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Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Ghosts of the Ships: we did not take

                                                   Time and tide wait for no man.

Is it late?
Or simply,
too late?

The turn...

Did not take,

Is it still

Did you turn?
Into me?

Did I turn

Friday, June 28, 2013

"Just Tell Us How To Get Rid Of What We have..."

The title of today's post is from the novel The Descendants. It is a sentence that really struck me as I devoured this novel. To give you context, it is said by a teenager that has been through a loss of a parent, both in the physical sense and in the emotional sense of what and who that parent was to and for him.

I just could not get that quote out of my head. I think that is what we all want. To get rid of all of those things that are causing us pain or frustration or heartache or trouble or whatever. But, not to just get rid of it, but to also be "cured" of it as well. No scar tissue, no residual, no remnant of it.

There are many ways to go about "getting rid" of  whatever ails us, but there are also so many things we cannot get rid of. So what does one do with that?

Thank you Ben Franklin for your advice...
The age old question. Some say: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, others say: what doesn't kill you will cure you and still others say: time cures all ills.

Most likely there is truth in all of those sayings. At the end of the day, I think, all we can do is live through it, keep what will helps us not to repeat it, and release the rest.

In so doing, I think, we achieve a sort of peace; a cherished respite: we are on the other side of the challenge.  Or at least I hope so! 

Monday, June 24, 2013

County Fair: or how I won first prize

It is a wonderful organization.

When my brothers and sister and I were young, we were members of 4-H. Which is kind of like boy scouts and girls scouts rolled up together for all ages at once. In my mind, as a mother often attempting to get four kids to four different locations simultaneously, this sounds pretty appealing. All of us belonged to the same chapter, the older members assisted the younger members and together we learned some new skill.

I loved 4-H. It was one of the happiest memories of my childhood. We met once a month in the winter and twice a month in the summer. We learned things like leathercraft, sewing, cooking, canning, embroidery, farm skills (by which I mean; how to candle eggs, curry horses, raise a calf...), and drama.

Not that we needed anyone to teach us about drama, we had plenty of that all on our own, it was channeling that in to production of  a play.  One year we did a skit with Dave Brubeck's Take 5 as the soundtrack and the actors pantomimed the actions. Much to our surprise, we place first for our region.  Then we went on to county, which is where our stage fright got to us and our winning streak ended.

Love the colors, though my floss was
 seldom this tidy.
My favorite skill I learned in 4-H was embroidery. It became a passion almost immediately. What was not to love? It was portable, hardly any mess, so many colored threads, easy to make your own designs, the cost of entry was low and my mother already had all of the supplies!

So when the County Fair rolled around, I was ready with my sampler. I had designed and worked on it all winter and was ready for the fair.  It was pressed, mounted (thank you mom), framed and entered to into the competition. I thought it was very lovely, but was a bit concerned when I saw the other entries when we were dropping it off for the for the judging.

The week or two prior to the fair seemed to go on forever. Of course, just when I had stopped  thinking
(read fixating) about the judging and where I had placed, my mother called me into the kitchen (where she was canning, whatever vegetable that had been harvested from the garden in abundance), and said: " I got a phone call today."

(Now that may seem like nothing, getting phone call, but in those days, using the phone was expensive and was not used frivolously, it was almost an event, think: messages from the outside world.)


"Your sampler won first prize for your age group and you get five dollars in prize money."my mother said as she deftly lifted the jars out of the boiler bath.

"Five dollars? I didn't know they would give me any money! I thought I just got a ribbon, do I get a ribbon, and the five dollars? What else did they say, anything else..." my questions coming out faster then my mother could respond.

My mother had embroidered this image
on my pillowcases for me when I was little.
"Enough! You get a ribbon and the money. Now make yourself useful and grab that lid for me. I thought your embroidery turned out well, (as she slipped some more jars into the boiler bath) so I'm not surprised."

Five dollars was more money than I had ever had previously in my life. It was riches and I spent more time thinking of how to spend it, than any other five dollars in my entire life.

For me, there is much joy in the creative process, sometimes more than the actual completion of the project.

Those days in 4-H were a gift to me. I may have learned embroidery or many other skills, but what I really learned was:  the joy in doing,  is what makes the endeavor have value.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

How to recover from life: or does one need to?

My favorite book when I was 16.

Okay. Life is full and fast. I get that. As I have aged, it only seems to go faster and get fuller. Maybe it is because as we or I go along in this life I collect more relationships, more fabric (love to sew), more books (love to read), and more family (people just keep on having babies, what's a person to do but love these little creatures?), and of course, another dog or rabbit or hedgehog or cat.

Each of these "tamed responsibilities", to borrow a phrase from  Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's book the Little Prince, have and are a part of my life and truly, I am delighted this is the case. But, wozier, these days are full!

This is where we would go each morning and evening.
So lovely to have in our back yard.

Certainly there have been days that have moved as though they are in slow motion. They have a charm all their own. Some of my favorites took place in the summer when my four children were all below the ages of eight.

These days would start early with a trip to the beach in our town. We would get there around 8:00 AM and stay until someone was hungry or had to use the washroom.  Then we would pile back into the Blue Astrovan, as the children were so fond of calling the car*, go home and  repeat this same routine later in the day after naptime, around 4:00 PM.

We would sit by the water and play in the sand and feel the breeze off the lake. I felt like this is what heaven must be like, until...the troops were restless and it was time to go.

Today, these peaceful days are far and few between. Snippets, yes, days not so much. So I think: I will rest in those these  peaceful moments and by doing so will find  joy in these very full days.

*When they would ride in the "Blue Astrovan", the children would clamour to hear the cassette tape of the "operating instructions"  that came from the manufacturer on how things worked in the minivan. This was thier absolute favorite thing to listen to as we drove back and forth to the beach.  Who knew that would be our "sound track" of their childhood summers?

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Sleep beckons...

This was the culprit that sent me
 to the grocery store. Coffee for my daughter.
I, myself do not drink the stuff!
As I write this, my bed beckons to me. I begrudgingly ignore it to place words upon a page.  These words, such sly devils, bubble up out of my mind.  In fact, they cannot be kept in, no matter how I try.

The words that are wandering through my mind this night are almost a story, a story of the people I saw today in my path. I feel like the bread crumb trails they shared with me has started to take on a life of their own.

For instance: a woman standing in line ahead of me while I waited at the deli counter at the market. She was contained, quiet and tidy, and while she appeared not to notice my quest for a "massaged kale salad", she softly said, "the one I buy is right there. The other one in the case, really isn't any good."

Before I could thanks her, she seemed to disappear. Later at the fish counter, she appeared again. Almost like a "good fairy" she magically appeared to  steer the man ahead of me in line to the type of salmon that would most fit his desires. I caught her out of the corner of my eye and when I turned my head, to make sure I had not imagined her presence, she was gone.

I looked down the aisle nearest, but she was not there.

It was just as I was leaving the produce section I spotted her again. What was she doing? assisting an elderly woman with a small watermelon. The conversation went something like this:

The produce section of the market I frequent.
"Ma'am it is the thumping sound you are looking for, like this,(thump, thump, her ear down close to the mellon).
"I see, oh, I mean I hear dear, why thank you so very much!" was the small wizened woman's response.

As I headed for the checkout counters, I saw her, thoughtfully, looking at the flowers, displayed so artfully near the register.

Now as I type this, I wonder what her life is like. I will, of course, never know. But I wonder all the same.
Someone, somewhere, shared with her, either by example or by genetics (I am never sure if it nature versus nurture) the delicate art of extending help to others, without giving offense.

Receiving help is not something we humans are programed to accept, I do not know why, but it seems to be so. It was a beauty to behold someone who executed these acts so very gracefully, and it is a reminder to me, that there is an art to giving ,that allows the receiver, to actually be able to receive the help.

With that, I am now off to sweet dreams.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Fog Advisory

Not my street but just as foggy as mine is tonight.

We sit at dinner;
low visibility
with 20/20

thinking of

How can thirty-six inches
be so far apart?

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Canning: it is a process...

Pear jam infused with vanilla bean

Canning is a process which I have been observing or doing all  my life. It is one I have loved being apart of. There is nothing like looking at all of those lovely glass jars filled with the bounty of the garden, sitting upon my shelves.

It is a process. So that means I am naturally attracted to it. It is what attracted me to printmaking in college along with weaving and sewing and quilting.

Cleaning bathrooms, also a process, but not one I am as fond of.

Blackberry Bourbon Jam,
which is a very good idea.
Anyway, I took canning for granted until around third grade. I had the measles, was stuck home from school while the other kids in my class went to the "Hysterical Society" for a field trip. (Which is what I thought it was and I might be just a little embarrassed to say that I was much, much older before I realized it was the "Historical Society".)

I was lying on the large overstuffed brown sofa in the small den that was off of the kitchen, sort of under the stairs, reading a worn out copy of Little Women.*

In nice neat little jars. Makes my day!
I was very taken with the part where Meg is in her new home with her new husband and she is making jelly. And it is not jelling. Which from my point of view was an amazing thought. I had watched my mother make jelly, many times, it ALWAYS jelled. This shook me to such an extent, I have to say, I did not make jelly in my own home for years and years.

What if it did not jell? Terrifying thought. Odd, but some people are afraid of spiders, and there you have it. We are all afraid of something. We all avoid something. For some people it is jelly. So. For others it is any number of things. What are you going to do? (The correct answer is, of course, overcome them, but still those fears hang around)

All in all. I do can. Many very delicious things. So if Meg spoiled jelly for me, that is okay, I will just make jam, which, by the way,  not that finicky. You should try canning some. Or failing that, come taste mine!

(Now my daughters read this book and truly loved the part where Beth dies. (sorry, if I just spoiled it for you)  There were nights we would go up to kiss everyone good night and our elder daughter would be crying her eyes out. We would ask: "ARE YOU OKAY!!", or at least we did the first few times, then it was more like: "Oh, did Beth die?" Our daughter would nod her head, tearfully, and we would hug her and pat her back and go back downstairs  where we would look at each other and say: "You know, Beth died, again, imagine don't say...")

Monday, June 3, 2013

Monday Morning Lists

Flowers by my front door.
 Sometimes pictures with this blog are just random. 

It is Monday morning and the day I write lists of what I am going to accomplish during the coming week. Which sounds like a great plan, but truthfully, often ends up looking more like fantasy fiction.

Case in point: my spouse is away for a week, which deludes me into thinking I will accomplish mucho. In reality, probably not.

Here is how my list started:

1. Squeegeeing the walls after showering: thinking, maybe I will paint the bathroom while he is gone. (BAD IDEA)
2. Dressing: thinking, I will switch out the closets while he is gone. (Might be possible)
3. Preparing breakfast: thinking, I will eat much lighter while he is away. (If only this were so.)

Then I started with the written lists:

1. Laundry
2. Ironing
3. Cleaning out kitchen cupboards
4. Wash all of the floors
5. Clean off deck
6. Clean out all three linen closets
7. Plan dinners for the rest of June

The flower stand in Sunset Foods where I sometimes shop.
I am going with the stop and  smell the flowers theme today.
It was just about when I was thinking what number eight on the list will be that I realized: I am crazy. When
my husband travels, which is not often these days, but was very frequent in other years of our marriage, I would go into overdrive to fill the void that resulted from the lack of his company. I am not sure why. I just did/do.

While I have always believed: "You have to have a goal", I think the goal I will try to have this week is: be open. Open to what has to be done, open to what can wait to be done and open to the people around me.

This is not to say I will be taking time off from the tasks at hand, it is to say: I am "listing" people around me ahead of the tasks at hand, which is what life is all about.