Wednesday, August 29, 2007


The Universe has sent me many lessons lately, both good and bad.

It came crashing in on me this morning.

My mother used to say I looked like Rumpelstiltskin, when the World crashed for me, with a tantrum of epic proportions. She maintained I was capable of this until she died.

Deep inside, I know she was right.

It's been a stressful month, this month of August in 2007. On the night my mother died, I received a message from the bank telling me my account had been frozen; my account had been scammed. There would be an investigation. I would have to put in a claim immediately.

Along with the hole my Mom's death left in my heart, another hole was added to my solar plexus, with this theft and violation.

I felt powerless.

And attack of Rheumatoid, directly due to stress. But I weathered all those things; storms didn't erupt...I allowed grief to flow and let things go...

I thought.

But this morning...this morning didn't go so well. The Government, in all its unfound wisdom, has decided to create something they call Complex Care. For me, this means I must have blood tests every three months. Which means I have to fast, because I am a Type 2 Diabetic. This means I have to get to the Lab when it opens, along with all the other many, many people who are also Complex Care patients, who also have three things that the Government wants to monitor.

These are on top of the patients who only require one fasting blood test, who are all waiting there, as well.

I went to the laboratory twenty minutes before they opened; I waited for almost two hours, before my blood was taken.

Before I had my morning coffee.

Mostly, I use these wait times, times when I'm in a queue, for people watching, telling myself stories about them. Usually, I have no trouble amusing myself.

But all these people who were waiting with me had also fasted, were also in a strange frame of mind. Tempers were short and patience was very, very thin.

A wee toddler, who looked like an absolute angel, had the lungs of an elephant, when she discovered what she was there for. It took the two lab technicians a long time before they could take blood from this tiny tiger, who fought like a demon...both women looked a little tousled when they finally finished.

The negative energy was catching. I was caught unaware; I had not shielded properly and I was bombarded by huge amounts of anxiety, fear, and anger from all directions.

And so, inside my head, I flayed the seemed safe. Everybody does it. I worked myself into a fine old frenzy, imagining all sorts of ways to bring down a regime that would put profits first. And inconvenience me, on top of it all.

By doing this, of course, I fueled my anger, my desire to jump up and down, and say...Listen to me, all of you!... pulling a Rumpelstiltskin. I added a few chunks of frustration to the flame, by thinking of all the things I could be doing, if the Government...and on and on.

My name was called.

By this time, my body had taken on the shape of the chair, and I walked very slowly towards the inner sanctum of the Lab. A very Crabby Lady, one grumpier than even me, one who had been berating the man next to her for quite some time, suggested if I hurried a bit more, everybody would be able to leave that much sooner.


The room hushed. I stopped, a haze of red slowly descending over me. I could feel the crowd behind me wanting some diversion, some excitement to the seemingly never ending wait. Behind me, I heard two elderly gentlemen whisper to each other...Cat Fight!...with a certain amount of glee.

I fought the red Tide. I fought for balance, I called for help from my guides...

I straightened, as much as I am ever able to straighten, lifted my chin, turned and said...Good morning! with a smile that did not reach my eyes, and carried on.

There was a collective sigh from the crowd; the hum of conversation returned, the impending excitement diverted.

After an extremely rushed and harried technician took what seemed to be a hundred vials of my blood, I walked back through the waiting room; my smile real this time.

My equilibrium had returned, and I wanted to give the Crabby Lady a true smile, but she was no longer there, only her husband, the man who had stood beside her. He returned my smile, and apologized for her ill behaviour.

And because I knew so well the frustration she had felt, I told him I understood.

I do. Only too well. A few years ago, I would have demanded to be heard, I would have complained to whomever there was to complain to. I would never have attacked another; my anger is rarely turned towards someone else directly. But the discombobulation of the morning would have certainly coloured my day.

And even in my battle for balance, I recognized the pain in Crabby Lady's eyes...a huge amount of pain.

Seeing the World through that haze of pain, waiting an interminable time, facing a crisis... it must have been excruciating for her. I do hope they allowed her to jump the queue.

And I went home, to my cup of coffee, which tasted nowhere near as good as I had fantasized, during my rant to myself.

Wandering through the garden, I thanked Creator for allowing me to see the World through another woman's eyes, and seeing myself. There were huge prayers of gratitude for the balance I was given...not as much as I hope to have one day, but in this present moment, it was what I had.

And all those other things, those worrisome things that piled up, unseen and unnoticed little parcels of grief and loss of trust...well.

I let them go a further few miles.

It's just life, after all.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Tomato Island

A morning stroll around the gardens is a habit of mine, deeply ingrained. It is a new day, a new beginning...a time to give thanks and receive blessings. A time to say Hello, World! and breathe in the fresh, briny Air.

I search for new blossoms amongst the plants, signs of incipient problems, and I note areas that need a little upkeep to show off their vibrant personalities. I add these to the list of to-dos I keep on a big mental blackboard.

It is meditative...this communing with the plants. They are part of me; I receive benefit from them in the form of energy. If I need a release from stress, for instance, I will naturally gravitate to the plant that will give me peace and tranquility...Lady Lavender. She is everywhere in my garden.

During my walk I always peruse the vegetable see which plants Rabbit used for his dinner last night. Rabbit doesn't seem greedy, he leaves plenty for us...yet he always seems to choose the choicest, tenderest Lettuce leaf or Squash.

The weather has been extreme this year and the Vegetables show it. Very hot and humid one day and cold Rain and Wind the next, all Season I have watched them struggle to adapt, being set back constantly.

The Tomatoes, in particular, are not their usual happy, bouncing verdant selves, loaded with red globes of Fruit. Instead they seem spindly, reaching for Sun who rarely showed. And when he did, it was with a blazing, scorching hot breath, that stopped all reproduction.

And so, the Tomato mirrors the weather. The fruit set is less than normal; the skin is thicker, there are less seeds. According to a local gardener, the fruit protects itself from the extremes by growing a thicker skin than usual. And because dry, hot spells have also occurred, the fruit is less juicy, more meaty.

But, I am told, they more than make up for it by their sweetness and very strong tomato taste. I would not know; Tomatoes in my garden have yet to ripen. This year, I believe I personally know each and every Tomato here; there are not very many of them.

And they are all green, with the exception of "Early Girl". At this time of year, we are usually eating Tomatoes from the garden, heading into prime harvest season.

I feel badly for these stalwart soldiers, who, this year, have had to endure extreme temperatures. Plants will adapt to changing weather patterns, sometimes at the expense of their fruit, it seems. I fear Blight...the temperatures and conditions are just right for it. At the first sign of it, I will pick what fruit I have, red or not.

One night, as I slept, with Tomato on my mind, having just walked amongst them, I dreamed I was afloat in a rowboat on an azure, calm Sea...a green Isle in the far distance. I did not paddle; slowly but surely, my boat breached the distance between the Isle and I. It seemed there was no urgency.

As the boat floated closer, I noticed round balls of fruit hanging from the very green, leafy trees. I instantly understood they were Tomatoes, all a different shade of many brilliant, orange, yellow, green, purple. The Trees that covered the Island were Tomato plants.

I found myself wandering the Forest floor. I was enveloped by a feeling of contentment, well-being and pure happiness. Strange melodies played in the background to the chatter coming from each Globe that hung from the Trees...chatter interspersed with giggles and peals of flute-like laughter.

I stood and watched, something I do in dreams like this. I saw spindly Trees, with perhaps only one Globe hanging off it, being sheltered and encouraged by the bigger, more established ones. I saw cat-faced Globes, deformed Globes, tiny Globes, taking their place right beside the perfect, round specimens. I felt the complete acceptance of each other's peculiarities.

On the forest floor grew herbs of every variety...Thyme, Parsley, Basil and many leafy Lettuces, their frilly skirts holding sparkling Water...

There was total equality and freedom here, with happiness and joy spilling out into the deep surrounding Forest of leafy glades. The atmosphere completely covered me, as softly as eiderdown. I laughed, in my dream, out of sheer happiness.

The otherworldly music intensified, the chatter increased, the laughter pealed...and into this dream of happiness floated a..........figure that seemed amorphous, yet had soft, nurturing feminine energy. She seemed clad in scarlet ribbons that drifted with her everchanging self...a self that transmitted many iridescent colours, all swirling around those scarlet ribbons.

Her eyes were steadfast, however. Round and dark, soft and warm, when her eyes met mine, I felt tears flow...there was such love pouring from her figure to mine.

I awoke, with her eyes still on mine. Chuckling softly, feeling warm and cared for all over, I fell into a dreamless sleep, with the intent on researching Tomato dreams in the morning...

Dreaming of Tomatoes foretells of good health to come, with much contentment and harmony in relationships.

Today, as I wander amongst my Tomato Survivors, I see the plants in a different World, one where I seemed insignificant, my figure small. I see the The Tomato Diva pouring her lovely energy into my soul, and I feel the contentment and love again.

No longer do I nostalgically long for other times, when the Tomato harvest seemed never ending, when jars of jewel coloured Globes lined the counter. Each Tomato in the garden this year adapted and adapted and adapted to the extremes...and still they hang strong and sure, showing colours here and there. And still, they seem to shelter the little ones.

Another lesson from the garden...plants are just full of wisdom, aren't they?

Monday, August 20, 2007

A Fantasy Wake

I met a casual acquaintance the other day, when I was shopping for the various sundry items needed for the mundane life...

She and I had met as she visited her mother at The Gardens at Qualicum Beach, approximately at the same time as I did. She gave her condolences to me, for my mother's death. I thanked her, and we chatted on a bit, catching up on news.

She asked if there was to be a memorial for my mother; I said yes, it was upcoming. She was aware of my fractured family and so she smiled, as I grinned back, both of us fully aware the other understood. She has five brothers.

She told me of a man she knew who had recently died. He had four offspring, who were at each other's throats at a moment's notice. This fellow left four tickets on a cruise ship for his children, with express wishes that the rest of his inheritance would go to charity, if they did not all go on this cruise...all at the same time! And it was a long cruise.

He wanted his ashes distributed upon the high seas, with the four of them in attendance.

Blinking my eyes against a vision of a burning ship, should this have happened to my family, I laughed and said...wouldn't it be great if we could plan our wakes to the nth degree.

She's the final controlling gesture!

As I trundled off with my basket, I mused on that...

I had difficulty with it; I sat on what my idea of a fantasy wake would be for a few days. I could not get it out of my mind, it was first and foremost. Are our last wishes a controlling force to the ones left behind...or are they an encapsulation of how we perceive our lives? I couldn't come up with the answer; in the end, it didn't matter.

Since I couldn't seem to leave the subject alone, I decided to write about it...and perhaps that's what I'm meant to do.

When my life ends, I want a celebration...a party...a good old fashioned wake, where everybody tells a story or two about my peccadilloes...and there are many.

I want laughter and music. I want good energy; I will do everything I can from wherever I am to enable the positive, loving energy I desire, at my wake.

I don't want people to remember how I can whine endlessly, about a problem or an ache. I don't want people to remember my dark moods, my impossible anger, my obsessions...

I don't want hushed funeral parlours. I want fresh Air, a Bonfire that sends sparks to the Heavens, Wind that frolics with the Trees, and Water, be it Ocean or River, that takes the grief and tears, and washes them clean.

I want music...something from the past that makes people sway and tap their feet. I want a celebration.

Because, deep inside of me, I feel that Death is a reward for a life well-lived. I believe that Birth and Death are each a beginning...a start anew. A birth and a re-birth.

I don't believe it is up to the remaining people on this plane to take the life of another and judge how they lived it, in a negative manner, at my wake.

I want humourous anecdotes...the kind where acceptance of the person I was runs deep.

I want my loved ones to let go of the deep, hidden hurts I've inflicted, to throw those black, stinking piles of garbage held deep inside, into the Water. I want them to realize, then, that I meant the best, always. Always. But sometimes, it was the best for me, as well.

The people I leave behind must be ready for a celebration of this kind, where laughter prevails and forgiveness begins. It can take awhile, to get to a place such as this, when a death occurs.

And so, at my Wake, I want a Wise Woman or Man, someone who knows the old ways, to help facilitate, to find fragments of Soul and mend them, give them back to the rightful owner, so all may feel at peace.

I want laughter. Clear, shiny peals of laughter, that echoes amongst the Trees, is taken by the Wind and dropped into needful places. I need the giggles of children, a chuckle from elders and uproarious guffaws from the in between. I would want as much joy for my passage as there is at a newborn's arrival.

I would want, in my fantasy wake, first and foremost, a healing place.

My fantasy wake doesn't include cruises to far-off places, although I know my daughter would approve...

It only lets me know that everybody left behind will be alright without me; they love me and miss me...and that it's okay for me to go.

Leaving the rest to their joyful celebration.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Could It Be?

With reference to my post Window of Opportunity, where tourists felt there were Alligators around Cameron Lake...I direct you to a story in the Parksville Qualicum News entitled "Mystery within Cameron Lake".

Perhaps those tourists weren't far off.

Having grown up near Cameron Lake, I have heard many stories over the years. It can be an eerie, dark Lake, when the weather acts up...the traveler comes upon it rather suddenly, as he journeys along the highway. And there it is...a large, deep body of water between two Mountains...the highway carved out of one steep side, and the railway on the other.

At one end, there is a sandy beach, enticing many people to stop, have a picnic, perhaps swim. But the water is cold, if the swimmer goes out very far...the lake drops off to depths unknown. It is startling to swim there, seeing the pebbles and stringy weeds on the floor of the lake...and then suddenly nothing but inky, black depths of water beneath.

There is a lodge here and campgrounds. Many of the sites have been in the same family for years...there is a great contingent of loyalty towards the Lake by a number of people.

Numerous stories abound about the mysteries of the Lake. Some say the bottom has never been measured...that it has never been found. There are stories of cars disappearing into the depths, never to be seen again. There is the story of the man drowning in one of the adjacent lakes and turning up in Cameron Lake.

And then, there is this story...about a strange creature living in the Lake. I can attest to the wake or wave action...I have witnessed it myself. However, I have always assumed it was a current or something similar; it was a phenomenon that was just there.

The highway that runs along it is narrow and windy, with large overhangs. It can, if you are not used to it, make adrenaline run faster...large semi-trailers moving towards you on this road can make perspiration a permanent friend.

As a child, when we traveled around the Lake, I would hide so that I would not see it. And my granddaughter did the same.

Tell me when we're past the Lake, Nammy...this refrain echoes in my ears from years past, when I drove her along it. She would be huddled in the backseat of the car, in younger years, even under a blanket.

She would get pictures in her mind, she told me then. Pictures of a deep, dark, bottomless hole, where there was no hope. And no one knew what to expect.

I asked her the other day if she still felt the same. She's twelve now, very precocious and wise.
She sits beside me, in the passenger seat, straight and tall and beautiful. She says...Yes, I do...very firmly.

She says...I can't get past it...the Lake frightens me.

Hmmm...this from a young women who has family that lives on Sproat Lake, a larger Lake than Cameron...but not as deep. And, as a result, she lives in the Water in Summer. She is water-wise...she has respect for it in all its moods.

On a sunny day, nothing can parallel the awesome splendour of this sparkling Mountain Lake. The Waters hug Mountain's lap...deep, sapphire blue meeting forest green.

Driving past, it is easy to be mesmerized by the beauty; attention, however, must be given to the highway, as many find to their peril. The highway running along the Lake is the only passage to the West Coast of the Island. As a consequence, it is extremely busy, with everything from RVs, semi-trailers, buses, log trucks, cyclists, motorcycles and cars moving along its narrow surface.

I have traveled this road since childhood. I have seen the Lake in all its moods...swollen and raging, an oily, dark, heavy gray, dashing its Waters across the road, trying to pull the unwary in...

I have watched it on a sunny day in Winter, with a cold North Wind whipping up the Waters to whitecaps...feeling the freshness of this Lake deep within.

I have driven past when families swelled the beach, the laughter of children echoing between the Mountains, clearly enjoying the cold, crisp Waters and the warm Sun.

There are many Lakes on the Island. None stir up emotion in me as much as Cameron Lake. I love it and am wary of it, at the same time.

Perhaps there could be prehistoric Alligators in the Lake...

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Setting Summer Sun

It seems to me I notice the passing of the seasons at the first sign of change. Right now, the shadows are lengthening; there is a bite to Wind again, at times, and Sun's warmth doesn't last overnight.

Storms that occur are showing the gentle side of their faces; they will gain in ferocity as time passes. Here, on the East Side of the Island, there can be less Rain than on the West, however, the Wind Storms happen more often.

In the shade, too, there is an underlying cool touch on the skin, reminding me of crisp, cool Autumn days.

But it is still Summer, in children's eyes. Each day is a shimmering jewel, an unknown path in which to explore the minutest speck of life. The World is filled with possibilities, each more enticing than the last. It is a thrilling season; children do not notice the passage of time, they do not notice the lengthening shadows...

In the adult world, however, it is time to return to schedules and routines, it is time to gather the required accessories to those routines...the school clothing, the school supplies, the planning of activities, the equipment needed to execute those extracurricular activities...

And children, jolted out of that freedom Summer brings, are required to make choices, difficult ones, for them. A day is a long time; a three month stint at Piano lessons is a lifetime.

As I sat on my stoop the other day, contemplating the day, a little girl and her mother walked by, just having come from the Pool up the road. They were discussing the upcoming Autumn season...they were discussing which of those extra activities the little girl might take.

It turns out the child wanted to take swimming lessons; mother explained that the rule was one sport and one creative activity for the Fall season. She explained to her daughter the choice was similar to Tap Dancing and Piano lessons. So if she wanted Swimming, then there could be no Soccer.

And her little one asked, with real apprehension...But Dad wants me to take Soccer. Will I make him mad?

As they drifted out of my range of hearing, I remembered another overheard conversation, this one situated in the School Supplies department of a local store. A small boy and his father were choosing amongst the brightly coloured binders, different shades of pens and crayons of every known hue. The boy's eyes were what drew me...his expression as he stared at the amazing array of colour was awestruck, as if he'd suddenly discovered a passion he hadn't realized he had.

He was beyond words, touching the paints, the crayons, the brightly coloured paper, with reverence, as if he couldn't imagine there was anything in the World this beautiful...

His father was occupied with a book on World Soccer. His son's unusual quiet contemplation jolted his awareness; he watched the boy for awhile, his eyes softening, a look of knowing...of understanding... entering his expression.

Would Mom be mad if I took Drawing instead of Piano?...asked his boy.

No, his father said, with conviction, No, she wouldn't be angry.

Sometimes choices, in parenting, must be made for another, in the Autumn, when the Summer Sun sets. When a child discovers that choices can make another angry, can make someone else disappointed, can change the whole World overnight, he finds there are consequences to following his dreams.

So, sometimes dreams become just that...a wish for a different way, a yearning for an inexplicable passion...when a choice is made to please another. And sometimes, there is another close at hand who understands there may be different dreams, a gift coming out of nowhere for the lucky recipient. And who will stand strong in favour of it.

The Air is rife with the choices, the promises, the new cycles that begin when the Summer Sun hangs lower in the Sky. Unfulfilled dreams do seem to fill, as the days shorten, gathering urgency. Agonizing decisions are made, compromises agreed upon.

It is the way of things...this turning of the Wheel, and the changes, good and bad, that it brings. The opportunities taken and the chances lost...children learn very early these days that choices must be made, and that those choices don't always follow the dreams that are inside.

But for young children, the warm, sunny August days, the ones that seem to have no end, beckon, letting dreams and aspirations for the upcoming season fall away.

September's Sun seems far away, fading into the background, when right now, there is still so much to see and do...right now, this very moment.

And so it goes.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Window of Opportunity

On our way to visit family in my hometown, we were held up at the entrance to Cathedral Grove by a head-on collision, just a few cars ahead of us.

My daughter told me my window of opportunity for seeing Graydon, my grandson, awake, began at about two-thirty pm.

As we left our home in Qualicum Beach, we discussed the possibility of an accident; the last three times we've visited, we have been held up by problems on the road.

It had been two weeks since I had visited with 4 months old, he was changing daily. But, we reasoned, what were the chances... we had met our quota of bad accidents requiring highway closure.

Not so, apparently. Cathedral Grove enthralls visitors. Driving through for the first time, people's attention wanders, as they stare at the huge Trees that have stood for centuries...and inevitably there are car crashes, on this narrow road.

We sat on the highway for an hour and a half, waiting for clearance to travel onward. While we sat, I took pictures, mused on the problem, watched people and listened to conversations that took place as people wandered by, on their way to satisfy curiosity or find knowledge over the length of wait time.

It was interesting, after I swallowed my disappointment at not being able to see Graydon immediately. Mostly tourists wandered by... the locals staying in their vehicles with either a good book or indulging in a nap...

There were not many older folks trudging up the road; mostly youngsters and young adults ran and leaped past the car, their faces filled with the excitement of an adventure. We had just passed Cameron Lake, a large, deep lake, by which the highway ran alongside. In their minds, anything could lay just ahead.

One young woman discussed the possibility of Alligators inhabiting the low-lying area beside our car, after her friend wanted to find the way to the lake.

I waited for one of her friends to laugh and challenge the Alligator statement, but they believed her! On they went, discussing the safest way, wanting a pathway that was clearly defined, so that Bear and Alligator would not bother them.

As I wondered how a young woman could be educated and not learn that Alligators do not live in northern climes, a young family came along. The youngest son, about three years of age, asked his mother...Who lives in there, Mommy?

She said...Alligators!

The little boy stared into the trees, his hand in his smiling mother's...and I heard his questions begin. Where, how, why...? His mother's voice dwindled as she embellished on her story, keeping her son occupied and listening all the while.

I almost believed everybody knew something I didn't...had Alligators moved into the swampy headlands of Cameron Lake?

As I watched, I identified tourists from Europe, Asia and the US. There were German tourists, speaking in their language, which I am still able to understand, having been born there. I noticed that the majority of the visitors were just a bit uncomfortable in what must seem like a deep, dark wild Forest to them...I lost count of how many commented on their nervousness at encountering wild life...I heard Cougar, Bear, Grizzly Bear, Mountain lion mentioned, with a wary glance around...oh, and Alligator.

I wondered what might happen to the people, all now leaving their cars, when traffic resumed. I fantasized about the cars being abandoned, about tourists being cornered by Grizzly Bears and Alligators, not able to return to their vehicles. I saw them become Tree People, with a civilization all their own, living in Trees and upended Roots.

I built a story around these beings, who, through pure happenstance, ended up living in Cathedral Grove...a shy, quiet group who kept to themselves, staring at visitors to the Park from between branches and high in Trees.

Would they befriend all those Kittens and Puppies that are dropped off in the Park to fend for themselves? Would they re-member the old ways? How? Would the tourists who were fearful of the Forest learn to befriend it? What would they take from the Old World, to apply to the New? Who would lead the group...would it be the authoritative woman who led her group of three other women? Or the young lad on the skateboard, who loved to show his prowess?

I fleshed out the story, lost in the Dream of the Forest People.

From a distance, I heard cars start...I woke to see the members of the Lost Tribe running back to their vehicles, children far ahead of their parents...running, running around the bend and out of my sight.

We continued on our way, over the small bridges, past the banged up vehicles attached to the tow trucks, past the parking lot of the Park, and past all the cars that were lined up in the opposite direction.

We were an hour or two away from the Window of Opportunity given me by my daughter. On the one hand, I had a lovely given me by the Spirit of the Forest, one filled with excitement and adventure, one that gave my over-active Mind a sorely required rest.

And on the other...Graydon was still awake when I arrived...full of his incredible, blue-eyed charm and the beginning awareness of himself and others.

He stayed awake for quite awhile, considering he has two teeth and is working on the others. And then, he fell asleep in my arms.

The Universe allowed me to fulfill two Windows this day. Does it get any better than this?