Today I Will Make Bread.

I won’t worry about my grown children,
or think about why I ache when I think of them.

Today I bake. 
Inhale the frothy smell of yeast rising like magic.
Throw the dough on to the board, flour filling the air with clouds.
Wipe my hands on my apron then
put my shoulder into it,
Kneading. Kneading. Kneading. 

My mother would kiss the dough and tell me as she formed it into buns, “Like babies’ bums”.
When I close my eyes I’m in her kitchen.

The smell of baking filling the house.

And then the timer chimes and I wait like a child,
impatient for the bread to cool:
My own mother now,
my own child.

Looking Back: Quilts

This is an excerpt from a post on my blog “Quilting is My Addiction”.

Without getting too boring or pedantic, I want to say that what I love about quilts is thinking about the anonymity of all those who have thread their lives, industry, and economy into their art. I love imagining the stories they shared, heads bowed over needle, the hopes and secrets, surviving in the fibers, if we can only listen.

No quilt can be reproduced, not really, because it has time sewn into it.

There is an obsession with permanence and naming things that comes with Empires, stamping coins and art and contracts, (all with men’s names, never with the names of women or slaves which sometimes women were by law). But we never run out of the proof that there was always art that was made to gladden the heart, to ease the pain, to connect with hopeful birth and to commemorate loss.

And in a way these proofs that artists were there survive better than the art that is dependant on Dynasties or Holy Empires, because they borrow from each generation, each carefully cherished item and thread a different history, one that includes women and slaves and reaches out to a future undaunted by circumstance, for joy. 

Because Empires fall and art becomes fatuous.

But quilts become stories.

https://www.amazon.ca/Stitches-Time-Travel-Magical-Through-ebook/dp/B08RXJ4M28

Just went to a launch for this charming book written by Peter Reynolds. First off, Quilts! Secondly, thirdly and well, I lost count — Time travel, an only child with siblings, and a tale of family and traditions!

A magical story, nicely illustrated and told with wit and compassion.

Grandchild

I feel so old
my skin hangs on dried bones,
the blush
on my younger face
I remember like a poem
And I have survived
and found a peace that I call home
though sometimes now, it feels like a prison.

I saw the moon in the sky this morning.
and it changed the tide.
like you it seemed to appear without warning
and like you, it changed my mind.
because Love is a catalist
not a cure.
It comes unexpectantly.
It makes us dare
the whirlwind.

So for you
I crack open and release
my fluttering heart
and
toss it in the sea,
and play in the breaking waves of your laughter,
and rest in eddies
of your sleeping breath.

Doing the Next Thing

I am in that weird place in life when I have lots of time to just observe things. I see when the wheel on the wagon is wobbling but it’s not my wagon.

Not any of it is my wagon.

I just try to appreciate every moment and applaud every success. “Yay!”

Crazy people, cruelty and all the other painful things humans can perpetuate on each other, hatred, confusion, obscuring the way forward; It is a crazy time. Maybe it is always a crazy time.

I find zazen, sitting staring at a blank wall excruciating, but preferable to action often because I don’t know what I can do in the face of so much suffering. I know I am probably getting my practice completely wrong. I imagine Bodhisattva cringing. I remember teachers telling me not to talk about my practice outside the Dokusan room…

The other day the bus was so full the driver told us to try to get on at the back door. It looked impossible and I was the last in line. All these backs towards me, every shade of skin a human can possess represented before me, me, covered in liver spots and freckles. For the doors to close, fat, thin, male, female, shy, brazen, tall, short, young, old, we had to smoosh together.

“Well, we are all good friends now!” Laughter and smiles, people looking over their shoulders at me in the crush, somehow making room for me where there was none.

That was enough.

It is never a personal Titanic on which we arrange the deck chairs.

A Small Painting And Some Thoughts About Complaining* About Stuff

IMG_20190709_202213_297

I know I am running the danger of becoming another boring senior who uses a blog to go on about her grandchildren BUT I am actually going on about painting my granddaughter!

See?

I can’t afford to buy a lot of gifts but I have oodles of art supplies so I make a card instead of buying one whenever there is an important birthday. I think a 1st birthday is significant so here it is, complete with sparkles and sequins.

I have a hard time getting started on a painting and yet once i get going I really enjoy it.

It’s always nice when things work out.

But About Complaining About Stuff:

What I want, and how things are do not always agree. But there are so many things contributing to everyone’s inability to do “their absolute best” all the time, not the least of which is how they are treated by others. Paying attention includes sometimes just calming down, and appreciating that “when all is said and done” isn’t it great that we are alive, and at the same place, at the same time?

I guess that’s why I like babies. They’re like (the best) tourists, happy to be here even if they are occasionally confused or uncomfortable, just enjoying the ride.

I mean, air conditioned buses? Whenever they show up, they are wonderful! I can ride one to a library and use the WiFi, watch a movie or show or do research, even have a nap and escape the heat, with my grandchildren!

See how I did that?

*this is not referring to actually speaking out where to not do so would mean doing harm. 

 

I had a birthday.

Fifty years ago I was given a simple math question, along with the kids in my class, to figure out how old I would be in the year 2000. I was eleven and I had the thought: I’m going to die in fifty years.

Well last year was the year my eleven year old self thought she would die and when I had bronchitis and almost choked on a cough drop alone in my apartment and then most recently had a spontaneous hematoma, I thought, “This IS IT.”

And it wasn’t.

So, considering I still don’t really know what being alive is all about and therefore can’t really know what being dead is about either I will just continue on as I have done.

nanabday

But I will eat more chocolate and maybe enjoy a glass of beer more often.

Aberration, a poem

Winter, the air was as dry as unbuttered toast.
Ice formed from any moisture and hung onto any thread.
Children were bundled so if they fell
it would be face up
so they wouldn’t suffocate,
their identities unknowable behind scarves and hats pulled low.
Until a Chinook
when they threw off their stiff winter clothes
and ran in their socks and shirt sleeves
in yards of mud,
no, not ran, but hopped
like new little toads with tails abandoned,
this way and that,
with the randomness of joy.
And when it was over
they came home dressed in other children’s clothes.

I joined the Rusty Cast-Iron April Poetry Club, a closed club on Facebook for the month of April. I tried to write a poem every day. Some days I pulled old poems out of the moth balls and re-worked them. Honestly, it was really hard and time consuming. Whole mornings were taken up with my punching and kneading the raw dough! But it was an honest effort. I am going to post some of the ones I am happy with. NOT ONE A DAY, but maybe one once in a while. Thank you dear reader for you indulgence.

This was Day Five, I think the prompt was to write about a micro climate, which this is not, but it is about a climate aberration… We did experience something like this the first winter in Ottawa.

 

This Holiday Season was Brutal!

Some years I manage all sorts of crafty things for decorations and gifts. This year I had hoped to finish one little dress for one little granddaughter but illness, loss and general malaise knocked the stuffing out of me.

Nothing lasts forever, not even illness so thanks to the wonderful anti-biotics that addressed a bronchial infection and the joy of spending time with children and poetry lovers and artists I have rallied and finished the wee dress.  The good news is she is getting longer, not wider so this will fit her for a while!

mjdress

The fabric is linen and the pattern was Burda 9772

 

Xmas Panda-monium?

I went to my son-in-law’s family Xmas. It was pandemonium with a medium sized panda.

All the kids got an anonymous gift of a stuff toy animal in support of the W.W.F. What a great gift. Not my idea and no one came forward, so it makes you wonder… well he loves reindeer so perhaps he cares about all the animals too.

 

birniexmas

and these are only the ones that fit in the frame!

smilywilf

anonymous panda with a donation to a charity!

I Said it Out Loud: I am hanging up my red rubber nose.

wilftiger

ROAR!

I was out in a social environment, drinking a beer, chatting. In reference to something, someone said, “Oh yes, you are a clown aren’t you?”

Having said out loud that I was retired made it true. But it has been a long time coming. First off the fact that parents started telling me that clowns were “scary” and they would prefer that I not dress up. (I think I am way more scary without my clown makeup but hey, if they don’t want clown face I don’t do clown face.)

But I also started to notice how physically demanding it was. I love talking to the kids about what they imagine they are becoming as I paint their faces, or just seeing their level of commitment as they patiently wait as I apply the paint but there are many younger people who have steadier hands and stronger backs.

And I have grandchildren now. I am so lucky to get to see them as they grow into this world. I think now I need to spend my time doing what I can to see they continue to have one.

Clownlaughing

It’s been fun.