Wednesday, December 25, 2019

I heard the bells

I have a favourite Christmas carol. It has been my favourite for so many years that I don't even remember beginning to love it. It is just part of Christmas for me.
I went to a tiny little church in a tiny little town when I was a child. The pastor was a passionate and theatrical man who loved to sing and maybe I first heard it sung there. Or maybe I learned it from the printed sheets that were doled out every December in school, hand over hand from desk to desk.
I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day began life as a poem written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. It was 1863, right in the middle of the Civil War which now that I think of it explains the pain and passion so palpable.
Nine years later a musician and composer named John Baptiste Calkin, set Longfellow's poem to music and it has 'rolled along th'unbroken song' ever since.

I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along th’unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head:
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

Till, ringing, singing, on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

Monday, December 16, 2019

artist's portfolio

She looked very small sitting in the giant office chair.
She had scrolled and tapped until she sat gazing at an online tutorial. "How to draw a cup of Hot Chocolate with Marshmallows."
Taking a fresh piece of white paper and a pencil, she was soon seriously sketching and erasing.
All was going so well.
When her picture was finished, I was summoned to fetch felt pens and she began to outline as carefully as can be.
I love when my grandchildren are creating.
I was pondering the joy of it all when I heard a little voice cry out.
"I don't LIKE it!"
This was followed by a heartbreaking wail.
And then, "It didn't turn out the way I wanted."
Wails turned into sobs.
How strange that I was suddenly filled with inexplicable delight.
Delight?!
"Oh, you're and Artist!" I gasped.
"That is exactly how Artists feel many times," I added, thinking of the many times Artist's Angst has gripped me.
We soon had her picture taped to the window and a fresh piece of paper taped over it.
She carefully traced it and began again with the felt pens. I showed her how to keep the spots of light that were so important to her.
She colored it all in.
There is such happiness in pushing past the angst and finishing.
A giant manila envelope became her Artist's Portfolio.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

think I could

"Cut my pie into four pieces. I don't think I could eat eight." Yogi Berra

Thursday, November 7, 2019

arcanum somnum

I woke in dim early morning light, ascending slowly up from the depths of sleep.
I'd been dreaming;
One of those strange, long, complicated tales where things are both bizarre and familiar.
It occurred to me that my life is being reviewed while I sleep.
Bit and pieces and chunks of experience not deemed necessary for filing away, end up knee deep on the editing room floor.
And then, some impish sprite gathers them up willy nilly, splices them together and there it is, my dream in living color and surround sound;
A dream, flickering at the back of my eyelids like a strange indie movie with an obscure plot.
Arcanum somnum, mysterious sleep.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

their prime

Leaves are crisp and curled in November.
Maple red, Alder orange, Birch yellow.
But not the fern.
They are in their prime.
Lush and lacy green
 Catching the slanting sun of Autumn.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Sunday, October 20, 2019

a marvel

"I'm sorry, I was thinking so hard about something that my ears quit working," I confessed to my granddaughter.
She nodded wisely and knowingly. "Have you noticed that everything is so LOUD when you start to hear again?" she asked.
Dear girl!
It felt wonderful, not only to be graciously forgiven, but also commiserated with in the comforting way comparison can have.
Isn't forgiveness a marvel?

Thursday, October 10, 2019

thinking small






My granddaughter had watched me stitching felt rabbits and baby rabbits and more baby rabbits and it occurred to her that since I seemed to be a toy factory, perhaps I was the right person to ask for a dog.
A toy dog of course.
She wanted it to be dark brown, like long ago Charlie.
She wanted it to have puppies.
Puppies that could be born before her eyes and nursed.
I suggested velcro and snap fasteners.
She suggested zippers and magnets.
Amazingly, the very next week I pounced on a package of the worlds smallest magnets at a thrift shop. They needed to be very small to fit inside a tiny puppy face as well as stitched in a row on the mother's side.
I gathered my supplies.
Plotting and planning followed.
A lying down dog seemed necessary.
I snipped and stitched.
And snipped and stitched.
Soon there was a small mother dog, brown like Charlie, and two little puppies that had a magnetic pull towards their mother just as you would expect of puppies.
I was pondering the stomach closure when my granddaughter visited.
I whisked out the dogs with a flourish.
Gadzooks!
She had imagined a toy dog big enough to be a real dog.
I had imagined a toy dog small enough to fit in the palm of her hand.
I had been thinking small.
She had been thinking big.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

parts

Sometimes old snippets of songs waft out from where ever they are usually held in cold storage. Yesterday it was a Round I learned in elementary school; Sweetly Sings the Donkey. (By the way, there is nothing sweet about a donkey braying. It could stop your heart.)

Sweetly sings the donkey
At the break of day
If you do not feed him
This is what he'll say
Hee haw, hee haw
Hee haw, hee haw, hee haw.
Hee haw, hee haw
Hee haw, hee haw, hee haw.

Some afternoons, our teacher would stop writing on the blackboard.
She would fix us with a sprightly smile and wave her arm.
Hazah, we were divided into groups.
Group one would launch into song.
Just as they teetered on the brink of the second stanza she would fix her eyes on group two and waving her arm, stir them into action. Sometimes there was even a third group and heaven help us, a forth.
Children all around the room squinted their ears and sang with fervor. They tried not to listen to, in fact, they tried not to even hear the person singing one row over. Listening to the song as it rolled out in waves was a fatal mistake as your voice invariably followed your ears.
That is because Rounds are the musical version of patting your head while rubbing your stomach.

I told my grandson today that it reminds me of politics.
People are all singing their song as loudly as they can.
They are not listening to anyone else if they can possibly help it.

Our teacher always let us sing the song through several times and gradually a second song emerged to our amazed ears. A harmony that went in and around and up and away.

That's the hope isn't it, with politics, that somehow, the very different lyrics will blend and become greater in their sum than their parts.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

cute rats

As we hurried across the grass towards the parking lot, a squirrel seemed to be hurrying across the grass towards us!
Closer and closer it bounded until it was nearly at our feet, eyes locked on ours. Then standing on its hind legs it gazed hopefully up.
My co-worker spoke suddenly from just behind me. "I'm sort of scared of them," she said hesitantly.
"They're really just cute rats," I said by way of seeing her point of view.
Moments later as I sat behind the steering wheel looking right and left and back and forth before backing out of my parking spot, a small rabbit glanced mildly my way whilst thoughtfully chewing a long strand of grass just where I had walked moments before.
I wound down the windows of my car and joined the traffic pouring out of Abbotsford towards the freeway.
As I skimmed along past a marshy parkway, a squadron of Canadian Geese flying in very tight formation overhead was lowering landing gear. A flash of tail feather and wing and they were banking to the right, dropping down out of sight behind me.
I was reminded of the story of the Country Mouse and the City Mouse and the amazing way animals make themselves at home even as what is city and what is country blur.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

stashed






I really love hand work.
I love to take bits of this and that, and snip and sew.
The screeching and honking of life waft up, up and away and I am left calmly and contentedly creating.
I had thought I was going to make a doll or two, but my scissors had other ideas.
A little felt, pigeon-toed rabbit with bright black eyes and soft, twitchy, pink nose seemed so much more inspired.
I am delighted to report that I had the absolutely most perfectly matching thread EVER in my stash.
And I had black beads for eyes.
And a little scrap of pink felt for the nose.
And tiny buttons to make joints so Bun could sit and stand and bend...
And I had stuffing. A nice big frothy bag of it.
And fabric scraps from my mothers scrap bag for the dress.
And I had ric-rac.
And even the crocheted flower.
Oh, and a pom pom for the tail in just the right color and just the right size! What are the odds I ask you?
Now that is a stash to be proud of.

Monday, July 29, 2019

maestro

Some musical instruments are pretty tricky to tune.
Notes can be elusive.
But finding those notes is so satisfying.

He asked for drinking glasses from the cupboard.
Tall, short, wide, even the crystal one that belonged to great gramma. (she used it to press a star into gingersnap cookie dough) 
He asked for a chopstick.
And he asked for a jug of water to pour. ( in and out and in and in and out and in)
There were so many notes to choose from.

Voila! A musical instrument.
My grandson; maker and maestro.



Friday, July 26, 2019

waiting

My little granddaughter and I lingered in a hallway....waiting and waiting.
I turned just in time to see her standing,
palms together reverently,
bowing deeply,
so politely,
and then,
quick as lightning her foot shot out and up in a perfectly deadly karate kick.
Hiiiiiiiiiyaaaaaaah!

Sunday, July 21, 2019

from kindness

Otter Coop is a store that invites wandering.
It's a grocery store,
and a clothing store,
a shoe store,
hardware shop,
farm supply store,
garden centre,
tack shop,
card shop,
boutique,
coffee shop,
cafeteria,
bakery,
toy store,
post office,
pharmacy.....
My dad loved shopping there because he could sit down and sip a mug of coffee and strike up a conversation while my Mom and I loaded our carts with jugs of milk and cartons of eggs.
Time has hastened onward and I shop alone now.
I fit grocery shopping into the gaps and chinks of my days as needed.
The other sort of shopping, the window and wander sort of shopping is taken as needed too.  Like a prescription of sorts.
It was on one of those wanders that I found myself standing in a gardening aisle lined floor to ceiling with bags of bulbs and tubers, their bright cardboard packaging startling me to a standstill.
Dahlia, Hosta, Day Lily, Begonia, Gladioulus.
I reached out and pulled one from its hanger, turning the packaging and squinting into the sawdust for signs of life.
I turned to go as my eyes drifted up, up, up to the top row.
Gloxinias!!
Oh, Gloxinias, with their giant velvet bells.
Ruffled bells.
And giant velvet leaves too.
My parents always had Gloxinias; regal red, luscious burgundy, blooming in a window amidst the green tangle.
My father in-law had them too. Always.
I stood on tip-toe to reach one down and had to use another package to inch it forward on the hook.
As I turned it over and over I could see a sturdy little shoot of tender green, bravely sprouting.
I felt a desperate pity, like looking at an abandoned puppy on a doorstep.
I rushed to the till, averting my gaze from all the rest.
I planted, watered and hovered.
Up it came.
And up.
Seemed kind of leggy.
Maybe the light filtering through the blinds wasn't enough. Light filtering forest is different from light filtering through window blinds.
Humid mountain air is different from a drinking glass of tap water.
Poor little Gloxinia.
I moved it outside where it could look up and see the sky and feel the rain.
There should be a comfort in that I thought.
I hadn't considered the bugs though.
Our Canadian bugs.
Their eyes lit up with joy.
They fell upon my poor Gloxinia as though it were expensive imported cheese.
It's back in the kitchen again, recovering from kindness.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

eyes to see it

This photo was taken in 1930's Blue River.
I was a child of the 60's, but I recognize it in a moment.
In fact, because it is so familiar, I had failed to really LOOK at the picture.
I had missed the reason someone bothered to raise viewfinder to eye and snap away.
At first glance, the distant hills with their comforting contour, the wooded shore, the clump of birch are all so Lake Eleanor.
(though we always called it Blue River Lake)
And I can't help thinking the diving platform seems mighty close to shore.
(It was later moved somewhat but not enough. My brother dove from it and broke his wrist on the bottom of the lake which he arrived at too quickly)
It wasn't until this morning, as I wandered through a file of old black and whites that I paused and really looked at this picture for once.
And that is when I noticed it.
Out there in the middle.
On a log.
Stately as a king.
A heron.
Or crane of some kind.
Not something I ever saw growing up in Blue River.
Not something the photographer had grown accustomed to seeing either.
And so they took the picture.
There was no zoom feature.
No crop or resize available.
So the marvelous, amazing, unusual sight remained exactly where it was.
Out in the middle of the lake on a log.
In the center of the photograph.
Right in front, for anyone with eyes to see it.

Monday, July 15, 2019

upcyled birds


Upcyling is a joyous thing.
 Paint chips snip snapped into birds; cards for my bird loving Aunt.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

nearby


Blueberries are ON.
It doesn't take long to fill a pail in the cool slanting light of evening.


Row after row of blueberries, 
some large and tart, some shiny black and tasting of cinnamon.


Nearby, grapes of autumn are soaking up the sweetness of summer.

 
Raspberries are soon gone for another year.


And early apples scent the air.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

year by year


For several years I gave my Mom hydrangea for Mother's Day. 
They were always one giant pom pom of petals in a pot like a great, pink topiary, and when they finished flowering, we planted them out in the garden.


Pink they were and pink some remained. 
Others morphed into every shade of purple, changing year by year.

July Garden


Roses; tier upon tier, upon tier. Great heaps and drifts of them.


We didn't plant them. They came with the house, and were already well established when we arrived. Except for a wonderful peach/orange one that is getting more flamboyant every year.



The hollyhock weren't planted by us either, although they are in very different spots now. They drop their seeds willy nilly and have gradually edged their way around the lawn.


Hosta are so amazing. I love all of them. They have giant leaves in every shade of green. These are especially oversized, blue-green with especially generous flowers in lovely lavender.


And, these are garlic scapes. The stems curl and coil like preening geese. A gaggle of garlic geese.


The garden is a wondrous thing in July.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

opera


I knew the children would all be in bed when I stopped by one evening.
Drat.
No chance to say hello or goodbye.
But then a head appeared in the window,
popping up like a gopher on the prairie.
I paused, one leg in the car,
almost leaving,
then curved my fingers aloft into a heart sign.
Up in the second story bedroom window, her small hands did the same
I signed 'i love you'
as did she, a little echo
while I blew kisses like a departing opera singer.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

on the lookout

She wanted to go to Aldergrove Lake Park.
She wanted to go there BEFORE she went home.
Even if no one else except her wanted to go. 

She asked so earnestly.
She even said please.

Grandmothers love to say yes.

While the others hastened home, we buckled in and headed south.
South, past rows of houses all alike.
And flocks of cars heading east.
Past trucks grumbling and clearing their throats. 
And cedar, fir and alder thickly green.

We were on the lookout for Living Creatures.
I told her about the coyote and the mouse.
About the owl and rabbit.
I reminded her of the time I'd seen a turtle laying eggs and the three giant frogs.
Of the snake and the fish with bulging eyes.
The ducks.
And squirrels.

She clutched my phone.
She was ready to film.

The pond was as flat as glass.
Not a duck in sight.
It wasn't an amphibian day.
Or a reptile one.
Nothing furry dashed by.
Birds sang in shadowed invisibility.

She seemed a bit disgusted. 

"Look," I cried. "A honey-bee!"
Carefully she filmed, standing wisely at a distance.
"Blue dragonflies! See, one just landed on my arm."
A beetle waddled obligingly by.
Slender silver damselflies twirled.
So many Living Creatures.
She filmed and filmed and filmed.

the quality of mercy

"The quality of mercy is not strained.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest. It becomes
The thron├Ęd monarch better than his crown.
His scepter shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings,
But mercy is above this sceptered sway.
It is enthron├Ęd in the hearts of kings.
It is an attribute to God himself.
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s
When mercy seasons justice."
-William Shakespeare

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

fresh and new

On the weekend, I stood on a rocky, reedy shore, and gazed across the mud flats of Boundary Bay. The tide was out and it was mud flats all the way to Crescent Beach and Blackie Spit. The sand stretched on and on.
A salt marsh separates the path from the sandy shore or I would have had my toes in the cool mud in a flash.
It's just as well I guess.
Here and there are patches of sunken sand, pulled down by some underground current; a sort of beach version of Black Holes.
Instead, we ambled along, admiring the bleached gray driftwood at winter's high tide line.
Ducks and songbirds chuckled and buzzed and pinged.
Butterflies zig zagged, white against the green.
The sun was overhead, but a breeze, the kind that is almost always the saving grace of a summer day at the seashore, blew til I felt fresh and new.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

low road

It's been a few years since I went to a quilt show. Quilt Guilds and Quilt Shows and quilters clutching quilts of all kinds used to be a very big part of my life. My life and my mothers. We delighted in those times together for a lovely block of years.
She passed away unexpectedly last May. It doesn't really matter how old or frail an elder becomes; their death feels somehow unexpected. Can you plan for death and grief?
Boundary Bay Quilt Guild had a spring quilt show and my husband and I, on a day of spontaneous adventure, found ourselves wandering amongst rows of quilts.
"Oh, Mom would have liked that one," I commented. And then to myself added, "Oh no! Don't think about your Momma."
As, right on cue, the live entertainer began to strum and sing, "You take the high road and I'll take the low road..."
Come ON!!!

Sunday, May 5, 2019

flat as a stone

Peripheral vision is always ON.
My step faltered even before I knew I had seen something,
even as my eyes swung to the left.
There on the hand railing,
snoozing in the sun
sat a tiny green tree frog.
Black bandit eye mask.
Flat as a stone.

When my husband leaned in for a closer look it opened bright black eyes and lifted its chin.
It seemed to be taking a reading on wind direction.
When you weigh as much as a leaf, and live in a tree, wind is something to ponder.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Saturday, April 20, 2019

more




one rabbit
two rabbit
three rabbit
four
five rabbit 
six rabbit
seven rabbit
more.....