Friday, December 26, 2014

christmas socks

It is Boxing Day, I had my swim, played with my new tablet all afternoon, and I am listening to my daughter play piano and sing while my husband cooks chili to add to our turkey leftovers.

I knit three pairs of socks for Christmas presents this year, and they were all received joyfully (and they all fit)!

I am proud of myself for finishing in time even though it meant squirreling myself away in my room December 23rd to finish the last sock of the last pair!

I have knit this particular pattern seven times. They are called Tibetan Socks designed by Cat Bordhi and I love knitting them, love wearing them and love gifting them.

They are perfect for yoga, or meditation, camping, or just padding around the house.

I have a blister on my right index finger from powering through the last sock of the last pair.

It was worth it.

I can't be with my children all the time to keep them safe from what life throws at them.

I can make sure they will have warm feet.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Kissing Bug

It is Christmas Eve and the tree went up around lunch time, lights went on around dinner time and we are slowly decorating the tree and the house.

I love opening the christmas boxes and discovering ornaments and decorations that remind me of years gone by.

The kissing bug hangs in our house in the doorway between the living room and kitchen. She (I think it is a she) was made the Christmas I was eighteen. I was having a New Year's Eve party and as a party favour I made a dozen kissing bugs.

You can see they weren't fancy, but mine has survived forty-one years with the same clump of mistletoe (plastic mistletoe) tucked into its belly.

The party was a disaster. Too much alcohol, and I think every couple who came to the party had a squabble of one kind or another. The fellow I was dating was a shift worker and I think he fell asleep before midnight!

So the party was not a success. But kissing bug has witnessed many, many successful parties since that first one.

She is a keeper.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The moment of birth

I wrote this post two years ago and a still small voice has been telling me to re-post it. I am not sure why, but I have learned to listen to these intuitive moments. This post was prompted by a difficult week of conversations between my husband and daughter and I as we struggled to come to a place of understanding through words that somehow seemed inadequate. It was prompted from watching the pain of a family trying to work their way through something hard, when all that really mattered was their deep love for each other.

The original post is here.

At that moment of birth, in that manger stall, on that cold winter night it was just about a family. A father who didn't know if he could provide for his son, a mother who didn't know if she could keep him safe, a baby with his future ahead of him. He was born in a time of upheaval when traveling in a strange land was wrought with dangers, where a poor family - a pregnant woman, a donkey, an ox and an old man could fall prey to dangers.

There was faith. There was prophecy. There was a shining star in the sky. Soon after there were shepherds, and wise men and gifts. But in that moment of birth there was simply a mother and a father and a baby boy. And a future that was unsure.

And so it is with every birth. In that moment when a woman becomes a mother, and a man becomes a father, and a being emerges from the womb there is that moment when a family is born.

And we are making it up all the way along. Mary and Joseph were so sure in that moment of birth that it was a miracle, as every birth before and after is a miracle.

Life is a miracle. With all of its intricacies and mess. It is a miracle. It is a miracle that even though we are gifted with language, it is a miracle to find those moments of clarity and true understanding - the meeting of soul to soul.

It is a miracle to find love in this world. Sometimes it is a dark and forbidding place, and yet in those darkest moments love can still force its way through, just like a small blade of grass pushing through a mountain of rock.

In that manger there was love. In that temple there was love. At that last supper there was love. In that garden there was love. On that cross there was love.

And so it is with us. At birth, in anger, with forgiveness, in fear, and in death there is love. And love will heal the wounds if we let it.

If we remember that Christmas isn't about the shopping and glitz, but about a simple tree, lights strung in the darkness and a meal shared with family and friends. Christmas is the time to remember that there is love, and love will conquer all if we only let it.

If we only remember that in that moment of birth there is a promise to love and to keep trying. To apologize for not always having the perfect response to each situation, but to believe that when there is love there is the possibility to get back on track, start over, and move forward.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Innocence lost and found

It was 1972. I was in Grade 12. While taking my English 12 course, I had discovered, and fallen in love with, the poetry of William Blake.

That December I also learned that my father was dying of cancer.

I was 17.

This was my Christmas present that year:

This was the inscription inside the front cover:

That inscription has carried me all these years.

Unconditional love.

I have often thought that one day I will have it tattooed under the hummingbird on my right shoulder.

It is already tattooed on my heart.

Auguries of Innocence

To See a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a wild flower
To hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.

William Blake

Saturday, December 13, 2014

A house full of memories

We are cleaning up, fixing up, painting up in preparation for Christmas. It is kinda fun, in a weird way, and my husband and I make a good team while we do this.

He does one task, I take on another - and when one of us gets weary, or discouraged, the other encourages or helps out.

As I move from one task to the other I am confronted by so many memories.

Here in the kitchen is where my dear border collie, Maggie, chewed off the corner of the cupboard while she was teething.

Here in the bedroom is the water mark left by the steamer I had going day and night when my daughter had croup.

Here on the doorway between the kitchen and living room are the marks of my growing children - 1999, 2003, 2014.

Here near the kitchen ceiling are the tape marks from a sign the hung for years that said 'Mary's Cafe.' My kids and husband made it one weekend while my father-in-law was recuperating at our house and I was making homemade bread, and soup and even sushi.

There is more tape residue from birthday streamers, mistletoe kissing bugs (don't ask), a poster from the Yukon, and a pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey birthday game.

I have taken down pictures to wash walls, one of them that my father made for his mother in 1937. He was thirteen.

One my aunt gave me (in an attempt, I think, to make me feel not too bad for my messy, messy house.)

check out the price..... $1.47!

I have decided to move the dulcimer that hangs on the wall, a gift from my husband years before I had children. I need to change things up a bit.

I have decided to eighty-six the elephant-pocket wall organizers that kept odds and ends in the kitchen and by the front door.

I have recycled (or thrown-out) things that don't serve me anymore, following my colleagues advice to only keep things that a) are useful, b) are beautiful, or c) I Love. (Luckily my husband fits all three categories.)

Today we are washing ceilings and removing wall-paper, working as a team despite sore shoulders (me) and tweaky knees (him).

We have colours to pick before the painting begins, and that is an issue because neither of us has any kind of colour sense. Ideas welcome!

Despite removing the tape residue, sanding the chewed cupboard, and washing away the grime of raising children this house will still hold the memories.

Because those memories are locked tight in my heart.

And I am ready to make some new ones.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Harmony and Peace award

I would like to thank Edwina, who writes Edwina's Episodes for nominating me for the Harmony and Peace award. I am tickled pink and excited to accept.

This is a relatively new award created by the Idealistic Rebel

She states: “I created this new award to celebrate all those who promote Harmony & Peace, and who add Love & Beauty to the world through their Blogs and through their lives. Their Positivity makes the world a better place for all of us.”

~The Rules~

1) Give this award to seven bloggers who have added Harmony & Peace, Love & Beauty and Positivity to the world you live in.
2) Let them know that you nominated them.
3) Acknowledge the blogger from whom you received this award
4) Display your award on your blog, because you have earned it!
5) Continue to live in Harmony & Peace

These are the blogs that bring me harmony and peace so I hope you check them out:

Diary of an Intuitive - this woman writes about a life infused with love and connection to spirit.
Life with Roozle - this blog allows me to follow a wonderful journey of a LGBTQ mother raising her daughter in this beautiful, and sometimes crazy world of ours.
Project Project - I discovered this blog during NaBloPoMo and it is a wonderful window into a young mother raising her children with love and pride and some knitting projects thrown in for good measure.
MSathlete - this blog is written by a woman with Multiple Sclerosis who challenges her diagnosis with long distance swimming and rowing. She was on my brother's team of swimmers who attempted the English Channel this summer, and although their attempt wasn't successful they are going to try again in 2016.
LupeyLoops - this is an inspirational blogger who lives her life optimistically (and with crocheting) while she deals with her diagnosis of Lupus.
Le Blog Itinerant - I love this blog - she is honest about her challenges with mental illness, inspiring, and a fellow fibre artist!
Momastery - I am new to this blog, and she has a large following, for good reason with so much inspiration and hope in her posts.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Learning to say no

I get asked to do things, often work-related, or sometimes volunteer things and I pipe up and say yes when I really mean no.

I am getting better about this, but not all better.

"They need me."
"If I don't do it I am letting them down."
"They can't find anyone else to do it."
"I am flattered to be asked because they value my abilities so much."

That internal dialogue is only some of the things I say to myself.

I am learning to listen to that still small voice. The one that says what my heart really needs to hear.

"You don't have to take this on."
"This is not your problem."
"You are only doing it for the money and that is not a good enough reason at this point in your life."
"You retired for a reason, and committing to something for three months (or whatever) is not really being retired".

But, really, what I need to say to myself is "It is ok to say no."

No excuses, no apologies, just no.

Sometimes I say yes because I am afraid they will never ask me again. Sometimes I say yes because I want everyone to like me. Sometimes I say yes because it is a way to procrastinate and put off other decisions I need to make in my life.

I will sleep on the current decision I am living with for one more night. Perhaps my angel has some words of wisdom for me.

I already know the answer.

I am just biding my time.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

stripping paint

We have decided to paint our kitchen and bathroom. This week I stripped the paint off the bathroom ceiling. In a weird way this is very satisfying work. I like how sometimes the stripper can get under the paint and huge sheets peel off. Other times I have to work diligently for only a few flakes. Once it was all done the floor was littered with pieces of paint - like a jigsaw puzzle - and we were amazed at how heavy it was once all gathered together in a garbage bag. All the weight that has been over our head all this time.

I liked getting up and down the ladder, scraping until my arm got tired, getting down, sweeping up. It was meditative.

Now there are walls to wash, holes to fill and then paint to buy.

Ack! That is the stress point. What colour?

Then, the actual painting - which I am looking forward to, because then it will almost be done. And once it is done, there is the small matter of re-grouting the tub!

We are carrying on, pushing forward, planning for Christmas, preparing for the future.

You guessed it, this post isn't really about stripping paint.

It is really about getting on with things, being in the moment, anticipating the future.

Friday, December 5, 2014

My friend, Rufinous

I am in a play in a couple of weeks. It is the nativity play told from the point of view of the shepherds. I have been in this play, many times. Sometimes I have played Mary, sometimes the angel, a few times a shepherd.

This year I am playing the first innkeeper. You know the one - no room at the inn. Well, they all respond with no room at the inn, but in varying ways.

Because of peoples' schedules the two cast members who play the other two innkeepers are not always present which means during rehearsal I have often played all three innkeepers.

It is eye-opening, or maybe, soul-opening.

The first innkeeper, Rufinous, is supposedly a friend of Joseph's. Even though he is a friend, and even though he sympathizes with their plight, he does nothing to ease their situation.

The second innkeeper, Servilus, is just mean. Mean through and through. No sympathy. Only driven by money.

The third innkeeper, Titus, also has no room at the inn, but seeing their plight tries to make a bad situation better by offering them the stable.

The three vignettes take place in a matter of minutes. It is so odd to play the three different characters and have to shift my attitude, voice, body language to portray their attitudes.


I think there are times for all of us when we exhibit the attitude of all of these innkeepers. I know I have.

I know I have walked by someone who needed help,someone who considers me a friend, and because of my own situation kept walking. I know there are times when I have helped a little when I could have helped more. I know there are times when the economics of a situation stayed my attempts.

This is the beauty of the nativity story. I believe there are times in our life when we are all of the characters in the story. The young, frightened Mary, the responsible, but helpless, Joseph, the simple shepherds, the wise magi, the innkeepers, and yes, even the angel, who watches it unfold knowing there is a bigger mystery behind it all.

The story, whether you are Christian, or not, is an archetype, an allegory if you will.

It is in every one of us.

It's in every one of us
To be wise
Find your heart
Open up both your eyes
We can all know everything
Without ever knowing why
It's in every one of us
By and By.

(Ann Mortifee, Journey to Kairos - one woman show, 1979)
Click here to hear a sample of this song (#9) - it is so beautiful.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Stepping back in

I am home after being away for two weeks. It is strange how I can go from one reality to the next so seamlessly.

I arrived home Monday afternoon, attended my Compassionate Communication Study Group on Monday night, my spinning and dying class on Tuesday morning, knit with my honourary grand-daughter on Tuesday afternoon and attended a rehearsal this afternoon.

Whew! It's only Wednesday.

Tomorrow I am tutoring, and it is my Knit Group's Christmas party. I hope to get in a nice long swim, too.

The laundry is all done, the bills are all paid, and another Christmas present is on the needles.

Today I bought groceries, stocking stuffers and a Christmas gift.

I also dropped my husband's laptop and managed to break both the HDMI cable AND the disc drive.

Yup, Tropical Storm Mary-Anne is back in town!

I wouldn't have it any other way.