Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Almost Christmas

[Lukey and Jasmine in the snow. Look at Jasmine's eyes~she is thinking Lukey got
something to eat and she didn't. No fair! My foody girl, who has been on a diet forever.]

In childhood,
it felt like Christmas.
Crunching across
the frozen snow,
you could almost see
the Star of Bethlehem
in the black winter sky.
You could feel the cows
waiting in their stalls.
The manger seemed
very near.
The air was
so cold
it caught
in your nostrils
and froze there,
as you walked
to Church
in the dark
early mornings
before school.
You sang hymns.
You felt the magic
as the days
counted down
even though the reality
defied the expectation.

Now you are grown up,
past sixty,
an age
you never thought
you'd see,
and you put up
a small tree.
You enjoy the lights.
You buy the gifts
but it doesn't
feel the same.
There is no snow,
for one thing.
It is as mild as autumn out,
as if last week's
was a fleeting dream,
and it seems like
a huge buying frenzy
by and for people
who already have
too much,
while you think
of people
dying in the Sudan
and how they would view
this spectacle,
these glittery store aisles
jammed with people
frantically clutching Things,
heaping their baskets
to obscene heights
with plastic junk.
How would they compute
this gigantic imbalance,
TV commercials extolling
dvd players and
laptops for children
while their own lap tops
beg only a bowl of rice
to make them full?

What stays the same:
the pleasure of giving,
not receiving.
The gathering of the clan,
the food, the laughter,
especially the laughter,
and the shy, pleased eyes
of the children,
new puppies to love.

This is your life now,
and so you live it,
peaceful evenings
in the glow of
the tree lights,
peaceful mornings
when the world
feels like
it is waiting
for something
dimly remembered
that has
so long
been lost.
Could it be

There is a new generation,
to make a Christmas for.
For them,
there is magic,
and anticipation.
So you don't tell them
that it is different, now,
for you.
You'd rather be
tending AIDS babies
in Africa,
or feeding street people
in a shelter
for the homeless.
And you decide:
Next year!
that's what you'll do.
All year long
you'll save
warm gloves
and socks
and hats and
woolly scarves.
Next year
you'll walk
the streets
to give your gifts.

Then maybe
will feel
like Christmas
once again.

A long highway runs
between those
long ago
and this one.
It all passed by
so fast,
yet it feels like
a hundred years;
each one
of those
a journey,
not a destination.

Why We Are Here

[image from louisbeam.com]

In 1999, some of my friends were at the Battle in Seattle, protesting the World Trade Organization gathering of leaders set in the old ways of doing business at the expense of the planet and its poor. I was glued to the tv watching with horror as peaceful protestors came up against Swat teams in full riot gear. I did not approve the small number of protestors whose frustration turned to breaking windows and open defiance. I believe in peaceful protest. However, I could feel their frustration and fear and anger at being treated so harshly,  like criminals, when they were making a statement on behalf of the earth and its impoverished.

The other day I found this statement among my papers and it took me back to those days, when the world turned down a path of globalization in the interests of profit, at the expense of all of the rest of us.

Why We Are Here
written for the WTO Ministerial Summit in Seattle in 1999
by David Brower
It can be found, with other writings, at http://www.ecologyofthespirit.com/

Why We Are Here:
Because the world
we had imagined,
the one
we had always
counted on,
is disappearing.
Because the sun
has become cancerous
and the planet
is getting hotter.
Because children
are starving
in the shadows
of yachts and economic summits.
Because there are already
too many planes in the sky.

This is a manufactured world
you have come here
to codify and expedite.
We have come to tell you
there is something else
we want to buy.

What we want
money no longer
like the vitality of nature,
the integrity of work.
We don't want
cheaper wood,
we want living trees.
We don't want
engineered fruit,
we want to see and smell
the food growing
in our neighbourhoods.

We are here because
a voice inside us,
a memory in our blood,
tells us
you are not just
a trade body,
you are the blind tip
of a dark wave
which has forgotten
its source.
We are here
to defend and honour
what is real, natural, human
and basic
against this rising tide
of greed.

We are here
by the insistence
of spirit
and by the authority
of nature.
If you doubt for one minute
the power of truth
or the primacy of nature
try not breathing
for that length of time.

Now you know the pressure
of our desire.
We are not here to tinker
with your laws.
We are here to change you
from the inside out.
This is not
a political protest.
It is an uprising
of the soul.

[Sadly, it is still business as usual at the ministerial summits
and we have made zero progress. SBS]

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Word from the Dalai Lama

[image from guardian.co.uk]

If you have
fifteen diamond rings,
still only
ten fingers.


A Message from Little Grandmother

This video of beautiful earth and wildlife images brought me to tears this morning, as Keisha Crowther, "Little Grandmother", shares her message of love and hope for Mother Earth, images of its wild creatures flying and moving about behind her. It is so beautiful and I want to share it so badly that I am about to enter the terrifying terrain of How to Post a Video on my site:)

Here goes......Woo-hoo, I think I did it - but it is huge. No matter! Enjoy!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Gift For You

[image from fromdamascustoemmaus.com]

[This is my fictionalized account of an event that really happened. I read about it somewhere, in a magazine where a mother had written a letter to the editor, and I decided to turn it into a story.]

She was sitting, at two p.m. on that Thursday afternoon, in the high-backed dusty blue armchair, looking out the picture window at the March rain lashing down. The trees were whipping back and forth, the sound of the gale battering against the roof. Branches were crashing to the ground. The lawn was littered with short lengths of pine and fir.

She was a small woman,  hunched dismally in rumpled pajamas she had not changed for days. Her short hair, which she had always kept curled neatly, was straight and lank, sticking out at odd angles, from tossing and turning in bed all night. She felt utterly bleak and hopeless, without the strength or motivation to even shower. Her eyes and nose were red and swollen. She could not stop crying, sniffling endlessly, the tears running down her face in tandem with the raindrops pouring in rivulets down the windowpane. Wadded up tissues were heaped on the end table, beside the Kleenex box proferring fresh replacements. Since her sixteen year old son Luke's death from a brain tumor six months ago, the light had gone out of the world. There wasn't any point, really, in getting up in the morning, in dressing, in going through all the old routines which had had purpose when she was joyously watching her son growing, living his life. And then, her purpose had been to see him through his illness and, unbelievably, his death.  Without him, the house - and her life - was too empty to be borne. At first she had waited, expecting at some point her grief would lessen, things would improve. But it hadn't gotten any better. She didn't see how it ever could.

Luke had been a tall, lanky, laughing boy with messy blonde hair, smiling blue eyes, all knees and elbows, flushed cheeks  and happy grins, until he got sick. When he burst in the door after school with his friends, the house had come alive with rough, shoving, tumbling boys on colt-like legs, scooping up great handfuls of cookies on their way downstairs to the family room.

Now the house was lifeless; it was empty space. Her heart, too, felt dead inside her body. There was no point, there was no point in continuing to wake up each morning. She had been here to be Luke's mother, and Luke was gone.

She turned her eyes from the window and the storm, absently shaking ther pill bottle in her left hand. She assessed its contents. It was two-thirds full. There should be enough pills to do the job. She just wanted to go to sleep and never wake up, to be out of the pain of this existence and with her son, wherever he was.

She stood up with purpose and moved to the kitchen. Standing at the sink, she drew a tall glass of cold water, setting it on the counter while she removed the lid from the pill bottle.

Suddenly the bottle flew from her hand as if it had been slapped out, the pills scattering all over the floor.

Distinctly, she felt her son's presence, she heard his voice inside her head. It was chiding, admonishing, yet full of love. "Mom, no! It's not your time. You have to keep on. And, Mom. My life was meant as a gift for you."

Then he was gone.

She stood in shock, trying to process what had just happened. She had been drawing the water, readying the pills. She had not dropped the bottle, it had been slapped out of her hand. The voice came from within her. Not her thoughts, his voice inside her head, as clearly as if he stood beside her. Strong, explaining with conviction, trying to make her understand. So Luke was still around, he was nearby, still concerned about her. He must have been worrying about her these past months, must have seen the depth of her suffering, the times she couldn't get out of bed, the turning away from life, from people, reclusive in her misery. It must have been hard on him.

"My life was meant as a gift for you, a gift for you....."

A gift. A gift given, then taken away. That pain was unbearable. But......a gift nevertheless. To have never had sixteen years with Luke at all? A small shift occurred inside her, a small window of understanding beginning to open.

She had been focussing on his death, his absence, rather than celebrating the incredible blessing his sixteen years had been in her life. And now she knew that, while he was no longer physically present, still his spirit was near, close enough that she could talk to him. This gave her great comfort and, finally, hope.

Slowly, she knelt down and began to gather the pills. She returned them to the bottle, decisively snapped the lid back on and threw it in the garbage.

"Thank you, Luke," she murmured. "I'm sorry. I'll.....I'll do better now."

Saturday, November 27, 2010

L'il Timbit

Great-grandson Damian, all geared up. He'll soon be joining
the Timbits hockey team. Only in Canada, eh?
So cute!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Prayer Beads

I put on today
like a prayer shawl

and count my beads

of gratitude.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Out In the City

[This is my son, Jeff. I've written about him before. He is an amazingly talented individual, who composes classical music, poetry, songs , sonnets and odes. He plays guitar, piano and drums. He has walked a difficult path the last twenty years, but he recognizes it as his soul's path, and he has gained much wisdom along the way. He has the kindest and gentlest of hearts, as often is seen in those who suffer greatly. He has just emerged from chemotherapy for lymphoma, and is on a maintenance routine of chemo for the next two years. He has a wonderful doctor, and is expected to continue to do well. Tonight he phoned me  to tell me of a trip downtown he made that inspired a song. He read me the words and I asked if I might share them with you. Then he rang off to set them to music. Later, he will call and sing me the song. Pretty cool!

Oh! He did call and I didnt make it to the phone. He left me a message: "For God's sake call me! I've written a f*-ing masterpiece!!!!!!" Hee hee. I'd better phone!

Jeff Merk
Nov. 26, 2010

We two old friends sit at the old cafe
Laughing out because it is the day.
Still laughing we behold the starlit sight
Of evening turning slowly into night

Out in the city-
A sheer delight
Out in the city-
Filled with light

Adults laugh and dance
With dancing children
To soothing strains
of singing street musicians.
It’s a new street
in every day and season.
No one needs to know
the rhyme or reason.


I am the one who knows
I do not know,
And seeming silent
In the falling snow,
I am no more afraid
to live or die,
Because of what
I’ve found
within your eyes.


Feel free to trace
the footprints in the snow.
Where would you like to stay
Or gently go?
I love the faces
of the passersby,
But homeless people
always make me cry.


Welcome to the World, Baby Noah!

Noah Samuel Provost, born November 18
7 pounds, 13 ounces
He was in intensive care for the first two days,
but then went home
with mom and dad. 

In his bunny suit, going home from the hospital.
His soother is as big as his face!

Nappin' in the carseat while Mom and Dad shop.
(Probably buying stuff for Baby!:))

A closer look at this sweet dreamer.

At home, getting some good zzzzz's.

Mom and Dad, Lindsay and Richard,
relieved and happy to be home
with Baby safely here.
All is well!
Lindsay is my cousin Sandra's daughter,
my second cousin.
She and Rich live in Kelowna now, after some years in Hawaii.
My Aunt Donna and Uncle Don are her grandparents, and are
so happy to have the young people living in town now, close by.

Welcome to Planet Earth, Baby Noah!

You're getting your first look,
but there's tons more to see.
It is a really beautiful planet.
Mom 'n Dad will show you lots of cool stuff.


Here are your folks, Lindsay and Rich, down by Okanagan Lake, 
in the summer before you arrived.

Waiting for Baby Noah.
Next summer, you'll be going to the lake too,
like your Mom did when she was little.

This is such a beautiful array of photos
to show you how in love and happy your parents were,
waiting for you to arrive.
[These black and white photos, and the one color photo below, were taken by
Tamara Poppitt of Poppy Photography of Victoria.]

Your dad is telling a secret to your mom. I'll bet it was about you!

How many kids get to have a beautiful Mom AND a beautiful Grandma?
Sandi and Linds

Noah, let's look back at some of the people in your history.

Your Grandma Sandi and I have been close since she was born and I was twelve years old. I used to babysit her and her brother, your Uncle Cal. Grandma Sandi used to come with me and my kids on our hikes  up Knox Mountain. Here, she is about eighteen.
She has always loved the Lake.

And she has always been beautiful, inside and out.
She has what I call a True Heart. You'll soon find that out
because she has loved you since you first began.  Since you were a tiny speck in the universe,
she has been waiting for you.

This is Grandma Sandi with HER Grandma Marr.
Sandi and your Great-Great-Grandma and I
were all very close, always. Here they are visiting me at my little house
full of children on Ethel Street.

Guess who this is? Your mom, Lindsay,
the light of your Grandma's life.
(Now you're another light!)

Your mom was getting a little bigger......my daughter Stephanie
remembers Lindsay chasing her around the table with a big greasy turkey drumstick, when they came for Thanksgiving dinner the year Linds was two :)

and bigger still........

Grandma Sandi has always loved the ocean. When I lived at the beach,
she would come to visit me
and we would walk for miles, then sit on the rocks or the sand just staring at the waves.
Wait till you see the ocean! It is BIG!

Here we are at sunset. The end of a beautiful day.

This is your Great-Grandpa Don and Great-Grandma Donna,
who are going to enjoy watching you grow!!!

Here is your family, when your cousin Lori, my sister, visited last summer.
Everyone was waiting for you.
Lori loves horses. Wait till you see what she got you for a present.
Sorry, it isnt a pony! :)

Your Clan. The people who will love you the most your whole life.

We're going farther back now. Here is Great-Grandpa, looking pretty cool and suave!

When he was younger, Don drove this zooty car.

Don, Sandra, Cal and Donna.
I  loved their cute little house
when I used to babysit there.
I learned how to keep house from the way
Donna looked after her little home.

Sandra, age three.

One year Sandra and Cal were in the local paper on Christmas Eve.
So adorably cute they were, Sandra with her huge blue eyes, Cal with his big brown ones.

Once when Cal was being admonished to clean his plate, because
"there were hungry children in the world", he said
"Why doesn't somebody feed dem, den?"
So true.

Here is a family Christmas
with Great-Great Grandma and Grandpa Marr,
Great-Grandma and Grandpa
 Sandi and Cal.
I remember that pink dress my Grandma
was wearing. She had a pale turquoise one
just the same.

We went a long ways back. But it doesn't seem so long ago to those of us who are older.
We love seeing you arrive, a new little person that we can watch experiencing the world.
We will see it all brand new once again, through your wide eyes.

Welcome, Baby Noah!
You already have a lot of fans!


[Posted for  Poets United Thursday Think Tank prompt:
Thankfulness. It was written during another season of
gratitude and giving, but seemed
appropriate for today.]

My daughter's heartache
dimmed the lights
this Christmas.
Her raw grief
swamped our craft
and we both
went down.
But the spirit
is meant to try;
Hope lifts our feathers.
We point our noses
and, one by one,
the healing days
go by.

So yesterday
the sun came out;
the fog had lifted,
trees poking through
the mist
the way I like.
Coffee was on,
John Lennon and I
were singing
War Is Over and
Give Peace a Chance.
Soup was bubbling
on the stove,
the incense wafting.
Music is joy
and my feet
still can dance.

Today I sat
by someone's
dying mother.
How hard
she labored
to take
just one breath,
then another.
My Christmas gift
to God
I had thought
that this would be.
It wound up being
God's Christmas gift
to me.
I walked out
-on my own two legs-
past all the wheelchairs,
past those in bed,
into the falling dark.
Breathing in the fresh air
was a miracle,
the line between
my life and theirs
so stark.

Tonight at the end
of the road
I watched
a heron
lift elegantly
against the winter sky.
My daughter's voice
is growing
ever stronger;
her spirit
is remembering
how to fly.
My inbox
was full of love
as this
new year starts -
my life's true wealth
is friends
with golden hearts.

Even in pain and grief
-who doesn't have it?-
I remember
to be grateful
every day.
I am in love
with nature
and she is
all around,
so affluence
and plenty -
they abound.

endlessly circling
through this stuff,
I make my way,
and I keep on 
coming home
to what's

What we're
looking for
is already
inside us.
What we
focus on
within our life
What we do
when things
get tough:
haul wood
and carry water,
use our hands
to give to
who has
less than us,
sit with the dying,
remember the living,
write a poem -
assuage the loneliness
of the human heart
by giving.

My daughter, today :)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Petal by Petal

Radar Hill at Sunset, Clayoquot Sound

[My brain seems to have gone into hibernation with the first snows, so I am posting this poem from the past, a time when poems flowed faster than my fingers could keep up. My Muse is slower now. Some might say she is fast asleep:) So I'll share one of my moldy oldies, of which I have a fat binder full.]


Does one ask
a flower to grow?
I just let it be,
letting it unfold
as it unfolds,
petal by petal,

I take care
not to thwart
the solitary splendor
of its blooming,
a flower glows
just as brightly
in an empty lot
as when my eyes
turn upon it
to share
the sudden sweetness
of its garden plot.

As petals catch the wind
and dance under the sun
so do you glow.
Your beauty
casts a clear
and steady light
that does not dim,
and it shines more,
the more I come to know.

We touch elusively
as fragile stems
holding up heavy blooms,
nodding in the breeze.
The blooms are our two lives.
From underneath
their precarious weight
our hands emerge
like leaves.

Your solitude
speaks to
the peaceful
in me
and deep within
my quiet heart
I can feel
something gentle
yearn to be
set free.

Monday, November 22, 2010


For certain there is nothing prettier than a fresh fall of snow - as long as all you have to do is sit inside drinking warm cups of tea, looking out at the wonderland.

However..........when one has one senile dog with anxiety and serious mobility issues, one post-surgery dog who must not slip and fall, a housefull of animals across the street to let in and out through the day, two driveways and sets of stairs to keep clear, one contractor attempting to finish putting down the laminate, and snow all over everything and being  tracked in and out on said new floor.........

forgive me for being slightly less enamored than usual :)

It IS really pretty though. Here's Lori's barn seen faintly through the falling snow, which is already way too many inches high on the driveways and roads. I am worried about Lori, who had to drive to the west coast today, through the steep winding slippery mountain passes. I wont draw an easy breath till she is back home safe and sound.

That is Beau way back there on the left, standing stolidly in her blanket, not minding the snow one bit - except that it covers the grass, so she has nothing to munch on but hay till suppertime.

Our little dead-end road - the snowplough will be frantically busy on the main roads all day, we'll be lucky to even get Beaver Creek ploughed today, never mind the side roads.  I am not going ANYWHERE till the roads are clear.

That dark blotch over there is Pup, who loves the snow and with whom I maintain a running argument in this weather: "It is COLD! Come IN!" Resistance.

When we lived up north one winter, he would lie there until the snow completely covered him, just his eyes peering out. He loved it, bad wolf that he is. But he was younger then. Now he is old, and has lost the sense to come in when it gets too cold.

 I let him have ten minutes, then hauled him back inside. Both dogs and I are in the little back room, out of the way of the contractor.

I will let Pup have the last word of the day :)

Well that was a mere bagatelle to what followed......inches of snow fell till three p.m.


Havoc in town, accidents and rear-enders all over, semis off the road, roads closed - the typical first snowfall of the season stuff.

But then the snow stopped, the sun came out, and life looked doable once again. Gotta l;ove those gloriously blue winter skies!