27 December, 2007

~ Regarding resolutions... ~

'Tis the season for making New Year's resolutions, for making promises to one's self about behaviour and/or lifestyle changes one plans to maintain, if not for the rest of one's life, then at least for the coming twelve months.

It seems also to be the season for proclaiming this resolve to one and all....whether or not they are interested...or are even listening.



I have been asked one too many times this week about the New Year's resolutions I have made. Well....I have this to say about that, and let me make this perfectly plain:

I do not make New Year's resolutions.


There are two reasons for this: A) I am not short on will-power, oh no! I have plenty of will-power, it is won't-power I am lamentably lacking: B) I don't believe in setting myself up for failure.


Happy New Year to you all, poppets!

Peace ~

20 December, 2007

~ Miracles, Blessings, Merry Christmas ~

In this, the season of giving, I am finding myself less than interested in the contents of the parcels and packages under our tree. While my children are searching for their own names among the ribbons and bows, being careful not to actually touch anything (no shaking or rattling or smelling of presents until Christmas morning), I sit watching them, entranced by the miracle of their very existence. I have always marvelled at my children, completely in awe of the fact that I carried these beings within me, once upon a time. I find myself smiling, pleased with the knowledge that their personalities are no different now than they were before they were born—anyone who has spent long hours talking to The Great Bulge will understand what I mean. It is still fascinating that the songs I crooned to my ungainly belly had the power to calm a restless baby when I sang them after birth. The fussiness would cease and I would, look down at my child’s (eventually) sleeping face, aware of the tremendous responsibility I was holding in my arms.

During a discussion many years ago, an acquaintance challenged me to provide my own proof that God exists. Without hesitation, I told him of looking into the enormously knowing eyes of my own newborn children. In doing so, I had glimpsed the face of God. I told him of burying my nose in the nape of my babies’ necks, breathing in the intoxicating perfume which could only be described as the scent of God. Prove God exists? How could I doubt it?

These same Wonder Children are poking at the name tags on their gifts, aware of the rules, but itching to break them. They are good children (for the most part) and they check their desire to rip away the paper to reveal the treasure inside. My brother was not always so patient…

Our house was three stories tall, with a claw foot tub and a fire escape and a back staircase leading to the kitchen and dressers built into some of the bedrooms and not so much as a closet in others. It was a magical house, full of all the creaks and shadows that make life interesting for small children. The year the celebration of Christmas was to be held at our place, relations began arriving early (there’s a lot of cooking to be done for four generations of people), each depositing a tantalizing armload of bundles under our tree. My brother may have been three or four that year, certainly no older, and the temptation proved overwhelming for him. He appeared suddenly in the kitchen, thrilled with a magical telescope, chattering animatedly about it, filled with perfect glee...until my Great Aunt scooped it from his hands with a stifled shriek and announced to all assembled that it was a gift meant, not for him, but for me. My own delight was tainted by the supreme disappointment on the face of the little boy who had unwrapped the kaleidoscope. Until it disappeared in one of our many moves, in my mind the kaleidoscope was as much his as it was mine, perhaps more so.

My children draw names each year, so each of them are to buy for only one of their siblings. This is a great game for them and they take the responsibility of choosing the perfect gift very seriously. My middle son once chose the gift for his younger brother and was beside himself with excitement as we fixed the paper in place with ridiculous lengths of cellophane tape. At last the gift (a uniformed fireman which crawls and hollers instructions to his buddies when the button on his back is pushed) needed only to be decorated with a bow. The ears of a five year old are more sensitive than even a nine year old boy can imagine. When my middle son stuck the bow to the top of the present, he stuck it right on top of the button that made our fireman friend go. We stared at one another in horror, my middle son and I, as fireman noises emanated from the red box on the table before us. From the depths of the house, we heard the unwelcome voice of the one for whom the noisy fireman was intended crying, “I got a fire guy! I got a fire guy!” The disappointment on the face of the gift-giver was heartbreaking.

In this world, there are people without a place to sleep, people who are without warmth, without food, without safety. I am painfully aware of this as I sit in the glow of thousands of faerie lights, my hands wrapped around a mug of fragrant, steaming coffee, a plate of frozen shortbread stars on the table beside me. Someone of great faith once explained to me about counting my blessings instead of feeling guilty about having them. She also stressed that it was not enough to simply count my blessings, but to share what I can, as well. I do that, sharing more some times than at others, and I am teaching my children that when you have, for example, an allowance, you must save some and give some away before you can spend any at all. The money they save goes into their piggy banks, the money they give away goes into a jar and once a month they decide where it will be given (this month, they have chosen Santa’s Anonymous). They weren’t sure about the idea at first, but when they understood that they could make a difference, they were sold on it.

So I count my blessings. I handle each of them with reverence, I turn them over in my hands, admiring them from all angles, and I give thanks. The mountain of gifts under the tree is nothing compared to the brilliance of my life—the innumerable joys I experience each day, the faces of those whom I love best, the miracle of good health (I have decided to look upon my rotting knees as God’s reminder to me that I need to slow down), the blessing of hot running water, the abundance of humour and laughter in our home, the positive excess of books (though, really...can there ever be enough books?), both good and bad, to read.

Many bright blessings...

Merry Christmas.

05 December, 2007

~ Mega Claus and Moments of Grace

If it were up to me, all of our Christmas decorations would be ivory and white and gold. If it were up to me, all of the lights would be white and none of them would move. If it were up to me, there would be bowls of clove-studded oranges in each room and we would eat lots of shortbread and fruitcake and no one would ever sip eggnog.


They don’t let me run the world (my oft-heard lament) and so it is NOT up to me. Because it is not up to me, our house is covered with red and green lights and our home is filled with glitter covered plastic decorations and strings of blinky lights. Because in years past I have had to rescue my little porcelain village from marauding cats, a horde of vicious dinosaurs, an attack from the Godzilla—G.I. Joe tag team and even, once, Finnegan the Flying Dog (“I didn’t know Finnegan could fly” I said, forcing myself to remain merry as I picked Glitter Snow from Finnegan’s scruffy hide...“Neither did Finnegan!” my youngest son laughed), I arranged my village on the sideboard, congratulating myself on choosing the safest location for my villagers to spend this holiday season. The other day, one of my sons pointed out the giant Father Christmas who had miraculously appeared in my village and was towering over the westernmost church (like every good prairie community I know of, my village has no less than three churches). “He’s waiting until you go to sleep, Mum, then he’s going to destroy your village...he’s going to burn it to the ground, stomp down the trees and eat all the food. Those kids playing with the puppies? Gone! That family standing in their yard? Squashed! That puny Santa over there by the workshop? History! You’d better watch out, little village, Mega Claus is coming to town! Haaaaaahahahaa!”

This is what I have to endure. My little porcelain villagers are living in fear on account of a mad giant on the loose in the countryside. It’s all a product of the garish decorations and blinky lights, I just know it.

In disgust, followed by the maniacal laughter of my son, the Mega Claus creator, I retreated to The Grotto, the safe, small room at the bottom of the house which is my sanctuary, my refuge from the daily madness I must put up with. These days, though, even time in The Grotto offers no solace. As the only completely off-limits room in the house, the only room with totally restricted access (the door is always locked and I alone know where the key is kept), at this time of year, The Grotto becomes the room for storing all unwrapped gifts, the room for sorting out who gets what, the room for storing everything that cannot be seen until Christmas Day. Right. Let’s do a little math, shall we—seven people live in this house and there are presents for each of them. The two adults in this house each have two parents and there are a few step-parents into the bargain, so there are presents for that lot as well. Once you start to add siblings, friends, aunties and so forth, you end up with presents, wrapping paper, ribbon, packing paper and shipping boxes amounting to five cubic feet more than the storage capacity of my room.

Which figures.

When I find I can’t escape to The Grotto, I do the next best thing—I start washing dishes. Ordinarily, my kids scatter at the sound of running kitchen water, so if you ever need ten minutes to yourself, try washing dishes. Unfortunately, Mega Claus must have messed with their programming (perhaps while waiting for me to drift into slumber so he could destroy my village) because my kids did not scatter. Within the span of three breaths, three of my kiddies had settled themselves into the kitchen chairs and a fourth was dragging the stool in from the office. I now had an audience. I had no help with the dishes, of course, I just had an audience. Rather than shoo them all away, demanding some peace, I decided to see how it would all turn out.

Moments of Grace—they happen at the most unexpected times.

We talked about hundreds of different things. Well, mostly they talked and mostly I listened. I stood sideways at the counter, reading their lips to understand their words over the splashing in the sink. My ivory and white and gold decorations conspired to soothe and calm my kiddies. Together, my children worked out a couple of problems, figured out a couple of personal puzzles, planned out a couple of surprises and ironed out a few misunderstandings. Occasionally, they turned to me for clarification, for a word they couldn’t find or for a detail they couldn’t remember or disagreed on. They included me, but I was not a part of it…I was apart from it, witness to it. Then they laughed. All of the children present at that moment laughed from deep in their bellies, all of them looking from one another to me, including me in their mirth. It was a Moment of Grace and I was grateful for the too-full Grotto, for, had I been hiding there, I’d have missed the Moment.

Last night I watched my daughters, head to head on the front room floor, wrapping presents for our cats. My eldest was showing her younger sister the best ways to cut paper, fold corners and affix ribbons. I sat on the arm of the chesterfield (something my children are not allowed to do), grinning like a mad fool. My husband wandered in and watched me watching them. It was when my eyes met his that my tears started and I left my girls to their work.

Tonight, when we hang our stockings (on the railing this year on account of the doomed village taking up the whole of the sideboard), I will know that I have already received more than my heart can possibly hold. I am well blessed.

I may moan because they don’t let me run the world, but perhaps it is just as well.

22 November, 2007

~ Pause ~

(By way of explaining my recent absence.....)

My Auntie Muriel had eyebrows like two caterpillars on the south side of a tin roof in July. It was amazing how much she could say without speaking a word, how with facial expressions and body language, she could convey exactly what she was thinking.

I stood before my shattered family two days ago and delivered her eulogy.

God keep us all.

Peace ~

08 November, 2007

~ Remembrance Day ~

They shall not grow old
As we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them nor
The years condemn.
At the going down of the sun
And in the morning,
We will remember them.

We seem to think of veterans as old men, old women, with lined faces and silver hair. It is true that most of the veterans we know are seniors, but it is also true that when they served, these old men and women were the ages my own children are now. Many of them were little more than children themselves. They gave whatever was left of childhood for what they believed was The Greater Good.

They amaze me. They humble me. They make me weep in grateful wonder.

Please, if you are not already familiar with it, you must see Terry Kelly's tribute, A Pittance of Time.

The story: http://www.terry-kelly.com/pittance/pittance_en.htm

The video may be accessed by clicking 'video'.

To see a larger-screen version of the video: http://www.army.gc.ca/chief_land_staff/remembrance/English/video.asp
(image: Ottawa Legions)

03 November, 2007

~ Snow ~

At last, it is snowing. We have waited so long for snow this year. That is to say, I have waited. Others have not been nearly so anxious for the weather to turn.

That is their tragedy.

Fat, lazy, clusters of flakes are falling carelessly through the darkness to the ground. By morning, there will be enough for making snow-stomps, perhaps even snow enough for balling, or even…or even for a snowman.

Or two.

The tub has been filled with scalding, sudsy water, the candles have been lit, the house has been darkened, the blinds have been lifted. I am going to take myself off to sink under the blanket of steaming foam, and lie watching magical snow fall against the pink glow of the streetlamp.

Peace ~

~ It's....Michael....actually ~

My brother's name is Michael. It has been for most of his life. Not all of his life, but that's not the point at this moment. The point at this moment is that his name is, as I said, Michael.

Not Mike. NOT Mike.


Michael suits him. Michael lies across his shoulders like a meticulously tailored silk dinner jacket.

In a fabulous shade of merlot.

With velvet lapels.


Though Mike does seem to be a logical nickname for someone by the name of Michael, Mike is the name of someone else entirely, someone who is not Michael-Who-Is-My-Brother or even My-Brother-Who-Is-Michael.


I have heard my brother say, politely, of course, "It's…Michael…actually," more times than I can count. Prolly pretty close to eleventy-billion times...but not quite, 'cause sometimes it's just not worth the breath.

Y'know how it is when someone lumbers you with a nickname you dislike and then insists on calling you by that nickname, despite the nearly eleventy-billion times you have corrected them....politely, of course? Yeah. It's kinda like that for me as The Big Sister. I get all urgh-y when someone refers to my brother as Mike.

Who he clearly is not.

Not when he was smaller than me, not when he grew to be a foot taller than me…not even today when it happened again! (scowl)

With apologies to all the Mikes in the world, I say, once again, and with feeling, urgh!


31 October, 2007

~ BOO! ~

Wishing you and yours a happy, spectre-tacular All Hallow's Eve. Ü

I've had a blast this week playing hangman with the skeleton.....he's such a bawl-baby!

29 October, 2007

~ On loss ~

My aunt is unwell. I’m not happy about that. My aunt has always been a rock, a safe place, she has always been one of my constants. She has always been one of my Cookie People. Now she is unwell and in hospital and they are telling me she is making lists of who gets what. I’m not happy about that, not even a little bit. I want her to be firm and strong and invincible. Immortal, even.

Like everyone else, she is not. She is human. Blast it all…


My friend has expressed concern because I have lost so many people, have attended so many funerals in the last not-very-many months. She says she has been worrying about me.

I say there’s no need.

See, I'm lucky on two counts: a) I love a lot of people; b) so far, none of the funerals have been mine. I figure that puts me in a win-win situation. Ü

She asks how I maintain this outlook.

I had to think a long time on this, but realised it comes from home, from ‘way back, from strong and faithful people who accepted the good with the bad, who knew that life is not always a strawberry tea, who knew that the only way to get through the tough times is to hold one another up. It helps too, that my attitude has changed. I spent 34 years missing Grandma English every single day. A year ago, someone told me that when his grandmother had died he hadn't been shattered. Rather, he had stood at her coffin, smiling down at her serene face and said (surprising himself!), "This isn't 'goodbye', Grandma, it's just 'see you later'."

That made a huge difference.

Curiously enough, he told me this last year in the period between the two weeks when we lost three long-time friends and the five week period during which we held a memorial for my youngest son’s schoolmate and lost five other friends, including Garnet and Scott, both of whom we felt unready to let go of.

Something changed, too, last November when my mother’s mother died. She was A Force, y'know? Now we are bracing ourselves for another rash – four of my grown-ups are ill, are in and out of hospital, you know the drill, and we lost a friend a few days ago…there is another funeral to attend.

My daughter said something interesting a little while back.....she said, "Mum, I think every time someone dies, they make room in the world for a new life, they make room for a baby." I think I like that.

When I was 15 I found a quote that intrigued me. I've had it pinned to my board for decades and I finally understand it. 'In life, we mourn death. Is it possible that in death, we mourn life?'

I wonder.

Then there's Garrison Keillor's view: “They say such nice things about people at funerals that it makes me sad to realise that I'm going to miss mine by just a few days." How can you not laugh??? Ü

See, the thing is, we came from somewhere...we didn't just sort of spring into being only to disappear at death. No. We came from somewhere - The Other Side, The Mind Of God...call it what you like - so we have to go somewhere as well....maybe just back to where we came from.

Is that so bad?

I count myself lucky to have hurt so deeply at so many losses - I feel them all, I miss them all, I love them all still.

Lucky me. Yeah, lucky, lucky me!!!

Peace ~

25 October, 2007

~ Dear Body ~

"Write a letter to your body" said the good people at Dove.

And so I did.

It was cathartic, really, telling my body how I felt, expressing my regret, my anger, my shame. We've reached an understanding, my body and I - we have agreed not to give up on one another, we have each agreed to accept one another as we are....warts and all. Yeah. You could say we now accept one another unconditionally.

At last.

It wasn’t always so.

I have spent most of my life feeling my cheeks were too fat, my thighs were too thick, my hips were too broad, my chins were too plentiful. It’s a shame, really. Wouldn’t it have been lovely if I had come to accept my physical self when it was in better condition that it is now? Wouldn’t it have been lovely if I had appreciated my thinner self, my healthier self, my stronger self?

Ah, well....


I’m smarter now.

At last.

I love Dove's Real Beauty campaign. I love that they are promoting ordinary women, ordinary girls; that they are celebrating aging, honouring wrinkles, lauding grey hair. Good on ‘em, I say! They’re casting a play, auditioning women over the age of 45. I’m too young, but auditioned anyway. No harm, no foul, eh?

So that's the reason I wrote a letter to my body, you see. “Dear Body….”

Yeah. Ü Here’s how to find the Dove site:
http://www.dove.ca/home/ Check it out!

Someone asked on a message board today if we would consider having plastic surgery done.


Here’s my response:

Would I consider having plastic surgery done? No, I wouldn't. Why not? Because older faces, mature faces, lined and wrinkled faces are beautiful, they are graceful, they are elegant. Are there things about my face and body that I don't like? Sure! Would I change them? Not a chance. I look the way I look because I've earned it - I have earned the fine lines, I have earned the sagginess around my jowls, I have earned the stretch marks, I have earned the potty tummy, I have earned the crepe-like skin on my hands. All those hours of sitting in the weather watching my kids' soccer practices, all those hours of sitting in the cold watching my kids' hockey games, all those nights sitting up worrying and praying over sick babies, all those days sewing sequins to dance costumes....they are written on my skin. Every pie I have made, every pursing of my lips for a kiss, every gale of laughter, every frown of disapproval, every stifled giggle, every walk in the wind, every snowman made.....they are all written on my skin.

While I spend my days writing, on paper, things for others to read, my days are busy writing my life on my face, my life is writing my story on my body.

Who am I to change the tale?

24 October, 2007

~ The Track ~

It is 1970, I am six years old. I have been hanging out in the house with Grandma while Dad and Uncle Pete are out in the driveway painting our latest stock car. The last one, #54 (so named because it was a 1954 Ford sedan), lost it's steering linkage while rounding the east bend at the track, carrying Dad out across the field, through a herd of herefords, coming to rest at last in (well, at the edge of, anyway) a slough. It was quite a thing to witness, really. The cattle, as though they were quite accustomed to having large, blue vehicles come sailing across their pasture, did not even shift themselves out of the way as #54 careened past. They raised their massive heads and chewed thoughtfully (though in a rather disinterested fashion) as they watched the hulk slow to a stop. For all I know, #54 may sit in that farmer's slough to this day.

This new car has been painted a shocking shade of pink. Grandma and I are resting our elbows on the window ledge, watching her two youngest sons as they open a tin of black paint for the roof and numbers. Grandma scolds her boys for choosing such frightful colours. They threaten to name the car after her if she doesn't stop harassing them. We all laugh - oh, how I love Grandma's laugh! It is deep and throaty and resonant....quite unexpected from such a tiny woman.

Finally, it is time to load the car on the trailer and drive down to Rapid City. I see by the name on the rear fenders that Grandma's boys have named the car 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang' and that makes me laugh. I ride in the back seat, the sun hot on my hair, the upholstery scratchy against my bare legs. It is not a long drive from Oak River, but I am certain it takes pretty close to forever to reach the track.

The track is little more than a flat piece of field surrounded by pasture, a bluff, and more field. On a rise to the south, a row of something resembling bleachers has been built by someone, or, probably, by several someones. They have also built a ramshackle shelter to which they have given the very grand name of ‘canteen', though it is built chiefly of salvaged materials and the spaces between the vertical wallboards are nearly large enough for me to reach my arm through. Sometimes, I sit in the long grass on the shady side of the canteen, resting my head against the dry, grey boards, watching the farm ladies inside, cooking hamburgers and hot dogs on a huge charcoal-fired half-drum, filling and re-filling galvanised tubs with Fanta, Crush, 7-Up and Coke. I want to offer to help with the bottles and tubs of ice because it is a summer day in Manitoba and it is hot and the icy slurry in the tubs looks like heaven.

Between races, Dad calls me by my nickname (my favourite name) down to the pit. I feel Important And Special running across the track, each footfall poofing up a black cloud of dust. Dad gives me two coins and I run back across the track to the Canteen, where I let the nickels fall from my fist onto the worn plank counter and ask for two grapefruit Crush, please. The farm lady with the blue apron stretched across her ample frame smiles as she opens the bottles and tells me to wish Dad luck in the next race.

Dad is grinning as I hand his bottle to him - his teeth showing brilliant white against the dirt and smears on his face. He lifts the bottle, tips his head back and I watch, fascinated, as a sparkling, golden river of grapefruit Crush runs out. The sun is behind him and he is haloed in light. He is laughing with his brother and their friends and I am certain they are immortal.

Perhaps somewhere, on some plane of existence, that ages-long day still exists. Perhaps the men of my childhood are all still young and strong. Perhaps they still laugh in the summer sun...greasy, dirty, sweaty, happy.

I want to believe so.

17 October, 2007

~ On visiting a car farm ~

Because a friend asked me to post it, I offer you this......

Purple. Regal, royal purple. That was the colour of the drawstring bag I kept my treasures in as a child. The drawstring bag was not filled with ordinary, run-of-the-mill childhood treasures. Oh no! My drawstring bag was filled with Junkyard Treasures which, I can assure you, are far more valuable and of infinitely greater beauty than other treasures. My Junkyard Treasures had been gleaned from trips to the junkyard (hence their name) and included such miraculous discoveries as assorted vehicle badges, portions of tail light lenses, smallish pieces of chrome or stainless steel trim and, most wonderful of all, lovely bits of windshield glass.

The windshields in the cars of my youth tended to shatter into the most amazing pieces. They were not shards, exactly, more like smallish chunks about as wide and long as they were thick. The glass from the top of the windshields of fancier cars with blue-tinted glass stood out from the assorted greens and colourless bits like some sort of rare gemstones. Stirring the bits of windshield glass about or sifting them through my fingers was a sensory delight. The coolness of the glass, the sharp edges, the glitter of light and the tinkle of piece against piece, bright as laughter, was a complete (if simple) pleasure.

I toted my drawstring bag of treasures about until it was discovered that I was carrying around a bag of broken glass and sharp shards of metal. The bag was taken from me and the contents disposed of in a safe and appropriate fashion. I mourned the loss of my treasure bag until the man who lived upstairs learned of my disappointment and provided me with another purple drawstring bag which I gradually—and secretively—filled with assorted vehicle badges, portions of tail light lenses, smallish pieces of chrome or stainless steel trim and, most of all, lovely bits of windshield glass. The man upstairs never broke confidence and my new bag of Junkyard Treasures remained concealed for quite some time. Somewhere along the line, it disappeared, as such things seem to have a habit of doing, but the ghost of collected treasures lingers, colouring the edges of memory, whispering of sun-baked metal hulks, of reflections of the sky and of old-car smells.

Several weeks ago, I wandered through a junkyard...though these days I prefer to call such a place, more flatteringly, a car farm. With an indulgent nod from the car farmer, I took photographs of many of the vehicles, finding beauty in the way moss had curved around a tail light or the way a tree had pushed through a grille. As I stood looking into the trees, smiling at the still-elegant form of a decaying pickup, the car farmer appeared behind me. “What a bunch of junk, eh?” he suggested. “It’s beautiful,” I whispered. He chuckled, “Beautiful? Well, I guess so.”

I guess so, indeed.

Over the course of the afternoon, we learned the history of most of the vehicles making up the car farmer’s crop. We learned which had been the honeymoon car and which had been grandpa’s farm truck. We learned that the front quarter panel on this car had been fashioned from the rear quarter panel from that car. We learned the identity of the Cougar’s original owner and an interesting way to keep mice from damaging a stored vehicle’s interior. Over the course of the afternoon, we shared some of our own experiences with the car farmer, including a brief history of my drawstring bag of Junkyard Treasures. The car farmer understood.

Something happens when people who share a passion meet. Before the afternoon had passed, we had formed a friendship with the man who was compelled to hold on to the old cars and trucks so many other people had discarded. We understood one another’s obsessions and accepted one another’s oddities. Times such as these, I can’t help but believe we all have shared access to some sort of collective memory bank, for we seem to draw from the same source. Perhaps it is simply that we recognise in one another something of ourselves.

Obsession feeds obsession I suppose, for in the weeks following this visit, the car farmer will call to tell me of another car farm which he believes we ought to have a nose ‘round. There are some two thousand cars there, he will tell me. Although I will wonder if this isn’t something of an exaggeration, I will promise we will go. We will brave swarms of bloodthirsty mosquitoes and thunderous hailstorms to visit it. Because of a previous bad experience, the other car farmer will only allow me to take photographs on the stipulation that the images remain for my own personal use. Because I will have no intention of doing otherwise, I will agree. I will enjoy every minute I spend wandering through some two thousand vehicles (it will turn out not to be an exaggeration after all) and I will—we all will—arrive home hot and bug-bitten, tired and happy. This is, of course, still ahead and unforeseen as we stand in the sun with our newly discovered (or is he newly remembered?) friend.

There are some things a person never outgrows. As I stood just a little back, leaning against a once-magnificent Buick and listening to my husband and the car farmer discussing the relative merits of various restoration methods, I noticed a smallish pile of broken windshield glass on the dash. Without real thought I lifted several pieces, feeling their cool weight and their sharp edges, rolling them together in my palm. Noticing a silence, I looked up to see the car farmer and my husband watching me. “I can get you a bag for those if you like,” the car farmer offered.

Perhaps I should have said yes.

15 October, 2007

~ The Law of Ish ~

The Law of Ish

I love The Law of Ish. The Law of Ish states (according to it's creator) (um, that would be me) that absolutes are both unnecessary and irrelevant. The Law of Ish allows leeway, allows a little wiggle room. The Law of Ish allows creativity to flourish. Did'ja notice that? Flourish. (self-satisfied grin)

It's kinda like this:

Q: What time should I be there for supper?
A: Oh, about five-ish.

Q: How many tulip bulbs did you plant between the daylily and the statice?
A: I don't know....about thirty-ish.

Q: What's the balance in our chequing account?
A: Oh, enough-ish.

You see how it works?

Here we ought to insert a voice-over of my children asserting that I am a stickler for detail. Yes…well…it is true that I am a stickler for detail....but there are exceptions…there is usually Ish-room....there are ish-es everywhere....just don't let my kids know I've said so.

My husband says I have taken The Law of Ish to an astounding level and have applied it to unexpectedly obscure facets of my life. I say I have done nothing more than perfect the art of living according to The Law of Ish. He says I have become delusional. I say I was destined for it. He sighs in resignation and says that must be so, for even my name, English, observes to The Law of Ish. I smile lovingly and say he is the most insightful, wonderful husband ever. He rolls his eyes and asks God what he could possibly have done to deserve being shackled to (though I’m sure what he meant to say was ‘blissfully married to’) a woman like me. As a reward, of course, not as a punishment.

Yes. Of course.

I had the very great pleasure of meeting Sally Griswold and Josie Celio of Iron Orchid Designs this past weekend. I took a class from this fresh, funky, and Faithful pair at Canada's Scrapbooking Crop for Kids (cool!) in Edmonton. You know I love imparting wisdom (that is to say, I love telling you what I think) and I was delighted to be able to explain The Law of Ish to Sally and Josie who were instructing a dozen or so women, leading us through the creation of an album celebrating our own beauty. Brilliant, eh? I sincerely hope every woman in the room took Sally and Josie’s teachings to heart - and I'm not talking about placement of embellishments.

As with everything else, beauty is subject to The Law of Ish. What pleases my eye may rankle yours. What wrinkles my nose upon viewing may cause you to fall into a rapturous swoon. I rather suspect that's how it ought to be. The smooth, flawless face of the twenty-three year old bride, glowing with excited happiness, is beautiful, yes, but certainly no more beautiful than the lined, creased face of the great-great-grandmother, her eyes closed in prayer. Can you weigh one beauty against the other? Of course not. The Law of Ish is at work and prevents such irreverence.

May the boundaries of your absolutes become flexible, my dears. I wish for you a happy, life-long association with The Law of Ish.

Peace ~

06 October, 2007

~ Musings on an autumn afternoon ~

With the mercury hovering just above freezing and each breath of autumn wind tickling another armful of leaves from the trees, there can be no doubt we are preparing to descend into the deep sleep we call winter. The clouds have scudded away, allowing the sun to fall lazily through the window and drape itself over my shoulder.

It is Thanksgiving weekend in Canada.

The tantalising aroma of spices, of pies, of onions and of sage waft from homes where my neighbours are making preparations for the feast they will share Monday, or, in some cases, tomorrow. My fingers are chilled at the keyboard, it is time to light the fire, brew a pot of tea, and nestle under an afghan with a few cats and a sumptuously illuminated book.

Peace be with you ~