Saturday, July 31, 2010

no limit

Know your limit, collect within it.
Library book sales are such a temptation to the weak.
I was just going to look,
and then,
I was just going to buy the one small book for my grandson. The title was Vancouver Canucks for goodness sakes.
Of course, I felt I really must pick up the three out of print George MacDonald's for my Dad.
Mary Had A Little Lamb had illustrations that would make a quilter weep for joy, created with fabric and wool and embroidery. It couldn't be left behind either.
Christmas with Rosamunde Pilcher was an amazing find. It contained a short story that broke my heart with it's beauty. I have already imagined its sequel.
Oh the power of words,
the joy,
the comfort.
Books really can take on a life of their own. Like companions or wise old friends.
Now how can you limit that.

Friday, July 30, 2010

fairy dust

I sifted sand from the Oregon shore through my fingers this morning. A row of sun whitened sand dollars sit on my deck railing. When they are lifted for closer view, a little stream of Oregon sand creates a tiny mountain, like an hourglass without the glass. As time has trickled away, so has much of the sand, but there was still enough there this morning to slide through my fingers; cool and silky glitter dust. It makes me think of fairy dust and wishes. I need only clasp the smooth, round sand dollar to hear the sea gulls cry on the wind, to feel the cold, firm sand under my feet. Memory is our fairy dust and we can travel with wings the winds of time.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


Mist swirled inland from the sea this morning. Marine air, the breath of the ocean. The world faded into gray and I thought I heard the distant notes of autumn. What a beautiful world. Here in the midst of smoldering July, is a gift, a promise of the freshness of fall.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


My son-in-law has likened exiting our daughter's Volkswagen, to hatching. Well, in we clamoured anyway, and set off in the golden light of early evening, our destination, Birchwood Dairy. The occasion was "Birthday Ice Cream" for my father's 88th. As we swung in to the parking lot, I could see my grandchildren, like little flowers, in front of the barn. From the shadowy stall, large eyed cows gazed out at large eyed toddlers. These were invalid cows, my grandson informed me, taking a respite from the rigors of milking.
The sun still held some of the intensity of the heat of the day and so we retreated into the air conditioned parlour. Before long, we were debating the merits of sugar versus plain cone, one scoop or two, and flavor, flavor, flavor.
Back outside, we clustered around an umbrella topped table, a chair for each, and each in a chair. My little granddaughter has attained that age of Independence, and held her own ice cream cone. The frosty orb defied gravity and clung to the cone, which was held every which way but upright. The evening heat began to take it's toll, and blobs of pink cream dropped onto her dress. This was a big worry to her, and she waved her cone precariously in one hand while pointing with concern to her hemline. It was when the cold stickiness reached her skin that she decided, enough was enough. "Do you want your Mommy to change you," I asked. "Oh yes," she nodded clamouring out of her chair, into my arms. Her legs and dress were sticky, the hand she clutched mine with, even stickier, and she firmly placed her ice cream cone on my shoulder, as if knighting me. I knight thee, sir grandma, in honor of acts of bravery in the face of great stickiness......... I had forgotten how much fun getting sticky can be.

Friday, July 23, 2010

objet d'amour

An anguished cry, pierced the air, and my daughter's heart. Blood curdling was how she described it. The sound had come from my little grand daughter's room, where she lay napping. Up the stairs my daughter flew, her heart in her throat. She threw open the door. Her eyes were on her child in an instant. There, in the crib, stood her little girl, smiling sweetly and welcomingly. And there, on the floor, lay a little hair elastic. Ahhhhh, so that's all it was. My grand daughter has developed a fixation with little things, right now, it's hair elastics, and she clutches them in her hand all day. She won't let go, even at meal time, and squawks when her mother washes her little hands, around the elastic of course. They are always pried out of her sleeping hand at nap time and bed time, but this time it was missed. The scream was the sound of separation, of being parted from her objet d'amour. Childhood is a training ground for the rest of our lives. Little pains, little partings, they teach the heart to heal. Resilience, the wonderful compensation.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


I woke up in a bit of a funk the other morning. A dark cloud that had dogged my steps the day before, had settled over night, and chilled my soul. Funks feel sad and listless. As the day wore on, I unwisely indulged my mood with self pity, and the funk turned in to a snit. Maybe it's a natural default to blame others, when really, so many choices are our own. Of course, a snit left unchecked can erupt in a snark or even a snipe. I have come to love the expression, "always change a losing game." Thank you Lord, for showing me there is another way. I can be sorry and change, instead of just being sorry. I can forgive and love, instead of giving up, and I can be thankful and accept joy instead of counting up the negatives. Ahhhh, freedom from myself, to be myself.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

on the other side

My husband created a make work project for himself. It involved moving a wide swath of gravel from the front of our house to the back where it will prevent mud from tracking in. The resulting dusty, barren area was quickly clothed with rolls of lush green grass and our front yard magically doubled in size.
One thing so often leads to another, and a pergola seems a natural, next step; Someplace deliciously cool and shady, a place to rest and escape the heat of summer evenings. Of course that will mean finding a table and chairs, and maybe a lantern or two.........Change can be exciting, and newness refreshes. Sometimes it's true, the grass IS greener on the other side.

Monday, July 19, 2010

lucky dog

A balcony is a great place to indulge in people watching, and I became aware of a reunion unfolding just below me. A boy of about twelve, had obviously returned from somewhere, maybe camp, and he greeted his little brother with a hug and a kiss. He then threw an arm around his father's shoulder and kissed him too. "How nice," I thought, and then he bent and scooped up a small dog that had been watching him closely. He rocked it in his arms like a baby and kissed it, and hugged it, and kissed it, and hugged it...... and kissed it again! Pure love, and so much of it. Lucky dog.


Two bright eyed grandchildren were deposited on our doorstep Sunday morning; Fisherprice and Curious George, waffles and fruit, bubble blowing, tag, mud pies and baths. As evening fell, my husband announced that soon it would be time to go home to bed. "Oh no! What happened to my life!" bemoaned my grandson. I know exactly how he feels.

tell Jesus

My grandson requested waffles for lunch, so waffles it was. Amidst the syrup and butter, his thoughts turned to candy and dentists, and then to cavities and fillings. He has a perfect little mouth, but my husband and I each took the walk of shame and opened our mouths, filled with old fillings. Well, you know what they say, "If you can't be a good example, be a terrible warning." "That's not good Papa," my grandson said, pity and reproach mingling. Without thinking my husband continued the conversation by mentioning that when children grow older they lose their teeth and get all new ones. This was obviously news, and not good news, but before I could do damage control, our little grandson clasped his hands and fervently prayed, "Dear God, tell Jesus not to let my teeth fall out!" He knew who to ask and he didn't waste any time doing it. "And a little child shall lead them."

Sunday, July 11, 2010


My grandmother lived in a two storey log house at the edge of a great forest. Built on a hill, it overlooked the weathered barn, a herd of goats, and an achingly cold creek. Huge clumps of rhubarb and drifts of Queen Anne's lace grew at the foot of giant moss strung cedars.
Her yard was landscaped with native plants, mountain ash, tiger lily, and a clump of creamy white birch. The steps were wide and solidly hewn. When we pushed open the wooden screen door, I always ran to a closet in the center of the house. Behind a curtained doorway, was an orange crate filled with toys, and my favorite toy of all was a wonderful, wooden train.
Amongst the old family photos, is a picture of my toddler self, cheeks flushed with the passion of play, bending over that train, with my cousin, intent at his role as engineer.
A year or two ago, I happened upon a wooden train for five dollars at a thrift store. When I took it from the box at home and set it up, I was momentarily overcome with the strongest, sweetest sort of yearning. It seemed that the tracks and little Brio train were identical to the train of my long ago childhood. My grandmother, my cousin, my little self, where had they gone?
My grandson gasped when I set up the train and immediately lay on the floor and took on the important job of engineer. Over the hill and under the bridge and round and round he went. His little face was flushed with the passion of play. A wooden train at grandmas house, and thus I was comforted.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

a thing of beauty is a joy forever

A scrap of British linen, cotton pillow piping and painters tape worked hand in hand to produce this bag.

I love the coarse, peasant texture of linen and pounced on a towel sized piece that was up for grabs at a guild meeting. A bag seemed to suggest itself, and I had a delightful time, sliding the pattern pieces around to compose the "best" grouping of floral design for the front and back of the purse.
I find that the longer I have a piece of fabric, the harder it is to cut into. Its untouched, sacred wholeness takes courage to alter. Ever mindful of the paralysing power of the "uncut," I took a deep breath, seized the moment and my scissors, and fell to it.
Painters tape worked like a charm to space the quilting although I did run into a little glitch, but a few mistakes promote mental health. It's all a matter of perspective.
I'm still looking for the right giant button for the closure. I may make a self-covered one but I think something wooden or bone would work like jewelry.
When I look at this picture, a quote of Keats comes to mind, "A thing of beauty, is a joy forever....."

Friday, July 9, 2010

thanks giving

I am thankful for fresh sheets,
a breezy window,
a fridge that makes ice, oh miracle of modern life,
soft chairs,
cold, salty, leftover chicken,
British real estate programs,
and ceiling fans.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

the best part

I began my day in the dentist chair. I get the same feeling when I climb into that blue reclining chair, that steals over me when I climb into bed at night, the feeling that at last I can let my mind wander at will without posing a danger to myself or others. I spent a delightful hour drafting, designing and displaying quilts behind my limp eyelids. Still, the best part was the air conditioning. All too soon I was out the door and into the sizzling morning air. Our car is sans air conditioning and is a dehydration chamber on wheels. I was happy to pull up to the mall. I managed to tick a few things off my list, but the best part was the air conditioning. Back into the sweltering car, oh please, not a red light, not a red light! Another stop, a blast of air conditioning, oh bliss! Back into the car, and another stop, a blast of air conditioning followed by a feeling of grim resignation as I drooped into my car and hastened homeward. We watched the temperature rise with morbid fascination, until it peaked for the day at 87 degrees. Dinner out seemed wise. The service was fast and friendly, the food, delicious, but the best part was definitely the air conditioning.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

soothing my soul

I ran away from home tonight. I drove off into the setting sun and in less than a minute I was pulling into the library parking lot. Air conditioning and magazines had an irresistible pull. The noise, the heat, the commotion and frustration of the day, evaporated into the cool, quiet air. There is order in the library, and calm. I was able to regain my perspective amidst the book stacks, and soothed my soul in the 700's.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

size matters

There's just something charming about small things isn't there? This little quilt is postcard sized, and I'd love to make a whole series of them, or even a series of series; birds, flowers, mushrooms, moths.
I painted on muslin and then did abit of outline quilting but I think this would be a great size to try some finer painting technique and figure out the basics of machine quilting. My old pfaff predates the walking foot, which is something like predating the wheel, in the quilting world. Still, if I'm going to achieve some mastery of machine quilting, I have to start somewhere, and 3 by 5 is probably as good a place as any.

Monday, July 5, 2010


Our neighbor used to fling wide her door every evening as darkness fell, and call her cat in for the night. "Flea Bag, Fleeeea Baaaaag!" A humiliating name, and yet that cat's self esteem remained unscathed. Cat's do exude a certain confidence.
We went for a late afternoon stroll at the zoo yesterday and knelt in admiration beside the cheetah enclosure. A lithe and languid cat was lapping up the slanting rays of sun; A polka dotted cat, with golden eyes. I found myself talking to the cheetah, sweet talking, and it was moved to purr. What a wonderful sound. The more I praised it, the more it purred.
We were joined by a group of chattering women, talking noisily and whistling at the cheetah. It began to flick its tail in disapproval and we backed away in respect. You have to admire a cat for knowing what it wants. As for me, I know I want to hear again the rumbling purr of a content and flattered cheetah.

Sunday, July 4, 2010


My daughter had a hilarious time playing Hugger Mugger at a party, so when she found a travel version on ebay, she snapped it up. Games requiring acuity of mind shouldn't be attempted after ten at night but we read the directions and waded in anyway. The game would end when one player was able to guess the mystery word, unveiled one letter at a time. Well, the game ended alright, but neither of us could unveil the word even though all four letters were staring us in the face. KVAL? Was this an english version? Google suggested Swedish as a possible language. Like sleuths, we combed the instructions for a clue and decided that the original owner had assembled a portion of the game incorrectly. A wheel was unsnapped and repositioned, and twenty-one, four letter words (all nice ones) were waiting in the wings. I feel sorry for the first owner of the game. No one had warned them that games that require acuity of mind to assemble, shouldn't be attempted after ten.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

play by play

A movement at the edge of the soccer field caught my eye. Four little creatures had dashed from the woods, merged as one briefly, and separated, rolling and tumbling and nipping at each other. Four puppies. Four coyote puppies. My grandson, the pirate, was Yo Ho Ho-ing and they froze, their little faces turning in unison to gaze across the field. 'My, what big ears you have. The better to hear you with,' came to mind, although that story has a scary ending. Where there are baby coyotes, there is probably an overtired and testy mother with protective instincts at the ready. This was pointed out by my daughter who also has protective instincts at the ready, and so I herded my small, bite sized grandchildren indoors. Play happily continued inside and out.

Friday, July 2, 2010

generation generalization

"I have a question regarding my father's bill," I said crisply, giving his name. "Are you sure that's his name," a voice queried, after what seemed an unusually long wait. "Well," I hesitated, " He's been my Dad for quite a few years and that's the name......... "Oh, here it is," she gushed, " You'll have to excuse me, I just woke up and my mind's not working." I digested this surprising confession and then asked tentatively, "What time does your mind start to work?" "Around eleven." The mother in me just couldn't keep from preaching, "I think you need to eat breakfast!" "Who has time for that," she exclaimed. " "You remind me of the girl that worked in the Langley office," I mused, a light dawning. "Is it my voice?" she asked sweetly. "Well, no, it's the 'mind not working til eleven' part," I admitted. "Oh, you'll find that about my whole generation," she said sweepingly. I think her whole generation would prefer to speak for themselves.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

mellow yellow

Yellow plus red equals orange.

This irrevocable law of color, extends into the kitchen.

We had rented a cabin on the lake with friends. A frozen pastry shell and a lemon pie mix were unpacked with a flourish. Like Pavlov's dogs, our mouths watered in anticipation. Oh no! We hadn't packed enough sugar to make the pie, and still have some left for coffee and tea for the weekend. I cast my eyes over the contents of the fridge and cranberry juice seemed our only hope. The amount of sugar listed on the label is shocking. Two and a half cups of cranberry juice replaced the two and a half cups of water called for in the recipe. The mellow yellow pie filling turned a rich orange hue, like butterscotch pudding. Into the baked pastry shell it went. Now for the meringue. Egg whites! Oh no! The cabin came with a generous assortment of kitchen gadgets, but no mixer, not even a hand held one. I remembered reading that egg whites had been whipped into submission by hand with a fork by Laura Ingles mother for her wedding cake and I meekly suggested this to my astonished companions. They gamely lent an arm, (and elbow) and a passable meringue was soon swirled onto the pie and browning in the oven. The pie was delicious and tart, everything a lemon meringue pie should be in fact, except yellow.