Tuesday, October 29, 2013

low and slow

If this canoe was an elevator, I would have peered into its crowded corners and waved it on without me.
Four adults and five children are riding low and slow.
My grandmother is settled in the bow with her five little chicks under her wing.
Two visiting adults have taken a leap of faith.
The body language of the woman speaks of serene trust but the man is hunched down, his eyes fixed on the distant shore. His eyes may even be locked on the distant shore.
My grandfather is seated as far to the stern as you can get and still be in a boat. He is expertly and confidently propelling the entire party.
I wonder if they were thinking about the fun ahead, about conversation and campfires, picnics and play.
About the dome of sky and lush green hills
....... about the return trip.

Monday, October 28, 2013

continuing conversation

"Oh oh," my baby granddaughter says, her voiced edged with drama. We are walking. She is clutching my finger with one hand and a doll with her other. The doll has dropped and she stoops to pick it up.
The walking continues.
We go where she directs.
We turn when she wills.
Babies have their own ideas.
They know things.
They remember things.
I read somewhere that most communication is non-verbal, only a small percent the words we choose. The rest is tone of voice and body language.
Perhaps this is why babies can communicate so well. They often get the tone of voice down pat before they have the words. We recognize the cadence and inflection to mean 'all done' or 'night night,' even before the words can be spoken clearly.
Communication is part of our humanity. We touch, we reach out.
It can be sacred ground.
My daughter carried her baby as we walked along the rocky beach.
Their conversation lasted the entire way and I could tell they still had plenty more to talk about.
Love is a continuing conversation.

Friday, October 25, 2013

swirls and eddies

My grandmother's toy box was a wooden orange crate. It held a thousand delights. Well, maybe a few dozen delights, but there were plenty to go 'round.
I am the little mite in the middle, staking my claim. See how I am edging my poor cousin out while he is distracted by the photographer?
The rug was made by my grandma.She collected woolen coats which she cut into strips and braided. They were incredibly durable and even more beautiful. I have a small one that she made for me entirely out of red plaids.
This picture stirs so many memories that I am like a rabbit caught in the headlights.Those memories are a blend of joyous recall, heartbreak and regret all at once. I think old photos are like that because of what they are, pictures of life and isn't life a blend of joy and heartbreak? The regret part is something I can change though. I didn't realize that once but I have come to.
The river of life sweeps us along.
It swirls and eddies.
We are taken places we didn't expect to go.
We can choose to celebrate life though.
Choose to celebrate love wherever and whenever we can.
You can't undo love.
It doesn't have a shelf life, or an expiry date.
It lasts on and on.
Forever in fact.

space saving

I didn't really collect things as a child. Well, I did have a shoe box full of marbles for a while and a stash of paper dolls. A small stash.
In my late teens though, bookmarks began to accumulate and fall like autumn leaves out of my books.
They earned their keep a few years later entertaining my little girls, especially as they sat perched upon a church pew.

Money was as scarce as hens teeth then when my children were small, but that has never seemed a barrier to creating. Necessity truly is the mother of invention. 
A leather jacket from the Thrift Shop was sliced and diced into many projects and a bookmark was one of them.
A nice navy blue, hand painted leather bookmark.
I made it for my Grandma because she lived by then in a tiny apartment and didn't have a spare scrap of wall or shelf or table top for extra frippery.
A book mark seemed so sensible,
so useful,
so space saving.
She hung it on her wall.

Thursday, October 24, 2013


If I could save time in a bottle.....

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

instructed kindly

We were playing follow the leader.
It's harder than it sounds.
We ran into trouble and ended up in the principals office.
It all happened so fast.
My grandson was the principal.
He took his seat across the table from us; my granddaughter, her doll and I.
His gaze was firm but friendly.
Turning towards me he began.
"You need to not worry so much," he instructed kindly, seizing upon a kernel of truth.
"Because you are very old," he added gently, "and children are," he paused, considering his words carefully, "playing differently now than when you were young."
I humbly agreed and resolved to make a change. I found myself meaning it.
He then turned to my granddaughter.
"And you need to try not to get worked up."
Of course this served to begin to get her worked up but I hastily added, "He is helping us to be happy." That's what principals do. They give advice to help.
My granddaughter pondered this while the principal went on with his final encouragement for the doll.
There is something about counsel, thoughtfully and kindly dispensed.
It has a way of sticking with you.

with fog

What is darker than darkness?
Darkness with fog.

The headlights of a car can pierce darkness and even by moonlight the distant horizon is visible in the middle of the night.
But let fog settle like eiderdown and everything changes.
My morning commute last week was darker than dark.
I felt lost.
It seemed as though I must have made a wrong turn even as my mind declared the impossibility.
It was not a good feeling.
Both darkness and fog have their separate charms though.
I love how light drains from the sky with a last flash of sunset brilliance and then all is chill and velvety dark.
The night air becomes infused with sounds unheard by day.
Winter darkness is my favourite.
Moonlight gilds the snow.
Snow absorbs the sound.
The world seems to hold its breath.
You can hear your own steps, your own breath, your own thoughts.
And fog has always seemed a friend to me as well, comforting and gentle.
I love to see the silhouettes of tree and hill melt away into gray and then white.
I love to feel as though the world has pulled a thick quilt up under its chin.
Foggy days make me feel safe and happy;
Two of my favorite feelings.

Monday, October 21, 2013

all over

The Annual Fall Visit of my sisters always includes our annual fall forage at local thrift shops. This wooden bowl has my mothers name all over it.

A cedar bowl, spun into life on a lathe. And it has a lid!

It was the perfect place to put the leather crocus broach.

And not a bad place to display the vintage hankies.


I've been to a family reunion;

A gathering in of the Nelsons.
Cousins planned and plotted and cast the net far and wide.
Thirty of us found our way from far and near.

The time together was a blink;
A mere moment.
But we all came home with a very tangible gift.
A book of family memories;
Stories written by my Aunt, a woman I think of as The Keeper of the Family Story.
Black and white photos accompany the text.

My mother has read and reread the stories.
She has remarked repeatedly of the wonder of seeing pictures of people and places she knows in a book.

This may sound like a happy but expected outcome but it is really much more to me.
My mother has lost much of her memory.
It is not just her short term memory that is gone.
For her to have her sisters stories is such an amazing gift.
It is a link to the girl she was and the woman she became.

to the brim

I've never been good with goodbyes.

My sisters and their daughters have come and gone.
That sounds so sad that I am going to rephrase it.

I am still basking in the glow of recent visitors, my sisters and their darling daughters.
Ahhh, that makes me feel a smidge better.
The Annual Fall Visit is such an anticipated event.
They say anticipation is half the joy.
The other half is of course the visit itself.
You can't count the remembering because joyous recall is always tinged with the bittersweet that accompanies backward glancing.
At least that is what I have always felt, but I am going to make a change.
I am going to whisk out the memories and trot them before my wary eyes and find they hold up to the light.
Find that I can indeed extract the joy and laughter and love and kindness without paying the least bit of attention to regret however it tries to elbow in.
Doing the math, I find that 50% is anticipation and 50%, the visit. That makes 100% but there is the added bonus of recall. We cast our bread upon the water and it returns to us after many days.
I love bonuses.

Life is so filled to the brim that it overflows.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

outstretched arms

I have a soft spot for nativities.
I also have a soft spot for things made long ago in foreign countries.
This tiny Christmas creche was made in Italy many a year ago. It has a kneeling maiden sweet faced and serene, a basket of buns on her arm.
The tiny baby with outstretched arms gazes ever upward.

it does

 Enamel Ware is a joyous thing.
 Especially when it is trimmed in blue and splashed with gypsy color.
 Especially when it is my favorite bowl shape.
 And very especially when it only costs ninety cents.
 The little bowl on the right is my newest acquisition.
  Isn't it a charmer?

 Looks even better turned upside down and paired with a larger bowl.

 I balanced a basin to see if the magic extends....and it does.
Rush to your cupboards and give it a try.

My mother startled me by observing that chewing gum might be necessary to hold them together. Juicy Fruit anyone?

Friday, October 18, 2013


"The problem is not that there are problems. The problem is expecting otherwise and thinking that having problems is a problem."
Theodore Rubin


Joe stood as still as a statue and listened. Ahhhhh, alone at last.

He slid to the edge of the cushion and happily closed his eyes. "A hop from the couch is nothing if you have been raised in a Baobab Tree," he thought.

But he got stuck part way down and took a bit of a tumble.

A little snack seemed just the thing, though it wasn't as cold as he thought it would be.

The sewing machine stood on a table near by. Things that whirred and buzzed gave Joe a thrill and he'd always hankered to give it a try...

but it was harder than it looked and he ran over his finger.

He climbed onto the back of the couch and watched the squirrels hiding nuts in the yard.
He held his breath and gasped in admiration as they flew from branch to branch.

He sat at the window until the low morning sun climbed in the sky and dazzled his eyes with its brilliance. 

There is a curious call to books, and turning from the window at last, Joe found a story that was just the sort of light reading he enjoyed, but he could hardly see the pages after gazing into the bright autumn light.

Then Joe played with the blocks for awhile; little cubes of jungle green, but he found them puzzling.

Barrel of Monkeys was so easy by comparison that he got lost in the game.

Playing Doctor seemed promising too, but only one patient showed up; a ballerina in very good health.

"I'll just watch a little television and enjoy a laugh or two," thought Joe

but the news made him cry.

He pulled up his quilt and leaned back in bed. "What a busy day," pondered Joe. Just the sort he liked to
  remember moment by moment,

but he was soon sound asleep.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

quilt tattoo

I added a snake to my quilt back, sort of like a quilt tattoo.
  • I drew a snake on a large piece of paper.
  • I used this as my pattern/template.
  • I placed a piece of interfacing onto my fabric and cut out my snake through both layers at once adding a quarter inch seam.
  • Next I stitched around the entire snake.
  • Then I snipped an opening in the interfacing and turned the snake right side out.
Until that moment, I had just been making an applique shape, a mere applique shape.

 When I began to turn my snake right side out though, it looked pretty snake-ish.
 It reminded me of a real snake skin that I unfortunately discovered on one of my woodland rambles once.
 Finding a snake skin is almost as bad as finding a snake.

 I pinned my snake down and threaded a needle.
 There it was, slithering along at the edge of my quilt back.
 What an unexpected jolt of color on the large, black back.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

ta da

Ta Da.
Here it is.

bulging eyes

I suddenly screamed.
Last week as my grandson and I were loping along at the edge of a a field, my voice became the sound of angst.
Those wavering notes seemed to echo all around me.
My grandson looked as startled as you might expect.
When he dashed back and asked me why I'd screamed, I told him it seemed like the right thing to do when you have a big spider hanging from your hair.
Such a big spider too, with striped legs and bulging eyes.
Bulging eyes staring into bulging eyes.

Monday, October 7, 2013

like recharging

The other morning I awoke in an overcast state of mind; cloudy with a chance of rain.
Waking up sad is never a good sign.
I realized almost instantly that the shadow of a dream had been cast ahead out of sleep where it belongs onto my morning self.
I am a person who dreams.
I can always remember fragments and sometimes entire episodes of dream when I awaken until they disperse like mist.
They are separate realms for sure, those lands of sleep and day.
Being awake is something I can understand.
Life bombards our senses.
But sleep is such a mystery.
We fight it as children,
embrace it as teenagers,
long for it as a young parent,
take it for granted and finally,
at long last,
just as we should,
come to celebrate it.
Sleep is where we plug ourselves into our pillows and recharge.


A little watercolor card.
A little bird.


Standing at the fridge, my little granddaughter is pushing the magnets around and around. "Grandma," she asks, "Where are the magnets that have electricity on their backs?"
I look blankly at her.
"She means static electricity," her helpful big brother adds.
Ahhhh yes, static cling. Now who was the clever soul that first harnessed the power of static cling. What was previously halo hair, crackling sweaters and skirts pasted to tights has become window art; colorful and reusable. I have a stack of static cling stickers for my grandchildren's amusement; fairies and flowers, alphabets and autumn leaves and a thousand pieces of Christmas, all magnets with electricity on their backs.


"My step-mother looked at me at least once on each of these miserable days, and said: 'Rose-Marie, you look very odd. I hope you are not going to have anything expensive. Measles are in Jena, and also the whooping-cough.'
'Which of them is the cheapest?' I inquired.
'Both are beyond our means,' said my step-mother severely."
Elizabeth von Arnim - Fraulein Schmidt and Mr. Anstruther

on the floor

“But it is impossible, I find, to tidy books without ending by sitting on the floor in the middle of a great untidiness and reading.”
Elizabeth von Arnim - In The Mountains

Sunday, October 6, 2013

hang above

If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it isn't necessarily a duck.
What I mean to say is that if it looks like a table runner and acts like a table runner, it isn't necessarily a table runner. It could be a window topper.

My sister found five vintage quilt blocks on one of her foraging forays to a thrift shop.

They were Dresden Plates made from feed sack. They had been stitched by hand onto a coarse muslin base.

The floor is often my 'design wall' and we moved the blocks around and around and around. We debated adding to the blocks, We considered subtracting. We weighed the merit of setting them on point.

At last though, it just seemed that the blocks were meant to be sewn together in a row.

That would make a very long, very skinny quilt.
It would look a whole lot like a table runner but looks can be deceiving

This skinny quilt bordered in chambray is destined to hang above my sisters wide glass patio doors like a table runner that ran away and joined the circus.