Saturday, April 30, 2011

naturally

I had a glimpse of the Royal Wedding cakes on television today.  They were as elegant and important looking as the occasion itself and I found myself recalling a different wedding cake every bit as elegant. When my daughter and son-in-law married, his mother graciously made their cake. It was beautiful in its simplicity. Three layers smoothly swathed in creamy white fondant. White orchids had been ordered and were to be added the morning of the wedding. Brides must delegate, and my daughter asked if I would do this final decorating.
I took my task seriously. Such an important cake for such a special day. I carefully clipped each flower from its supple green stem and placed it on a tier. I weighed their placement with my most critical eye. I shifted and tweaked and primped those flowers until that cake said, "wedded bliss."
Off I hastened to other prewedding tasks.
The wedding began in a swirl of satin and a rustle of grass.
Hands were clasped, eyes were gazed into deeply, vows were breathed.
There was laughter too of course, and food and photographers, and finally, the cake.
Ours was an outdoor wedding. The night before the big day had been so windy that the grand white tent we had rented needed to be pegged down a little more securely. The day of the wedding dawned clear and warm although breezy. A breeze in August is such a welcome thing especially to those wearing suits and ties.
I can still see my daughter and son-in-law, silhouettes against the billowing white net curtains surrounding the cake table.
But, the wind had blown the orchids out of their precise placement. Some were even scattered on the tablecloth. A cake decorated by the hand of the wind. A very "natural" look.
It was later that my daughter found me. "Oh Mom," she murmured. "I love what you did with the cake."

Thursday, April 28, 2011

travel advisory

Traveling by bus is a test of endurance on every human faculty. In my early teens I traveled by Greyhound  to visit my sister in Alberta. I set off in the early morning light with high spirits and a bulging bag of edible entertainment.
What was this? A stop already?
Ahh, back on the road. Trees flashed past.
Another stop.
More trees.
Another small town.
Trees, towns, trees. My mind slowly became a straight line. My enthusiasm flickered and extinguished.
Hour after endless hour, the bus toiled onward.
Sleep seemed the only hope, a way to swallow up the yawning gulf of time ahead.
I pushed the buttons at the front of the armrests and prepared to float backwards into unconscious oblivion.
The seat remained rigidly upright.
I pushed the buttons again and leaned back on the seat.
Nothing.
I jammed the buttons and hurled myself back.
The seat stood like a stone.
Worse, I could feel my face beginning to burn. It seemed to my adolescent self that every eye was fixed coldly upon me, where in reality I was likely the most entertainment my fellow passengers had enjoyed in hours and they didn't want to miss a second of it.
Mortified and uncomfortable I shifted about in my seat and mercifully fell asleep.
I don't know how long the bus droned on until it encountered the bump in the road.
With a thunk my seat released its catch and I reclined in an instant, my arms and legs flying into the air.

It was only a few years later that I flew to visit the same sister.
I sat in a centre seat, and as I pushed both armrest buttons to recline, I inadvertently reclined the startled gentleman to my right, his arms and legs flying into the air.
I had not improved with time. I'd gone from being a hazard to myself to being a hazard to those around me.

Monday, April 25, 2011

come....

I have only one fragment memory of my grandfather.
He is sitting in a huge overstuffed armchair, his face warm and kind.
"Come, grandpa's girl," he coaxes.
I see my little self hanging back shyly in the doorway of the kitchen.
The memory of his love is as sweetly tempting now as it was to my childish heart.

essence

I love this picture. It was likely taken in 1929 or 30 and is a picture of my Mother and her two sisters. I laughed out loud the first time I saw it because the expression on each little face is the essence of who they grew up to be. My Mother (in the middle) is smiling sweetly, and is a woman who can extract pleasure from the everyday. The worried toddler on the right is my gentle Aunt Dorothy. The little girl on the left is my Aunt Fran, her focus on the baby, empathy being a trait that started early apparently. I love that the little girls are perched on the railway tracks, all set for the journey of life.
I wish I knew what was in the little hobo-bag my Auntie is holding, and what colours their cloths were, and what the baby has in her hand….

taking things too far.

Winter, and Mosquito Season neatly divided the year in Blue River. As we splashed through ever widening puddles of melting snow, the mosquitoes were beginning to hatch. And then, only weeks later it seemed, the northern winds would bring the first scattered flakes of snow and finish off the last of the mosquito population.
I now live someplace that has neither season. Winter and mosquitoes are both rare visitors here. I don't miss the mosquitoes but winter without snow is taking things too far.

Monday, April 18, 2011

on cue

Elevator companions are often aloof and preoccupied.
These adjectives seldom apply to children and I noted with pleasure the young family with two small boys that would be accompanying my husband and I as we descended to the ground floor. The brothers each clasped a small box, holding it in front like gift bearing magi.
"Do you have a pet in there?" I teased. Two little heads shook solemnly. "Is it a wild creature then," I queried making a face of mock fear.
The eyes of the youngest child flashed with delight.
His older brother proudly lifted the lid to reveal two rows of marvelous crayon colored figurines.
I duly admired them and departed on cue, my heart lighter.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

distant relatives

As I crunched up the long, unfamiliar gravel driveway, I heard a dog bark in the distance. By the time I had pulled slowly around in a circle to park, a black dog had bounded to the corner of the yard.
We eyed each other suspiciously.
Just as he feared, I emerged from my car, my eyes on the house.
Just as I'd feared, he slunk closer, grumbling and protesting.
I debated diving back into the car.
"No barking," I warned weakly and unconvincingly.
The dog seemed alarmed and barked sharply. It crept around behind me, a low growl rumbling in its throat.
My nervousness was clearly unnerving him as well.
A part of me isn't the least bit afraid of anything but that part is very, very small and there is a larger part of me that is scared of anything that moves, especially if it also barks.
Fortunately, a child emerged from the house and gave me the necessary moral support to cringe my way to the door un-nipped.
Confidence and courage are cousins, but unfortunately they're only distant relatives of mine.

Friday, April 15, 2011

time has come

My china cabinet has become a storage bunker. I pondered that fact with amazement this morning. I didn't even own a china cabinet until six years ago.
When my parents "broke up house" and moved to the coast, I rescued an old cupboard that had been languishing in their sunroom. My husband replaced the arborite top and removed a couple of doors. I painted it pale blue. It stands against an apple green wall, its shelves overflowing with vintage dishes in blues and greens. So lovely.
It's below in the dark nether regions that things get out of hand. What good are special things if they never see the light of day, never grace the festal table.
Ahhhh, a perfect spring job. Sorting and selecting and shifting. Who knows what beauty awaits in the shadow. Its time in the sun has come.

delight

Absence does make the heart grow fonder and reunions are a delight.
My tiny granddaughter has been missing her Aunt and has spoken her name wistfully. She has called her in the hallways of our home and even announced firmly that she wants to see her "now."
Family gathered for a special supper last night. As my daughter climbed the stairs, my granddaughter cried out her name with such joy. She clung to her Aunt like a little tree frog, smothered her with kisses and  laughed giddily at inside jokes.
Even very young children have learned the lesson that love once given, craves more.

minor key

Parting is such sweet sorrow, especially when grandchildren are involved.
We were all clustered in the foyer. We had finally corralled two active children and wrestled them into coats and shoes.
Car seats were being moved and rebuckled, and so in an effort to distract and fill time I turned to my grandson.
"Why don't you sing me a good- bye song," I suggested.
"Ok," he chirped. "Good- bye Grandma," he sang feelingly in a minor key. "Thank you for the nice dinner," he warbled like a tiny tenor. "I love you Grandma," the serenade continued.
A song produced on the spot, the lyrics and melody as original as the composer.

yogurt of yogurts

Most yogurt is so thin and uninspired. Some have more sugar than Creme Brulee but the supermarket shelves hold a triumph, a yogurt of yogurts.
It is so wonderfully thick and creamlike. Its subtle flavor  is a joy on waffles or pancakes, on baked potatoes or tacos, topped with fruit or eaten spoon by deliciously cool spoonful.
Have the food police not heard of this guilty pleasure?
Oh the dairy aisle, the dairy aisle!!
Where would the world be without Balkan Yogurt?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

lessons

I've been working on a lap quilt for a friend's "special" birthday. Sewing can be an opportunity to stretch and learn, although occasionally the stretch is over the yawning abyss of insanity. This project came with several lessons.
Lesson 1- Don't cut expensive fabric up willy nilly. Do the math.
Lesson 2- Letting a pattern "emerge" may be all well and good, but when gripped by a time crunch, have a plan.
Lesson 3- Don't hesitate to set the project aside to get your bearings, sleep, breathe into a bag.........
Lesson 4- Push through and finish. You must show your Panic Attack who's boss.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

treasure

Carving fascinates me. I picked up a bag of assorted carved figures, hesitated and put it back on the shelf at MCC. Then I picked it up again and turned it over, mentally sorting and counting. Hmmm, two sheep or maybe goats; Two cows or maybe horses; Mary, Joseph, Wisemen one, two and three; and yes, little baby Jesus. An entire set. This would be safe in the hands of small grandchildren. Wooden things are wonderfully tactile. And the faces of the little people had such character, so ethnic.
A thrift shop treasure.

self cleaning

The smoke alarms piercing notes brought everyone on the run.
"Supper's ready," I sheepishly announced.
Laughter followed.
A self cleaning oven doesn't really clean itself. It is forced to toil away amidst the grime and ash like Cinderella, poor thing, until a fairy godmother waves her wand, or pushes a few buttons.
I once had an oven catch on fire during a self clean cycle and I've felt a little gun shy ever since. I suppose if I didn't wait until the fire department needed to be on stand by, it would help.
My grandmother and mother both used wood stoves to prepare meals. Self cleaning was an unheard of luxury. So was a dish washer for that matter, or a bread maker, or food processor. Women used to double as kitchen appliances apparently.
Now I just need to push a  few buttons and of course, have the fire extinguisher at the ready.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

knight on a bike

My grandson the knight rode his trusty steed up the sidewalk, peddling furiously, while I his faithful companion loped at his side. My feet had briefly strayed onto the road as a car rounding the corner ahead turned and headed up the street toward us.
My knight sounded the warning,"Grandma, you should be on the sidewalk, a car is coming."
"Oh thank you. You were watching out for me. weren't you?" I warmly answered.
"That's what friends do my Lady," he gallantly responded.
"That's what best friends do."

there are moments

"There are moments in life, when the heart is so full of emotion
That if by chance it be shaken, or into its depths like a pebble
Drops some careless word, it overflows, and its secret,
Spilt on the ground like water, can never be gathered together."
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Friday, April 1, 2011

reset

"Don't touch him," the doctor instructed. "Is everyone clear?" he asked briskly. We all stepped back. Kathunk!
"Ahh, a perfect sinus rhythm," the doctor crowed.

Heading for the emergency room late at night, we had braced ourselves for a weary wait with a ghastly assortment of sickly companions.
We reported to the front desk, endeavoring to remain philosophical.
Apparently there is something about a fifty-something man presenting with heart symptoms that causes hospital employees to spring into action.
We were ushered straight in to the inner sanctum and given an enviable spot next to the nursing station. An IV was duly installed and blood drawn.
A heart monitor was soon merrily blipping away and oxygen whooshing.
Arrhythmia are fairly common, the doctor explained. Jolting the heart with an electrical charge is like pushing the reset button.
We went for the reset.