Monday, October 31, 2011


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


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


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.

Monday, October 24, 2011


"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


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


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.