Oh Canada, Our Home

Happy Canada Day 2020

Well Happy Canada Day to me and you. July 1st. You snuck up on me. Noted, I have been a bit preoccupied with this and that lately but here you are…once again..celebrating your birthday. Kind of appropriate in that seeds of Confederation came from where I dwell today not too far afoot from those steps taken by elected officials in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island of long ago talks. How far we have come? How much of a reminder of being grateful too? Today, Canada Day, marks the half way point of our year the middle of 2020. A year filled with all kinds of journeys in our country in our communities in our homes…some good and others not so you want to repeat again!! But always, we are given what we are given and to find ways to make things work, regardless of circumstance. That is the rub.

It’s kind of cloudy and overcast, even mist-like in the trees, with a dewy warmth in the air and a touch of a breeze, gently swaying the tips of the treetops above. The birds are a chirping, loudly and crazily with their chatter. Bird watchers would have a hay day here I’m thinking. Then, I view my surrounding with its hues of greens and woods against the white and red of the Canada flag gently flapping its maple leaf so proudly…yes Canada it is a day to celebrate you.

Oh yes, how can I forget! I am sitting here working on my laptop and I can hear the sounds of the lobster boats, echoing from the speed of their engines; lots of echoing. Why? It’s July 1st and Canada Day, the end of lobster season! How did I not remember! Celebration of another sort for some islanders. Now I understand the constant din of noise in the background as I blog away here. The fishermen are on a timeline and so the constant reverberation from the engines running, echoing up and around throughout the countryside and harbour, makes sense now. They is a urgency to go back and forth, skirting in circles around their buoys marking their trap areas, pulling up and out for the season. Lobster traps have to be out today. And they have lots to get out. Oh well boys, you’ll be taking a breather soon enough. Another ode to the lobster tale. Celebrate ya’ll.

Celebrations. I have many fond memories in childhood of Canada Day with my folks setting up our backyard with a space decked out with sand and dirt in its middle, for us to once again, experience the wondrous and beautiful array of fireworks ready for display out into the night. Oh I loved those times. Every year for as long as I can remember, we would do the same thing…sitting in camp chairs or on our picnic table far back from the danger awaiting. Marshmallow and hotdogs toasting away (never heard of s’mores…too bad) while we wait for the dusk of the evening to come so we could end this day in colour. Colour of fireworks. Oh I loved the choices of fireworks! Each one seemed to be better and more elaborate than the next, as one by one dad would put them in the ground, light them up, and magic would happen.

Boom. Hiss. Sparkle. Twinkle, Glitter. As little bits of sprinkled sparks flash and pop, high and wide, to eventually dim into nothingness. We would bet on which one would be the longest lasting or the highest pop, or the one with the most colourful array. Never disappointed. Of course, the piece de resistance was the school house at the end. Oh yes the burning down of the school…nothing glitter or sparkly about it but burning so brightly…reminding us that schools out, burn that puppy so to speak.(And I am became a teacher. Who would have thunk it? ). Well you get the picture. It’s summer. It’s Canada Day. Let’s celebrate. And we did. Finishing off we would get to whip around those long sparklers. Running and jumping around happily, the lit sparkler would spit its sparks out, shining its brilliant tiny splashes of lights, allowing us to draw out our names in the night sky. Oh those memories. Thank you.

But not today? Not even sure we can get fireworks even, as public gatherings are not encouraged. Funnily enough, I did not continue the fun of my own childhood into raising the girls. Sparklers. Yes. But the other…not so much. I think we began a new tradition of going to the town display down by the water for all to see. And who can beat the barge going out in the bay and providing such a wondrous and orchestrated bounty of awe and wonder to light the night sky. All around, you would see people, young and old, singles and families, and all in between, finding and setting up their little spot, arranged just so, facing the water, to be ready for the spectacular. Not only that, the various boats anchored out in the bay, settling in to the waters, while they too await the entertainment. And I have to say, worth it; even when we had to get back in the van, trying to find our way back home. We learned eventually to park way up on one of the back streets. Funny what you remember.

So Canada Day. Not to lessen the impact of the pandemic but I need to remind myself even in times of tragedy, we have a lived life to live too. Certainly those memories of old should not be left there, but to create new ones. It was important back then, why stop. That is my wondering. I think I am going to have to get back to revisiting some old memories, resurrecting them in a new way. Just having a conversation with my middle daughter about what Canada Day looks like for them and then looking at my youngest who lives with me…well I think I need to do some future planning because we have much to celebrate as Canadians. Starting today.

How to celebrate Canada Day? Hmmm. It’s a national pride I feel within me, a sense of being a proud Canadian but with a humbleness in all that I have been given. So celebrate. Goodness get to it, Karen. Hey google…what’s going on here on the island? Well, fireworks cancelled. Okay. But hang on, social media from Charlottetown is holding a virtual celebration of music, celebrity chefs, arts and crafts, comedy and contests, starting at 11 am. I guess I have a plan to plug in and start celebrating Canada Day. Woohoo.

Blessings to Canadians in celebration.

Let us pray for those in need and giving thanks to our wonderful country of Canada.

Hot Hot Hot…it’s not cool

Morning dawn

Why not? Take my mind off of things right now…let me talk about the weather. Always a go-to topic of conversation. When someone says hot, hot, hot…that is today again and it’s not cool literally or metaphorically speaking. Not complaining. Nope. But I do want to say just for the record, a slight breeze OF ANY KIND would be soooo good. Maybe from the north…you know the kind that has a bit of a bite to it. I guess I am not made for ‘equator’ type weather. Although, I should not say that too loudly because I have been watching the news where other provinces are getting record breaking heat waves. I do not mind the heat as long as the mugginess stays out of the equation. You cannot get away from that sweaty sticky feeling when heat is combined with humidity. Everything just feels like wet glue.

It is amazing how the body responds to extreme heat temperatures and water. My youngest daughter convinced me to get a pool. Not a big one mind you, just a little puddle jumper kind of rubberized pool… you know those blue ones that look like a blue splotch on the ground when looking down from above; smaller in diameter on the top while bulging out at the bottom from the water sitting in its body. Anyway feeling the heat, I put my feet in the water, not the blue pool, but my grand-daughters princess ankle pool. Ahhhh. How do you spell relief…W-A-T-E-R. The body is an amazing temperature regulator.

Heat. I just notice it more now as I have the grandkids over with me. Of course my daughter’s two cats and my dog are sprawled out on the floor so that too is a reminder. Tongue hanging and little water troughs spread out in and around the house which of course they leave little sprays of water droplets splattered along the floor by each water hole. Worse than the kids. Personally, I do not care for air conditioning, not in my home, not in my truck, not in the malls and not in doctor’s offices. I sound like Dr. Suess and Sam I am in Green Eggs and Ham…”I do like them in a house, I do not like them with a mouse, I do not like them”….Can you get sick from air conditioning? Not sure of the answers but I feel it is hard on my body when you go from one extreme temp to another. But it is so not about me and so….

….off I go and finally spring for curtains. They are kind of like black out type curtains. Who would have thought. They are supposed to be keep things cool in summer, warm in winter. We shall see. I have not had curtains on my windows since I moved in. Nestled in the woods, surrounded by trees, I love the open feeling, airy and free as you look out the windows. I do not like that closed in feeling. But I have to watch the windows because few too many birds have hit them, landing on the deck or ground…some make it while others do not. Maybe curtains will help them.

Anyway, last summer, I discovered that if I put sheets up early in the morning to cover the windows, put the ceiling fans on, it was comfortable. I know. I know. Better Homes and Gardens magazine would not come in to take pictures of the beauty of sheets hanging up…no matching sets. Seriously, I was not going for the bougie-look. Anyway, my daughter convinced me to get proper attire for the windows. O-k-a-y then.

Well they work, amazingly enough and not too shabby looking as well. Curtains can get quite pricey especially if a person wants to do the whole kit and kaboodle in decorating and theme approach. I am not there. And funnily enough, it feels a bit cozy inside, not too stifling and closed off that I thought I would feel. Interesting.

I have looked at getting a heat pump, even did the research. I can barely keep up with the brand names …Fujitsu, Daikan, Mitsubishi, Lennox, York Affinity, Solaris, Boreal Geothermal, Save Green, KCS, and so on. Then there is the heat pump speak, language of their own. I guess it is like when I started looking at generators…maybe one should just pull a name out of a hat. Each brands has pros and cons at the end fo the day. My challenge is that all winter things are closed in, closed up, which is why curtains have been a no go. I do not care for that trapped feeling or being shut in so to speak. But if I get a heat pump, then all year windows could basically be closed all the time. Nah. I mean for the most part, here on the north shore of the island, there are only a few days where temperatures get uncomfortable. I’ll make the curtains and fans work.

So weatherperson, it is okay to give us a break. Maggie May, my schnoodle, has not had a fur cut since January and boy she does suffer. I would prefer her to keep her tongue in her mouth instead of hanging, sharing her bad breath too. I cannot wait until next week when she gets her fur cut…a day at the dog spa. Just kidding. But fur cut…cannot wait!! More importantly, for the young and old people who do suffer greatly from the heat, reprieve would be quite helpful for them.

Blessings to all kinds of weather.

Let us pray for those in need this day.

And a special intention for my mom as she journeys with dementia and being cared for.

Not thinking this would happen

Thinking of you.

Today marks the beginning of a new chapter in my mom’s life. Not sure if I am ready to accept it. Mom has dementia and today she will be going into a villa near her home, leaving a known life and her husband of 63+ years behind. I am not sure how I feel and I cannot begin to imagine how my dad feels or sister/husband who have been with them for the last year. Does mom even know the decision made on her behalf? Is she fully cognizant? I have a deep lump in my throat right now. And I am 1900 km or so away, not even in the field of touching her, hugging her, seeing her up close and personal.

This whole process has been a rollercoaster with the COVID-19 permeating everything you do. Not an easy journey of ups and downs of “can she go? should she go? when can she?”. One day she is going, the next a new policy in place by government agencies…I get it. No go. Wait. The risks to the fragile are real. In the end so is mom’s safety. The disease is taking its toll on her and on my dad and sister caring for her. Guilt. Hurts. Decisions. Hurt. Letting go. Hurts.

For the best. Yes. Unfortunately this pandemic that puts a haze of chaos within your heart and mind at the same time, hoping it is a decision made with best intentions. Of course mom is front and centre. But the journey of this disease continues to create a sense of havoc…what to do for her. What is best for her? My sister has been so good at describing what has been going on, and in the end of the beginning, watching my mom become more childlike in her actions, neglecting herself, and being so so stubborn… that is the best way she can describe her to me. THAT IS NOT MOM.

Oh mom, I love you. It brings me once again to the preciousness of life. And to a mom, who has been my mom forever and ever Amen. You are not prepared for this. Speaking with my dad a few weeks ago, one of the things he kept saying to me, this is not her. You could tell dad struggled with emotion. Not one to show that, always stalwart and strong; he watches while his wife of forever becomes someone whom he does not know. I recall the beautiful movie The Notebook from Richard Sparks book….never thinking that one day I, or we, would be facing a similar journey. Right now my mom still recognizes my voice and face across the screen as we Facetime. She waves at me, listening to me while my sister and dad talk away.

Why oh why? I was looking up songs about Alzheimers and Dementia. There are quite a few of them actually and each poignant in their own right. Our body is such a blessed vessel that you hope you take care of in the best way you can. But there are outside things that come in, things you have no control over, that change life as you know it in a blink of an eye. The body is a miracle in it of itself. I mean when I experience birth and then my own daughters giving birth, the miracle of how a body is put together and functions without breaking down….how is it possible? Yet it does. And so to does it fail you at times.

Did I think this day would ever come? Not on my watch. Not in a million years. But today at 11:00 am, mom is going to have a new chapter of her life, one that is not directly with those she loves. That hurts. Tears are in my eyes as I say that. Will she be loved? Taken care of? Giving her the intensive care she needs? Trusting that goodness will come out of a decision that is fraught with pain and fear, hope and relief? For mom, all for you mom. Please take care of her, she is precious cargo.

Of course I just get off the phone with my mom, sister and dad right now. Wanted to say a so long, not goodbye. My sister is getting things ready for mom’s departure, the technical part of leaving. Sometimes it is that part which you can hold on to without breaking down. Taking her in, mom will be on 14 day isolation and then only a drive by where they bring her out to picnic table and visitors can talk to mom from car window. No words here. No words, just a bit of choked up feeling in my throat. And my sister, will leave mom there to go to her room (one not to be visited until who knows when), will go to an office and do the paper work. Sum up a life to be cared for…on paper. Catch-22 feeling inside… best for her, not best time to go, having to make decision, best for who. Life as we know it.

Tears fall down my face as my sister lets me know I need to get off FaceTime. Best for all. I am never good in these moments. I remember when my youngest had to get surgery on her teeth because of too many cavities. I cried, could not go. Could not watch. I remember when my middle daughter had her tonsils out at 4 years old. She was such a little mite. They brought her out in this tall wheeled crib, looked like a little cell (just my memory) and rolling her towards me. I saw her and broke down. The nurse told me to get it together (stop crying) as I see my daughter from her surgery, tiny body laying there with tears in her eyes. I remember when my oldest had her baby, could not be there because of restrictions from virus. Tears fall freely. So when can I be emotional?! Not then not now. Stiff upper lip. Not me but one has to be. When sadness comes, in whatever way, it comes.

Oh mom, my heart is sad today and I am going to allow it to be. My youngest heard me talk to you (thanks for the hug daughter) but no response from you. That’s okay mom, I think you heard me. So I sign off in tears. Later on, the reality hit between the eyes as dad and my sister FaceTime me. She’s in. Not kicking my heels today. And……Dad could not even go in, standing outside of building holding mom’s items for the attendants to take. Someone put mom in wheelchair, took her temperature, put mask on her while my sister had to go and do paperwork. Yep…dot the i’s and cross the t’s. But before they could blink, my sister and dad stood looking at mom, tears running down her face, and they break too. Reality. Oh my. Not what it should have looked like. So allow me to mourn a bit today and maybe for a bit longer. Love you, mom.

Blessings to memories, gifts of grace.

Let us pray for all those in need and today most ardently to my mom and all those who journey with alzheimer or dementia.

Life is full of wonder when camping

Camping at Twin Shores…what a life!!

It has been a crazy few days for me. I went camping for the first time in a long long time. I think it must have been about 10 or so years ago, maybe a little bit longer. And surprisingly it was on PEI. Who would have thunk!! Here I am living in all of its splendor now, easy access. Not even in my wildest dreams did I imagine that decision. Funny how things happen to you while you are busy making other plans. Don’t you find?

So busy that I forgot to do a bit of pondering. Lots of pondering did go on, but not pen to paper. Welcome back, Karen. So camping. Well what can I say. It was the first for my grandkids and their parents to camp with their dog, Luna. And it was hot. Hot tamales actually. Which led me to take baby girl home to sleep that evening…thankfully we were not too far from home. It would not have been good,

But setting up camp with my youngest daughter, it was like riding a bike. Just followed along in a rhythm of getting stuff out of car, organizing it, and looking over the ground to see best spot. Then get to work. Yes there is work to camping which my girls found out as they got older. One of the perks of adulthood….working at camping. Yep. As a kid, voila…tarp down, pegs in, tent up, cooler on picnic table seat next to camp stove, camp kitchen in bin, dish bowl ready, dry goods and TREATS in trunk, container of water in shade, wood near firepit, clothes line pinned, folding chairs strategically placed with a good view. And towels already hanging on clothes line. Marshmallows for s’mores…can’t forget. Visualize it. Yep…good to go.

Oh so glad to have got a site with shade…we were right across from the dunes leading down to the water at Twin Shores. (None of the provincial camp parks open, only for day use right now). Tucked away in the trees with an opening to the horizon of sand, tall grass and just beyond…the sea. Oh my. Best ever. I forgot about the joy of camping. Wireless as in no wire. But more important, washroom nearby.

The smell of the sea mixed with a campfire. Hotdogs on the menu tonight. Has to be. Once my middle daughter’s family arrived, a bit of crazy especially with the dog. She is a big big big dog, English mastiff. First time EVER to camp. Anyway once they got settled, off we went to swim. Oh my goodness. How do you spell relief? S-W-I-M in O-C-E-A-N. The water was perfect. Surprisingly few at the beach which is due to COVID-19. I think the islanders are going to experience their island for the first time in a long time; one of the gifts coming out of the COVID-19’s wake. For me that is great but I would imagine not so much for businesses. This particular family run campground has over 700 sites plus I am guessing. Lots of seasonal too. Colour me happy….the beach is perfect for playing, sunning and long walks seeing the sunset.

Shaking the water out, walking over the burning sand…hot, hot, hot. Refreshed, got back to camp which was a hop skip and a jump. Perfect. Now for the fun part…supper, campfire and settling in to the joys of front row seats to camping. Unfortunately, me and little baby girl had to leave as it was too close to bed time and too hot. As it turned out, she did not have a good night as it was almost too hot to sleep. No air conditioning at my place as I do not really care for it. So fans. Finally got to sleep at 9:00 pm, usually just after 6 pm. Lots of singing, rocking, patting bottom…finally silently breathing in and out. Sorry baby girl. And back at the camp. Well lets just say no sleep for the wicked either. Luna, the big dog, was more a lunatic (poor girl) as she gruffly barked over and over again to the noises of the outdoors…you know the kind of jolting out of the REM sleep. Not good. And it got cooler by 15 degrees. Well not happy campers when I arrived the next morning.

Change of plans from family of 6 + dog, to my two daughters camping the next evening by themselves. I’m thinking they were kicking their heels up but not sure. For me I went back home later on that day with baby girl as it was too cold for her (according to mommy). Daddy and Luna went back home in late morning after breakfast. My grandson did not care for it either. Not everyone is cut out for camping. I think he would love glamping mind you. Have to think about that.

On the third day, Father’s Day – happy Father’s Day to all dads, grandpas, uncles, brothers, guardians – it was just me, my youngest and my little yippee dog Maggie May. Camping is not for the faint of heart, you have to enjoy sitting around in the outdoors with bugs dirt sand wind sun et al. It was so restful as the day was warm once again, not hot, but warm. How does the weather go from hot hot to cold to back to warm? Like life, it’s crazy. Cannot keep up, just go with the flow. Sated with the sun’s rays, we went for a walk. Oh my, trekking along the sandy and rocky bits of shore with high red cliffs on the one side and gentle waves coming in on the other, life is good.

Getting back there is nothing like a good sleep in the tent, nap time. Can you believe it! Yes that is part of camping!!! But being a bit older in body, I found that the camp chair was more comfortable and really I did not want to miss the view. Calming, heedy, restful…I loved just taking the day and surroundings in. Oops…I forgot sunscreen. Funny looking arms and legs…farmer’s tan; is that not what’s its called?? No complaining. It’s camping.

Well for my first camping experience…rate it A-. Either I bring a muzzle for Maggie May or I…. did I say that she is yippee? Well she is YIPPEE. Live and learn. Now, back home, oh yeah. That’s right there is the reverse to camping. Unpack, reorganize, load laundry, empty cooler…put things BACK. I remember so many times how when work is to be done after camping for example, how no one seems to be around. “Got to go to washroom” most famous line. Good times. Well I have an adult daughter…pay dirt. Partner in crime to do the dirty deeds.

Blessings to the wonder of experiences in life.

Let us pray for those in need.

Trekking Along the Shore

Cabot Beach Provincial Park

Oh my goodness it is wonderful to travel around, find some hidden treasures. Although I am sure the places I am discovering now have been well travelled by those before me, they are new to me nevertheless. Getting in my youngest daughter’s car the other day, she lets me know we are going on a bit of a road trip to explore. O-kaaaay. What? Where? Her look tells me that it is a need to know basis. Well aren’t we all grown up now!!

This week has been beautiful weather of sun, warmth, and a bit of a bite in the breeze to keep the steady sun’s rays at bay. Just the kind of days I love. The smell of nature and its beauty abound, giving life to the eye of the beholder, we travel down route 20, toward Malpeque, taking in the lushness of nature surrounding each side of the road. That is one thing about the rural landscape of the island, you get all kinds of surprises of the natural flora and fauna blooming wild and free. I cannot believe the colourful and vibrant lupins growing so crazily on the side roads and in the fields, like their seeds were scattered haphazardly. People pay for the seeds to be planted, not here!! Love it.

Anyway get to the harbour of Malpeque and there is one of the first provincial parks that my daughter has set her mind to…visiting the islands gifts and wonders offered through provincial parks. Sign me up. Cabot Beach Provincial Park is our first stop. By the way as an aside, I am quite familiar with the route of getting here because last fall I did a brief stint of one the islands many traditions – mussel socking in Malpeque. And it is right beside Cabot BPP. Let me just say here that socking is hard on the upper body if you are first beginning, especially being older and doing it for the first time. But an appreciation of the labour that goes into one of the older island seafood industries …wow. Anyway back to our trek.

At this point and as a point of interest for me, all provincial parks are open for day use only this year with their 8 camping parks and 13 day use parks; sort of surprises me for the size of the island! So it seems the plan is getting to know our own backyard…staycation. Yippee-do-dah. The entrance’s iron gateway leads us in to a grassy field area where cars are parked in organized randomness near a playground, washroom, and smaller sized lighthouse. Gathering our backpack and camera, we trek down towards the wooden path leading us to a beautiful sandy beach and sky so blue. Too early for supervised swimming, a lonely lifeguard stands tall awaiting for its start. So to the water we go. I cannot begin to describe the colour of the water as the blues and greens seem to jump out.

Man, it’s a gorgeous day day. perfect for a hike stroll walk explore. I should have worn my sandals but shoes and socks are my go-to. You never know what you are going to find. The scenery seems to be divided between open sand dunes and beach to a narrower high cliff sheltered beach area with its character and charm of rock faces. Here I see the waters fairly kid friendly in its shallowness (closer to the cliff side), allowing little ones to go way way way out and it is still up to their knees. The ripples on the floor of the shoreline tell me of the gentleness of the waves recently. Walking with my shoes in hand, it is so peaceful and serene as I dip my toes and stay in the warm cool water…just what the doctor ordered. Living life.

Surprisingly, the lobster and mussel boats were coming in at this time and believe me their channel entrance was quite close to the open beach area, not more than 50 or so metres from the shoreline. You can tell by the colour of the water, where the floor of sea drops. As they come in, I stand and await the wake of the boats. So not disappointed…the waves come in, unbidden, rolling fast and curled, fresh white to sandy laden in their roll to the shore. I raise myself on the tips of my toes, catching the playful waves lapping speedily around my knees…a kid again. Splish splash kick. Thanks my daughter.

Where we go next, not sure? But we are going camping this weekend with grandkids at Twin Shores, family run campground. Bells and whistles. It’s been a long time and my youngest decided, enough was enough. Granted she tells me last evening that we are in for an incredible heatwave of sorts on Friday and then will cool off. Really?! Well why not. It has been a long time since my daughters and I have been to this campground – the last time we went, we had two tents with me and youngest in one, and the two oldest with theirs. Ours got flooded after a big storm. Joys of camping.

It does not matter because we are beside the beach on the north shore and have the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets coming soon. Where else would I be? Hidden treasures are certainly going to be on my menu…bon appetit.

Blessings to all.

Let us pray for those who need our prayers today.

Thinking of First Times

Thinking of my firsts

It’s Monday. Oh yeah. Not everyone’s favourite day of the week but I like it. It is kind of like a fresh start, a new beginning, a clean slate, time to make things happen. Not that I need to or anything. Yeah maybe I do. I’ll get to that in a moment. So today I am thinking of FIRSTS. Do you remember any of your FIRSTS? You know those FIRST times for experiencing something, making you so awake. Those moments of FIRSTS that seem to hold fast in your long term memory, resurrecting unexpectedly at a moments notice.

What’s a FIRST? Obviously, I do not remember the FIRST few months or even years of my life. At least I do not think so. I know I look at some pictures of days of old, my childhood and teenage years, captured in an instant. Do I recall it myself with panoramic images crossing like a flashing landscape of sorts? Or do I remember because it was embedded in my storyboard dictated in a narrative told over and over again by a significant person? That is the question for me.

My daughter from Ontario just informed me that their Premier just lifted the ban, if you will, to having a few people, outside own household, to come and visit. Well that must be a relief for Ontario…seeing light for the first time in a while. Blessings to you all. I know it will be a good news story for my oldest daughter and her partner because their newborn baby girl, who is now 3 months old, has yet to meet his mom and his siblings. For some reason I got in before the chaos began with COVID-19, to hold her, hug her, before I had to return home. I can only imagine the giddiness of feelings inside of baby girl’s grandma….gratitude, thankfulness, heart beating. Yes, Skype, Facetime, Messenger, texting or whatever form of social media (which thankfully exists) is available to connect across the miles, it is not quite the same as touching. To hold her for the FIRST time, that FIRST smell of her (not the diaper but her skin smell)…no words to describe inside, only feeling…oh my, to the roof. It will be a wondrous moment of FIRSTS for them.

Anyway, I had a sleepover with my grandkids on Friday night which was quite lovely. But, I had two FIRSTS that took place – one happy, one not so happy. I woke up early Saturday morning because my 10-month old granddaughter sleeps up in my room in the travel bed. She got up early along with me and after having her bottle and a bit of breakfast, I decided to take her for a walk in the stroller down to the beach. Her FIRST time. Not exactly a warm sunny morning but mild enough, little wind, and calm. Oh my. I held her in my arms as I looked at her face. She just kept moving her head back and forth, looking out over the water as the waves came in. I have no idea what she took in but I took her in….her expression on her scrunched up tiny face, looking.

And then, I took off her little shoes (her FIRST pair of shoes) rolled up her pants and put her feet on the sand. She did not move, only her toes, squishing them. I do not think she knew what to do. All of a sudden, grabbed my fingers and she walked like a marching elephant, feet kicking out in front of her towards the water. She stopped as the water touch her feet. A big FIRST. I so wanted to give my grand-daughter that gift. The sea, the sand, the surf. That was a fantastic FIRST for me and her.

Now my bad FIRST. When I left to go for my walk, my 9-year old grandson was left to sleep. It was about 6:30 am in the morning and I let him sleep; his auntie was in the next room. Well I got told. He woke up to a silent home, searching for me, and letting me know in no uncertain terms that his Rara, that’s me, did not let tell him. It really hurt him and it hurt me that I disappointed him; that was a FIRST for me. Lesson learned my boy – I will let you know. Humble pie is in order. Sorry.

But I do have a powerful FIRST that sticks with me even today and yet, it is quite ordinary in its nature. I was coming back from a retreat weekend which by the way was another FIRST for me (never having left my family before for a weekend) and my gas was quite low. So I pulled into a Petrocan, not thinking about what I was doing, and found myself in the self-service line. I had a car in front of me and then another car pulled up right behind me. So what? Well, the problem was, I have never ever put gas in my car before; and I was 45 at that time. I always went to a full service station (gap in gas prices for self-serve and full serve was not that big a deal) or my late husband would always do it. Needless to say, I panicked. Really? Yes, really. It was a moment of truth for me. I can remember every minute detail of that moment from start to finish. When I pulled away, I felt relief and joy all bundled up, making me feel free. Silly when I think about it now but a life changing FIRST nevertheless.

Of course there are so many FIRSTS that you experience in your life and cannot possibly remember each and everyone. Sometimes I would like to do a do-over, re-do, re-start for some of my FIRSTS. Then I’m getting into back to the future kind of living and regret. Is life not to be lived? Absolutely there are times when you wish you could go back but its about the journey. However, I do want to state here that some FIRSTS (chuckling at myself)…well let’s just say I could have done without.

Oh the hills and dales of the FIRSTS…tooth, step, smile, kiss, falling in love, home, job, car/truck, pay cheque, marriage, friend, parenthood, first baby, alcohol/smoke, boy/girl friend, heartache, loss of beloved, fired, pet, license, flight, sail, change a tire, abuse, bully, argument, school, speech, sunrise/sunset, birth, death, learning to cook, hair cut, glasses, cut class, go fishing, sports team, concert, ticket, left home, fight, school, date, sibling, crush, proud of you, travel out of country, movie at cinema, to name just a few, minuscule even. Each FIRST is significant, a walk down memory lane.

I think what I am realizing from all the FIRSTS I have noted (mine or others), there are still more to come. Oh yes. That is a good thing. It is allowing risk and courage to happen, to be open to the unknown, to give things a go. Why not?. Yes there are going to be ones that I could say and have said “holy lightning” or “are you kidding me?” While other times, you amaze yourself. Naturally when you do something for the FIRST time, it may not turn out the way you hoped for, but what was needed. I do not believe that FIRSTS are only for the young.

I am chuckling now because I am thinking back to my FIRST home with my folks in a little town outside of London ON. That is 5 + decades ago. I can still rattle off my phone number, address, and postal code. Yet, I cannot tell you two of my daughters phone numbers to this day. Now why is that?

Blessings for all the FIRSTS in your life.

Let us pray for those in need today.

Up Early… Rainy day feeling

The sound of music…rain.

Goodness, I hear the rain pelting away on the window panes, bringing its nourishment to nature. I am not going to say it is welcomed as much as it is needed. Okay, it is welcomed too. All around me I see the greenery sprouting and blossoming in its finery, cloaking the branches and limbs of trees and bushes. The lushness of nature thickens as the leaves and plants begin to take on their mid June look. Now as Maggie and I take our walk (not today Maggie), it is difficult to see through the woods as the recent barren spaces are wonderfully taken up by the miracles of creation, bringing a mystery to what is beyond and tucked deep within the woodland.

I look out across my lawn surrounded by trees and the green pops out as my artistic daughter would describe it. She has an eye for colours for sure and refers to colour from a graphic design perspective…patone. I have never even heard of patone, sort of like a standard huge colour wheel or guide, with green on its palate. Lots and lots of shades and hues. So before my very eyes, a landscape of the greenest of greens hold a wealth of colour as the rain gives pours forth creating a spectrum of green. Amazing the subtleness. As water drops something else happens. Its like adding a tint of, say, an emerald or sea or olive or lime (yuck) or pea (yuckity yuck) or aqua (oh yeah) to green…whoa, breathtaking.

So rain, you come and drizzle or mizzle or sprinkle or shower or teem down as you do your thing. Mind you I have the grandkids today so of course I was hoping that the rain would hold off. Being indoors is great for a bit but then you like to get out and about. I love opening up their world especially paying attention to what is around them. Taking my 10 month old granddaughter out in the stroller (she is too heavy to carry for long periods – oh how they grow so fast), she allows me to come into her world as I watch her touch (or put in her mouth) everything. Her tiny little hand reaches out at the petals on the branches, touching them so gently (at first) and then of course yanks and pulls. Sorry petal…grandchild alert. But seeing her feel whatever, cautiously at first, then moving her little wrist back and forth while holding the branch…what is she seeing, thinking, wondering? The world at her finger tips.

So I look out as the rain falls and watch the trail of raindrops take a path downward upon my window. It meanders along, not taking a straight path (are my windows dirty?) but shifts and swerves, stopping for a bit, pooling itself with the other drops. And then it bounces. Yes, I am glad to be inside. I have to laugh at my dog Maggie May because as I opened the door earlier on, rain pouring down, she barely took a step and started to shake her body. Oh she does not like the rain. She pauses, turns her head to look at me, and then scampers down. Quickest pee break. Not funny I think she is saying to me as she bolts back in. Her morning constitution was certainly interrupted. Usually she takes a longer time, sniffing every other blade of grass it seems…not today.

I do love the sound of rain. It is like white noise, a kind of background music, that has a calming effect on the soul especially when I can cozy up in a blanket, nice and dry. Rain dripping down is lyrical and soothing, beating its own melody. Of course it can come in, pounding like a drum too…not so nice. But most of the time, it can soothe the weary soul, allowing the ear to be drawn into the melodic chords strumming down. I can close my eyes and just listen to what is around me. Just like music, rain has its own tune and I try to find my favourite channel (not heavy metal or twangy please) as I welcome the moment to pause. I have often wondered what it would be like to get a tin roof. Would it be really noisy, annoyingly so, or would it be a soothing din that puts you into a slumberous mood?

But more often than not, rain can make the day seem long, really long. Maybe that is a good thing. Slowing down a bit. Or not.

Of course I think Mother Nature likes to play tricks and has a great sense of humour when it comes to messing with human behaviour. You know it is going to rain when you have clothes hanging out on the clothes line, mowing the grass, having an outdoor barbeque, just got your hair done, looking for your keys to unlock your car, . But its just rain. Right? Right.

So for today, get the rain coat out, find the umbrella if needed, go outside and enjoy the gift of rain. Soak it in. Rain gives life. It may be a bit wet, or drenching, but like anything it does not last (or at least not long lasting). Or if not, stay inside and enjoy the gift of pause, spending time with self or with others, allowing the rain to do its thing while I, and you, do own thing.

A shower of blessings today.

Let us pray for those in need.

Happiness is…clothes line on a windy day

Enjoying hanging out.

Whew! It is so windy today again. So glad it is a south wind because my goodness walking along the cliff, I think I would have needed my big red/black bush jacket to cuddle up in. But no, the wind is warm just like my daughters burrito blanket. Yes you heard me, a burrito. One of her friends knows she is kind of quirky and loves blankets (fetish??) and so she got her this round shape blanket that came wrapped like a burrito…you know the kind you eat. Well this is not edible but wearable. So she unwraps it and woohoo. So the wind, well it felt like that woohoo. Warm and fuzzy on the arms and legs. Just the way I like the feel of the wind. Maybe not with so much kick in the bluster department but really, the wind can be so cleansing if that makes sense.

However, I feel for the tiny birds. Seagulls seem to ace the wind turbulence. But not so for the chickadees, wrens, plover, warbler and tiny sparrows. Wow I know some birds. I paid attention to grandpa!! Going along the cliff next to the farmers field, there are a spattering of small bushes that the birds like to sit on. It is amazing when you think about it, how they sit on a wisp of a branch, balancing with ease. Today, mind you, the wee things could not even get off the branches without being tossed around. Yet, I love the wind whipping my hair around, making it all messy like a birds nest. You know when you go to the salon and tease your hair. No need. Just go outside as it costs nothing. Besides, it’s not like anyone is going to see me out here anyway except for maybe the lobster guys way out in the water or the fox tucked in one of the burrows just over the incline of the cliffs. And the birds. Who knows? I have the wind birds nest coif. New look. Takes a lot to give it that au natural don’t-mess-with-me-hair-don’t-care look. It’s all good.

One of the things I love when it gets windy, it’s a natural dryer. You know…a clothes line. No electricity, kind of wireless technology. Yes. Chiching. I was so grateful when my brother-in-law built me one that he built to stretch across the yard. It even blends in with the trees. I always wanted to have one just like my mom and grandma. The smell of the fresh clean laundry, dried by the sun, lining up just so (of course, always hoping no birds would land to do their business). Hence…windy days. There is something about that feeling of getting back to simple things. Mind you, there are some drawbacks. No one seems to like the towels being hung out to dry. They are stiff and rough, not downy soft in anyway. And then we have of course the hanging up one’s unmentionables. We have got to move on from that. Really. Finally, I think someone else lives at my home that I am not aware of…I thought it was only my youngest and me but well…another load of laundry. It’s all good.

Of course speaking of laundry, there is a mystery surrounding socks. I know I am not the only who believes this happens. It seems whenever I do the laundry one of the pair of socks go missing. I am thinking of all the times I take a single sock, put it in a drawer, and then wait until the match comes up. Well, let me tell you that does not happen. For some reason I get a pile of single socks…and they do not match. Not a one!!! I mean I have gone into the washing machine, looked all around, put my fingers into the little slots, and nothing. Then thinking I am being smart I go into the dryer, into the lint catcher too…even the dryer hose. Where on earth could the sock go? Is there a laundry palette with sock on the menu?

Seriously, maybe you need to look under, over, above, behind, in and around the washer and dryer. Socks are sneaky little vermin….hiding intentionally. The match is there, I am telling you. You just have to look for it, for it is kind of like cling wrap; sticky business.

But regardless I welcome the windy day to do laundry and hang the clothes up outside. I guess it is one of the ways that I enjoy the simpleness of being outdoors. I like the action and the movement. Calming, methodical, easily completed. Check. Check. It may seem menial in its effort but satisfying to me for some reason. I have tried putting laundry out in the middle of winter…not good call. Clothes are stiff as a board literally. Haha. Someone said ‘freeze dried’. Good one.

Oh for a good windy day. Blessings.

Let us pray for all those in need and to our leaders making just right decisions to get us through to a new normal.

Calling Me By Name

Call you by name

I just reconnected with a long time friend recently who shared some thoughts, reminding me of me being me (thank you). I had to chuckle and smile as I read her message because of what she knows about me. Not sure if that makes any sense to you but it does to me. I’m kind of an inward-looking introvert myself, very content with my own company. Yes that would be me. I had to laugh as she described her knowledge of me, calling me by name pretty much. It is a beautiful gift to give another when someone can call you by name, knowing who you are. They give witness to things that you may or may not realize about yourself…they know your story (or at least parts of it). It is like crossing paths with someone for a long time, being a companion along this journey of life with you. Regardless the circumstance, you feel good because someone knows you.

Anyway, she points out that I must be okay with the ‘stay at home’ way of living which our current situation calls us to do, I am nodding my head. Yes, I really am a ‘keep to yourself kind of person’, not a knocking on someone’s door to “ask for cup of sugar’ or ‘dropping in for a cup of tea’ person. Don’t get me wrong. I am friendly, fairly happy, quite content, but more of a solitary hermity woman (is that such a word) in a manner of speaking. Being given permission to stay at home and do my own thing as she articulates to me…yep I’m good to go. But I do have to say when I feel like leaving my cocoon and sacred space, I want to be able to do so, especially when it comes to my family. Now that is my bailiwick in life…living for my family.

Many years ago I was taking a summer course and I had a seminar leader (also one of the instructors) who demonstrated something extraordinary in my mind. That summer there were an unprecedented amount of participants taking Part 1, 2 or 3 Religion, 400 participants in all. My seminar leader, Noel, who I did not know at the time, met me on the first day in one of the initial ice breakers. Can you imagine the movement in the gymnasium of 400 bodies meeting and greeting? Anyway we had to introduce ourselves, talk a little bit about our own story, and then move on to a new person when the music began again. I did not know he would be my seminar leader until two weeks later. Noel must have met, I don’t know, hundreds of people literally, but two days later, he said hello to me, greeting me with my name, as we sat near each other in morning prayer. How in the world do you remember a person’s name after a hot minute. That has stuck with me. Forever.

Calling someone by their name, acknowledging them, is such a personal and intimate thing I believe. For me, I feel a sense of value, being notable. Of course I have to laugh being a teacher, you hear a lot of Miss, Sir, Teach…the generic go-to name calling. And hey, what happens, I turn around when I hear “Hey Miss”. Or in my case, I was also called mom or even grandma. The funny thing is the students are looking right at you, and call you ‘mom’. It is a compliment in a way, don’t you think? A familiar name, known to them, calling you by name.

Maybe it is the whole idea of feeling loved, special even. I think of that Scripture quote from Isaiah 43:1, when God says “I am calling you by name”. There is such depth to it of being something more; someone knows you. Although there are a few times in my life that I wish I had another name or no name as I do not want to be known. Just saying.

My granddaughter, a precious bundle of joy, is starting to articulate in her own 10 month old language naming familiar people in her life. She sees pictures of her family on fridge or shelves in my home and she says, loudly I might add for a little body, “dadadadada or beh or deh or geeee” – and points her finger at the faces. Of course, I point and say the names again and again and again…you kind of get the picture. And there is my daughter in the background just waiting for the day that her baby girls says mama. My granddaughter does not form the mmmm sound yet. Interesting. But the extraordinary thing is she gives witness in her own way to call them by name. I can tell its important to her just by how her face lights up, points, and makes gibbery delightful sounds – calling their name. It will come soon enough baby girl.

One thing I have to say and maybe it is a social convention of sorts but I think we have to accept that we may forget a name. Instead of going through the nodding or pretending you remember the person’s name you ran into, just say you have gapped. Memory freeze. Brain melt down. Old age. Whatever. Get it over with right away and say who you are and what is their name. Why not? Come up with something witty or humbling to make the situation more comfortable so you can chat without trying to listen for a clue, an aha moment, to discover the name of the person in front of you. Think of all those times when you have caught yourself saying, “it is on the tip of my tongue.” No it’s not. Just ask them their name for goodness sake.

However I do have to confess, I have three daughters and I find myself going through each of their names before I get to the right one…their own. And they are in right in front of me!! I’m even dropping in my grandchildren’s names now and then. Are you kidding me? Nope. Usually, I just take a deep breath and say “one of you.” Now my girls are doing the same thing. Funny…what goes around, comes around. It’s all good.

What’s in a name. Yours. Mine. Each one of us. Special in own way, unique to you, no matter how many others have it. My oldest daughter just had her first child recently and the process they went through to get to naming her. When I heard it, I smiled oh so widely. Beautifully thought out and had meaning for both of them. Surprisingly it suits her.

Now, my name, I have heard has gone viral as a meme. It seems there are certain names that are being bandied about like Karen as a “growing line of internet memes poking fun at real-life archetypes”. In other words, when my name is called, it seems that “Karen” has become social media shorthand meaning a middle-aged white woman — potentially with an asymmetric haircut a la 2009 Kate Gosselin — who makes a big fuss, and is not-so-blissfully ignorant.” FYI: so not me. So if you see me around, I am not THAT Karen. Oh to be called by your name.

From me to you, as James Taylor sings, “you just call out my name, and you know wherever I am, I’ll come running…”

Blessings this day.

Let us pray for all those in need today.

Staycation…Gotta Love It

Cavendish general store

Dipping my toes into the water yesterday…ahhh. Ohhhh. Brrr. It took awhile to reach the brain stem nerve that computes, “Karen, GET your TOES OUT…not warm at all.” And so today as I went on my morning walk with Maggie along the shoreline, I took a pass not even thinking about stopping. The will is there but not the body. Haha. Oh well, I can certainly enjoy its invitation. And like yesterday too, I was reaping in what creation gives freely…wonder and awe.

Beauty is all around me as I look out across the water to the long stretch of sand dunes, cradled by the open sea to the north and the mouth of the bay to the south. Standing at the water’s edge, I see seashells spread all over, birds playing and chirping away, and all the while I make sure that I do not step in the squishy seaweed left behind from the wake of the tide. Kind of smelly and mushy….and people EAT this stuff!! Hard to believe that would be on a menu of any kind. The stomach wants what the stomach wants.

Sometimes I have to pinch myself that I am living here on the island, a little piece of heaven. It certainly brings peace and joy to the weary soul. Yesterday, my daughter and I took off in Silver her speedy little Jetta (her very first car; I’m a truck person myself) with the windows down, the sunroof opened and the fresh air swirling in and around us as we head out to Cavendish on the north shore. Everywhere you look as we drive along route 20 and 6, it seems to be fresh and crisp as the hues and shades of green meld with the hues of the red tilled fields. Catches you off guard for me as nature seems to have this natural ability to put colours together…don’t need no paint department to see what goes together, just look around. Colour match. Woohoo.

Anyway we get into Cavendish and of course usually at this time of the year things are happening. This is resort central main street, or at least one of them, on the island. But not today. Quiet for June, very few of anything is open….I mean anything! It is kind of eerie. And sad too. But I know that the Cavendish Store Mart is open and so we pop in keeping in mind how to be in the store…overarching theme of the last few months….distance, disinfect, diligence. Shelves are stocked which is a good sign and having the store to ourselves, kind of nice, we peruse.

I love this store because it’s got it all like the old general stores back in the day (not sure what day but I’ll keep to that…back in the day). Groceries, baked goods (yummy and local), island products, swimming and sand gear, household items, clothes, knicknacks, jewellery, alcohol, gifts, books and so on and so on. While I stopped to look at household items, one of the co-owners who is sitting at a back table asked if I needed help. Shaking my head and smiling I said to her “How are things going?” Her face kind of sobered up and said, “Things are slow. I think they are going to be this summer.” And that is when I remembered….staycation.

I am not certain who coined it but the word has been bandied about lately on the radio…staycation. Vacation in your own backyard. Well, why not for goodness sake. I had to chuckle when she expressed her view on islanders as a whole; they do not know their own island. Well isn’t that just a fine how do you do. Is she right? I really like the idea of staycation, getting to know where you live. For Pete’s sake, even I know the island does a fine job tooting its own horn so to speak, drawing people in. The crowds are crazy busy in the summer months. I wonder if this is an unexpected gift…to staycation, gotta love it.

I mean think about it for a moment. You save all year or try to at least, and then you get in the car or on a plane and drive/fly for who knows how long, eating foods not familiar with, keeping temper in/ patience out, worrying for the upteenth time about closing/shutting off/locking whatever at home, maybe even get bunged up (oops…too much information??) and then you finally get there. Rush around and do all kinds of wonderful and great things and then have to turn around to go back home. Now you need to sleep and rest from an exhausting vacation. Sign me up. Instead, staycation, you could consider the less is more kind of ‘cation’. Hop in the car and in a few… from east to west, three hours and north to south, an hour or so…you are there. Less travel – save on gas and road rage; accommodation – at your finger tips; food – got to be kidding (island is known for FOOD); fun in the sun – beaches anyone?; entertainment – everywhere and then some; time – more now; how? – visit the Travel Information Centre. Just saying.

Recently I joined this blog site Cradled in the Waves PEI which is a place for sharing pictures and thoughts about island living…promoting the island flavour. Many followers are either islanders or people who come here each year, have a vested interest in celebrating the island goodness. The images and narrative of those who share have really enlivened my own appreciation of what the island has to offer. I mean I get why people want to leave and get away, explore the world so to speak. There is so much to see but I wonder if one really knows where they live. There are many places mentioned in this blog site that now I have to have an island map next to me.

At the end of the day, you can put your toes in any water. But maybe, just maybe, you look up and wow. I think I’m going to visit the singing sands this week. You got it. Singing!!


Let us pray for all those in need and to the renewal of moving forward in the wake of COVID-19.