I Drove Up to Didsbury…Laughed with a Friend, Drank Some Wine and Painted on a Drum

I enjoyed overlooking a beautiful garden and listening to my friend speak about magical things while I painted on a drum.  That time of year when canola fields and dramatic skies feed my soul!  I feel grateful.

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You may be glad to know that I have sought out support for my grieving and the big losses of this past year.  Thing is…in short, I’ve been given permission to write it out, paint it out, cry it out, sand it out…do it out…whatever it takes.  I guess it’s not for others to judge the form that grief takes in others, so don’t worry on the mornings when you see twenty blog entries…it’s my manic grief finding expression…and if I can find a way to breath, then my readers can as well.  I guess I’m asking you not to suggest when to empty my closets. Thing is, you folk need to know that I’m not sharing my dark nights with you here…in fact, the only clue you really should have that something is going on, is the extent of my writing.  I’m keeping a private journal for the dark moments. I’m painting a mandala for my mother in the deadly quiet moments.  I’m painting again. (Thanks, Mom.)

“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”

T.S. Eliot

Action is key in my life…taking action of any sort that is not harmful to others is typically alright with me.  I’m not one to have in my language, words like boredom, fear or helplessness.  I’m all about ‘doing something’ about everything.  It will be helpful though, if I have the support of my family and friends as you observe this very phenomena…it is likely not that unfamiliar to you, in regards to ‘moi’…please don’t judge me because if I feel I need to do something differently ‘for your comfort’, then I will struggle needlessly.  I’m tending, lately, to be alone…at home, but also in crowds.

I am the one who is NOT contributing to a conversation, and when I am, I am not doing it very well.

I am the one who is arguing with confrontational atheists, likely because they are rattling the cage of the very thing that is getting me through this, my faith.

I am the one who is booking into countless programs in the city…more so than ever before, if that is possible, as a way of not staying home where I hear every now and then, “Oh, it’s time to skype with Mom.”

I am the one who is blogging about ridiculous things and taking photographs of step-by-step recipes.

I am the one who is enforcing by-laws about back yard fire pits and front yard cats.

I am the one who becomes confused over more than two instructions/directions and I am the one who will stare blankly at you, rather than ask for clarity.

I am the one who loses track of the number of cups of coffee I have sipped while watching birds at my bird feeder, wrapped in Mom’s flannel nightie…and in her flannel house coat…ten sizes too large, but, as close as I can physically get to her.

I am the one who could not host a Thanksgiving feast at my feast table this year because Elma would not be there…for the first time in a zillion years…because this year, as my own mother was battling pneumonia, dearest Elma was quietly slipping into the arms of heaven also.

The news of the world continues to roll…a giant super storm on the other side of the world, gives me pause and I bow my head for strength for India.  So many mothers.  So much loss.  But still…in all of this…there is BOUNTY.  Here, I am warm…I am sheltered…I am well-fed…I am blessed with my three beautiful children.  There is bounty everywhere I look.  This year in Alberta, a bumper crop for the farmers.  The fields look glorious this harvest.  The trees are golden and the sky, blue.  I am safe and blessed.

I received a phone call from Bobby…spoke with Bee…messaged Adrienne…left a voice mail for Mary-Lou…spoke to Yvonne on telephone…made a cell phone call to daughter, Cayley, on the coast…chatted with Glo and Bill Webb…skyped with Dad and Val, JP and Eliane and Louis…texted Margy.  Wendy asked, “How was today?” and…invited me to Beanos.  The circle of friendship continues to close around me. It seems that a feast table is a metaphor for something much larger.

With gratitude, I went to my daughter and son-in-law’s for dinner…we prepared a whole wad of recipes we have never enjoyed as a tradition at the feast table.  I have collected some images here.  It was a wonder-time with Erin, Doug and thankfully, James.  I feel blessed.

Rolled Cranberry Turkey Breast with Creamy Gravy Recipe: Canadian Living


P1130408 Kale and Pancetta With Crispy Shallots: Canadian Living Recipe

P1130359P1130404P1130361Roasted Chili Lemongrass Squash: Canadian Living…

Highly recommend this one!



P1130357P1130416Roasted Root Vegetable Salad with Horseradish Vinaigrette

For me, too sweet…less honey than called for!

P1130405Chopping water chestnuts for pre-function spinach dip.

P1130349 P1130364Smashed Potatoes with Rosemary


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Gorilla House LIVE ART: March 6, 2013

Ryan 33 House 17 Ryan 8 House 25 Ryan 14 House 22b Ryan 18 House 20I had no choice but to paint Ryan last night.  Losing Ryan has left an open wound for the community that paints every Wednesday down at the Gorilla House.  Aptly, one of the themes was LIFE.  I painted LIFE.

Photo Credit: Wendy Lees

Photo Credit: Wendy Lees

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From Le Petit Prince par Antoine de Ste.-Exupery, these words…

But he did not answer my plea. He said to me, instead: “The thing that is important is the thing that is not seen…”

“Yes, I know…”

“It is just as it is with the flower. If you love a flower that lives on a star, it is sweet to look at the sky at night. All the stars are a-bloom with flowers…”

“Yes, I know…”

“It is just as it is with the water. Because of the pulley, and the rope, what you gave me to drink was like music. You remember– how good it was.”

“Yes, I know…”

“And at night you will look up at the stars. Where I live everything is so small that I cannot show you where my star is to be found. It is better, like that. My star will just be one of the stars, for you. And so you will love to watch all the stars in the heavens… they will all be your friends. And, besides, I am going to make you a present…”

He laughed again.

“Ah, little prince, dear little prince! I love to hear that laughter!”

“That is my present. Just that. It will be as it was when we drank the water…”

“What are you trying to say?”

“All men have the stars,” he answered, “but they are not the same things for different people. For some, who are travelers, the stars are guides. For others they are no more than little lights in the sky. For others, who are scholars, they are problems. For my businessman they were wealth. But all these stars are silent. You– you alone– will have the stars as no one else has them–”

“What are you trying to say?”

“In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night… you– only you– will have stars that can laugh!”

And he laughed again.

“And when your sorrow is comforted (time soothes all sorrows) you will be content that you have known me. You will always be my friend. You will want to laugh with me. And you will sometimes open your window, so, for that pleasure… and your friends will be properly astonished to see you laughing as you look up at the sky! Then you will say to them, ‘Yes, the stars always make me laugh!’ And they will think you are crazy. It will be a very shabby trick that I shall have played on you…”

And he laughed again.

“It will be as if, in place of the stars, I had given you a great number of little bells that knew how to laugh…”

Good Grief!

I will preface this ‘writing’ by setting the stage.  Yet again, Peanut-the-cat is curled in the circle of my arms, watching my typing fingers, just in front of the keyboard.  Max is whining because my son has just left by the front door and I have shut the door that leads upstairs.  No proper good-byes today.

I’ve snacked on strawberries and slices of Sunday’s roast beef, having just returned from a walk with Max, over at the pond where I used to pick up a bag of garbage every day for three months. (to bring my readers up to speed on that…the place is covered with plastics and Tim Horton’s cups and packaging…it makes me sad, but I go there anyway)  I sat on the bench that overlooks the pond and just relished in the sunshine, the warmth and the reflections of clouds on water.  (Peanut’s head is moving along with my clicking finger tips…click click click. He likes it here.)  I enjoyed not thinking about anything, while sitting in the sunshine.  I was completely present to all-things-sensory and absolutely nothing was going on in my head.  I wasn’t thinking about death or lost youth.

People who think about and write about death are potentially labelled, ‘morbid’…so are people who have preselected the hymns they want sung at their own funerals.  I am pretty matter-of-fact about publicly announcing that I want my friend’s homemade salsa and good chips to be served at my wake. For this, one of my children will predictably pipe in, “That’s morbid!”

I have no fear of my own passing.  I think it’s because I believe.  But losing someone I love, that scares me silly.

It began with Jarrett, I think.  I couldn’t figure out how it was even possible that a child could die. (Of course, intellectually, I knew that children died every day…but for the first time in my life, I knew it was so.  Do you get what I’m saying?)  If I could have been in his mother’s face around the clock, I would have.  I just didn’t know how a mother could survive losing her child.  So, I sort of wanted to be there to make sure she survived.

When the lost boys started to add up…that’s when I really began to wonder about the safety of my own children.  Frank took his own life.  He had egged my house when he was in junior high.  All of a sudden, I feared that it was because he had to make reparations for that one rebellious act, that all those years later, he would end his life.  I wanted to track down the boy who threw the other dozen eggs…just to make sure that he was alright.

Over the years, I watched in disbelief as parents lost their children, too many to mention.  Even now, I lift up a silent prayer as I type…remembering each one.  Peanut slips out of my arms and plunks onto the floor.

My daughter lost Jordan.  She had a whole heap of memories and moments shared with him and in an instant he was gone.  I took a pot of purple pansies to his mother.  I sat on her couch and stared blankly.  What words are there?  From the outside, you look at the activities of the families who have lost their precious children…and they all seem so ordinary and at the same time, surreal.  Someone smiles.  Someone makes coffee.  The living continue to move through time and space, but utterly changed.  As I drove away that evening, I remembered thinking…”I believe.”  But there, in the circle of the family, there are no words.  There are only the prayers that you utter while your windshield wipers flop back and forth and the sky looks so dark.

My daughter has lost so many friends since losing Jordan.  These are all beautiful beings, filled to bursting with passion, emotion, life force…brilliant light.

I thought my daughter needed help after Patrick died.  Now I’m thinking, “Is this just me?”  She mentioned, as though she knew from a lifetime of wisdom and experience, “before the time comes around to get help, the wall will already be up.”  What is it that I can’t seem to put up that wall?

I sink madly into an empathy that I can not really feel because my children are with me.  I feel grateful every single day for the joy of the crappy days with them, as much as the joy for the awesome days with them.  Every day is a good day when your children are safe.

I think, though, that we all grieve at the loss of other people’s children.  I get sad when I hear of the civil bombardment on the streets of Syria…with the loss of so many children.  Just as it is said that it takes a village to raise children, I think that we all suffer tremendous loss when young people die.

This is a bit of disconnected writing, but it is essentially a bit of healing as well.  I’ve been following one person’s journey and I am moved beyond belief at the courage it takes for one sister to step into each day without her brother.  All of the ordinary stuff continues, but with a hugely surreal twist.

If there is one thing that I have learned from the living…and those who have lost their lives…it is that I want to take nothing for granted.  I want to treasure every one in my life and cause them to feel treasured.  I am deeply blessed.