Thursday, January 30, 2014

black wing

Crows are one of my favourite birds. Isn't it lucky for me that they are everywhere?
Want a challenge? See if you can go an entire day without seeing one.
Good luck.
From my perch in front of the window I can see a crow equally perched on a streetlamp.
It has been preening for several minutes now. Preening with gusto.
A second crow briefly joined it but found the beauty routine too frenzied and drifted off into the mist.
I've never noticed such a high maintenance crow before.
Every feather on each wing has been inspected and adjusted.
The tail has been repeatedly shaken out.
Under the wing, over the wing, up and down and front and back.
And ten and nine, and hold, and lift....
Oh, I get it.
It's not a crow spa, it's a crow gym.
It is readying itself for the acrobatic life it leads in the air.
Wings and feathers are more than beauty accessories to a crow.
They are the beauty itself;
Black wings against gray sky.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

way back

A family often visited a woodsy park.

They liked to lean over the fence and look into the pond.

They liked to wander along the edge of the grassy meadows and explore the trails in the dark woods.

 The boy loved to run and climb.

His sister loved to skip and dance.

Their baby sister watched them.

Each day she grew a little bigger.

She wanted to run and climb too.
She wanted to skip and dance.
The baby had learned to say a few words. She loved to say, ‘down.’ When she said it, her mother or father would take her out of the stroller and let her walk.
The baby loved to walk.
But one day when she was lifted down out of her stroller she didn’t walk.

She ran instead.

‘Grab her,’ sang the mother and the baby smiled.

‘Grab her,’ called the father and the baby chuckled.

‘Grab her,’ shouted the brother and the baby giggled.

‘Grab her,’ squealed the sister and the baby laughed.
Everyone had to run too then.
They ran past the pond and past the meadow.

They ran through the forest on the woodsy path,

They ran past a horse and rider.

Past a woman almost jogging,

Past a hairy man with his hairy dog.

Past a rabbit and a little mouse.

and a huge owl.

“Who, who, who,” said the owl sternly.
The baby stopped running.
She didn’t know how to say her name yet.
Her family caught up to her at last.

They grabbed the little baby and she smiled and chuckled and giggled and laughed.

 And then she rode down the hill on her daddy’s shoulders, all the way back to the beginning.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

mystery solved

I propped my grandson's school picture on the mantel for safe keeping. There he was, smiling wistfully at me amidst the Christmas angels and cedar boughs. My eyes traveled almost reluctantly to meet his gaze and I found myself feeling..... sad? Why sad? What a mystery.
A few days passed, and I took his picture down from the mantel, placed it into a frame and perched it on the sideboard in the dining room. It would be at eye level there as we ate.
I felt happy when I looked at his smiling face, his bright sweet face.
I mentioned in passing to my daughter that evening that I had framed his picture and placed it in the dining room. "He looked so small and alone on the mantel," I said, my voice catching.
Mystery solved.

like a smile

Darkness has settled like a cloak.
Down the avenue, street lights dimly glow; a row of moons ever smaller.
I can't tell where the sky ends or the street begins.
What a difference the clock has made.
This morning the sky brightened like a smile.
A jet trailed sunlight behind it and became the tail of a comet across the morning sky.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

very truly

Place- Grandma and Grandpa's yard.
Focal point of picture- the toys, THE FABULOUS HANDMADE TOYS
My grandma has gathered her grandchildren in like a flock of chicks. My brother and sister are perched on her lap and my oldest sister is doing the 'lean.'
It's a pretty cute picture all in all; sweet matchy, matchy dresses, my brother's little farmer boy overalls, the old log house, the tree stump chair, but truly, very truly, the thing that makes my heart beat faster is the wooden wagon and little cloth doll.
Oh my goodness!
I want that doll.
Wouldn't it be adorable with a striped body and antennae? Like a bee?
And that wagon just charms my socks off.
I want that too.
Would reproductions be OK?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

hasn't changed

Isn't this photo funny?
It may have been snapped more than seventy years ago but some things don't change;
There are those who toil, and those who look on.
I love how dear and thin my grandpa looks.
And I love that my grandma is working along side him.
They are completely absorbed in their task.

The twenties and thirties were desperate decades.
People made do.
They saved things.
And patched things.
Being resourceful was a survival skill.
And that's something else that hasn't changed.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

fancy that

The English language is riddled with expressions. We say them without a thought to origin. They tend to shift over time too, as some fall out of common use and new ones appear.
There are some expressions that just hang on though. They are very old, hundreds of years old and the meaning of the original words have changed completely. The words mean something new now, but the expression somehow retains the original nuance, the original usage.
Fancy that!
When we say 'fancy that' we are really saying 'imagine that,' because a fancy was 'an imagined thing' once upon a time in old english. Think of the words, fanciful and fantasy.
My grandson must have heard that expression. He used it at the right moment and with very similar wording but the meaning became fresh and new.
"How fancy is that!" he exclaimed.
How fancy indeed!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

in practice there is

There had apparently been a run on black thread at my local quilt shop, but they were still able to find me three spools in just the right weight made from happy cotton plants grown under ideal conditions in a foreign country and shipped by camel.....I produced my bank card and hastened homeward.
That meant that I was ready, but ready for what?
If you are learning how to do something, and you do it a bit at a time, isn't that called practicing?
i squinted at my special thread.
I squeezed my special black quilt batt.
I looked at my special quilt top. 
Then I strung new black thread in and out and all about my sewing machine.
I took a firm grip on my quilt and a firm grip on my courage.
I practiced texture first.
And then filler designs.
Then I practiced wild flowers and the odd leaf.
I have reached the outer border and have started to practice feathers.
I have practiced enough feathers to generously cover two large geese and the end is not in sight.
I practiced yesterday and today and I'll be practicing tomorrow too.
We had a speaker at Guild once who admonished us to "practice on something that matters."
It makes a difference apparently,
to our motivation,
to our artistic effort,
to our stress level. .....
It makes me think of something Yogi Berra once said,
"In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is."

taste of summer

We had ham for supper last night.
and salty
and crisply sweet.
Tossed salad with marmalade dressing bittersweet,
Marinated beans,
and creamy potato salad;
the taste of summer.

path of thought

Have you ever noticed how memories link arms. How one thing reminds us of another and then another.
Following the rabbit trail of thought back to its beginning can be very funny.
"Why did you think of that?" my husband will ask bewildered as conversation takes an unexpected direction and I trace it back over hill and dale to the source.
Thought leads on to thought.
In that way we are a little like Hansel and Gretel, memories recalled with the help of the smallest crumbs, the path of thought revealed.

entire orchestra

I rose before the sun this morning.  All was gray, the distant hills hidden by mist. The neighbourhood seemed to be holding its breath; a giant black and white photo.
And then a bird took wing.
A band of cloud lightened and brightened as pink as cotton candy and right on cue, an entire orchestra of birds burst into song.

Monday, January 6, 2014

taking a run at it

I baste. I have basted. I will be basting.
Basting a quilt is like a hurdle in the path of a quilter.
We have to take a run at it.
We clench our teeth, we're up and over and hit the ground running.

We always stand at the starting block with hopes high.

Planning a quilt is sheer pleasure.
We dream, we draw, we shuffle through pictures and take mathematical leaps in the dark.
It is all exhilarating stuff.

And making a quilt top is a joy.
We smooth out the silky folds of delicious fabric.
We snip and slice and stitch.
Magic emerges under our fingers.
We shake out the finished top and toast the day we learned to quilt, the day we learned to sew, the day we were born on this good earth.

And then we fold the top up and think about basting.

We plan the backing.
Repeat steps above.....

Then we ponder basting.
We worry about basting.
We remember basting.
And at last, thankfully, we remember quilting.
We think about the joy of The Complete.
We think about our next project.
We baste.
It goes lickety split.
We wonder why we waited so long.
Quilting beckons.
And the finish line.
We are sprinting now.
We can feel the wind in our hair and hear the distant cheering.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

not alone

New Years seemed to slide by this year almost under the radar.
There was no drum roll.
Nor fireworks either.
The old year just seamlessly transitioned into the new.
One moment I had my foot in 2013 and the next I was perched at the brink of 2014.
I usually love beginnings.
There is something so irresistible about a clean slate.
I love the vantage point that this time of year provides too.
There is value in glancing back at lessons learned, and hope and anticipation in gazing ahead.
Somehow though, this past year seemed full of lessons half learned and gazing ahead seemed counter productive.
I think that is one of the lessons I have learned though.
I've learned that life is full of lessons that need to be learned.
I've learned that it is an ongoing, forever sort of process.
And I'm thankful that I am not alone in this, that I am surrounded and upheld and loved by the Shepherd who leads beside still waters and restores my soul.