Saturday, November 14th

Well, made it out of Friday the 13th unscathed!

Actually, I had a pretty good day.  Got to go look after my grandchildren last night.  That was a treat.  God, they make me smile!  Baby Ethan reminds me of his dad so much.  He’s got such a serious little look on his tiny face, like he’s just taking it all in, and maybe, just maybe, he’ll let you know what he thinks a little later on.  Can’t wait til he’s walkin’ and talkin’!

Today, I’m spending the day cleaning house and doing a bit of writing.  I’ve got quite a few things to work on — a short story, a couple of children’s stories, some poetry, a couple of essays and of course, the ever continuing list of ideas that I never seem to get around to.  But I’m sooo happy to be able to spend today and tomorrow just dabbling away at what moves me.  A rare opportunity.

Christmas is coming fast!  Last night we were talking Christmas day plans with Landon and Jenn.  I can’t believe it’s that time already.  They’re excited to spend their first Christmas as a family in their first home — and I’m just as excited for them.  That’s such a wonderful feeling, that little cocoon you make around yourself and your child(ren), it’s a place where nobody else can come, where you truly come to appreciate what you have created.  Now I’m getting all sentimental, so I’ll stop.  But it is a rare and wonderful thing.

I’m getting used to the idea of Christmases spent mainly with just Tim and I.  A few years ago I’d have been crippled with self-pity, but I’ve finally accepted this change in my life, and even embrace it.  Although I do sometimes long for the days of noisy Christmas mornings, kids laughing and crying, adults getting into the ‘nog a little too early and turkey dinner perpetually late, I can appreciate the quiet relaxation of a day spent leisurely reading, doing jigsaw puzzles and talking to loved ones and friends on the phone.  We’ll do Christmas morning/afternoon with Landon and his family and it will be perfect.  It really is so true: To everything there is a season.

Christmas cookies
Gingerbread decorated by little hands.

Remembrance Day, 2009

Peony
A peony from the Devonian Gardens outside Edmonton. (It reminds me of a poppy.)

Today we paused — briefly — to pay tribute to the men and women who have given selflessly of themselves to secure and uphold our rights and freedom.  I am glad for this opportunity, though it generally moves me to tears, and today I added an extra little ‘I am grateful for. . .’ in my daily affirmation of all that I am grateful for. 

Whenever I see the old, withered faces, the rheumy eyes, the trembling hands of old war veterans I can’t help imagining them as they once were — young, vital, full of hope and excitement for the lives that lay before them.  I know that not all of them endured the horrors of battle, some of these vets were lucky enough to have served at home, but they come from a time when the world was new to the wide-scale broadcast of the horrors that are done in the name of war.  They are icons of a time that is slipping away, remnants of a world where once innocence was naively considered the norm.  We now exist in a world where innocence is a fantasy, it having been mercilessly flayed to tatters by atrocity after atrocity.

And yet. . .

there is still this feeling, when we stop in our relentless pursuit of ‘our right to happiness’ on this one day each year, of deep and heartfelt gratitude that permeates the air and the airwaves.  I feel it as I sit in the crowded gymnasium of the school I work in and take part in our Remembrance Day ceremonies.  It’s there on the faces of the kids who go up to light a candle for grandfathers, fathers, uncles, aunts and siblings who have served, and are serving, our country. It’s there in the tears rolling down the cheeks of many in the audience as we watch and listen to “A Pittance of Time”.   And, again, it’s there in the nervous, eager faces of the kids performing their version of “In Flanders’ Fields”.   I treasure those moments, and am not embarrassed by the tears streaming down my cheeks.  I wish and wish and wish that no person should ever be harmed in warfare.  Call that folly, or naiveté, or just plain old bleeding heart romanticism, it doesn’t matter; it’s what I wish on this day. 

As an ironic aside — yesterday, the launch of the world’s bloodiest, most gory video game, Call of Duty something or other, took place.  People lined up for hours, some overnight in order to secure their copy.  Today, in Britain, the first Remembrance Day ceremony took place without any survivors from World War I.  Time marches on.  Sadly, those who, 91 years ago, lay in fox-holes running with mud and the blood and guts of their comrades, with the screams of the dead and dying in their ears, and made it possible for all those people to line up in the cold and buy that game so they could ‘play’ soldier, and perpetrate horrific acts of violence and bloodshed without having to risk a thing, will be forgotten.  The idiots who play these games can live securely and ignorantly, that right gained for them by the horrors endured by a generation gone before. 

I wish for all those who have won me the freedom to write as I do on this blog a day of peace.  Thank you for all you’ve sacrificed.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Nova Scotia Sunset
Nova Scotia Sunset

Well, it’s a new day, a new week, a new start.  I’m grateful that I am given this opportunity each and every day to start anew.  The past can cripple you if you let it.  I choose not to.  I choose to be happy everyday, or at least as happy as I can be (and we all know what a struggle it is sometimes to be happy). 

For me, I start my day with a walk at six in the morning with my friend, Heather.  Always, I am glad for her companionship, even though there are times when I am not glad to be walking that early in the morning.  Each morning, my gaze is drawn to the sky, and I’m awed by it.  Whether it is clear or cloudy, a full moon or no moon, the sky always has beauty to offer. 

The vastness of it, the bold colours, the very existence of it over my head instantly calms  me, makes me grateful for my tiny little speck of being.  Rather than making me feel insignificant, it does the opposite.  Standing under the blanket of an indigo sky, with stars blinking a millenia away I feel that my life does have meaning, that all that I have strived for is infinitely worth the struggle.  I say a little inward prayer, plant one foot firmly in front of the other, and begin to live all over again. 

Here’s to beautiful skies.

An Unseasonably Warm Saturday in November

Winter Trees
This is the magic kind of winter day I love.

It’s a gorgeous morning here in North-Central Alberta.  Hard to believe, actually, that it’s November.  A month ago I would have thought we’d be knee-deep in the white stuff and freezing our tushies off.  Not so.  Mother Nature has had a stroke I believe, or developed Alzheimer’s, because our weather is all out of balance and kind of making the rest of us that way, too.

The sad thing is, I like it this way.  I know that we need cold and snow and sub-zero temps to kill viruses, and bacteria and pine beetles, and that my darling perennials need deep-root sleep in order to thrive next spring, but I can’t help revelling in these schizophrenic times. 

I hate snow, unless it’s seen from inside, or it’s one of those fairytale days where the sun is shining like a gold coin in the bottom of shallow stream, and the temperature is barely below freezing.  Remember those days? 

Those were the days when you were a kid that you tromped along with your friends, coats open to the warm breeze, your shoes (who wore boots?) wet to the ankles, no hat, but a long, long scarf trailing behind you like a kite tail.  And you felt that free, that full of joy and life and you laughed and talked about a future you couldn’t even barely imagine, but you believed in your heart that it would always be as good as you felt in that moment, with your friends, with nothing but sunshine bursting all around you. 

Those are the winter days I like.  There are other categories of ‘those days’ that I cherish, and if winter could always only be made up of them then I don’t believe we’d have any ‘seasonal disorder’ diagnoses to contend with.  There’d be no reason for anyone to ever be upset, depressed or lacking in vitamin D.  It would be a perfect world. 

Ahh, such fantasy!  Eventually, snow will fall, it will blanket everything, we’ll feel stifled and mildly claustrophobic.  Our tempers will become short, our humours dark.  It will become harder and harder to drag ourselves outside to commune with others, and we’ll become slightly more pessimistic about the fate of the world and mankind in general. 

But. . .  if we keep in mind that those magical days are out there, if we keep ourselves open to the possibility of respite from the long, dark days of sleep, we’ll be okay.  We can remember how it felt to be young and vital and full of blind faith in the beautiful potential of ourselves and the world. 

So, whether or not Mother Nature has slipped loose her moorings, I’m going to enjoy these days for as long as I can.  I will not think about global warming, melting ice-caps (unless, they’re from Tim Horton’s), tsunami’s, earthquakes, El Nino’s or El Nina’s.  That’s adult, responsible thought.  I want, if even only for a brief, delusional moment, to feel in my heart that the world is that great and beautiful and unalterable entity I once-upon-a-time took for granted that it was.

Have a beautiful day.