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Showing posts from July, 2013

Mesopotamia and Memories

I noticed signs recently when I was in downtown Toronto, for the Mesopotamia exhibition at the ROM. I wanted to go! 

So that week I said to Tori when she came upstairs to help me prepare for dinner guests, "I would love to take a day off work and take you and Tippy somewhere during the holidays; would you like that?"
Excited eyes, and a big smile answered louder than words.
"But where?" 
"Well," I said casually, "There is the ROM. They have an exhibit on Mesopotamia, which is known as "the cradle of civilization," at the moment--or," I added; because part of me felt that I was offering them a frog on a plate for lunch; "we could go anywhere else, if you prefer;" .

I suggested that she and her sister Tippy, Google, "Places to go in Ontario," and said that I would take them anywhere they wanted--the main thing was to go somewhere together.
To my delight and surprise, a few days later they said, "We would like to go to …
In Bill Fledderus's continuing class at Write! Canada: Finding Your Way Deeper Into Writing, we learned about the power of metaphor and how to use an object from nature that calls to us. Comparing a thing with a person can be a metaphor generator!

I decided to use a pine cone and write about...well, here is what I wrote.

Brown, light, life bringer, the pine cone whispers a message of rebirth.

To be born anew it separates from parent bough and sister cones, to be buried in the earth.

My mother's death was like that.

She, separating from her family tree like fruit that was finally ripe and ready to fall.

Separating as gently and easily as the pine cone. As naturally too.

No fighting against it.

Each created thing has its time

to be born anew
A silvery cream moon heralds the night while the day blazes out in glorious pink over bluest blue in the west.

On the counter, lemon loaves glisten with a sweet and tangy glaze and cool on black wire racks; fruit of a Saturday hour or two in the kitchen.

The clock ticks away this July evening, cooler since yesterday's storm; measuring with its beat the passing moments.

Packed boxes line the walls downstairs and there are accessories of teal blue for Tori's room in their new home, and artsy black and red for Tippy's. 

In the air there is anticipation; excitement; expectancy. But also something else; we miss them already.

The family downstairs, with their caboodle of pets is readying to leave and with them they will take part of our hearts.

And yet we know it is good that they go. We are with them in it and celebrate with them, the beautiful home of their own they go to.

Still this is a time of measuring the days. A time of sighing over what has been so precious and will be no more…

Soul Restoration Complete

An interaction yesterday went horribly. I had needed help. The help was given with impatience and abrupt instructions that had the effect of freezing my brain into deeper incompetence. By the end I felt like a nuisance; too slow; and devalued.

It affected me for more than a few hours afterwards. I needed time to process it and eventually managed to separate myself  from it personally, enough to know that it wasn't so much about me as the other person and I am pretty sure that they were oblivious to their effect. 

This morning as I sat down with a cup of coffee in our sunny back room, and tried to shake off the last vestiges of the depressed mood that had descended afterwards, and the words, "He restores my soul," from Psalm 23, came to mind, like a soothing ointment on a wound.

Just then Brenda poked her head into the room, a large red mug of coffee in her hand. She glanced at the book I was opening and said, "Oh, is this not a good time?" 

"Yes, it is," …

Ben & Jerry Come to Writers Nest

"Hi Belinda," it was my friend Carolyn on the phone. "Be honest, okay? Is it okay if I bring the ducklings to writers group tonight?"

The ducklings? She had said it as though she was saying, "The kids." Like it was normal to bring ducklings to a writers group meeting. Like I knew them or something! She had apparently been writing about them on FB but I had not been getting her posts.


The Rouen ducklings are named Ben and Jerry and Carolyn said she is imprinted on them and that they follow her everywhere. She hoped they wouldn't poop on my rug though.

"Bring them on over," I said, laughing, and promptly went downstairs to tell Bren, Tippy and Tori that they were coming.

Brenda looked up from a box she was packing and said, "Ducklings? What kind of a person brings ducklings?" but added, "That's just jealousy talking."


As 7 o'clock approached, writer friends arrived in groups of two or three. I hope they didn't feel l…

Childhood Holidays

Our writers group topic for this month is "Vacation," and this started me thinking of my happiest vacations, spent in Holland as a child.

I grew up in Worcestershire, a county in the middle of England and our journeys to Holland began by train. It was just Mum, my brother Rob and I who left from Birmingham, Snow Hill Station.,where we wouldwave goodbye to Dad who had come to see us off. Our first destination was Paddington Station in London. Inside the train we maneuvered our luggage down the passageway that ran alongside the carriage's compartments until we found ourselves seats inside one of them.

Like a living creature, the steam engine would chuff its way out of the station, whistle blowing, then panting and puffing as it started off, slowly gaining speed as we passed through dark, soot encrusted tunnels on our way out of the station and then past the streets of Birmingham and out into the countryside.

The train would fall into a soothing rhythm rocking us gently as we …

Samson Beaver and his Family

I first posted this in 2009, a little show and tell about one of my favourite photographs. Back then it hung on a wall, but now it's in my bathroom where I see it every morning! I'd forgotten the history behind the story, researched when I first posted this and thought that current readers might enjoy it--a story from a time when this land was still being discovered, not so very long ago.


This photograph was taken by Mary Schaffer; artist, photographer, writer and naturalist, in 1907. It is of a Stoney Indian named Samson Beaver, with his wife Leah and daughter, Frances Louise. I bought the photo on a postcard, on a trip to British Columbia and it hangs framed, on the wall I face when sitting at my laptop. I love it.
Don't you just feel as if you could gather Frances Louise up in your arms and cuddle her?
I get a deep sense of peace and happiness when I look at this family, sitting in the grass of a long ago fall. They are dressed in their best, beautiful clothes, but it is t…

The Dangerous Path

"Doing Christianity is a lot harder than being Christian. We admire the good Samaritan but think him slightly odd," said my friend Dave, in a comment on yesterday's post.

This morning I turned to a sermon in a collection of Dietrich Boenhoeffer's sermons. There was a prophet in Berlin in 1932 and his name was Boenhoeffer. 

Boenhoeffer wrote in a certain historical context that is explained in interesting detail in this treasure of a book. It had great significance to what he said, but he could also be speaking to any church and anyone who calls themselves a Christian today.

His text was Colossians 3: 1-4, and he spoke about what those disturbing words might mean to his congregation; about the dangerous God, who disturbs our lives and and challenges our worldview; the "cup of nothingness" that is chosen when we think that any government or other system is the answer to the problems, brokenness and disillusionment of the world.

Compellingly he spoke of the path o…

Crooked Pictures

Urgh! I felt ashamed of the words I had just blurted out and even more, the heart they revealed.

It was cell group night and, as usual, a group of friends were at our place for dinner before the Bible study.

The pot roast, steaming bowls of mashed potatoes and sweet carrots, and the gravy, were being passed around, when some friends who share their lives and home said that they had just bought a second car.

The large car they own is a gas guzzler; just filling the tank costs enough to feed a family for several days; they had bought a second, smaller car that was already delighting them with its economy.

 "We'd like to ask your opinion," they then said to the rest of us. One of their friends had asked to borrow one of their cars for a week. The friend had the opportunity of a week's work; badly needed financially; but no way to get there.

On the one hand, they said, "There was a reason we got the second car--we need it;" but on the other hand they struggled with …

Hanging Out With Molson

This past weekend we hung out, Molson and me, deserted by all but the cat and chinchilla. 
I love that dog so much. He is good "soul medicine!" So much about him reminds me of the kind of relationship God must want to have with us, if we weren't so desperately "human."
It can be a little disconcerting at times, the way Molson's eyes are always on his beloved one--that's me when his other loved ones are away. I love watching those little bumps in his forehead, just above his eyes, and how, no matter how sleepy he is, the bumps turn in my direction. It makes me laugh out loud with joy, watching him.
It makes me think of Psalm 123, which says: Psalm 123:1-4 The Message (MSG)A Pilgrim Song 1-4 
We look up to you for help.
Like servants, alert to their master’s commands,
like a maiden attending her lady,
We’re watching and waiting, holding our breath,
awaiting your word of mercy.
Mercy, God, mercy!
We’ve been kicked around long enough,
Kicked in the teeth by complacent …

Empty Boxes

(I haven't been writing much this week, but friends, I am reading about writing; isn't that a good thing?--So tonight I'm publishing a post from the past--from April 2010. Some of those nuggets in the back drawer bear repeating!) 

I arrived at a home that I had not been to before for a meeting last week. Even as I approached the front door, there was a sense of neatness, order and beauty. Inside, the warm welcome of the inhabitants was echoed by the home, as it wrapped itself around me with the warmth of the colours on the walls, and the atmosphere of comfort and hosptitality.

Before the four of us started our discussion on the topic of the meeting, the two other women mentioned being regular readers of this blog. I felt humbled and a little embarrassed. It is a great honour that anyone chooses to read here but I was caught off guard when I thought about how "off the cuff" some of my writing can be.

This was further reinforced when one of the women referred to my po…

Happy Canada Day

It's Canada Day, the day we celebrate our wonderful country by having a day off and with fireworks displays.

A couple of years ago I wrote a story for Canada.com on How I Came to be Here. I will always be grateful for the privilege of living in Canada, our adopted land.
It will be 44 years in September, since we left England for Canada--I only 19, and Paul 22 years old. It seems like a moment ago and yet so much has happened in those 44 years.
Last week we attended the third grade 8 graduation of a grandchild. This time it was Tori graduating. She loves learning, works hard and was on the honour roll.
Her older sister Tippy (below,) who also graduated last year from Sir William Osler Public School, was asked to design the bulletin for this year's graduation and did a wonderful job, working on it for six hours. Here she is being thanked. 
During the graduation ceremony, every one of the 21 graduates was affirmed in some way for progress and effort. The staff of Sir William Osler are…