Wednesday, February 29, 2012

ordinary life

There is no such thing as an ordinary life.
Each one has something of once upon a time about it; A clash of good and evil.
We dream in fiction and long for happily ever after and yet, heroes abound. Heroes so unlikely they move among us unseen. Their very strength is in their weakness.
It will not necessarily be the strong that win the battle, nor the swift, the race.

someones grandmother

We whiled away our evening watching American Idol.
Tonight I discovered my mother has been thinking that Steven Tyler is a woman; "Someones grandmother," she thought;
An elderly judge.
So much for immortal rock star.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

short and sweet

"Tell me a story," I beg my granddaughter.
"Once upon a time," she begins importantly.
"There was a little bear and he went skipping along,"
She pauses for effect.
"The end." she pronounces.
Short and sweet, just like my granddaughter.

Saturday, February 25, 2012


The little house in Blue River is still there, just at the edges of my memory. And it comes to mind surprisingly often.
My parents bedroom door was kept closed; less for the coal furnace to heat.
It remained perpetually cool, like a walk in refrigerator.
This may be why my parents stowed our winter cashe of apples there.
I remember opening that door, and inhaling the chilled, apple scented air.
Strongly sweetly, icily fresh.
Falling asleep must have been so heavenly in that room.
Aromatherapy at its finest.
When I mentioned this memory to my daughter she could suddenly taste homemade apple sauce, such is the sensory power of memory.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

delayed CPR

Our computer slipped into a coma yesterday morning.
We thought it had died.
We began to make final arrangements.
We spoke softly and went about the house with a pucker on our forehead.
There were things we would miss.
Things left undone.
Today, in an act of desperation, or denial, who knows, my husband tried to start it up.
The computer leapt back to life.
Perhaps the heroic effort made yesterday morning, wielding the vacuum cleaner hose, had brought it back from the brink like delayed CPR.
It likely has one foot on a banana peel, but we are grateful its days have been extended.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

long bibs

Rifling through drawers lately, I came upon a bib that was once used by my grandchildren; Part of the essential meal time uniform.
Our little grandchildren have sprouted up so their shirt fronts are on their own now.
There are days though. when I could use a bib myself. Usually a white shirt day. Gravy gravitates toward spotless shirt fronts.
It reminds me of Cherry Johnston from long ago Blue River. All the children called her Grandma Johnston. She was a sort of community property.
She made soft boiled eggs for her husband Fred each morning, and served them in egg cups.
Except Sunday morning.
On Sunday morning, she prepared hard boiled eggs so that egg yolk wouldn't drip on his tie, because everyone knows that ties aren't just long bibs.

when I grow up

I was eleven the summer between grade six and grade seven. I exuded the careless charm that gives beauty to the young. Pictures show a slim girl with long hair and glowing eyes.
I went to summer camp every year and this one was no different. Well actually it was very different. I had a secret admirer. A boy had been smitten by my casual indifference. He followed my every girlish move from a far. He eventually found the courage to step forward and take my hand when I slipped clambering over tangled branches on an evening stroll and kept my hand firmly in his.
Camp ended and letters passed between us. He sent me a necklace, won at Playland. It was half a heart, a broken one with my name engraved upon it. Truly symbolic as it turns out.
We didn't see each other until the following summer. He lived on the Sunshine Coast, and went to a private boys school. Rich AND handsome.
It was apparent immediately that the charm of the previous summer could not be recaptured. I had stepped over the threshold into teenage angst and teenage acne.
He left me for an older woman. I believe she was twelve, the hussy.
My heart wasn't broken at all, just embarrassed. Time worked its magic and the memory has become a very warm one, a memory of early love, half hearted as is was. I readily forgave, and retained my romantic optimism. I like who I started out to be, that girl I was. I hope I can be more like her when I grow up.

and I wanted to

My aunt was the town Swim Instructor in Blue River when I was a girl, but like the Shoe Makers barefoot children, her own niece was a non-swimmer. My conscientious aunt took this failure to heart.
I recall her towering over me in waist deep water, commanding me to float. Schools of tadpoles darted past, and the distant sandy bottom of the lake wavered menacingly. The fact that she wanted me to try something called the "Dead Man's Float" didn't help either.
"I won't let you sink," she promised with an impatient sigh, not unlike a politician. Of course I promptly sank.
Summers passed and we moved away. I eventually learned to swim on my own as an eleven year old. That summer I experienced the brief interval between childhood caution and teen age angst that resulted in an overabundance of confidence. I could do whatever I wanted it seemed. And I wanted to swim.

Monday, February 20, 2012

half the fun

My little granddaughter wistfully suggested swimming this week, and added, "in a pool," in case I might suggest taking a bath instead.
It has made me recall the brevity of swimming season in Blue River as a preschooler.
One summer my sister and I had matching swimsuits. I think I could sketch them still; a tie behind the neck, with a fabulous print, clearly sixties inspired. They were made from canvas fabric, fully lined and beruffled. As we waded into the lake, air became trapped between the layers and turned us into giant whoopi cushions.
Man, I loved those bathing suits.
We shrieked with laughter as we bobbed like corks, and did our part aerating the lake.
The swimsuit was half the fun of swimming..

Thursday, February 16, 2012


Show me a library book, and I'll show you an overdue fine waiting to happen.
"There really is no excuse for overdue books," I scolded myself, rummaging for my wallet. "They can be renewed online for goodness sakes. And the library even emails a warning."
Nevertheless, there I stood at the counter, bank card in hand.
It seems fitting that my grandson asked his mother the other day when the books he had checked out would be "overdoomed."

Saturday, February 11, 2012


Isn't it funny that what we consider charming eccentricities in those we care about, can turn into Very Annoying Habits in the blink of an eye?
And circumstances that we have tolerated with bland indifference suddenly trigger our fight or flight response.
And situations that made us roll our eyes take on such magnitude that we stagger backwards in dismay.
Or even despair.
Feelings are fickle.
Reality is subjective.
But Love is bedrock.
You can build on it,
And cling to it.

"Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love."


Today a ball connected with my nose. My hands flew to my face by instinct.
"I'm sorry Grandma," my grandson quavered.
I think I need a hug," I told him.
"I need a hug too," he sobbed.
"Well, that works out perfectly then." I assured him.
As I gingerly wrinkled my nose, I suddenly recalled a long ago plane ride.
As I returned to my seat from a trip to the washroom, I was puzzled to see my seat mate laughing with her hands to her face.
"What?" I asked. "What's so funny?"
"The pilot came out of the cockpit," she choked.
I stared at her.
"Then you opened the washroom door." she gasped.
"When you closed it, he was standing there with his hands over his nose. He turned around and went back into the cockpit!" She collapsed in mirth.
He never came back out.
He probably spent the rest of the trip wrinkling his nose.
Probably didn't get a hug either.

time has value

Do you ever feel like your life is flying down the track like a freight train? Days are flashing past the window, but you can barely make out the passing scenery. 
Spending time.
I love that expression.
Time has value.
I don't always feel like I am choosing how to spend it though.
I am busy doing, doing, and yet many important things are left undone.
Good intentions gather dust.
I once read that any act no matter how small is greater than the greatest intention.
I think I need to ponder how I really want to spend my time.
What is valuable to me and those I love.
And then spend time.

Friday, February 10, 2012


I love this picture of my brother. The baby is my cousin and neither boy knew then that a decade later, they would live in the same house. My brother attended BCIT and boarded with my cousin's family while he trained to be a barber. 
I must say, I recommend big brothers.
According to family legend, my brother who had enjoyed his post as youngest of three, viewed the arrival of my sister in his fifth year, dubiously. He nibbled his cuffs and collar til they frayed; an outward symbol of his inner disquietude, poor lamb.
When I arrived two years later, he was a seasoned big brother.
You can see in the photo that his opinion of babies had vastly improved from his cuff nibbling days.
I like to think that it was me who changed his mind.
Doesn't he have the hands of a violin player?
He inherited the blonde hair of his Nordic grandfather and the gentle humour of his father. Practical and wise like his Irish grandmother, thrifty and steadfast as his mother.
He was seven years older than me and I remember thinking it strange when I reached the age he was when he died. We were the same age at last.
And I remember, as time passed, that I became the one that was seven years older.
Somehow though, his place as big brother remains unchanged.
I had spent so many years looking up to him that my love has been unaltered by time and age.                                                   

her thoughts

"Don't stay up too late," my mother admonished, peering around the doorway into the kitchen.
I laughed, "That's the fourth time you've told me that tonight. That's more times than when I was a teenager."
My mom's short term memory is no longer something she can count on.
She will tend to repeat things that are on her mind because she has no idea that she has already given voice to her thoughts.
But those thoughts are oft times worth repeating.
Gratitude, encouragement, compassion.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

friends in waiting

There are books in every room of my house.
They stand in stacks on the fireplace hearth and lean toward the light on side tables.
Some are old friends and some are just old.
Friends in waiting.
I idly opened one the other day and stared at the inscription on the fly leaf.
Almost one hundred years have passed since my great aunts presented it to my grandfather as a Christmas gift.
All We Like Sheep by Nellie McClung.
She was quite an author, and quite a woman.
It doesn't surprise me that my grandmother's sisters chose that book for my grandpa.
He was quite a man.

sort of like ballet

Who says quilting is a sedentary pursuit.
I worked on a small project yesterday.
I had unwisely chosen to use my coffee table as my design wall.
It is many steps from my dining room table where my sewing machine waited.
After each tiny seam was sewn, I dashed across the room and collected the next block in line.
Back and forth, back and forth.
It would have made a wonderful time lapse video.
My ironing board was just as far away but in an entirely different direction.
One of those work triangles gone wrong.
Each seam was destined to be pressed.
I rose from my machine and flitted back and forth to the iron too.
Back and forth, and forth and back.
It was like a workout but with something to show for it at the end.
Exercise and art.
Sort of like ballet.

before my eyes

I caught a cold before my own eyes today.
I ignored the distant rumble of sneezes.
The darkening clouds of congestion.
The threatening throat tickle.
And then I realized that I couldn't outrun the storm.
It was upon me in an instant.
At days end, I staggered out into the parking lot and grimly steered for home.
Family fled before me.
I am self medicating with Vitamin D and blogging.
Here's hoping it will blow over (wow, what a pun) during the night and that morning will be clear and sweetly bright.

and dined

I left for work so early this morning that birds were eating their breakfast.
I know this for a fact because a large hawk,
a gray silhouette against the pale sky,
gripped his breakfast under foot high in a tree, and dined.

early warning siren

Years ago on an evening stroll, my observant mother pointed out a small snake. It was travelling in the same direction as we were through the long grass at the side of the road.
My reaction seemed a bit over the top to her. "Ahhhhhhhh!!!!" I screamed.
"Snake? Snake!" I sobbed, clutching her arm. You are never too old to need your mother's moral support.
"Well," she stated reproachfully, "I wouldn't have pointed him out if I'd known you were going to act like that."
I can no longer count the number of times that I have acted as an early warning siren.
The latest, was yesterday.
Only it was a false alarm, but not unlike a fire drill in its benefit.
We had gone for a trek to a wooded park.
I had been pointing out clues to my grandchildren.
Clues that a creature had been there ahead of us.
We saw mole hills and owl pellets.
We saw a tuft of fur and a feather.
We saw the round entrance of tiny tunnels meandering into the yellowed grass.
As my feet strayed from the path I pondered aloud. "Looks like a mouse's..."
My daughter contradicted, "Looks like a snake..."
"Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh," I screeched.
"Where, where?" I gasped.
I can still see my grandson's startled face
and hear his sober confession.
"I jumped Grandma."
But not as high as me I bet or with as much foot and arm action.
It's good to check your reflexes from time to time.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

a heavy load

Wise people check pockets before they do the laundry. Over the years I have washed and dried pens and pencils, nails and screws, coins and five and twenty dollar bills (giving new meaning to the expression, laundered money). I have had to remove Pot O' Gloss from the inside of my dryer, and disintegrated kleenex and shopping lists from the inside of my washer.
At least I haven't accidentally laundered the family pet like my sister, who once washed and spun a rabbit.
Today, I forgot to check my mothers pockets and washed a spool of thread. It unwound and held the entire load hostage, tied in bunchy knots.
I wish washers were equipped with a sensor that would warn of impending doom.
From now on, I resolve to add one piece of laundry at a time, each carefully checked.
At least for the next load.

words to live by

As I stood in the soup aisle holding a can in each hand, a store clerk hesitantly asked, "Are you finding everything you're looking for?"
Looking is the problem, I thought to myself. "Yes, thanks," I nodded. "I just wish my eyes were still working."
His face brightened and he strode quickly to my side. "Hold your fingers like this," he instructed, pinching his pointer and middle finger against his thumb. "See that little tiny space here," he gestured. "You just hold that up to your eye and you'll be able to read...." He must have seen my expression because he added somewhat sheepishly, "Of course it looks sort of goofy."
"Oh," I hastened, quickly following his advice. "That's amazing." And then, " I wonder why that works?"
It must narrow the focus I guess, and get rid of the distractions.
Words to live by.