Friday, 30 October 2015


Well, the grands are not so little anymore.

Their hands are considerably less chubby.

They speak in paragraphs now and know things I forgot a lifetime ago.

They make jokes...and some of them are even mildly amusing.

I  am no longer the centre of their universe (what? I never was?)

They have school and play dates and practices and not nearly enough Grammy time.


We have formed a club.

It is very official.

We have membership cards.

Grammy is the treasurer because she buys the books and snacks.

Jerod is the secretary and records the books we read and why we liked them. We take a picture of each book and rate the books with stars..... 

Davis is the social convener. He consults his calendar and  proposes the date and the venue where we will read the new book.

Starbucks is a favourite....gotta love that lemon bread.

So far we have read:

Every book and every venue has received a 3 star rating with Grammy's place getting a 'best ever' for venue (children learn to suck up at quite a young age)

Next month we will be reading:

and in December we will bake our favourites.

Lest you think this is a frivolous organization, we have taken photos to show how serious we are about this.

We have also discussed writing our own book, doing activities mentioned in the books, and eating food the characters eat.

Maybe we will dress up too!

We are having a blast

You may copy us if you like.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Burnt Offering

I know you now.

You think this post is about my Thanksgiving dinner.


This is a short story I wrote some time ago. It was inspired by the image of a pear on a Thanksgiving napkin of all things. I can't explain it, but when I espied it, I just knew there was a story in there.

When I sat down to write, I had no idea what the story would be about, but a short while later, in one sitting, it was complete. Even I was surprised as the story unfolded and held my breath as the last line literally wrote itself.

This is quite a departure from some of my more light-hearted blogs. It is in fact a gripper and you may find you need to engage your hanky.

When re-reading this story, I realized that a part of me had leaked out.
I think that's what happens when something presses us to create.
 Buried or forgotten events/feelings sometimes need a voice and there is often healing in the telling, or composing or painting those innermost/private parts of us. They long for expression and will find a way.

This story gives voice and thereby validity to a beautiful/sad part of sweet boy, born so still some 43 years ago.

I never knew him but he is precious to me.

And my gentle, encouraging hand-on-my-shoulder Dad who never lived long enough to know the breadth of my love and admiration for him.

Burnt Offering

Hannah walked through the orchard, her dusty feet bathing in the grassy dew.

It was early, long before the hot sun would bake the pathway into a concrete thoroughfare teeming with workers and wagons and ladders. She cradled the rusty Bartletts in her gingham apron, relishing the earthy sweetness with one finely-tuned nostril while loathing the scent of their fullness with the other.

She liked to pick in the morning, just a few beauties to line up on the farmhouse plank table and a few more to use in the day’s culinary experiment. Pear mincemeat today, she decided. It would join the other pints and quarts, zinc-ringed and glass-topped, lined up on the open shelves above the granite sink in her summer kitchen. Pear honey, pear chutney, pickled pears. She loved those jars, the fruits of her labour, their amberness clear and unmarred by pretentious labels, testament to her thrift and diligence, her ingenuity and foresight.

A crackling sound brought her back to the orchard. A rabbit, she supposed.

Two chubby, bare legs popped out between trees. Rebecca, Hazel’s child. She had dressed herself in a floaty, yellow, smocked sundress, and wore it inside out, her freckled arms swinging with four-year old exuberance.

Hannah ran to greet her. She knelt down letting the pears scatter on the grass while she scooped her up.

“What are you doing out here, you little buttercup?”

“Pears. I want to pick pears.”

“Do you want to pick or eat?” asked Hannah, rubbing a pear on her apron and offering it.

Rebecca took it in her hands and bit. She laughed, pear juice dripping from her nose and chin. Hannah joined in, taking a bite and laughing a shared girl-laugh, then twisted her niece around and set her on the grass in front. She hugged the little shoulders, feeling her thighs warm as Rebecca’s bottom nestled between her legs.

They sat under the pleached canopy, rocking back and forth, watching the morning sun begin to filter through. Crows scolded overhead, then swooped down to forage in the ground fall, sending tiny wrens flitting about. Rebecca’s fingers pointed here and there, but she stayed put, snuggling back and listening as Hannah hummed.

“Rebecca! Rebecca Jane! Where are you?”

Hannah stiffened as her sister stormed down the path.

“You little brat! You had me worried to death!” Hazel yanked Rebecca up and swatted her three times, then dragged her screaming, stopping only to glare at Hannah.

“You’re as bad as her. It’s no wonder you don’t have any kids. You can’t be trusted with them.”

Hannah sat, stunned, the words, despite their source, burning a hole through her chest and into her womb. She gathered her pears, now dull and lifeless and walked with calculated steps through the arbour, around the herb garden, up the stone steps and into the kitchen. She placed them in a large pudding bowl on the table and picked up a paring knife.

She began to peel, separating skin from flesh, long slow strokes starting at the stem end and curving around full ripe bellies. Their bodies, naked and pristine accumulated on the table and she took them one by one, cut out their hearts and chopped them into little pieces.

She turned to the stove, sliding fruit and raisins, cloves and honey into the enamel kettle, folding and mixing with practised hand, oblivious to the clomp of heavy steps on the cobblestone floor behind her.

She jumped when she felt a bony hand on her shoulder but melted when she realized whose it was. Walter, her father, bless his heart, was soothing and undemanding. She swore there was a healing that flowed through his hands, springing from the orchard he tended, growing through his worn brown Kodiaks, branching along the breadth of his stocky frame and leafing out as fingertips, green and vibrant, dripping with aloe and heart salve.

He had affected her that way since she was a small child, able to hold her tight and send the night terrors fleeing, or walk beside her, hand at her back, massaging her forward into the dark corners and blind alleys of adolescence. He had twined his fingers in hers when they buried Daniel in the orchard and she breathed for the first time in three days, aware that at twenty-one, she was old enough to be a mother, but all she wanted at the moment was to be his little Hannah.

She turned now and wept on his neck, crying for the child of her youth, for the lost possibilities, the tiny hands. She cried for her barren womb, its frosty walls steeled against new beginnings.

The door squeaked, then slammed as her husband Ben walked into the kitchen and over to the cast iron stove. He poured himself a cup of the dark Mennonite coffee.

“What’s with her?” he asked, pointing his mug in Hannah’s direction.

“It’s okay,” said Walter. “She just burnt her finger. She’s all right.”

“Let me see,” said Ben, reaching out to grab her elbow.

“No. never mind,” said Hannah, wrapping her finger in her apron and turning to the stove. She knew he meant well, but it wasn’t as if he could make everything better.

She stirred round and round the kettle, scraping the bottom and breathing in the soothing pear fumes, conscious that his eyes were burning a hole through the back of her cotton print housedress and widening longingly over the curve of her hips.

“I’ll be in the south orchard,” he said. “Bring lunch about 12:30. None of that fancy stuff, just a couple of meatloaf sandwiches and a thermos of tea.”

Hannah continued stirring.

“Do you hear me woman? he said.

“She heard you right enough,” said Walter. “She’ll be there.”

Ben swallowed the last of his coffee and slammed the mug on the table.

“What? You talking for her now too?" he asked, coming toward him.

“Leave it alone, Ben. Leave it alone,” said Walter.

Ben stepped back, and then walked out of the house, his jaw rigid and hands shaking.

Hannah lined up hot jars on the maple bench and began funnelling steaming mincemeat into their wide mouths. She filled them, wiped their rims, then adjusted the rubber rings and lids and screwed on the bands, sealing in the late summer sweetness, saving it and keeping it safe. She washed her sticky hands and dried them on her apron, then turned to the table where her father sat watching her.

Walter reached out a hand and she grabbed it.

“I’m okay now, Dad. Really. Best get on with your day.”

“Guess I better” he said, standing up. “Boys ‘ll be needing the picker before long and I’ve still got the belt off.”

“Here. I froze some water for you. It’s going to be a scorcher.”

He took the jugs and kissed her cheek, leaving her in the doorway, arms folded across her chest. She watched him limp through the yard, stopping twice to set the jugs down before rounding the corner of the machine shed. He’s getting old, she thought.

She went back through the kitchen and stared at the golden jars. So much accomplished and it was barely 8:30. She took off her sandals and stepped up into the main house, glad she was alone with a whole day stretching out in front of her. She hurried through the house, whisking away clutter and dusting furniture and knick knacks, and then retreated up the back stairs to the attic bedroom.

It was so peaceful up here. You could look out the small octagonal window and see acres of orchard in every direction, a legacy from her grandfather, Morris Jensen. She knew him from photographs and newspaper clippings: Poor Immigrant Farmer Turns Desert into Dessert.

He was a legend around here and an inspiration. He and his wife Janna suffered losses too, three children dead before their first birthdays; yet they struggled on together, tilling rocky soil and planting row upon row of tiny slips they'd brought from Holland, making a life and a home for their eight other children and turning the valley into an oasis of hope for other disenchanted settlers.

Hannah wondered how Grandma Janna survived those cold winters before the orchard matured and the fruit was ready for picking. What a miracle it must have seemed, that first golden pear, rich reward for the long hard years. Everyone took it for granted now. The orchard was there, plain and simple, always was, always would be. It had provided a living for three generations and would be there for years to come.

But not for a child of hers.

She lifted the lid of the black leather trunk and took out the white christening gown, the one Daniel had worn and she herself and Walter, tiny pearl buttons, rows of tucks and pleats and bands of homemade lace sewn on the finest, thinest lawn fabric. She could picture Janna sitting here at the window, surveying the fields and sewing her heart into each perfect stitch. 

Hannah traced her fingers around the neck and into the sleeves, feeling for substance, for a sense of the child, rosy and laughing that had last filled it. She draped it on her chest and rocked, singing All the Pretty Horses and remembering Daniel's sweet baby-powder smell, the folds of his neck, and his heart beating fast against hers. She could see his tiny feet, pink and curled, still too small for the little brown workboots Ben had brought home the day he was born. She imagined him in the orchard toddling through the rows or straddling Ben's shoulders and reaching for a pear.

Ben's lunch! She sat up panicked, then tuned into the shouting outside. She ran down the stairs and into the yard and choked as she breathed in a mouthful of acrid black smoke.

"What's going on?" she yelled above men and machinery, covering her mouth with a corner of her apron.

"South orchard! Picker caught fire. Whole back ten is up in flames."

"Have you seen Dad? And Ben?"

"Walter's hurt bad. Haven't seen Ben. Must be there somewhere. We're just back to fill the water truck."

Hannah ran to the house, grabbed the keys to the half-ton, some towels and a jug of water and then flew out the door and into the truck. She sped off, gravel flying, down the driveway and turned up the side line. She pressed harder on the accelerator, feeling she was making no headway, and prayed thngs weren't as bad as they looked.  

The sky was even blacker over here. It was hard to see, and she almost missed the turn-off at Slater's corner. She skidded to a stop, backed up and pulled in by the trucks of neighbouring farmers. She ran toward the first field where men were beating the wall of flames with blankets and soaking it with buckets of water. 

The picker stood like a charred sculpture in the middle and all around it were the bodies of trees, de-limbed and crisped, reeking a mixture of burnt firewood and baked pears.

"Where's Dad?" she shouted.

"Over there." Fred Slater pointed to the workers' lean-to.

Hannah stumbled over fallen branches, her eyes stinging and body blackening with grimy soot. She reached Walter and fell to the ground by his side.

"Dad. It's Hannah. I'm here Dad. Everything's okay now."

He opened his cracked lips and looked at her, his eyes starting to tear.

"The orchard...." he said.

"Don't worry. We'll save it," said Hannah

Walter relaxed and reached for her hand. She curled her fingers around his aware that this was his final gesture, yet still half-expecting his touch to electrify and empower her like it always had. She hung on, stroking his hand until he dropped it and let out a sigh.

Hannah got up.

"He's gone," she said, surprised at her composure.

She walked away and turned to the orchard, covering her face with her apron and ignoring shouts to stay back. Ben was in there somewhere. She was terrified of what she might find but at the same time sensed a strange peace beginning to settle over her.

She navigated the rows by memory, working her way up and down, horrified as she realized how much was lost already. She would not lose Ben too.

The fire line was just ahead and she called out to the men passing buckets of dirt and water.

"Ben. Ben!"

But the fire threw back his name in a searing wind that burned her face and sent her stumbling backwards.

She collected herself, dirty and exhausted, turned and began skirting up the machine road to the east hoping to come in on the other side. Her heart thumped, pounding out forgotten memories of the early days, and ticking off missed chances of more recent times. She stopped at the fork, stooping over and holding her sides just long enough to catch her breath, and started again, sweaty ash dripping in her eyes, her legs scratched and bleeding.

" Lord, help me find him," she begged.

She rounded the east ring and stopped, mouth open, as Ben moved in slow motion toward her. His hair was singed on one side, his face red raw, hands blackened, pants and shirt torn and filthy. 

But he was alive.

And in his arms he carried his love...... a tiny white casket, dirt still clingng to its sides. He set it on the ground at her feet and leaned into her. They hung on, swaying together and laughing and crying and wiping each other's faces.

They walked around the perimeter, each holding a handle, their precious cargo in between. The wind had started to die down and the air felt cool on Hannah's skin. She looked through the smoke, now greyer than black and could make out shapes up ahead.

A cheer went up as they stepped out of the haze into the clearing where women stood with picnic baskets, children clinging to their skirts, and men stooped to drink from water jugs. Hannah could feel the relief and sadness in the air.

She remembered with a stab.

"Dad. Dad's dead, Ben."

She set down her end of the casket and hurried through the crowd. He lay where she had left him, his head propped on towels, arms folded across his chest. Hazel sat on the ground beside him, head between her knees, back heaving with sobs.

Hannah bent to touch her shoulder. Hazel looked up.

"He loved you best Hannah. He always did."

"Only because I needed it, because I was weak."

"No, because you shared his heart, his passion for this place. It's always been just a bunch of trees to me." She picked up a blistered pear and tossed it. "I'm sick to death of pears." She sat silent for a moment. "You, Hannah, have the healing. I can feel it in your touch."

Hannah got up and looked back at Ben who stood by himself, guarding Daniel. She walked toward him, eyes fixed on his, hands slowly circing her belly, polishing and caressing it like the morning's first pear.

"We can always replant," she said.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Lucille goes to pot 

loves pot...

found pot

Actually make that pots..

I used to find a lot of funky junk on Craigslist until other people started copying me (story of my life...... and yes, Martha, I'm talking to you!)

On Sunday night, I perused just in case, and hit upon this stash of white and black enamelware in Vancouver. They made the mistake of saying OBO which meant it wasn't too intimidating to ask for a better price.

I flew there and back.... a mere 2 hours...and today set about cleaning them up so I could take them to my booth at the antique mall.

But as too often happens......

I just couldn't let them go.

They bring out the inner farmgirl in me. (the one that wears cute aprons and takes baskets of homemade bread and pie to Mr. Farmer in the field...not the one slinging manure)


I played with them for a while...

Autumn colours make such a striking contrast

This is a vintage diaper pail. The label says it can be used later for a garbage can. Glad they didn't say Soup!!

Fall pretties

vegetable soup in bed???? (It's my blog, okay?)

Yam soup coming up

too big for the pot

too big for the stove (I crack me up!)

soup de jour

(Please ignore the fact that just maybe this was a potty in a past life)

farmhouse mantel

bathroom counter vignette

pears in a row

classic black and white

Now that I've had my fun,

 it's time to bid them adieu.....

Here they are now, stacked and ready for someone else to fall in love with.

 If you like I will sell you one (for an arm and a leg)

I really should have shown you a 'before' of the insides of some of them....ranging from light yellow to darkest brown.

They submitted to a firm elbow, bleach, baking soda and every other concoction I could think of. Some took overnight soaking to be completely white and sparkling, others took just a few minutes but they are all lovely now.

It reminds me of us. many shapes and sizes, often lovely on the outside but with varying degrees of stains on the inside where people can't see.
 Some of us need a bit more scrubbing than others.

How precious to know, 
that the healing hand of God will gently remove those stains
 and restore us to the sparkling persons he intended us to be so we
can be put to good use.

Today my prayer is that you will let the warmth of his love

 wash over you

and make you brand new.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015


Sorry I haven't been in touch lately! Why it must be at least a month or so.


 Seven  months?????????? My stars!!!*******

That's what happens when you are flitting around the globe.

 First it was the Pulitzer for one of the little volumes I wrote last year entitled 'The Art of Exaggeration'

 then the Chelsea Flower Show to introduce my newest hydrangea/delphinium cross
 (requires heavy staking),

 then off to Oslo to see my 7 year-old grandson receive the Nobel for his working lego model of the human body (f**ts on command)

Next I finally baked that white chocolate merinque replica of Buckingham Palace
  the Queen has been begging me for (she ate it at one sitting),

then rushed back to see little 5 year-old Davis cross the finish line at the Boston Marathon
 (he hopped the last 10 kms. to give others a chance)

I had hoped to be in Paris for the debut of my new 'Glitzy Granny' line of jumpsuits (order now and receive a free package of Depends) but there was a cancellation at the Mayo Clinic and I had to hurry back for my brain transplant. ( I performed the surgery on myself which was quite exhausting)

The jury is out on whether or not it was successful.


Meanwhile things have slowed down a bit and so I have been fiddling around my townhouse, making little changes.

This is the first place where I have had the luxury of a walk-in closet.

 It sounded so wonderful.

 In truth, it became the graveyard of all things with no real home....

errant Christmas decorations,

 empty boxes (just in case),

 clothes collected over years, slipping off hangers,

 Queen costumes (don't ask), 


 odd socks....

you get the picture.

In a moment which can only be described (by me of course) as pure genius, I decided to turn this dark secret blemish into....

wait for it...

A Dressing Room  (cue music)


I removed the door ( while hubby was out, dragged it away, then told him for me!) and hung silvery curtains....going for a little bling. I bought them at Homesense along with the shimmery little rug.

I had found the vintage stool awhile ago at a thrift store and it is loving its new pride of place.

Tres chic Paris bins hold shoes and jeans.

Hubby (once resucitated) hung the sweet chandelier.

I moved a dresser in from the bedroom, glammed it up with my jewellry box, and a mirrored tray to hold parfum bottles, propped up a mirror,  hung pictures and scarves, coralled purses and foldables in bins, paraded hat boxes.

Removing the door allowed room to hang robes and belts on the side wall.

I pretend I am special now.

Instead of running back and forth between bedroom dresser for undies, to closet for clothes, to dresser for scarf, to bathroom for jewellry, to dresser for socks and belt, having left a trail of nightie and robe and been unable to unearth a coordinating purse ( the horror!) and knocked 3 things off their hangers and been kabonked on the head by a teetering suitcase (soft-sided my foot!).........


I now glide into my new space, hang my nightwear, assemble and change into my complete outfit, pose on my pouf as I select earrings, spritz myself dramatically, select the perfect handbag, bat my eyelashes at my oh-so-clever self reflected in my shimmering mirror and

 swoop into my day.

Hope I run into you. 

You are the real bling in my life!!!

Monday, 16 February 2015


I'm in a quandry.

I succumbed today to the cheery faces of some pink and yellow primulas.

I've seen them out front of stores for a few weeks now, but refused to plant any til the ones in my garden were blooming as well.

.........which they are. 

I drove twice past the garden centre sign that read...


and then turned in

.....just for a peak mind you.

I was undone.

They whispered, then called me,

quite loudly, 

and then a dozen of them literally jumped into my arms and prevailed upon me to take them home.

How could I possibly say no? 

"Yes", I said. "I will take you home my little darlings. I will promenade you in my front window boxes. I will sprinkle you with rain water. Your perfume will waft over my garden, your frilly dresses adorn.....

or something like that..
It's hard to remember exactly...I was so taken.

I just know that when I got home, they were in the trunk of my car.

And the next thing I knew, they were smiling up at me from freshly-tilled dirt.


 but back to the quandry.

You see,

I have friends in cold places.

If they wanted to check to see if their primulas were blooming they would have to remove six feet of snow,

that is if they dared to venture out in the sub, sub, sub zero temperatures.


is it mean-spirited to post pictures of my pretties?


Would it be construed as excessive gloating?

Most likely.

Could they not try to see that I am proffering a glimmer of hope?

Not even a chance.

It's hard to be so misunderstood.


 don't look if it offends you

but feast your eyes if you'd like a little treat for your winter-weary eyes.

My mini-daffodils are just set to burst open and the hyacinths have big knobby buds, but the tulips will be a while yet. 

They are my spring favourites. I have hubby trained to pick up bunches at the local market to spring up my home and I love to give them as a little gift.

I take some wrapping paper and ribbon with me to the store so they look extra pretty, and I buy little gift books at the thrift store and cut out the cute pictures and embellish them to make sweet gift tags...tres thrifty.

I hope wherever you live that you will soon get to see the miracle of another spring unfurling. 

It always comes.....


and perhaps sweeter for the long wait.