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.

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

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. ❤️

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

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.