Tuesday, March 29, 2011


My Mother wanted to show me the progress she had made on her latest quilt project so after supper I dutifully followed her downstairs and into her suite.
How empty and still it seemed.
For some reason tonight, I thought my heart would break with missing my Dad.
It's been so long since we laughed together and
I have so much I would like to share with him.
When I popped in to chat, the T.V. went off, or the book was lain aside.
His undivided attention was mine.
He cared about my day, my life, and I his.

Monday, March 28, 2011

all around me

I left the house in darkness this morning, and drove and drove, straight into the pale yellow light of day.
At first my way was illuminated by headlights.
Then the sky brightened behind dark silhouettes of trees.
A flush of color glowed on the horizon.
The light of day climbed cloud by cloud until morning was all around me.

by the hand

Texts and tweets are here today and gone tomorrow. Emails don't seem much more enduring. They can be deleted in a twinkling. Hand written notes and letters, now they can live on and on.
My mother has been sitting and sifting through old boxes and drawers. She came upon a note written by her sister in August of 1960. That was amazing in itself. The fact that my aunt wrote the note when her new baby girl was three hours old made the letter a golden fragment of family history, a treasure.
Yesterday, my mother showed me a letter written by her Aunt Daisy in 1950. I knew very little about this great aunt, and reading her thoughts and feelings, written so honestly and bravely after the death of her elderly husband was soul stirring.
Old photos are a glimpse of the past, but old letters take us by the hand and lead us there.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


I've always been a worrier. In my twenties I expanded my repertoire of worry by having the odd anxiety attack. Depression seemed a natural next step. I had some very dark days in my thirties.
Joyfully, those days are gone as I have gained some ground in understanding the whys and hows of them.
Lately, I have discovered an antidote for anxiety; An insight that is making all the difference.
Weighty thoughts, the sort that spawn worry, used to be my undoing. Now I recognize them as a sign that God is not only at work but trying to get my attention. He's stirring my heart to pray, prompting me to pray.
My habit of old would have been to either stew or suppress. Searching for solutions to life's many concerns is wearing, and trying not to think about them seems like denial.
How wonderful to be free.
"For He causes all things to work together for the good of those who love Him." Romans 8:28

Saturday, March 19, 2011

grief shared

"We have a problem," my mother said, her voice tight with concern. Taffy, her beautiful retriever was lying forlornly on the floor, unable to rise to her feet. An elderly dog with arthritis; there had been for some time a sense that her time was running out.
These things I knew.
I thought I was prepared for the inevitable but my reaction surprised me.
In a moment, I crumpled to the floor weeping, my arms around the dog's neck. "Oh Taffy, Taffy," I sobbed.
So much for being a pillar of strength for my mother.

Still, there is a comfort in grief shared and her grief is our grief; Comfort, peace and even joy, the gifts of love.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

still learning

"I'm not good at making mistakes," the woman at the quilt shop confessed.
"You're not good at making mistakes?" I repeated gently, smiling.
"I don't like to make mistakes, I don't take it well," she added by way of clarification.
"But don't you know you have to make a thousand mistakes to be good at something," I joked.
"Mistakes are a sign of progress," I assured her.
 It means you're still learning, still improving.

Friday, March 11, 2011

a few

Many winters ago, I painted birds on two wooden plaques for my parents as a gift. They were received so warmly, that I did the same thing the following winter, and the next winter too.
My parents eventually ran out of wall space.
Of course, there wouldn't have been enough wall space in the entire house to feature all the local birds but inviting a few indoors to adorn the living room wall was a nice compromise.

The birds that built nests in their yard, darted among the trees, and dined at their feeder were the ones I chose to paint first. I can still see the dark, wood grained wall in my parents living room, plastered with plaques. I guess it doesn't matter how old you get, your parents still love to pin up your art work.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

crow rookery

We live near a crow rookery. When the sky darkens and the wind roars down from the north, the sky is filled with crows heading for a safe roost. Flock after flock flash overhead flapping and soaring, their wings a dark pattern against the white sky.
I once read that when flocks of  Passenger Pigeon flew overhead, the sky was darkened for minutes at a time, and when they descended from the sky to perch, great branches broke from the trees under their weight. That isn't so hard to imagine after seeing hundreds of crows fluttering on swaying branches as far as the eye can see.

hanging out

Blue Heron are usually solitary hunters. This afternoon I was so startled to see three together in an amicable group that I pulled over onto the shoulder to gaze in admiration at them. With their heads tucked low on their shoulders and their legs out of sight in the dry windswept grass they reminded me fleetingly of wild turkey, not the graceful hunters that they are.
They didn't seem to be hunting today, just hanging out.
I guess spring is in the air.

road less travelled

I gave a little squeak of suppressed laughter as I sorted the mail tonight. Canadian and Blind were the two words my eyes spotted in the return address and it brought back such a funny memory.
My Dad's vision was poor enough that his Doctor encouraged us to attend a seminar put on by the Canadian Institute for the Blind. There would be magnifiers and other aids available for sale we were assured. This sounded wonderful, and it was even being held in Langley, not over the bridge in the heart of the city as is so often the case. The address seemed familiar. I drove easily to the street and we found ourselves gazing at a Home for Seniors, a rather long building stretching down the block. No parking was permitted on the street, and so I turned into the driveway where I was confronted with two choices, continue round the curved driveway and exit onto the street again, or drive straight ahead into a narrow alley that ran along side the building. Hmmmmm. Time was ticking, and so I took the Road Less Travelled. Following the narrow road, we found ourselves behind the complex with no parking, and nowhere to turn around. I certainly couldn't back all the way out again. I felt sorry for my Dad for the thousandth time, that he had lost his ability to drive and was doomed to ride with me, his navigationaly challenged daughter.
I took in the lay of the land and decided that turning around was possible if I did it in fits and starts. Sadly, starting and fitting were my downfall. I have no idea where that metal post came from but I hit it with a solid thunk. Good grief. Rattled, I jumped from the car to check out the damage. The bumper really didn't look much worse, but the post was a casualty.
These deeds never go unwitnessed and an employee, her arms full of linens on the way to somewhere paused and stared. "Could you tell me where the seminar for the blind is," I asked sheepishly. I've always wondered if she thought I was one of the blind.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

metaphor for success

The trees in the freeway median loom large; silhouettes against the winter sky.
High in the branches a hawk sits, his eyes trained on the ground below. Trees flash by and there sits another silent watcher, his shoulders hunched in concentration.
I am amazed by their vision and focus. It's a long way to the grassy base of the tree. Traffic is roaring on all sides, but the hawks hunt on with unwavering gaze. Such a metaphor for success.

Monday, March 7, 2011


I was a teenager in the 70's. This fact makes it all the stranger that I have been waking up with Old Standards playing merrily in my head. Momma Said There'll Be Days Like This seemed especially appropriate last week, and this morning my eyes popped open to It Had to Be You. That song isn't as romantic as you might think at first glance. I was startled into wakefulness by the confession that, "in spite of your faults, I love you still." Truth and romance are not mutually exclusive but somehow a little more flattery seems fitting.
Isn't it amazing how many lyrics are socked away in our memories just waiting to be summoned. Do you remember singing as a child? I remember my grade two teacher walking up and down the rows as we warbled, and pausing by my desk with the request that I sing a little more quietly. My best friend the little boy next door, and I were having a competition to out sing each other no doubt, but our spirited maximum volume version fell on deaf ears so to speak.
My grandson is always singing. He creates the soundtrack for the drama that unfolds as he plays. He even has a tune that I call The Sound of Danger.
Someone has said, "Music is what feelings sound like." Too true.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


This morning, I dashed down stairs and lept into the foyer, heading for the door that leads to my mother's suite. As my stocking clad foot touched down, I slipped. For just a moment, the world stood still, and fortunately, so did I.
A cement floor covered in tile is not a friendly surface to hurl oneself onto.
Shock and relief washed over me. "Thank you, thank you Lord," I breathed. Such a close call.
I am writing one hundred times on the blackboard of my mind.
I will not run down the stairs.
I will not leap into the foyer in stocking feet.
I will say thank you every evening when I crawl into bed. And no doubt, so will my guardian angel.


The Blue River of my childhood was a frog paradise.
Water may have had something to do with that. Frogs love the damp. The town was built round a small lake and as if that wasn't frog friendly enough, the rainfall of the area rivalled the coast. Lush cedar and thick undergrowth covered the hillsides and vast swamp land stretched into the surrounding valleys.
Water, water everywhere can only mean one thing. Mosquitoes. And a million other insects that fluttered, buzzed, and bit; All wonderful frog bait.
Water a plenty, food by the swarm, and apparently no natural predator. I'm sure two small preschoolers don't count. I don't know what creature should have kept the frog population in check, but they were the weak link in the food chain in Blue River's ecosystem. Thank goodness.
The water of the lake teemed with tadpoles in various states of development. Biology 101. Tiny black apostrophes; those with little back legs; swollen pre-frogs with four legs moved in shoals as we paddled and dipped in the frigid water to escape the clouds of mosquitoes. We happily scooped up slippery handfuls and hurled them at each other.
The summer days grew longer, but not necessarily warmer. It was Blue River after all. The shoreline would blur and seem to move as one. A million tiny frogs were on the move. Nary a spot to step. Wall to wall frogs.
How heavenly.

peeking under the leaves

It's been said that scent triggers our earliest memories.
The opposite seems true as well.
A recollection can flood our memory with scent.
As my husband flipped the pages of a gardening magazine this morning he suddenly recalled the spicy scent of marigolds in the fall sunshine as he played with toy cars as a boy. "It's not like nasturtium," he assured me, wrinkling his nose in disgust.
True to some obtuse law of marriage, I love nasturtium in an inverse proportion to my husbands dislike of them. Even their bitter scent is somehow appealing, so pungent and astringent.
Our neighbors always grew a wide, lush swatch of them along side their driveway in Blue River. I loved the fiery bright blossoms, so fragile and vibrant and large lily pad like leaves. They are fresh forever in my mind's eye.
Of course, what I really loved about them as a preschooler was actually something hidden from sight. Something under the leaves in the shadow, dozing on the damp, soft earth. Frogs! They were drawn to those cool shady mounds of flower. Many happy hours were wiled away frog hunting among the Petch's nasturtium plants.
I think I'll plant a mound of them for old time's sake at the far edge of the garden, as far from my husband's nose as possible. Maybe a frog will pause and rest a while. You'll see me peeking under the leaves when the summer sun is low in the sky.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

motivating the competitive

I am surrounded by dust. This was the startling revelation I arrived at yesterday as I tidied and puttered after completing a quilt project. House work tends to go to rack and ruin when the fabric comes out.
The spring sun is streaming in and there is no where to hide. Dusting is inevitable. How long does it take for a spider to form a labyrinth of webs? Hmmmm. Maybe I need one of those charts we had in elemetary school with a place for stars by finished tasks. I always wanted the blue stars. They were the best. Red and silver were a big step down. And if the teacher just drew a star with her red pencil, well, that was adding insult to injury. Now I could be the wielder of stars. Oh the power. It doesn't take much to motivate the competitive.

birthday boy

My husband's odometer turned over a click yesterday. A birthday. We thanked him for getting older so that we had an excuse to gather and eat turkey and pie.
Grandchildren have joined the table and I love to watch and listen.
There are usually little stars above my granddaughter's head as she drowsily eats her supper, a morsel at a time.
My grandson miraculously defies gravity by teetering on the very edge of his chair. His eyes are bright with joy; his contributions to the dinner time conversation unique and startling as only a four year olds can be.
There are wonderful compensations for the fleeting nature of life and time. One of them is the joy of seeing our children with their own children. Little children are like concentrated fruit juice. Time will try to water down the intense sweetness, but the flavor that will be, is already there. And such flavors!

on to the next

Hooray, I'm finished!
Rats, it's finished!
Such is the dual minded feeling that follows a finished quilt. I've loved working on my Wee Quilt Challenge. Daydreaming about the concept, sketching, choosing fabric, stitching and turning and trimming and stitching. So engaging and relaxing and invigorating at the same time.
And now it's finished.
A brief moment to mourn and celebrate, and then.......
On to the next.

sweet breath of Life

I jokingly told a friend this week that I felt like I was playing Pin the Tail on the Donkey; you know....... spun around and in the dark.
I think everyone feels that way at times. Like they're sliding one foot gingerly ahead of them in the dark, feeling their way along.
"Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path," comes to mind; And when the light streams in to every dark and dusty corner, when the sweet breath of Life sweeps over me, I want to throw open all the windows and doors of my heart and breath deeply and long.

comfort in action

I've had laryngitis of the heart.
Sometimes life renders me speechless.
When those near and dear struggle and suffer, especially when they all seem to be afflicted simultaneously, it can be hard to see my role.
I can worry, my first default and not recommended.
I can pray and trust them into loving hands, a place I eventually get to.
I can seek opportunities to be His hands. Isn't there a power and comfort in action?