Thursday, June 8, 2017

golden key

Having grandchildren is good for your marriage.
Not, as you might think, because you are united against a common foe, but because your patience becomes  a finely honed thing and the key, the golden key to any good marriage is patience.

Monday, May 22, 2017

much much closer

This is not the Von Trapp children posing in the Austrian alpine.
It's a picture taken high atop Mount Cook and includes my mom and dad perched on the edge of splendor.

Isn't the composition of this photo a rare and wondrous thing?
Aren't the teenagers framed just right?
Don't they look like some lifestyle photographer had a vision?
Doesn't my dad have a bad case of hat hair?

Maybe it's just because my mother is smiling warmly from the center of the photo's foreground that it occurs to me the photographer got the focal point just right.
And, I noticed something for the first time tonight.
My dad is holding my Mom's hand.
He hasn't turned to face the picture taker.
His thoughts are somewhere else.
Somewhere much, much closer.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

birds come

We have a plum tree smack dab in the center of our front yard. It was a slender slip of a tree when we first planted it a decade ago but now has branches stout and aplenty. Birds come.
"Look," my husband says, pointing. A house sparrow twitters as it scrambles higher in the branches.
"Is that a Vireo," I ask incredulously as a slender olive-grey bird flutters on a low limb.
"A Tanager!" we gasp in unison.
And then, out of the top of the tree like a girl from a cake, pops a Robin.
A United Nations of birds.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

can't live without

My four year old granddaughter began to cough one evening last week and by morning, was struggling to breathe.
She couldn't draw in a breath.
She couldn't even cry.
The Hospital Emergency Ward rolled out the red carpet.
She was ushered right in and given a bed and oxygen.
Breathing is one of those essentials.
You can't live without breath.
My little granddaughter had her own list of things she couldn't live without.

My daughter recorded her settling down to sleep with her phone;
A comforting picture for those at home.
They lay snuggled together on the hospital bed, mommy and little girl.
"I love you Mommy,' Little says sleepily.
"I love you too. Try to go to sleep now," urges my daughter.
"It's not dark enough," Little laments.
"And I can't live without all my toys and stuffies........and I can't live without......" Here she taps thoughtfully on her lower lip. "And I can't live without my lipstick." (AKA Chapstick)

Saturday, March 18, 2017

to matter

A pair of old photos from my mothers childhood makes me smile and nod and ponder. I like to think of them as Exhibit A and B.
Exhibit A, above, shows my visiting great grandmother Minerva. It also shows my Aunt Fran, the toddler beaming on the left, and on the right, my mother. My very, very sad little mother.. Smack dab in the center is a cousin, the little interloper. She has traveled by train across the Rocky Mountains with Gramma Minerva. There is something recognizable in her pose. It's HER Gramma Minerva.  There is also something recognizable in my mother's pose, something so unusual that it stands out like a beacon.
My mother is Sad.
Exhibit B is very telling. The photographer, likely my own kind Gramma has sized up the situation. My Very Sad Mother has now been given the place of honor at Gramma Minerva's knee.
Baby Fran's smile has faded.
There is angst in the air.
Little Interloper has taken up her new position unimpaired and has a hand possessively and comfortably placed.
My mother's mood remains unaltered. Very Sad still has her in its grip. In fact, she may now have added Very Put Out.

Time has swirled by since that long ago afternoon.
Lots and lots of time.
My mother has always been known for the sweetness of her disposition and the steadfastness of her optimistic, friendly nature, for her remarkably ever ready smile.
But here, in black and white is the evidence.
She was once a little girl just like any other little girl.

The steady smile of Great Gramma Minerva, the comforting warm sun, a kindly photographer.... all come together in these pictures.
They prove the universal need we all have to feel important and special.
To matter.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

how startling

You'll never believe what I saw on my way to work.
I could hardly believe my eyes.
I actually cried out in surprise.
There it was silhouetted against the gray sky near the top of a giant tree.
Way, way, way up in an old cottonwood..
Too big for the branch it huddled on, it nervously waved a paw in the air as if trying to flag down help.
Call 911.
Call the Fire Department.
Call the SPCA. 

It was a raccoon.
A very tense raccoon, clutching a branch high overhead.
It looked so out of place.
A big round ball of fur like an oversized Christmas ornament.
The branch it clung to seemed fearfully small.
What would have made a full grown raccoon climb for its life.
No dog in sight.
No people.
My car sped on but the raccoon remained firmly fixed on memories big screen.

That evening, the news reported a missing wallaby in the Langley area. A pet wallaby from the other side of the world.
It apparently hopped away.
Sprang off into the unknown.
How startling for our native wildlife.
To be ambling along, nibbling here and sniffing there to glance up at approaching footfall. Bounding footfall.
Stranger danger!
A tall tree could seem a necessity.

Friday, February 10, 2017


Before there was Google Translate, there was Giuseppe Mezzofanti, chief Vatican librarian, who could fluently speak 50 languages and translate 114 more. Wow! And I can't even read both sides of a cereal box. That wouldn't have held back Sir John Bowring. He, a British governor of Hong Kong, could speak 100 languages and read 100 more. Owed it all to his dictionary collection I bet.  Mind you, what's not to love about dictionaries, words rolling off your tongue, foreign and unknown. They were some of my favourite books when I was young. I especially loved the lists of words arranged by grade level at the front of the World Book Encyclopedia Dictionary, A-K. Vocabulary and spelling from Grade One to College were there, tantalizing and tempting. Words, wonderful words. And of course I loved the Merriam Websters Dictionary, wedged in my desk. Loved its small sketched illustrations too.

I've been savoring two delicious reads of late.
May I recommend Native Tongues by Charles Berlitz. If you love trivia you'll adore this book. Everything you ever wanted to know about language is there for your edification and entertainment.
And I've also been reading Landmarks by Robert Macfarlane. He is brilliant and poetic and completely captivating. He refers to at least ten authors whose books have inspired his own writing and they have been added to 'the list,' along with his other works, The Old Ways, The Wild Places, Holloway, and Mountains of the Mind.

Hay alegria en el aprendizaje!!