Wednesday, October 29, 2014

carry the torch

Is October supposed to look this fresh?
All up the street, lawns lie green as ever.
The sun is slanting down from a summer-blue sky.
Roses still bloom, a haze of pink on branch tips,
while the white anemone flutter like a dozen butterflies.

My pumpkins glowing at the edge of the garden say 'autumn' loud and clear though.
And so do the blueberry bushes.
Blueberry leaves don't just turn color, they flame.
Blueberry bushes carry the torch for Autumn.

gentler on the skin

Sometimes I feel like I'm tumbling in a clothes dryer.
I'm feeling the heat.
I don't know which way is up and which is down.
I'm getting a glimpse out the window from time to time but that's about it.
Mind you, there are lots of stories that way.
Life feels very eventful that way.
It's just that if I don't write them down, they become part of the swirling color, going round and round.
And when I finally get to them, some are kind of wrinkled.
Some have shrunk a bit.
But some shake out as fresh as the day they were new.
Better even.
Gentler on the skin.

we did

I wanted to be early.
You know.....that psychological advantage you get from being early, from being able to take your time, to settle in, to get the lay of the land.
And to know for a certainty that you won't be LATE.
I left home in plenty of time.
I drove the fastest route.
I parked as close as I could.
I hastened straight and true to the right floor, and the right room.
Others had clearly felt as I for the room wasn't empty and continued to fill.
I turned on the computer.
I unpacked my textbooks.
I lined up my pencils and eraser.
I signed on to my student account.
I signed on to the library.
I signed on to my favourite data base.
I signed in and signed in.
There was a brief emergency whence I couldn't remember one of my user ID's. Gadzooks! Why is it always the simple ones we forget.
The room took on the hum of commiseration, common before exams.
The hand of the clock jerked ahead.
Almost time...almost time...
And then, there in the doorway, the voice of doom.
We had all been told the wrong room.
The entire class, settled and poised for action must move across the campus to a distant building and an unknown room.
And quickly.
Mid-terms are a limited time offer.
As students lept up and headed as one for the door I began to sign out.
Click, click, click click, click, argggghhhhh, click, click, click.
So much for psychological advantage.
Back into my bag went my text books and pencils.
I scooped up my purse and my jacket and my bag.
I galloped out the door with the rest of the harried horde.
As we panted down corridors and  galloped down sidewalks a growing sense of calm enveloped me.
"We're getting some oxygen to our brains," I gasped to the girl, fleeing beside me.
"We'll likely all do better on the test for this."
And I think we did.

i sat

I sat and watched the changing sky this morning.
Watched a circle of blue, wreathed by cloud.
And then in moments, it seemed,
the cloud realigned in rows, dark against light,
light against dark,
and the sky beyond was burnished silver bright.

Monday, October 20, 2014

truly home

"I'm going to go home," my mother states firmly, her face filled with emotion.
"I'm sure my mother is missing me," she adds, and then, to help me understand, she adds, "She lives three miles out of town you know."
My grandmother lived most of her adult life 'out of town' and her move to Clearwater in her 80's, into an apartment in a seniors complex was truly life altering. I'm sure there were many things about her log home surrounded by woods that she missed, but she never spoke with regret about her move. Instead, she seemed to embrace the change. Now there were next door neighbors and friends and outings and socials and visiting galore. She continued with good humor to keep her own small space, did her own cooking, took long walks daily........Her life was full of all of the things that give daily life meaning. All of the simple things, of friendship and hobby and faith and family, and in just the right amounts of each to suit the unique woman she was.
She has been gone now for more than twenty years.
It seems much longer somehow.
My mother's childhood home has been gone even longer.
My mother doesn't realize that to go home, she would need to be a time traveler.
She would need to 'break the bonds' that hold us to this time and place.
In this time and place she is an old woman.
But in that place, she is truly home.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

sink or swim

Oh, for a moment last night, I thought I heard the rustle of wings, as my hopes and dreams fluttered out the window.
Too melodramatic?
Well, my baby granddaughter doesn't call me Drama for nothing.
I don't have time to wallow though.
The next wave is already rolling in and I have to concentrate to keep my footing.
It's sink or swim.

Monday, October 13, 2014

plainly preferred

A positively peachy, plainly preferred pile of perfectly plump pancakes placed by papa on a pleasantly pretty plate. 

word of the day

The average house was once pretty little.
There was no place to hide back then.
Togetherness was the word of the day.
Then Rumpus Rooms came into existence.
Rumpus is a great word.
It says noise, loud and clear.
Play brought indoors.
It was a first step on a slippery slope.
Rec Rooms came next. Funny, I always thought of them as Wreck Rooms.
Same idea as rumpus, but a little more structured. The kids weren't just bouncing off the furniture anymore, they were playing table tennis on the coffee table.
Back then fathers had Dens.
Hibernation was more than implied.
It was often quite literal.
The shift to Family Rooms really spoke to a cultural shift.
So did the advent of Great Rooms.
And the idea of Open Concept.

Kind of makes me think of the expression, Children should be seen and not heard.
Of course when I was a child, we were neither seen or heard. We shot out the door first thing in the morning and rambled and roamed til dusk, only reappearing briefly to wolf down our macaroni and cheese.
By the time I had children of my own, there had been that subtle shift in culture. Children were kept a little closer, under the wing.
And it is even more so now.

Still, I wouldn't want to say we've got it right. Nor would I want to say that then was better.
Time swirls along.
Things change.
We still have families though.
And homes.
And all those words from the past can have a place.
Noise, play, space, openness, change.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

vintage woman

"That was a car from the nineties," my grandson observes, turning in the truck to look out the side window.
"From the can you tell?" I ask.
"They just look different," he kindly explains. "They're an older style."
I do the math.
"When I was your age," I say, "an older style was a car from the fifties."
"The fifties!!" he exclaims.
"That was more than fifty years ago."
"They would be antiques now," I muse.
"Grandma, you're an antique.
Because you're more than fifty years old."
"Well," I bluster.
"Not an antique. I'm not antique. Maybe vintage..."
A vintage woman.
Sure sounds better than an antique one.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

spectator sport

It's Garbage Day today; the crows favorite spectator sport.
They arrived early to get the best seats.
They're loud and pushy already.
Down the street, the Concession is open and they are elbowing each other out of the way.
It's all about the food.

like a leaf

There was a hummingbird in my yard the other day. It zipped from the late delphinium blossoms to the top of the plum tree. My eyes were not as swift, but there it was, right at the tip of a branch like a curled leaf. A bird, like a small green leaf against the October sky.

thin air

I love how crows just step out into thin air

  and drop to the ground

    as light as a feather.


It looks like a game of tag. A mourning dove is perched on the street lamp with its back to my yard. Robins are diving recklessly out of the Juniper trees along the driveway as though rushing to their hiding place....10...9...8...7....The air is full of the laughter of birds.


"Why are they called napkins," my grandson asks, smoothing the expanse of whiteness out over his lap. "They should be called lapkins because they go on your lap."
"Yes," I say, my eyes brightening. "That would be perfect."
"But I imagine the word napkin in very old and probably borrowed from a French word, like nappe..."
"Borrowed?" he says, puzzled.
"Lots of English words are borrowed from other languages. I'll find out."
And it turns out to be true.
Napkin is a Middle English word. So it's old.
And it was borrowed. From the Old French word 'nappe' which means tablecloth or table covering, which had been borrowed in kind, from the Latin word mappa. Then the diminutive, 'kin' for little, borrowed from the Dutch, was added for good measure. Interestingly, the Old French already had a diminutive. It was naperon from which apron later emerged. A small covering.
So 'napkin' means, a small covering as well.
I love how words change over time.
I love words.
I always loved that page at the beginning of the Readers Digest. I think it was called Testing Your Word Power or something like that. It was a multiple choice word test. The part I liked best was reading the origin or the word. Seeing the Latin. Seeing how the word was made up of bits and pieces, cobbled together.
I always wondered who the first bright soul was that coined a word.
And marveled that it caught on.
And lasted.
Like Lapkin, a little covering for your lap.

Thursday, October 2, 2014


I rifled about in a bin of my stationary odds and ends. Mostly odds.
Here for your entertainment are three cards-
  • a watercolor cat-As children, we had a cat that looked sort of like this one. We imaginatively named it Kitty.
  • a pencil sketch-based on a wonderful salt shaker
  • a paper cartoon bird-was part of a set of six I made once upon a time. Some of the others had eggshell halves included. Good for baby showers that way, or spring.