Monday, April 30, 2007

Beautiful Antiquity

Well, it has been a while since it happened. And of course, I have never met her in person. But she is a woman of mystery and intrigue and art supplies ...and I share her blood.

My Great aunt Olive died before I was born, and although she is not someone I have heard too much about, or read journals from, and she's not in any big famous books about anything important (at least not that I know of), she has become a bit of a celebrity in my imagination.

You see, when my grandfather died several years ago, there was practically an archaeological dig at the cottage he had lived and collected in for about 20 years. It was a time to maybe discover and understand a bit of his history, and in doing so, some interesting objects were found, around which to I seem to have built myself a wonderful, beautiful image of an aunt I never knew I loved so much.

To make a long, long, ...tiring-ly long story significantly shorter, I'll just tell you that this expedition into the past was a rather arduous one, but it yielded several interesting things. Not the least of which was a peek into the artistic life of Aunt Olive. There were a few boxes that had been saved since she died, when my father was about six.

In the boxes there were some cool things:
  • bottles - all sorts of small sizes
  • Dusty grey metal lids, corks, glass vials.
  • Hand written labels... in pen and ink... written in her hand, worn and weathered.
  • Bottles of magic
  • Crystal ball stoppers
  • Paper packets of coloured metallic powders
  • Tools of the trade

It was then I fell in love with her - as I looked at the inventory of amazing finds, when I realized that my affinity for bottled inks, pen nibs, papers, painting, and collecting art supplies was hereditary. And it was then as well that the imagined thoughts of what she was like started forming. She was a graphic artist, a painter, a calligrapher, a carver, a builder and maker of things.

A "Jacqueline of all trades".


And I still imagine what it would have been like to know her... would she have shown me how to do things? how to make things? Would she have been kind? Was she as full of interesting stories as I imagine she was?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Haiku time

Ok, I'm not a frequent haiku-er, but I thought I'd give it a quick un-edited try (so don't laugh if you are already really good at this!).

Staircase in amber
Mystery or obvious
Alley to nowhere


I saw this beautiful egg, hidden and safe in a nest, low in a garden when out on a walk the other day with friends. At first I thought ...a robin's egg. It is certainly the right colour, and maybe even the right time of year. But what would I know, I am no birder. Then upon closer inspection, as I leaned over the fence, my face entering a stranger's garden, I realized this was possibly a trick. Maybe someone thought they could fool me... for this was no living egg.

It was a fake.
A man-made effort at making an egg.
Not even a very good effort, as the egg wasn't narrower at one end, as a real egg would be. No not even slightly narrower. And much too big... bigger than an ostrich egg even. But it was beautiful, and I liked it, and I felt it's happiness at being cradled by its man-made nest. And I thought it looked comfortable. And beautiful. All tucked away like a sneaky secret of beauty in this garden hidden by a fence. And I realized I had found a treasure.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Remembering Babies


It was about all we could say to each other at first.

My Mom and I were on a road trip and were on our way back to Victoria from Sointula, when we saw the ad. Mom and Dad had been thinking about getting a dog, and for the longest time, the argument had been that Mom wanted a Pomeranian or some other lap-dog. Dad wanted a "real dog". A dog like we'd had before when my brother and I both lived at home. Another lab. Lucy had been the best dog a family could have ever asked for. We'd have to speak in code - she could spell bowl, leash, walk... what was next... I seem to recall her eyebrows raising when my brother and I had spoken in pig-latin about whose turn it was to take her for a walk. Smart. Cute. And full of love for her "people".

And there it was... an ad in the paper. It read "Pom Lab X puppies for sale". We looked at each other, my Mom and I, and our draws dropped. And we laughed. How could it be possible? We decided that it was at least worth going to see this "miracle of nature" litter... at least see what they'd look like. It turned out when we got there, that the mom was a Pomeranian-Sheltie cross, and the dad was a Lab. Whew. Who would have thought that a Sheltie could have saved the day?

I was going through some photos on my computer in the late late of last night, inspired by some high definition photos I had seen online, when I came to a very favourite photo of a canine baby. My Mom and Dad's canine baby, Ginger. a.k.a Gingie, Ginger-bear, Ginge, or simply "dog" (only my brother calls her that... and only to get a rise out of our Mom)

She was a monster.
A monster in the cutest, fluffiest, creamy-ginger coloured furry suit.
A dark-eyed, black nosed fiend.
A nearly-holy terror.
An "Alpha-girl" to quote the vet.
"This one could be difficult" she said, as Ginger beared her teeny-tiny razor-sharp teeth. A prescription for dog-obedience class, and two years of fairly strict enforcing of the "class" rules, and Ginger has graduated into the hearts of our family.

Now she is definitely a momma's girl... funny for my Mom, to be sure. Our family's dog-while-I-was-growing-up was so much my Dad's dog, I'm pretty certain Mom sometimes felt like they teamed up against her in the battle of "only CLEAN feet in the house" and the war of "What should the dog be allowed to do?"

Anyways... the photos were taken by my friend's friend, Rory, and they're not high-def... but I thought you might enjoy a peek at them. And maybe one of Gingey now as well.... a happy, kind, and sweet two year old.

Monday, April 09, 2007

April Sensations

There are times when things are ordinary. And there are others when the ordinary is sensational. This time of the year seems ultrasensational. The trees are blossoming, filling the air with their palest pink confetti and sweet scents. Birds are twittering louder and with an exciting lilt in their song. Music is sultry and penetrating.

I noticed the other day while I was in the bath just how sensational the ordinary could be. I have a bath pretty much every day, and I enjoy it, but don't usually pay much attention to the sensations of it. This time was different.
The water was really warm, and as I slid under it I had the feeling of being under an enormous hot water bottle, the weight and heat of it. Hotter than I'd normally like - sure to live skin pink and glowing and alive. As I reclined my head into the water it swirled around making my hair dance in the current. It was so amazing that it caught me off guard, and I thought I'd tell you about it. I got out of the tub after I'd had a scrub, and went on with my day. And promptly forgot about it.

About a week later, I went on a last minute impromptu trip to the hairdresser. It was time to get something springy. Looser. Lighter. With more movement. My hairdresser agreed, and we walked over to the washing tub. I sat down. He tucked the towel into the neck of my sweater. Turned on the water. Sorted out the temperature. Touched my forehead right at the hairline. Turned the hose onto my hair. And there it was - I remembered about the bath and the sensational ordinary.

It's just a thought, but you might want to take a moment while you're doing something really ordinary or mundane. Pay attention to what it feels like to do it. Brush your teeth. Comb your hair. Have a slightly warmer than usual bath. Walk in the rain. What ever you do, just try to feel it. You might be as surprised as I was when I rediscovered the ordinary.