Monday, May 31, 2010

when it rains, it pours

The sky seemed strangely dark as I headed home from work. It made me think of a watercolour palette, a dab of red dropped into the blue, and purple spreading out and out to the edge. As I merged onto the freeway, the rain began, each droplet exploding into countless mini drops as it struck the windshield. I know the rains of spring, We were a one car family for many years and each of those years had spring rain. I've known the icy weight of water wicking up pant legs, osmosis doing its worst, and socks squelching in sodden shoes. My hair has hung, cold and lank against my rain plastered face. Passing cars with drivers warm and snug, have sped by unheeding of the danger pooling at the curbside. Tidal waves have arched from passing tires, tsunamis seen too late. Perhaps an umbrella comes to mind, but I think it's time someone spoke the truth about them. They don't work. There's a reason that pictures of Mary Poppins include an umbrella. Updraft. Cheap umbrellas yield with a pop, and better ones tow the unfortunate along, windblown and wild eyed. Still, I've come to love the many faces of rain. The world seems fresh and still tonight. Maybe I just need a good pair of gumboots, like the frog ones my grandson wears.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

rhythm and rhyme

I must have been in grade two the year my parents purchased the World Book Encyclopedia and Childcraft Set. It was like suddenly having an entire library in our house. Blue River had no town library, and the two room schoolhouse didn't either, so the arrival of the Encyclopedia was big news. The spines of the Childcraft Set were each a color of the rainbow and I loved arranging them in order. My very favorite was Poems and Stories. I hadn't realized until tonight, that the words of many of the poems are somehow there, at the edge of memory, needing only a gentle nudge to get me started. I remember reading and rereading them, not just for myself, but for my best friend, the little boy next door. When I read about Skinny Mrs. Snipkin sitting on her pipkin, he would laugh and laugh, and when I read about the pirate Don Durk of Dowdee we would both collapse in giggles. He reminded us of my Aunt Jean. (Sorry Aunt Jean) I'm sure it was the silk blouse with the great puffy sleeves that he wore.
I've begun to share the poems with my grandson. The Three Little Kittens is his current favorite. He loves to hear me read it with plenty of meows, and there must be a mother cat voice that switches just at the right moment into a little kitten voice. I'm not sure why this one is his favorite. What?Lost your mittens! I suppose a three year old can relate to loss and consequence, effort and reward. Or maybe like me, he just loves the rhythm and magic of words.

Monday, May 24, 2010

the wonder

Attending a Quilt Show is a heady, sensory overload. Such rich color and pattern and texture. And like finding oneself on the street of childhood's home, block names are murmured by the subconscious, Irish Chain, Road to Oklahoma, Flying Geese, remembered names of old friends. Colors never clash, like a paint box, each is needed. Sometimes it's the pattern of a quilt, or the complexity, or the quilting that draw me in. Sometimes it's the story pinned beside it that draws a sigh. On the Mother's Day weekend, the Langley Quilt Guild had their biannual show. At our guild meeting the month before, a woman had shyly asked if I would have a quilt in the show. She smiled as she spoke of her own work that would be on display. I had planned to remember her name and search out her quilts. No searching was needed. A hum rose from the back of the arena like a hundred bumble bees in a lilac tree. An amazing applique masterpiece was drawing people in and transfixing them. Maria's quilt. Such detail, such stitching. Even now, tiny birds and berries richly colored fill my mind's eye.
Working my way back up through the middle of the exhibit I stood with a pounding heart in front of another of Maria's quilts. My eyes were burning and I found I couldn't speak. Beauty and innocence gazed out of the eyes of a peasant girl in the center of the quilt. The journey through one life's youth were depicted in ovals surrounding her. Art has such a power, not just to amaze, but to touch, to inspire and to comfort. That in itself is a wonder, but the greater wonder is seeing a reflection of the great Creator in each other.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

altered states of mind

I flew down the stairs and shoved my feet into my leather clogs. Out the door I sprang and into the car. Back down the driveway, up the street, around the corner, up to the light, and away to the freeway. Exits approached and disappeared behind me. Lanes were changed. The routines of life beg to be changed it seems. Or transcended. I suppose this is why a person can drive for miles and suddenly wake up like Rip Van Winkle and realize that no conscious memory exists of the trip. This is not a good state of mind for the driver of a car and I have employed many tricks to force myself to focus on the moment. Well, the moment I leapt out of the car at work, my focus was on my feet. Something felt different. Why did one leg feel longer than the other. I pulled up my pant legs and stared in disbelief at my shoes. Or shoe as it turned out. One leather clog was mine, and the other was clearly my daughters. Now in my defense, they were identical in colour and the styles were very alike. The wedge heels weren't quite the same height though, and sizes didn't match. It's impossible to walk in shoes that are two different heights and so I hobbled to a nearby store and bought myself a pair of flip flops. Workman's Compo. would have cringed. A few months later, the dash and drive to work found me standing and staring in disbelief at my feet again. Had I learned nothing about the perils of the altered state of mind. This time a black shoe and a navy shoe were replaced by flip flops. I hesitate to continue the story. Late one evening, my daughter and her friend and I raced the clock to squeeze in a visit to the Dollar Store. As we sped away from the house, I was suddenly aware that something felt different. With a sense of foreboding and disbelief I stared down at my feet. Both slip ons, but nothing else was even similar, colour, size, style....owner. My daughter is more prepared than any Boy Scout and she pulled a pair of Crocs from her trunk. Three strikes and you're out came to mind but amazingly enough, last week as I crossed the parking lot at work, Holey shoes the color of cheddar cheese leered up at me. What???! These were my "inside shoes" I wore instead of slippers at home. They had never seen the light of day. I was suddenly very much in the moment. Routine was trampled under foot. But I felt an unexpected spring in my step the rest of the day.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Longfellow and Archery

"I shot an arrow into the air, it fell to earth I know not where." H. W. Longfellow wasn't in my archery class in college but he summed up my experience perfectly. Just like high school before it, college required that I choose a phys. ed. course each semester. As a child I had romped and climbed and galloped and ridden and hopped. Somehow though, puberty and high school had collided and there was a casualty. I did manage to struggle upright, knobby kneed and uncertain, but the easy, carefree confidence and joy in the physical seemed down for the count. Needless to say, I was dismayed to discover that some form of P.E. would be required as I began my freshman year. At least choices were available and I finally settled on Archery. It seemed a romantic choice at the time, so Robin Hood and Maid Marion. Skinny and weak are adjectives that seem to go together, and I just couldn't pull back that string and hold the bow steady long enough to squint down the arrow and sight the target. I did a little better when we switched to clout shooting. Here, we shot an arrow into the air and it arched gracefully through the sky landing with a whistle in a large circular target on the ground a field away. In a perfect world, the reward for effort would be the same as the reward for ability. Sadly, zero ability in Archery equalled a D on my final report. My instructor suggested that I take Weight Training the next semester. I couldn't salvage my grade point average, but I could buff up my self esteem. Working out with a room full of very fine masculinity wasn't so bad either. I found that my flagging interest in things physcial recovered rapidly and completely.

Saturday, May 1, 2010


"Are you O.K?" I ask my little grandaughter. "K," she assures me. The wind is tugging her hood back and lifting her hair in a wild halo. Her small blue gumboots were lent to her for the afternoon by a teddy bear. They slip off each time she is picked up, and she is up and down and up and down and up..... and down. She seems to be a small homing device, trained to find water as quickly as possible. She chirps at the seagulls and calls out loudly to a dog frisking past us. I scoop her up as the beach gives way to rocks and weed and hold her tightly, willing myself to balance this precious load. She thinks I'm hugging her and gives me a kiss. Perhaps I was.

polite superhero

"Look," I gasped. "See what I've found." Sand stretches away on every side. My hand is cupped,cradling a sand dollar. "Is it a fossil?" my little grandson asks, squinting. We talk, our heads bent together against the wind. "We found a sea dollar!" he calls exultantly. The tide is out and beds of flattened seaweed glisten. I bound to the centre of a large patch. "Help,"I cry. "Help, the seaweed has me." "I'm coming Gramma. I'll save you.... Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me," he says politely to the mounds of kelp as he picks his way to my side. A polite superhero. And later as we race the tide and the parking meter he drops to his knees beside a post protruding from the sand. " I've found the north pole," he says, his voice full of wonder.