Maritime Mary: Anticipation

The gifts are wrapped,

Baking completed, 

Some cooking is prepped 

And last night it snowed!

We are ready to welcome family,

And for a couple of days

The nest  will be complete. 

My heart is filled with love and anticipation. 

Happy Mama!

Wishing you a blessed Christmas. 

   
 

Diane Krys: Important Things

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“The most important thing is to keep the most important thing the most important thing.”

Zita Cobb’s former boss

My Mum had a passion for cooking and our family Christmas dinners were something to behold. For many years after we switched the festivities to my house she still liked to cook up a storm. Mum and Dad would pretty much bring the whole Christmas dinner over in pyrex casserole dishes wrapped in towels. They would pull up in their little hatchback and we would start a relay run from their car to our kitchen. Inevitably the time came when it was too much for my Mum so my sister, husband and I planned to take on the whole shebang (with her blessing). Oh we had big ideas. We were like 3 Martha Stewarts; ambitious recipes, fancy ingredients, special kitchen gadgetry; we were pulling out all the stops.

On the morning of our inaugural dinner the Marthas popped a turkey in the oven and went on to have a grand day visiting with a few close friends and relatives that dropped by. We were all entertained by the kids opening gifts and running around fuelled by chocolate. It was good times until the moment they left and the three of us looked at each other and realized we had a whole lot more cooking to do. What were we thinking? As much as we like to make nice food, a big multi course extravaganza was not our passion or forte by a long shot, not to mention we were already tuckered out from the day’s activity. It was like we had snapped out of a spell. How bad would it be to just have turkey and a salad? We willed ourselves into motion, scrapped our fancy pants notions and pulled a few dishes together. Good thing my folks have a sense of humour.

After that fiasco I realized how much I don’t want to orchestrate pots and pans on Christmas day. What my Mum could do with grace and joy is stress and aggravation for me. I realized the most important thing for me is giving my undivided attention to the family and friends I’m sharing the day with so I can enjoy every minute with them. I embrace getting carried away with a bit of foolishness and don’t want to be reigned in by a kitchen timer calling me. And so in the spirit of keeping the most important thing the most important thing, we adopted a new dinner tradition: Christmas lasagnas. Yup, I make them ahead of time and freeze them. There’s love in every layer and I think the spirit of my Mum’s feast is there it’s just all in one course.

Even though our Christmas dinners have changed over time, the real family tradition and the most important thing all along was simply spending time together. I believe the magic of the season comes alive when we know and honour what’s important to us. Sometimes that means steering clear of a seductive rabbit hole in pursuit of a hollow Christmas fantasy world of someone else’s design. Ultimately, I think we have be true to our own joy to give joy.

On that note, I wish you all a Joyous Holiday Season and may you find a way to keep the most important thing the most important thing always!

 

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Catherine Bussiere: visit

my mama’s gone to church
I’m visiting for the week end
alone in her house I wander
I look around

it’s a quiet house
the sound of the humidifier fills the rooms with a constant hum

my mama is in her late 70
she lives alone
her days are regulated by a routine that keeps her going
prayers, exercise, a good diet
any break in those may set her off
she needs routine

I wander in her house while she is gone
presence of her children
presence of her faith
are everywhere
it is a peaceful atmosphere

I live far away
I have never lived in the town she was born
I can appreciate her environment and her mine
but even though we share the same blood
our constitution, our needs, are not the same
to be well we need different conditions

tomorrow I will leave
it is always difficult to part
without saying we both know
that soon routine settles again
and we keep in touch
with the regular punctuation of phone calls

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Maritime Mary: Summer

No pressure Summer, but so many are so invested in you. We have plans, many plans that we want to jam and cram into two short months. We ask and are asked about our intentions for you Summer. We make lists, book trips, plan barbeques and family get togethers. We think greedily of the time we’ll have, all we’ll accomplish, the friends we’ll visit, the books we’ll read. 

So Summer, we are invested in you. Be good to us. 

   
 

Catherine Bussiere: father’s day

I always have a hard time using the word husband
as a young woman I had no intention of getting married
I loved a man, he loved me, all was well
then we had a child and that was the most beautiful thing that could happen between us
it was a bond like no others
still, I didn’t want to get married

a year later, as our little blond bundle was running around I wished to have him baptize
I wanted to have a celebration
a few close friends and family were invited
all under the premise of the baptism
I don’t remember exactly how or when it happened but eventually I agreed to tie the knot
my loved one, a patient man, kept asking
it was a surprise for the guests
at the end of that day I had a husband

I remember thinking that the man I would love, the one I would want to spend my life with, had to be one with whom I would want to have children
not that children was on top of the agenda
but, you know what I mean, I didn’t want a fling
I wanted something solid

maybe I didn’t only want a lover
I wanted the qualities of a man that cares for children

As I woke up this morning I knew this blog had to be about my companion
(I think I like that better than husband)
the man of my life, mon amour
has been a wonderful dad
present, playful, patient
loving, generous, attentive
he is and will be there for our kids no matter what, no matter when
I know it, they do to

as I look at our now three young adults
two sons and a daughter
as I see their confidence, maturity, their care for one another
I am pleased and happy
we’ve worked well together

happy father’s day Eric
xo

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Catherine Bussiere: Jenn & Cadence

it’s a cool morning
chances of frost last night
I decided yesterday to wait a couple more days before I transplant my sunflowers
I did transplant kale last week
my greenhouse is full of it
I like to let some plants go to seeds in the greenhouse
at the moment I have a carpet of young kale, dill, cilantro, and the odd lettuce

I woke up early this morning
sun right onto my bed
I finished a book that I had read a few years back
I like to reread sometimes
some books are like friends that you need to visit every now and then

I pulled the blankets off
– chilly –
I put them back on in a hurry
I assess the situation
t-shirt on the dresser, sweater near by, those cozy leggings that I could wear one more day
a farmhouse can be cooler in the spring then in the middle of winter
either you’re out of wood or you feel it’ll warm up soon enough, no need for fire
the wood stove is going on a diet

I visited my friend Jenn and her daughter Cadence a couple days ago
both will celebrate their birthday this week
one will be six, the other 35
I came to have this ongoing discussion about age
I was curious to know what Cadence had to say
she was thrilled to be interviewed

I have to tell you that Jenn is a potter
a few years back she left a secure job with Canada Post, build herself a cozy studio, and became a full time potter
she makes beautiful mugs, plates, bowls, vases, you name it
she started off selling at the local farmers market
when I visited her she had just completed a big order for a shop in PEI

Of course Jenn isn’t only a potter
she’s a mom, a gardener, a cook, she weaves, sows and knits, she teaches, she dances, she plays
she smiles and laughs easily
a lovely person

In a way it wasn’t much of a surprise when I asked her about age and aging that really, she didn’t think much about it. Here is what she had to say:
“My goal in life is to be in every moment, so to think so far in the future,
which is what I think when I think of age; it ends at some point, and that’s why people think about it … If I get ideas in my head about getting older I just roll down my imaginary window and I throw them out (laugh) like I’m driving a car.”

“I think that there’s so many things to do there’s no possibility that I will ever get them all done. So I trust in myself to be doing the things that I wanna be doing and that’s as good as I can get. I think that’s the best I can do, and if I start not doing those, I feel it, I just don’t feel like I’m in a good place, so then I change them (laugh).
I don’t know if it’s a good thing, I can’t make myself sit still.”

You’re an older lady; how do you see yourself?

“I wanna be a roaming around the world 80 year old … I wanna be fearless.”
“I think about attachment and I don’t want to be attach to anything”

Nice

Wiggly Cadence in her seat, mini cup of tea in hands gracefully answered my questions. She too doesn’t think much about age. Obviously there’s better things to think about when you’re five. Like her big brother not letting her play nintento at the level she’d like, how many friends she will invite to her upcoming birthday, and that hen that has been sitting on eggs for days… So much things to think about.

Cadence

What does age mean?
“How old you are.”

What is old?
“31 is old”

Is there a number you’re excited about?
“ 12 “

Why?
“I just like that number”

Is there something special that happens when you’re 12?
“well … it’s my birthday”

Jenn: what are you going to do when you are a grown up?
“ I will visit you sometimes “

mama’s heart swells, we drink more tea

I think I will visit someone today.

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Catherine Bussiere: fiddle heads & omelets

we went for a walk in the woods
we listen to nature waking up
the beauty of it all just makes me smile
I feel happy

we are out to collect fiddle heads
one of nature’s first edible
there may be others
only recently have we been going out to gather wild edibles
so far mushrooms and fiddles heads are what we collect
there is something quite enthralling about gathering food from the wild
I love it

by the river we find some tightly curled ferns
they’ve just started showing up through the leaves
you can’t wait too long
when nature wakes up she’s got no time to waste for stretches, coffee, and all
she’s on the move

this morning I made us a fiddle head omelet
for two people I used three large farm eggs
beat them up with a little cream, a pinch of salt, cumin and fresh ground pepper

I steamed a couple handful of fiddle heads
I grated some cheddar cheese and chopped some chives
I pour the egg mix onto a cast iron pan
when the egg mix starts to set I place chives, fiddle heads and cheese on one half of it
I wait a little
the cheese melts
I flip the bare half onto the dressed half

a nature walk feeds the soul, lungs, eyes
today, a nature walk also fed two hungry bellies

happy Sunday
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Catherine Bussiere: Surprise

a few weeks ago
I think maybe even before we got back
my son Isaac told me that there would be a surprise graduation party for his fiancé Haley
the cover was
she would be prepping a surprise birthday party for him
so just go along when she let’s you know about it

how does this work?

Haley has a cousin
who really likes Isaac
cousin will pretend he wants to host a surprise birthday party for Isaac
Haley is excited about it
she says it’s really hard to trick Isaac and she can’t keep secrets
but she’ll try her best

Most of Haley’s family lives in Cape Breton
nobody is mentioning anything about her upcoming graduation
Dad who is a musician is busy with gigs
Mom is about to start working
no time for parties it seems

Behind Haley’s back everyone has been plotting
she’s been tricked once before
for her high school graduation
she even made her own cake I was told
thinking she was going to someone else’s party
Never again she said then

yesterday was somewhat crazy
we have to make plans out loud about the day
Hey Isaac, what you want for your birthday
what should we have for supper
let’s bake a cake
the trick is not to slip
not to say too much
no whispering
make Haley think we’re going along with this secret party for Isaac
and keep a straight face

Haley has to figure out a way to get Isaac to St-Margaret’s Bay (cousin’s place)
which is 20 minutes out of town
we have a friend who is away and asked if Haley could go check on her house
then Haley will say that she needs to pick up a jacket she forgot at her cousin
You don’t have to come she says to Isaac, enjoy the day with your family
No, no, Isaac says, I’ll come with you

all of a sudden it’s time
Haley picks up Isaac and off they go
we have to hurry
of course we get stuck in traffic
but funny enough, when we get to the highway exit they are right in front of us
we slow down to let a couple cars get between us

we easily find cousin’s place
there’s lots of cars already there
we quickly unpack the car but as we are ready to head off to the house
here comes Haley and Isaac parking right in front of us
we hide as much as we can while making our way to the house
at this point Haley is breaking up and Isaac is smiling

the house is all decorated
on the table there is a big cake
two camera are set up at different angle ready to roll
we make a quick entrance
“They’re coming” we say

Isaac and Haley walk in
she has a huge smile, her face is glowing as she looks at him
I got you she thinks
then
she turns around
and as she slowly takes in all the people that are in the room
mom, dad, uncles, aunts, cousins
her ivory cheeks turn a nice shade of pink
her mouth widens
her eyes water
(as does everyone else)
We got you, we got you big time!
Oh the love, the laugh, the tears
Congratulation darling
and oh, Happy Birthday Isaac!

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Catherine Bussiere: Gail

foggy morning, fishcakes and biscuits, company over
my blog is a little late today
it’s Sunday

I visited Gail this week
Gail, in legal term, is my mother in law
in my term she is a friend

I thought Gail would be a good person to interview for my age series
she will be 77 this year
you may think: she’s 76, don’t need to age her faster
no, but the thing is, Gail cares more about the sound of the number then the meaning we might associate it with
and so 77 sounds much better then 76
actually, really, Gail loves double digits

so far, in the few interviews that I have done, there have been reactions regarding age;
mind association that connects age with physical and mental abilities
beauty, energy, hopes and dreams, curiosity, interest …
often I hear concerns, at any age, be it 20, 30, 40
fear, unmet expectations
our own or others
trying to keep up with the time
and the time ticking

The interesting thing with Gail is that age seems like an irrelevant word.

“ 77, what about it ? Nothing ! I’m grateful; I love double numbers.”

When does one become old?

“ It’s a mental attitude, an outlook …
I find it’s enriching because the wisdom is with age,
because of past experiences …
You have great memories of past experiences and that keeps you young,
in thought, mind …
Then I am just grateful;
Thank you!
I’m still able to be independent, and that’s everything.

Being a woman, when you go through menopause that’s the beginning of getting old
and you know it, you feel it, you sense it
you know your limits little by little
and the thing is not to give into your limits because you’ll loose all that muscle
muscle disappears quickly and you want to keep your muscle more or less ”

Time or age never affected you?

“ No, I had a lot of desires so I just went…
I never needed a lot of comfort, I didn’t need to have luxury.
You can be very vain about your body, your face and your living style
and I don’t think I was enhanced with vanity. “

the conversation will keep going
what inspires me with Gail is her will power
whatever Gail wants, Gail gets some way or another
she has lived and is living her life just like she wants
she has embraced an innumerable amount of projects
art, travel, work
she is creative, curious, passionate
she is demanding to herself and others
and is incredibly generous
her life has been and remains full

Next project? : “ my goal is when I’m 80 I’ll go to Cuba “

I love it

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Catherine Bussiere: Home

it was a long journey
we almost missed our last connection Montreal – Halifax
but all and all it went really well
several hours of transit brought us to a sunny Nova Scotia spring afternoon
where Isaac and Haley kindly picked us up at the airport and brought us home

the mud road to our house is overrun by melting snow
little rivers everywhere eating away at the mud
I’m impressed with the amount of snow left to melt

we walk in the house
it’s warm, and has the smell of a cottage that has been left alone for a season
Sam got here the day before to get things going
the fire is crackling, flies are buzzing in the windows
I will get the vacuum out later to take care of those

it’s interesting to walk around
everything looks quite good
a cd case left near a window is washed out, bleached by the sun
the trip “to do list” is still on the kitchen table
most of the items are crossed off
I guess we did what had to be done

Eric goes to the basement
he had made a batch of wine before we left
6 months later we are ready to try it
celebrate our return
the wine is tasty

our cats are back too
they look quite content
Grammy took good care of them
they each carry a few extra pounds
round purring ball of fur they are

it will take a few days to fully settle in
we’re back
it seems somewhat unreal after being on the road for months
seeing and meeting and experiencing so much
time to reflect
time to embrace a new season
time to look for work!

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Maritime Mary: Family Time

Some are small and quiet, others are large and quiet but my family is large and loud! This weekend we were surrounded by most of our family members, aged eighty-six to one.

In my family, we sit in a big circle in the living room or around the large kitchen table overflowing to capacity. We eat, love snacks and all things cheese. The teapot is always on and the coffee brewed. Refills and noise, crumbs and kids, teasing and playing, and lots of laughs, that’s what happens.

We gathered for a wedding, a family celebration in a country community for a young dairy farming couple. Everyone looked stunning, the meal was great and the decor of burlap and lace was a beautiful combination of traditional and classy country.

After a wonderful evening of family, friends, food and dancing in celebration, we picked up a jar of homemade jelly to take home as a lovely souvenir to enjoy later.

The entire weekend – sweet!

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Maritime Mary: Thanksgiving

It’s ironic.
As we age, our eyesight acuity may diminish
But we become more insightful,
More perceptive,
We focus better,
See more clearly.
Experience has taught us
What really matters,
What the jewels are,
And it all begins
And centres
In the home.
Our home,
Our family,
Our hearts.
That is what really matters.
Thankful.

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Catherine Bussiere: excited!

I am so excited
it happens some times
this week end I saw my boys and we had a family meeting
our trip to Europe is coming fast and things had to be figured out

My daughter has been busy buying the best of things
she is like that my daughter
she has been receiving all sorts of things in the mail those past few weeks
this week was an awesome backpack
today she bought herself beautiful boots
we were in Halifax earlier
there are no cool boot stores in Beckwith
there are no stores in Beckwith for that matter

Seeing my daughter made me want a couple of things, so:
I got a boring but very handy hat for when we will be picking olives
(I much rather wear a hat then sunscreen)
I got a couple of those super thin towels without looking at their actual size
(turned out they are about as big as a hand towel, but really thin)
I got a map of Europe
(hey, that should come in handy)
and…
oh, an enormous mustard colored backpack

My kids made fun of me
it took about half an hour to adjust the straps
my husband gallantly said he could carry it for me if I got tired
I like the color + if we ever have to walk in the rain for a period of time all my stuff will be dry: it is super waterproof = the best
I mean I could almost take shelter in my backpack if need be

so, I’m excited
it’s all coming soon
my husband, daughter and I are taking our first flight ever to London in less than a month
should I panic?
maybe!

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answering a letter about being a young mother and hooking rugs

Dear Diary, I have had lots of interesting responses and conversations about the question I posed Why have knitting and quilting have become so popular, while rug hooking remains more obscure. Today I even got a beautiful handwritten letter in the mail from Carrie Clem a reader in Aylesford , Nova Scotia. In it she asked me to write a bit about when I was a young mother with small chidren and how I managed to work at that time.

That brought me think of this Christmas when my son agreed that I was much nicer now that he was an adult. I said thanks, then he said, “You’d still be cranky though if you had a bunch of young kids running around here.” I had to laugh because it had a serious ring of truth to it.

When my children were little sometimes I was a bit of a grump because I was always trying to be two things at once. I did take lots of time for my children. My son and I would make things together before he went to school. I walked him to school in the mornings. When he was really little we went to a play group every Friday morning and we would often go to a local restaurant for a cinnamon bun together. I was always around. I baked cookies. I hooked with him on my knee. I went to his classroom and made crafts. My daughter and I did the same thing, though I was only ever welcome to carve pumpkins in her class , she never wanted the crafts.

Sometimes as I did these things I bemoaned or complained a bit. I was no saint but I was a present mom, and knew somehow that this time was fleeting, just not how fleeting. At the time, I also had the pressures of two aging and ill parents but so I was sandwiched between multiple needs. My career was just getting off to a start. I wrote Hook Me a Story during all those in between intervals of caring and loving and complaining and sometimes I hooked rugs with a child on my knee. If I have one regret, it was that I was cranky with them and would lose my patience. Sometimes instead of having my mind on mothering, I had it on mat making. I know that  if I had it to do again I would make mistakes again. There is no getting through those years of mothering, parenting, and loving without making them.

I often worked from eight in the morning until ten at night. The work involved everything from reading a bedtime story three times, to baking cookies, to wrapping packages for mail order, to hooking a rug. I was in the thick of it and I could not imagine that there would ever be a time that I was not yelping because I stepped on a piece of lego, or that we would not be driving in two different directions for hockey games on snowy days, or that there would not be lunches to pack. I was lost in mama land.

It was only this fall after my son had been away at university for a year already that it started to sink in that raising children is just a part of your life. Honestly, once I had kids , I felt it was my life. My family and my home was my priority, and my business and my art came second. Sometimes there were at war with each other a bit, when one would demand the other step aside for one reason or another. My son has been away for two years now, and it is just sinking in that he is a man now and that his life is his own.  I can hardly believe it. My daughter is a young woman. They remain more important to me than any other part of my life but I have to tell you…..

I am so thankful that I have other parts of my life to turn to because with out my art , my business, my community, and my friendships, I would feel like a loose thread. I would be lost.

As we raise our families it is so important to hang onto ourselves and to carve out something meaningful for our lives. Rug Hooking has provided me with that in a multitude of ways and I believe that no matter how busy we are we need a few minutes to ourselves each day. We need to hang on to ourselves, to express our creativity and to carve out a life that is our own outside of our family. Khalil Gibran, the famous Lebanese philosopher, in speaking about marriage  said, “Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.” He also said, “Let there be space in your togetherness”. I feel that this is true for families in general.

I never found parenting easy. In fact I loved mothering but really never loved parenting. It is a hard job, and unlike my rug hooking job, gets very little recognition. There may be no household where you are told each day what a lovely job you did on the laundry. Children may want and need to be parented but there are many times they do not enjoy it. My son is right though, I am more pleasant now because I have that much needed time to myself, time to think, time to be, time to create, time to work. One time I had to carve out those times out of a busy schedule.

I am glad I was able to, but also glad that I kept hearing that Harry Chapin song in the back of my head…”Dad can I borrow the car keys, see you later can I have them please…….we’ll get together soon Dad.” I never wanted to be the Dad in that in song, and if I ever am it won’t be because I wasn’t there. No doubt though, they’ll remember what I crab I was at times, and I’ll always be able to say, “”at least I was there, contrary maybe, but present” Who gets everything, I’ll tell them. I also do not reminding them that it wasn’t easy being with people who held their pee and yelled at you because you were making them use the bathroom, or regularly insisted on leaving three thousand pieces of lego all over the living room floor as the project was not finished, or pooped behind the chair in the living room , or refused to wear shoes.

For me being a mother was the most important thing I did but I am glad I spent time with people who went to bathroom with out being forced, and wore shoes when needed. I am glad I insisted on an hour to myself now and then, and that I made sure I got  at least twenty minutes on my own each day, because un beknowst to me, it did not last for ever. I remain , a mother and a wife, and I remain Deanne. I am glad I hung on to her along the way.

Carrie, thank you for  your thoughtful letter. I hope this answers your question…

 

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a gift from theo

Dear Diary, When I look down at my wedding ring finger I see something different than most women see because on my ring finger is a ring that my father in law , Theo Mansour gave to me. One of the  favorite stories on my audio book is below. I wrote it first in 2008 and thought you might enjoy reading it again. I love this story because it reminds me of the value of life, appreciating beauty, and how someone can love you just the way you are…….

 

 

January 25, 2008  Dear Diary, My father in law, Theo Mansour was probably the classiest man I have ever met. He sold men’s wear all his life, though when he left Lebanon at the age of seventeen to come to Canada, it was on the promise that he would study to become a doctor. Instead, he joined his Uncle Mike Mansour here in Amherst and went into business. We have a picture in the store of Mike with his horse and wagon. He peddled the countryside around here, and Theo set up a shop in town. Together they built a beautiful business. Theo always dressed impeccably. When he was in his eighties he would walk a mile to work in a white double breasted jacket and a white fedora. He was the only person I ever knew to have a pair of alligator shoes. He won them at a men’s wear show before such things were unacceptable. Most of his life here in town he lived in an older home. In the nineteen seventies he bought a new modern house and moved his family to Elmwood Drive. The furniture in that house today is exactly the same as it was when he picked it out nearly forty years ago. He told me he went to Montreal to buy the dining room set and had it sent back on the train. He wanted something he would still like thirty years later and could not find it here. When I first started coming around twenty years ago in my granny glasses, levis, and baggy shirts he welcomed me. He liked that I had gone to university. He had no notions about who I was…..or how I should dress. Though every time I wore a skirt he told me how nice I looked.

 

As Robert and I settled in together he accepted that we did not want a fancy house in town but preferred a farm house on the edge. He did not understand it, when we could have had a beautiful  new bungalow, but that first Christmas he bought us two new windows for this  place to help counter the winds and the creaking. The windows kept coming occasion after occasion until the wind was held at bay. He read all the time, and was as interested in life in his nineties as he had ever been. He liked to garden, and to give women roses that he had grown himself. He would hand you the rose looking right at your face, waiting  for the smile to dawn across it. He also like to laden you with pears from his pear trees in the fall. They were his glory

 

When Robert and I were to be married he offered Robert a diamond from a tie pin that his sister had given him to make a ring for me. Not being sentimental, and knowing that I had little interest in jewels, Robert said,” She doesn’t like diamonds, never mind.” It was a brusque exchange between father and son. The father not understanding, the son seeing his offer as being “second hand”. They saw things differently. The truth is I had always said, “Don’t buy me a diamond, I’d like a piece of land.” I never got either. I did not even know about the offer until five years later. It was too late then. I said to my husband, “It would have been nice coming from your father.” He said, “I didn’t think you’d want some old diamond from a pin of his. ” I said it didn’t matter any way, because it didn’t.

 

Years went by. Theo was always kind and generous to us. We saw things differently often but there were rarely words about it. He was old enough to accept our differences. We were young enough not to care. He gave us  many gifts over the years. Once he picked me out a plum coloured barn jacket that I will have hanging in my closet all my life so that I can wear it again each time it comes in style. He knew it was right for me, and bought it  for me for Christmas from a traveler on one of his buying trips. When we came back to Amherst Shore after a trip to the Gaspe during which our son cried for twelve hours straight and began cleaning out the little one room cottage next door to his. He was happy with the idea of having us next door during the summer so he gave it to us so we could carve a place at the shore for ourselves. We honoured the gift and spent every summer there while the children were little. At night they would go next door and play Bosra, a Lebanese card game that he told them could not start before 9pm. Nights at Amherst shore were long. In the morning they would go next door for  a breakfast of toast and lebany, a homemade yogurt cheese. The slices of whole wheat toast would be cut into four corners and spread the with creamy white cheese and placed on a saucer next to the tiniest glass of orange juice you could imagine. When they were really little he would sit and watch as his wife, wet and combed their hair to a perfect part. He loved the grand children. Our two were his only grandchildren, and he watched them when they were little the way he watched the roses in his garden, with care and attention and joy.

 

When I look back on the year he died I can see that he spent the last six months getting ready to leave. One day at his kitchen table as we talked about the shore, He said,” You know I’m not interested in the shore, I’m getting tired of  living .”  Unbelievably, he was not sounding depressed but completely rational. He was tired and everything was difficult. He had always gone in style, and upon his own accord. He quit driving in his eighties, long before anyone could question his eyesight. He was a man who was always prepared. He was sensitive, and sensible. With in three months of that conversation he had a fall and went into the hospital for the final month of his life. He was ninety six.

 

I visited him regularly in the hospital. Sometimes he would talk at great lengths about his life when we were alone. As the month wore on, however he became less lucid , and conversation was dense and cumbersome. One afternoon, as I was getting ready to leave, he took my left hand, and pointed to my ring finger. In a heavy, throaty whisper, he pointed to my finger, and he said, “I got a pin for you. Take me with you now and I’ll get it for you. ” Of course there was no taking him with me. I said I knew about the pin, and it would all work out. Days later I mentioned it to Robert and he said, “Mom has been talking about that too. She keeps bringing it up. ” I knew, when the time was right, they would bring me the pin, and of course they did. What really got me though, that even though he was ninety six ,and very sick, and knowing he was at the end of his life, he still could feel what it is like to enjoy life. He could look at my empty finger and want to fill it with something beautiful, something from him. It was just another rose, just another basket of pears. He wanted to love me a little bit more.

 

The diamond pin was set upon a cross of gold, and when I turned it into a ring I left it in its original setting. All last week I wore that ring because I was feeling a bit off, and it brought me around every time I looked at it. It is a ring, but really it is a story, and a memory of a beautiful man, all wrapped up in a band of gold

 

where does time go?

Dear Diary, What is solitude, if you are often alone?  I spoke to a friend , Gabrielle Savoie this week, and she said, “Solitude is more powerful when there is someone there than when there is no one. ” As a mother, wife, artist, business person, I know this is true. As they often do Gaby’s words resonated with me.  Solitude is so valuable, so scarce when you are in the thick of your life, when children are young, families are big, and life is busy.

In mid life, it is easier to find the quiet, as our parents leave the world we know, as our children begin to enter worlds of their own. You can gather a few minutes to yourself if you want them. I have always been greedy about time to myself, making sure I got a piece every day as if it were a cake. As a young mother to get some, you had to be a bit greedy…that is such a nasty word , but it describes what I felt then. I had to snatch time, and squirrel myself away.

Now there are days that are fully my own to do as I wish. I have a good many, and Gabie’s quote becomes so meaningful. When there are tons of people around all the time, solitude is like gold. When there are fewer demands on your time, solitude feels different. It does not feel bad. I cannot say that it feels bad, only different. I hear the silence. I listen to the silence but I no longer savour it as I once did, because I have become so much more used to it.  Simple economics, supply and demand. I like it, but I no longer feel the need to grab and snatch at it. I have learned it comes as a natural part of life.

I am forty five this year, and I believe that once every few years you come to deeper understandings about life. You only get it with time. You cannot learn it from reading, watching, listening. Time is the teacher.

It is hard to believe that there will be time to yourself when  your 2 year old is peeing on the floor, and your six year old’s nose is running into the birthday cake you just made. You are frazzled, bewildered, and your house is ransacked. The house remains ransacked in most cases, but little ones don’t stay little forever, even though you feel as if they will, as if you are suspended in honey.  A woman living in Twillingate, NL for a few years, one described her stay there to me as that..”suspended in honey. I understood immediately. It’s all perfect, so sweet, but not much room to move. It was more about her circumstances (young children) than Twillingate itself.

I look back at that time in my mind, when our life was full of tiny children and  aging grandparents and I see it all like it was a dream….some hipstamatic pictures, flashing ethereal in my mind. I can’t imagine it really happened, that I was really there, and it of course, brings me back to the question… “Where does time go?”, a question that continues to beg itself  through out all of life . It begged my father, myself, and with the grace of God, it will beg itself of my children. I pray both that they  will live long and healthy, and have enough sense to ask it of themselves to wonder…” where does time go?”