Both ears wide open

 

A family member dies unexpectedly. Someone drops in for a stay. Family members begin popping in. A change from our usual simple way. We’ve become engaged in daily visits, talked way more than normal and heard how others face, and deal, with the issues in their lives.

During one of our early morning trips to the coffee shop. Time alone, just Man-Wonder and myself, I’ve come to realize what this summer has been teaching me.

listen

To let the grieving say what’s in their hearts instead of rushing in with words because I find their pain uncomfortable.

To be an empty bucket with ears to someone is struggling to find their place in the world; instead of a bucket overflowing with good advice.

To let someone talk through a shitload of anger and frustration without getting all tangled up in their angst.

The art of listening. With both ears and brain fully engaged. To focus on the words coming, to hearing what and where those words are coming from instead of half-listening because my brain is busy creating a response. Really listening.

Someone, somewhere, I forget who or where,  wrote, ‘Listen to the silence around the spoken words and you will understand better.’

The funny thing — as I learn to be quiet and listen — there’s this lovely sense of harmony. Something I’ve been chasing after most of my life and all I had to do was sit down and shut up.

Huh. Who knew eh.

images2VAYM51Y

Big lake, little lake

Two mini canoe adventures so far this summer. And three creepy-interesting things to share.

The first was a three-hour paddle around Quamichan (Qualm-itch-in) Lake. There we met a most curious damsel fly that decided it was going to rest on my hand, which left me trying to one-handedly open the container and grab the camera. Man-Wonder watched me for a moment before commenting that I might as well stop groping around since we’d left it on the table.

Seriously? I’ve got this beautifully prehistoric looking insect visiting and I can’t capture the image? I’m pretty sure the strong vibe coming from  my imagined head-smack  sent any lurking fish far away and deep. And probably the reason all hubby snagged onto that trip was a waterlogged twig and two weeds.

And, sort of speaking of noises — we were introduced to a couple of new ones that day. As we approached a cluster of reeds we were greeted by a chorus from the invading species of monster-sized bullfrogs, with their croaks that sound like something sitting in tin cans and twanging on rubberbands. Then they let loose with what I can only describe as something sounding like a herd of miniature elephants trumpeting before they attack. Personally, if I was a female bullfrog and that was the male’s mating call . . . I’d jump down the throat of the closest hungry blue heron! Euuuh.

As we paddled away from the raucous bully-frogs we hit a portion of the lake filled with algae bloom. Probably caused by sprayed fertilizer from a farm by the lake. I thought the brilliant green bloom was spongy until I tried to scoop up a drifting hunk. It slide through my fingers like wet cotton candy.

Creepy in an interesting way. . .

A few days later we were on an early morning paddle around a little lake close to home when  Man-Wonder spots something unusual at one end of the lake. We paddled over to check out what turned out to be a solid skim of dying chironomids (aka midges).

IMG_2517 (Not sun reflection at the top of the picture — just bugs)

While Man-Wonder studied the bugs I did a quick watercolor sketch of the shoreline. And, then, in a moment of creativity (and because I was at the back of the canoe and not being watched) decided to scoop up a bunch of the dead (tiny) bugs, dabbing them into the water part of my scene. A touch of realism and, later at home, once the carcasses were dry, I would seal them in place.

Yeah, it seemed like a good idea  . . .

Which lasted until we got back to the very warm truck and I was showing off my cleverness and one of the bugs came alive. Then another. And another!

“Oooh, zombie bugs.”Man-Wonder said, laughing.

SLAM!

I am glad chironomids are so very tiny. It saved me from having to see the looks on their teeny-tiny squished faces when I reopened my sketch book.

Really, even though I try to respect most creatures, I wasn’t about to share the ride home with the little buggers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Almost All About the Food

‘If you ask me, food for thought sounds like a pretty good trade.’ 

~   Abby Heugel @  https://abbyhasissues.com/

Lately, that’s all it has been about. The planning, the production, the harvesting and the stuffing of one’s face. Thanks to a wonderful spring/summer so far, giving us even cycles of rain and sun, the gardens are bursting their borders.

IMG_2495 The front garden bed is supposed to be a spring shrub bed with bulbs filling in the spaces between. This year it’s a six-foot high field of fiery red crocosmias and gladiolas. As for the shrubs — it’s kind of like a ‘Where’s Waldo’— only in plant form.

IMG_2497.JPG  In the back garden, the squash, cucumber and zucchini have taken total control. (I’m thinking it’s one too many bags of manure in March).  I bet  the lettuces are loving the shade created by those ‘wild child’ plants. If only I could find them!

IMG_2501.JPG   As for the berry bed — let’s just say the line from freezer to raspberries is a steady one and I’m pretty sure some of the poor pollen-heavy bees are lost within that tangled thicket of canes.

“I try to find the good in every situation. Wait. That was a typo. I meant “food”.  I try to find the food in every situation.”                                       ~ Abby Heugel @  https://abbyhasissues.com/

Even my reading is related to food at this time of year. Last winter I found Food in Jars  ‘preserving in small batches year-round’ by Marisa McClellan.  Most of her recipes call for 4 or 5 half-pint or 1 pint jars, so the recipes are perfect for us with limited garden size. In the front of her book was the publisher’s website. Good foody site plus there is a blog with some interesting pictures.                       ~     http://www.runningpresscooks.com/

As for our eating —Mostly we’re still following ‘The Plan’ by Lyn-Genet Recitas (hence the crazy veggie bed) but I recently discovered ‘Sweet Paleo: Gluten Free Grain Free Delights’ by Lea Valle, and sweet Mary, mother of Joseph, is this an excellent book or what?! It uses many of the same ingredients as the ‘Plan’ and my sweet tooth has been doing a happy dance for days.

And now, if you will excuse me, her book is calling my name with the same intensity as a bag of jube jubes. . .

“I think the best part of being a superhero would be that you could turn your cape around and use it as a bib.”                           ~ Abby Heugel @  https://abbyhasissues.com/

pssssst – (in case you hadn’t noticed)  Abby Heugel @  https://abbyhasissues.com/  is worth a visit  . . .

Not all learning comes from books

Life likes to teach us and sometimes a mini-lesson zips in from the most unexpected, yet perfect source.

Like the other day — I was downtown, leaving the library, and heading across the public square to visit a favorite stitchery shop across the street. To get there I had to pass through  two groups. One was a hoods-up, grunged-down, life-in-a-backpack and barely-out-of-diapers gathering of teens taking turns yelling out rap tunes. The other group was a bunch of native fellows; their faces carrying a tough tiredness as they argued about where to go.

To say I was uncomfortable, and that I hesitated, would be the truth since I’m just this somewhat square-ish, even bore-ish and definitely old-ish woman, who’s imagination always runs to the most worse scenerios. And, boy, was my imagination (and judgment) pinging right then.

But the desire for more embroidery thread won out.

Of course, the young people ignored me—they were too busy rapping and living their style.

And the other group? They, after agreeing on a direction, which meant passing in front of me, didn’t even noticed me. At least not until the last guy in the group—this little guy who looked like life had shaken him too hard and too often. When he and I eye-contact he pushed up the corners of his mouth with his fingers and then said,“Smile, your face will feel happier.”

I smiled. I couldn’t help it. And not only did my face get happier — so did my mind once I stopped imagining what might happen and paid attention to what was happening.

So . . . thank you native guy, this old white broad appreciated your words. She ‘got it’.

One last thing . . .  why are we called white? We’re pink.

Homemade something or other

Ever made lotion? I mean something you could actually, safely put on anything other than feet?

My first DIY lotion ended up like a wobbly petroleum jelly. It melted on contact and felt a bit like a coating of motor oil. Definitely not a face lotion! But it worked wonders on my alligator-skin feet. At least at night. With thick wool socks on.

Too bad it turned the socks a vomit-yellow.

The second recipe was going well, until I added my very own ‘yep-I-created-it-all-by-myself’ scent! Seriously, by itself the scent wasn’t half bad,  but man oh man — mixed into the lotion blend it turned —pee-ew-t-full!  I couldn’t even convince dear Man-Wonder to give it a try. . .and his sniffer isn’t that good. In the end, it went into the outside garbage can and I can’t say it improved the can aroma either.

Anyway, time passed and, as the scent of failure faded, I decided to try again. Sometimes I wonder though — am I on the dense side genetically, or do I just have an undying blind faith in things working out?

Because, I decided, since I wasn’t having any luck with something as simple as a ‘lotion’ recipe, maybe I needed to complicate it up by attempting a ‘cream’ recipe. And didn’t I always want a beautiful rose-scented cream? (Have I mentioned how expensive Rose EO is?) Well, you know that old quote about babies and idiots?

The cream recipe came out on the thin side making it the most luxurious, rich, divine-smelling lotion ever!

Now here’s where it gets a bit daft. (dafter?)

I have a working (sort of) lotion recipe and I love, love, love the smell and feel of it so why not just go with it for the next batch. But no. I have to tweak. Something less expensive scent-wise? Maybe another DIY scent?

The monkey never learns does it?

But I truly wanted to have a scented lotion Man-Wonder would be willing to use. He’s not fond of smelling like a rose garden but he does like the great outdoors and since I’m a fan of trees—why not woodsy?

Only I got carried away and my ‘Woodsy’ blend had a slight scent closer to a creature of the forest. But since there was a birch-cedar edge to it I used it.(Lesson #1,382,504  — know which EOs, or combos, will react with your oil/water mixture. You don’t want it thickening to fast.

And, man-oh-man, did it thicken too fast! We are talking instant seizure. I suddenly had a bowl full of white lumps and no matter how long I blended it wouldn’t thin out.

So what did I put my ‘Woodsy’ label on? A jar of white jelly beanish stuff smelling weirdly bushy-ish. And it truly is a manly lotion. . . since it needs some serious muscle  to rub in!

But, in spite of Man-Wonder claiming,”It’s like going to bed with a lumber-jack whose feet are covered in zinc lotion” my feet are feeling bum-soft now. And, another wee bonus is my woolies are losing their vomit-yellow glow.

Now . . .if I could just make something I’m not afraid to put on my face. . .

And if I may be so bold as to quote them . . .

About  month ago our library branch was promoting local poets. Of course I nabbed onto  Naomi Beth Waken’s  ‘Sex after 70’.  Quickly polished off a second one titled ‘And after 80’So now I’m waiting for a copy of her  ‘A Roller Coaster Ride’

Lord how I love her non-mincing way of saying things. I think I’m suffering from mind-envy. What a hoot to have that brain inside one’s cranium!

http://www.naomiwakan.com/

And, while waiting, I came across another good read (still on aging but non-poetry this time). The book is ‘Getting Older Better’ by Pamela Blair. (Funny how the mind gets stuck in a groove!) I could go blathering on about the book but this write-up I found on her website http://www.pamblair.com/  says it all:

Here is everything boomers need to know about aging, but never thought (or were afraid to) to ask. It takes the reader on a journey of discovery; a journey in which the author and reader explore together the hopeful, interesting, and exciting aspects of aging alongside the more difficult ones’.

Another big bonus (in my mind) is that the book is busting with quotes. In fact I’ve read so many quotes lately my mind is going to explode if I don’t share . . .  so here a few. . .

  • Laughter is like changing a baby’s diaper. It doesn’t get rid of the mess permanently, but it does make things ok for a while ~ Michael Pritchard
  • Laughter is an orgasm triggered by the intercourse of sense and nonsense ~ Anon
  • WELLth  (a much more worthwhile spelling of the word)
  • There is more to life than increasing its speed ~ Mahatma Gandi
  • When all else fails — lower your standards ~ Anon
  • Inside every older person there’s a younger person wondering what happened.   – Ashleigh Brilliant
  • If I’d known how much fun, what freedom, would be found in these September years, I would’ve lied about my age and gotten here sooner.         –Lynne Zielinski
  • An 82-year-old friend of mine decided to buy herself some nips and tucks. Her daughter said that at her age it would just be re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.  – Peg Bracken
  • Life is short. Smile while you still have teeth.     – Mallory Hopkins

 

 

 

 

 

More Freaking Learning Curves

You know, I figured eventually I’d quit having those ‘awkward’ phases. But it seems like I’m not quite finished yet. So I thought I’d share my latest gleamed bits of wisdom.

Like:

Taking a break during a bike ride? Failure to make sure the bike kickstand is on solid ground will result in the bike falling over (not the bit of wisdom). When you re-stand the bike, make sure you check that the front wheel is facing the right direction (yeah – that’s the bit). Because there is nothing quite like jumping back on your bike, pushing on the pedals and finding yourself almost tossed over the handlebars! It took me two attempts before I clued in and realized the front wheel was trying to run into the rest of the bike.

But the worst part was realizing Man-Wonder was watching that performance.

The final piece of advice from that adventure? Don’t wear thin yoga pants if the plan is to wade through stinging nettles. Trust me — it leaves a real special feeling for a day or two. . .

If that had been the end to my recent awkwardness, it wouldn’t have been so bad but fast forward two days — to where I decide to wander outside wearing Man-Wonder’s slippers instead of mine (pure laziness—his were there, mine were in the closet ). Of course I ended up tripping, and as I fell backwards into one of our flower beds, I’m pretty sure my arms and legs were whipping about like a windmill in a storm and some god-awful goosy noises were shooting out of my mouth.

All I could think about was that I was about to land smack on a perennial I’d been waiting two years to see bloom and that this year there were three buds on it. I think I barely hit the soil before Man-Wonder was yelling, “You okay? You okay?” and trying to figure out the best part to grab and lift. So not only was I struggling to get up but I was also trying to swat his grabby hands away.

That, naturally, attracted the attention of the neighbours across the street. When they spot me rolling around like a walrus on a slick dock and Man-Wonder flapping like a demented seagull, they ran to their railings, coffee in hand, to watch.

Oy Vey!

. . .Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just !cid_D1D57C02-A775-44AB-B9E6-BE412DA87BBC  when we do something daft . . . And why is there always an audience?

(And, no, I didn’t kill any plants—yah!)

Truckin’ On

Our truck died the other evening in a parking lot. The poor thing was towed home for an overnight visit before being towed off to our mechanic. Funny thing about having a tow truck arrive in the neighborhood — everyone wants to know what happened and because we’re a one-vehicle household, everyone is quick to offer rides where needed.

Truck comes back and *sigh* the engine light is on. Back to the mechanic. Neighbors jump in again to help (bless them). Mechanic thinks he’s fixed the issue. We bring it home. Engine light comes on again! This time we simply can’t ask anyone for another ride so we load our bikes onto the truck and head across the rural belt between us and our mechanic. We’ve packed a lunch and will make a long slow day through the rural roads back home. We expect the truck will be a day or two this time.

Meanwhile I’m having serious unspoken doubts. I mean, I’m not the most energetic of sods. I like my exercise with little sweat action followed by days of rest in between. And my tender areas are remembering our last bike ride. . .

Nevertheless, off we go and, surprisingly, it was wonderful.

First stop was the Chuck Wagon Market about a mile down the road (thanks to an old-ish bladder) and while I was there I spotted licorice sticks in bins. OMG! Is there a better way to sweat than when chomping on a licorice stick?

IMG_2368.JPG  I think not. (BTW — I’m not smoking it—shot was taken mid-chew while admiring tree blossoms).

Oh, yeah. It was a grand ride. Baby lambs running and trying to muzzling  moms.

IMG_2351

Handsome black and tan pigs wallowing in the muck      IMG_2361.JPG

Chickens running like the devil was after them (too fast for the camera).

IMG_2355.JPG  Weathered barns with bulging sides.

IMG_2365.JPG

Fruit/veggie/flower stands about every mile down the road.   All of them looking forlorn but the heart knows they will soon be back in action, stuffed with summer bounty for sale.

We stopped to rest and enjoy the beach views two hours down the road and where I had just enough time to do a sketch before our mechanic called to say the truck was done!

Pooh! —because that’s when I realized why I was still feeling so fine and easy —most of the ride had been on a gentle slope downwards . . .

Yeah, I’m good for weeks now, and no, there’s no shot of me at the end of that ride back. . . .

 

Time to say adios to indoor interests for now

watching tv

Now that the clouds have finally emptied themselves and are off somewhere refilling it’s time to stop borrowing DVDs from the library.

One soggy Sunday we sat down to five 51rF+CFfMRL__AA160_ Inspector Lynley Mysteries. Good murderous attention-sucking plots thanks to fantastic acting. Inspector Lynley is an upper-crust-drop-out brilliant moron of a character who makes you want to kick him as you cheer him on. His sidekick, Havers, is a terrier-gone-amok-in-a-nest-of-criminals type character. Havers is one character who makes me itch watching her. I just want to reach in there and give her head a good shampoo. And if that’s as bad as I can say about them I say the series is worth watching when the sun disappears.

Another DVD we thoroughly enjoyed was  510Rbb6mqcL__AA160_.jpg   Shakespeare Retold. Not sure why we agreed to watch these four Shakespeare adaptations but I am so glad we did. They were brilliant. Old tales in today’s times. Macbeth was the dark one of the four — calling it a bloodbath would be gentle. The others were lighthearted, humorous and definitely odd-ish. Worth watching if the chance arises.

smiley face reading book To other mystical things.

Almost finished reading Matt Kaplan’s  61vViCkXmbL__SX329_BO1,204,203,200_   Science of the Magical – a scientific study from the Holy Grail to Love Potions to Superpowers. It rather kicks the world of fairies, spirits and legends in the ass. But in a good, solid, scientific way. Fascinating read.

And, because it is spring, it’s time to step away from the overload of whodunit books and movies and get outside. There are dandelions and stinging nettles to find and harvest for my herb-y creations. Plus I discovered a gardening book by Bill Terry called The Carefree Garden (letting Nature play her part). It’s a study in working with Mother Nature instead of trying to send her screaming into the night.

Man-Wonder, bless his sweet heart, has finished building our two new Adirondack chairs. They are in the painting process and then they take center stage out back.

 

Look out summer!

Loop-y Path to Clarity

 

th85FOFCNZ

Because of the constant rain this past month, walking hasn’t happened much. Only twice have we made it to the red cinder track behind the high school.

Funny, I never thought I’d enjoy walking an endless loop like that but I do. For two reasons—my feet love the give of the rubbery red cinder surface and It’s like a loose loopy labyrinth—you walk until you stop.

The first loop is when you pay attention to what’s going on. Traffic beyond the track. Inhaling the sweet of the birch trees on the hillside close by. Greeting others using the track and making sure the marked lane you’ve picked is empty. And then there are the rabbits. Of every color and size and personality. All busy doing their rabbity stuff on the grasses surrounding the track.

But something happens near the start of the second lap round. Everything beyond your two lanes disappears and it’s as if you two are the only ones. At least until the body, or Man-Wonder’s handy dandy lap clicker, tells you you are done.

Sometimes we talk. We pull out the things prickling us, throwing them back and forth until either a solution is agreed upon or our tongues bleed. Other times, we fall into silence. Happy to just walk — him in his lane; me in mine.

In that silence you can feel each foot striking the ground and you fall into a rhythm. The unravelling of knots in your lower spine allows a deeper swing of the hips, a stronger stride and you are grateful for the grace of walking well.And, at this time of year, as the wind nibbles at your cheek,  a sense of Ahhhhh spreads because you’ve recognised that tiny hint of warmth under the chill. Spring is tiptoeing in and suddenly you are feeling more than just okay. You are alive. Life is good.

Does it get any better?

images9ZUZ2BVO

And isn’t it funny how a boring endless loop can help straighten out one’s mind.

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