks the others best. It is a guardian of the soul. Love is better than Teflon

Sunday, October 3, 2010

not surprised

We had a little pocket of time this afternoon that begged to be filled, so it was off to the zoo. We wandered aimlessly, enjoying the crisp, October air. Monkey screams and screeches clamoured in the distance. The zoo train whistle shrieked. A lion was making a sound, that you feel, as much as you hear; Not a roar, but a deep grunt that resonates. Ughhhh, Ughhhhh. Zoo music.
Pausing in front of the Mara enclosure, we began to read its profile. "They gather in family groups of up to 15 individuals, although, they try to avoid each other," it inexplicably added. "Grumblings, threatening grunts, and screams are sounds they make." I laughed out loud when I read the last line. Gathering a large group of reluctant companions would likely lead to grumblings, threatening grunts, and screams. I'm not surprised at all.

Friday, October 1, 2010

come and gone




















It's hard to believe that October has arrived. It seems as though we folded on the dotted line, Spring to Fall and here we are. It's even harder to believe that the first decade of the new millennium has come and gone.

Ten years ago, as 1999 roared up to the finish line, my December birthday arrived as usual. That year, I chose an applique quilt block pattern by Maggie Walker to mark the occasion. It became my Year 2000 project. I figured that there must be 2000 pieces in it, or at least 2000 stitches, and would be a challenge, just as was befitting the occasion. Y2K was all about challenge. I loved the treasure hunt that ensued to find just the right fabric for feather and flower. A leopard print worked perfectly for some of the feathers. The others were assorted spots and dots and swirls. The falling leaf on the bottom edge is covering a snip I made in the quilt edge by mistake. You gotta love applique. I was delighted to find chicken wire print fabric for the backing and binding. When the top was finally finished, I wanted the quilting to be a part of the story, and spider webs seemed like the right choice. They are wonderfully random, and could be stitched to fit the space as needed. I love the sense of distance, and the feeling of being a part of the picture at the same time.
The rooster in the open window symbolizes to me confidence and watchfulness. Qualities to cultivate, as the new millennium picks up speed.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

return of the nut people

Oak trees thickly line the parking lot at work. Squirrels and wind have joined forces, and the ground is strewn with acorns. I love the little hats that fit so snugly.
When I was a child, my mother made little nut people. She used a plump pine cone for a body, small peeled twigs for legs and arms, and a hazelnut for a head. She added bright woolly scarves and toques and the tiny nut people looked set for the ski slope. My friend the little boy next door, and I, happened upon these hand made treasures.
My childhood was of another era, when children were not as closely supervised. We were left to explore, and discover, and in this case, vandalize. We saw, not the nut people, but the nut. We had cracked open the heads of the whole ski party before Search and Rescue arrived with a shriek. Of course, like Humpty Dumpty, all the king's horses and all the king's men, couldn't put the nut people together again. Sorry mom. I'm gathering acorns for you this fall as penance.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

how many muscles does it take to smile

My commute this morning was fraught with peril and hazard. A five minute red light, road construction, an accident, a detour, and finally, construction on the detour route itself. This is when I glanced to the right at the car waiting beside me in the next lane.
The driver was doing facial exercises.
Possibly as a stress reliever.
I know it had that effect on me.

Monday, September 27, 2010

whoosh

I stepped out of work today and was immediately enveloped in warm, moist air that smelled like...... laundry soap? Apparently, this air has swept half way around the globe, from Hawaii.
Evening traffic is rushing past, whooshing through the rain. I can almost hear the surf.

knock knock

"Knock, knock."
"Who's there," my grandson asks, his voice squeaking with joy.
"Boo," I respond. "Boo who," he asks smugly.
"Don't cry little boy," I bleat out. Laughter from the back seat follows.
"It's still your turn, grandma."
"Oh, Ok, Knock, knock."
"Who's there," he asks sweetly.
"You," I declare.
"You who," he asks happily.
"Were you calling me," I ask, my voice filled with mock surprise?
More hearty laughter.
"Go again, grandma," he urges.
"Knock, knock," I say warily.
"Who's there," he responds confidently.
"Orange," I reply, searching through my limited repertoire of dusty knock knock jokes.
"Orange who," he asks, right on cue.
"Orange you glad I didn't say......................"
" banana," my daughter helpfully supplies.
"Orange you glad I didn't say banana," I trill.
His laughter fills the car.
"Oh grandma," he declares affectionately. "You're so funny."
I won't quit my day job.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

danger was on my mind

The morning sun was, as my grandson put it, "baking down," on us. Perhaps that was why he suddenly announced joyfully that he had arrived in Africa. We were on the large soccer field that stretches out behind our church. "Watch out for Lions," he cried. "Quickly, up on the elephants," I urged. As I turned to scoop up my tiny granddaughter, my eyes lifted and I glanced back toward the church building. Danger was on my mind, and danger was very suddenly on the distant horizon. A huge, muscular Rottweiler trotted out of the trees beyond the church and froze, it's powerful head swivelling, it's muzzle lifting as it sniffed the air. "Watch out for...." my grandson began again.
"You must listen carefully," I said calmly. We must walk very quickly. We must be very quiet and walk quickly until we are inside the church." I knew that a large dog on the loose could be nothing more than a friendly house pet wandering unsupervised, but it could also be a dog defending it's territory. I could feel an unreasonable fear chilling my heart. "Dear Lord," I breathed aloud. "Surround us with your angels. Protect these children." "This is like in Bambi, isn't it," whispered my grandson.
It felt so wonderful to step inside the church, a true sanctuary. My husband mentioned that as he was vacuuming, the pastor suddenly emerged from his office, concern etched on his face. "Where are the little ones, where are the kids?" he anxiously asked. He too had seen the dog and felt fear.
I haven't forgotten to say thank you.

time lapse

"I played with twins, Grandma," my grandson confided. "They had the same head." The conversation continued and the little strangers, recently met, where referred to as friends. Every child is a friend to my grandson it seems. How wonderful. Personality traits emerge very early. It's as amazing as time lapse photography to watch.

watchers from a distant shore

One hundred stories seemed a long way off when I began my blog, and now, one hundred and one is in the works. I feel a certain compressed excitement, and sentimentality, like celebrating the birthday of a dear friend. It seems fitting that an email would arrive on the very day, and contain tips on how to search my blog's stats. A simple click, my friend assured me, would reveal answers to questions I had never thought to ask, and would unlock the mystery of sort and polish. Who is reading my stories, where do they live, which one is their favorite, and how many others feel the same.
I clicked.
Sure enough. It was all there.
I happily emailed her back with this revelation.
People want to laugh.
And, they love to see you suffer, and live to tell the tale. This is not because people are unkind, but really, quite the opposite. They can empathise. They've been there, and it gives them hope to see someone else grip the surf board of life with whitened toes and ride out the waves. The Bible talks about a "great cloud of witnesses," that watch us run our race here on earth. Watchers from a distant shore. We just can't hear the cheering over the sound of the surf.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

My Bonnie Gene


A long white box, plastered with twenty four postage stamps arrived yesterday. It had travelled by air and truck and finally car, to arrive at my door. Nestled inside, was my quilt.

In early March, I entered the Wee Quilt Challenge, held annually at McDougall Cottage in Cambridge, Ontario. The theme was Celtic Connections, and each entry had to include plaid fabric. My little quilt travelled there in the spring, and was displayed with other entries.
I had been waiting with baited breath ever since, to see a brochure of the show, to scope out the competition so to speak.
Weeks, and then months passed, and now, my quilt had returned.
When I opened the long, white box, no brochure wafted out. I shook the box and peered into the dark interior. It was just like receiving a parcel from my sister. Never a note, not even a peep. I took my wee quilt to guild that night and showed it off, bemoaning the lack of brochure, or info. on next years challenge.
And then, as is so often the case, when I had finally given up all hope, my longing was satisfied, and a plump envelope arrived the very next day, stuffed with brochures aplenty, and a lovely note as well. These will go to guild next month, so McDougall Cottage will receive double billing as penance for my impatience.
I've read and reread, and I sheepishly admit, read again the little blurbs under each quilt. So amazing. One theme, yet so many ways of interpreting it.

My own wee quilt began in the dead of winter, as I mulled over the idea of my Celtic connection being a genetic one.
I began to sketch and plan. Celtic grandparents appeared on every limb of the family tree, as it branched out into the mists of time. The only exception was my Norwegian grandfather, but everyone knows the Norsemen braved those stormy northern seas around the British Isles.
Choosing photos was more time consuming than I had expected, but was pure joy. Transferring them to fabric was pure grief. I loved appliqueing the center scene, but I gritted my teeth and sweated, appliqueing the pictures around it. The Vancouver Olympics came and went as I toiled on. The deadline loomed and was suddenly upon me. Off went a digital image at the eleventh hour. Would it be accepted, would it, would it..... It would! A little paragraph was composed, and into the mail it went.
And now, like a homing pigeon, it has returned. The judges remarks were kind, although no Wee prize was awarded. Still, my goal was to enter, and enter I did.
I called my quilt Bonnie Gene and sent these words along with it.

A generation ago, the question, "What are your connections?" or the observation that someone was "well connected" referred to family ties. This is what immediately sprang to mind when I read this year's theme. My connection to all things Celtic is more than an admiration of its culture, music or artwork, but is in fact, part of my DNA. Beginning with the idea of an immigration stamp (kindly applied by my daughter's steady hand), photos of five generations of ancestors surround an appliqued wee cottage as do spider web quilting and antique buttons. I'm proud of my bonnie genes!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

me, myself, and the radio dial

Driving to work yesterday morning I thrilled at the golden slanting light of September. We don't really have much in the way of autumn color but there is the unmistakable look of fall. Part of it is the angle of the light, more like afternoon light in the summer. Very warm colors and lots of shadow.
My morning musing made me realize that I enjoy time alone in the car. It's a chance to talk to myself about a million topics, find out how I'm doing, ponder and reminisce. Once in a while though, for one reason or another, I'm not good company. I'm sure this is why radios were put in cars. The radio has entertained me, taught me, kept me awake and kept me company. I'll be off to work again in the morning. Just me, myself and the radio dial.

short and sweet

As we left for work, we used to say, "I hope your day is quick and painless." It sounded too much like death, so now we say, "I hope your day is short and sweet," like a story, which of course is what a day is, although it can feel like death around two in the afternoon.

bus boy

One of the sure signs of autumn, the school bus, is on the road again. I pulled up behind one this morning and found it so entertaining that I followed it for several blocks. Two boys, seated right at the back were clearly having the most marvelous time. There was toe-tapping and shoulder shaking, and periodically, one would throw back his head and sing, who knows what? Well, I suppose the bus driver knows, poor fellow. It made me think of all the cliches about joyous parents celebrating summers end, and despondent children, reluctantly heading back to school. How do these ideas catch on. The truth is probably just the opposite. The kids are feeling bored and restless by the end of August and can hardly wait to get together with friends again. Shopping for new cloths and school supplies, back packs, and running shoes, what kid doesn't love that? And what parent does? Oh they may vicariously thrill to the sight of fresh pink erasers and color coded notebooks, but the line ups, the decisions, the money! And, most parents have enjoyed the extra time summer gives them with their children. Camping, trips to the sea shore, and parks, they are the finer moments of family life, the very times that parents cherish, and they are over for another year. Commercials may show frolicking parents, but the real singing and dancing is being done by the children. Mom and Dad have mixed feelings.

Monday, September 20, 2010

golden girl

It is my September baby's birthday today. As the afternoon light slanted, I decided to gather a bouquet of blooms to deck the festal table. Out into the yard I wandered, scissor in hand. A golden dahlia, for my golden girl, bright yellow rudbekia, delicate fever few, lemon yellow gladioli, rich wine flecked dahlia, mauve sedum, sweet, heavy scented rose blossoms. Autumn glory.
I remember the bouquet my mother and father brought to the hospital when this girl, a wee baby, lay on my arm, tender and tiny. It was a sheaf of green Bells of Ireland. It seemed to me then, that the occasion must be marked by flowers. Banks and sheafs and wreaths of flowers would have seemed too little a tribute. Let the bells ring.

brushed steel

It seemed a pity to put our old, scratched, dull sink into our new kitchen. It would be akin to dirty sneakers with a white dress. Picking out a new one seemed simple enough. Stainless steel, two basin, how hard could that be. Standing before the sink display I felt the first flicker of doubt. Still, a decision was made and a youthful lackey was dispatched to the warehouse to retrieve the winner. Time passed. He eventually returned with a tattered opened box. Parts seemed missing. A second clerk braved the warehouse. More waiting. Ahhh, success. I joined a long queue. My plan, pay and run.
The next morning, the sink was wrestled from its factory sealed box and we were astounded to discover that the box and contents were complete strangers. A phone call confirmed that a distant location still had two sinks available. No, it could not be put on hold, store policy, but there were two after all. Back into the car, back in to the store, back in to the warehouse. A lengthy wait ensued. The computer was consulted. Amazingly, the last sink had been sold just moments before. One remained on display but couldn't be sold. Store policy. I joined a long queue to return the misboxed sink.
With a sinking heart ( sorry about the pun) I drove despondently to Home Depot. I dreaded starting over. I dreaded comparing prices and features. I dreaded waiting. I was met as I entered by a young worker. Could he help me find something, he queried. " Sinks, please," I said wearily. "Follow me," he said gaily. We were before the sinks in a moment. "Pick this one," he urged. "It's my favorite." It became my favorite too. He escorted me to a til, bearing the sink before us and placing it on the counter. A new clerk sprang to my aid.
I recalled with resignation, the sale priced sink of the other store. "I don't suppose you'd want to match the sale price," I sadly mused, more to myself than anyone else. "It's not even the same brand...." "Sure, why not," the clerk enthused, waving his arm in a grand, sweeping gesture. Twenty nine dollars was duly removed from the bill. It turned out to be the perfect sink. The brushed finish did mean we had to exchange the faucet we had painstakingly selected, for one with a matching brushed finish, but, in for a penny, in for a pound. I love the new faucet even more than the first one, no flicker of doubt about it.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

storm surge

Trouble doesn't arrive like a book of the month selection, chosen with care, and postage paid. It's more like storm surge, catching the unsuspecting off guard. Waves crash. Wind howls.
The words of an old song, comfort.

When I think I'm going under,
part the waters, Lord
When I feel the waves around me,
calm the sea
When I cry for help,
oh, hear me Lord
and hold out Your hand
Touch my life
Still the raging storm in me

"un" time

Procrastination is a wonderful thing. It has fueled the fires of many a creative endeavor. Right now, I should be unloading and loading my dishwasher, but instead, I am revelling in the feeling of stolen time. Life has so many should do's. Treating ourselves to a little rebellion now and then is freeing. Of course, too much of a good thing loses its charm. Tasks left undone can accumulate faster than dust on top of the armoire and begin to clammer for attention in a distressing and self defeating sort of way.
Lists are a boon to the procrastinator. Ordered thoughts, planning and prioritizing--this is what lists do best. There is a power in ticking items off. Self discipline is it's own reward. Accomplishment is sweet. But so is the luxury of "un" time. Unstructured, unscheduled, unplanned.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

polyvore bookmarks

It's been a bit of a stretch for me to create digital collages on Polyvore. My computer has balked and frozen and I've had trouble "clicking and dragging," but finishing a project has been exhilarating as a result.
These were bookmarks for an "i heart books" challenge. This is a group, created by my daughter that has regular challenges and contests. Addictive and fun.
unlocked

unlocked


parting the mist

parting the mist

beyond

beyond

Friday, September 10, 2010

pitch, patch pepper

Merging onto the freeway at 264th is hazardous. Too many things to watch out for as you become one with the flow of traffic. It reminds me of skipping at recess as a child.
Two girls would be turning the long, grey skipping rope, while the rest of us formed a wavering line. The girl at the front of the line would lean forward as though to jump, and then back, forth and back, until she reached that critical moment where focus of mind and eye allowed her to leap into the arching rope and skip in perfect harmony, then faster and faster. Pitch, patch, pepper. Such light feet.
But not everyone nimbly leapt. Some tripped and went to the back of the line. That was part of the thrill. The danger. The triumph. The stakes are a lot higher at 264th. Maybe a skipping rhyme would put me in the right frame of mind next time.
Had a little sports car,
went around the corner,
Lemon and Lime, be on time.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Hope by Emily Dickinson

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune--without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

joie de vivre

We have a middle aged car. Or possible an elderly car depending on how you calculate auto years. Ten years and over 280,000 K's. On our way home from the hospital Saturday evening, the engine warning light suddenly cast an ominous red glow over the dashboard. One ignores warning lights at their own peril, so, abandoning routine, I set off to work Tuesday morning in the truck. Now, the truck and I have not bonded. We are a bit wary of each other. We don't know each other on a first name basis. This became obvious when I clicked on the radio and heard sports! I pressed the scan button twice and watched station call numbers flash past. I listened with growing angst to snippets of music and garbled words. I finally settled on a French station. Ahhhh, the joy of music, unsullied by words.
I am bombarded with music all day at work. It is usually the lyrics I tire of first. My husband, who has an ear for music, is inexplicably able to filter out the words and simply enjoy the music, but I am just the opposite. There seems a power in words that cannot be ignored. Listening to music, sung in a language I didn't understand was a refreshing change. I caught the odd word, something about life being good and free, but it was the music that took centre stage. This is why I love classical music too I guess, although a lot of it is too pensive. This was toe tapping, mandolin and fiddle playing, joie de vivre music. The message was clear, even without the words.

Monday, September 6, 2010

summer supper

Pastel peach salmon fillets with a caramelized sear. Emerald bright green beans, tender crisp and redolent of garlic. Crisp, juicy corn on the cob, anointed with butter and sparkling with salt. Steaming mugs of golden tea, yogurt, cool and thick and thin chewy cookies.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

the one that got away

This has been the summer of the salmon. When I spied brilliant orange fillets of wild sockeye, plump and cool at the grocery store, I imagined them searing in olive oil, fresh garlic and lemon adorning them. What a timely treat. They would be quick to prepare which was important because the afternoon was well along. I arrived home with my bulging bags from various errands and supper prep moved to the top of the list. Now for the fish, the fish..... has anyone seen the salmon? Apples, eggs, green beans, broccoli, where in the world is the fish. The receipt showed it had made it over the scanner, but apparently, not in to my cart, not in to my truck, and definitely not in to my kitchen. As I regrouped, my father made his way upstairs to show me his arm, swollen and sore. My daughter informed me that my washer wasn't dispensing the soap. It was now five past six, and the store was closed for the day. It was also supper time.
Telling this tale of woe sometime later, to my daughter, I said, "I'm glad your sister suggested soup and tuna melts for supper, I was just going to.. " "Cry?" my daughter suggested. "No," I laughed, "not cry." And that's when I realized aging has given me a measure of resilience and I'm grateful. I'd have been grateful for salmon and fresh green beans sauteed in garlic, but tomorrow is a new day.