Turandot

 

I attended the opera, Turandot, with two of my girlfriends last night.  I was spellbound! It was so rich and beautiful and the voices carried me away to a story about love.  The voices in some respects intoxicated me!  I particularly loved Ping Pong and Pang…and their revelations about the small homes that they had by rivers….or in the hills.  They were basically pondering, “What the hell are we doing here?  in this palace?  Are we really content?”
 
The greatest lesson of the opera for me was this; “The way to be glorified is to awaken to the magic of the moment…to be aware that you are fully alive!”  These are words that I have lived by for quite some time.  It is never too late to wake to a new beginning!
 
  

Contentment

 
I’m feeling very grounded and contented recently.  There have been beautiful sunsets these evenings…and the temperatures have been unseasonably high so children are still out and playing into the night.
 
It seems strange that it’s dark when I wake up mornings and becoming dark shortly after getting home from work.  This is the first year I’ve really taken notice of this.  I try to get to the studio every morning before work, although this morning again and again, I turned the alarm clock off.
 
Yesterday, I had the chance to teach my Grade nines about John F. Kennedy.  My teacher Miss Goodrich of Riverside Elementary had told us in grade three to never forget the date November twenty-second, Nineteen Sixty-three.  “This is the day our President has died.”  One of my classes that studies media, spent the class period speaking about the circumstances and then took turns reading the 1961 Inaugral speech.  They asked afterwards if they could keep a copy.  They felt it expressed a completely different tone from a speech that might be delivered today in such arenas as this one.
 
 
 

Santa Clause Parade

My son….my final marcher!  Today I’m celebrating another parade!  I’ve been going out to parades for a long time, given that my two girls were colour gaurd…and good ones at that!  What a love and passion they had twirling for the Calgary Stampede Showband!  But my first-born began with my son’s band…..The Bishop Grandin Ghosts.
 
He called her before heading out yesterday morning….all the way to London, England.  He was so excited about his first parade and being a member of the drum corp!  He was so excited that in fact, he left his drum sticks on the kitchen table.  Thank goodness for back-ups!
 
I’m very proud of my children and their commitment to such as this!  They are all three such good and decent people.  I love you, my son.
 

My Drummer

Jingle Bell Run

Thanks to all of you who generously supported me in my third annual Jingle Bell Run for the Arthritis Association.  There was much enthusiasm and spirit again this year and I am grateful that all of you remained in my heart for the duration of my five kilometers.
 
I’m feeling the ‘I’ve-just-been-outdoors-and-hiking-sort-of-BLISS’, so will soak in the tub and then take in a movie with my son.  Wishing you all peace and  joy!

Remembrance

I was just a little girl when Mrs. Souter asked me to memorize the words to the famous poem, In Flander’s Fields.

Today, given my family background and a whole number of experiences connected to military service, I feel a real sense of respect and gratitude. 

I visited with a  friend briefly today.  She had been crying earlier as she watched the placing of the wreaths at the Memorial in Ottawa….she took me around to her stairwell where she had a collection of old black and white photographs ….her father as a young man in the airforce.   We spoke quietly in front of those photographs for a short while….and when I left her, I felt in awe again of the strength and courage of so many young people who have gone forward in order to support the ideals of democracy in the world.

Strong Women

Ramona and Me: Walking the Dogs on the Shores of Lake Michigan

One oldest-dearest friend and I have connected just the past few days. She calls me ‘Sky‘ and I call her ‘Sunshine‘.  I will have to continue this blog entry at length another time in order to capture what she has meant for me in my life.  Suffice it to say that we have laughed together…cried together…all of the standard cliches hold true about the sort of closeness that we share.

This morning again, I received the news that her oldest son has been shipped for the second time to Kuwait/Iraq.  And she did not receive his call when he landed in Germany, as had been arranged because (get this), the phone was out of order.  Sigh…I can not imagine how Sunshine is managing her heart through this…I could not risk my son for such a cause as this one. 

My sister….my only sister…is such a brilliant woman.  She is so strong and determined.  I could go to her at anytime and she would share her perceptions and give support.  She doesn’t express judgement, but has accepted where I have been in my life.  I love my sister.

My sister-friends strike me as women who have always been in my life.  They are intuitive and strong.  Their advice is given, without strings.  They are a fun bunch of people, with a zest for life.  We share books and art and food and tears and long river walks.  I am a better person for these people.

Memorial

I just received a phone call from my friend….a friend who has been in my life since 1973.  She gave me the news that one of the ‘hippies’ in our lives passed away just the night before last and that from as far away as Vancouver, people are gathering this afternoon in a little house on 10A in south Lethbridge to give recognition of his life.  So, while this is quite a ‘twist’, I think I’ll be heading down the highway for a memorial this afternoon and then flying north on the highway again for the celebration of another beautiful friend’s 50th birthday.
 
I think about why I’m taking the time to write here…
 
…but it’s important.
 
The concept really is about friendship and family.  I think that while I am passionate about so many things in my life, I have to say that at the very center of everything is the question…."Have I loved well?"  I remember when I lost Lynn, right up until the end, there were the sweet and kind gestures shared around love.  She had much to give me in the way of affirmation and love right up until she left.  As the end nears, the gestures of love become more and more simple.  And this takes us down to the very nature of love and life.  The hand-holding….the "I love yous" with every coming-and-going….the sharing of ice chips and jello….the brushing of hair.
 
When my children were just little, I remember brushing their hair.  With my son, I remember those times after bathing him…his hair was wet and I would draw a perfect part and brush his hair so that even then, he was my handsome young man.  I remember the girls and their pony tails…..the smooth long strokes of my brush upward, eventually pulling their hair into perfect pony tails….the sound of static electricity….the wrapping of elastic bands around my hand and circling them again and again around my daughters’ hair.  The bits of soft curl that weren’t swept up creating beautiful soft tendrils around their open faces.  I remember these things as though they happened just this morning…
 
I brushed Lynn’s hair in her hospital room…and it felt no different.  And the moment had that amazing transforming power over me…and I was reminded that this is truly how simple life is.
 
I am sad that we have lost Cliff this week….very sad….I am sad for his loving wife and his only son.  But truth is, this passing brings to mind a summer of living and loving and learning….it brings to memory an entire host of experiences like the brushing of hair.  It brings to mind a point on the compass of my own life.
 
Today we will gather in a circle of friendship to remember the ‘music’ of Cliff’s life.  This loss has reminded me that friendships are dear and that nothing can be taken for granted.  Yes….with time, friendships change shape…some friendships surprisingly deepen….others seem to quietly disappear….it is sad to say that some friendships end sadly, with the same feeling as a divorce holds. But today I am thinking that our lives are truly marked by the punctuation of friendship and it is something to take pause and wonder about.

Green River

It was late afternoon driving and I was jammed up pretty bad on one of the main routes home.  It would have been easy to get impatient….but the sun was a sparkle on the pavement…..and the heavy snow of the morning had become a blanket of water on the road.  There was an amazing sky to the west, dramatic whisps of cloud lit up by an already-setting sun.
 
The radio was on and I had just cranked it up because I recognized a familiar John Fogerty tune.  A New Yorker drove past me slowly in the lane to the left.  It was more like a boat, than a car and that in itself made me smile.  We all rested to a stop at the intersection. The guy behind the wheel was so large that he seemed to be wedged between the driver’s seat and the steering, a bearded man dawning a baseball cap….and what did I notice immediately?  He was singing the same song at the top of his lungs and was leaning slightly to the right to turn up the volume.  What was he singing?  Green River!!
 
Well take me back down where cool water flows, yeah.
Let me remember things I love.
Stoppin’ at the log where catfish bite,
Walkin’ along the river road at night.
Barefoot dancin’ in the moonlight.
 
I can hear the bullfrog callin’ me,
Wonder if my rope’s still hangin’ to the tree.
Love to kick my feet ‘way down the shallow water.
Shoefly, dragonfly, get back t’your mother.
Pick up a flat rock, skip it across Green River.
Wellll!
 
Up to Cody’s camp I spent my days, oh,
With flat car riders and cross-tie walkers.
Old Cody, Junior took me over,
Said, “You’re gonna find the world is smould’rin’,
And if you get lost come on home to Green River.”
 
Well….come on home.
 

Wet Snow

I looked outside this morning and for the first time this November, round molded snow lies over everything.  The world is white and blue and grey….neighbours brushing off their cars provide the  only splashes of colour, red injected onto an otherwise neutral day.  It all looks so heavy and cold. It looks wet…with that particular up-to-the-ankles-cold-wet. There is a sadness in me because of the loss of autumn this morning.  Autumn captures all of the colour and intensity that I love.

I look at Laurie-dog curled up on the computer-room couch and know that he too, is going to feel particularly indifferent to this new season.