Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Nuptials

One of the first things Melissa and I did, upon arriving, was to search out a place where the ceremony could be held, if it rained. There is a spot where the vine maples grow...I felt the comfort and solace this small, enclosed space held. I can imagine Melissa's children, who grew up here, seeking answers about life and its attendant problems, in this spot. It would have been a favourite place of mine, if I had grown up here.

It is still the perfect spot to journey from.

But the grape vine, running rampant over a trellis, was also beautiful. Melissa's children decorated it with flowers the next morning, after a full night of rain. It looked as if the rain would hold off for the wedding and indeed, it did. We had sunshine for the afternoon.

Good signs abounded during our pre-wedding visit. The energy was high; both Jerr and Melissa were running on adrenaline. Buzz and Deb dropped by; it was Deb's birthday and Jerr and Melissa had thought to buy Deb a cake, so we celebrated a birthday, too.

Time was moving along; we had to check into our motel, which was in Cascade Locks. We had to travel over what seemed the longest, highest bridge anywhere across the Columbia River to get there. The Bridge of the Gods.

I am not good with heights. An understatement. It was pouring with rain and just at twilight. That first time across, I closed my eyes and prayed. We went across that toll bridge so many times, however, I almost got used to it. Almost.

We were rushed as we checked in; Melissa was expecting us for dinner and we had to hurry back. But it was the first time I have seen ear plugs with the compli- mentary shampoos and lotions a motel leaves for its guests.

The train track ran right outside our room window, beside the Columbia River.

Having stayed with Melissa and Jerr before, we were well aware of the trains that thunder past with ever increasing frequency. They are loud. But the clickety-clack of the trains have the wondrous ability to put me to sleep, and within a day I rarely hear them...they just become part of the power of this place.

We returned to Jerr's place for a wonderful lasagna and salad meal, where we met Melissa's daughter and niece. We did not realize how late it was, when Graham, who had brought his Reiki massage table along, gave Jerr a Reiki massage. A Reiki treatment usually takes an hour; this time was no exception. But it was late, close to 11 pm, when we finally travelled back to our motel, once more over that bridge, with promises to return the next morning to help with setup for the wedding.

But Jerr and Melissa had most of the setup done, when we arrived the next day. Only the food was left to have the finishing touches added. Weddings can make me anxious; even if the people who are actually getting married are calm...I can get pretty wound up. This day was no exception...I was picking up tension, feeling the heaviness in my chest, the closer it got to 2 pm. I busied myself with my camera, trying not to show I was having trouble breathing.

I met Jerr's Mom, one of the most elegant, gracious elderly ladies I have yet to meet. As she prepared and added the finishing touches to what seemed like mountains of food, she told me at her age she doesn't worry anymore. And then, she busied herself even more.

I wandered away, preparations complete. Guests were arriving; things were heating up, and I felt the need for solitude. What better place than this to meditate and speak with my guides? In the midst of the hubbub, there were still spots that enclosed me, that gave me energy. That centred and grounded me. It has taken a long time for me to understand the need for this bit of alone time, in a crowd. To understand the need to Mother Earth and to Father Sky...and to feel the guidance that surrounds me, if I become aware.

And then...the Reverend arrived. Jerr and the Reverend go back a long way as classmates in university. And suddenly, the purpose of this gathering became bright and shiny clear.

Jerr walked to the trellis with his Mom, who settled down on a bench nearby. Belinda, Jerr's sister, stood with him. Melissa walked her path with Allison, her daughter.

Jerr, a distinguished Vietnam Veteran, and Melissa, a strong, caring Social Worker, spoke eloquent words of truth and honesty to each other, merging their lives before us all. Tears fell freely; my own eyes were swimming with tears, giving a shimmery quality to the incredible energy that surrounded the trellis. We witnessed a true blending of souls.

The trains held off, while the words of the wedding were being spoken. The Reverend introduced, in his wonderfully booming voice, the newlyweds. People shook themselves, waking up from the magical quality we had all experienced, just moments before.

And the celebration began. Food began to pour out of the house...salads, Buzz's beans, vegetables and dip, all colourfully arranged on a groaning table. The BBQ's were started.

I wandered to the side of the lawn, overlooking the lake. In company with Bonnie, a Massage Therapist, I watched Eagle circle over us. He was young and new, but he came with a message from of happiness and peace, with awareness of each other's needs and desires. Eagle brought the highest of good intentions from Creator.

I watched in awe, understanding and hearing from Eagle how absolutely right this event was.

Jerr and Melissa had uncanny Energy that day; Graham and I ran out of it in the late afternoon...

We met early again, the next morning at the motel and rehashed the wedding. At one point, I counted 101 box cars on a train that went by just below our balcony; so our speech sometimes became loud. Guests from the wedding wandered by on the river walkway, sharing their turned into another celebration.

We all took in the huge Sunday Buffet Brunch at the Grill next door to our Motel. They have the best Dilled Salmon I have ever tasted. I have tried to replicate it, but no go. This recipe is one of those things I will just enjoy here, at this restaurant. Another "exotic" food...biscuits and gravy, a dish we don't usually have in Canada, is one of the foods I love here.

Graham loved the waffles, with whipped cream and fruit.

We parted, then, all of us...Jerr and Melissa on a trip down the Rogue River, other guests back to their homes, and Graham and I on our way to a replica of Stonehenge, then following the Columbia River northward.

The great Energy we had acquired at witnessing this magical wedding propelled us forward, giving added impetus to our journey on the road, chronicled in my next post.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Highway to a Wedding

At the beginning of our trip, I was convinced it was not to be...the signs seemed contrary to our having a smooth journey. We were turned away from the Port Angeles ferry (we hadn't made reservations) and had to re-route to Sidney.

Upon boarding the Sidney ferry, the gentleman who was directing traffic forgot, for a moment, that he was motioning our vehicle forward and looked elsewhere. We hit the car ahead of us. Bang!

To add insult to injury, the man held his hand up towards us, after the accident had occurred, and said....This means stop!... then disappeared. It would have been helpful if he had given us the Stop sign, before we hit the car! There was no damage, other than to rattle Gray and I just a little more. We had not eaten, as I had forgotten the scones, and we were a little growly. Life was beginning to seem more than a little unfair.

But we ate...with each bite our sense of adventure re-awakened. We were far behind in our schedule now. It seemed time to relax into the journey that awaited us.

But the border crossing was less than pleasant. We were not welcomed into the US...rather the inspector used obvious tactics to find out if we were who we said we were...going as far as telling us our names didn't sound Scottish or German. So what, I thought, we're Canadian, at any rate. But eventually, when he tired of the cat and mouse game he was playing, he let us through. And that was a blessing.

I have heard of hassles far worse than the little one we had. How different from years ago, when there were smiles on the faces of the border guards. How sad it was to feel like a potential criminal, when it was just a holiday.

But we kept our balance, working hard at communicating our desires, as we travelled through Seattle and Tacoma. Rain started to fall in increasing torrents. Road pictures became impossible to take; hence I have used these photos from later in the trip.

We took an exit into Olympia and found the Spar Restaurant that Jerr introduced us to, way back when. We found a hotel, one of dozens close to the Parkway. Things were going well. Food under our belts once again gave us energy to haul our bags, this time in pouring, pelting Rain, the first Rain we had felt for a long our room.

The bed felt as if it were a slab of iron. It was and still is, the hardest bed I have ever had the misfortune to sleep on. But full of good food and great spirits, we laughed and asked bad could it be? We had both slept on the ground, on carpets and bathtubs.

We forgot how many years ago that was.

As we tossed and turned, trying to find a comfortable spot, we finally started to giggle...giggles which turned into uncontrollable laughter. We rehashed the day, finding the humour in it. From the Port Angeles ferry worker, who didn't like the colour of our car, the Sidney ferry worker who directed us into the backside of the vehicle in front of us, the duty free employee who told us we could take as much merchandise into the US as we wanted ( a lie, given to two innocents), to the border guard who insulted our heritage and made us feel unwanted...and now to the iron bed...all of it was dissected. Laughter took the frustration away.

We slept, a little. A hot shower took most of the aches and pains away, and we were ready to face a new day.

A new day and the highway...we faced a full four or five hours of driving to get to Jerr and Melissa's home, where the wedding was being held. We shopped a bit, made sure we ate on time, having learned our lesson of not eating properly the day before, and beat the Rain.

Rain, which had not fallen in months, was creating havoc on I-5, slowing traffic and creating accidents. One TV commentator mentioned that people had forgotten how to drive in the Rain; certainly it had been a long time. But the Rain was behind us. We hoped to get to our destination before the storm swallowed all of Washington, and we did.

Now it was time to join in the preparations for a wedding that might or might not occur in the pouring Rain.

Jerr and Melissa had worked hard to make their property, which lies in a Nature Conservatory, look well-groomed and beautiful. Jerr was still fighting moles, which insisted on building mountains on the lawn, in split seconds, it seemed. But the view of the Columbia River and the lake which the property lays beside, was without parallel. It was wonderful to be always feels to me as if I have come home.

We had travelled a long way to join in the happiness these two friends so surely deserved. The next post will describe the events of the weekend wedding, where Gray and I joined with family and friends in celebrating an occasion that brought tears to my eyes, more than once.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

September Leaves

I was reminiscing this morning, as I wandered through the garden, checking to see which plant needed extra care while I'm gone. Scott will be here, but you know a non-gardener will just not notice the little voices that call for help.

I digress, as usual. I was remembering my old home, one where there were many trees. Trees that were mature; each one a friend. I found these pictures of my old yard...and as I look at them, I remember the times we had, as a family.

Through good times and bad, the garden was always lovingly tended. I called the golden maple leaves that fell my crop...these leaves became leaf mulch, nourishing the soil in the beds.

Here, I don't have that luxury. But I am growing another crop, which is coming along nicely. This year, I will have many leaves from the trees that I've planted, and yes...these trees are becoming my friends, too. It takes awhile to make good friends with trees...they are slow to respond, sometimes.

Even Grandfather Tree contributes, shedding old needles, covering his root system and keeping it moist. He does everything he can to keep moisture in, as he requires a lot of water, and I help him by leaving most of his old needles where they fall. He came through this very dry summer with my help and the watering cans.

As I wander through my new garden, one where each tree, other than Grandfather Tree and Lady Maple, tells me a story or gives me energy, I ponder how the weather has changed, almost overnight. I notice the light is very different this morning, and there is a North wind blowing, rustling the leaves. I hear Winter.

When I return, the leaves will be closer to saying goodbye. They will go in a blaze of glory, with some of the landscape brown and sear, other parts still blooming with an unearthly glow. This annual shedding of the old reminds me to say,once again, goodbye to a former garden, one which now has many old friends that have died.

The old memories remain, in my heart. I am building new memories, watching a new garden go through its annual cycle. September feels, always, like a new start.

And September leaves that fall...well, once again they will help regenerate the soil. This is what cycles are all about...regeneration and renewal.

Keep good thoughts, everyone, and I'll see you in a few days.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Weddings and Vaccinations

Graham and I are invited to Jerr's wedding with Melissa. Going to the wedding requires a trip to the Columbia River Gorge, where Jerr and Melissa live.

From Qualicum Beach, it will take Graham and I about two days by car to get there. So we decided to make a holiday out of it, and do some sightseeing on the return trip to Canada. We will go where Spirit takes us, ending up in Queen's Bay in BC.

Although Scott will be staying here, we all deemed it wiser to put both Lucky and Nate into their boarding kennel. They are used to it and the people, there will be the least disruption in their lives, and there are plenty of wild rabbits to bark at and other dogs to commune with.

Do I sound as if I am convincing myself they will have a good time?

At any rate, I tell them they are going for a holiday, too. We have also booked a bath and grooming for both dogs while they are there. At the moment, they are looking plenty scruffy, after the long, dry summer we've had. Lucky has Airedale feathers sprouting out all over and Nate, who is black, smells a little like socks that have been worn and not washed in weeks.

Because a stay in a kennel requires up to date vaccination shots, we scrambled on Friday to get a veterinarian appointment so that the very uncomfortable deed could be done. Our regular Vet was on holiday. So when we found a Vet who could fit the dogs in, we took our two shabby looking boys right down.

I knew as soon as we walked in that this Vet office was not used to dogs that frolic in mud and roll in as many juicy, smelly spots that they can find. It was a little like going to the Opera in gardening attire. There were pictures on the walls of impossibly shiny, well-groomed dogs...and the place smelled like an aromatherapy clinic.

Beware of Vet's offices that smell like someone who is used to farms and the attendant scents that somehow always transfer to a Vet's office, I did not feel this atmosphere was entirely normal. And indeed, neither did our dogs. Nate, our thinker, especially recognised that he was out of his element here. Lucky, as usual, was far too excited to notice.

We filled out papers. The dogs were weighed. Then...oh, the shame of it, Nate told me...we were placed into an empty room as soon as they could get us there...because they had an appointment with a small, fluffy purebred dog that needed stitches taken out. The receptionist, whose nose couldn't have gotten any higher, informed us the Vet would be with us as soon as she attended to the other dog.

Gray and I looked at each other. Okay, we reasoned, they did not know us and they were kind enough to give us a last minute appointment. We told ourselves to keep an open mind. But Nate was not convinced...he became quieter and quieter, while Lucky checked out the fish tank, which had huge Koi swimming around in it. And then finally the Vet appeared.

It was apparent as soon as she walked in that she was frightened of our dogs. Not so much Lucky, who was dancing his fool's dance...any less threatening dog could not have been imagined. But Nate, who quietly sat in the corner by Graham's chair, must have twigged some fear in the Vet. And so, as a result of her fear, she went on the attack.

Her first question...Do these dogs have fleas?...made Graham's back straighten and his Scottish chin jut out. On the other hand, it was a dry summer, one where fleas can be prolific...but Graham did not know that fact. I hastened to say, no, they did not have fleas, they were going to be groomed at the kennel, they did not always look so scruffy. She did not look convinced as she checked Lucky's far, she hadn't gone near Nate. She looked surprised when there was no indication of the dreaded fleas.

What she didn't know was that these dogs are fed garlic, and I rub their coats with herbs...pennywort, rosemary and thyme. They receive Reiki every day. I rarely have problems with fleas in any of my animals.

Then she checked Lucky's ears. I was convinced Lucky had a problem with one of his ears...he barks a lot...and when he barks, he shakes his head at the loud sounds he emits. He has never realized that if he didn't bark and howl as long and loudly as he does, his ears wouldn't bother him. Lucky allowed her to look into his ears. But the only thing apparent was a lot of ear wax in one ear and the Vet lost interest in looking any further. Then she wanted to check his heart.

I thought Lucky would climb into the fish tank, when she tried to listen to his heart with that shiny object. He was not going to stand still for that at all. As excited as he already was, there was no containing him now, and I wondered how she would be able to squirt the Bordetella vaccine up his nose.

Most of the vaccine ended up on Gray's arm. But she felt Lucky had received enough of a dose.

Graham and I had exchanged dogs, when Lucky became fairly unmanageable, because Lucky will listen to Graham. He will listen to me, too, but I have to use a growly voice...and I didn't feel comfortable enough to use That Voice, in this office. So I was sitting with Nate, who was laying quietly, watching everything, by my side. And I felt his reticence...he does not like it when Lucky gets frightened...he will try to help him, every time. Lucky is his mate and he looks out for him.

Nate was next. Gingerly, the Vet came towards him. I heard Nate give a soft growl, one that told me he did not like this woman. Once again, Gray and I exchanged dogs, but not before Nate licked my hand and looked into my eyes, telling me he was only voicing his opinion and didn't mean anything by it. But the Vet became more frightened, sending out the scent of fear. Nate let her squirt the vaccine up his nose without any problems, almost as if he was apologizing for his small outburst.

She didn't bother with checking his heart or his ears. She complained about his weight. Nate is a labrador cross. He has bull terrier in him; he has a large, muscular body and short legs. When she touched him, she was surprised at the muscles that are hard and solid on Nate's body. But she couldn't let the weight idea go...even as she said his muscles were very well developed. And then... oh, horrors!...she swiped at his shoulders and said there was plenty of fat there, too.

Dear me. It got my dander up. For the last four years, we have tried every dog food under the sun, spending huge sums of money to find some food that Nate could eat and still lose weight. We had finally accepted that Nate eats everything and anything...telling ourselves that as long as he received plenty of exercise,with food given at the barest minimum, we would live with a dog that had a physique like a beer barrel. He is our Nate...just the way he is.

As I explained this to her, very firmly, she became angrier. It was the end of the day; perhaps it had been a bad day for her. She would not stop accusing us of overfeeding seemed as if she couldn't. As she went on and on about the kinds of different dog foods out there (as if I didn't know...I had just told her!) she fed him treats. It was bizarre.

She left us, as soon as I pointed out to her what she was doing.

After I paid an astronomical bill, we took our scruffy dogs back home, reassuring them we loved them, even if they weren't perfect. We threw the ball for Nate, who, even with his barrel body, still jumps high in the air to catch it, over and over. We listened to Lucky bark, shaking his head at the same time. We fed them, watching Nate wolf his food, and Lucky turn his nose up at it.

We tried not to feel guilty, as if we were mistreating them. I don't usually feel this way, but a Vet that doesn't know us or our dogs had the ability, this day, to make me question myself and my knowledge of dogs.

In the end, the dogs got their up-to-date vaccin- ations, they are off the kennels this week, and Graham and I will spend some time with friends who are tieing the knot on the side of the Columbia River. The guilt of being a bad dog owner is gone, with acceptance back in its place.

And next year, when it is vaccination time for the dogs again, I will be a little more organized and take the dogs to our familiar vet, one who knows us and our dogs.

One who accepts us just the way we are, even on bad hair days.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Dad's Chair

We finally picked up Dad's Chair from my mother's home last Sunday. She had given it to me a few months ago; with one thing and another, we hadn't got around to taking it home.

It is a big, green leather Chair. It is a rocker and a recliner, large enough for two. I was worried, at first, that I wouldn't find room for it in our small home. I needn't have been concerned; it looks as if it has always been here.

Dad's Chair was always the biggest in the house, as I was growing up, and it had the best spot, too. Right in front of the window that faced the willow tree with the street behind it.

It was the perfect place for after school cookies and milk and a good book. The Chair changed over the years...Dad would get himself a new one every so often. But they were all big. And the Chair always felt as if it was wrapping me in a comforting cocoon.

This one is no different from all the others. It is a relatively new Chair, one I don't recognize as belonging to my Dad. His chairs always had a high back, something this one is missing. And in his last few years of life, my parents moved. His Chair no longer seemed to be in the best spot, in the new didn't have the same feeling.

Perhaps it is because I am an adult now and have almost forgotten those comforting childhood moments, wrapped in Dad's big Chair.

But yesterday afternoon, I sat down in Dad's Chair, which, I reminded myself, is now mine. And I immediately drifted off into a floating meditation. As I sat there, I could feel my Dad's pres-ence. The smell of the leather Chair helped...I could distinctly smell Dad, along with, oddly enough, the smell of raspberries.

I don't remember whether or not Dad liked raspberries when he was alive; I know he liked the whipped cream that came with it.

When I see my father now, in dreams or meditations, he is always much younger and far more joyful than when he was alive. Dad's last years were not happy...he was plagued with arthritic feet, with all the attendant problems. And he was my mother's primary caretaker; it left him little time for himself.

So he mostly sat in his chair, reading the adventure novels that kept him entertained. He immersed himself in these books. They took him away from the reality of his home life. I sometimes wonder if he placed himself in the hero's position, living a life of adventure and activity.

Yesterday, in my meditation, he stood and watched me, at the edge of a lake. I asked him for his help with my mother, who is not doing so well now at the age of 85. He picked up a sea shell in the form of a circle and gave it to me, telling me this shell...this tool...would aid me in caring for Mom.

And then, as he stood there at the water's edge, he faded away in a shower of green light. The colour was the water and Dad left my sight, the green turned to pink and then violet light. I drifted amongst those colours for awhile, loving the strong energy that surrounded me.

I slowly drifted fully awake, wondering what Dad had meant by the shell he had given me. It was an open shell, pure white in colour. But it wasn't until this morning that I looked it up.

I found that shells in dreams indicate a desire to be protected from life's problems. My mom for years has withdrawn from the world due to health problems and an inability to easily get around. Shells suggest vulnerability...a hard outer shell protecting a soft inner core. Dad was giving me some knowledge to use in persuading my mother to find help.

There are many more symbols in this dream...the water, the colours, the shells...even the tree Dad stands beside. I will take my time working it out, as it is important...there are many hints in this dream that might show me how to help my mother.

I expect to see Dad a lot more, as I drift away in The Chair. It is close to his birthday, always a time when I can communicate with loved ones who have died.

Dad's Chair was always comforting when he was alive. Why would I expect anything different now?

Saturday, September 02, 2006


The month of September is upon us. It is a bittersweet month...a time of new beginnings and partings and promises made.

It is the time of harvest. The shadows are lengthening; fruit hangs heavy on the vines and there is a certain feel in the Wind. One that reminds me to take my sweater when I go out, even if the weather forecast promises no rain in sight.

Bree and I and Danielle, Bree's friend, went clothes shopping last week. I marvelled over the differences this year as compared to last with these girls...there is such a great leap in maturity. They are pre-teens now...Danielle, a year older than Bree, is taller than I am.

The girls handle themselves well in those hyper-frantic stores. On the day we went shopping, it seems every store had a huge sale; they were filled to bursting with young girls discarding clothes...and then finding just the right one, only to discover it was the wrong size!

September is the time for new clothes, new books and pencils, a new grade in school, and new activities for children. And as I mature, September continues to be the time for new beginnings, where there is delight and apprehension mixed at the changes that are becoming apparent as the season turns.

September's Moon dominates the night is heavy and golden, hanging like a heavy ornament from the sky's velvet background. It has rarely rained this past summer and the earth is parched and waiting. Garden plants are showing the signs of true drought, here in the Rain Forest.

As I sit on the stoop in the evening's twilight, watching the Moon's laborious rise over the trees, I smell the cooling earth, trying to regenerate itself after another hot, dry day. Branches of the conifer trees hang weightless, seeming to conserve energy. If Wind is just right, moisture comes in from Ocean a few blocks away, giving the arid land a small consolation.

Colours of Autumn are showing up everywhere. The cool nights are enabling the deciduous trees' leaves to turn. Along with the wonderful reds and golds, some of the leaves are brown and scorched, signifying the dry conditions. Chrysanthemums lift their tawny, lion-like blossoms to the sun. Echinacea's deep pink becomes unearthly in the mellow, evening light. Hydrangea, looking tired this year, still displays blossoms of deep lavender and pink and blue...a kaleidoscope of color.

It is a time of sometimes startling beauty. A New Dawn Rose, with the morning dew still on its petals, a perfectly ripe tomato, a late Raspberry quivering on the end of its cane, the reddest sunset...all of Nature's glory displayed, just for the taking!

September swells and builds, like a saxophone's endless note, bringing promise of transitions and new beginnings.