Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Un jour printanier dans le pays

Or for the English among us, "A Spring day in the country". And it was a beautiful day. Isn't it supposed to rain at funerals? Or snow? (Heaven forbid!)
In this beautiful church we said goodbye to Yvon's godfather. He had been very sick for a while, so it was considered a blessing to many. But try to tell that to the great-grandchildren who were probably attending their first funeral of a loved one. Many were decked out in inappropriate party dresses because this was not something a small girl is prepared for. But it was sad to see them cry as they placed white roses on the grave.

Or tell that to the older ones, who unfortunately do have proper funeral attire because many of their generation are quickly aging, leaving them to say goodbye on beautiful spring days. It must be a hard thing to watch your siblings pass away. Yvon comes from a very large family and they all live very close to each other in two small French communities. They have a lot of history together.
I've been to some very dreary services in this church. This was one of the nicest I've been to, including what should have been joyful Christmas and Easter services. This time the music was nice (and I could even sing along to some of it), and the priest was sweet. His English was terrible, and his French was apparently even worse, but the sentiments were heartfelt and sincere. I think God planned the actual priest's vacation very well, allowing this priest from the past to reunite with the grieving family to whom he was quite close 15 years ago when he was the resident priest here.

After the short walk to the cemetery there was a traditional lunch in the community hall. There was talk about why so much of the service was in French when so many of the family members present only speak English now. I personally loved this link to the past. It seemed appropriate to me that this man, who did speak French and was part of one of the town's founding families, should be conducted in his two languages.
After concentrating hard on the Vietnamese-tainted French and hearing "blah blah blah audjourd'hui... blah blah... notre Dieu ...blah blah blah..." I decided just to sit back and let the lovely language wash over me. I didn't care that his accent was terrible. I could tell that this priest loved Yvon's uncle and was saying nice things, things that would maybe comfort his aunt. And when he switched to English I heard a few amusing stories and enjoyed learning more about this man whom I would now never get to know very well.

Incidentally, this is my dream house. And it will never go up for sale as long as there is a priest in the area. Too bad. But the priest in this area works hard and deserves a nice house. He has three congregations in three small towns and it probably isn't any priest's dream location. I want his house but not his job.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

And now I wait

It's done!!

Yesterday was a good day of friendship and community. A friend offered his truck and his muscle to help deliver and shovel fresh soil with me. While working, we spoke with the new neighbour across the street, an old neighbour next door, kids and parents as they walked home from school. I love that. The longer I live in this neighbourhood, the neighbourhood we bought into "in spite" of it's lack of charm or character, I realize that the character comes from the people. And the people are good.

I tilled last night and planted my baby seedlings all morning, stopping only to eat a fresh gifted muffin and donate lots of excess perennials to a new friend.

And now I wait for the seeds to germinate and pray that my babies don't fry in the sun. It was a very hot day. And last week there was snow. It's a crazy climate.

I read this on another blog recently. Why do people insist of planting red and yellow tulips when there is so much variety out there? I love this combination of purple, white and the little grape hyacinths.

This was Beth's prayer tonight.
"God, thank you for this awesome, fun day. Please make tomorrow be just as much fun and to go slowly. If time flies when you're having fun, please make the plane run out of gas."
Have an awesome, fun day tomorrow and may the time pass slowly.

Friday, May 22, 2009

A Creation Story

I know I've been complaining about the lateness of spring, but there have been things happening in the garden in spite of the weather. And every spring I am amazed at all of the different shapes, sizes, and colors of just the green things that pop up.
There are all of the grey-greens.

And the yellowy-greens.

And the pinks and reds.

Even the plain greens are pretty. And all unique. Fuzzy, smooth, spotted, spikey, hairy, deeply veined.... I think you get it.

Who but a creative God would think of all this?
(And now imagine that same creative God as a photographer. My version isn't exactly art and I did double up on a few images accidently. God wouldn't have done that. )

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Circling Dreams

I haven't been sleeping well lately. Besides my never-ending coughing, my brain is reeling with images and dreams and plans. Why can't it just rest when the rest of my body is tired?

This is essentially the dream. I will be going about my business and everything somehow becomes a piece in a beautiful quilt. I spend time with a group in a meeting. Plans are made, laughter rings out and suddenly the scene gets cut into a strip and sewn into place. Then I morph into a gardening scene, planting a lovely garden on a beautiful spring day. Everything is big and healthy and blooming all at once. Then this scene gets cut into a strip and sewn onto the meeting strip. Then I morph again into a farmer's role, feeding my baby chicks, collecting eggs and chatting with my neighbour as he leans on a pitchfork on the other side of my fence. This too gets cut into a strip and sewn onto the other pieces. And so on and so on and so on....

Even if I wake up, I launch right back into the weird quilting dream. It's all very tiring.

Most of my friends and family inspire me in different ways. We just returned from a visit to my parents. And this is what Mom presented to Alice.

I love it! (but it disturbs my sleep) She says it's easy and I want to try making one tomorrow, but I think I'm busy.

I'm busy with this other project or two. When I'm with Mom, I usually try to go to the fabric outlet that sells primarily to the Hutterite colonies in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. We benefit from their bulk buying by getting a good variety of fabrics at discounted prices. Works for me! But my brain is still full of the plans from my last fabric binge.

And then there are these.

50 chicks is too many for me, but I've been dreaming since this winter about having just a few chickens. It's still illegal here in town, but I don't think it's enforced unless your neighbours complain. 50 were mighty smelly, but three wouldn't be so bad, would it? I took pictures of my Dad's fairly simple setup and I think it's do-able. Maybe next spring.

Then there is this ongoing project.

And the ongoing freezing temperatures and snow that continue to stop me from getting the garden planted. I'm getting mold on the soil of my seedlings and most are in real need of getting into a bigger space with some air circulation and sunlight.

In theory I could plant the back garden seeds, but I want the front garden to get the first pick, and whatever isn't that beautiful or sprawls too much will go in the back. In spite of the reeling mind, the plans never really congeal for me until I've actually got my hands in the dirt.

When is it REALLY going to be spring?!?

In the meantime, I can work on some of the indoor dreams and clear some brain space. Space that maybe is necessary for a good night's sleep.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Things that make me smile

There are some things that always make me smile even when I don't feel like it.

Wild animals. I can't explain why, but if I spot a coyote or antelope in the country, a deer in the mountains, or even a jack rabbit down the block in the city, it always makes me smile Maybe it's the surprise (although a spider in the garden doesn't have the same effect) or the out-of-placeness of them in my city life.

Early spring flowers and buds on the trees. Can you blame me? After almost 8 months without, it's easy to see why this would cause pleasure.

But this does it as well.

Sometimes I see the name "Redcliff" on a Medalta crock at a garage sale or antique show, or it comes up in conversation with strangers also hailing from southern Alberta. The older I get, the more often I find I tell people that I was born in Redcliff instead of the Hat where I actually spent all of my growing-up years. Why is that? Is it because there's more family history there? Or does the obscurity of the small town just sound more interesting and add a "where is that?" to the conversation?

In this context the name conjures up memories. There's a local group called the Raving Poets who ask for the colour of the piece and the mood before creating music to accompany a poetry reading.

In the case, the mood is slow, hot and lazy and the colour is a combination of dry dust and brick red.

If you're family, you know the memory that's coming: the Year of the Brick.

It was probably only a few weeks for some of us. Dad had torn down an old brick building, a bank I think. He had predicted that the old bricks would be valuable to others building new houses (made to look old) or new/old fireplaces. I hope he made a profit from the venture, but I know that he made memories.

Many young kids and teenagers in the town spent time on the rubble site cleaning the bricks and stacking them on pallets. That meant painfully hacking the mortar off each brick with a small hatchet. Paid by the brick, we had the choice to work hard in the sweltering, unprotected heat or just make enough money to pay for the necessary Slurpies and Slushes to get through the day. A lot of socializing went on. I remember kids cheating - creating hollow pallets and collecting on a complete pallet. I remember a kid with huge feet (you couldn't say "Act your age, not your shoe size"), a lot of BMX stunts and one broken bone. Our 15 or 16 year old foreman took care of that, bringing the kid to the clinic.

Sometime after that a local authority shut us down, based on the ages of the kids working at the site and the relative unsafety of our attire. We all had gloves and hatchets but I think it was up to us whether we wore shorts or jeans, long sleeves or tank tops. It was really, really hot, but many of us didn't wear hats, some didn't have safety goggles, we were all bruised and scraped and sunburnt. But we were happy. We had some pocket money and we made friends, and we could wash the dust off our bodies in the neighbourhood pool every night. Only the few older teenagers got to continue. I was only 12 so I was out of work, one of the few times in my life I've been laid off. And there were no severance packages.

A good friend is cleaning bricks this week. Carefully knocking off the mortar of a neighbour's old foundation to make her kids a brick playhouse. What luxury! My kids have to live with a plywood playhouse and I'm anxiously waiting to kick them out and convert it to a chicken coop.

I have been gifted with bricks by a neighbour and don't have to remove any mortar. Just wheel them down the road and make paths. I've turned the Redcliff bricks face up so that I can smile as I see them.

Have a great day!

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Simple Woman's Daybook

I know it's not Monday, but I feel like posting and am temporarily out of energy. The categories of these posts help.

Outside my window... the sun is shining and I'm longing to be out there shoveling dirt and compost. But I'm out of energy.

I am thinking... that the hankies are not releasing any of the pressure in my head. But they are nice and soft.
I am thankful for... excess flannel from past pajama and diaper projects.

From the kitchen... comes a lot of chicken noodle soup and lemon honey tea.

I am wearing... the everyday uniform of jeans. Why is this category here? I'm always wearing jeans it seems. Alice is still in her PJs though on day four of whatever sickness we're sharing.

I am reading... Tuck Everlasting. It's easier to read kids fiction right now. The text is bigger for my sore eyes and it suits my short attention span.

I am hoping... that I'm better in time for a birthday dinner tomorrow night.

I am creating... a stripey/polka-dotty picture. The kids' projects always somehow end up being mine.

I am hearing... the constant whining of a sick kid. She's just so sad.

Around the house... there are many started and few finished projects. Paper, fabric, poodles, Ello, bookmarks, gardens.

One of my favorite things... children's smiles. And I'm not getting much of that this week.

A few plans for the rest of the week... I'm just glad the week is almost over. I hope the colds/allergies/croup/whatever goes with it.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Spring allergies

I like posts with quotes but I can never find a suitable one. This is what I found when I looked for a quote about hankies.

A "Bushman's Hanky" is slang for blowing your nose without a tissue. Learn
how here.
Okay, that's not exactly what I had in mind. And I have no interest in learning how to do that because I'm sure it's not a pretty thing.

But these are pretty, aren't they?

I bought them recently at an antique show. The lady's late Aunt Evelyn owned them, so I was thrilled to find some monograms for me. It's not all that common.

Except when you're buying Dutch chocolate letters at Christmas. When the mix of letters comes based on Dutch names, I'm in luck. There are always plenty of E's left over, even after Christmas. Lucky me! That's totally off topic though. (Focus, Ev, focus.)

This is why I'm thinking of hankies today.

Alice is home sick, but I suspect from the ever-present dark circles under her eyes that she is suffering from allergies. Perhaps she has a cold or flu as well. We're using quite a few hankies around here.

This winter I decided to try to cut back on the paper products we use in this house. Paper towels and kleenex are always in hot demand here and so easy to do without. (I'm tempted to talk about Diva now, but that's probably all you need to know about that! There are probably males present.)

I can't keep up with all of the environmental options out there. I know that the textiles industry is supposed to be terrible for pollutants and chemicals and child labour and all those things. But I don't buy many clothes. I re-use a lot of clothes between the three girls, get lots of hand-me-downs and sometimes buy used. And I have to believe that sewing clothes is better than off the rack, maybe only because it means we all do with less because my sewing time in limited. There are too many factors to figure out, but I believe that hankies must be better than kleenex. And I hope that fewer chemicals are in contact with my nose this way too.

Anyway, I'm using scraps that would otherwise have gone into the landfill. These are my favourites. They are flannel and much softer than any paper product I've ever put to my nose and my nose deserves some luxury. Being on my face can't be easy.

I've seen pretty hankies hemmed in contasting threads and fancy stitches. I'm capable of that, but most of mine are quickly serged on the edges. It's what I have time for and, from my nose's point of view, I don't actually like the extra two layers of fabric on the edges.

A quick hanky box story: When I was growing up my dad always had a box full of hankies. It was just a shoe box, nothing fancy. For a few years I remember having indoor Easter basket hunts in the house. Each basket had our name on the handle and if you found someone else's basket you were supposed to leave it there and let them find it themselves. My basket was hidden in the hanky box one year. It's not amusing or anything, but it's actually one of the few memories I have from the house I lived in until I was 7.

Our hanky box isn't big enough for that. However, I like that I've come full circle and returned to some of the ways of the past.

Yvon called just after arriving at work to say his allergies finally hit him today. While I have year-round allergies to lots of things, his tend to come once a year and hit him hard. So the plan today is to zip up some quick man-sized hankies for him.

And yes, that's a poodle picture. I've now sewn three skirts, but they still need their poodles on them. I'll be making a poodle patch to attach to each skirt just in case the girls don't want to keep the poodle on after the 50th anniversary concert at school. I drew a picture of a poodle yesterday which the girls thought was an alien chicken! What would I do without Google?

Monday, May 4, 2009

Saturday was a very busy day, but not as hard as I had expected. We began by borrowing an awesome big truck from a friend. One who isn't afraid of a little dirt, although the truck was spotless at the beginning of the day.
Then we went here. They were hopping busy.

After a few hours of selling Girl Guide cookies, we told Beth to lay on the grass for her last time. She still claims that it is the softest grass we have. She's forgotten the mushrooms, the fairy rings, ant hills and dandelions that really make up this "grass".

I always have these grand plans and then have to rope Yvon and his muscles into the project. It doesn't seem to matter that I actually go to a gym sometimes to build muscle. He will always be stronger than me and I'm grateful for that really.

It hasn't rained for a while, so the sod rolls weren't all that heavy. Even Beth could help. Laura liked discovering the ants beneath the surface, but otherwise wasn't that involved. And little Alice was sick with a mild fever.

Then we took a much needed break and to gaze at the river.

Isn't it lovely? And we weren't alone. This turns out to be the beautiful view from the landfill.

Around here, many people apparently spend the first sunny, warm spring day of the season standing in line at the landfill after a day cleaning up the yard or garage. It was a huge line.

While waiting in the line I had a chance to look at their community garden. They have a large plot maintained by volunteers and all of the produce goes to the local Food Bank. I'm sure it's productive (the soil looked good and it's a totally sunny spot), but it's not pretty. I want our garden to look pretty with some fruit trees and a few picnic tables.

We got the dumping part of the project over with as quickly as we could. The view wasn't as pretty here.

And speaking of things not pretty, this is how the yard looks now.

I hope it doesn't effect the sale of the house next door in a negative way. I'm hoping that after new soil is added this week and it's all rototilled it will start to reveal the vision instead of the mess.

Look! Our first flower.

It may only be the size of my thumbnail, but it's not brown, is it? I must be thankful for what I get right now.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Things that go bump in the night

A really weird thing happened to me in the middle of the night and it's all a bit of a blur, except the resulting pain.

I jumped out of bed for a potty break. I'm totally blind without my glasses, but I've been living here long enough that I can make it fifteen feet to the bathroom in that state.

I must have jumped too fast because I got dizzy. Usually when that happens my head clears by the time I can touch a wall, but this time I couldn't find a wall. I groped for something solid while my legs and brain seemed to be giving way, in slow motion. I found myself lying flat on my back under the desk in the office.

How did I get there? And how did I get there without hurting my head on something?

Luckily I didn't. My wrist appears to have a rug burn (maybe I grabbed the upholstered chair on my way down - I found it lying on it's side under the desk with me). And my butt is bruised. It feels like I landed on something sharp, like a corner of furniture or a book. There was nothing sharp around. And my neck and shoulder have ached all day.

It's all a mystery because no one was awake to see it. They all heard the crash in the night though, and one voice asked if I was okay. I was mostly shaken and amazed that I wasn't more hurt.

It reminded me of an accident my mom had the year Grandma died. She did something similar, but she fell down a flight of stairs without the ability to catch her fall and broke many bones in her face. For about six weeks meals were sucked through a straw.

So today I've been repeating in my head something the Sunday School kids say regularly.

God is good, all the time.
All the time, God is good.