Thursday, December 29, 2011

Duck messages...

This blob in the middle of the frozen lake is a flock of ducks.
 With the zoom feature, they look closer to shore than they really are.

This pic is deceptive, as the water looks as if there are waves rippling the surface. It's really all ice and some white snow on top of each frozen wave.

As I watched, some of those ducks took flight, leaving their neighbours huddled together for warmth.  Did they go off in search of food? Were they just stretching their wings? 

The sun shone brightly through my living room window this morning, giving me some much needed energy and lifting my spirits. Even though Christmas was a joy with my family all around, I find these dark December days difficult to get through. I miss David every day.

With the sense of bliss sunlight always gives me, I decided to get back into my daily tai chi practice. Standing with arms as if circling a tree, my gaze was drawn through the picture window over the lake to the horizon beyond.

And then it stopped at a blob. What is that blob in the middle of the lake? Ahh, it must be the ducks (my ducks). Now that the shore is frozen, my ducks are farther away in their need to find open water.

Had I not been in a tai chi stance, eyes focused on the horizon,  I would have missed them. Perhaps the message for me this morning is to relax and stay focused; or like the eye of the storm, there is a calmness (a blob of ducks) at the center of chaos. I still have unpacking to do, furniture to buy and lots of adjusting to do to this new lifestyle. Some days I feel as if I'm running in circles. I have trouble making decisions and have been to various furniture stores, looking at the same merchandise over and over again, for-seemingly-ever. Eventually, it will all fall into place. Life is like that. 

On another topic, I will need to learn how to take pictures through my window when the sun is shining brightly. As you can see, these pics and the ones from the last post are completely washed out. I did set my camera to "sunny days" and used the edit feature in my camera software, but the result still produces a lack of colour. If anyone has any tips or advice, I would be very happy to hear it. 

Wishing you all Love and Light as the Wheel turns and darkness in this part of the world slowly begins to recede.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Settling In...

A view from my balcony.  Early each morning these ducks swim away from shore towards the middle of the lake.

The trees are bare at this time of year, but it makes for a better view of the water, and the late afternoon sun.

Just to my right, is this view of the shoreline. Too bad those power lines get in the way. but I was standing on the front balcony when I took this.
It is early morning as you can see by the soft pink sky.

Now how did these little monkeys get in this post? Unfortunately, the light was not right for posing on Grandma's windowsill, but I couldn't resist adding these.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Houses speak...

...and stairs creak...

And strange little doors lead nowhere...

This gentle giraffe.. enjoys a good laugh...

 While Kitty peeks out from his lair

All is packed up. Kitty has gone to the farm. See you all at my new home...

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Flowers speak

And these ones speak of love, of caring, and kindness.

I am lucky to be blessed with a dear daughter...
....who knows what it takes to make me smile..... bring sunshine into my life..... time flows forward like a river, carrying me along, and soon I will be approaching my 60th...

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Moving on......

Good-by front door.....

...autumn flowers, leaves, pumpkins....

Good-by Our Home.... (I've lived here 15 years)

.....and our garden shed in the back yard...

Our favourite room...David spend his last days here before hospital admission. His favourite chair brings me comfort in the evenings as I curl up in it to read....

House is sold.
The new young couple will be moving in early December.
Time for me to start packing......
I will miss Our Home......

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Mysterious Lady

A Mysterious Lady arrived in the post from a land far away and across a deep ocean.
She was a gift from a dear friend. Someone whom I've never met.

 She arrived in a package of lavender and lace. There was also a lovely angel card without a face. Willow Tree cards do not need faces. Expression is revealed through gesture, representing an emotion, like comfort, healing, or inspiration.

Inside the card was a mysterious envelope, filled with magical seeds to plant next spring.

"What is this?" inquires Jasmine, pointing to my necklace.
"I think it's a lady or maybe a goddess."
"But she has no head!"
"Well, maybe it's a different shaped head. And she does have little feet, or maybe they're fins. She could be a fish."
 A look of disappointment prompted me to revise that unappealing answer.

"Or maybe a mermaid!"
"Ohhhhhhh,oooooo!!" enchantment shone through her little girl eyes.

Now that still doesn't explain her strangely elongated head, if that's what it is, but it really doesn't matter. We were having fun.

"Maybe these gems are magical and if we make a wish......"

Have you ever started down a path (conversation) only to realize a few short words or sentences into it that you've walked into a trap, or were about to say something that you can't change later? Well, I was saved by the bell in the form of Little Brother. How to explain that wishing on gems doesn't really work, after I've encouraged her to do just that?
Well, I'm sure that won't be the last time I let my imagination run free.

So the Mystery Lady Goddess Mermaid has found a good home. Thank you Cheryl  for this most precious and beautiful necklace. I can't wait to plant those magical seeds in my new garden when the time is right.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

After the storm.....

 An invasion of faerie toadstools.....
Imagine an elf sitting on this one, or hiding underneath.....

Who stepped on Lulu Lemon?

Such a strange looking creature (it really is a mushroom)..

Lemon's little sister, Spotty seems rather shy......
 And these pretty whites might be waving good-by...

Hope everyone's having a nice Labour Day weekend and for those who have suffered through Hurricane Irene, I hope the damage is minimal and clean-up done.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Food for Thought

I don't usually post about things in the news, or about other people's writings, but this is well worth it. Food for thought, and perhaps a timely reminder to live life to its fullest.

A friend sent me an excerpt from Steve Jobs commencement speech at Stanford University in 2005. It's even more poignant now that he has retired due to illness.

Excerpts from his speech:
When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn't even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor's code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you'd have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.
I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I'm fine now.

This was the closest I've been to facing death, and I hope it's the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:
No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. 

Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960's, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Have a good day everyone.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Just one more..

 These pics don't really go with the story either, but my excuse is it's summer (and anything goes in summer)

Being a Grandma means learning to keep your mouth shut. What worked for us 'way back in the olden days, doesn't necessarily work for our children in these new days. Besides, they need to be making their own decisions about their own lives. Just as we did when it was our turn.

Being a Grandma allows us to observe quietly. Perhaps we might learn something new about our fast-changing world. Even if things were better back then, that life is gone. Better to learn how to live today, than wish we were living yesterday.

Being a Grandma teaches us to be grateful. I'm grateful I don't have to run after active toddlers all day, every day. Only sometimes.

Being a Grandma gives us a new  freedom. I don't have to cook huge meals or do mountains of laundry any more. I can sit and read or sip tea without interruption all afternoon, if I choose.

And finally, being a Grandma gives us moments. Hugging moments, sharing moments, snuggling moments, comforting moments, loving moments, all laced together with smiles and chuckles at unexpected moments.

Okay, now here's the "just one more"......
A trip to the local public library was on our agenda that afternoon.
Bag of library books to be returned.
Water bottles and snacks.
Children in their car seats.
Seatbelts fastened (with a little difficulty as Grandma is not so dexterous as she once was, and those plastic thing-me-bobs clips that attach over, under, and between are hard on the thumbs!).

I quickly get in behind the wheel and push the "childproof  lock buttons" . Now, tiny fingers cannot open car doors while Grandma is driving.

Turning around to make sure everyone is all right, I notice four-year-old toddler is wiggling around uncomfortably in her carseat.
"What's wrong, Jasmine?"
"Grandma, " she says very politely in her little-girl voice, "will you please digest my seatbelt?"

Friday, July 29, 2011

Bless you!

Simon and Owen at the water park

The pics don't go with the story, but I have no pics of grandbabies lying on the grass under the shade of the old oak tree.
That's where we were, or at least two of my grandchildren (and not even the ones in the pics). I was sitting on the front porch steps, minding them on this hot summer afternoon.

Toys had been abandoned. It was too hot. I was thinking of filling up the baby pool, but decided to let them rest on the blanket for a bit. At first they wiggled around, each claiming there was not enough room, but soon they settled down and stared up at the leaves overhead.
Jazzy is 41/2
Nathan is 21/2

Nathan: Jazzy, why are the leaves moving? 
Jazzy: They're dancing.

Nathan: Do clouds fall down?
Jazzy: No. They're glued to the sky.
Nathan: How come?
Jazzy: I don't know.

Nathan, turning over on his tummy:  Is that a bug, Jazzy?
Jazzy, focusing on a spider web in the grass: I'm not inter-es-ting, right now.

Wise Grandma: Yes, Nathan that's an ant. Listen, children, the birds are singing.
Both children stop for a minute and listen.
Nathan: No Grandma, they aren't singing. I don't hear the words.

Wise Grandma: You say, "excuse-me" Nathan.
Nathan giggling: Jazzy, Jazzy, I f*rt!
Jazzy, still engrossed in the spider web: I'm not inter-es-ting!!!
Wise Grandma (prompting little grandson): Nathan, you say "excuse-me"
Nathan: Excuse me.
Jazzy looking at me with the knowing eyes of a 4-year-old: Grandma, nice ladies say "bless you!"

I could not stop myself from laughing out loud. And next time I hear someone f*rt, I will remember to say "bless you!" 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Reading Between The Lines...

 is finally here!
(for some reason the link to order doesn't work. you can just click on Amazon to order or sneak a preview)

Yesterday after a full day of babysitting, I was tired and hot. Entering through the garage, I did not notice the package lying on my front door step.
After supper, I decided to water my flowers in the front yard. That was when I noticed the brown package at my front door.
Now, out here in the semi-country, it's normal for mail and packages to be left on a doorstep. No one would dream of taking anything. More often than not, a thoughtful neighbour will pick up someone's newspaper lying at the end of their driveway and bring it up to the front door, or the phone book. Deliveries as well are often  left with neighbours. It's that kind of a community.
I was just glad it hadn't rained.

At first I thought the package might just be for David. For months after he was gone, mail was still delivered, publications and magazines and this looked like a medical or pharmaceutical directory.
I read the return address: National Book (distributor or something). I did not have my reading glasses on, of course, so I read: National Bank.
"What on earth?" I didn't order anything from the bank. Not even any chequebooks, which would be much smaller anyway. "Hmm, maybe some sort of advertising."
You can imagine my surprise and pleasure when I opened the package and six copies of my book - my book in print - spilled out! I am so exited!!

I will have to do another blog post with some excerpts and a "give-away". This will be so much fun! Yippeeeee!
And I must, I simply must thank every one of my blogging buddies for all  your encouragement!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

When the universe hands you ...

lemon, you make lemonade.  When the universe hands you a weed... (or 2, or 3)....

you make a bouquet!

I found these "weeds" chopped down at the side of the road. I could not just walk away and leave them to die. So I picked them up, brought them home and put them in a vase on my back deck.

On another note:
I was sitting in a Tim Horton's coffee shop a few days ago, sipping a hot cup of coffee. Looking out the window, I noticed a taxicab pulling up to the curb. Two elderly people got out. The woman was using a cane. Her husband a walker. The driver carefully handed the man his walker and made sure they both were steady on their feet before driving off.
Hmm, I thought. Imagine taking a taxi to a Tim Horton's coffee shop. Well, why not? They must have given up driving for health reasons, and now just call a cab when they need to get around. I watched them slowly make their way towards the door of the coffee shop. They were nicely dressed and obviously looking forward to their "outing."

It's encouraging to see elderly couples out and about enjoying themselves. No matter what is going on in their personal lives, they manage to get out and live a bit. I like that. But  last year I did not feel that way. Last year after hubby died I could not stand to see happy couples, especially happy older ones.  I was jealous. After all, why do they still have each other when my husband is gone? Thankfully, that stage did not last long. And now when I look at elderly couples I  know they feel lucky to be together. So many of their friends are not.

The gentleman opened the door for his lady love and they entered the coffee shop. I gave them a big huge smile, they just looked so darn cute. I couldn't help it. The man gave me a half smile, then looked at me more closely. He was probably wondering who the heck I was. (do I know her? I could hear him thinking)
 Feeling a little embarrassed, I blurted out. "You look so cute. You're wearing blue and she's wearing pink."
I guess he was more on the ball than I gave him credit for. Without missing a beat he replied, " Well I guess then I'm a boy and she's a girl."
We both laughed and as they turned away I heard the dear woman say to her husband "What did she say?"
Guess she had trouble hearing and missed the whole thing.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Running away... the ocean is what I seem to be doing this year.

 Last September I went to the ocean in Cape Cod. In March I went to St. Maarten, this past May I went to Bimini, which is in the Bahamas so I could swim with dolphins in the wild.  I flipped and flopped weeks before making my decision. Could I really afford to take another trip? Was I just running away from life, from my problems, my pain and grief?

I went anyway. And had a wonderful time.

"What better place to run?" asked Peggy incredulously, "especially if you're looking for healing." Peggy lived in Arizona. She was about my age and a grandma too. We hit it off right from the start.
Immediately I felt better. I stopped scolding myself for indulging. Stopped chastising myself for "running away". Perhaps taking a break is a better way to look at this.
Why not just take some time to relax and drink in the power of the ocean, snorkel and swim with dolphins in the wild, and make new friends while I'm at it? Why not indeed? Life is meant to be lived, so why not enjoy it?

"Surreal," murmured Toni (another new friend) who was standing beside me on board the catamaran appropriately named DolphinQuest.
Surreal, I thought, liking the sound of that word as I gazed all around at endless blue; blue sea and blue sky; where only a thin line defined the horizon.
It was a strange feeling, as if there was no world beyond our boat. We were all alone here in this blending together of ocean and sky.
And then the dolphins appeared. Swimming, frolicking, rolling and tumbling, they seemed only to live for the spreading of joy. There were two of them, then four, then a dozen! Eagerly, I donned my snorkeling gear and one by one, we slid off the boat and smoothly entered the water. (please take a few seconds and click on the video - you certainly don't have to watch it all. It will give you an idea of the dolphin experience, as it was taken at the Wildquest retreat).

The ocean was a beautiful shade of turquoise, and oh so clear. I could see bright green seaweed waving its long fingers, tropical fish bursting with colour: yellow, purple, and orange. They were beautiful and yet looked like they belonged in a child's colouring book!  Even sand ripples that swept along the ocean floor were clearly visible, as were many shells, rocks and strange things I could not identify. 

The dolphins, of course were the stars of the show. And they performed well. Two of them swam right under my belly! I could have reached out to touch them (but we are taught not to do that; they can approach us, but we should not touch them). Like children at play, they swam and splashed all around us, probably trying to figure out what these weird slow moving human-creatures were. There was no way we could keep up with them, so they lost interest and eventually swam away.

I made many friends on this week-long Retreat, met kindred spirits and felt nothing but support and encouragement on my path. I hope I was able to give as much as I received on this trip.

Early morning sunrise bathes the world a golden orange

Full moon in Bimini, May 17th. A full moon ceremony was part of this week's programme.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


A butterfly appeared one day a few weeks ago on Daughter's lawn, close to the foundation of their house.
The grandchildren wanted to care for her, so Mommy gently picked it up and put it in an old cardboard box. The grandchildren named her Annie. They put leaves and twigs inside the box to keep Annie comfortable.
Annie barely moved. We wondered if she was injured.

The children put ripe fruit in her box to tempt her appetite.
Mommy put sugar water in there as well.
Annie fluttered her wings gently, and hardly moved at all.

Mommy called around first to bird and animal rescue shelters (who could not help) and then the Insectarium. They were able to identify Annie. She was not a butterfly, but a moth. A hylophor cecropia - the biggest moth in North America.

I'd never seen one before. She really was big! The life cycle of the cecropia is only 7 - 10 days. The female lays around 300 eggs, then goes into a sort of dream-like state. The male continues on to fertilize as many as 3 females and then he too goes into a torpor. The adults do not eat (so much for the fruit, but it gave the children a sense of responsibility and they felt that they were taking good care of Annie).

We also learned by the size of her antennae that Annie was not a She - She was a He.
Five days later His life cycle ended.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Caravan day

A year and a day after David was admitted to hospital, our home went up on the market. I felt my stomach twist a little as the Real Estate Agent drove the For Sale sign into my front lawn. Am I really moving? Can I leave these memories behind?  Last April seems like such a long time ago, and only just yesterday. It was last April that David was taken to hospital and never came home.

This morning our home was put on Caravan, which sounds like a rather strange occurrence, but is just a term real estate agents use to show off new listings on the market. All agents are provided with a list of homes to be viewed on Caravan. My home was scheduled for 9:00 a.m., first one on the list.

Well, for some reason I did not want to stay. I had to get out. I could not face all those people walking through our house, making comments. Not that they wouldn't be pleasant or professional. I'm sure they were. And not because the house was messy. It wasn't. I had cleaned and polished and aired. I even sent the cat outdoors, out of the way.

I had some errands to run anyway, so left the house early. And then I remembered that the bank wasn't yet open. Darn! I would have to start at the last stop and work backwards. And what would my last stop be, all  you blogging buddies who know me so well?? Coffee. Of course.

I started at the end and picked up a coffee at Tim Hortons. It was still rather early. I had lots of time, so instead of taking the highway back, I decided to meander along the scenic route towards the village, grocery store and bank. Driving leisurely along the river road is always a pleasure. It reminds me of the days David and I used to bike that route. I would peek into peoples' gardens admiring their pretty flowers, while David would enjoy listening to birdsong. He'd be the first to notice a bluejay or a cardinal or a fat robin poking in the grass. He was always the first to hear geese honking as they migrated each winter or returned in the spring. He'd watch for that familiar V in the sky, excitedly pointing upward to share his find with me. Canada geese seemed to hold a special place in David's heart and the artwork in our home reflected this fondness.  The natural world was important to David and he paid attention to all her signs and listened as she spoke.

Cool, fresh air poured through my open car window, and as bright morning sun warmed my face I began to relax. The road was rather long and winding with no traffic to speak of, so I took my time. The landscape had changed over the years. New homes were under construction on the waterfront, sadly taking over the agricultural part of the land. Cows grazed in the fields next door, making for a strange hodgepodge of granite and grass. Cheerful spring flowers scattered lawns and sprinkled over into ditches. I found myself both lulled and pulled along by the song of the river.

I had to go back the next day to take this. Luckily the geese were still there.

Then all of a sudden I was looking into a soccer field that dipped down towards the river. Oh my goodness,  Thompson Park! I had not thought where this road would take me; my only thoughts were on the end point - reaching the village. Thompson Park was the place where we had scattered David's ashes nine months ago. Not in the park, of course. The park part is a soccer field, with the land sloping down to the water. I might have driven right past, if not for the geese. Canada geese, here in the park! I'd never seen Canada geese in that park before.

I quickly pulled over and parked the car. With my coffee mug in hand and the sun on my face, I drank in the scene before me.

"David, you did it again! You sent these geese to me as a comfort. You knew I was nervous about people going through our home and you wanted me to know you were here, by my side, supporting me. Ha! And you even made sure I'd had my coffee with me too!"

Good thing nobody was about to witness this crazy lady talking to the geese (or herself, which is probably worse)!

This too was taken the next day. Too bad the sun was not out!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Just as the soft rains......

 fill the streams,
pour into the rivers,
and join together into the oceans,

So may the Power of 
every moment of your Goodness,
flow forth to awaken and Heal all beings,
 those here now,
those gone before,
those yet to come.... (beginning of a Buddhist prayer)
 I love to try to capture Sunlight...

 as it illuminates each flower and leaf.

But you can never really capture the essence of the Sun.

The cycle of Life continues.....
as once again, the Sun warms the Earth for a time of renewal....

Happy Birthday, dear David.
Though your Earthly life is done, I continue to feel your blessings, and pray you feel mine.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Harsh Realities....

It's been almost nine months since David passed away.
I was sitting in his favourite comfy chair by the window, reading the morning papers. I had been up most of the night with a stomach bug, so was taking it easy that morning just a couple of days ago.

Grief still comes in waves. I can be fine for a while and then some trigger or sometimes even nothing I can put my finger on, brings out a fresh round of tears.

The telephone rang. Do I get up to answer or just let it ring?
"May I speak to Dr. Nelligan, please?"
"Um... may I ask who is calling?"
"Are you his wife?"
"This is Lily from Blaa Blaa Pharmaceuticals. Dr. I-forget-his-name would like to know if Dr. Nelligan plans to attend the upcoming symposium on such-and-such a new drug"
"Oh" (pause, while I choose my words)
"Oh, Mrs. Nelligan, is he already planning to attend? In that case, sorry to have disturbed you." (don't I wish!)
"No, Dr. Nelligan died last summer."
"Oh. I'm sorry."
"I thought the medical community would have been aware of this. His obituary was published in the medical journals."
"Our mistake. I don't think you will be hearing from us again."

I certainly hope not, I thought, but did not say. I guess this young lady was just doing her job, but she didn't sound the least bit sorry, nor did it occur to her that saying "I don't think you will be hearing from us again." sounded more like "well, you know, we might call you back next year if we forget that your husband died."

Some days this incident would have lingered for a few moments then let go. That day it hurt. Probably because I was not feeling well.

Looking out the window to distract myself,  I noticed the familiar V-formation of Canada geese flying home, signaling the return of spring and warmer weather.
"Welcome home" I called out to them with a smile. And then continuing my conversation with the air or the cat or the window,  "Ahh, David, I see you sent geese to cheer me up. We always loved to watch the geese returning home after a long and cold winter."

 I suppose this type of phone call will continue until I move and change my phone number. And I'm sure others have stories similar to mine or worse. But it always seems to come at a time when you're unprepared.