Childhood memories through a pepper shaker’s glass

I was doing the dishes the other night and once again, I took out one of those small wiry brushes that allow access to inaccessible corners of glassware or ceramics. I purposely bought those little brushes so I could see if I could get the inside of a small glass pepper shaker clean. For reasons I can’t explain, the pepper residue just won’t come off the inside of this tiny shaker. And as I was doing that it occurred to me that I’d been trying to get this little thing clean for about 2 months and I still hadn’t got there.

In the midst of doing what’s become almost a habit as part of doing the dishes, I stopped and asked myself, What are you doing? Why does this tiny little glass pepper mill that has no financial value matter so much to you, and apparently it really matters!

And when I thought about that I realized that this small object, smooth to the touch with rippled diagonal lines, elicits such strong memories for me of Sunday dinners in my childhood when there was almost always someone coming to dinner, an occasion at a time when having people over, not going out, was how special occasions got marked.

As a little girl, the child size of these must have been what appealed to me. I would often be asked by my mother to put them on the table from their usual resting spot in the china cabinet in the dining room, as if I was putting the cherry on top, the final accoutrements on the white linen table cloth as the guests arrived.

If it was Sunday, there was almost always someone coming for dinner. Uncles and aunts, my father’s parents, sometimes one of my eldest sister’s boyfriends and dinner, it seemed to me, would last a very long time.

Good china. White linen. Cutlery laid out correctly. The special silverware taken carefully from that heavy wooden box with the red velvet lining. My three older sisters moving back and forth between kitchen to dining room as a trio of servers  in that big old house in New Westminster, three storeys high. A fireplace in the the dining room, another one in the den. Beams on the ceilings. A sunroom. Window seats. Awnings. The kind of old house that few are lucky enough to live in now. The only time I’ve been able to call a house mine even if it was my parents who owned it.

After my parents died and their things were sorted and given away, I realized that these little glass salt and pepper shakers represent the feelings of togetherness, of family, that I have not had for a very long time. I made the decision to keep them when I could just as easily have given them away. And every time I look at them, they represent a link to a past that is a testimony to my mother who worked so hard as a home maker, to feed her family and mark special occasions properly. I never use them. They don’t work very well but that’s not the point.

It would have been my parent’s 73rd wedding anniversary today if they were still alive. They got married on February 25th, 1945, in Holy Trinity Church in Winnipeg at 6pm by a Reverend Findley. The reception was at the Marlborough Hotel. I only know this because I have my mother’s bride book and it has the details, along with details of what she wore and all the well wisher cards and strange long white ribbons with women’s names typed onto them, which must have been a custom at the time, the names of the attendees at the bridal showers held for her.

My parents eventually moved to New Westminster and they rented rooms in a house at 215 Fifth Avenue near Queen’s Park. There’s a receipt in this bridal book that details the cost of the monthly rent for these rooms. They paid $22.50 per month to a Mr. Taylor who, when he died, left them furniture and his son gave them a good deal on the house to buy it.

Maybe you have something that represents so much more to you than its physical value and even though it’s special, you haven’t explicitly acknowledged it yet, out loud that is. You haven’t really made it known to yourself even though your actions say it’s so.

All good de-cluttering books speak to keeping only those things in your life that you love. I de-cluttered before moving to Victoria and I can say that it’s good to look around my living space and have my eyes fall only upon only things that are meaningful to me and that I’m pleased with. Your mind engulfs the beauty and the joy of what those things represent and feels satisfied, not distracted or irritated or forced off balance which is what happens when your house if full of stuff that has no reason to be there.

In my life, and I expect in yours, these are the kinds of objects – the ones with much more meaning than that which is visible on the surface – that matter the most. Think about it a while and see if what I’m saying makes sense for you.

Seedy Saturday and entrepreneurial gardeners

Took myself off to Seedy Saturday at the Victoria Convention Centre. I love Seedy Saturday and apparently there are an ever exploding number of Seedy Saturdays that happen all over Canada now.

Even though I don’t own land, a girl can dream, can’t she?

Besides, like a lot of things, dreaming about an incredible garden is often better than reality. Because reality means I’d actually have to haul dirt and weed and water and spend weekends working and if there’s anything I’ve learned in the past five months now that I have a full time job again, it’s that every second of my weekend is precious. No squandering weekend minutes or seconds doing anything I don’t want to do.

I sat in on three talks, and learned so much. The day started with a medicinal plant talk by Jessy Delleman who owns Fireweed Farm and School.  It was interesting to see slides of how she transformed a piece of land in about 4 years and built a business that includes seed selling, workshops, walks, plants, and healing tinctures all focused on native plants.  Her business is focused on native B.C. plants.

I then moved on to Dan Jason of Salt Spring Seeds talking about ancient grains because he has a new book about that and his rant about Monsanto was fantastic. It was worth sitting in on just to hear that.

I had no idea that he grew about 700 different crops on his farm on Salt Spring. When he began a long time ago, he’d actually started with soy beans and had a lot of hope of getting some funding for those except the powers at be didn’t believe that he could grow those successfully. Of course, he’s been growing them successfully for years.

It was so interesting to listen to him speak about soy and quinoa and amaranth and Ethiopian barley (no, there’s not just one kind) and how when he started growing, he was convinced that amaranth, not quinoa, was going to be the trend that took off. He still thinks amaranth’s day has yet to come. It was interesting to hear the hope he had about how things are really shaking all over B.C. and on Vancouver Island when it comes to local producers and how that’s beginning to impact consumer purchasing. He pointed out that it’s actually how we eat and how that food gets distributed that’s the largest contributor to greenhouse gases.

The last talk I attended was by Chris Hildreth and his company TopSoil Innovative Agriculture along with production manager Scott Mellett. It’s so impressive to see someone with a vision pursue it and figure it out and through action and hard work help make changes in zoning in the City of Victoria so that now, urban agriculture and making that happen here is apparently a lot less daunting.

His initial idea was to grow vegetables for restaurants by utilizing unused rooftops in Victoria. But, it wasn’t just about filling some market need. His vision was all about local and sustainable and making sure the people in the restaurants were an integral part of the plan. He learned the hard way, that his initial vision needed reworking and now they grow produce, mainly greens, by using land that has yet to be developed at Dockside Green. His 10 years of experience in the local restaurant industry meant that instead of like many urban farmers who may be approaching restaurants from the outside in, he was approaching them from the inside out.

His business is totally sustainable in that he works with a small number of nearby restaurants like Canoe Brewpub, Fishhook, Fiamo, Lure and others so that everything is either driven or cycled to the restaurants that are very close to where the produce is grown. The produce gets delivered in reusable boxes, so there’s no packaging or plastics to throw away by the restaurant staff and then the boxes get picked up and the restaurant’s composting gets recycled by another company and delivered back to his garden and the cycle begins anew. In the spring and summer they also sell directly to consumers from their market stall on the same property. I know where I”m going this summer for produce.

It was all so inspiring.

The meals that memories are made of

One of the chefs from the event who has the last name Mavor. A rare occurrence in my life. He owns/runs a restaurant called Hanks on Douglas street in Victoria.

I went to an event on Monday night called The Best Thing I Ever Ate that was hosted at a restaurant called Northern Quarter in Victoria.

Six chefs and foodie types shared their stories. It was hosted by Eat Magazine and as I sat there listening to each of them telling their somewhat convoluted stories because, after all, they are chefs, not storytellers, it was clear that they couldn’t really describe the best thing they’d ever eaten. Because it wasn’t just about the food. What they were really describing was the experience that surrounded the food: who they were with, the ambiance of the place and the memories associated with the combinations of a whole bunch of elements that meshed together to create a kaleidoscope of a meal that was elevated to an experience to create a lasting memory.

Whether it was with a favourite grandmother or at a Michelin starred establishment that didn’t live up to expectations in spite of every technical preciseness on paper, the parameters around what actually goes into creating what might be worthy of the category, the best thing you’ve ever eaten, were about every aspect of sharing and intimacy and taste forming a moment that won’t ever come again in such a sublime way.

Maybe we’ve all been lucky enough to experience the moment of a special occasion. You can see it in your mind’s eye. The din of a restaurant engulfing us after we’ve enjoyed the delicious and aesthetically designed art on a plate that enlivened our palates. It’s almost always the coming together of ambiance, company, presentation and taste that makes a meal especially memorable it would seem.

Whenever anyone suggests that food is just fuel for the body, I am a little pained by that approach to eating because it tells me a lot about their overall approach to life. Utilitarian. Not a romantic bone in their body. Yes. Okay. I’ll concede. Sometimes food is just fuel for the body. Breakfast, perhaps. But that should be a mere side-note in a delicious life-long story.

Listening to these stories began to awaken some memories that I hadn’t thought about for quite some time.

I travelled back to 1979 when our high school basketball coach would treat the eight of us on the team to the kind of high end restaurant that most of us from where I grew up wouldn’t typically get taken to. We went to Hy’s encore in downtown Vancouver and a wonderfully cozy small restaurant in Gastown that I vaguely recall may have been named La Bourginon or Le Rendezvous or something like that. We would get all dressed up, trade in the locker room talk to attempt to mimic the young lady persona and for five years in the spring, after another successful season, we’d be decadently treated.  I hadn’t thought about that for such a long time until I pondered this storytelling evening.

I think back to the now no longer Baker Beach Resort on Salt Spring. A small dining room, all dark wood and elegance, a model of a sailing ship on the mantle of a wooden fireplace, and every aesthetic detail a fit, a classic, sophisticated, delicious, special meal shared by my live-in boyfriend after we’d cleaned up from a very hot, long cycle around the island.

I thought about being in Finland at 19 and my Finnish host family, wanting to be good neighbours by helping a nearby farm family to bale their hay. The women of the farmhouse toiled away in the kitchen all morning so that at lunch, those of us baling the hay were called into convene outside at a long table where thick slabs of  roast beef were doled onto plates, boiled potatoes were handed around, and steaming vegetables from their garden had been sauteed to a crunchy perfection. We took a break for an hour-long meal before grabbing our pitchforks and getting back to what was very hard labour. I didn’t know what was being said around that table because of the language barrier but can still feel the feelings of camaraderie of that long ago summer afternoon.

I recall in the early ’90s sitting down in an open field in Salmon Arm, the son and daughter-in-law of my landlady at that time hosting a wonderful Sunday dinner in their expansive backyard space. There was a long table covered in a white tablecloth and handpicked wild flowers in little vases that dotted the length of the table. As the warmth of a summer sun set, its golden light glinting of the wine glasses in the fresh air, the Fly mountains loomed in the distance to create a scene worthy of a film set.

There was that one perfectly seasoned tender rack of lamb encrusted with rosemary and breadcrumbs curated by Bob Watters, the husband of my friend Anne. I’ve had so many delicious meals at one of their many tables, replete with good company and conversation.

And another memory of being in Oxford and walking along the canal, the low slung canal boats bumping against their moorings as we made our way to a restaurant close to the pub where Morse, as in Inspector Morse, used to drink. What a treat to be taken to Brasserie Blanc, a restaurant owned by a celebrity chef, Raymond Blanc. I recall that my new acquaintance had the fois gras. Unfortunately, I don’t recall what I ate – pork medallions pop to mind as a maybe – but that doesn’t surprise me given how awestruck I was by so many other aspects of that special evening.

Fancy, however, is but one way to impress. So many memories. as well, of sitting in a dilapidated float home on the Fraser River, the defining love of my life concocting on his two burner hotplate a wicked Chinese-styled meal of prawns, chow mein and bok choy, as the brown water gently rocked the boat and our conversation took hold. The most unlikely of romantic locations and yet…

I encourage you to take a while and just think about how you might answer that question. What’s the best thing you’ve ever eaten, and why? Linger over your memories a while and see what you catch. Is it the exquisite scent of a four cheese Mac and cheese or the heaven of the scent of berries in a field ripe for picking, or that first taste of the best bread you’ve ever had oily with a fat slab of butter or cream cheese. Take a minute to dredge up some long forgotten exquisitely special time when the food and the company merged to create the sublime. And if you’re so inclined, I’ve love to hear about it.

Ross Bay Villa: A historical family and the volunteers who love them

Kathryn McAllister, tour guide.

The children’s bedroom with the quilt and the horse, lovingly restored.

A contemplative view of the tree from the kitchen.

One of many events that happen throughout the year. Taking place today, Sunday, Jan. 21 at 1-3 $15 including tea and Victorian cake.

The pantry

A work party of women hand sewing felted squares for a new wallhanging.

There are few things I like better than to rise early on a weekend, the whole two days stretched before me, and just head out, a vague idea of how the day might come together. Maybe I have figured out the rough plan ahead of time or I have just heard of events that I’ve mentally noted as they have come to me through a reading of a community newspaper or on social media or because I specifically and earlier in the week sought to find out what’s up.

Yesterday was one of those days.  Somewhere in the middle of the week I had come across something called the Ross Bay Villa. What a grand and elegant title for what is actually quite an unassuming little place.  At 2pm every Saturday for $5 you can have a tour of this heritage house across from the Ross Bay Cemetery at 1490 Fairfield Road.

As I entered the property two men were working the front lawn, pouring sand onto the grass and a young woman greeted me. Only one other person, a young guy, a very quiet history buff, was there for the tour.

I learned that Kathryn McAllister is the tour guide’s name and on the Society’s website, I see she was awarded an Emerging Storyteller Award from the Storyteller’s Guild of Canada. She’s a font of local historical knowledge and not surprisingly, she’s a history student at the University of Victoria. Her passion for the old place was bubbling over. Just this summer, she got married under the apple tree out front.

She took us through the rooms describing the Roscoe family and their five children who had made their home there from 1865 to 1879 when Mr. Roscoe took his own life, or at least that’s the best that can be determined. But what really stood out from all of Kathryn’s stories was the magnitude of work that went into saving the old place after it had fallen into disrepair following a series of owners.

Finally, somewhere around 1999, through creativity and elbow grease, volunteers came together to begin to restore the place and even own it through the creation of a society.  What really struck me was just how much commitment to authenticity still seems to exist. From researching wallpapers to having authentic rugs hand sewn in England to stitching by hand the white on white bedspread in the children’s room and the lovingly restored rocking horse.

The quilt on the end of the child’s bed was made with cotton swatches of fabrics authentic to that time, available in the U.S., and the wallpapers were recreated with stencils. The oil cloth flooring in the front hallway was hand painted.  The Ross Bay Villa Society has painstakingly recreated what a middle class family, such as the Roscoe’s, would have lived in at the time.

Throughout the year, they host events such as the one happening today with parlour games. There’s storytelling and special speakers and in July there’s some sort of big community potluck or tea in the front yard to celebrate the house’s original construction more than 150 years ago.

They even have a gift shop in the very finely renovated shed out back. The famous local tea shop, Murchies, has created a tea in the home’s name.  A crafty volunteer creates some fabulous old-fashioned apron smocks for sale, the kind that cover your dress from shoulders to hem. Great for artists and bakers alike. My grandmother used to wear that type.  Cloth tea towels have been silk-screened with the same design of the wall paper in the children’s bedroom which required a volunteer to go into at night with an infrared light to be able to see the design that had been left on the walls in order to copy it accurately before it being silk-screened.

The floors are covered with oil cloth and the wallpaper in the front hallway was made to look like the regal square panels of wood you might find in an old fashioned library.

It’s a true labour of love and you can only imagine what the Roscoe family might feel if they could know how lovingly their original home in Ross Bay has been restored. After her husband’s death, Mrs. Roscoe had to sell off everything, to bring her five young children back to England, making their way  up the Coast and finally to New York before setting sail for the old country.

There’s even a connection between the Roscoe family and the famous children’s illustrator and writer, Beatrix Potter.

Visit the Ross Bay Villa Society website for year-round events.

 

Camino de no thank you

The only person I know to have walked the Camino de Santiago was an acquaintance from The SFU Writer’s Studio, Barb Kmiec. Before I heard a few stories from Barb, it was something I thought I might like to do one day.  I was impressed that a) she did it alone, and b) she survived it. I’m not positive she did the entire route, but I do believe she did complete enough of it to get the certificate.  After hearing about it, I made a decision right then that I could check off this quasi-desire and label it, Camino de no thank you.

The walking appeals to me. The hordes of peregrinos (pilgrims) and the sleeping options would preclude my taking the first step. Not to mention that lately, my weak right ankle, (an old basketball injury), and one crooked toe that I’m guessing has some minor arthritis, would have to get sorted out. The thought of sleeping in a room full of others, in a bad bunk, after a day of walking 15-25 km, reminded me of the worst hosteling experience I had in London in 2001 and in Edinburgh somewhere on the Royal Mile.

In London, just after arriving, wide-eyed and a little overwhelmed because I hadn’t stayed in a hostel for a long time at that point, I was kept awake all night by man in the bunk above me. He was non-stop snoring. He didn’t speak English. We couldn’t communicate and we were the only ones in the two-bunk room. This went on for three nights. By the third evening, I was practically homicidal. I’m not sure why it never occurred to me to just ask for a different room. Duh!

I do not want to re-experience that or sleep in a room full of people in an uncomfortable bed that thousands of others have slept in before me. I do not want to deal with disgusting, painful blisters to do a pilgrimage that, from a spiritual perspective, I don’t really know at this point why I’d do, and for me, the spiritual, not the physical, would be the point, although I gather they’re inextricably linked.

I’m telling you this because last weekend I found myself ordering a small guidebook, Camino Francés, written by Bryson Guptill, from P.E.I., that I’d seen referenced recently on social media. I’ll call it a no frills guide. You can read it in a night or less. You’ll get the route he took with tips, some photos, and exact GPS-plotted distances. If you’re looking to whet your appetite, this could be one book to have in your arsenal. I do have to give a warning about the quality of its binding however. It would probably not survive more than a few days in a pack. Maybe he’ll rethink that on the next printing and use a cerlox bind instead.

“Are you going to walk the Camino this year?” he asked me in an e-mail that he wrote back to me when I ordered the book.

‘No,’ I said. ‘Not this year. Probably not at all. But just in case.’

And it was that part of the sentence, ‘just in case’ and the fact that it had popped out of my mouth, [where the heck did that come from?], that left me both curious and a little worried. I mean, that I actually took the time to order the book did not escape my curious attention either.

Then yesterday morning after reading his book, I was up, unintentionally,  way too early, and I decided I must re-watch, The Way, with Martin Sheen. But it wasn’t to be found on Netflix.  Instead, I came across another film, Footprints: The path of your life, a documentary about 10 American guys led by a young Catholic priest from Arizona. I thought it was really good because of its focus on spirituality (in this case Catholicism) and besides you don’t often see a movie about 10 guys, with at least one who’d had some major losses to overcome, make it happen.

At some point, past the halfway mark, the group realized that the slowest members had to come first, regardless of how slow they might be. Halfway through they found a unique solution for making that happen on the major inclines. You’ll have to watch it to discover what that was. Apparently seven of the 10, just in case you’re still romanticizing such a trip, had to seek medical attention during the 40 day experience (this little tidbit runs quietly across the screen at the end of the movie).

I couldn’t stop thinking of my friend Dave Brent when I watched it  For all I know, he’s way ahead of me and he’s in training for it with all the walks he leads around the Lower Mainland as a secret warm up.  Dave, are you holding out on us as to your ultimate walking motivation?

So just wondering, how many of you secretly desire to do the Camino de Santiago? Have you already done it? Got any unique tips?

Janis Joplin, green curry & New Year’s

I feel like New Year’s Eve is the one day of the year too many of us are trying to become who we’re not.

We’re kind of sick of who we are, and even who everyone else is by then, and we think, if we can just get this one evening right, maybe then the next 365 days will be different than the last 365 days even though they actually were each different just because how could they not be?

I took a shower. I put on some foundation and eyeliner and lipstick, and a new top that I’d bought on sale. I told myself it wasn’t for New Year’s but it kind of was. The sleeves were so flowing that, I imagined myself at some buffet table, those sleeves gathering seafood sauce, small dinner rolls and even bassinets for newborns, like magnets for whatever wasn’t tied down. Was it fabulous or ridiculous? I still don’t know.

I had big afternoon plans. As a regular 6 am riser, regardless of what’s gone on the night before, showing up at a little afternoon soirée where I could dress mostly like myself (minus those sleeves) on New Year’s Eve, pleased me.

I walked to Hermann’s Jazz Club on View Street.  A piece of paper had been hastily taped to the door. It read, Sold out! That slowed me down only momentarily, a question mark in my mind as I opened the door and stepped in. I passed some guy at the entrance who wasn’t really doing anything as far as I could tell and I said, “Is it really sold out?” But I didn’t give him a chance to answer as I walked right by and before I knew it, looking around for that elusive seat, helpless female that I’m not, a man to my right at a table of four at the back motioned to offer me a seat that was available beside him.  Finally, a break on the single supplement, I thought, relieved.

I sat down, wondered how they’d find me to get me to pay the cover because initially I was a little concerned about that but not enough to offer up cash when I knew they were charging $15 more than they’d usually charge just because of some artificial construct: New Year’s Eve.

I ordered an unsophisticated pint of Hoyne dark lager.

The band was playing softly, just the kind of old-style jazz I love.Take 5, Careless Love and tunes like that.

There was a real character on the piano, an older black woman. I was told she was originally from the U.S. From her perch on the piano bench, she used her exaggerated silences in response to questions as humour; a little feigned exasperation with the boys on the tenor sax and trumpet, respectively.

The sounds flowed out casually following short huddles of decision-making. Bass. Drums. Trumpet. Bugle. Fiddle. Tenor sax.

It was just the kind of afternoon that makes the day feel celebratory, like you’re one of the few who got in on a secret; something special that you’ll carry around in feeling as one of those forever good memories

At the end of the afternoon, the man who sells roses, but not nearly enough, given the lack of sales I witnessed, showed up. The man of the sweet middle-aged couple in front of me bought a red rose, presented it to the woman he was with, undoubtedly his wife, while clasping her other hand in his, their eyes meeting, no words needed.

Then the MC said that the flower vendor was also a singer himself and after a few seconds, the woman at the piano yelled out that it just wasn’t right that someone should mention that and not invite him up to sing.

And so, they all huddled together as if deciding upon a play at some new year’s day football game and the band started up tentatively and when the flower vendor opened his mouth, ours fell open as well,  astonished at his tone all Bing Crosby-like. The man who’d offered me the seat in the first place, wondered aloud what I’d been thinking, which was, “Why haven’t these people made a CD?

These were the kind of thoughts I was having as I realized how tired I was of doing things on my own. Like this is my 37th marathon and, as I should be, I’m tired. Tired of all the decisions, all the planning, all the doing, all the trying to make a living, all the failing, all up to me.

But not so tired that I’m willing to spend time with anyone who can’t make it better, really better if you know what I mean. Whose conversation can’t entertain me or who annoys me less that I annoy myself.

But carry on. One foot in front of the other. Buoyed by my delightful afternoon experience, I thought I might proceed with my second tentative plan which was to head to a local church that was having a potluck and then showing a Sally Fields movie about some 60-year-old spinster, (the advertising words, not mine),  who decides to sign up for an online dating site, even though, let’s be honest,  that felt like it was hitting awfully close to home.

As I made my way back home, I kept trying to convince myself about my dubious plan to set foot in a church for a new year’s meal when I’d never even been there before to recite something as simple as the Lord’s Prayer.

“You can leave. You don’t have to stay if you feel weird or bored,” said the voice in my head. “Just check it out.”

I envisioned opening the church hall door to 37 lesbians and 17 other middle aged women between the ages of 47 and 85 because with that choice of movie, they couldn’t possibly be expecting any men, could they? Maybe that had been the plan all along.

Before leaving for Hermann’s earlier, I’d prepared some green curried chicken with rice, just in case. For the potluck. I’d tested it out for lunch, and chuckled to myself thinking about the spiciness,  imagining some unsuspecting, hangry old dear digging into my green curry contribution and choking on the chicken which would be a lot spicier, I imaged, than the typical fare offered up at United Church buffets.

I began having the kind of doubts that can waylay the best of intentions.

By the time I came home, I unlaced my new boots, lied to myself about going out again, threw the green curry in the oven to reheat, punched in 350 degrees, and proceeded to watch a wonderful documentary on Janis Joplin instead.

I admire her for being ahead of her time, for being so who she was in spite of the grief it caused her. I could relate to that, to a much lesser degree.

And before I knew it, it was time to count down to the last 35 seconds of 2017. I chimed in with the voice of Knowledge Network before raising my mug of mint-lime tea, even though I had a small bottle of Henkell Trocken in the fridge.

And here’s the thing: I was happier than anyone should ever be just for managing to stay up until midnight on new year’s eve.

A canvas for new beginnings

As seen from my balcony, at a distance, at 8:00 am, New Year’s Eve Day. Taken with my 55-300.

CANVAS

I wake up every morning now,

only a short distance from

Emily Carr’s heritage home on Government Street,

and that makes me happier than it should

because of who she was and who she became

even though who is she to me, really?

Just another woman who struggled to live

how she wanted to live — no more, no less.

On canvas and across her days, an original.

Not as easy a feat as that might seem.

Love her or reject her still?

Settler that she was, that almost all of us now are.

So much to learn about this old city.

Peering down from my eighth floor concrete perch,

each day book-ended by

watercolour washes of lucky accidents

and in the distance, three deciduous.

I’ve named them The Triplets because

three tall tops poking above the rest is what I see.

Regal and stretching, their tippy-toe branches

resembling that delicate ancient art: Crewel embroidery

except, in this case, offered up to the gods.

All it takes is a little imagination to transform this morning’s vista:

blacks

blues

pinks

grays

into an orange horizon on a distant savanna.

The heat from a tanned land blurring the whirling dervish of far away hands.

Nowhere near, as I am and The Triplets are, to Mile Zero on the West Coast of Canada where Terry Fox runs, in stillness, towards eternity.

____________________________________________________________________

Wishing for you this year, as I do for most everyone who has touched my life, ever, good fortune, stellar health, memorable conversations, fulfilling friendships and as C.S. Lewis describes in his book of the same name, The Four Loves.

Use bright colours to decorate your canvas in the next 365 days. Happy 2018!