A little miracle

Once upon a time, well, about 16 years ago, I did two things. Bought two blooming cymbidium orchids and saved a Blue Tick Coon Hound puppy from being shot. (Farmers in the country at my cabin didn’t want him and that’s what farmers in the country do apparently) We didn’t keep Sam, the puppy, because he wasn’t a city dog, but I found a lovely home for him with some lovely people, he a hunter, she a housewife, several children, living in the middle of BC. Each time I checked on Sam he seemed to be happy and healthy and living out his hunting breeding legacy.

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Where was I going with this?

Oh yeah, Sam, not the city dog, ripped up both orchids in a fit of puppy play. I was going to throw them out but my aunt decided to try to save them.

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Fast forward to now. My aunt kept and babied the remaining plant, now one orchid for the past 14 years and kept threatening to throw it out because it would never bloom.

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After my aunt died I took the orchid home and put it outside on the back patio and brought it into the garage and then into the house for winter.

And look!

I can’t believe it! It’s given me seven beautiful flower stalks.

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Do you think that’s my aunt smiling down?

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I really, really wanted to write this post but I’m so moved that I’ve been staring at a blank page for an hour.

I dropped in on Dalyce’s book store today and, being my friend, she handed me a book she saved for me.

I didn’t even question her choice for me, she knows what I love, I had a good mooch, found more books, we had a little chat and off I went.

This evening I opened the book and it’s then when I realised what a treasure Dalyce gave me.

I’m absolutely humbled and speechless.

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I feel like I don’t deserve to own this book. Like I haven’t done enough in this world to warrant a book like this belonging to me.
It is extraordinary and has completely taken my breath away.

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It’s a 1941 book called 12 Million Black Voices written by Richard Wright with photographs by the most amazing photographers of the day including Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange and Arthur Rothstein.

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It is a simple book beautifully written in poetry with passion and love. Powerful and startling showing everything from joy and optimism…

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…to horrible poverty and despair, and the most horrible, gruesome, outrages injustices, (which I can’t bring myself to replicate).

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It is the story of the Great Depression and the migration of oppressed people.

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It is full of voices and faces which will never be forgotten. “Deep down in us,” the voices say, “we are glad that our children feel the world hard enough to yearn to wrestle with it.”

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Reading thru this book, seeing the faces, understanding…it’s life changing.

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Oh, what was that bright light in the sky?

Morgan had to jump on the window sill to have a better look.

I think it might be the sun!

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So good for our damp little hearts.

Better run outside and plant the rest of the flowers in the garden before the rain comes again.

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Clover? There’s no moving C right now. She just got an early birthday prezzy from her grandmother. (C’s birthday is April 9th but her old pc was misbehaving)

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I once read a Ray Bradbury short story set on Venus where it rained all the time. (I’m sure the he lived in Vancouver when he wrote it) Once every several yrs the sun came out for a brief time. One school girl boasted about seeing the sun and how wonderful it was but the other school children didn’t believe her and locked her in a closet. Then ran outside for recess. That was the day the sun came out and all the children laughed and played in the sunshine until one felt a drop of rain and the clouds moved in and it began to pour. They then thought of the little girl locked in the closet who missed that glorious time, they walked to the closet and silently let her out.

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C is being the girl in a self-imposed closet right now. But it’s alright.

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And in the time it took me to photograph this and write this post…maybe 30 minutes…it’s clouded over and now it’s raining.

Working on the ten mile project…St Mary’s chapel

I found it for you.
This lovely, lovely little chapel.

Driving the direct road you sometimes have to take a turn. You just have to, don’t you?
When a friend told me about a little chapel standing on its own in the middle of nowhere somewhere towards Chimney…or it could be Cote, but anyway…in that direction over there…isn’t that something you just have to find? I think so.

Apparently it has existed since the 12C in some form or another. Apparently it was endowed to the vicars of Bampton along with 2lb of wax/year for candles.

The chapel was granted burial rights in the 15C, baptism rights by the 16C.

It fell out of favour for some reason by 1772 and became derelict. But was repaired and renovated by 1785 and the medieval bell was rehung in the belfry.

On the way home, driving thru the village of Cote, I bought armloads of the most spectacular dahlias, fresh picked tomatoes, beans and onions.

Found Graham the village butcher and got some sausages from him.
Guess what’s for supper! All locally grown, made, sourced. I love that, don’t you?

Cats, a very personal review, very hard to write. (and not at all what I was expecting)

Yesterday C and I went to see Cats the musical. At the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Closing night. Little black dress, rouge coco lipstick, vintage Swarovski bracelet, opera glasses.


I woke up in a bad mood Saturday. I don’t know where it started, or even why it started.
It was a melancholy sadness which grabbed hold of my heart and sank into the depths of my bones and ran thru my veins.
By Sunday afternoon it took every ounce of effort to go to the theatre, and only my sweet girl’s excitement kept me going.
We got there, found our seats, the lights dimmed, the conductor raised his baton to the first notes, cat’s eyes began to flicker among the audience and tears began to fall.


The last time I saw cats was about 25 years ago. It was the prelude to the most agonising two years of my life. It was a prelude to the breakdown of my first marriage, to bitterness, vitriol and a long custody fight.
At that moment, things which happened 25 years ago were just there on the stage. Illuminated by the music, whirled about by the dancers, breathed out by the lights.
You know, I don’t know who this notion of moving on came from but he got it all wrong. Yes, I know, this weekend I’ve allowed seeds of resentment space to grow in my heart and I’ve watered and nurtured those seeds until they choked out the calm. Calm hasn’t had an easy time of it lately.

Not at all

I’m not sure what I was listening to for those few moments, but I listened deeply with an open heart.
You might be relieved to know that by the time the naming of the cats came the tears stopped and were replaced with a relative calmness and peace which helped to dissolve the resentment. (For now)
Is it wrong to feel like your past defines who you have become? Does your past define you? Maybe refine is a better word.
Mine does. Yes I know it. It does.

Yes. It does.

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Ever thought about writing a self help book? Sure you have, you’re clever and pretty and have nice shoes… yeah, me too. So here’s the thing, I read a lot. A lot. And I’m almost completely convinced that all that fix-up advice in the mountain of self help publications is such a bunch of meaningless drivel. (Who knows though, I haven’t read it all, maybe there’s some magic bullet out there which isn’t the same as the rest.) If you know of any, please let me know, but only if you’ve read the whole book because, according to what’s on offer at the local charity shops for $1/book, it seems that people get thru the first 25 pages and realise that they already ARE clever and pretty and wearing nice shoes and give the book away. I’m fed up with sage advice like: Feel the love inside before you can give it, it’s too soon to quit, believe and it shall be, imagine experiences…your mind can’t tell the difference, every resource you need is already in your head, expand/limit your vocabulary for success, set goals, whatever you are afraid of…feel it…forget it, be happy, keep working at it…never give up, think positively, eliminate your bad habits, awaken the sleeping giant, get off your butt, work it out and eat a well balanced diet.

Did I miss anything?

As to the writers of these books, I usually catagorise them in five groups:
There’s the “you’re just fine” approach, there are also the “you’re dumb, I’m smart”, “you’re dumb, I’m smart because I’m a Dr.”, “you’re dumb I’m smart because I’m successful” and the very popular, “you’re dumb, I’m smart and you’re also a mess” approach.

Fix-up advice doesn’t fix, it masks, but people believe it anyway because that’s what we are told to do. We get it from advertising slogans, mass media, slanderous political campaigners (this is a very limited list feel free to notice and add your own, remember, you’re clever and pretty…)

For the record I’d like to make this my personal manifesto:

“Veronica, thy name is dysfunction*. It’s also stress, guilt and the occasional road rage.”

So I’ve made a form letter to send to every self-help guru who’s book I read. It’ll look like this:

Dear Dr. insert name

I read your book, insert title. It was very entertaining, however, I’m still a mess.

Kind regards,
Veronica

*If you don’t know what dysfunction means go ask your grandparents who will tell you to go wash your face because they grew up in a world where the focus on what was right was stronger than today’s fixation on what’s wrong.

“Never work with children…” W.C. Fields

In one of her uni communications courses, C had a photo project to do of creating a magazine for women. I volunteered to take the photos. (I’m such a good mom) The photo shoot  was going really well until someone had the idea to include a 1950′s perfect housewife shot. So out came the chicken (tonight’s supper), a 1950′s dress, an apron, the feather duster and, since K was over, Binky was a perfect prop.

 

Charming.

If there’s coffee it must be Vancouver

I have a confession to make; I don’t really like coffee. But I love tea. Any kind of tea really. And have had times in my life where I’ve been totally addicted to Starbucks venti chai lattes, non-fat milk, seven pumps of syrup…mmm.

The way I see it this is a practical thing to be addicted to because it helps one put life into perspective…like…”What do you mean $7 for that sandwich? That’s practically two chai lattes!” So it’s reassuring for me to walk round Vancouver with my Starbucks cup; at least I look like I fit in with coffee culture.

The Knight Templar next door

And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
Signifying nothing.”
— Macbeth

It’s Tuesday afternoon.

I’m in Oxfordshire, about 10 miles southwest of Oxford, in my small village Northmoor, in St. Denys church, lying on the cold stone floor, (as one does), beside the effigy of the Baron Sir Thomas More, a 12C Knight Templar. The knight’s full height, from lion at his feet to tip of his helmet barely reaches my shoulder. I think about some of the doors in some of the older houses in the village, the sitting rooms I can’t walk across without ducking.

Man, these were some small people.

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But this can’t have included Sir Thomas? He was a Knight Templar.  Surely he was a 6’4, 220 lbs, solid muscle, chainmail wearing, draft horse riding, super-he-man. Hasn’t anyone read Dan Brown?

So here I am, lying on the ground of a 12C church, on top of a 16C grave, and the reality is staring me in the face and I’m making up my own explanations.

Explanation no. 1 (also known as the most favourite):

His body was buried in his full 6’4 muscle-bound glory and his effigy made 1/3 scale due to lack of above ground church space.

Explanation no.2 (also known as “well, it could happen”):

He died in some noble and virtuous fight from having his legs chopped off at the knees and there was only so much Sir Thomas left to bury.

Explanation no.3 (also known as probable)

He really was that short…damn you Dan Brown, stick to reality next time.

I twist my neck around to look up and behind me; there is his wife, the Lady Isabel.  She’s dressed in chemise, tunic, wimple and veil, her feet rest on her faithful dog. I shuffle over to her effigy, this time I line my head up with hers and my knees, calves and feet protrude past her dog. Maybe that was tall for the middle ages. I wonder what they’d make of me. At 5’7 I figure I’m pretty average for the 21C. I imagine I ran into a time machine and was landed in Tom’s time. Would they dress me in a tunic which only reached to my knees? That probably would be indecent. That might lead to wimples, chastity belts, forced marriage to some medieval midget and the predictable short and miserable life of backbreaking labour and flea bites. I give my over-imaginative head a shake, get off the floor and walk out of the church into the very real, warm August sunlight.

Where she links dead foxes with croissants


Today I drove over a dead fox on the A 404.
I was driving my Austin 7 and going about 60 mph and, well, I’m a complete wimp about these things. The problem is that the fox was right in the middle of my lane and I didn’t have the time or space to swerve around it. I didn’t have a choice but to straddle it hoping my wheel base was wide enough and my clearance was high enough that I wouldn’t drag, smush, squish, or otherwise attach the fox (or worse – bits of the fox) to my mini.
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It was a big fox.
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Ug. UG!
Poor innocent fox.
Stupid A 420.
I should write a letter!
There should be fences! All the foxes, badgers, pheasants etc. should be relocated away from roads!
I looked in the rear view mirror to see the fox still in the middle of the road and everyone one behind me driving normally.
Am I the only one having problems with killed foxes on roads?
Maybe the British collective consciousness weighs heavily on the dead fox idea. Let’s face it, historically foxes have not had an easy time frolicking around in lush woodlands, sleeping out in a verdant and sunny meadow for any longer than three minutes before some pack of dogs and hunters set on it, chase it down with fanfare bugles and a hearty “tally ho, what”, drag it out of any hole or den it might try to hide in and rip it to shreds.
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Maybe the fox intentionally hurled itself under a car.
Wouldn’t blame it.
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Had to lose myself in retail therapy and buttery croissants for the rest of the afternoon.