Monday, October 16, 2017

can you

This close-up is from a family photo taken in the 1890's.
It's my great grandmother's littlest brother.
His name was Jesse.
Doesn't he look wise and wonderful?
Can you love someone you never knew?

especially

Always watch out for jay walkers.
Especially small ones.
Especially four legged pedestrians.

Winding up the hill from River Road, the woods press in.
Trees lean.
Undergrowth is dark and deep.

He didn't even pause.
Just dove onward.
Little rippling weasel.
He seemed to glide onto the road like a ribbon pulled by some invisible hand.

I tried not to brake too hard or swerve.
Safety first, right?
I squinted and held onto the steering wheel, my eyes unable to avoid the rear view mirror.

Oh, there he was.
Safe and sound.
He'd run in a circle like a wind up toy and was heading for the far side of the road now.
Rippling over the grassy verge.
Gone from sight into the tangle of blackberry.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Saturday, September 16, 2017

she said no

She answered all the questions right,
one after the other,
my little kindergarten grandchild.
All right until the teacher asked, "If you are playing and having lots of fun, and I call you, do you have to come?"
"No," she said, with the confidence of four.
Was it a trick question?

Friday, August 18, 2017

sometimes

Sometimes, when I am here or there, but not home, I see the beginning of a story. Then, I jot down a few words on a scrap of paper, hoping they will help me remember. These little pieces of story waft off into forgotten pockets and dark corners of my purse, eventually surfacing on some high tide, clean sweep, purse emptying moment.
Found one today. There were a couple lines.
One read: Man smelling backpack.
I remember that now. A man lifting his backpack up to his face and inhaling. Not as in, "This is the most amazing fabric softener I've ever used. My pack smells like a field of daisies." Something much more quizzical and tentative. His face registered dismay.
Another read: Eagle trying to pick up dead rabbit.
I remember that now too. It seemed such a juxtaposition of majesty to the morbid. 

Friday, August 4, 2017

stone


I've changed the charm dangling at the bottom of this pendant a couple times.
I had a golden antler at first.
Seemed so medieval.
I have a hammered oval now and I think it allows the rocks to take center stage, just as they should. It's all about the rocks.

dragon's vein


I couldn't believe my eyes when I turned the tag over and saw the name of these stones.
Dragon's Vein!?
A single strand of stones was all it took to make a bracelet and dangle-y pendant.
I added a key ( seemed sort of mysterious ) and hung the works on a slender strand of gray leather. 
I've always loved rocks. 

tea for three


I made two little dollies, not much bigger than my hand. One had a bun on her head. A little ballerina bun. My ballerina granddaughter was the inspiration. Then I made another with a side ponytail. Two little golden haired dollies. I think they were sisters. There was a family resemblance for sure. I dressed them up for the important first meeting. They were quite nervous. My little granddaughters came. I hoped that someone would like the little side ponytail dolly. I hoped she would seem as cute as the little ballerina bun dolly. 
My granddaughters gasped with joy, just as I had hoped. But, their eyes were on one doll. Oh, oh. Their hands reached out in unison for the same little dolly. Oops. 
Bun Girl still lives with me. Another side ponytail friend may be arriving any day. 
In the mean time, here are a few of Bun Girl's favourite things. 

 A warm bubble bath....

A hot breakfast...

 New boots and vest...

 Sky blue coat...

Then tea for three...

Thursday, August 3, 2017

generously serve





The air outside is as hot as an oven.
Time to make a fake cake.
Something I can stitch in the cool, dim living room.
Something using felt and thread instead of a mixing bowl and wooden spoon.
Maybe a little vanilla cake.
The kind dolls dine upon.
One that rises up out of the pan, triple tall.
A drizzle of chocolate glaze.
Some pink roses and it's time for tea.

P.S. The roses are resin and will have velcro on their backs.
The cake is almost six inches across and will generously serve a dozen dolls, two little girls and one gramma.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Thursday, June 8, 2017

golden key

Having grandchildren is good for your marriage.
Not, as you might think, because you are united against a common foe, but because your patience becomes  a finely honed thing and the key, the golden key to any good marriage is patience.

Monday, May 22, 2017

much much closer


This is not the Von Trapp children posing in the Austrian alpine.
It's a picture taken high atop Mount Cook and includes my mom and dad perched on the edge of splendor.

Isn't the composition of this photo a rare and wondrous thing?
Aren't the teenagers framed just right?
Don't they look like some lifestyle photographer had a vision?
Doesn't my dad have a bad case of hat hair?

Maybe it's just because my mother is smiling warmly from the center of the photo's foreground that it occurs to me the photographer got the focal point just right.
And, I noticed something for the first time tonight.
My dad is holding my Mom's hand.
He hasn't turned to face the picture taker.
His thoughts are somewhere else.
Somewhere much, much closer.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

birds come

We have a plum tree smack dab in the center of our front yard. It was a slender slip of a tree when we first planted it a decade ago but now has branches stout and aplenty. Birds come.
"Look," my husband says, pointing. A house sparrow twitters as it scrambles higher in the branches.
"Is that a Vireo," I ask incredulously as a slender olive-grey bird flutters on a low limb.
"A Tanager!" we gasp in unison.
And then, out of the top of the tree like a girl from a cake, pops a Robin.
A United Nations of birds.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

can't live without

My four year old granddaughter began to cough one evening last week and by morning, was struggling to breathe.
She couldn't draw in a breath.
She couldn't even cry.
The Hospital Emergency Ward rolled out the red carpet.
She was ushered right in and given a bed and oxygen.
Breathing is one of those essentials.
You can't live without breath.
My little granddaughter had her own list of things she couldn't live without.

My daughter recorded her settling down to sleep with her phone;
A comforting picture for those at home.
They lay snuggled together on the hospital bed, mommy and little girl.
"I love you Mommy,' Little says sleepily.
"I love you too. Try to go to sleep now," urges my daughter.
"It's not dark enough," Little laments.
"And I can't live without all my toys and stuffies........and I can't live without......" Here she taps thoughtfully on her lower lip. "And I can't live without my lipstick." (AKA Chapstick)

Saturday, March 18, 2017

to matter

A pair of old photos from my mothers childhood makes me smile and nod and ponder. I like to think of them as Exhibit A and B.
Exhibit A, above, shows my visiting great grandmother Minerva. It also shows my Aunt Fran, the toddler beaming on the left, and on the right, my mother. My very, very sad little mother.. Smack dab in the center is a cousin, the little interloper. She has traveled by train across the Rocky Mountains with Gramma Minerva. There is something recognizable in her pose. It's HER Gramma Minerva.  There is also something recognizable in my mother's pose, something so unusual that it stands out like a beacon.
My mother is Sad.
Exhibit B is very telling. The photographer, likely my own kind Gramma has sized up the situation. My Very Sad Mother has now been given the place of honor at Gramma Minerva's knee.
Baby Fran's smile has faded.
There is angst in the air.
Little Interloper has taken up her new position unimpaired and has a hand possessively and comfortably placed.
My mother's mood remains unaltered. Very Sad still has her in its grip. In fact, she may now have added Very Put Out.

Time has swirled by since that long ago afternoon.
Lots and lots of time.
My mother has always been known for the sweetness of her disposition and the steadfastness of her optimistic, friendly nature, for her remarkably ever ready smile.
But here, in black and white is the evidence.
She was once a little girl just like any other little girl.

The steady smile of Great Gramma Minerva, the comforting warm sun, a kindly photographer.... all come together in these pictures.
They prove the universal need we all have to feel important and special.
To matter.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

how startling

You'll never believe what I saw on my way to work.
I could hardly believe my eyes.
I actually cried out in surprise.
There it was silhouetted against the gray sky near the top of a giant tree.
Way, way, way up in an old cottonwood..
Too big for the branch it huddled on, it nervously waved a paw in the air as if trying to flag down help.
Call 911.
Call the Fire Department.
Call the SPCA. 

It was a raccoon.
A very tense raccoon, clutching a branch high overhead.
It looked so out of place.
A big round ball of fur like an oversized Christmas ornament.
The branch it clung to seemed fearfully small.
What would have made a full grown raccoon climb for its life.
No dog in sight.
No people.
My car sped on but the raccoon remained firmly fixed on memories big screen.

That evening, the news reported a missing wallaby in the Langley area. A pet wallaby from the other side of the world.
It apparently hopped away.
Sprang off into the unknown.
How startling for our native wildlife.
To be ambling along, nibbling here and sniffing there to glance up at approaching footfall. Bounding footfall.
Stranger danger!
A tall tree could seem a necessity.

Friday, February 10, 2017

alegria

Before there was Google Translate, there was Giuseppe Mezzofanti, chief Vatican librarian, who could fluently speak 50 languages and translate 114 more. Wow! And I can't even read both sides of a cereal box. That wouldn't have held back Sir John Bowring. He, a British governor of Hong Kong, could speak 100 languages and read 100 more. Owed it all to his dictionary collection I bet.  Mind you, what's not to love about dictionaries, words rolling off your tongue, foreign and unknown. They were some of my favourite books when I was young. I especially loved the lists of words arranged by grade level at the front of the World Book Encyclopedia Dictionary, A-K. Vocabulary and spelling from Grade One to College were there, tantalizing and tempting. Words, wonderful words. And of course I loved the Merriam Websters Dictionary, wedged in my desk. Loved its small sketched illustrations too.

I've been savoring two delicious reads of late.
May I recommend Native Tongues by Charles Berlitz. If you love trivia you'll adore this book. Everything you ever wanted to know about language is there for your edification and entertainment.
And I've also been reading Landmarks by Robert Macfarlane. He is brilliant and poetic and completely captivating. He refers to at least ten authors whose books have inspired his own writing and they have been added to 'the list,' along with his other works, The Old Ways, The Wild Places, Holloway, and Mountains of the Mind.

Hay alegria en el aprendizaje!! 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

terrified

"We went to the store where you just look at things," my granddaughter says casually, by way of making conversation. "And they have animals there that are like statues."
"Oh," I muse,  a light dawning. "Cabala's. Yes, they have many animals don't they?"
She nods soberly. "One was looking at me Gramma and I was terrified." I hug her a little tighter. "It had hair all over," she says. "And I didn't know what it was," she adds, her eyes wide.
"Goodness," I exclaim. "Was it a bear?"
"Gramma," she says, "I know what a bear is."
"Oh, yes, yes of course," I murmur, "Was it a cougar?"
"I don't know what a cougar looks like," she admits.
I describe one but she looks skeptical.
"Was it a raccoon," I ask hopefully.
"It was big Gramma," she exclaims.
Off we go to consult Google but nothing seems to fit.
I am left pondering a strange and hairy creature with wild eyes.
It has made me remember a mystery creature I once looked at with my own wild eyes.
Fortunately, it never saw me.
I was fifteen I think.
I had hiked up Mt. Cook near Blue River.
Up into the mountain alpine country.
A morning trek alone brought me down to the edge of a small lake. As I stood gazing out over the water I heard the strangest sound. It was almost a jingle. A tinkle of claws on rock and a growl repeated like a chant.
And there it was.
My mystery creature.
I had absolutely no idea what I was looking at.
The creature looked fiercely to the left and right before quickly lapping water. Then It turned and trotted stiffly off.
It hadn't seen me, shielded as I was by a bush.
When I rushed breathless and wide eyed to the cabin, my cousin listened to my description with an incredulous look.
"It must have been a bobcat," she said.
"But it had a tail," I cried.
She gave me that look.
You know the one.
Years, and years later, in a museum display that included taxidermy I spied my mystery creature.
It was a Wolverine. 
Do you think it was too late to be terrified?

Saturday, January 21, 2017

at his feet

We've had ice. That fact is so unusual it has made the news more than one evening this January. Ice, ice, ice. Of course, it began as snow. We all rushed to our windows with gasps of joy when the first flakes began to fall. Most of us did. And we gasped with joy as the snow continued and STAYED OVERNIGHT!  
Cue a change in the background music.
There is something unnerving about coastal snow. Something not so joyous. One moment it's as airy as fairy cotton candy. And then....where ere foot or tire treads it transmogrifies into ice.
Rain usually rescues us.
Snowmen droop and lean and slump.
Lawns green up.
Roads shine wet and dark.
Children's lips tremble....
This year though, rain was busy somewhere else and couldn't come. The thermometer dipped down low and the ice held sway.
There was ice absolutely everywhere. Great chunks of it.
And that was how my grandson made his amazing discovery.
How he found something both amazing and startling frozen fast in a chunk of ice.
It caught his eye.
The colors.
The prism of light and color.
He bent, wonderingly and picked up a chunk of ice.
Inside, glinting and glowing was a piece of the rainbow.
Has anyone ever found a piece of the rainbow before?
The Boy Who Found The Rainbow.
Sounds like the title of a fairy tale.
A strange, bleak wind howled across the polar seas.
It raced along the Rockies and plunged down, down through forest and river towards the sea.
A rainbow hung glistening in the pale evening sky.
A blast of icy breath and it was frozen.
Frozen, then shattered into a million pieces. 
And one lay at his feet.
At the feet of the boy and he bent and looked, surprise alight in his eyes.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

zero and beyond


My granddaughter told me this morning that her doll is zero. She is referring to its age of course. Zero. Poor dolly; so young she doesn't even register on the Richter Scale of aging.
I was zero once too. And then I was one. Oh happy day. Then I was big enough to ride the wonderful galloping horse that was pastured in my grandparents living room. It was an amazing contraption and took up nearly as much space as a real pony. I think it really belonged to my cousin who lived downstairs in a compact suite. Too compact, and so the marvelous steed was stabled upstairs. It looks like my grampa made a small modification to the joy ride. A pretty stout two by four allows equestrian spirited toddlers to mount and dismount all by themselves. It is good to fan the flames of independence.

This is one of my favourite photos of myself.
I remember the horse.
It was a Palomino.
And I remember the wool rug with kaleidoscope flecks of color.
And I can even remember glancing over my shoulder warily as I rode grimly onward.
It was because of the cuckoo clock high on the wall.
I was scared of the little bird that lived inside.
It was so unpredictable......

But still I rode ever onward into two and three and four and beyond.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

gathering dust

My littlest granddaughter asked if she could have a bath.
She happily sang as water filled the tub.
She called for toys.
And more toys.
Her big sister arrived from school.
In a blink she had joined her sister.
They played 'otters at the aquarium' and 'otters in the sea.'
They splashed and rolled and splashed some more.
Their long hair turned into seaweed.
Waves lapped.
Soon they were huddled under fluffy towels and pointing toes into pantlegs and socks.
Hair was de-tangled while we debated braids and ponytails.
We settled on the blow dryer.
It has been gathering dust in a bottom cupboard.
I plugged it in.
There was a loud bang.
And a puff of awful, acrid smoke.
I don't know if I threw it down or if it lept out of my hand on its own.
We fled to the fresh air of the living room.
My poor blow dryer has shuffled off this mortal coil with a flourish.
Hey...doesn't it give new meaning to the old expression, 'going out with a bang.'?

two little chickadees

Two little chickadees.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

monarch of the mountain

My grampa the skier.
He learned as a boy in Norway.
There he is,
perched on the edge,
surveying his vast kingdom.

in winter


More than half of the long ago photos my mother took in Blue River were frozen in winter but then again, more than half the year Blue River is frozen in winter.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

fast away


Snow fell,
salt shaken over a plate,
sawdust on the wind.
Afternoon light faded to night 
and flakes became a blanket 
ever thicker
over all, 
softening edges, 
outlining branches. 
A great silent whiteness. 
Fast away the old year passes,
and the new born year awoke 
fresh and silent
Silver bright and silent....
Until the bells of St. Dunstan began to ring,
And I had a Courier and Ives sort of moment.