Thursday, October 20, 2016

Every Life a Tapestry

Yesterday I conducted a journaling workshop at the Saint John Free Public Library. Twelve people attended and of course brought twelve different lives and experiences along with them . They chose a new journal from the table and participated in two writing activities. The threads of their experiences show the beautiful tapestry that each life creates. Old houses boarded up, dancing and longing, childhood memories, secrets and intrigue, treasured letters, chipping out chunks of coal, pipeline concerns, anniversaries, one room school house memories, aspirations and dreams, worry and insecurity. Private, personal and universal threads of life written in short entries in ten minutes but saying so much. For two hours I imparted my love of journaling. I read snippets of my diaries and journals spanning 48 years of my life. I read an entry from my great grandfather's journal dated April 6th , 1900. I read an entry from my great Aunt Alice's mother in law's diary from 1937.I read from The Diary of A Young Girl, The Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery and The Year Mrs. Montague Cried. I read two entries from my blog. We talked , we shared and we pondered the value of journal writing. Thank you Shirley, Gabrielle, Trent, Bonnie, Neil, Molly, Alfie, Jan, Carole, Janet, Arthur, and Sharon for letting me share the fabric of my life and letting me see the threads of yours.

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Decline of Life Well Lived

This morning I took a picture that seems much sadder than the ones that proceeded it. Since June I have regularly photographed my sunflowers. As I wrote about each photograph, I predicted the next part of the plant's life. This morning's photo will be one of the last ones I expect. Perhaps I'll take another when every plant is down or when a cover of snow leaves one dead blossom sticking its head out .The sunflowers are just about done.With that thought in mind I reflect on other lives on the decline. Firstly this morning I mourn the death of my beloved Uncle Bernie. Tomorrow I will travel to Moncton and attend the celebration of his life. I will embrace my aunt Lois and my cousins Jan,Joy and Julie and reflect on Bernie's life. He was the other half of a team I could always rely on. In their presence I have always felt special and loved. They have laughed and cried with me, they have celebrated and supported all my achievements. Their home on Milroth Ave. was like a second home to me but when they moved to People's Park Tower and then Briarlea Nursing home that did not change. Coming into their presence wherever it has been was always coming home. My Uncle Bernie's smile, his teasing and his loving embrace were always available. The last time I saw him he offered that freely.He also reminisced with my dad about hunting days together and voiced his desire for Dad to put him in the car and take him to the hunting camp. Sad decline that limits the body from doing what the mind and heart still desire. I see my own parents struggling with that reality. Yesterday my brother and sister in law picked Mom and Dad up and drove them here for our belated Thanksgiving dinner. Before we ate Ken drove them down to see Chapin and Bri's new house construction. Chapin helped Mom up the stairs in the house he has labored to build for the last year. Hopefully when she returns from a winter in Florida she will again visit and they will have moved in. Her limited speech made her unable to say much but I know she felt pride in seeing the beautiful home her grandson has built. Decline and diminished ability. Change and loss. Beauty evolving and life coming to an end.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Trip to McAdam

Thursday I took a trip to McAdam. I don't think I have ever been there and before going I set out to figure how to get there. Interestingly the three ways I saw on Google maps all took approximately the same amount of time.I chose what appeared to be the middle way .It was a lovely day for the drive and I really enjoyed the fall foliage. There was a stretch of dirt road I wasn't crazy about since I am driving a new vehicle. Funny how that changes my perspective. I wasn't the least bit obsessive about my eight year old Corolla. Anyway I got there in lots of time and found the library right away. The librarian is a former student of mine. She welcomed me into the library and then across the road to her place for supper. After supper I took a short drive to have a good look at the impressive grandeur of the McAdam train station. What an architectural treasure! Thankfully local people have had the wisdom and determination to preserve and restore it .I will return sometime so that I can actually get inside and would love to go when they serve their wide selection of pies. So why did I drive all the way to McAdam? Reflecting on the trip I can come up with several good reasons. I was invited. My former student Amy recently moved to the small town to take the job of librarian at the small library. It is lovely. The small facility offers many books and resources (You Tube for a young man who comes daily)It is warm and welcoming . I read to five people including the librarian and her parents who were kind enough to drive two hours for the event. I met Sherry and Karen who were very receptive and asked lots of questions. I read four passages from Waiting For Still Water and a couple of passages from The Year Mrs. Montague Cried. Karen shared her story of loosing her son in an accident and his name was also Zachary. We talked about the common threads of our experience . It was lovely to meet her. She bought a copy of The Year Mrs. Montague Cried. Sherry bought The Memory Chair and Amy's mom bought Ten Thousand Truths. I donated a copy of Waiting For Still Water to the library. I met the young man who frequents the library daily and he shared his interests and his passion for comic books and gory stuff with me. I did not sell him on my writing but he seemed impressed that I wrote all the books displayed on the table. Amy offered her home so that I wouldn't have to drive home on unfamiliar roads and risk coming in contact with a moose. The painting of the large moose on the library wall reinforced my desire not to take my chances.I got Amy to give me a new library card as for some reason I have misplaced my old one.I think it's great that a former grade 4 student of mine is issuing her teacher a library card and encouraging her to read more. I was given a $25 Gas card as a gift for coming. I settled in quite early and began reading David Adams Richards new book ,Principles to Live By. I heard him read the first few pages at a Fog Lit event and as I started reading it I could hear the words in his voice and cadence. I hope my readers after hearing me read can say the same thing. So why would I drive all the way to a small NB town , to a small library and read to a small crowd ? Why not is more like it. As I have said before , I get my readers one reader at a time and I am thankful for each one. Thanks Amy!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

Yesterday we travelled to Kings Landing for our 30th Thanksgiving. In the 30 years we've been going we have seen many changes, many configurations and made lots of memories. The first year we left one year old Chapin with a babysitter and took Zac and Meg. We sat in a small upstairs room at the Kings Head and had our first dinner there. Every year since we packed up the kids, sometimes grandparents joined us , sometimes aunts, uncles and cousins. Some years boyfriends and girlfriends were invited. Sometimes someone couldn't come for one reason or another. We would gather whoever was available and keep up our tradition. I don't remember why Zac didn't come with us the last year before he died. At the time it didn't seem a big deal for him to miss our trip but his absence is now always felt deeply. The last time all four kids came we got the priceless picture of them all and Burton along the footpath. I never walk that footpath without remembering the posing for that photograph. Last year Meg , Emma and Paige joined us. Cody has come with us at least once. Brianne and Ashlie are part of the tradition and now have had several thanksgivings there with us. Weather has varied as have the crowd attending. Yesterday we almost let the wind and rain stop us but I am so glad we didn't . We bundled up a bit more than usual but enjoyed the walk through the village.Bri and Chapin brought nephews Cade and Ryker. We commented on the fact that Ryker was the age Chapin was when we began the tradition. I must say I am so glad the NB government has seen fit to invest in this treasure. The sawmill has been refurbished. Some changes have been made to improve the tourist aspect. Kings Landing still holds a strong attraction for our family. It is like coming home. I only saw two people from my volunteering days but was happy to catch up with Evelyn and sit and quilt awhile at the Morehouse house with Virginia. Chapin and Burton shot the muskets, we walked through the corn maze and we sat together enjoying a delicious meal. Another wonderful visit made our Thanksgiving weekend complete. So much to remember, to look ahead to, and to be thankful for!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Paige's Happy Birthday

Today is Paige's 5th birthday. Oh how I wish I could see that little girl today and get caught up in her birthday excitement. Her voice still echoes here and I am thankful for the memories we made this summer and all the visits that came before. It is a frosty morning. A heavy fog rests above everything but I expect the sun will lift it soon. A beautiful morning . The landscape changes daily as fall digs in and summer leaves us. Yesterday I stored our huge crop of squash in the basement , the garden shed and the porch. My grand mother used to store her squash under her bed but I have way to much for that. I don't think she ever harvested as much as I grew this year. What seemed like a good idea when I dropped the seed seemed excessive yesterday as we made trip after trip filling each place with squash. I hope friends, family and neighbors come and get some so we can share the bounty. Last night Ashlie cooked ham and I cooked vegetables for a Sunday supper do over for my kids. The BlueJays game cut our Sunday supper short and I felt short changed. I love our Sunday suppers of catching up , laughing and playing a game of something. As I pulled carrots and beets and prepared a large squash and peeled the potatoes I let the gratitude of our home and garden sink in. I walked down to Chapin's house twice yesterday and each time saw more progress getting them closer to moving in. The leaves and the sky were stunning, the air crisp and the sun strong. Gorgeous! My sunflowers have turned their faces from me. Most of their blossoms have been stripped and their heads hang , their leaves withered, their large stalks stooping. They have a new and different beauty as does the surrounding landscape. Paige is now a five year old kindergarten girl .Happy Birthday Tiny Toad. Monkey and Toad love you!!!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

October Has Arrived

How quickly the months go by. Here we are arriving in October. Today a steady rain and a quiet Sunday morning brings a bit of reprieve from the busy days of September. I can only imagine how exhausted and ready for a break the Fog Lit organizing committee are. I watched from afar at several events as they kicked into gear to make things run smoothly always mindful of the next task. They juggled a large number of events and authors and pulled off an impressive festival. I was pleased to be involved . This morning I considered going to the city for Books and Brunch but let the lure of rest and solitude keep me in my housecoat having my coffee while finishing Riel's book and contemplating what I would do with the rest of my day. I am seriously considering going into to the closing event this afternoon. I am looking ahead at a busy October. Writing related events include a book club visit , a library reading , a workshop on journaling and four market days and some writing squeezed in. I have two appointments and my parents have appointments I will drive them to. We will make one more visit to Moncton so Mom can see her sister before they leave for what is likely to be Mom and Dad's last winter in Florida. Thanksgiving approaches and I look forward to our annual trip to Kings Landing. Outside my office window I hear the turkeys. Sadly their time is coming to an end. 'Enjoy each day' comes to mind and it seems I can not be reminded of that often enough. Caught up in the day by day I need mornings like this to allow that important lesson to sink in. Take in the beauty around , let my blessings sink in , find a place for my doubts and insecurities, treasure my loved ones, claim my sorrows , take a deep breath and move into the month ahead. Seems my relaxing quiet morning has an ambitious list . The rest of the day and the month will fall into place. Enjoy the here and now.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Now Socks and Slippers

It is chilly. No furnace going yet but very soon I fear. My last lake swim officially took place on September 21st , the last day of summer. It was divine and I know if I forced myself I might be able to go one more time but I am accepting the truth and the change in temperature is certainly making that easier. Caleb started picking the squash yesterday and the squash patch is looking stripped and depleted, the plants no longer green and full. The dark green treasures stick out among the withered leaves and exposed vines. The long row of sunflowers are changing quickly as well. From a distance they still look tall and lovely but on closer inspection the blossoms are loosing their vibrancy. Petals are falling, seeds are being plucked and tall stems are tumbling as I predicted. I picked a few for the back veranda and they looked beautiful at first. They now look sad and wilted. Their day is almost done. As with the swimming I will accept the reality of my squash patch and my sunflowers changing with the season. An extra blanket will soon be put on the bed, shoes and socks will be worn and October will soon arrive. The trees are quickly changing color. I will begin my woods road walks as moose season is over. I look forward to reintroducing myself to the beauty of that walk to the top of the hill. As I look down and over to where I can see the top of Chapin and Brianne's house I know how much closer it is to welcoming them to move in and live the next stage of their lives together within its walls. I wait for the day I will see smoke rise from their far off chimney. Smoke will soon rise from my own as well and despite my reluctance to give up summer I welcome the beauty and comfort of fall and winter. I was given this wonderful summer and am truly thankful for its blessings. I think of the challenges that stretch ahead and ask for the courage and strength to face them and the wisdom to support my friends and family as they struggle with the challenges they have been given. Amelia's wisdom of an hour alone at the lake and Do Your part will now become an hour alone in the woods and I will continue to try to do my part.