Thursday, April 29, 2010

daddy long legs welcome here

With horror in her voice, a friend confided that just as she had reached for her towel to wrap around her freshly washed hair, her eyes had focused on a very large spider clinging to it. By shaking the towel like a matador, gravity eventually came to her rescue. There was still a tremor as she spoke.
The northern towns of my childhood had delicate Daddy Long Legs that gracefully wandered up our sleeves and dangled from silky strands. I do remember being a little nervous of the song, "Eensy Teensy Spider," as a child, especially the part about the drain spout. My sister and I shared the bathtub, and I always let her sit in the deep end under the spout. She thought me altruistic but I was being proactive. Better safe than sorry. Time passed. The gentle days of childhood collided with harsher realities, as they inevitably do. Spiders were included. Gone were the airy fairy fellows. In their place, the coastal killers.
My daughter once threw down her sandal in an act of self defense and the dispatched spider's legs protruded on both sides of it like whiskers.
I've never been the sort to scream or burst into tears over insects but .......I remember catching a movement out of the corner of my eye as I lounged on the sofa reading in the autumn twilight. A large, bony spider had dashed out of the shadows and had paused just as I lurched into a sitting position. Quickly snatching a magazine and rolling it in one smooth movement I reached an arm out to.......... "aaaaaaaaarrrrrggghhhhhaaaaaa," I croaked in horror. Anticipating my move, it had pivoted and lunged karate-like towards me. I found myself backing up, up, up into a standing position on the couch, treed so to speak by a killer spider. It eventually tired of its sport as bullies do and swaggered off. I gathered up the shreds of my self-respect and retired, shaken and humbled.
There is a saying, that "a healthy house is a house with spiders" and I suppose there's something to that. The smaller, frailer members of the planet have always been barometers of a sort. If there has to be a canary down the well, I hope it's one of the big, bony thugs. Daddy Long Legs are welcome in my house.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

relearning how to breathe

My to do list is starting to rattle me, like a constant off-key hum. Life doesn't present its demands and obligations in a neat and orderly fashion. Random order and in batches is more likely.
Once, long ago, I unsuspectingly opened the door to our outside storage, and a huge roll of carpet hurtled out and struck me on the bridge of my nose. Do you see the metaphor? No one can be completely prepared, but overloading life's closet is risky.
In an act of procrastination, I went for a stroll this evening. It took a while for my eyes to adjust to the darkness. What had happened to my depth perception? The city never sleeps is seems. Trucks were shifting down on some far away hill, a dog barked, and my ears were suddenly filled and ringing with a symphony of frogs.
My day slipped out of mind. My eyes were drawn up to the widening circle of moon-lit sky surrounded by banks of cloud with their torn paper edge. Stars glinted; diamonds around the throat of night. I was just relearning how to breathe and it was time to go in, but I came in singing.

Friday, April 23, 2010


"I fell into a burning ring of fire," my little grandson sang happily from the backseat. Like his grandmother, he's prone to burst into song, but Johnny Cash!?
Three year olds are charming, and part of that charm is the words they use, words that won't really "fit" for a few more years.
"I love this game," he had declared with some passion as he placed the alphabet tiles on the board. "Actually, I love YOU," he added. Actually, I was charmed.
Humor is a concept that is grasped by the very young too. Chicken was on the menu and I had reminded him to finish his drumstick, "Eat your leg," was followed with laughter and he held out both hands in a calming, authoritative way and said, "Don't panic everyone, I won't eat my leg."
His little sister is right on the cusp of speech. "It's Grandma," said my daughter. "Ga," agreed my little grandaughter. It's just a matter of time.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

putting my best foot forward

I'm feeling a little forlorn tonight. My annual spring visit with my sister is in the rear view mirror. Some say that anticipation is half the pleasure. It's true, there is a joy in the "count down," and I'd been counting since fall. The days had grown shorter and I had settled for conversations on the phone. The winter drizzle gave way to plum blossoms and I promised my sister we'd put our best foot forward when it came to weather, just for her. She often leaves winter behind and flies right into Spring when she comes for her visit. Her daughter has been caught in one too many winter storms on the way home from the airport. Threats have been uttered. We hunched over the calendar and the long range weather forecast and blindly cast the die. Surely this year we'd get it right. Alas, a freak blizzard howled over the prairies the day before my sister's flight, dropping the mercury and sweeping drifts of snow over the roads. I joked with my niece that the weather system of an entire province was being controlled by her Mother's travel plans. What power!
( She flew home six days later to 25 degree weather) I'm very thankful for the time I had with my sister. This time, as we foraged in Thrift Shops and wandered on the beach, a realization dawned. Her holiday is in fact, my holiday, no tickets and packing required.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

knowing when to quit

It is probably unwise to birdwatch while driving a car. Nevertheless, I found myself scanning the naked tree limbs as I drove to work this morning because all is unveiled by the bare branches of Spring. Suddenly, my eye caught a frantic flapping high in a tree. A crow seemed attached to a branch. It tried to hurl itself into space but its claws remained locked on the branch. What in the world could have entangled it so high in the tree. I must admit that by now my head was swivelling like an owl between the road ahead and the drama in the tree. Fortunately, the traffic light turned red and I was able to watch and learn. The crow dove off the branch, flipped into the air and grabbed the branch in its beak. Down it dangled, flapping wildly. This was repeated......repeatedly. Apparently, the crow had spotted a branch that was just the right shape and was trying to snap it off to carry it to its nest.
Winter branches are brittle, but Spring branches, with sap coursing through their veins are lithe and strong. As the light turned green, the bird coasted away on the rising morning air. This crow had hurled itself into space and tried every angle. What a bright bird to use its body weight for leverage. And what a bright bird to know when to quit.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

happiness for sale

I drove out into the tender-green countryside yesterday afternoon, past farm and field, fence and forest. Blue shouldered mountains stood out crisply against the pale spring sky. Every year in April, the Bradner Community Hall inhales the bitter sweet breath of a thousand daffodils. Dozens of varieties are on display. How exotic the ordinary can be! Frilled trumpets dipped in coral, masses of creamy ruffles, delicate nodding bells. Outside, the buckets of flowers for sale thrill the eye. Every lipstick color of tulip, cinnamon-scented hyacinth, heather, and of course daffodils in all their buttery shades. Who says you can't buy happiness.We staggered to the car with an armful of it.

Gone From My Sight

Gone From My Sight by Henry Van Dyke

I am standing upon the seashore.
A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean.
She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.
Then, someone at my side says;"There, she is gone!"
"Gone where?"
Gone from my sight. That is all.
She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side and she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her.
And just at the moment when someone at my side says, "There, she is gone!" There are other eyes watching her coming,and other voices ready to take up the glad shout; "Here she comes!"
And that is dying.


Uphill by Christina Rossetti

Does the road wind up-hill all the way?
Yes, to the very end.
Will the day's journey take the whole long day?
From morn to night, my friend.
But is there for the night a resting-place?
A roof for when the slow dark hours begin.
May not the darkness hide it from my face?
You cannot miss that inn.
Shall I meet other wayfarers at night?
Those who have gone before.
Then must I knock, or call when just in sight?
They will not keep you standing at that door.
Shall I find comfort, travel-sore and weak?
Of labour you shall find the sum.
Will there be beds for me and all who seek?
Yea, beds for all who come.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

patient hands

Rudy was twenty the year his youngest brother, my husband, was born. He was married and had two little boys of his own before my husband started school. How kind he was then, as a busy young father, to include his little brother on a fishing trip. Hooks and lines and bait all needed to be attended to. A quick lesson in casting and they were all set. Out sailed the line, out and out and...... the reel choked on a huge tangled ball of line. Nary a word of reproach. Rudy patiently began untangling. Fishing line is so fine, and the knots so tight. Clouds scudded across the sky, the sun shifted, the world turned, and unbelievably, a fish bit. Down went the bobber. "A fish Rudy, a fish!" Calmly, "well, pull in the line." The snarled line was eventually uncrimped and a second cast was made. Same little boy, same rod, same huge tangled ball of line, same amazingly patient big brother. Flash forward thirty years or so. Middle age has worked its magic. It's now two men gone fishing. Hooks and lines and bait have been attended to. Rudy swings his rod forward in a graceful cast and......the rod leaves his hand and sails through the air, slicing the water and sinking like a stone. The tide of time has turned. It's my husband who reaches down. Calmly, patiently, a hook is lowered and the rod is retrieved. Oh Rudy, you were more than a big brother. You were a gift. An example. You walked ahead and a little boy followed your big steps. You have joined another kindly Fisherman with patient hands and gentle eyes.

booksneeze reviews

Friendship for Grownups, by Lisa Whelchel is not a book I would recommend. It is an autobiography, and I found I just didn't warm up to the author, nor did I enjoy her style of writing. The last few pages of the book had a chapter by chapter question format, which contained some food for thought, as well as some conversation starter questions that could be fun. Overall, a rather disappointing read.

I've just finished reading Why You Say It, by Webb Garrison. This is a book that takes commonly used expressions like, "keep a stiff upper lip," and gives their origin and meaning. I like the table of contents that divide more than 600 words or phrases into 19 easy to find categories. The author also uses each one in a sentence and explains the meaning of it as well as its origin. This would make it an excellent choice for students or those new to the English language. Because our English language has borrowed from so many other languages, I wish these "originals" had been included. I also found that because I was familiar with most of the expressions, I enjoyed the story about how we've come to say them but found the additional information abit superfluous.

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Bird Song

I stumbled upon a great book this spring. Birdsong by Don Stap was completely captivating. Questioning why birds sing and how they learn their songs, has led him on extensive field research. The book, in turn, becomes a tribute to Don Kroodsma, a scientist and storyteller. Unconventional and brilliant, his passion for birds illuminates the pages of this very inspiring work. I am looking forward to reading his book as well, The Singing Life of Birds.

( hard cover, love that, and large print, really love that )