Friday, November 29, 2013

large or small

I nearly wrote a story about this picture a few weeks ago. The children of winter are my older brother and sisters.
That story remains untold because today, all I can see are the houses behind the children.
Buried behind the snowbank is the home of our childhood, but it is the darker house in the background that startles me.
Although the photo predates stucco siding, I recognize the home of our neighbors.
For some reason, I always saw our homes as a sort of duo, a set. There was The Little House, ours, and The Big House, theirs.
What is startling me now, is the size of The Big House.
How could the very large home of our neighbors actually turn out to be a really rather small house?
I know this is so common that it is almost a cliche, this childhood miss-perception of size,
but being common doesn't make it any less powerful or amazing.

With the eye of memory I can peer through the darkened windows, into the rooms beyond and large or small, that house has a very big place in my memories of childhood.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

like incense

I can hear the traffic beginning to pick up steam for the day but all is still and silent on my street.
Well, except for the crows. They already are on the move.
And except for the geese riding high against the morning light.
Oh, and a small black squirrel sprints for safety.
A woman returns with her dog from a brisk round the block march.
A man stiffly clad for winter pedals stiffly by.
In the distance the first siren of the day wails.
The morning light has washed across the sky.
We waken, we rise, and a plume of woodsmoke ascends like incense.

water color

The sky this morning is the color of a robin's egg, the distant mountains faded denim. It is early and everything else stands against them, against the light as a silhouette. In the moments that I sit and gaze eastward, the apricot sunrise shifts and climbs cloud by cloud, like a water color wash.

Friday, November 22, 2013

and fruitful

Those of us who have sewn since we were hatchlings, don't really need patterns for basic things like bags. Have you ever looked at something hanging in a shop and thought to yourself, 'Ppfffff, Who needs a pattern. I could make that.'
But the thing is, we often don't.
Out of sight, out of mind.
A purchased pattern can sometimes tip the scale in our favour and prod us on.

I had a yen to make something quick.
In the yawning abyss of my sewing closet, I came across a vintage bag pattern.
It looked quick.
And simple.
I had four fat quarters of navy/cream calico.
They had been languishing with no sense of purpose or direction in life.
I ironed and cut,
pinned and stitched,
turned and quilted,
stitched and turned again,
and voila!
A bag that has a sort of sashiko vibe.
My underemployed fabric woke up and smelled the coffee.
It seized the moment.
Well, actually, i seized it, but the four prints are working well together.
They have a happy and fruitful future of usefulness.

thing of beauty

A wooden bangle and a wooden cuff bracelet, both lucky thrift shop finds.
There's just something about wood. It's so smoothly patterned, so warmly colored.
'A thing of beauty is a joy forever.'

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


I could smell cinnamon.
I jumped up and ran to the kitchen.
I yanked open the oven door.
I gasped.
Just in the nick of time.
Just barely in the nick of time.
Cinnamon biscuits, brown and bubbly.
As I placed the steaming pan atop the stove to cool, I remembered my sister.
She had mixed up a batch of cinnamon buns.
She had stirred and kneaded and rolled and cut.
They were soon in the oven, rising and resplendent and she was on the sofa reclining and relaxing.
She was tired.
The couch felt so soft.
The air was sweet and warm.
Just a few more minutes and she would rise and pull those buns from the oven.
The apartment was deliciously quiet.
So quiet.
She slept.
Perhaps she dreamt of home, of kitchens fragrant.
Or of wood smoke on the autumn breeze, or campfires, the air thickly acrid....
She woke with a start.
She could smell cinnamon.
She jumped up and ran to the kitchen.
She yanked open the oven door.
She gasped.

Her voice was still tinged with regret as she told me her tale days later.
They had been the best cinnamon buns she had ever made.
She could tell.
The charred remains were so plump, so well risen.
Those cinnamon buns had started out with such promise, but ended up looking like relics from Pompeii; a natural disaster.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

close, closer....

default setting

I have a default setting. If I am not vigilant, my heart slips easily into an old worn groove, and old worn grooves can be a lot like a rut.
I find I default to, it should or it will; to expectations.
Having expectations is dangerous. It sets you up, even tricks you.
I find that if I sail out to meet life with an open heart, unencumbered, I am happier. In fact, I am very often surprised and pleased. Anything at all becomes a lovely bonus; an unexpected blessing.
When I have expectations though, I am likely to be disappointed and even hurt. Anything at all can become a missed target; a falling short.
I suppose the reason is clear.
Yep, it's me.

It is not others who are letting me down.
It isn't the circumstances that surround me.
It's myself and self doesn't make a very satisfying focal point.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

just recently

My tiny granddaughter has just turned one. She has just recently gotten teeth and just recently started to walk all alone and just recently started to say surprising things.
Really anything a baby says is surprising.
They are so little and
But, babies know things.
It is just that they are not fluent yet in the local lingo.

My little granddaughter began to fuss as she was placed into her car seat. My daughter asked her what was wrong; just one of those hypothetical questions parents ask babies and she said, “I’m sad.”
My daughter was shocked. She could hardly believe that she had heard right. How could a baby say ‘I’m sad.’
“You’re sad?” my daughter dazedly asked. The baby nodded and made her ‘sad face,’ wrinkling up her eyes, pouting and adding a little fake cry sound just in case her mother wasn't fluent enough to understand.
Babies are patient with us that way.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

and far away

This photo was snapped in the spring of 1949.
What an amazing chair.
I have to say, it is as green as they get.
It won't fold into the trunk of the car but it's solid cedar; ergonomic, weather proof and custom made, although it looks like it was made for someone taller than grandma.
She look like the Queen of the Forest seated on her woodland throne; her kingdom vast, her subjects loyal.
A tiny princess perches upon each royal knee.
Long ago and far away.

high and dry

There is the sound of distant running water like a tap left on. It is raining hard this morning. I usually enjoy the sound of rain, but this morning it occurs to me that it has an ominous rumble. The sort of sound that makes tenting campers cringe, and for the same reason. Rain overhead could become rain over head.
We are in the midst of re-roofing.
I admit I have taken my roof for granted.
I have smiled at snow and wind and laughed at rain.
Not today though.
Today I am glancing uneasily at the gray sky.
Here's hoping the ceiling stays high and dry.

always the sweet

I've always had a fascination with autumn leaves. I can remember scampering around the school yard the year I was in grade two. We had been instructed to find as many different kinds of leaf as we could. It had something of the thrill of an Easter Egg Hunt about it, a sort of botanical version of I Spy.
My whole heart was in the search. I can still remember the excitement of pouncing on one leaf after another, clasping my treasures in warm little hands.
The leaves in Blue River never attained the size we have here on the rainy coast but we made up for that lack with colors rich.
It's the yellow that I miss.
Those glowing hillsides.
Quaking birch leaves the color of ripe pears.
Golden flakes, spinning and twirling and falling.
Robin's egg sky.
And always, the sweet wood smoke scented air.

Monday, November 4, 2013

up on the rooftop

Our house has become a curiosity.
We are reroofing.
Now when I say we, I really mean my husband.
He is the one who is brave enough to scramble all over the roof and dangle over the eaves.
When the ladders went up, passing cars slowed.
When the scaffolding took shape, people far below on the street gazed upwards, their steps faltering.
As the stacks of shingles along the peak have diminished though, neighborhood interest has not done likewise.
Today two woman perched on their car bumper and watched my husband's high wire act.
Moments later, the occupants of a car craned their necks, not to check for oncoming traffic, but to check on the progress near the peak.
I imagine the span of time this project is taking may be part of the fascination.
Work and diminishing daylight hours have transformed my husband into a weekend warrior. A weekend after weekend after weekend warrior.
This has not been a sprint but a marathon.

My mother forgets things now.
This allows her to enjoy the sensation of surprise each time fresh volleys of thumps and bangs echo down from the rafters.
I have become like a kindly recorded device announcing that her son-in-law is on the roof.
Today for some reason, I found myself telling her it was Santa.
Must have been the frost in the morning air.