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? "
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


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."


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.


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,
and soft golden light.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

just one word

My prayers of late have been very short.
Just one word.
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.