Monday, September 28, 2009

Halfy Birthday

Three of my four children were born within nine days of each in the Christmas season - on the calendar that is, of course. Some people would comment: "Isn't that terrible to have their birthdays then.' I would respond 'Not at all!' For me it was a huge gift, significant in the fact that my Mother had lost three children - the same combination, two girls and a boy - within a 9 day period at Christmas. It was never lost on me that I was given exactly what was taken from her.

There were lots of positive things about having Christmas babies. It made my favourite holiday season even more magical & memorable. There wasn't a chance for Christmas 'letdown', as the celebrations just kept coming. What some people might have thought as a negative, was just Reality in our house. 99% of the time, birthday gifts were wrapped in Christmas paper. We were (correction - I was) so over done with sweets & desserts, that the thoughts of a fancy birthday cake just seemed over the top & actually I had no money by that point. So when they were really little, my children thought that 'Sara Lee' cakes were really birthday cake. They were at a friend's house one time & when she brought out a Sara Lee cake, they said 'Whose birthday is it?!' Yeah, there might have been some times that I was a little over-spent those years - physically & financially, but I tried to make their day, THEIR day. I worried more that our one child who didn't have her birthday then was feeling left out.

It was a long time between celebrations for them though, so I instituted 'Halfy Birthdays'. On the day that they would turn the 'half' mark, we'd have a half of cake (again, likely Sara Lee) & we'd sing 'HALFY BIRTHDAY TO YOU'. No presents, just recognition & attention. Which was hard enough to come by being one of four, so it was greatly anticipated and enjoyed.
It's neat to see my daughter keeping that tradition going. Yesterday was my darling grand daughter's 'Halfy Birthday' - 5 and a half. And don't you be forgetting the half at this stage - it is of great importance. She was so excited, you would have thought it was Christmas. When I called her to sing 'Halfy Birthday to You', she giggled delightedly, then said 'Are you coming over to bring me presents.' I love the directness of children, it would be so refreshing if people kept that authenticity. I said 'We actually don't give presents for Halfy Birthdays - just Love.' She said 'It's good to get Love, isn't it.'
Ah yes, it is. And any day, any way, that we can celebrate someone we love is special day indeed.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


My Mother wore an apron. Always. She did take it off to go to church & go to town, but other than that, it was attached to her like a security blanket. It seemed that she couldn't function without it - it was like Superman & his cape, but lower. It was a wonder that she didn't slip into a phone booth to put it on. Maybe she did - I wouldn't know. I never saw her put it on, it just was automatically always There.

I was an obnoxious early-teener when I became aware of her curious attachment to her apron. I tormented her unmercifully about it. I'd start out with 'Why do ALWAYS have to wear that grubby old apron.' She'd dismiss me with: 'Because I do.' Now if she would have just come up with some story why it was necessary in her world, I most likely would have let it drop and moved on to something else. But oh no, she'd get very defensive & would clutch it it when I'd bug her to 'Take it off. Try it... take it off.', so I kept it up. Whenever I walked past her, if her back was turned, I'd undo the apron strings & if I was quick enough, I could be off with it as she chased me through the house, yelling 'Give me back my apron, you silly ass.'

There are some things that I made a conscience decision to steer clear of because my Mother did it ... like saving things 'for good'. And things that were perhaps unconsciousness - like never having worn an apron - probably ever. In the image of my Mother in my mind, she is always wearing her apron. That's not a picture that my kids would have of me.

It's not all that bright though - I have ruined countless shirts & sweaters & pants and even pajamas by spilling & splattering & wiping everything ... food, paint, ink, stain. I do have to admit, aprons actually are a very good invention.

On Monday, I came across one here - whose it is, I have no idea. It's one of those chefy things with the bib. I slipped it on. That's when all the memories of my Mother & her apron came rushing back.

Well, I've worn that apron every day. Four days into it, it's no longer pristine white - it has some wonderfully colourful permanent ink spots, which may not delight its rightful owner should they ever come to claim it. But but more than saving my clothes, I have found it to have a much greater function. Indeed, when I have donned that apron each morning, I have felt that I mean Business. I have stayed focused & productive. I don't go flitting off in every direction - like over to my cabin to have a wee 'sit', or out to the hammock to have a wee snooze. I'm Working. And the best part was, when someone dropped by unexpectedly, there I was in my apron, obviously looking like like I was working and that's why the house was upside down - not because I was slovenly and out having a sit or a snooze. I was feeling like I had a Real Job and that was my uniform.

Yep ... my mother might have had something going there. And I do believe, after all these years that I just may start to wear an apron every day. Well, every day that I want to look like I'm working. And I'll send her a little chuckle as I know she's up there feeling pretty smug about it all.

(These are some of the inked tiles that I've been working on ... so you can just imagine how pretty the apron is now:)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Stop Thinking. Start Doing.

Oh my ... it seems I lost a week:( I've been diddling & doodling around here for the past few days, not particularly in a rush about anything - just enjoying not having so many things on my agenda as I did last week. I was thinking that it was mid-September and I have a full month to get creating something for our 'In the Spirit' show. Well ... apparently a bunch of days slipped away when I wasn't looking. Which was all last week when I was moving too fast in a different direction.
I'm still in 'What should I make' mode. I need to spend less time in my head and more in my Studio.
TODAY. Today I'm going to stop planning, organizing, thinking ... and start DOING.
I am. I am.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Fast Forward

I have been home from Newfoundland for 7 days. In that time I have attended a wedding, a brunch, had all my family here for a birthday dinner, took & edited 500 photos, attended an organizing meeting for our upcoming 'In the Spirit' show, worked at updating the website, designed & printed invitations & started a Facebook group for the show, reconnected with lots of friends on-line, went to Kitchener, London, Toronto & Brockville (almost 6 hours away) and worked three full (2 nine hours & a fifteen hour) days at a Real Job (as in 'out of this house).

I have NOT unpacked.

So what is the relevance of the photos on this post? Just last week, which now seems like months ago, I kayaked out to the wee rockish island in front of our house. It was a remarkably beautiful evening - the water was calm, the sky was indigo and the sunset cast a magical glow over the harbour. As I offered my thanks to our Great Creator for such a gift - for just being in that serene & peaceful place, there appeared the most striking rainbow, directly above my friends' home. A Gift indeed. Especially since I happened to have my camera. (yes... in the kayak:)

Now that I'm back in Ontario mode, I desperately need to keep this East Coast feeling. Here, I am surrounded by the equisite beauty of autumn - the splendor of the colours & crispness of the air. It's just as much of a gift. I simply need to slow down enough to be awake & aware & grateful.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Gander, Newfoundland

It was Friday that we headed home from Newfoundland. Friday, September 11th. Of course, my thoughts, regardless of where I was, would have been on that tragic day eight years ago. But being in the Gander Airport, it was especially sobering. I envisioned that building bulging with people, and as I flew away, I thought of all the planes that would have been circling & landing in confusion and fear. Such chaos & panic that so many people would have been experiencing in that very spot on that day. Quite different from the rest of us who were watching it transpire. We were watching - they were doing. I wondered how the staff could even begin to handle it - quiet & ordinary one minute, frantic the next - so much emotion contained in that small space. On Friday, with not a single plane in sight, it was difficult to picture what it would have been like that day, when the population of the town doubled in a matter of hours.
There was no hoopla on Friday when I was there. I've actually been surprised over the years that there isn't some kind of public memorial in a predominant spot in the airport, recognizing the part that Gander & the area played on that historic day. Their efficient response & hospitality became legendary - the rest of Canada was certainly proud. I asked someone once why there was all kinds of other history on display there, but not that day. They answered 'Well, I suppose it's because we don't think we actually did anything other than what needed to be done - we don't have to brag about that.'
Very 'Newfoundlandish' in their humility & actually quite refreshing that they don't feel the need to re-live it or put attention on themselves. But for me, it was certainly significant to be in that place, on that date - remembering what was lost and being grateful for what we have.