Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Nan's Day

There is a very dear and special lady in my life. It's a relationship that I could have never in my wildest imagination anticipated. We share a home.

It is her wonderful place in Newfoundland that has become our adopted home.  Her neighbourhood is our adopted community. Her son is my adopted brother. And she, is my sweet and wonderful adopted Nan.  

She lived her entire married life on Salt Harbour Island, moving from her in-laws house next door to a house that been pulled down the ice before she even knew her husband. She lived in one and worked on the other - 65 years later, I was doing exactly the opposite, walking down the same path.

We've had many conversations about what it was like to live and work in a fishing outport. Even though it was hard work, she has loved her life. She told me one day that she 'goes home every night in her dreams'. She has read over a thousand books in the past 8 years and crocheted countless gifts.
She is always delighted to meet the 'mainlanders' who have come out to her home. She has said to me a number of times 'I am so happy that the house is filled with fun and laughter. It always was.' And you can tell - it has the most wonderful aura - you can just feel it. I consider it a huge blessing and honour to get to spend time there.

She has brought a light to my life, a smile to my heart. It was a lovely stroke of providence that brought her into my life.

She says:  "I loves you.'  I respond: 'I love you too' to which she replies: 'I knows you do.' I hope you DO know that, dear Nan. On this day, your 99th Birthday and every day.
"OUR" Home... the Warren Homestead.  The house on the right is where Nan lived for the first two years of her marriage and then moved into the one on the right. We first had the house on the right, then were lucky to acquire the one on the left to put the property back to its original state.

Monday, April 26, 2010


When all my kids were living within these walls, it was a noisy, chaotic place. My brother commented that every time he visited us, he’d go home and board up another bedroom. I’m not saying mine were to blame, but he did have but one child. 

We grew four. I gave thanks a thousand times and still do, that we had that many. Actually, I wished that we would have had one more. Brian would say ‘You’d be 80 years old & still be saying … ‘just one more.’

So we were six.  We call it The Original Six, like the hockey league. They filled the house, those children of mine.  Filled it with the happy noise of healthy children – filled it with scrapping and fighting too, but at any rate, it was filled.

There’s mostly quiet now. Just the two of us. And Abby.  But thankfully, all four of them live within minutes of the old homestead. Six minutes, eight minutes, thirteen minutes and nineteen minutes. How many people with four children are that blessed.

And the bigger blessing is that the Original Six now is Twelve, soon to be Fourteen. It gets harder though, to pull that many people together, so even though they all live close, it's not all that often that someone isn’t missing.

Yesterday they all came together to wish me farewell as I head across the sea this week. ALL were present and accounted for. I was one Happy Mother.  I so badly wanted to take some pictures, since it’s a rare occasion anymore. But they get a little testy when I drag the camera out every time they’re together and I didn’t want to spoil the mood.  I have it out so much, that 22 month old Gibson saw a picture of a camera in a magazine & pointed to it and said ‘Nana’. 

Careful to only point in the direction of the little ones, I captured only two moments. Two being fully entertained with a sink full of dishwater and them with the cake.  My youngest daughter, Alyssa is an amazing cook – very creative & adventuresome and she’s shown up with some very interesting recipes. When she insisted that she was bringing dessert, I knew it would be something unique. She presented me with an early Mother’s Day … Spiderman cake. Not just any Spiderman cake – and ICECREAM one. It was a hit.
 Lots of noise, lots of silliness & lots of food and lots of people. My favourite kind of day.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Woods Gallery

Between our place and the home of my dear friend & neighbour down the road, there is a lovely, tranquil woods.  It was a wonderful place to celebrate a gorgeous spring afternoon.

The trilliums were in full splendor. A gentle, fragile flower rejoicing in the spring sunshine before the canopy of leaves covers its world. To see such a joyous multitude of trillium was a delight. 
When I was a child in elementary school, the trillium was a magical, illusive flower. So important that it was chosen to represent our entire province. I believed it rare, in fact, almost extinct and the sighting of one would be as significant as finding a fairy in the woods. 

 I took quite seriously and with great solemnity, 'The Trillium Lesson'. Which was: "Never, Ever, EVER – under any circumstances -pick a trillium." It was illegal. Against The Law. You would be put away, most likely forever. But even worse - once picked, they would never come back.  I was in awe of trillium, but a little afraid I might mistakenly injure one, alarms would go off and I would be immediately wisked off to jail. 
I did not pick the trillium in the woods – then or now. Nor any of the wild flowers for that matter.  I have a feeling of reverence for them, that they are special gift because WE have not planted them. They belong to God and Mother Nature. They belong to everyone and to no one.
Our afternoon stroll through the woods was like visiting the most delightful gallery.  Everything was Art. 
There were old gnarled trees sculpted by weather and woodpeckers. There was a wonderful old stump that had offered itself as a home to a bouquet of trillium. And soft and fragrant blossoms  amongst the otherwise stark and barren trees.

 There were richly rusted ironworks, their forms interesting sculptures in stark contrast to the softness and subtle hues of their surroundings. Like any good art, they have a story to tell.  
As did the presence of an erect dog figure standing guard amidst a pile of sticks and wire.  She says to me: 
Just because I am Pink & Plastic & a Poodle, do not misjudge me.
Not all that appears fragile, is."
There is peace and tranquility and solace in the woods.
 And there is Art. 
And stories. 
Such a wonderful place to spend a pleasant spring afternoon
 with a friend.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Old Dog, New Trick

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Hah.  This old dog has just performed a new trick that is going to have her family impressed, amazed and in a total state of shock and disbelief.

I have competed – totally FINISHED, get this … not one, but TWO gifts - a full 6 weeks ahead of time. Did you hear … I am saying AHEAD of time!

I know exactly when the “IOU The Rest of Your Gift” program started. Christmas 1981.  After working til the wee hours on Christmas Eve, I came to the realization that in spite of my most valiant effort, 4 year old Jaime’s dollhouse would not be finished. In desperation and exhaustion, I left a note from Santa that said ‘My elves were too busy – get your Mom to finish this.’  Same note on Daniel’s ‘supposed-to-be-rocking-horse’, which was even further from completion.
The house was taller than her at the time.

The middle room was the bathroom - still needs
the 'fixtures' to this day. The bedroom was
done in her own carpet & wallpaper with a
miniature version of her quilt.
I’m afraid it set a precedence.  There have been countless notes and good intentions over the years. I have become somewhat known for it.  The new ones – guys, babes – should appreciate that receiving that IOU certificate is like a rite of passage into my familyhood. Means they’re one of US.

That is because it is a ritual reserved for Family. I always, always have gotten my orders done for everyone else. I don’t recall a single time in three decades that I have disappointed someone by not having their item done. I may not get something that I wanted to make for a friend finished, but then I just never tell them my intentions – I just don’t give it to them at all & they're none the wiser.

Procrastination is not the issue here. Over-enthusiasm is to blame.  I have too many things that I want to create and not enough time.  And the fact is, there is one simple reason that I actually accomplished it this time.  I simply can’t Multi-Task like I used to.

Which is evident in the fact that I have not been able to post a single word here n 17 days.  That is because I have been busy working on a gift, that is now complete.  Did I mention … ‘AHEAD of time’?

So how long did Jaime have to wait for her dollhouse to be finished?  It will be thirty years this Christmas & not one single more thing was done to since that Christmas Eve.  And Daniel’s ‘supposed-to-be-horse’ moved to the dump without ever actually becoming a horse. 

If I were to actually finish the items that are connected to all the IOUs, and the things that are living in my mind that I WANT to do for my family, I’d have to start this very minute and not do one other thing until the day I die, which would have to be a very long time from now. It also could only happen if I didn’t come up with new ideas and intentions. Fat chance of that. ONE trick is enough for this old dog.
Not impressed with his 'will-be/might be horse' - a little
impractical for a wee one ... it was better in my head.
Actually, it was better LEFT in my head.
The tractor obviously went over better.