Monday, August 29, 2011

solid footing

For no apparent reason, life loomed over me this evening.
It reminded me of canoeing off the coast of Tent Island; swells rising all around, the shore too distant.
We had headed straight into an approaching storm.

It isn't always the unknown that frightens me; The approaching storm of the unknown.
Sometimes it's the known, the daily, the habits and interactions that life is built upon that can make my knuckles white with gripping.
Solid footing is always such a sweet relief.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

thrown in for the bargain

Reduced. Bargain. Discount. Clearance; all lovely words.
I once discovered a lone little package on a quilt shop clearance table, left over from a Shop Hop many months before.
It was a kit and I paid four or five dollars for it, fabric, pattern and all.
Some patient soul had snipped and sorted, photo copied and folded and there it was at a bargain price.
My mother has always sniffed at kits. "They expect how much?! And you still have to do all the work."
Doing "all the work"was the fun part and spring was thrown in for the bargain.

Friday, August 26, 2011

outside intervention

I own a determined and desperate dahlia. I have taken to crouching down beside it in sympathy much as one would stop to offer help to an accident victim, or visit someone during a long and tedious convalesce.
It should be two feet tall by now.
It should be swaying under a load of vibrant late summer splendor.
Instead, it has been locked in a season long battle; its mortal foe, a slug with the personality of Jabba the Hutt. Each tender green blade that emerged from the soil was ruthlessly consumed.
Week after week, a tragedy unfolded.
I have intercepted and dispatched minor slugs, but more senior ones remain uncaught, their hiding place undetected.
Today a solemn bell tolls in my garden. My dahlia is running out of time.
It would have to grow with the speed of time lapse photography to blossom before the winds of autumn turn to frost and lay the dahlias low
Next year I'll pot up my weary dahlias. Endangered species need that kind of outside intervention.

golden bird

A flash of wings overhead draws my eyes upward. A seagull catching the orange evening light on its feathers, banks to the right and disappears over the rooftop. A golden bird against an azure sky..

Thursday, August 25, 2011

little jumper

"I like your jumper." I declared to my little granddaughter. "You look so pretty in it."
Her hair is held in a tiny pink clip.
Her yellow t-shirt is dainty and ruffled.
Her jumper is striped, white and pink.
She slips down and hops happily across the lawn.
She's jumping, my daughter points out and sure enough, I hear her chanting, "... jump, jump, jump..."
A jumper in a jumper.

just an expression

"Another perfect ending to a perfect day," my grandson says with a happy sigh, prompting laughter.
"It's just an expression," he humbly reminds us.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

warmth and comfort

The fabric for this quilt has been peering reproachfully at me from the cupboard for several years. It was chosen by my oldest daughter and the timing for its completion is not as bad as you might think. She has just moved into a cheerful and charming suite.
May her new quilt wrap her in warmth and comfort.

pancake king

My husband is the Pancake King.
He honed his skill over the camp stove and earned this title in the great outdoors.
Our little grandchildren love eating pancakes for breakfast when they sleep over.
One unlucky morning, my pancakes failed to thrive. I've never been sure what causes these random culinary disasters.
My grandson usually gobbles up a stack of pancakes, but he ate only two tentatively. My granddaughter wisely just licked the syrup off of hers.
On their next visit, my husband came to the rescue, stirring and flipping.
"Now I'll never have to eat those rubber pancakes again!" my grandson announced joyously.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

work in progress

stay tuned, the end is in sight

joyous gift

Every experience of our life prepares us in some way for tasks ahead. Nothing is wasted. There are long lessons to learn and then the sweetness found in presenting as a joyous gift our transformed heart.

next time

My grandchildren and I surprised a spider.
He had been enjoying his dinner when we arrived without knocking.
Grabbing a fly wrapped  like a tortilla, he shoved it under his arm and hastened out his back door.
We'll call ahead next time.

silver light

We walked this evening as the air began to cool. Our feet traced a familiar route past homes and yards that have become our neighborhood.
We have witnessed the transformation of renovations and the evolving nature of landscaping. We have regretfully observed elderly neighbors moving away and children graduating from preschool plastic to school age sport.
Tonight we walked further, past an expanse of lush green park bordered by cascades of glistening blackberry. Past community gardens; thickly tangled plantings. Past dusty bike paths and ripening hazy fields. I wished I could keep on walking right through the cool dark of night into the silver light of morning.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

a sky a day

Paint a sky a day.
An elderly friend shared this advice.
To become proficient at water color painting, you have to paint of course, and forming a daily habit, even the habit of just painting a bit of sky is powerful advice.
Focus and momentum lie within dailiness.
And whatever you focus on, you will master.

something like love

It was a Kodak moment.
My grandson dashing towards his smiling father.
My son-in-law reaching down, his strong hands lifting his little boy up and tossing him into the air.
My grandson laughing delightedly as he sails up, up... over and over.
Then he is standing before my husband.
He wants Poppa to toss him in the air too.
"I don't know," my husband says smiling, reaching down. "I'm not as strong as your Dad."
Up into the air, though not as high, sails my grandson, his face alight.
For a moment the world stood still for me.
I had the strangest feeling.
Something like love.
I realized it was admiration I was feeling.
My husband is able to be who he is, who he is now at this age, without apology.
To some, aging is the elephant in the room.
Life is a competition.
Not for the man I married.
He is himself, and that self is a man I have admired for a long, long time.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

hired help

My parents didn't purchase an automatic washer and dryer set until I left home and went to college. In those days if you wanted your children to leave home, you didn't have to stopping cooking with cheese, you just kept buying clothes pins.
When I was a child, laundry was an all day endeavor. The wringer washer would be wheeled into the kitchen and a large tub filled with rinse water. Load after load would agitate, such a descriptive word for the whole experience, and the air would take on the humidity level of the equator in August.
Feeding clothing through the wringer in preparation for hanging them out to dry was thrillingly perilous. Buttons travelling through sideways could shoot out like shrapnel. Items could twist and thicken as they were drawn in, causing the wringer to spring open like a bear trap.
Many a child's eager fingers and then arm were run through the rollers before their mother sprang to their aid with a shriek. Ah, such fun.
Hanging laundry out to dry has been cloaked in nostalgia. In reality, the weather was seldom cooperative. Rain was just another rinse cycle, but "freeze dried" jeans took forever to thaw over the oven door.
My washer and dryer are standing at the ready and I'm thankful every time I slam the door and push the buttons. It feels as luxurious as having hired help.

ode to laundry

Laundry can take on a life of its own. It makes me think of the children's story about the porridge pot that wouldn't stop. It just kept on making porridge until it spilled out of the pot and onto the floor and across the kitchen and out of the door........ It seems strange that laundry poses such a risk because it is just so simple to do; An armload of lights or darks born swiftly down the stairs and into the yawning maw of the washer. A splash of soap engineered to remove every single thing but color, a musical assortment of buttons pushed, and the laundry is underway. I am summoned a short while later by my clever machine to toss almost dry items into the dryer which senses intuitively whether to dry very dry, or just half heartedly.
Why then do I avert my gaze from my laundry hamper as it swells and spills?
I think procrastination is worth the wonderful feeling of accomplishment I bask in when the laundry pile is reduced to neat little stacks fresh and clean; A feeling of being in control and on top of things; Of efficiency and dignity; Of marching in step with housewives of every era, starched and bright. Well, maybe that's going to far but I do know that order leads on to order, neatness to neatness, creativity to creativity. There is a momentum that is irresistible when finally set in motion. Tidy here and you will want to tidy there. Organize here and you will desire organization there. Create here and your mind will be flooded with even more creativity.
Laundry is just one small step towards a better life. Lead me to the hamper!!!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

humble pie

Humble pie isn't very tasty, but it's apparantly quite good for you. I hope so because I've eaten several pieces today.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


Tastes change. There is no other explanation for my deep and abiding love of soup for lunch.
I don't really remember my mother making soup, except for split pea which I hated strictly on sight alone. Ghastly green!?
However, my grandmother did make soup, and she seemed to perpetually have a pot simmering on the back of her wood stove. She served it up every day at noon with thick slices of dark brown bread. I wasn't sure about that bread either.
Today I sat before a steaming bowl of soup filled with brown rice and sweet bright vegetables and dipped crusts of dark pumpernickel bread into the golden broth.
Thanks Grandma, I think I inherited your soup loving DNA after all.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

universal principles

Although I live in the heart of town, woods wild and deep are never far away. There are so many rural farm and woodland areas in the valley still. In fact, my sister-in-law lives on a green and gracious family farm, surrounded by fields of fruit and bordered by dark fern filled ravines.
The night air seems to cool so quickly there.
One evening, as we finished our blue berry picking in the golden last light, a movement caught my eye. Two fawns wandered out of the darkening woods. They looked all around as they ambled along together. Suddenly, they froze. Behind them, their mother stepped boldly out of the shadow. She turned her head swiftly to the right and then to the left. Her little fawns did exactly the same. Two little jerky movements. The mother then took a step and repeated the left and right check. So did the babies, like little wind up toys. Gone was their carefree demeanor. They had obviously been trained and mom was having none of their lax behaviour. Curiosity and play must be tempered by caution and discipline. Universal principles.

face off

There are often clues left behind that prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that my grand children have been for a visit.
A lone raptor holds his deadly pose on the edge of the dining room table.
And I thought a doll had fallen asleep in my husband's slipper but I see that it is tucked in for the night on the stool instead.
I have just noticed the best of all though.
Two tiny playmobil men are standing with their arms at their sides as though ready to grapple if necessary and are facing each other nervously. One is dressed rather incongruously in a yellow storm trooper suit from some century yet to come, but is wearing a helmet that a stylish knight would have killed for, pardon the pun. The other little man may be one of the Beatles, or at least he has the hair and cloths that say 1960.
They are staring in awe at each other just as you would expect.
The little Beatle can't believe the war theme! It just doesn't work for him.
The alien time traveller is speechless.
I'm betting on who will move first.

alternate universe

There is a black hole that leads to an alternate universe in my hallway.
Well, maybe not, but there is a blackboard that looks like a family portrait from an alternate universe.
A sad faced princess fills the centre and is surrounded by marching stick men who are fighting their way through long pink grass. Two small but very sinister dinosaurs are obviously family pets. Two smiling babies recline good naturedly amongst random alphabet letters.
The upper right corner of this strange melange holds a cryptic message. Veg. dessert 5:30. A reminder of some long ago potluck and the other corner contains a friend's phone number, a sort of 911 back up.
I've loved watching this particular group emerge over time. Chalk drawings are surprisingly resilient but it's just a matter of time.
I'm going to miss the brontosaurus though.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

sweet Son

Wading out into cold water is a breath taking experience; Wading out into cold, swiftly running water almost heart stopping.
A river deep and green sweeps the banks of Clearwater Bible Camp. Several decades of campers dabbled at its shores and drifted off to sleep to the steady shushing of swirling current.
Late in the summer as the last of the mountain snows yield to the sun, the river level drops. Rocks glisten and eventually grey in the afternoon heat.
There, attainable at last, lies an island with a long languid stretch of sand.
Silky, white sand.
Suntanning sand and daydreaming and reading sand.
I inevitably heeded the siren call, bundled up my beach loot and waded bravely out.
It took some work balancing on the slippery rocks while icy water pulled and pulled and swirled.
I always reached a spot where I knew I couldn't go on, but realized too that going back was further.
My leg bones were achingly cold and my feet were cramped from trying to grip the smooth rocky river bed.
Somehow, I would stagger and slip my way to the distant shore.
And the sand! Oh the sand!! So powdery soft and soothingly warm.  As exotic as a Tahitian beach to my young eyes.
I don't know why that memory came to mind tonight but it seems the perfect metaphor.
There are always plans embarked on with great optimism. Then things get a bit rocky, and painful and I know I can't go on, but I can't go back either.
My arms are full of heavy things.
And at last, the sand is under my feet, the sweet Son is shining, always was shining.