Tuesday, September 27, 2011

under my knees

I woke with one of those headaches that lie coiled and ready to strike if you make a sudden move. I've learned to respect them and tread lightly.
My body has been trying to get my attention for a couple of weeks. Stress can be hard to process and there seems to be more of it than ever. Now why is that. I always thought the lives of adults seemed so serene. How blind is youth.
In fact, life is full of all sorts of conflicting things; the wonderful and the worrisome, and you can't readily tell them apart at first glance. Good new is often dressed up as bad news, and vise versa. And of course, we don't see the end of the story, the curve in the road.
I wish I was braver, had more faith, like a rock.
There is an old adage, make hay while the sun shines. When the going is good, prepare for when it won't be. Because it will be again, and then won't be and then will...........This is a lesson I am clearly having trouble learning.
The winds are going to blow.
The house is going to tremble.
But I am never alone.
I can't grasp the love of God, I just throw myself out there in faith.
I don't understand the mystery of prayer at all, but I am grateful that He hears.
And at my lowest place, when I see myself in all of my weakest failings, I feel the Rock under my knees.

Friday, September 23, 2011

because He is there

"It's Saturday tomorrow," I called after my mother's retreating back. Her memory works in the moment, but like mopping the floor as you retreat from a room, the tracks of her day are inevitably wiped away. She thought to solve the problem by setting a calendar on her table and ticking each day as it passed. She found she couldn't remember if she had already ticked it.
Her desire to track the passing week is really a desire to recognize Sunday when it arrives. To rise and prepare for church. I've told her that I've never known anyone who wants to go to church as much as she does.
Of course, there are people she loves there. People who love her, and pray for her. There are always greetings warmly shared, and hands clasped in friendship.
The singing must be a comfort too, old hymns become like friends.
But I think it is because He is there that she longs for Sunday. And although He is everywhere, there is just something about entering those doors. One must come with an open heart. I suppose that is why we find that some Sundays we weep through the service. An open heart is so readily touched; And blessed.
"I was glad when they said unto me, let us go unto the house of the Lord."

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

a new hero

My oldest sister was ten the year I was born. Her stories of growing up in Blue River have a familiar tang. They involve people and places I know. Occasionally, our stories intersect, or overlap, and I am reminded of the old parable of the five blind men and the elephant. Each one, upon touching the elephant described it. Each was sure that the elephant was like a tree, a piece of rope, a wall.
When my sister read a story that I had posted earlier in the summer, her teenage recall was different enough that I felt the story should have the altered version told.
Here first of all is the original story.

Grading a road is an acquired skill. My father spent many a long and bumpy day ploughing snow, winging shoulders and grading highways, byways and side roads.
All the roads around Blue River were gravel or dirt, and weather and wheels were not kind to them.
Remote as that town was, strangers passing through on their way to "somewhere" would find themselves sticking like a burr to a sock before life tugged them onward.
They would take whatever work they could turn their hand to.
Bob Underhill of motorcycle racing fame was one such vagabond.
Somehow, he ended up in a grader high on a dusty mountain road.
These were dangerous roads.
I'm sure he was warned to watch for logging trucks.
And I'm sure steep banks would have been mentioned too.
It's a pity no one thought to mention rabbits.
As the novice grader driver rounded a curve, a baby rabbit froze in the middle of the narrow gravel road.
Bob Underhill sealed his fate and drove, or rather, crashed over the embankment imperilling his life, the grader, and the mental health and blood pressure of his foreman.
He eventually stood in our doorway and opened his lunch box. To our surprise and delight, a brown baby bunny gazed blandly back at us.
It was given the run of the house for a time, hopping and darting and hiding, especially at night. I woke once to find moonlight glowing on my bed, the rabbit pausing on my pillow mid-leap.
Raising rabbits is an acquired skill and one my mother had no interest in perfecting and so our rabbit was encouraged to return to wild ways in the wild woods, far beyond highway and byway and side road.

Truth be told, Bob Underhill crashed over the bank of that dusty mountain road because his attention was elsewhere; on a baby rabbit in the cab of his grader. Perhaps it was leaping madly about. Perhaps he had stuffed it into his lunchbox and was checking to see if it had enough air.
He had thought to rescue it.
In the end, he had to rescue himself. 
Bob Underhill eventually stood outside our door alright, but it was to confess that the grader was over a bank. His explanation included a small rabbit that he admitted was inside his lunchbox miles away in the grader cab.
My father and mother had been about to head out for the evening.
Nothing could be done about the grader that night, and likely, nothing could have been done about Bob Underhill, but the rabbit........
My father headed off into the evening, over a long, bumpy, winding mountain road to rescue a tiny rabbit that had been hyperventilating in the cramped quarters of a lunchbox. Dad to the rescue.
I'm so glad my sister read my story and set me straight.
There is a new hero.
Thanks Dad!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

all of my life

I have been burning the midnight oil.
Two sisters and a niece were here for their annual fall visit.
I have loved eating together, our conversation punctuated by laughter.
I have loved squeezing into the car, our mother in the middle of us all, heading out to forage at thrift shops.
My sisters left home when I was a preschooler to board out for high school. I only have memories of them "visiting" on holidays as a little child.
They have lived a province away since I was a girl.
We see each other only once or twice a year.
It seems that I have been at a distance, looking up to them all of my life.
They are women I admire and respect and my niece is cut from the same cloth. Ahhhh, family!
Have you ever noticed that you don't really have to have much in common with someone to love and admire them. In fact, sometimes the very best of friendships occur between two very unlikely people; two very different people. Maybe strengths and weaknesses interlock. Perhaps there is, as my little grandson would say, a "symbiotic relationship;" a mutual benefiting.
Whatever the mystery, love and friendship and family are gifts. The very best that life offers.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

just how she felt

My mother lost her wedding band. One day it was snug and safe on her finger and the next...... well, it wasn't. We tried to remember when we had seen it last. We looked in all of the places one might be inclined to put a ring. "It's not really lost," I said, clearly in denial. "It's just misplaced." Lost has such a heart gripping finality. Misplaced on the other hand, is a word infused with hope.
As months passed we reluctantly accepted the fact that her ring might never be found, might indeed be lost forever.
Last summer, my parents celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary. A sister who is made up of equal parts, spontaneity and sentimentality seized the occasion to replace my mother's band on my father's behalf. A loving gesture.
Yesterday as I swept my mother's kitchen floor, I knelt and peered under the edge of a cabinet. It was the sort of spot that called for a vacuum. A crevice tool would have made short work of that dust, but providentially I stooped, delving with the long stiff bristles of the broom. It took a bit to wrestle out the dust and mysterious fossilized fragments, a bit of hard plastic, a dried leaf, and there, gleaming dully, my mother's golden wedding band.
I rushed up the stairs.
"Sit down Mom," I announced dramatically. "I have something wonderful to tell you."
There is a story in the Bible about a woman who loses a coin. It was the middle eastern version of a wedding band, something worn as a bridal adornment.
She lit a lamp and swept her house.
And found her coin.
And called her neighbors and rejoiced!!! That which was lost is found.
We know just how she felt.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

they must have stories

Two elderly East Indian gentlemen are seated together, their turbaned heads almost touching as they bend over a globe of the world. They do not glance up as I slowly pass, so deep are they in conversation, pointing and tracing with their fingers.
I wish I was included in the conversation.
They have seen sights I will never see.
I admire the close knit community they share. Elderly friends on park benches or clustered round picnic tables at the park.
They must have stories to tell.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Wells Grrrr

Piglet used to live in a Beech Tree, south of Pooh's house, 100 Acre Wood Southwest. Next to this house was a piece of a broken sign which read, "Trespassers W." This was believed to be Piglet's grandfather's name, and it is short for "Trespassers Will", which is short for "Trespassers William". Piglet's grandfather had had two names in case he lost one - Trespassers after his uncle, and William after Trespassers.
--A.A. Milne

My daughter, influenced by this bit of literary brilliance, has placed a piece of broken sign outside her door that reads, Wells Gr....pronounced Wells Grrrr.
It directed visitors to the Wells Grey Park many a long year ago and its painter never dreamed his sign would be immortalized I'm sure.


My daughter is a subterranean dweller. She descends a flight of stairs and enters a refreshing and perpetually cool space. While the rest of us wilt and droop in the afternoon heat, she slips on woolly socks and sips Earl Grey.
Not long after she settled into her new abode, a wayward frog leapt carelessly into her window well. He entertained us by clambering up the glass, his toes and fingers like tiny suction cups. He was as cute as any frog could be.
This past week, upon exiting her home, my daughter spotted a tiny frog perched on a wooden sign propped outside her door. Two subterranean dwellers exchanged appreciative glances.

perhaps bravely

As I padded across the cool floor this morning, heading for a patch of sun by the window to enjoy my tea my eyes settled with delight upon a vignette on my coffee table.
My daughter and son-in-law have taken seriously the task of civilizing their small children. Putting away toys before departing is one way they strive to keep barbaric tendencies at bay. Sure enough, the living room and dining room have been restored to their pre-chaos state, but two small toys were missed in the sweep.
It is not just which two that is so funny, but their positions that makes me stop and laugh.
The Fisher Price grandmother is lying on her back smiling blandly, or perhaps bravely while a fearsome dinosaur, a meat eater for sure, towers over her, his mouth opened in a perpetual roar, his clawed arms raised threateningly.
"I've fallen and I can't get up!" 

at least they were white

I wielded the garden hose, morning, noon and night today. We haven't had much rain, and I thought I heard a couple of my plants coughing.
Roses greedily gulped down the water, it barely had a chance to pool.
Echinacea leaned gratefully towards the spray and the Bergamot rewarded me with a heady, mint like scent.
Later as I watered in the cooling evening air, moths surprised me, startled as they were by the unexpected icy blast.
It reminded me of my friend's wedding day.
We had purchased hanging baskets in the spring in anticipation of her late summer wedding. It is almost impossible to find lush baskets for sale in August, and we hoped to pamper a host of white bloomers along through the hot summer months and bring them to their prime for the big day.
Home they came from the greenhouse and under our shady deck we hung them, out of the heat and wind. They flourished and filled out, pale and pretty as befitted their bridal destiny.
The festal day arrived at last and we tenderly unhung them and gingerly transported them.
The wedding was to be outdoors in a shady bower.
Chairs were being drawn into a semi-circle as we arrived with a flourish of flowers.
One by one, they were lifted from the truck and lock stepped into place.
They sat atop pillars like great green and white orbs. So beautiful.
After the final "I do," as pictures were being snapped and clicked, we bore the flowers into the golf course dining room to augment the decorations.
It seems strange to me even now, that after moving the flowers hither and yon, including a ride in the back of a truck, that they waited to yield their secret until the wedding reception was beginning.
In fact, it was almost on cue, like doves being released, that white moths burst out of the greenery and headed for the rafters. At least they were white.