“She rides in the front seat, she’s my older sister”

Posted on 27 December 2011 |

Blog Hopes

Posted on 26 December 2011 |

Yesterday I learned that if I hope for something on my blog, it could come true.

Our Christmas day began quietly. When Rob awoke, I made coffee and then we slipped downstairs and opened our Christmas stockings – little fun gifts we’d bought for the other. Rob prepared breakfast sandwiches and then I spent most of the day preparing for the evening feast (this included cleaning toilets). I love having the time to set a festive table, to prepare as much as is possible of the food, to re-clean the kitchen, and still have the time, without rushing, to shower and dress for the occasion.

Before the guests arrived, I spoke to Gill and John (who alas was ill) and his mother and father on Skype. (I love Skype.) And then I spoke with my mother, sisters, brother-in-law, and nieces and nephews. Rosemary, Fanny, and Dave arrived just before I ended this conversation.

Soon after, Ruth arrived with her famous chocolate mousse and two beautifully decorated Christmas logs. She flashed me a big smile and said that she had read on my blog that I hoped she would bring her violin and David his cello and that they would play. She had immediately telephoned David and they arranged to rehearse some Christmas carols.

Soon all were gathered, the final preparations for the feast complete, and thirteen of us sat down for a truly decadent Christmas feast. As our table is too small for thirteen, Rob and I had carried a smaller table from upstairs to the kitchen. There wasn’t a lot of room to move around and it was slightly chaotic but it didn’t matter: everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. Perhaps I should hope in my blog that next year, Ruth holds the feast in her concert room, and I’ll prepare the turkey and trimmings.

I am joking, Ruth. I am so grateful to you and David for providing the perfect finale to our Christmas celebration. (It was a difficult Christmas for Rosemary, Fanny, and Dave, and your playing helped soothe their spirits.) You overwhelm me with your joie de vivre, your generosity, and your talent. Thank you.

Now it is Boxing Day and my mother’s birthday.

My Father is 89 Today

Posted on 24 December 2011 |

Christmas Greetings

Posted on 23 December 2011 |

I think this is the first Christmas Rob and I will spend without at least one of our children. It’s not as if we make a big deal about Christmas. We don’t even give presents but still I shall miss them all.

On Christmas day, when a dozen friends gather at our table, I will miss them most. Still it will a feast. Rosemary and Fanny are cooking a goose with chestnut stuffing, roast potatoes, and a sorbet for later. Rob and I will cook a turkey with potato stuffing, fresh cranberries, and brussels sprouts. Susan and David will make a red cabbage dish (apparently more delicious with goose) and bring a big fat hunk of cheese. Adam and his boys will bring more bread and cheese. Ruth and Bedding will bring dessert.

If we’re really lucky, Ruth will bring her violin and David his cello and they’ll play for us. I love having live music in our home. I even love singing to it though I can’t sing to save myself. Speaking of singing, our family has been busy making Christmas music videos for each other. I’d love to publish several but Michael jokingly said that he would kill the person that makes his and Kenzie’s public, so I won’t. Rob and I did “Winter Wonderland” and I sound terrible but we had such fun doing it, I don’t care. Still, I am not ready to go public. (Penny, do you remember our singing lessons at university? I should have kept practising.)

In Toronto a lot of my nuclear family are gathering to celebrate Christmas and birthdays together. (Bev, Bill, and their children flew in from Vancouver.) My sister Gael’s birthday is today. My father’s tomorrow. My mother’s on the 26th and my sister Stephanie’s on the 27th.

I shall try to publish a card for each on their special day. I’ve thought about not publishing them as I tend to go overboard with praise and mushy sentiments but I believe it’s important to make public, the private. This has been a very emotional two weeks since I returned to France from Toronto. Attending Bob’s funeral was painful and tearful, especially when they rolled the casket into the room. I kept thinking Bob’s in there – the man with a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his face. Tears flowed. People wrote the obvious in the guest book. “I shall miss you.” One of his daughters said, “I loved him so much.” When the obvious is the truth, in my mind, it is good to read it, to say it out loud. Often it takes courage. Sometimes, so much love that you think you’ll burst if you keep it inside and so you expose yourself.

Merry Christmas everyone. I hope the season brings you more pleasure than worry.

Here’s my card to Gael who continues to overwhelm me with her intelligence and acts of kindness.

(Remember to click on picture once or twice so you can read it and see it more clearly.)

I’m back home

Posted on 6 December 2011 |

I’m back home in France. I felt so sad leaving Toronto – the saddest I’ve ever felt – and then arriving home, when Rob met me at the airport, his face was white, so serious, too serious, and he told me that he had horrible news. I was so afraid. He said that a good friend, Bob Booth had died the previous evening. Rosemary, Bob’s wife had called him and said Bob had fallen. Rob dropped everything and ran, passed every car on the road, made it in ten minutes flat, and still he was too late. The doctor later said that Bob had probably died instantly when he hit his head on the tile floor. (He had slipped on a carpet runner.) Bob was 84 years old.

I was so exhausted from the flight that the news that I would never see Bob again broke me. We stopped on the way home, to see Rosemary and her daughter and son-in-law and we all cried. I went outside and felt animal whimpers and wails rising from my gut and wanted to throw up. Death is such a terrible thing. It leaves one empty and helpless.

Today, I gathered the few pictures together I had of Bob and wept some more. He was so charming, a storyteller, an intelligent generous man, with whom Rob and I have shared so many good times. To say that I will miss him, is an understatement.

Blessed Solitude

Posted on 24 November 2011 |

Click here to see Shirley’s account of our week’s retreat.

Traveling Once Again

Posted on 23 November 2011 |

She Flies Through the Air with the Greatest of Ease

Posted on 6 November 2011 |

Here’s to Mackenzie on her special day who recently overcame her great fear of flying (or kept it in check) and flew from Vancouver to Toronto, from Toronto to Amsterdam, from Toulouse to Paris, and finally from Amsterdam to Vancouver. I wish you this same courage to follow your heart’s desires this year. Have a great day. Love you.

As Summer into Autumn Slips

Posted on 1 November 2011 |

As Summer into Autumn slips
And yet we sooner say
“The Summer” than “the Autumn,” lest
We turn the sun away,

And almost count it an Affront
The presence to concede
Of one however lovely, not
The one that we have loved –

So we evade the charge of Years
On one attempting shy
The Circumvention of the Shaft
Of Life’s Declivity. (Emily Dickinson)

I have been trying to find a poem for autumn that matched my mood this past Sunday but although I’ve read several dozen all were gloomy, aligning fall with growing old and cold. The only one that I found that was joyful was “Merry Autumn”. I love the colours of autumn, the brisk air that makes me feel alive, that makes me want to get out and walk (something I never feel in summer). I love what Dunbar says at the end of his poem, that autumn is the climax of the year, the “highest time of living.”

Merry Autumn
It’s all a farce,—these tales they tell
About the breezes sighing,
And moans astir o’er field and dell,
Because the year is dying.

Such principles are most absurd,—
I care not who first taught ‘em;
There’s nothing known to beast or bird
To make a solemn autumn.

In solemn times, when grief holds sway
With countenance distressing,
You’ll note the more of black and gray
Will then be used in dressing.

Now purple tints are all around;
The sky is blue and mellow;
And e’en the grasses turn the ground
From modest green to yellow.

The seed burs all with laughter crack
On featherweed and jimson;
And leaves that should be dressed in black
Are all decked out in crimson.

A butterfly goes winging by;
A singing bird comes after;
And Nature, all from earth to sky,
Is bubbling o’er with laughter.

The ripples wimple on the rills,
Like sparkling little lasses;
The sunlight runs along the hills,
And laughs among the grasses.

The earth is just so full of fun
It really can’t contain it;
And streams of mirth so freely run
The heavens seem to rain it.

Don’t talk to me of solemn days
In autumn’s time of splendor,
Because the sun shows fewer rays,
And these grow slant and slender.

Why, it’s the climax of the year,—
The highest time of living!—
Till naturally its bursting cheer
Just melts into thanksgiving. (Paul Laurence Dunbar)

Michael and Mackenzie

Posted on 27 October 2011 |

Please click on each picture if you’d like to see these images larger. This was such a beautiful ceremony that I wanted to show more photographs and copy some of the vows.

Although the NA Plains Indian had a wedding ceremony that is called “The Rite of the Seven Steps”, Mackenzie and Michael rewrote it, taking what was meaningful for them, and made it the “The Rite of the Three Steps”. With every vow, they took one step forward. Here’s several of their promises:

The Rite of (Three) Steps
O’ my beloved, our love has become firm by your walking one with me. Together we will share the responsibilities of the lodge, food and children. May the Creator bless noble children to share. May they live long.
[Michael takes a step]
This is my commitment to you, my husband. Together we will share the responsibility of the home, food and children. I promise that I shall discharge all my share of responsibilities for the welfare of the family and the children.
[Mackenzie takes a step]

O’ my beloved, you have filled my heart with happiness. May I fill your heart with great joy and peace, time and time again. May the Creator bless you.
[Michael takes a step]
My husband, the Creator blesses you. May I fill your heart with great joy and peace. I promise that I will always be with you.
[Mackenzie takes a step]

After the third vow and step, they stood in front of our honorable friend David (whose father and grandfather were ministers) and the Celtic part of the ceremony began with David asking first Michael (and then Mackenzie):

Do you, Michael, take Mackenzie to be your wife, To be her constant friend, her partner in life, and her true love? To love her without reservation, honor and respect her, protect her from harm, comfort her in times of distress, and to grow with her in mind and spirit?

After the ceremony, we opened bottles of bubbly and poured a glass for all present and toasted the new couple. We went back to the “Light” house and toasted them some more, and then in the evening we went to the beautiful Restaurant des Consuls where the chef served a special feast, the town Patisserie delivered a three layer chocolate cake with bride and groom on top, and Brendan ordered bottle after bottle of Chateauneuf de Pape (one of his gifts to the couple.)

I thought it a perfect day, perfect for Michael and Mackenzie in its originality, whimsy, sincerity, and lovingness.

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