Sunday, December 16, 2018

it was me

From my high and lofty perch in the stands I spy my granddaughter, hockey stick in her grip, eyes on the play.
Yowzah, there was the puck!
But, could she get to it? Could she get to it before someone else?
She did!
But could she swing her stick AND hit the puck?
And before someone else came.
She did!
But would the puck head for the goal?
It did!!
That puck skimmed straight as an arrow.
Right through the startled goalies feet.
A goal.
Her first goal.
I heard someone screaming her name and realized it was me.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

unhurried sort of way

In September my littlest granddaughter clambered into hockey gear, hockey jersey and hockey helmet and teetered out onto the ice.
Ice is slippery.
Hockey sticks look like something to lean on but they slide too.
Her first practice was a lesson in getting up.
Tears and sweat were involved.
The second practice was still a lesson in getting up but no tears. Lots of sweat still though.
She was very determined.
"I'm going to do MUCH better next time," she declared joyously to me after school one day.
She had a goal in the beginning as most beginners do.
Hers is to be a better hockey player than her big brother.
She is starting younger than he and she is counting on that giving her the edge, no pun intended.
Today was her first game.
She has learned to skate.
She has learned to skate AND hold a hockey stick AND change directions whilst watching a puck.
She made contact with the puck more than once.
On purpose!
It was a joyous moment.
There will be a whole teams worth of joyous moments ahead no doubt, as well as for those of us huddled on the sidelines tapping our numb toes.
One of those moments today came as the other team toiled up the ice towards our goal.
It was at that exact moment our goalie decided to take a little break.
Here came the other team.
He lay down his stick.
Still coming.
He took off his gloves.
Still coming.
He took a little drink from his water bottle.
Intruders stormed the castle.
The puck made contact with a random stick.
It missed the goalie.
It missed the goal.
The goalie put down his water in an unhurried sort of way and picked up this gloves and stick.
Calm and cool as a cucumber. Good qualities in a goalie. The rest will come.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

sweet and clear

They had been to the rec center, the young father and his little girl. Now they were hastening to their car. Rain was steadily falling and puddles stretched far and wide. Especially wide. I heard him ask her something and then her voice answering, "I was jumping for joy,' she explained, her voice sweet and clear.

Friday, November 23, 2018

so much good


My grandfather is bending over a plow as my uncle Don sits astride Old Tommy the school horse. Something about this partnership motivated someone to fetch a camera. I can't be sure, but I wonder if the plow had been 'hacked' by my grandfather who like many in the 30's, was part inventor, part blacksmith and part magician.
Clearly the horse is a newbie at plowing potato patches.
A child is going to tell him where to turn and how quick to do it.
Old Tommy's ears are back and he is muttering to himself in 'horse.'
Grandfather is intent and bent.
His horse and a plow didn't come together but he is planning to make them work together.
The potato patch is large.
Sitting aloft is my uncle Don. His young face is serious. He and my grandpa are part of a team. He is needed and important to his father. I think this is why my eyes go first to this child on the horse every time.
Being part of a team; a useful, working, contributing part of family life, is the foundation of so much good.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

paid off

From her perch, high in the saddle, my granddaughter gazes steadily ahead as the horse crunches along the track. "You're sitting so nice and straight," her aunt admires. "My ballet paid off," she calls over her shoulder.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

to write down

There are things I need to say,
to write down and step back from.
Like emptying my pockets onto a table.

Friday, October 19, 2018

amazement

"I did the math wrong," my grandson stated. "And then I didn't have enough for pizza."
"Oh no," his mother replied.
A friend gave him all he could, a quarter, but he was still twenty-five cents short.
As my grandson walked, head down along the little creek edging the school yard his eyes focused in amazement.
There, floating along in the current, was a leaf with a quarter resting on its surface.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

this one


When the tide turns and water drains from the beach, river beds are carved in miniature into the packed sand.


This one looks like mermaid hair.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

automatic pilot

A Long Weekend Hockey Tournament is hockey condensed and concentrated. By day three, parents have used up all their adrenaline and are operating on automatic pilot.
Things can get by them.
As we exited the arena along with a familiar throng we heard a little boy exclaim to another. "Now you can do anything you want to!" This happy announcement of freedom from one five year old to another was because a mother on automatic pilot, had loaded up hockey gear and hockey player and hockey sibling and departed, leaving her youngest unfettered and unattended.
Free as a bird, according to his friend.
While other parents pondered his fate a car zoomed into the parking lot and screeched to a stop even as a side door flew open.
Freedom nipped in the bud.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

smiling gently

"Oh,"I exclaim. "My great, great Grandfather was a Haddock too." The woman across the counter smiles at me, her eyes brightening.
"Irish?" she asks, nodding her head even before I do.
"From the north," I add, and she nods, as though a given.
"They were in linen."
Her eyes widen. "Ours too," she says slowly. "County Antrim."
"Us too," I cry.
"Hi cousin," she says, smiling gently.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

now we know why

Galiano Island honors Spanish explorer, Dionision Alcala Galiano, who sailed in an out of the Gulf Islands off the coast of B.C. in 1792. He would have felt quite at home gazing out to sea from its sandy shoreline. The same molten sun smolders there as scorches Seville on a hot July afternoon.
To get to Galiano Island though, in the midst of summer, you must keep green coastal forests and salty breezes fixed firmly in mind. There's the gauntlet known as The Ferry Terminal....Doesn't terminal have an ominous note to it? Terminally waiting....
Ferry Terminals are acres of asphalt.
Cars simmer in the sun. 
It's solar heating gone wrong.
People melt out of cars and trucks and motor-homes and draw a bead on a distant patch of shade the size of a small tablecloth. 
Dogs come too; every size and hairy, tongue lolling variety.
Man and beast.
It's close quarters in the shade at Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal on a July afternoon.

A group dropped to the grass near our feet. They lolled on backpacks and leaned on bags. Their restless dog turned around three times as though looking for something he had misplaced. Where was his bag? Oh, there it was. He lifted his leg and sent a steaming stream into the purse of his mistress and down her arm which was resting protectively over it. 
Who shrieked first?
We had noticed the grass was still pretty green there, near the tree.
Now we know why.

Monday, September 3, 2018

keep smiling

If you ever feel the urge to flee your normal life on planet earth, may I suggest taking a ferry ride?
There is something irresistible about pointing your car in the direction of the seashore and watching your home getting smaller and smaller in the rear view mirror.
For many years, I worked close enough to a ferry route that I actually felt a pull like some huge magnet trained on my car.
Some mornings, I had to grip the steering wheel and make myself turn into the parking lot at work.
Heed the siren call I say!

Ferry Riding 101
  • Get up at the crack of dawn regardless of what time your ferry sails
  • Pack your bags or double check your packed bags or rifle through your packed bags looking for something that will be left behind anyway
  • Over water your house plants
  • Depart without a backward glance
  • Feel your heart taking a few tentative gasps and begin to relax
  • Admire the eagles circling above Ladner
  • Smugly congratulate yourself on reserving a spot on the ferry
  • Pull into the vast parking lot and find the right lane and drive down it and down it and down it
  • Wind down your window sociably and fetch out your snack
  • Listen stoically to announcement that ferry is delayed one hour
  • Hasten to small patch of distant shade shared by all pet owners traveling in the same direction as you
  • Have your own Best of Class dog show with your grandchildren and imagine names of all entrants. 
  • Assign prizes for Largest, Littlest, Hairiest, Cutest, Most Obedient
  • Disqualify Cutest for lifting his leg and peeing on his owner and her purse as she sits nearby 
  • Respond to the crackling loudspeaker by hastening to your car as it smolders in a vast sea of smoldering cars
  • Keep your thoughts firmly fixed on shade, seashores, surf and shells
  • Smile
  • Keep smiling

Thursday, August 30, 2018

warm comfort

The phone woke us in the early morning. "It's Mom," my husband said, and I knew in a moment that she was gone.
We gathered as family on August 11, which was my parents anniversary. It seemed an appropriate day to remember and celebrate her life, entwined as it was with my fathers.
It's strange that one of the happiest memories I treasure of my mother came out of my father's memorial service. It was as everyone gathered after the service to visit, and glancing up, I saw her sitting at a table in the center of the room. She was completely surrounded by woman she loved and they were leaning in. I couldn't hear, but could clearly see the warm comfort of their friendship and my mother was......beaming.
It's that smile of joy I remember.
I'm thankful for the gathering we had this summer. Family came from near and far. Mostly far. It was a gift of warm comfort......and of joy.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

beginning to be

We saw the mother first, feeding her babies a mouthful at a time. In and out she darted, a sliver of cobalt blue, her nest a tangle of dry grass and mud under the porch roof.
Four little baby birds.
Four startlingly gaping beaks.
When we arrived Monday afternoon, they were all beak, all chirp and cheep and fuzz, wavering at nest edge.
My granddaughter named them Eeny, Meeny, Miney and Mo.
When we left three days later, they were beginning to be swallows, sleekly slim, eyes black and bright as beads. 

Monday, July 30, 2018

shows us

My granddaughter was crying.
Standing with cupped hands overflowing with hermit crabs.
Tiny pets.
Little friends.
How quick she is to love.
Ahhh, 'parting is such sweet sorrow.'
What is so sweet about the sorrow of parting?
It shows us where our passions lie.

rippled away

"Look at its little face," my grandson whispered as we hovered over a slender snake, frozen in flight. There had been two. One magically melted into the tangle of dry leaf cluttering the edge of the house at our approach. The other recovered its courage and slowly, slowly rippled away.

ominously

"Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!" screams my tiny granddaughter. "Pirates!" And sure enough, out in the bay, rocking ominously at anchor, a sailboat with the Jolly Roger snapping in the breeze.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

tradition

A volley of pounding echoes overhead.
"The morning tradition," my husband says, smiling.
Upstairs, our landlord's wife is pounding roti dough into submission.
Later today leftover bits will be broken up and tossed on the lawn.
An entire flock of sparrows will drop from the sky, their chestnut heads bobbing joyously..
Blackbirds too.
And while sparrows squabble,  black birds will dart in an out like wind up toys gone mad.

P.S. Turns out the pounding has to do with tea and not roti at all. Spices are pounded fresh each morning for Chai Tea. Ahhhh. What could be more traditional than tea?

Friday, June 8, 2018

welcome mat

I have just shown a spider the door. Given it 'the bums rush.' What a great expression. Not a very compassionate one but there you have it.
Against the stark white of dropped ceiling was a thug of a spider.
The biting kind.
I've been unpacking.
Lots of boxes and paper and clumping about.
It has caused a disturbance in the smaller kingdom I suppose.
Maybe the spider decided the neighborhood was going down hill.
Out he swaggered.
I grabbed the nearest thing to hand.
An antique canning jar and piece of paper.
I had to stretch and reach.
The spider did his own stretching and reaching.
Now he was on the jar lip.
Now he was on the outside of the jar.
Now he was on the paper.
Now our eyes were on lock and hold.
Now I was sprinting for the door.
Oh oh.
Both hands were full.
Empty jar in one hand and desperate spider gaining its bearings on the other.
He's outside now.
I dusted him off onto the welcome mat.

Friday, May 11, 2018

eternity

Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality.

We slowly drove, he knew no haste,
And I had put away
My labor, and my leisure too,
For his civility.

We passed the school where children played,
Their lessons scarcely done;
We passed the fields of gazing grain,
We passed the setting sun.

We paused before a house that seemed
A swelling of the ground;
The roof was scarcely visible,
The cornice but a mound.

Since then 'tis centuries; but each
Feels shorter than the day
I first surmised the horses' heads
Were toward eternity.

  by Emily Dickinson

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

no one minds

Coffee brewing.
Or cookies baking.
Or crisping bacon.
These are things no one minds smelling while stirring in bed, contemplating the day ahead.
But not......skunk.
My sister inhaled the cool morning air.
What?!
Did she really smell a skunk?
How baffling.
The furnace came on with a hum and "it was like a skunk was suddenly standing on the end of her bed!"
Back went the covers and up she sprang, following her nose.
She eventually peered out the front door into a frosty, February morning.
Her snow filled yard told the whole story.
A skunk had wandered along the side of her house.
There were its tracks.
The neighbors dog must have barked just as the skunk reached the corner right beside the cold air intake for the furnace.
Sherlock Holmes couldn't have solved the mystery faster.
Case closed.

peachy


Sunday, January 28, 2018

suv

This horse was my grandparents sport utility vehicle, a used one with pretty high mileage, but good tires and a reliable engine. He was named Tommy and he did try to head back to his previous owner a province away a few times. That was just til he settled in though. Til he got used to the idea of being a family vehicle. A take the kids to school and pull the plough through the potato patch sort of vehicle. An early crossover I guess.
This pair were my grandfather's work trucks. Grandpa was self employed or they might have been seen as a company benefit. They were pretty versatile and hauled logs out of the woods better than any skidder. Two horse power might not sound like much, but they were greater than the sum of their parts I can tell you. Huge, strong, reliable, loyal, gentle.
My great uncle Lloyd is about to ease on down the road. Likely hunting was his plan of action. My grandfather is giving last minute instructions or possibly consulting the GPS for directions. Leather seats, four on the floor, all wheel drive, lots of pull when the road got steep.
My great grandpa R.C.Ray was known as a horseman. He knew horses. I expect he passed along a few tidbits to those with ears to listen. His son is standing rather proudly beside a horse that can simply be described as huge. I don't imagine mileage was great because a horse that size would eat you out of house and home. Wouldn't have won a beauty contest either with a face only a mother could love, but what a silken nose he had. And feathered feet!! And such a sleek coat and sober, steadfast eyes. Sign me up.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

summoned

In the distance, I can hear my washing machine coming in for a landing.
A pause, and then seven urgent chimes sound.
I am summoned.
For some reason, this morning I remember my mother washing clothes in a wringer washer; a great white rub-a-dubber with the wringer set at a misleadingly jaunty angle.
There was always a tub or two of rinse water sloshing murkily nearby, a nose tingling of soap scent, and a motor chugging in steady rhythm, lefffft, rrrright, lefffft, rrright, like the sound giant windshield wipers would make.
Now I just twirl a dial, press a button and get on with my life.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

take heart

Soup has lost its charm by the end of January. Just in time, the days grow longer, and lighter. We come out of our dazed hibernation and take heart.

Monday, January 15, 2018

against the blue

An etch-a-sketch sky this morning; jet stream orange against the blue.

like a savage

Things can be overlooked in the morning scramble to school.
"I didn't have a spoon!" my grandson said, his eyes wide.
"I had to eat my pudding like a savage."

Friday, January 5, 2018

first aid

I signed up for a first aid course once, long ago.
We met in a large echoing gymnasium,
two rows of us all sitting with our feet on the floor and our eyes on the instructor.
There we launched into the lesson, pondering calamity after calamity.
I was gradually aware of a strange sensation.
An unexpected reaction.
"What am I feeling?" I wondered.
"What is it.....?"
And then I knew.
It was blood.
Every time the instructor said the word, blood, I wavered and wilted.
"What?"
I had never been qualmish before. I had never been queasy or qualmish about.....blood.
With a growing feeling of disbelief I realized that if she said blood one more time, I would have to leave!
She said blood one more time.
I had to leave.
I raised my hand and made my exit.
The gymnasium was very large.
The doorway seemed very far away.
I wavered and wilted.
I only got as far as the doorway before I slumped to the floor.
They used me to practice bandaging since I was already laying down. 

Thursday, January 4, 2018

stash of cash

Children were out and about today, spending their Christmas money.
Thank goodness for Zip Loc bags.
Two little girls emptied one onto a counter and their auntie sorted through their scrunched up bills, and at least a pound of assorted change that included tokens from Disneyland.
There were some pretty nimble mathematics performed as toys were considered, minus the sale price, plus the tax, times two little girls, divided by the available stash of cash.

horrible warning

I'm having trouble telling you this story because I'm used to typing with all ten of my fingers. Until a few minutes ago, I had ten happy fingers but not now.
Now I have only nine happy ones and one shocked and unhappy one.
Accidents are usually a shock I suppose.
Accidents can make you feel astonished at your own carelessness.
Here is my confession.
The cold, hard facts.
I was sewing fast.
And I was very tired.
My family will be reassured to note that I did have on my reading glasses but sadly, my eyes had glazed over and I was careening back and forth, quilting in lines, endless lines, back and forth and forth and back and back and forth.
There was a sudden, abrupt, resounding thunk.
The world stood still.
I squinted at my sewing machine. 
The needle was broken.
My eyes drifted to my hand. 
I looked in amazement at my finger.
A piece of broken needle was sticking out both sides.
I felt incredulous. (astonished at my own carelessness)
I have been sewing for more than fifty years without incident.
I learned on my mother's treadle singer for goodness sakes.
You had to be pretty coordinated to sew on a treadle sewing machine.
Your feet had to work independently of your hands.
You needed to be quick and nimble.
I never once ran over my little girl fingers nor my teenage fingers.
I bought my Pfaff when I was 19.
I have sewn a million miles on it.
No fingers were mown down in the prime of their lives, or mine.
But now I have become just another statistic.
How the mighty have fallen.
I guess it's true.
If you can't be a good example, be a horrible warning.
Consider yourself warned.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

a flourish






2017 has gone out with a flourish.
A sparkling, glittering, glassy sort of flourish.
Rain fell and froze, transforming the woods into Currier and Ives glitter dusted scenes.
Power ground to a halt.
Transformers flashed and boomed.
The cold outside came inside.
And settled in for a stay.
It was warmer in the fridge than the living room.
And a mug of hot tea wasn't just a distant memory, it was a New Years resolution.

Monday, January 1, 2018

common bond

"Police or Ambulance?" a voice asks.
"Ambulance," I say, breathlessly.
A woman to my left begins to pray aloud.
"A pedestrian has been hit by a car," someone says to my left.
Across the street, I can see people running. Two soon kneel on the cold, wet roadway beside the very, very still form lying there.
A voice is asking me questions.
A man passes me a piece of paper.
My voice tightens and breaks as I read the address,
the phone number.
I am safe and warm inside a building.
But someone else is not.

I had been working when the door burst open and someone cried out, "Call 911!"
I was dialing before I knew why.
Can't life change in a moment of time?
The ordinary suspended.
Strangers transformed.
A common bond.

In the distance a siren wails.