Thursday, November 29, 2012

i recognize the smile

A dozen years ago I bought a nativity set from a dollar store, piece by piece. Simultaneously, my sister purchased exactly the same set in a dollar store over the Rockies, in a completely different province. Unfortunately, there had been a run on baby Jesus and try as she might, her set couldn't be completed. It just had that expectant, waiting look.
Christmas inspires rash gestures of love and so I packaged up my baby Jesus and sent Him off in the mail. It didn't occur to me that my store would sell out of baby Jesus too.
And it did.
I checked the next year and the next and even earlier the next, and eventually gave up looking.
I set the nativity out anyway one year and no one seemed to notice that Jesus was missing. It seemed such a profound commentary on current culture that I packed the tiny figures up in tissue and put them in the back of the cupboard. "Perhaps some distant year.....," I thought.
This is the distant year!
Although the figurines from my set, and the one in the dollar store this year are completely different styles and sizes, the baby Jesus was just right. He looks like He was made for my set. I recognize the smile.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

visual aids

My older sister is a gifted gift giver. Because I have always had a soft spot for nativities, she fanned the flames of that passion by giving me the Fisher Price Nativity a few years ago. It has been delighting me ever since, and not just at Christmas although I do especially like to set it out then.

I have taken to adding to it over time. First, some extra fence from the farm set to sort of corral in the extra sheep.

And Noah followed soon after to impersonate a shepherd because Joseph had been forced to multi task.

Noah's wife seemed the perfect innkeeper, gracious and accommodating. Everyone is thankful for her quick thinking in suggesting space in the stable.

A cow, a horse, a chicken, a rabbit; why not, the corral is pretty big. And this year, a fourth wise man.

The Bible doesn't say how many wise men came. It certainly doesn't include names; that is Christmas Pageant fiction. It just lists the gifts, which were three and that is likely how the rumour got started.
A nativity set is full of stories; stories within stories, and I am thankful that Fisher Price has provided the visual aids.

Monday, November 26, 2012

bling blong

The stores are filling up with Christmas glitz but one icon of Christmas Past is gone from the scene, as extinct as the Dodo bird.
The Christmas corsage.
When I was a girl, every woman wore one.
No December coat lapel would have been caught dead in public without one.
It was an essential holiday ingredient, a small bit of festive frippery.
The base was always a colored foil leaf. 
Then perhaps a spray of multi-colored tinsel and a bell, its edge encrusted like a margarita glass.
The Christmas corsage seemed to condense onto a woman's lapel everything that was lavish about Christmas decor; real, honest to goodness bling, long before the word was coined.
Bling, blong, ding, dong, Christmas bells are ringing.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

slow food

Crows are canny and careful usually.
You seldom see them served at The Road Kill Cafe.
There was almost a change to the Daily Special today though.
A crow had dropped from the sky to the centre of the road in front of my husband as he drove this morning. The bird was tugging at a stale french fry trapped in a tangle of wrappings.
As the truck bore down upon it, the crow had to make a decision.
It decided to tug harder.
There was no frantic flap to safety.
The point of no return came and almost went.
At the last moment, my husband swerved and the crow lived to dine again another day.
But I think it may be true that fast food can be deadly.

fall in worship

Christmas has seemed to arrive like an unexpected knock on the door these past couple of years. Unexpected and therefore unprepared for in some way.
Not so much in the tangibles, like gifts and baking or even decorating but unprepared for in the mindfulness and meditation that are to me, the sweetness of Christmas.
This year, I am going to turn my thoughts aright.
And not just for Christmas, but as a gift to the Giver of all good gifts.
I want to know the fearsome awe of the shepherds, and fall in worship in the straw.

a phase

There is a line in the movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, that I love. The main character, Nia, explains to her almost boyfriend, "...I was kind of going through a phase up!"
It seems to capture how I see!

in the air

“As the hours crept by, the afternoon sunlight bleached all the books on the shelves to pale, gilded versions of themselves and warmed the paper and ink inside the covers so that the smell of unread words hung in the air.”

― Maggie Stiefvater


“I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman, 'Where's the self-help section?' She said if she told me, it would defeat the purpose.”

― George Carlin

a day will come

“Still round the corner there may wait
A new road or a secret gate
And though I oft have passed them by
A day will come at last when I
Shall take the hidden paths that run
West of the Moon, East of the Sun.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien

a hand taken

“The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours”

― Alan Bennett

finding yourself

“Isn't it odd how much fatter a book gets when you've read it several times?" Mo had said..."As if something were left between the pages every time you read it. Feelings, thoughts, sounds, smells...and then, when you look at the book again many years later, you find yourself there, too, a slightly younger self, slightly different, as if the book had preserved you like a pressed flower...both strange and familiar.”

― Cornelia Funke, Inkspell

more than true

“Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”


Friday, November 23, 2012

hit and run

I grew up in a small town with little traffic on the streets. Therefore, my sister and I learned to ride our bikes, wobbling and squeaking in wavering lines up and down the block and through the odd intersection.
This may have contributed to an inadequate understanding of the dangers of cars and car bumpers.
I can no longer play the accident scene out in its entirety, but I do recall my sister weaving across an intersection on her bike at exactly the same instant as a car rolled through. Neither saw the other in time. My sister hit the ground running, changing the definition of hit and run for me forever. The driver was out of his car in a flash. "Little girl," he cried. "Little girl, are you alright?"
I stood silently watching as my sister, her bike abandoned, raced for home. The volume of her wailing and the ease with which she sprinted boded well for her.
I was rooted to the spot, as I am in so many of my childhood memories. My fight or flight response was always a bit sticky.

one at a time

Nothing is worse than pants that are too long, unless it is pants that are too short. Too long pants feel sloppy and disheveled. A feeling that all is not right in the world, not unlike needing a haircut.
Too short pants are impossible to carry off with any shred of dignity. Maybe tucked into boots but otherwise, they languish accusingly in the closet awaiting the merciful re-hem or recycle.
I have made a sacred pact with myself to only purchase pants that are the right length. I avert my gaze from the sale rack featuring dangling legs and eye the petite racks with suspicion. My wardrobe may become more streamlined but that is fine because I only wear one pair of pants at a time.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

so was he

As I entered the store I noticed a man, eyes downcast, a few steps behind me; an older gentleman. It seemed respectful to hold the door, to wait the few moments it would take for him to come. In that very instant, he realized I was holding the door for him and his face was transformed with light. Nimbly springing ahead, he leapt through the door and spread his arms like a ballet dancer. Ta da! I was startled and delighted. And so was he apparently.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

handy victim

Sometimes we learn something too late.
I once learned that the word 'blood' made me squeamish.
Unfortunately, I was sitting in the front row of a First Aid class when this great revelation dawned.
I had noticed as the class progressed that I was feeling strange.
I noticed each time the teacher said 'blood' that I felt even stranger.
In fact, I was feeling positively stricken.
"If she says blood one more time, I'll have to leave," I thought with a growing sense of disbelief.
She said 'blood' one more time.
I asked to be excused rather weakly, and tacked towards the back of the large room.
I made it to the doorway but no further.
Darkness closed in and I slid to the floor.
They used me to practice bandaging because I was already lying down;
A perfectly handy victim.

peril and hazard

"How many years have you been married," he asked. "It'll be thirty-five in March," my husband responded, which caused me to have exclamation points above my head. How can our twenty-fifth anniversary already be a decade ago!
Andre Rieu's concert tour brought him to Vancouver that spring, ten years ago and it seemed the perfect special evening to mark our special anniversary. Off we gaily went, dressed in evening finery.
We took the sky train so that we would have no worries at all, no traffic or parking to distract us from each other.
Front row seats awaited us.
Like the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears though, someone was sitting in our chairs.
It was an omen of sorts.
The seat mix-up was sorted out so pleasantly, like the calm before a storm, and we snuggled down to enjoy the show.
It was much later, as we emerged into the crisp night air, our eyes full of stars, that things began to go awry.
The sky train had been closed by the Police.
Everyone needing to travel into the valley from the city would need to be shuttled by bus.
Lines formed and the waiting began.
We had not dressed for a cool March night.
We huddled and leaned and clasped each other for warmth.
Hours ticked by.
Overstuffed buses came and went.
We were finally home as early birds stirred in their sleep.
Even then, it seemed a fitting metaphor;
An anniversary celebration that mirrored married life.
We had set out with high hopes but the unexpected loomed.
Life seemed fraught with peril and hazard.
Then turning to each other for warmth and comfort we travelled together, our thoughts on home.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

and dabble

In a large family, birthdays are ever present. They are just the right motivation to drag out the water color cards and dabble. Cards are so wonderfully bite size. What can compare with that happy feeling of starting AND finishing.

double joy

I've always loved toy monkeys. Perhaps that is why I found myself pausing before the hats on display at Otter Coop. A sock monkey hat and I gazed at each other in mutual admiration.
I have been endlessly pondering the perfect gift for a baby shower tomorrow. I quickly purchased it and hurried home. Hand made cards are a double joy; fun both to make and to give. I was soon happily dabbling with water color paints.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

start driving

Don't things left undone clamour for attention. It's sort of like being in a boat with a slow leak. Before you know it, your feet are cold and wet and you're looking anxiously at the distant shore.
It is truly a preventable discomfort.
Thinking about patching the boat, worrying about patching it, planning to eventually patch it, all lead to the same inevitable state, trouble in the middle of the lake.
It makes me think of a great illustration a pastor once shared. He said, "if you want to go to Whistler, and you head down the highway towards Hope, you aren't going to get to Whistler. If you figure that out, and stop the car, you still aren't going to get to Whistler. If you turn the car around, you still aren't going to get there. You actually have to start driving there."

wouldn't that?

"What's the name of your blog again?" queried my co-worker. "Spit and Polish?"
I laughingly corrected her but wouldn't that have been a great name?

sam salmon

Fish was on the menu at my daughter's house.
My grandson wanted to know what kind and so he asked, "what the fishes name was."
 "I think his name was Sam," my son-in-law teased, delighting his children.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

magic in it

You don't speak of November and early potatoes in the same breath.
Not usually.
This year as summer faded, my husband in an act of defiance or optimism, planted  four potato plants.
He hoped to beat the clock.
The seasonal clock.
Summer hours shortened into the crisp golden afternoons of Autumn.
Leaves fell.
Rain fell too.
Yesterday, a bell tolled for the potato plants and my husband took up glove and spade.
I was presented with an aluminum colander full of new potatoes.
Yukon Gold.
Some were as small as marbles but most were golf ball size.
It was when I placed them in the sink and began to wash them that the magic happened.
The pungent scent of fresh garden earth enveloped me and I was transported to my grandparent's root cellar; that dark, rich, earthy place.
For a sweet moment, I could see the heavy door, the bins of vegetables found by Braille.
That dark, dark place so richly scented.
I was always a little afraid that the door would swing closed and leave me to sprout slowly in the dark, a pale little shoot seeking light.
My practical mother always reminded me that someone would look for me. I would be missed. That sense of being missed never comforted. I missed the point I think.
Still, the fragrance of fresh garden dirt is one of my very favourite. There is magic in it.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

taken to heart

Practice on something that matters.
It seemed like such good advice.
A pieced top languished in my stash for years. For years and years in fact. It was an awkward size and had a bit too much of a country vibe. But I did need something to practice on. Something that mattered enough to motivate. Something with potential.
I was so delighted with the finished mini quilt and it has been a table mat and a tiny picnic blanket. It has been a doll quilt and a rug. It has even kept Douglas, the toy cat snug and warm.
Advice taken to heart.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

sure enough

I decided to give Stack and Whack a try. I turned to Google, the source of perhaps not all inspiration, but a pretty hefty dose. An Image Search showed a variation using only four 'stacks' or repeats. Beauty was practically promised. I chose a fabric with a color and print that I had no affection for whatsoever and sure enough, once the fabric was duly 'whacked' and assembled in fourpatches, it took on a life of its own. It was transformed into a kaleidoscope of coordinated blocks; floral wreaths and spinning floral wheels. This technique is called Fourpatch Posies. Who thinks up these names?!


"Wouldn't this make a beautiful baby quilt?" I held up a little bundle of fat quarters, fanning them out for my daughter's approval. "It's Heather Bailey," she sighed admiringly. "I have some of that line already."
We made a pact that this fabric would become The Baby Quilt. 
We pondered pattern and decided upon a simple zig-zag. Ahhh, the beauty of the HST. (half square triangle for the non-quilt literate)
The backing had to be a dotted flannelet. Her older brother and sister had the same. You can't mess with tradition.
It had to be square, and not just any square of course, but 34 inches square. See above for reason.
I love how the prints work together. The stripe has a hat boxy feeling and the large florals are just so lovely and... welll....large and floral.
In keeping with the previously mentioned tradition, the quilt does not really say baby and could be just as happy as a table cover in some future decade of my grand daughters life. Welcome!