Featured
Posted in 2019

Inhale ethos ©️vcl

Today I am mindful of memories.                                          of warmer climes, warm breezes                                      cold lemonade and daisies.
I feel regret for things that no longer are
Or will be exactly so again.

As I focus on the memories,                                                        I press them to my heart
Crushing the sweet fragrance                                                   of their blooms and inhale
Ethos.

Featured
Posted in 2019

We all stand beneath the same sky. vcl©

Because we don’t know when we will die, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens a certain number of times, and a very small number, really…How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.”

Paul Bowles~ The Sheltering Sky

Almost through another week. The snow falls. We struggle to find our smiles as we slide along slippery streets, bundled against the frigid northern breezes. It is dark and restless now. I stare into the dark night sky. No stars, just a cloud blanket shaken by an unseen hand, showering snowflakes. A lone figure stalks along with his dog. I never envy anyone walking a pet in cold weather. It looks like all duty. None of the joy of a summer dawdle.

When we were a family, we trained our dog, AJ to take his own walk…along the path to his spot, around the curve and back again, always returning with that same satisfied grin.  365 days x 6 years. He was always joyous to reach home. A simple bark and the door opened and he bounced right in.

How often I have stood watching the night sky. Sleep is often elusive. I am comforted that I am not alone. I have a simple faith. God is there. Walking with me.  365 days X 65 years and counting.  ❤️ I’m not in any hurry to move on yet, but I’m sure about where I want to go. I’ll be happy to reach home.

We all stand

beneath the same sky

and sigh

for things that are

unrevealed, denied

clouded in mystery   

shrouded through history

until that great day

when all will

weep for we

have been set free

from our collective misery   

For we all stand

beneath the same sky.

 

Featured
Posted in 2019

The Narcissus Garden. vcl©️

Hello friends. It has been a sad, slow journey since the untimely death of one of our daughters. I find it difficult to put words to page these days. A few months before she passed away, in a happier moment, my husband and I bought a vacation package to Las Vegas for New Years.

We aren’t gamblers, but enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of the many entertainment venues and eateries available. Visiting the hotels with all kinds of interesting stuff is a treat. One particular favourite stop of mine is the Art Gallery at the Bellagio. It is a small innocuous spot nestled along the busy promenade where visiting artists are showcased.

This last visit was spectacular in its simplicity. Perhaps it was my melancholy that perceived it this way, but the exhibit by the Japanese artist  Yayoi Kusama was riveting to me. As the picture shows, it is just a collection of stainless steel polished globes. They are all grouped. But they are not randomly placed. The interesting thing is that they are arranged in such a way that no matter where you stand in the room you can see your reflection in the balls. It is named The Narcissus Garden.

The story of Ms. Kusama is really intriguing . You can check out her website here.  I’ve included her picture. Spoiler alert….she has an obsession with dots.  She also continues to wrestle with the big question of who we are and where are we going.  As do I. ❤️  Then there is my experience in the Infinity Room. More on that later. 

http://www.yayoi-kusama.jp/

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Posted in 2019

Are you burdens light? ©️vcl

True story: While grocery shopping the clerks always asked if they could help me carry my groceries. When I was younger I felt quite offended. In fact one time I responded with a terse “I’ll let you know when I need help” as I picked up my 40 bags and struggled to the car. By the time I dragged them home I had broken out into a cold sweat. My husband offered to help, but I waved him away intent on proving that things were lighter than they looked.

Sometimes we are unwilling to let someone help make our burdens “light”. We would rather struggle along self righteously or indignantly wearing ourselves out, perhaps not wanting to be seen as weak… ignoring the help that is offered. How silly it seems now.

Featured
Posted in 2019

The praises. vcl ©️

My days seem to speed by. I guiltily carve out some writing time this evening.  Actually it’s all been a bit wispy snowy and foggy lately.  As the denseness evaporates, the trees have acquired a white frosty attire that makes me think that Christmas is just around the corner again…lol.   I am a busy property manager, and found myself out and about with my husband Ken, (my maintenance manager) earlier than usual, surveying my “Kingdom” as I jokingly tell my staff. Snow blankets everything.
It actually wasn’t that cold. Walking along, hearing the crunch of my boots in the morning air was a comforting sound. I was reminded of the words of Maya Angelou, “Still, like air I rise”, as we strolled along catching a glimpse of our site bunny sitting as still as a statue against the fence begging us to ignore him.  We eyed him back, looking to see if there is any change in the colour of his fur which indicates the soon arrival of spring. You don’t need a groundhog when you have a site bunny. 😁.       How quickly that would bring a smile to Ken’s face as he “strongly dislikes” snow and cold. Perhaps soon he will be rewarded. The new month of February is coming…Praise God.  The groundhog awaits !😬 Here is an Elfjie ❤️ Shaped like a tree. Go well today friends. It’s all about the praises. 

Trees

dressed finely

Celebrate their Creator

Every day they whisper

Praises

Vcl©️

Featured
Posted in 2019

Curiosity~ vcl

My little brother 
Drowned the cat
In my mother’s wash bucket
That’s a fact.

A kitten actually,
To see, he later said
If it would go to heaven
With God -then it wouldn’t be
Really dead.

Mother breathed
Into its nostrils
A panicked breath of life
That sudsy cat came back.

Scratching and biting
Hissing and snarling
We all agreed
That in his fright,

He had not
Seen God, or
What he had seen 
Did not convince him to stay
Much to our delight.

Our kitty looked like this 🤗

Featured
Posted in 2019

Listening. vcl©️

Haha ok. I’m a lousy listener. My mom (there she is again, sorry mom) told me once that I was vaccinated with a phonograph needle when I was a child. I think I was the only one in kindergarten that was rapped across the knuckles by my teacher with the pointer and told to “sit down and shut up.” Less social souls would have curled up in a ball sucking their thumbs, not me. I always have a word in due and not so due season lol.

It’s hard to explain, because I get accused of not listening enough. Let me tell you a secret. I hear it all. the important stuff. Ok ok…perhaps my husband Kenneth would argue at this point but ask me…his favorite colour…RED, How he likes his toast. Charcoal…almost. See?

I love words, and conversation. I guess I learned it from my Father who loved a great debate and like myself, loved to read and be informed and discuss, discuss, discuss. I feel strongly about things. I take it to heart. It usually isn’t about who is right. Its the FUN of the conversation. and when people give me their words I fill up with answers. Everyone wants to tell you THEIR story. Rarely do they ask to hear yours.

“The world had a way of speaking to you if you let it; the trick was learning to hear.”

― Justin Cronin, The City of Mirrors

The Bible , a book I read often as a child and adult says something I think is very profound.

“Can two people walk together unless they be agreed.”

That means listening to the whole story. And agreeing to remain friends. Sometimes it means to agree to differ.

And that’s the word. Ciao friends, thanks for listening.

Val

Featured
Posted in 2019

Don’t pray for lesser things. ©️vcl

Because

Sometimes the heavens

Have ceased to hear me

I speak to the silent earth

I pray to the god of the lesser things

The god of everyday birds

Who offers nothing

Just sits on the edge of each new day

watches the unraveling of  life

In unexpected ways

Pecking on empty seeds

Idly observes  the demons

Wipes no tear stained cheeks

Lingers sullenly, consumed ,

Silently taunts my humanness

It’s not giving up really, just a bitter cup

Move along, there’s nothing to see here

Just a lesser god doing nothing

Except reminding me of my weaknesses

Daring me to give the heavens another chance.

 

photo : Ondrej Pakan

Featured
Posted in 2019

Thank you Mr Murray ©️vclz

I remember Mr. Murray well. Designated as our homeroom teacher, the grade 11 class regarded him warily. Perhaps it was the ascot knotted at his throat, unusual apparel for a Nova Scotia fishing town. Or it may have been his pasty skin, the unwell appearance of an unhealthy person, wearily moseying along the road of life.. nearer to the end than the beginning. Every movement he made was languid. I remember the class atmosphere as whispery, as if we were all in a hospital waiting room. It was instinctive that we felt compelled to best behavior.

He taught us English Studies. I loved to listen to him speak about the characters in the stories we studied. He had a lovely way of shaping words. One instance, I cannot remember the name of the book, he stated how over dramatized and “gushy” it was, and that any minute we could expect violin music emerging from the bushes, highly unlikely in the circumstances. We were encouraged to envision it. The girls giggled, the boys rolled their eyes. His danced merrily.

My Father was a religious zealot. He was quite firm on what literature his children should have access to. It was with a sinking heart that I brought home the designated reading for the semester. Of course it had to be “The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz” by Canadian author Mordecai Richler, newly minted, off the presses and reallllly controversial. My Teacher was that kind of man. Controversial. My father was angry and impetuous. Pulling open the kitchen coal stove lid, he thrust the book into the flaming fires of hell, and slammed the lid shut. No child of his was going to read that garbage!

I was a nervous child. It was not easy living with a Father that talked directly to God. Unfortunately, neither he nor God accompanied me to school to explain the situation to my teacher. Approaching his desk, I gathered all of the little courage I had, and I told him my story.

I must explain here that I am an eye watcher. Eyes say everything, especially in unguarded moments. I can read even the faintest twitch of untruth. My children despise me for it. I remember his eyes that day as they changed from curiosity to interest in my story and then to pain. No anger, I was used to anger. Smiling sadly, he stated that he would give me another assignment. “I want you to write an essay “he said.” I want you to write about Success. Tell me all you can learn about Success.”

Then turning to the class, he called it to order. Pulling an armload of envelopes out of his satchel, he proceeded to hand them round to each student. “ I am going to teach you something that will be the most important information you will ever need to know as you venture out into the world. I am going to show you how to fill out Income Tax forms.” We spread them out on our desks, rolled up our sleeves and got to work.

I wrote my essay on Success. I do not remember much of what it said or the mark I received. I left for another school at the end of the term. I heard that Mr. Murray did not return the next year either. After a I graduated I got a job. I got married. I felt the most happy feeling each year as I got out those forms and filled them out because I had the knowledge my husband didn’t have yet. I felt needed. As the years past and the taxes became more intricate, I willingly passed them over to our tax man.

Oh yes…One quote I do remember is “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful. “~Albert Schweitzer

BTW I picked up the forbidden book later in life. Funny thing, it is a story about a young man desperately determined to be successful. And he wasn’t. Thank you Mr. Murray. ❤️

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Posted in 2018

A lifelong love affair🤩©️vcl

I started real work as I call it when I was 15 years old. I went away to a church run private school and paid part of my tuition by working part time in a book bindery. My classes started at 730 am till noon then I worked the afternoon 1 until 4 . Oh yes…and all day Sunday. I worked as a cover layer ..rebinding old and putting new books together. Covers were cut and glue (old horse glue) was melted in a machine that was plastered on the covers and another machine was used to fold and trim the corners and edges. I was so efficient at my job that I was asked to make the year books. It was a huge task. Oh and all the work was done standing btw. And the hot glue smell? …..phew , especially if you forgot and it started to burn!

Those years cemented a lifelong love affair with books because an added bonus to my job was being able to read the books that I was working on during my lunch breaks. Books of poetry, books about the world, history books, books of maps, and magic…… all kinds of books.

I have also noticed through the years that whatever work I have done involves a lot of reading…❤️.

There is a song that I heard as a child that goes “I’ll work till Jesus comes” and I joke that I took those words literally.

If there is a heaven…(and I believe there is) …this quote says it all… book paradise.

“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.”

― Jorge Luis Borges

photo:Pixart

Featured
Posted in 2018

December 26~ A Lamentation vcl©️

With ghostlike steps

The unforgiving light of morning

Pours out, grief suspended , unended

Stopping the illusion

That anything can ever be okay.

Ergo I lean in

Strain my ear but

I can only hear

one heartbeat

Faith, belief, forever

are only words I pencil in,

Grasping to my chest

My book of lamentation.

 

For littered among Christmas debris

I search the fragile memories

You said that freedom lies in solitude

The song of angels now stilled

I strain to hear the trill of your faint goodbye.

Art: Florence Blanchot

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Posted in 2018

Losses. vcl©️

You never get used to losses

Losses are like being set adrift

In a lifeboat with holes in it.

Always bailing

Always seeking the shoreline

 All rescuing each other

For most people are not strong swimmers

Or never learned to swim at all

 It is only in SOS that we declare

That we do not know how

To survive in this rudderless world

It is us against the world

Until someone else comes along

To claim your loyalty

I could warn you

That their lifeboat has holes too.

Featured
Posted in 2018

Winter’s call vcl©️

 

I watch the falling snow
The whirling edges
Sparkle into night

Windblown fingers grasp
The naked branches
Cavorting in the light.

Endless snowflakes fall
Like ageless dancing angels
Heeding winter’s flight

I am making shortbread
Measuring,mixing, blending,
Cutting small shapes just right

Wishing you were standing near
As you do in every year
Judging the sugary cookies a delight.

Featured
Posted in 2018

In the waiting. Vcl©️

Anticipation is something we experience even before our first memories are formed. This story is a revisit of happier times…to be mindful that there is meaning, wonder and even worth in the waiting.❤️

During  Christmas holidays, I have loved reminiscing with my grandchildren about Christmas’s past. One story in particular involves aSweatern event that became a yearly ritual between my Dad and me.

It started out innocently, the first year I was old enough buy a gift for him with my own money. As the oldest child, I felt I had done something that reeked of specialness, of significance. That first Christmas sweater was grey. It had large buttons and a cable knit design that my mother loved to knit when she was not mothering eight children. Boxed and wrapped, I placed it under the tree in high anticipation of its appreciation. (Mom said so.)

Here I must point out that my Dad was taciturn in personality. Christmas was the one time of the year that he broke from that self-imposed formalness and actually seemed to be more jovial. He ate chocolates and played games, and joined in the fun. When someone squealed to him that there was a present for him under the tree from me, he made a huge production of it.  That long, drawn out week before Christmas morning, He would pick the present up as he sat in his favorite recliner chair by the tree and shake it gently…trying to guess the contents.

Was it a violin? I giggled and shook my head, no. A wallet then…boxed to fool him? I refused to answer. He would have to wait for Christmas like the rest of us. Then disaster struck. Christmas Eve had finally arrived and Mom was brewing up a batch of spiced hot cider in the kitchen. My younger siblings and I were stringing popcorn garlands for the tree. Dad reached down, picking up the package that had become a nightly ritual and looking at me intently in the eye said. “Does it have buttons?”

My face betrayed me. Viewing my crestfallen face, he crowed triumphantly. I was tearful but turned my face away. My surprise was spoiled. Another game he had won. That is another story.  He, on the other hand was quite happy with his gift that Christmas morning. For the next ten years, I bought him a Christmas sweater. I never put it under the tree until Christmas Eve.

Each time I would put it in his hands he would look me wickedly in the eye though with his Cheshire cat grin and still try to guess, “Does it have buttons?”  Sometimes it had a zipper.

 

 

Featured
Posted in 2018

Words that sting have a way of lingering ~ vcl©️

Let me ask you this: What’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to you? How quickly can you recall this memory? Now try this one on: What are the most hurtful words anyone’s ever said to you? What about instances where the words uttered weren’t even intentionally mean, but they still stung deeply? I suspect this list would be the longest. Words that sting have a way of lingering.

My daughter’s untimely death has caused me to remember conversations, especially in the final weeks leading up to her suicide. It is not easy, not being enough for her to keep holding on. We always accused her of being cryptic…But my last conversation was clear as a bell. It will ring forever in my ears.

“It’s never been about you Mum. Bye. I love you.”

Her last text to me until the unending silence . A last gift. A last kindness. Even in her pain she sought to soothe. That’s why I love her. That’s why I’ve always loved her. Because she loved me. It was the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me.❤️

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Posted in 2018

Once again~ vcl©️

Through my window

I watch the snow fall.

I am on the qui vive as it feathers down.

Almost apologetically, like a billowing bed sheet;

Collectively covering the ground’s

 Nakedness and the tree’s limbs.

The picnic table stands in lonely, frozen silhouette.

Pigeons pace and prattle.

I open the door

and step over the threshold.

A dog howls a mournful tune in the distance.

Closing the door behind me I am enveloped

in semi- darkness. The snowflakes stare back silently.

Only one street light beams.

I am clothed in my own exhaled breath.

Bleak winter has arrived, once again.

Featured
Posted in 2018

Christmas~ It makes us feel … vcl©

Christmas ~ It makes us feel.
We inwardly wail and gnash our teeth
Or stoically keep a stiff upper lip
We wrap our gifts
Trim the tree, rearrange the Nativity…
And in the ritual, hope
To pass along the memories
To those who listen
Perhaps our children
Paying tribute to those we miss
Playing down the agonies
Elevating the bliss
A seasonal thaw, as if walking on stones
On the winter river
Frozen in place but beauteous ever
We find ourselves transfixed in this space
We’ve set aside for lost warm embrace.
And we hold it tight
For it is all we have
This celebration of lives lived, loved and lost
 Consoling ourselves that we are present
With our presence, the best present,
Not a memory erased, hoping to return
At the end of the new glittery year that awaits.

Featured
Posted in 2018

Peering into the Soul💫

03880C62-4980-4E21-BA7F-4FC6D036252FThis has been a long, devastatingly hard week since the passing of my daughter Stephanie. If there is any light at all, it is to be found in family who have taken time to support me. One particular person is my brother Les. His support and willingness to do the hard tasks will always be remembered in my heart.

We’ve been having lots of opportunity to reminisce as siblings do and during one of our conversations he told me about an occasion when he worked as a councillor at our church camp, with children who had various disabilities. One boy, he remembered, probably about 15 years old at the time, in an advanced stage of multiple sclerosis was confined to a wheelchair. My brother assisted him by pushing him around to meals and various activities. He couldn’t play softball but he liked to watch, and my brother said he stayed with him so he wouldn’t have to be alone.

The conversation turned to the ocean, the boy lamented that he had never been to the waters edge of a beach. The beach wasn’t easily accessible for a wheelchair. There were a lot of stairs to navigate. Les told the lad…”I can take you down the stairs….but you ain’t coming back ….haha” He laughed.

The boy continued, He hated being a bother to people, as if others had made him feel that way and Les said, “that it was no problem for him.”

Smiling up, He said to Les, “Everybody has a problem, it’s just that you can see mine.”

My brother, with the same kindness he showed to me this week …found a way to honour the boy’s desire. He said… I know a place… there was another access 3/4 mile away and he pushed the boy all the way there. Because He couldn’t get out of the wheelchair, Les cupped water in his hands,  the boy tasted it and thought it was pretty neat.

As the sun was setting on another day, they slowly returned to the camp for supper. As Les helped him get ready for the meal, the boy asked….”Soooo, how does feel to be hanging out with a * gibble* ? Les said “Funny you should ask. I’ve always wanted a friend that was a *gibble*. Now I have one.

38 years have passed since that conversation, with its triumphs and failures, ( more of the latter he says) yet the memory of that day remains clear.

I think Confucius said it best: ❤️

Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.

Featured
Posted in 2018

You were built from the Stones🥀 RIP

You were built from the stones

No proof needed, open ended

But before you go off aimlessly

Wandering through the forests

Of sandalwood, and high places

I will take off my glasses

Watchful as a big cat

For the sound of footprints

Lest on too close sight, I miss this

Darling illusion, which struck fear and terror into me.

The art of losing is not too hard to master

I desired my dust to eventually mingle with yours

Anticipating the splash,

The forsaken cry ,  a rock skipped on water

Rippling, then smoothing the Holy surfaces

Knowing that I have left mine too late

Misjudged your frailties

What draws friends together

To never be alone forever.

Featured
Posted in 2018

It was suicide. Farewell my dear child vcl2018

I want to scream, and scream . And scream some more.

I want to grab those flowers, rip them petal by petal

crush them under my heel

order them to leave and never return

But I cannot. I dare not.

For all my crushing and ripping

has released the sticky-sweet aroma that death brings

the memory of wizened old aunts and grandparents

linger in the ancient air…..exposed in all its fragility.

Woe, o Woe,  how can it be so young to choose

eternity.

 

 

 

 

Featured
Posted in 2018

Happy. Vcl©️

My eyes are closed

Words rattle

Round and round

Seek to escape

Long to express themselves

Larger than life

Squeeze, stretch

Through the almost shut door

Of night

Tight.

Shut out the world

All cancerous words

I cannot bear the sight

Shake those happy letters

From the dreamland tree

Shake them free

Gaze upon their transparency

As they arrange themselves

Hope shines bright

Right .

Featured
Posted in 2018

Stuck in Concrete Walls vcl©

I am stuck in concrete walls/  nothing natural / I press the remote button / nature sounds emanate / from the lonely TV / stretched out on the wall.

Crickets, bird songs, cicadas trill / basking in the warm summer sun /not real / but the memories of real / somehow soothe my soul.

The sonorous splash of waves / that beat upon the shore / the screech of hungry gulls / intersperse the musical crescendos / seed heads of wind tossed crabgrass jiggle / the surfer intently gliding /all crashing down /to silence.

My heart aches / for the generations to come / who will have no real memory / and are forever stuck /beating against concrete walls.

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Posted in 2018

I feel blue vcl©️

I’ve found true joy comes from serving others. If you are feeling blue, turn on your servants heart and it will bless you.   Unknown.

I’ve been feeling blue. Life hasn’t followed the pattern I expected. I’ve agonized over who’s to blame and have no concrete answer.

I do know I feel too much. Truly, these last couple of years have been arduous. Words are spoken or not. Decisions get made or not. I’ve felt that the world is an unkind and unsafe place for the most part. I’ve found myself asking “If you can’t trust your tribe who can you trust?”  Where is the loyalty, the trust? Everybody scurries for cover when you ask the hard questions.

I can’t fix everything. There, I’ve said it out loud.  Actually a lot of things aren’t fixable in this world. More stuff is made to be disposable. Even the toaster eventually quits toasting. But you don’t feel the same pain throwing the toaster in the trash as when someone you love trashes you.

The pain is real. But reading the above quote this morning I was reminded that the world is full of other people who feel blue and if I look beyond myself they show up.  Every day.  People who appreciate your words of advice. People longing for words of hope. A hug.  A coffee.  I may never have the answers I crave in this world, but I can concentrate on how I respond to the sadness my heart feels every day. I choose joy in service. It’s what I do.  I do it because I want to. I do it because it gives me joy. It eases the burden.

I’ve turned on my servant’s heart and I don’t want to shut it off. ❤️

 

 

 

 

Featured
Posted in 2018

Joyful essence

Give not over thy soul to sorrow and afflict not thyself in thy own counsel. Gladness of heart is the life of man and the joyfulness of man is length of days.     Ecclesiastes

Today my husband was blessed with another birthday. He has been blessed so far with 66 of them🤭 Today we were again  reminded that his father passed away at the young age of 59. He did not have the opportunity to grow old.

Each year that passes finds us having the same discussion…what he must have felt leaving this world too soon. Now, he had heart problems and finally a stroke, but as I look back I remember sitting in the hospital thinking how quiet and resigned he seemed to be. I was young. I didn’t know how to tell him that I would miss him not being there. Then my husband’s aunt passed away in her 59th year. That felt scary. Heart disease runs in the family said the Dr to my husband and he was also at risk. He was assured that exercise and healthy eating were better for him than Perogies and sour cream. ❤️

The year my husband turned 59 was really stressful, and felt he had dodged a bullet  …in fact when he hit his 60th we celebrated with a big party. Each year since has felt like a victory.

But ironically we have also learned that longevity has its downside. Aches and pains we didn’t have at 59, people asking when are we retiring….when we aren’t ready to think that way yet, children that don’t have the same time for us, grandchildren growing and finding their own interests. Life adjustments. Finding where we fit, what we’re  fit for.

i took this picture of flowers awhile ago on one of our vacations.  In observing it, I am reminded that some flowers have short lifespans and others are perennial….but they all spread a joyful essence to the atmosphere they inhabit. The natural world has an order to be envied if you observe closely. I am mindful that all time in this earthly space is short and seasonal.  But it can be oh so beautiful.

So we celebrate another year. We will be glad in the length of our days.🤩

 

Featured
Posted in 2018

Till Spring 🌬 vcl©️

It is the time of year again

I hear the autumn call

In the cool brisk north wind

The whispering willows

Do their thing

Dropping leaves that cover

Things that will not be found

Till spring. And the last birds sing.

 

Those birds, they sing of everything

They have seen, soaring near and far

Flying high as they return

From whenst they came

Stealing grain, singing of

The journey home again

Slipping away to warmer climes

Life renewed. On the other side.