Saturday, December 31, 2011

animation imagination

My grandson asked if we could make an animation.
He would be the artistic director and producer and of course the stage crew, and I would be the cinematographer.
It was an ambitious project.
He imagined an erupting volcano with lava and a dark cloud.
In his minds eye he could see an little man moving away from danger just as you would expect.
He was pretty sure that Hawaii would be a good location shoot and I just happened to have a 2012 calendar from the realtor that became the back drop.
Plasticine was pressed into service, no pun intended.
A tropically green mountain was soon topped with a towering black cloud and studded with sparks.
A little gray man, his arms thrown wide with fright looked on.
I snapped away as my grandson moved the cloud left and right.
I made a series of shots of the little man inching away to safety.
We will need to consult the resident tech support and there will be cropping and cutting no doubt.
Stay tuned.

the chip store

"Where did you get the dolly?" I asked my granddaughter by way of making conversation.
"From the chip store," she confided. (AKA McDonalds)

he's toast

A stuffed toy was drooping over the side of the toy box.
"That elephant looks tired," I exclaimed kneeling down beside my tiny granddaughter.
"He's toast," she solemnly agreed.

work in progress.....







An unfinished work in progress.......

new

I have never felt so strongly that time has passed more quickly than usual.
I've stood on the cusp of the New Year before and gazed back and back, but this year, I swear to you, last January was just a few weeks ago.
I've reread posts from this time last year and felt more certain than ever that something happened to 2011. Something that I was not aware of, or a part of.
Was I sleeping like Rip Van Winkle?
The year was really weightily eventful, full of unusually heavy things and yet it seems a blurr. Perhaps that is the answer.
You can see for miles on a clear day.
There have been breaks in the cloud cover, amazing views that took my breath away. but a lot of the time I had my head down, hiking along in the fog with no landmarks to get my bearings by. No sense of the passing of time.
I am so grateful that life allows change.
That we are always learning.
That there is hope.
"Behold, I make all things new."

Friday, December 30, 2011

something so grand

My grandmother lived in the shadow of a mountain.
Of course when you get close to something so grand, you can't see it towering beyond your vision. You are aware only of the smaller, darkly treed hills that block the horizon.
Thick and lush is the vegetation surrounding Blue River.
My grandmother selected wild plants, native plants, and landscaped her yard with their beauty; a clump of creamy birch trees, lacy mountain ash, tiger lily, and pine.
Her log home would have pleased the sensibilities of Frank Lloyd Wright, for it was one with its surroundings; an extension of the rustic view.
A burnished, golden house with corners like clasped fingers, it stood as a sentinel, the dark forested hills beyond.
Those wooded slopes were wild places, filled with chipmunk and skunk, moose and bear.
My grandmother began her life as a homesteader, a pioneer, on the softly rolling prairie of southern Alberta.
but when I think of her, it is against the backdrop of pine and cedar.
It is in her sweetly smelling kitchen surrounded by golden log walls and burl bowls that I see her, in the shadow of a mountain.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

not morning people

Bears hibernate.
I'm not sure why bears come to mind now in the midst of winter, but I do know that in the thickly treed mountains that cover British Columbia, bears are hibernating.
As the air took on its familiar chill this fall, bears took their last bite of this and that, their late night snack so to speak and ambled off to bed for a long, long night.
It's hard to believe that they sleep through Christmas and New Years and Valentines Day,
but their seasonal morning comes at last.
Perhaps the sound of melting snow; the sound of dripping water, annoys the bears into wakefulness.
Perhaps the piercing call of the first returning robin does the trick.
Maybe the warm breath of April.....
Bears awaken and straggle out into the weak spring sunlight.
They are not morning people.
It is better not to talk to a spring bear until he has had his first cup of coffee.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

remembered

This Christmas we received a truly amazing gift.
My mother opened a Christmas card and began to read the letter inside.
There was a wish for a blessed Christmas and of course a Happy New Year just as any card or letter might begin this time of year.
But the next sentence was the show stopper.
"Thank you again for the generous help you gave me and my children so long ago. In fact, almost 53 and a half years ago."
We gasped.
The letter went on to detail lives well lived; the story of children grown to adulthood and happy accomplishment.
There had been sorrow and hardship overcome.
The letter concluded with the warmest words of blessing for my Mother and we, her family.
I phoned my older sisters to see if they remembered the writer of the letter.
Yes, my oldest sister remembered, and I learned something about my mother that I hadn't really known.
About her selfless kindness. About her gifts of friendship shared.
And they have not been forgotten.
How kind this friend from the past is to put into words, her appreciation for all of us to share.
To bless my mother.
It is a picture of God Himself I think, who remembers and blesses.

Monday, December 26, 2011

glory all around

I had a wonderful day yesterday playing with my grandchildren and watching them play.
The first toy opened would have kept them occupied for the day I think.
My granddaughter wore her new purple princess gown and didn't look the least bit overdressed.
She is polite and passionate by turns just as one might expect from a tiny royal personage.
My grandson kindly invited me to help him color his cardboard spaceship. I gamely started in on the whole blue of outer space while he colored the stars. I noticed that he was uncharacteristically going outside the lines until the stars were glowing yellow orbs.
"It's the glory," he informed me.
Glory all around.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

for He alone is worthy

The air is full of music in December.
Christmas carols known by heart.
We first heard them in church, joyously sung, voices separating into parts and blending in harmonies.
We warbled them in elementary school from news printed song sheets.
Hark the Herald Angels Sing.
Silent Night.
Joy to the World.
It is impossible to listen to those tunes without the mind singing along.
Last weekend as my friend and I wandered through shops in Fort Langley I suddenly stopped to listen. The words were there now, clearly heard by the ears of memory.
"For He alone is worthy," I intoned, startling the clerk.
"Isn't that O Come All Ye Faithful?" my friend questioned.
And of course, it was, but tunes have a way of being borrowed. Somewhere, sometime, someone had composed a very different song to that old recognizable tune.

O come all ye faithful
For HE alone is worthy

Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing
For He ALONE is worthy

O come let us adore Him
For He alone IS worthy
Christ the Lord.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

something to do with it

Candle light may have had something to do with it.
The tree glittered in the corner, blanketed in crocheted snowflakes.
Fragrant cedar boughs decked the halls and the shelves.
Felt mice clutching tiny song books, pointed their noses skyward in silent song.
Christmas baking and steaming cups of tea all said December Book Club Meeting.
In the center of the table was a ginger bread house; A wonderful candlelit masterpiece.
After a number of admiring glances, my friend blurted, "I just have to tell you..... that is the best gingerbread house anyone ever made."
There was a  pause.
"Oh, Alma," I cried. "It's ceramic."

Sunday, December 18, 2011

upward like sparks

"I have a theory," by grandson declared, as the car sailed over the rolling country side on the way to kindergarten.
"When wood burns it turns into dust."
My thoughts swirled upward like sparks.
I have pondered burning wood myself as I've sat before camp fire light.
Where does its heat come from?
It seems that the warmth of a hundred summers is stored in that wood and released at once.
Burning wood glows as coral as salmon flesh; its grain, one of the myriad repeating patterns of nature.
In the morning, ash is all that remains of the grand blaze of the night before.
The tree has flown away, up and up and up into the starlit sky.

loyal pair

My husband is a wood carver.
He carved a pair of loons for my parents many a year ago to honour their 50th anniversary.
A pair of loons?!
That sounds like a joke waiting to be told.
In fact, loons are amazing birds.
Such a loyal pair.
They share the work of nest building and chick raising.
So alike.
Such resilience and longevity.
They seemed a fitting choice as a tribute.

The joke came from the way their beaks were carved.
One loon is gazing into the distance, beak firmly closed.
The other has its beak parted, a call forever on the wind.
My parents joked about who was who.
I have my own opinion on that and I smile now when I look at them.
A loyal pair.


inside jokes

I can see my grandchildren in my rear view window as I drive. Only little glances of course, but I can hear them just fine.
A few months back, my grandson launched into a tale of clown fish and sea anemone and finished up with this conclusion. "It's a symbiotic relationship Grandma."
I was momentarily speechless.
"What does symbiotic mean," I cautiously queried.
He knew!
I have found myself noticing symbiosis ever since.
And in the most surprising ways.
Family relationships are a wonderful example of mutual benefiting, and so is friendship.
I have found myself laughingly using the label, symbiotic as a result.
Aren't inside jokes wonderful?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

raison d'etre

"It's my birthday," I announced to my mother this morning.
"Oh, Happy Birthday," she exclaimed, her face brightening to mirror my own. Days and seasons have slipped from her memory but not her love of family.

The story of my birth has always delighted me.
I am the fifth and final child.
The sister that is two years older than I would have been the last child.
Unlike the previous three children, she was not an independent soul.
She cried when my father left for work because she hated to see him leave, and cried when he got home because she had missed him. She cried when the older children left for school.
"Maybe we should have another to keep her company," my kindly mother suggested.
That kind of solution could go on forever, my father had ruefully observed.
And so, it seems my raison d'etre, my sole reason for existence was to be my sister's companion.
As it turned out, I was an independent soul and played happily by myself.
And then as I grew older, I plagued my sister as only a younger sister can.
I did my share of tagging along and whining and even bit her once.
I'm pretty sure she's glad I was born though.
I know I am.
Happy Birthday to me.

like a sea

Who needs the ocean when you can just look up at the sky;
The ever changing sky like a great, pearl gray sea.
Golden light is breaking on the horizon and lapping at the edges of the hills.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

rescued

I have been at times photographically challenged.
I once snapped my way through a never to be repeated holiday, catching once in a life time moments, only to discover that my film hadn't "caught" and wasn't winding it's way through the inner workings of my camera.
Another time, far from home and any store, I accidentally rewound my partly filled, and only roll of film.
As I hastily and distractedly tidied, I once threw away a filled roll with a handful of crumpled paper. Sports day became a distant memory.
And, just as a hush fell over the church and the breathless bride took her first tremulous step down the aisle, my last picture taken signalled the camera to rewind with a grinding whirr and buzz that I was unable to stifle.
I am glad that the digital age has rescued me at last.

such a boon

Photos stored in a shoe box are not as user friendly as photos online.
I love trolling through pictures taken, cropping at will.
Digital cameras are such a boon to mankind.
No more film, or in my case, no more looking for film, loosing film, rewinding partly shot rolls of film and paying for poorly shot film.
It is still hard to believe that photos can be enlarged and edited at home without taking a small loan from the bank to pay for them. They can be shared in a moment too, and stored in endless folders.
Next year I'm going to take even more pictures and they won't all be blurry.
I will figure out what the settings do too.
Oh the joy.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

blending

Dinosaur names just don't stay with me.
My grandson patiently sounds out the syllables for me and I dutifully repeat them back.
Today he urged me to meld the sounds together into a word. "We're blending," he announced modestly, referring to his advancing progress in reading at kindergarten.
What we are taught, we can teach.
It is a wonder to listen and learn.

Terribly

The Terrible 2's.
This label was definitely not thought up by a grandparent.
We think two year olds are charming. We might say The Tiny 2's or The Talkative 2's or even The Thirsty 2's, but surely not Terrible.

While shopping at Old Navy, my daughter overheard my two year old granddaughter say to a mannequin as she hugged it. "I love you so much."
Terribly charming.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

randomly selected

What would be on a running list of Things I Have Learned The Hard Way?

Below you will find four entries randomly selected for your edification:

1-Never blog while your oven is set on grill-high
2-Don't eat Spicy Tuna Roll after 10pm
3-Put off napping while waiting for the light to turn green
4-Avoid leaping down the stairs in stocking feet

Saturday, December 3, 2011

weather proof hunters

My day was dissected by errands. My morning list ran into a hitch and resulted in a last minute add on to the afternoon list.
I recruited my mother to ride shotgun, and off we spun.
Such a gray drizzly day.
A hawk on the power line reminded me of the lone hunter my daughter and I had seen earlier that week, his eye trained on the tangle of yellowing grass below. He had been at the same spot morning and afternoon, morning and afternoon. We mused that he must be doing well there if he kept returning.
Trees flashed past and there was another hunting hawk, and then another.
As we wound our way down towards River Road, we spotted a fourth hawk, his shoulders hunched in concentration.
Later, as we churned our way back up the hillside, a kestrel was suddenly there on our right, gripping the power line overhead. It shook off the rain, drops flying, orange feathers standing out like a halo.
Weather proof hunters.

a new year sort of moment

It's interesting how time swirls us along through the passing seasons. It makes me think of those old black and white movies and the calender pages tearing off, tugged by the wind of time. It's not that life is so uneventful, but really just the opposite. It amazes me as I take a backward glance each year at this time and see the road travelled stretching back and back.
Aren't there truly so many of those sorts of vantage points in a year? A new year sort of moment.
For many years September felt that way to me as my girls started out with freshly sharpened pencils and new sneakers.
And June was similar but for the opposite reason. A school year wrapped up and a whole summer stretching ahead.
The changing seasons too, especially spring, always thrill my heart with fresh beginning.
And birthdays mark time, as do the special days, the days of feasting and family.
I'm looking forward to Christmas this year. To the season of Christmas. To the chance to look back and ahead with gratitude and joy.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

finding it

"It's the last one in the store," he murmured, his voice low. "And I can't just give it to you because......"
"We'd be mobbed," I asked?
"Yes," he breathed. "And you can't go out that way, it'll make them go crazy."
"So, I'll have to exit the store, and come back around through the entrance." I calmly stated.
He nodded, stepping closer. Our hands brushed and I opened mine to see a folded square of paper;
A torn portion of a scratch and win coupon.
Desperate times call for desperate measures.
And adventure is where you find it.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

cold driving

I dashed across the parking lot, puddles shining neath the street light.
Into my car I dove.
On with the lights, the windshield wipers, the heat, the fan, the radio.
As I backed out of my stall and headed for the exit a litany of accidents were being recited.
Falling snow can make home seem very far away.
Toiling along with the throng, I watched as slushy rain transformed into large wet flakes of snow that seemed to come from a spot directly in front of my windshield. Like a star burst, the flakes spread out and out and out.
I can remember staring into oncoming snow as a child and feeling as though I were weightless and flying through space. Of course this is not the sort of thing a tired driver should ponder.
I switched stations and adjusted the heat.
In the past, attempting to stave off sleepiness on the homeward commute, I have tuned in to stations I don't like and programs that annoy, to jar myself into wakefulness.
Sadly, I have come to enjoy my usual default choices and they have lost their abrasive value.
Ah well, the season of cold air is descending upon us. A cold driver is an alert driver. Break out the mini gloves.

pressing in

I mark time by the passing of Guild meetings. This past year, I have clung to our monthly challenges like a drowning man to a log. Having some small project to work on has been healing and joyful.
I actually finished the November challenge early because I knew my spare time was going to be a scarce commodity as the month wound down, or up as the case may be.
I pieced and sliced and stitched and pressed.
I gripped the edges of the little quilt and roared all over the surface with machine quilting. Hmmmm, not bad, only picked out two sections.
A day or two passed. My little quilt winked and glowed on the fireplace mantel.
Then last evening, as I perused notes taken almost a month ago, my eyes fell on the November Challenge criteria--- must be a variation of nine patch,check, must contain GREEN. Oh oh.
No green.
I squinted at the tiny print in vain.
Absolutely no green.
Now a challenge isn't a challenge if it doesn't meet the criteria.
I toyed briefly with appliqueing a green leaf in the centre.
Then it struck me.
This mini quilt is an object lesson.
I had toiled away, oblivious that I was missing some of the information. Some of the necessary information.
Time was short, life was pressing in, and something was lost in the translation.
There in lies the real challenge. I must remember the criteria, what is the necessary, the important. And that will take the challenge out of the challenging.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

and to all a good night

Magnetic camels from a child friendly nativity set roam forever on the door of my fridge. The star has been put away so they are not making much headway.
I hadn't noticed until this evening that Christmas is never completely put away at our home.
Blown glass stars catch the light in my living room window.
A copper cookie cutter star glints on my china cabinet shelf.
A nativity set is always available for the grandchildren......
A Christmas cactus is blooming its heart out, a splash of festive pink.
A large wreath of curling birch bark adorns a bathroom wall.
And, the post-it notes on my fridge have a tumbling snow man awaiting my shopping list.

The Carpenters have just sung the last triumphant notes of Ave Maria.
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

worth a try

I sewed this evening to the poignant strains of "Oh Little Town of Bethlehem."
Later, after foraging in the fridge, I sat dreamily snacking on crisp watermelon cubes as I listened to "I'm dreaming of a White Christmas."
Suddenly, as though wakening, I became aware of the strange juxtaposition of watermelon and Christmas carols.
We listen to Christmas carols all year at our house, and it seems the last few years that watermelon is available year round too. Seasonal treats both and yet they "work" together. Maybe that's why they do.
A friend suggested spaghetti squash and ice-cream as possible partners tonight. A sort of deconstructed version of pumpkin pie a la mode.
These unlikely duos abound.
Swedes skinny dip in snow banks.
Iced tea tastes great steaming in a mug. Hot lemon anyone?

I wonder what other festive combinations are worth a try?

solidly modern

Our October guild challenge was to make a Modern Quilt, using only solids.
My stash was woefully lacking in solids. I did have a striped fabric though, which I was able to slice and dice.
Presto, solids appeared.
I knew I had succeeded when my modern quilt met with the approval of my modern daughters.

whisper of coming winter

November morning.
Frost has whitened every roof top.
Roses and fever few are blooming amongst the tangle of drying, gold tipped foliage. All things scarlet and golden have replaced the greens and pinks of summer.
In the back yard, the fig tree is resigning itself to the coming of winter. The upper leaves still reach crisply for the light, but the lower ones will be snatched away on the next windy day.
The morning clouds of peach and gray are giving way to high blue skies, clear and fresh.
I love autumn days. The richness of color, the whisper of coming winter.

Monday, October 31, 2011

treat

Home-made Halloween costumes were the norm when I was a girl. Pirates, hobos and ghosts were popular because they just needed Dad's cast off clothing or old white bed sheets. Some zealous mothers bought patterns from Butterick or Simplicity and went all out. The resulting costumes usually led to children staggering along the sidewalk, nodding under the weight of a ten pound head while peering in vain through teeny little eye holes.
We ranged far and wide in those days, chaperoned only by friends clutching the mandatory pillow case.
It wasn't unusual for elderly folks to invite us in for a quick, bright eyed visit in their warmly lit kitchen where we plucked popcorn balls or apples from a big bowl.
Triumphantly returning home, our bag held handfuls of Halloween Kisses; toffee wrapped in orange and black, and chocolate bars aplenty. The ten cent size for goodness sake. There used to be five and ten cent sized chocolate bars but of course there is only one size now, somewhere in the middle. The price is ten times higher but forty years will do that.
I am waiting expectantly for the arrival of two very special trick or treaters tonight. I will enjoy the bright eyed visit in my warmly lit kitchen and then range not too far and wide with them, but just far enough to nestle a memory of grinning pumpkins and candy bars for the next generation.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

forever

October 1967.
Forty-four years ago this fall, Disney released its cartoon movie,The Jungle Book.
This momentous occasion would have passed unenjoyed if I hadn't had a big brother.
A big brother with a drivers license and a car.
We lived a couple hours from the nearest city, or more importantly, from the nearest theatre.
My brother had been reading the paper when he suddenly stood and asked if anyone wanted to see The Jungle Book.
My sister and I leapt to our feet.
"What?" my mother asked, her voice squeaking with disbelief.
We rushed for our jackets.
"Not tonight, surely," my mother gasped incredulously.
We dashed for the door, our brother leading the way.
"You'll never get there in time," my mother scolded, shaking her head.
We were already down the steps and clambering into my brothers car.
"Drive carefully for goodness sakes," my mother carolled.
We travelled at the speed of light and were entering the theatre just as the title, The Jungle Book, rolled onto the large screen in the darkened theatre.
Such an exhilarating sense of adventure clung to us for the rest of the evening. We laughed louder and cried more sympathetically as a result I'm sure. 
My big brother, so kind and funny.
I'm at another cross road in my life and as usual, my thoughts turn to him.
Family is a gift.
Love lasts forever.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

everyday joy

School buses and lunch boxes didn't enter my life until I was in grade four, and so at first, when lunch time came, I skedaddled home, my cousin at my heels. It's interesting to me that I have no memory of what I ate, only that I washed my hands first. And what washing! My cousin and I worked those soap bubbles hand over hand until they formed towering peaks, grey at first, and gradually whitening as the layers of grime bubbled away. No surgeons ever scrubbed with more enthusiasm or good humor.
I suppose all children love splashing around in water and that's probably why the memory remains, but I think it's often the simple things, the tasks of the everyday that bring joy. And that's what children are so good at finding and enjoying.

Friday, October 28, 2011

4x4=16

Last night at Guild, our speaker. Gail Hunt, entertained us with her presentation called "Anatomy of a Canadian Quilter." We laughed our way through her descriptions of 'Natural Habitat' and 'Mating Habits.'  When she assured us that our wedding vows allowed for sixteen husbands, we were baffled until she showed us the math.
4-better
4-worse
4-richer
4-poorer

Monday, October 24, 2011

substitute

"What was that?" I asked my grandson.
"A substitute," he answered.
"Why did you say substitute?" I asked wonderingly.
"Because I was embarrassed to say toot," he explained.
"Do you know what a substitute is? I queried, suppressing a sudden desire to collapse in laughter.
"Yes," he nodded. "It's something that takes the place of something else."
And of course, that's what all slang is. A substitute.

quilt as you go

Before hitting the road, my sister-in-law nipped into our bathroom.
We were startled moments later to hear a shriek followed reassuringly by laughter.
When she emerged, she was clutching a book.
Quilt as You Go.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

don't disappoint Grandma

Disappointment can temporarily cloud your judgement.
When my grandson learned that he would not be coming to my house to visit, but would have to (gasp) wait until tomorrow, he drooped visibly. When his mother asked him to pick up the toys he balked. "Listen to me, or someone will be disappointed tomorrow," she warned ominously.
"Yah, someone like me," I thought to myself.
I wasn't the only one who thought that.
My little granddaughter was also hesitant to help.
"Don't disappoint Grandma," my grandson implored, rushing to her assistance.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

squinting

I love books. They can be turned to for comfort like an old friend.
Last night, I read aloud from The Night the Bear Ate Goombaw by Patrick McManus. There was laughter all round. He is such a gifted storyteller, humour being the lens through which he squints at life. Think I'll curl up tonight and squint along with him.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

His child

I was twenty the year my oldest daughter was born. It seems as though I have been loving her all of my life. Yesterday as I thought of her, my thoughts forming into prayers, I realized that I wasn't thinking of her as my child, but as a woman I admire, a soul adored by me and by God....... and He does think of her as His child.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

without the heat

I had a teacher from Fiji the year I was in grade six. He couldn't understand how the autumn air could be so cold when the sun was high in a clear blue sky. "I thought it was the sun that gave the heat," he would say shaking his head.
The leaves turned as yellow as ripe pears and floated to the ground. Wind swirled in from the north and dusted the hillsides with snow and the blue sky looked even fresher and brighter. And still the sun glittered on every whitened branch. "There is no heat from the sun," our teacher would murmur clutching his jacket closer.
Of course there are complex mathematical ratios at work. The angle of the sun, the position in the earths yearly orbit, the tilt of the earth; they tell the story of sun and heat. It's a very delicate balance. The earth is placed just so, the sun as well.
I love October sun; all of the golden goodness without the heat.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

easy peasy

Another guild challenge. Another mini quilt.
This time, the task was to work with a split complimentary color scheme. "Choose a favourite color," we were instructed.
I chose red, and directly across the color wheel is green, its complimentary color. Therefore, blue-green and yellow-green form a split complimentary when combined with red. Easy peasy.
This tiny quiltlet, the size of a pot holder, was born to become a practice piece for free motion quilting. There's something to be said for starting small.

my heart lept up

A cluster of young girls, barely into their teens stood on the sidewalk across the street from our home. They glanced frequently at our neighbors door and shuffled about, chatting all the while. I was so surprised to see life of any kind outside, and especially young life that I paused in mid-flight, and placed my armload of freshly dried laundry down.
Our neighbors have a grandson living with them this year, and this gaggle of girls must be friends of his I thought.
Sure enough, their patience was rewarded as a dark haired fellow appeared at the end of the driveway and crossed the street to join them.
One girl inexplicably ignored his arrival and became engrossed in a conversation on her phone. Another girl glanced down frequently, the picture of shyness.
The third girl was clearly delighted to have the attention of this male companion and chatted away, carelessly readjusting her hood.
As I looked down, intent on my folding and stacking, I soberly pondered the fleeting nature of childhood. When I glanced up again, they were pegging each other with pine cones. My heart lept up in delight.

tai chi with a kite

Tai Chi with a kite. That's what it looked like from a distance.
Our favourite walking route takes us around a distant park, and a middle aged couple were flying kites there yesterday. Lack of wind had not presented itself as a problem to them it seems. They kept the strings short and the kite aloft by raising one arm gracefully and then the other, turning slightly to catch each gentle gust, each wafting breeze.
The kites looked like giant birds, ever circling and dipping overhead, like trained birds of prey awaiting a whistled signal.
It looked like so much fun.
No gale force winds. No zip and whine of nylon slicing the air. No straining and struggling.
Just a gentle harmony between the wings of a kite and the wings of the wind.

Monday, October 10, 2011

loving eyes

We've had such skies this month!
Denim blue and brooding with light piercing through.
Late afternoon golden sunlight.
Breathlessly high, powder blue skies with whip cream clouds.
And cool wind rustling the tangled gardens.
Woodsmoke wafted on the breeze yesterday afternoon and it seemed suddenly to transport us to Birch Island.
The sweet, sweet air of autumn. Coming inside with icy cheeks and fingers to soak up the wood heat. Soup and fresh buns, and the warmth of loving eyes.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

fabric of life

Just thinking this morning about what a connected world we live in. How entwined our lives are with others.
We joke about rhe "recluse" gene in our family. How you can tell who has it at family gatherings by how far away they sit from the centre of action. I even sense it within myself at times. I inherited my father's love of people. His craving for contact. I also inherited the recluse gene. It is at times a strange balance.
I'm very thankful for love. For warm connections where ever they occur. Kindness, friendliness, sharing, forgiveness;  they are the important things in life. The fabric that life if made of really.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

fragment

One Day by Matisyahu
 

A fragment of this song has been playing in my memory ever since I heard Hapa singing it this summer. Life is full of gifts and my dear friend blessed me with an evening of music. Friendship and music; two of life's best gifts.

sometimes I lay
under the moon
and thank God I'm breathing
then I pray
don't take me soon
cause I am here for a reason

because my momma taught me to sew

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

hastily reunited

My granddaughter is a good little mother. She is very devoted to her favourite dollies, bringing them up casually with plenty of wholesome exercise, napping, and conversation. She usually brings a favorite along for visits to my house. On occasion, dolly remains behind, mothers need that time away, and my granddaughter oversees the vast orphanage of dolls that reside in my spare room. She is always disappointed to see them restricted by clothing and does what she can. They are tucked in for naps as surely as if she were the old woman who lived in a shoe, and I am dispatched to the linen closet for more blankets rather bossily. Good help is so hard to find.
Tea is served, soup is stirred, and eyes are frequently checked to assess sleep.
Yesterday, from her back seat perch in the car, my granddaughter bid us all a fond farewell. "Good bye dolly," she called emotion causing her voice to falter as her little face crumpled into tears. Mother and child were hastily reunited. Some feelings are universal.

alexander salamander

"Look," my daughter gasped.
A little salamander.
My grandson pounced on it as quick as a cat.
It raced over his hands and then his little sister's eager outstretched hands as well.
Such beautiful stripes, yellow and red, its eyes beady and bright.
My daughter reminded her children that the little lizard had played enough.
My grandson scurried off across the grass to the edge of the woods and stooped down.
"I put him back in his habitat," he called, running back towards us.

personal space

My daughter explained to her little son that she couldn't park in front of the school because there just wasn't enough room between the cars. "Everyone needs their personal space," he wisely agreed.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

under my knees

I woke with one of those headaches that lie coiled and ready to strike if you make a sudden move. I've learned to respect them and tread lightly.
My body has been trying to get my attention for a couple of weeks. Stress can be hard to process and there seems to be more of it than ever. Now why is that. I always thought the lives of adults seemed so serene. How blind is youth.
In fact, life is full of all sorts of conflicting things; the wonderful and the worrisome, and you can't readily tell them apart at first glance. Good new is often dressed up as bad news, and vise versa. And of course, we don't see the end of the story, the curve in the road.
I wish I was braver, had more faith, like a rock.
There is an old adage, make hay while the sun shines. When the going is good, prepare for when it won't be. Because it will be again, and then won't be and then will...........This is a lesson I am clearly having trouble learning.
The winds are going to blow.
The house is going to tremble.
But I am never alone.
I can't grasp the love of God, I just throw myself out there in faith.
I don't understand the mystery of prayer at all, but I am grateful that He hears.
And at my lowest place, when I see myself in all of my weakest failings, I feel the Rock under my knees.

Friday, September 23, 2011

because He is there

"It's Saturday tomorrow," I called after my mother's retreating back. Her memory works in the moment, but like mopping the floor as you retreat from a room, the tracks of her day are inevitably wiped away. She thought to solve the problem by setting a calendar on her table and ticking each day as it passed. She found she couldn't remember if she had already ticked it.
Her desire to track the passing week is really a desire to recognize Sunday when it arrives. To rise and prepare for church. I've told her that I've never known anyone who wants to go to church as much as she does.
Of course, there are people she loves there. People who love her, and pray for her. There are always greetings warmly shared, and hands clasped in friendship.
The singing must be a comfort too, old hymns become like friends.
But I think it is because He is there that she longs for Sunday. And although He is everywhere, there is just something about entering those doors. One must come with an open heart. I suppose that is why we find that some Sundays we weep through the service. An open heart is so readily touched; And blessed.
"I was glad when they said unto me, let us go unto the house of the Lord."

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

a new hero

My oldest sister was ten the year I was born. Her stories of growing up in Blue River have a familiar tang. They involve people and places I know. Occasionally, our stories intersect, or overlap, and I am reminded of the old parable of the five blind men and the elephant. Each one, upon touching the elephant described it. Each was sure that the elephant was like a tree, a piece of rope, a wall.
When my sister read a story that I had posted earlier in the summer, her teenage recall was different enough that I felt the story should have the altered version told.
Here first of all is the original story.

Grading a road is an acquired skill. My father spent many a long and bumpy day ploughing snow, winging shoulders and grading highways, byways and side roads.
All the roads around Blue River were gravel or dirt, and weather and wheels were not kind to them.
Remote as that town was, strangers passing through on their way to "somewhere" would find themselves sticking like a burr to a sock before life tugged them onward.
They would take whatever work they could turn their hand to.
Bob Underhill of motorcycle racing fame was one such vagabond.
Somehow, he ended up in a grader high on a dusty mountain road.
These were dangerous roads.
I'm sure he was warned to watch for logging trucks.
And I'm sure steep banks would have been mentioned too.
It's a pity no one thought to mention rabbits.
As the novice grader driver rounded a curve, a baby rabbit froze in the middle of the narrow gravel road.
Bob Underhill sealed his fate and drove, or rather, crashed over the embankment imperilling his life, the grader, and the mental health and blood pressure of his foreman.
He eventually stood in our doorway and opened his lunch box. To our surprise and delight, a brown baby bunny gazed blandly back at us.
It was given the run of the house for a time, hopping and darting and hiding, especially at night. I woke once to find moonlight glowing on my bed, the rabbit pausing on my pillow mid-leap.
Raising rabbits is an acquired skill and one my mother had no interest in perfecting and so our rabbit was encouraged to return to wild ways in the wild woods, far beyond highway and byway and side road.


Truth be told, Bob Underhill crashed over the bank of that dusty mountain road because his attention was elsewhere; on a baby rabbit in the cab of his grader. Perhaps it was leaping madly about. Perhaps he had stuffed it into his lunchbox and was checking to see if it had enough air.
He had thought to rescue it.
In the end, he had to rescue himself. 
Bob Underhill eventually stood outside our door alright, but it was to confess that the grader was over a bank. His explanation included a small rabbit that he admitted was inside his lunchbox miles away in the grader cab.
My father and mother had been about to head out for the evening.
Nothing could be done about the grader that night, and likely, nothing could have been done about Bob Underhill, but the rabbit........
My father headed off into the evening, over a long, bumpy, winding mountain road to rescue a tiny rabbit that had been hyperventilating in the cramped quarters of a lunchbox. Dad to the rescue.
I'm so glad my sister read my story and set me straight.
There is a new hero.
Thanks Dad!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

all of my life

I have been burning the midnight oil.
Two sisters and a niece were here for their annual fall visit.
I have loved eating together, our conversation punctuated by laughter.
I have loved squeezing into the car, our mother in the middle of us all, heading out to forage at thrift shops.
My sisters left home when I was a preschooler to board out for high school. I only have memories of them "visiting" on holidays as a little child.
They have lived a province away since I was a girl.
We see each other only once or twice a year.
It seems that I have been at a distance, looking up to them all of my life.
They are women I admire and respect and my niece is cut from the same cloth. Ahhhh, family!
Have you ever noticed that you don't really have to have much in common with someone to love and admire them. In fact, sometimes the very best of friendships occur between two very unlikely people; two very different people. Maybe strengths and weaknesses interlock. Perhaps there is, as my little grandson would say, a "symbiotic relationship;" a mutual benefiting.
Whatever the mystery, love and friendship and family are gifts. The very best that life offers.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

just how she felt

My mother lost her wedding band. One day it was snug and safe on her finger and the next...... well, it wasn't. We tried to remember when we had seen it last. We looked in all of the places one might be inclined to put a ring. "It's not really lost," I said, clearly in denial. "It's just misplaced." Lost has such a heart gripping finality. Misplaced on the other hand, is a word infused with hope.
As months passed we reluctantly accepted the fact that her ring might never be found, might indeed be lost forever.
Last summer, my parents celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary. A sister who is made up of equal parts, spontaneity and sentimentality seized the occasion to replace my mother's band on my father's behalf. A loving gesture.
Yesterday as I swept my mother's kitchen floor, I knelt and peered under the edge of a cabinet. It was the sort of spot that called for a vacuum. A crevice tool would have made short work of that dust, but providentially I stooped, delving with the long stiff bristles of the broom. It took a bit to wrestle out the dust and mysterious fossilized fragments, a bit of hard plastic, a dried leaf, and there, gleaming dully, my mother's golden wedding band.
I rushed up the stairs.
"Sit down Mom," I announced dramatically. "I have something wonderful to tell you."
There is a story in the Bible about a woman who loses a coin. It was the middle eastern version of a wedding band, something worn as a bridal adornment.
She lit a lamp and swept her house.
And found her coin.
And called her neighbors and rejoiced!!! That which was lost is found.
We know just how she felt.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

they must have stories

Two elderly East Indian gentlemen are seated together, their turbaned heads almost touching as they bend over a globe of the world. They do not glance up as I slowly pass, so deep are they in conversation, pointing and tracing with their fingers.
I wish I was included in the conversation.
They have seen sights I will never see.
I admire the close knit community they share. Elderly friends on park benches or clustered round picnic tables at the park.
They must have stories to tell.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Wells Grrrr

Piglet used to live in a Beech Tree, south of Pooh's house, 100 Acre Wood Southwest. Next to this house was a piece of a broken sign which read, "Trespassers W." This was believed to be Piglet's grandfather's name, and it is short for "Trespassers Will", which is short for "Trespassers William". Piglet's grandfather had had two names in case he lost one - Trespassers after his uncle, and William after Trespassers.
--A.A. Milne

My daughter, influenced by this bit of literary brilliance, has placed a piece of broken sign outside her door that reads, Wells Gr....pronounced Wells Grrrr.
It directed visitors to the Wells Grey Park many a long year ago and its painter never dreamed his sign would be immortalized I'm sure.

subterranean

My daughter is a subterranean dweller. She descends a flight of stairs and enters a refreshing and perpetually cool space. While the rest of us wilt and droop in the afternoon heat, she slips on woolly socks and sips Earl Grey.
Not long after she settled into her new abode, a wayward frog leapt carelessly into her window well. He entertained us by clambering up the glass, his toes and fingers like tiny suction cups. He was as cute as any frog could be.
This past week, upon exiting her home, my daughter spotted a tiny frog perched on a wooden sign propped outside her door. Two subterranean dwellers exchanged appreciative glances.

perhaps bravely

As I padded across the cool floor this morning, heading for a patch of sun by the window to enjoy my tea my eyes settled with delight upon a vignette on my coffee table.
My daughter and son-in-law have taken seriously the task of civilizing their small children. Putting away toys before departing is one way they strive to keep barbaric tendencies at bay. Sure enough, the living room and dining room have been restored to their pre-chaos state, but two small toys were missed in the sweep.
It is not just which two that is so funny, but their positions that makes me stop and laugh.
The Fisher Price grandmother is lying on her back smiling blandly, or perhaps bravely while a fearsome dinosaur, a meat eater for sure, towers over her, his mouth opened in a perpetual roar, his clawed arms raised threateningly.
"I've fallen and I can't get up!" 

at least they were white

I wielded the garden hose, morning, noon and night today. We haven't had much rain, and I thought I heard a couple of my plants coughing.
Roses greedily gulped down the water, it barely had a chance to pool.
Echinacea leaned gratefully towards the spray and the Bergamot rewarded me with a heady, mint like scent.
Later as I watered in the cooling evening air, moths surprised me, startled as they were by the unexpected icy blast.
It reminded me of my friend's wedding day.
We had purchased hanging baskets in the spring in anticipation of her late summer wedding. It is almost impossible to find lush baskets for sale in August, and we hoped to pamper a host of white bloomers along through the hot summer months and bring them to their prime for the big day.
Home they came from the greenhouse and under our shady deck we hung them, out of the heat and wind. They flourished and filled out, pale and pretty as befitted their bridal destiny.
The festal day arrived at last and we tenderly unhung them and gingerly transported them.
The wedding was to be outdoors in a shady bower.
Chairs were being drawn into a semi-circle as we arrived with a flourish of flowers.
One by one, they were lifted from the truck and lock stepped into place.
They sat atop pillars like great green and white orbs. So beautiful.
After the final "I do," as pictures were being snapped and clicked, we bore the flowers into the golf course dining room to augment the decorations.
It seems strange to me even now, that after moving the flowers hither and yon, including a ride in the back of a truck, that they waited to yield their secret until the wedding reception was beginning.
In fact, it was almost on cue, like doves being released, that white moths burst out of the greenery and headed for the rafters. At least they were white.
 

Monday, August 29, 2011

solid footing

For no apparent reason, life loomed over me this evening.
It reminded me of canoeing off the coast of Tent Island; swells rising all around, the shore too distant.
We had headed straight into an approaching storm.

It isn't always the unknown that frightens me; The approaching storm of the unknown.
Sometimes it's the known, the daily, the habits and interactions that life is built upon that can make my knuckles white with gripping.
Solid footing is always such a sweet relief.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

thrown in for the bargain

Reduced. Bargain. Discount. Clearance; all lovely words.
I once discovered a lone little package on a quilt shop clearance table, left over from a Shop Hop many months before.
It was a kit and I paid four or five dollars for it, fabric, pattern and all.
Some patient soul had snipped and sorted, photo copied and folded and there it was at a bargain price.
My mother has always sniffed at kits. "They expect how much?! And you still have to do all the work."
Doing "all the work"was the fun part and spring was thrown in for the bargain.

Friday, August 26, 2011

outside intervention

I own a determined and desperate dahlia. I have taken to crouching down beside it in sympathy much as one would stop to offer help to an accident victim, or visit someone during a long and tedious convalesce.
It should be two feet tall by now.
It should be swaying under a load of vibrant late summer splendor.
Instead, it has been locked in a season long battle; its mortal foe, a slug with the personality of Jabba the Hutt. Each tender green blade that emerged from the soil was ruthlessly consumed.
Week after week, a tragedy unfolded.
I have intercepted and dispatched minor slugs, but more senior ones remain uncaught, their hiding place undetected.
Today a solemn bell tolls in my garden. My dahlia is running out of time.
It would have to grow with the speed of time lapse photography to blossom before the winds of autumn turn to frost and lay the dahlias low
Next year I'll pot up my weary dahlias. Endangered species need that kind of outside intervention.

golden bird

A flash of wings overhead draws my eyes upward. A seagull catching the orange evening light on its feathers, banks to the right and disappears over the rooftop. A golden bird against an azure sky..

Thursday, August 25, 2011

little jumper

"I like your jumper." I declared to my little granddaughter. "You look so pretty in it."
Her hair is held in a tiny pink clip.
Her yellow t-shirt is dainty and ruffled.
Her jumper is striped, white and pink.
She slips down and hops happily across the lawn.
She's jumping, my daughter points out and sure enough, I hear her chanting, "... jump, jump, jump..."
A jumper in a jumper.

just an expression

"Another perfect ending to a perfect day," my grandson says with a happy sigh, prompting laughter.
"It's just an expression," he humbly reminds us.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

warmth and comfort

The fabric for this quilt has been peering reproachfully at me from the cupboard for several years. It was chosen by my oldest daughter and the timing for its completion is not as bad as you might think. She has just moved into a cheerful and charming suite.
May her new quilt wrap her in warmth and comfort.

pancake king

My husband is the Pancake King.
He honed his skill over the camp stove and earned this title in the great outdoors.
Our little grandchildren love eating pancakes for breakfast when they sleep over.
One unlucky morning, my pancakes failed to thrive. I've never been sure what causes these random culinary disasters.
My grandson usually gobbles up a stack of pancakes, but he ate only two tentatively. My granddaughter wisely just licked the syrup off of hers.
On their next visit, my husband came to the rescue, stirring and flipping.
"Now I'll never have to eat those rubber pancakes again!" my grandson announced joyously.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

work in progress


stay tuned, the end is in sight


joyous gift

Every experience of our life prepares us in some way for tasks ahead. Nothing is wasted. There are long lessons to learn and then the sweetness found in presenting as a joyous gift our transformed heart.

next time

My grandchildren and I surprised a spider.
He had been enjoying his dinner when we arrived without knocking.
Grabbing a fly wrapped  like a tortilla, he shoved it under his arm and hastened out his back door.
We'll call ahead next time.

silver light

We walked this evening as the air began to cool. Our feet traced a familiar route past homes and yards that have become our neighborhood.
We have witnessed the transformation of renovations and the evolving nature of landscaping. We have regretfully observed elderly neighbors moving away and children graduating from preschool plastic to school age sport.
Tonight we walked further, past an expanse of lush green park bordered by cascades of glistening blackberry. Past community gardens; thickly tangled plantings. Past dusty bike paths and ripening hazy fields. I wished I could keep on walking right through the cool dark of night into the silver light of morning.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

a sky a day

Paint a sky a day.
An elderly friend shared this advice.
To become proficient at water color painting, you have to paint of course, and forming a daily habit, even the habit of just painting a bit of sky is powerful advice.
Focus and momentum lie within dailiness.
And whatever you focus on, you will master.

something like love

It was a Kodak moment.
My grandson dashing towards his smiling father.
My son-in-law reaching down, his strong hands lifting his little boy up and tossing him into the air.
My grandson laughing delightedly as he sails up, up... over and over.
Then he is standing before my husband.
He wants Poppa to toss him in the air too.
"I don't know," my husband says smiling, reaching down. "I'm not as strong as your Dad."
Up into the air, though not as high, sails my grandson, his face alight.
For a moment the world stood still for me.
I had the strangest feeling.
Something like love.
I realized it was admiration I was feeling.
My husband is able to be who he is, who he is now at this age, without apology.
To some, aging is the elephant in the room.
Life is a competition.
Not for the man I married.
He is himself, and that self is a man I have admired for a long, long time.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

hired help

My parents didn't purchase an automatic washer and dryer set until I left home and went to college. In those days if you wanted your children to leave home, you didn't have to stopping cooking with cheese, you just kept buying clothes pins.
When I was a child, laundry was an all day endeavor. The wringer washer would be wheeled into the kitchen and a large tub filled with rinse water. Load after load would agitate, such a descriptive word for the whole experience, and the air would take on the humidity level of the equator in August.
Feeding clothing through the wringer in preparation for hanging them out to dry was thrillingly perilous. Buttons travelling through sideways could shoot out like shrapnel. Items could twist and thicken as they were drawn in, causing the wringer to spring open like a bear trap.
Many a child's eager fingers and then arm were run through the rollers before their mother sprang to their aid with a shriek. Ah, such fun.
Hanging laundry out to dry has been cloaked in nostalgia. In reality, the weather was seldom cooperative. Rain was just another rinse cycle, but "freeze dried" jeans took forever to thaw over the oven door.
My washer and dryer are standing at the ready and I'm thankful every time I slam the door and push the buttons. It feels as luxurious as having hired help.

ode to laundry

Laundry can take on a life of its own. It makes me think of the children's story about the porridge pot that wouldn't stop. It just kept on making porridge until it spilled out of the pot and onto the floor and across the kitchen and out of the door........ It seems strange that laundry poses such a risk because it is just so simple to do; An armload of lights or darks born swiftly down the stairs and into the yawning maw of the washer. A splash of soap engineered to remove every single thing but color, a musical assortment of buttons pushed, and the laundry is underway. I am summoned a short while later by my clever machine to toss almost dry items into the dryer which senses intuitively whether to dry very dry, or just half heartedly.
Why then do I avert my gaze from my laundry hamper as it swells and spills?
I think procrastination is worth the wonderful feeling of accomplishment I bask in when the laundry pile is reduced to neat little stacks fresh and clean; A feeling of being in control and on top of things; Of efficiency and dignity; Of marching in step with housewives of every era, starched and bright. Well, maybe that's going to far but I do know that order leads on to order, neatness to neatness, creativity to creativity. There is a momentum that is irresistible when finally set in motion. Tidy here and you will want to tidy there. Organize here and you will desire organization there. Create here and your mind will be flooded with even more creativity.
Laundry is just one small step towards a better life. Lead me to the hamper!!!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

humble pie

Humble pie isn't very tasty, but it's apparantly quite good for you. I hope so because I've eaten several pieces today.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

DNA

Tastes change. There is no other explanation for my deep and abiding love of soup for lunch.
I don't really remember my mother making soup, except for split pea which I hated strictly on sight alone. Ghastly green!?
However, my grandmother did make soup, and she seemed to perpetually have a pot simmering on the back of her wood stove. She served it up every day at noon with thick slices of dark brown bread. I wasn't sure about that bread either.
Today I sat before a steaming bowl of soup filled with brown rice and sweet bright vegetables and dipped crusts of dark pumpernickel bread into the golden broth.
Thanks Grandma, I think I inherited your soup loving DNA after all.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

universal principles

Although I live in the heart of town, woods wild and deep are never far away. There are so many rural farm and woodland areas in the valley still. In fact, my sister-in-law lives on a green and gracious family farm, surrounded by fields of fruit and bordered by dark fern filled ravines.
The night air seems to cool so quickly there.
One evening, as we finished our blue berry picking in the golden last light, a movement caught my eye. Two fawns wandered out of the darkening woods. They looked all around as they ambled along together. Suddenly, they froze. Behind them, their mother stepped boldly out of the shadow. She turned her head swiftly to the right and then to the left. Her little fawns did exactly the same. Two little jerky movements. The mother then took a step and repeated the left and right check. So did the babies, like little wind up toys. Gone was their carefree demeanor. They had obviously been trained and mom was having none of their lax behaviour. Curiosity and play must be tempered by caution and discipline. Universal principles.

face off

There are often clues left behind that prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that my grand children have been for a visit.
A lone raptor holds his deadly pose on the edge of the dining room table.
And I thought a doll had fallen asleep in my husband's slipper but I see that it is tucked in for the night on the stool instead.
I have just noticed the best of all though.
Two tiny playmobil men are standing with their arms at their sides as though ready to grapple if necessary and are facing each other nervously. One is dressed rather incongruously in a yellow storm trooper suit from some century yet to come, but is wearing a helmet that a stylish knight would have killed for, pardon the pun. The other little man may be one of the Beatles, or at least he has the hair and cloths that say 1960.
They are staring in awe at each other just as you would expect.
The little Beatle can't believe the war theme! It just doesn't work for him.
The alien time traveller is speechless.
I'm betting on who will move first.

alternate universe

There is a black hole that leads to an alternate universe in my hallway.
Well, maybe not, but there is a blackboard that looks like a family portrait from an alternate universe.
A sad faced princess fills the centre and is surrounded by marching stick men who are fighting their way through long pink grass. Two small but very sinister dinosaurs are obviously family pets. Two smiling babies recline good naturedly amongst random alphabet letters.
The upper right corner of this strange melange holds a cryptic message. Veg. dessert 5:30. A reminder of some long ago potluck and the other corner contains a friend's phone number, a sort of 911 back up.
I've loved watching this particular group emerge over time. Chalk drawings are surprisingly resilient but it's just a matter of time.
I'm going to miss the brontosaurus though.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

sweet Son

Wading out into cold water is a breath taking experience; Wading out into cold, swiftly running water almost heart stopping.
A river deep and green sweeps the banks of Clearwater Bible Camp. Several decades of campers dabbled at its shores and drifted off to sleep to the steady shushing of swirling current.
Late in the summer as the last of the mountain snows yield to the sun, the river level drops. Rocks glisten and eventually grey in the afternoon heat.
There, attainable at last, lies an island with a long languid stretch of sand.
Silky, white sand.
Suntanning sand and daydreaming and reading sand.
I inevitably heeded the siren call, bundled up my beach loot and waded bravely out.
It took some work balancing on the slippery rocks while icy water pulled and pulled and swirled.
I always reached a spot where I knew I couldn't go on, but realized too that going back was further.
My leg bones were achingly cold and my feet were cramped from trying to grip the smooth rocky river bed.
Somehow, I would stagger and slip my way to the distant shore.
And the sand! Oh the sand!! So powdery soft and soothingly warm.  As exotic as a Tahitian beach to my young eyes.
I don't know why that memory came to mind tonight but it seems the perfect metaphor.
There are always plans embarked on with great optimism. Then things get a bit rocky, and painful and I know I can't go on, but I can't go back either.
My arms are full of heavy things.
And at last, the sand is under my feet, the sweet Son is shining, always was shining.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

God's fingerprints

Sometimes clouds are swept by the tides of the sky.
They form wavering ridges of white that remind me of the cold, hard packed sand where foam and wave wash.
Such similar patterns.
Like an artist's signature.
I've gazed at a scan of a human heart, the veins like branches of a tree..
And wood grain is remarkably like the flesh of a fish, curving in its pattern of growth.
God's fingerprints.

I could have told you...

Tea with a friend and our conversation turned to family. "This fall it's off to kindergarten for my grandson," I announced, surprising my friend and myself equally by the sudden need to wipe tears from my face. ".... and I'm feeling upset about that apparently." I added with a rueful laugh.
I remember the longing I felt to hold my daughters tightly in my arms and never let them go. Never let them leave those preschool days..... and me behind.
Of course, delights lay ahead that I could not have imagined. The elementary years were every bit as dear as the ones before, and the teenage years an unfurling flower, too far in the future to even imagine.
My daughters have grown into charming, wise and gifted women. I could have told you that they would have because they were charming, wise and gifted preschoolers.

mass hysteria

Do you remember sack races?
Straining to jump, your head somehow moving forward faster than your feet until the ground flew up to meet you.
I felt a bit that way today.
The straining and the falling part.
Those relay races were always times of mass hysteria.
There was heat and noise and frustration.
Just like today.
The finish line eluded me.
Maybe tomorrow will be like a three legged race.
I was always good at that.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

stories everywhere

Phone booths are sound proof bunkers. Cell phones, on the other hand, make eavesdropping a national pastime.

"I don't care if it costs me my last dime," an agitated man fumed, pacing about on the ferry. "She's NOT getting more than her half."

A distant tinny jangle.
She dove for her cell phone. "Hello?"
There was a pause.
"Where are you? "
Pause....
Jail?!
Oh baby, why'd you do that?

A slam poet being interviewed said that he got some of his best inspiration from conversations overheard. There are stories everywhere.

Monday, July 11, 2011

clearly

A grimacing shark is forever diving on the cushion of my couch. Not a real shark of course, but a likeness of a shark that my eye clearly sees and inevitably picks out from the patterned upholstery fabric.
I've seen other creatures in tile floors, faces in wood grain and vast landscapes in the clouds.
Some say that we see more than is there because of a phenomenon that painters call "negative space."
I think it's because our creative minds are restless, always sorting and grouping data, always imagining.

Years ago, family converged at my parents home for a holiday. We drew the short straw and were bedded down for the night in a small camping trailer. In the inky dark of night, I heeded the call of nature and groped my way to the bathroom in the house. When I stood again before the screen door, facing that lonely trip back to my warm sleeping bag, my eye seemed to pick out the silhouette of a bear sitting and watching me at the edge of the yard.
Bears had been known to amble through the yard, pausing at the bee hives or apple trees for a small snack. The small snack part had me worried.
Part of me felt certain that it was not a bear but the part of me that moves my legs was not so sure.
The bear and I stared at each other.
Stars moved across the sky.
Just as I was beginning to run out of adrenalin, my husband came and escorted me to safety.
Morning revealed that my life had been endangered by a stump adorned with a potted plant.
Our eyes may delight or terrify us by turn, but they always entertain.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

thankful still

When my daughters were little girls, we camped on Salt Spring Island one summer. On one of our "drive and see what's down that road" afternoons, we happened upon a garage sale.
The day was abit worn around the edges and so was I.
My little girl had dropped to the ground and was playing as preschoolers do, intent upon some small wooden blocks, a tiny town. As we turned to leave and summoned our children, the man suddenly announced that the blocks were for sale, "fifty cents," he added.
Even then, I knew that this was because he wanted my child to have them. That he recognized that the day had been long and that my default response to a request to stay and play, or keep the blocks would have been to answer, no. He hoped to name a price that would be so low that I would never disappoint my child over it. He could have just given them as a gift, but he allowed me the opportunity to have a part in the memory, to be the giver and I must admit that looking at them makes me thankful still.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

power of influence

When my infant grandchildren arrived, I stepped up to the plate and produced their "first" quilts.
Baby quilts.
For some reason, it was important to me that they not say baby so much as little quilt. Something that could be tossed over a chair or grace a table in some future decade of their life. It seems kind of funny to me now. I think I was on to something though. Some unavoidable principle of life.
Gifts from grandparents are treasures. A tangible evidence of abiding love.
Looking at those gifts years later can flood the heart with the warmest sort of recollection, like spotting the handwriting of someone you love.

Toile was big when my grandson was born and so his quilt contained a wonderful green bird print with accompanying muted shades of green. His grandfather is a man of the forest. He knows his trees and birds and I hope this passion will become my grandson's as well.
P.S. The pieced border emerged out of a lack of fabric. I think it makes the quilt. Necessity IS the mother of invention.

My granddaughter's quilt included birds too, of course; it somehow seemed important to have some sameness. Siblings care about these things. The fact that her middle name is also the name of a bird made it practically a necessity. The pattern in the centre was easy to decide on. Her first name is the name of a flower, and so flowers it was. And pink ones. The quintessential color for girls. I think there is enough yellow and green to keep the pink from taking over things. Her grandpa is a flower loving gardener. She will come to know this in time.
P.S.  I had never tried a mitred border before. I always try to include something I have never done before in every quilt which is easy because there are so many things I have never done.
As I write these thoughts down, I realize how entwined our lives are as family. How our own loves and passions become the basis for our actions and influence us. It's the principle of the power of influence. What was loved by our grandparents and parents has meaning to us.
It inspires me to be a woman of passion. To love those things that I would want my grandchildren and children to love. To live my life for those values that I know would enrich theirs as well.
P.S. These quilts arrived after the babies arrived due to two converging points. Point one, both babies arrived very early, and point two, I tend to start things very late.

Friday, July 8, 2011

a twinkling star

My little grandson turned five in June.
I remember when my daughter and son-in-law told us that he was on the way.
It was December and they handed me a small flat package, an early gift, they said.
"Music," I thought, smiling. Inside was a CD cover that contained a slip of paper.
Was it a ticket?
The printing was very dark.
"Why can't I read a thing anymore," I thought, squinting.
My other daughter had joined us and was looking over my shoulder.
Suddenly she joyously gasped. "An ultra sound. It's an ultra sound."
"Ultra sound? An ultra sound? But.... that means they're going to have a baby? " I thought, feeling suddenly very light headed.
"We got to see the screen," my daughter enthused. "There was a heart beat and a little flashing light," she added.
"My grandchild is a little flashing light," I thought, my mind swirling. "Like a star, a twinkling star."

waiting

Sorting through picture files last night, I seemed to come upon my father at every turn. My heart winced with pain at the sight of his gentle smile. For some reason, grief has a way of compounding itself and missing my father lead to missing my brother. They both had July birthdays so that may be part of it, but I think the bigger reason is that I miss their advice and gentle humour. The crossroads of life tend to make us stop and turn to our companions on the journey. My Dad and brother are at the end of the road waiting. There is comfort in that.

up, up and away

I fell off the wagon last night.
My finger nails had enjoyed four and a half years of unbitten bliss.
Family legend has it that I began to bite my nails as soon as I had teeth.
I nibbled, chewed, and nipped my may through childhood and teenage angst.
As an adult, I became oblivious to all attempts to curb my vice. The sorry state of my finger nails became a part of my "low maintenance woman" stance I thought.
And then my grandson was born.
One day when he was a few months old, I noticed that one of his tiny fingernails was snagged. As I absentmindedly drew his little hand toward my teeth, I suddenly realized with shocking clarity what I was doing. WAS I GOING TO TEACH MY GRANDCHILD TO CHEW HIS NAILS???!!
Grandmothers wield a certain power of influence. Like Super Man, I resolved to use my power for good and not for evil.
Four and a half years passed but now, how the mighty had fallen.
It shows that our weakness and human frailty is always there waiting in the wings for their cue.
I have already dusted myself off and jumped back on the wagon. Up, up and away.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

about value

I love old things.
My grandmother was unmoved by the hysteria surrounding depression glass. "It was cheap glass then and it's still cheap glass," she sniffed.
The common things, the everyday items that got used and worn out and become rare are "remembered."
I think there are a lot of us that collect the old and rare because they are a connection to another time. It's not about value.

peace


A fire truck just shrilled past my back door.
A sense of imminent danger lingers.
For a few hours this evening the house has throbbed with the persistent growl and thud of road work.
Something large must be backing up out there, an urgent "meep, meep, meep" is making my ears squint.
It's a noisy world tonight and I am glad of the peace that  home offers.
White window trim,
vintage enamel ware,
a flush of green paint,
shadow
and soft golden light.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

just one word

My prayers of late have been very short.
Just one word.
"Help!"
I've heard the voice of the Lord in startling and humbling ways. The other morning as I rose from the mist of sleep to wakefulness, my morning plea was answered with the words of an old, long forgotten hymn.
The words!
So amazing.
So comforting.
Words heard as a child, burned on the hard drive of my mind, retrieved when needed.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

meandering

After piecing a smallish table mat, I was left with a few half square triangles.
I promptly chopped them in half, and then in half again.
My plan was to create a mini quilt. Waste not want not I thought.
Below are mere shadows of quilts that never were. Ghost quilts.
In the end, I decided to make a pieced border for the table mat. I have some reservations......  it's a perfect match for color and pattern and maybe that's what leaves me lukewarm. 
Still, it was a good exercise in color and pattern as all quilting is.








This quilt was a leap off the end of the dock for me. It was time to take the plunge and try free motion quilting. Gasp.
I gathered my courage, feed dogs, and darning foot. 
Taking a deep breath, I stepped on the gas, sewing on the spot like a runner warming up and then zanging off.
I slowed down to a growl and sped off again with a jerk.
My stitch lengths were as erratic as my breathing.
I had ambitiously chosen to quilt roses and leaves in the four corners and centre of the quilt and meander around the border.
I started with the roses.
Hmmmmm.
Meandering, I could do.
It was exhilarating. It was freeing, and it was real, honest to goodness quilting. I actually took the binding off another small wall hanging and meandered around its border too. On to the next!





Saturday, June 25, 2011

acquired skill

Grading a road is an acquired skill. My father spent many a long and bumpy day ploughing snow, winging shoulders and grading highways, byways and side roads.
All the roads around Blue River were gravel or dirt, and weather and wheels were not kind to them.
Remote as that town was, strangers passing through on their way to "somewhere" would find themselves sticking like a burr to a sock before life tugged them onward.
They would take whatever work they could turn their hand to.
Bob Underhill of motorcycle racing fame was one such vagabond.
Somehow, he ended up in a grader high on a dusty mountain road.
These were dangerous roads.
I'm sure he was warned to watch for logging trucks.
And I'm sure steep banks would have been mentioned too.
It's a pity no one thought to mention rabbits.
As the novice grader driver rounded a curve, a baby rabbit froze in the middle of the narrow gravel road.
Bob Underhill sealed his fate and drove, or rather, crashed over the embankment imperilling his life, the grader, and the mental health and blood pressure of his foreman.
He eventually stood in our doorway and opened his lunch box. To our surprise and delight, a brown baby bunny gazed blandly back at us.
It was given the run of the house for a time, hopping and darting and hiding, especially at night. I woke once to find moonlight glowing on my bed, the rabbit pausing on my pillow mid-leap.
Raising rabbits is an acquired skill and one my mother had no interest in perfecting and so our rabbit was encouraged to return to wild ways in the wild woods, far beyond highway and byway and side road.