Mr. A In Time Of COVID-19

I popped in on Mr A in March this year. 

“Finally found a buyer.  Sold the house.  Have to be out by the 1st of May,” he said.

A frown furrowed his forehead.  

“Couldn’t do much clearing out over the winter.  I’m fed up,” he mumbled.  “Arthritis is killing me.”

He looked tired and on edge.

“You’re allowed to be fed up,” I reassured him.  “At your age.  It’s a lot for anyone to deal with.”

Self-confessed hoarder.  Mr A’s garage is bursting with stuff.
My fed-up friend, Mr. A, at the entrance to his packed garage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I pulled out my phone to take pictures to post on Kijiji. Of random stuff he might be able to sell.

Like these –

A treasured, dusty collection of miniature cars .
A ferocious coconut pirate head hanging from the basement ceiling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stars of the silver screen. 
Hollywood hotties of yesteryear …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some items he will not part with.  “That’s coming with me to the retirement home. Not selling!”

… this little tin bucket. “My grandma brought milk home everyday, when I was a little boy, in this pail.”
… Grandmother’s kitchen scale, a real beauty of an antique.
20200305_154338~3
“These things I want to keep ….:

 

Framed family photos are definitely not for sale! 

The chalet he grew up in on a Swiss-German mountain village.
Framed photo of grandparents stiffly posing in Victorian attire.
20190924_164729
Little mother holding a log as large as she is.  “Dad chopped the tree down. She was a strong woman!”

Rickety sheds scattered around the sprawling backyard, all bursting at the seams – 

He built the sheds himself with bits of this-and-that …
… and kept adding makeshift structures in the backyard …

 

 

 

 

 

 

… to house the increasing mountains of stuff he kept finding!
Even the abandoned outhouse is probably full of useless things.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mr Albert nursing a beloved miniature car he hopes to sell. “It’s hard to say farewell to a lifetime of memories.”

 

We said goodbye and I promised to come back again soon. 

Then lockdown happened.   Two days later. 

The world changed.

Hadn’t been out in 12 days when I drove past the mall some days back.   A long weekend Saturday and there wasn’t a single vehicle in the parking lot. 

Strange, surreal sight, but angst at being away from home urged me on.  I didn’t stop to take a picture.

Wore a mask, of course — dust mask left over from home renovations — and disposable rubber gloves.  I felt foolish and looked ridiculous.

Pulled into the supermarket parking lot and encountered masked, gloved figures like myself, hurriedly dumping bags of groceries into trunks and backseats. 

Didn’t feel all that foolish after all.

The line-up stretched out into the street.  I was thankful we weren’t in the dead of winter.

At every turn, grim warnings and reminders of the strange season we find ourselves in.

Cautionary warnings posted on  glass doors and windows.   A grim-eyed security guard waved me in.  He was masked, no gloves.  I snapped a photo of the poster on the door, but dared not ask if I could take a picture of him.  

My mask and see-through rubber gloves blended beautifully into the collage of crazed shoppers.  

Designated shoppers feverishly foraged for food.  Tension hung tight in the air.

20200406_155142~2
Masked mother and son in produce section
20200406_155151~2
The look in the eyes above the mask speaks volumes.

 

 

“Gotta get out of here!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

20200406_164856~2
Ominous urgency.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The bakery aisle was empty of flour.  Not one bag left.

No flour in the baking aisle. (Forget about finding yeast.) The whole world is stuck at home baking their hearts out — and posting pictures of their products on Facebook, of course.  Boredom births maestros!

 

 

Flour is now the new toilet paper it seems.

 

Masked cashier, behind a plexi-glass screen. Surprised to notice how many store workers were not wearing masks or gloves.

 

 

 

Hopefully the lot from my cart will last the next two weeks.

Called Mr A to check in on him.  He’s unhappy.  Naturally.   Unable to visit the wife in the nursing home, time hangs on his hands.  A friend gets his groceries, he told me, when I offered to do his shopping. 

“There’s only so much time you can spend in a day feeding the birds and visiting with rabbits,” he mumbled.

He was worried he wouldn’t be able to move on May 1st.  Anxious about the mountain of stuff to be discarded.

I told him not to fret.  “A bunch of girlfriends and I will head out there with mops, brooms and garbage bags.  We’ll come.  When lockdown is all done.”

He sounded relieved. 

The last time I visited, we walked around his yard.  I watched as Mr A fed the birds and wild rabbits and shooed the neighbour’s cat away.

“Keeps coming back. Terrible fellow,” Mr A grumbled. “Steals the rabbit’s food!”

I almost twisted my ankle when I tripped over a bunny-burrow mound rising from the raggedy grass.

Tea time and Bunny popped out of his burrow. 
His handiwork. One of the many hand-built bird-feeders in the backyard, with metal cones at the base to deter thieving squirrels.
Mr. A pumping water from the well he dug himself over fifty years ago.
Snack-time for the critters. A squirrel nibbles his way through a fine feast. 

 

This structure with grim graffiti was from a former place of work. Used to store petroleum, I think he said.

 

Then the world changed.  Suddenly, in an instant.

The enforced isolation is hard on seniors,  particularly those who live alone and aren’t willing or able to navigate technology.

Like my dad.  And Mr A.

Mr A’s wife owned a computer – she was an accountant by profession – but she’s been in the nursing home for the past few years.   A single landline phone sits on his kitchen table.  His only connection with the world outside.

Mr A sleeps on the hospital bed his wife used until she was moved to a nursing home. He pressed buttons to show me how the head and foot of the bed could be raised and lowered when required.  It’s now for sale.

 

“You must miss seeing her,” I murmured.

“What do you think?” he replied.

Wish there was more I could do.

 

 

Then, on a brighter note … Bunny is back!  

Spotted the rascal hopping outside my study window last week – the bunny, my-sworn-enemy!
Caught occasional glimpses of Bunny in the winter, staring at the stone rabbit by the chair under the apple tree, then he was gone for weeks at a time.

 

Who’d have thought I’d be happy to see him? The wretched creature chews up my flowers!

Bunny’s my reminder that life goes on nevertheless.  That Nature won’t pause.  And Joy will return.

Thankful the weather’s getting nicer. Finally.  Pruning and digging time again. 

                                            Garden went from this in the summer —

 

 

 

 

 

To this —

 

 

 

 

And now this mess that I can’t wait to started on  …

IMG_2389

Thankful for technology in this time of stringent distancing.  Thankful for Zoom family and other online gatherings.  

Oh! The blessing of Zoom! A church committee meeting.

Puppy can’t believe everyone’s home.

Puppy checks in on anyone who’s not to be seen.  He can’t believe the good fortune that keeps us all home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thankful for family dinners.  All four of us.  Together.  Everyday. After ages.

Thankful for time.  To write –

That’s me!

 

 

 

 

To stop and stare –

Time to catch my breath and take delight in a light-and-crystal shadow show on the window sill …
Time to stare at pink streaks of setting sun glowing on the bedroom ceiling …

 

Life changed. Overnight.  An un-imagined, dystopian pause.  The world over. 

Our front window – a call to prayer for safety and protection of the nation and our frontline workers.

When normal returns, we’ll forever be changed.  What will  that normal be?

While we wait, what do we do with this time on our hands?

A pause to ponder and re-prioritize?

Perhaps.

 

 Stay safe, stay home.  Reach out. 

Be thankful. 

Love this precious life. 

Our entire street stood outside on their driveways one Saturday night and banged on pots and pans in appreciation of our medical and frontline workers.  Listen …

 

Until next time,                                                                                                  

 

 

 

 

PS: Click here  to read Mr A’s story in Goodbye Yesterdays

Click here for Thursdays With Harold by Selina Stambi                                                                                                                                                                                                           SelinascoverKobo
FOLLOW THIS BLOG AND RECEIVE NEW POSTS BY EMAIL: (Go to Follow button below or on side bar or click here)                                       
LIKE THIS AUTHOR’S FACEBOOK PAGE: CLICK HERE          
BE A FRIEND AND PASS THIS POST ON. (USE SHARE BUTTONS BELOW.)

 

The Thursday Dream Came True

Smudged gold through a grubby windshield.                                                                             
A Sunday city sunset so bright, it’s blinding.

 

 

When you drive into the sunset on a Sunday evening, the glare of gold is blinding and your heart leaps at the glory glowing all around you …

The golden glory of that late-winter city sunset.

When you walk into a room doused with late-afternoon sun and run for your phone to get a picture.  To freeze the moment, that sense of wonder that washes over you …

20200214_080555~2
Seconds of sudden sunshine spilling into a dim room 
20200119_164241~2
Me with sun and shadow on the doors of the hall closet. Those golden, glorious, unexpected moments …

 

When a bar of sunshine spills all over the closet doors and your shadow slides into the panoply of light and shadow …

Moments of unexpected, unsolicited joy that whisper voiceless words of  wonder and promises of marvels to come.

 

This is my dream box –

The dream box sits in a corner of my bedroom, by the door. The first sight that meets my eye when I wake up in the morning.

 

 

 

It overflows with two decades of journals, the pen-and-ink record of significant moments — worst, best, lovely, ugly.  And all the dreams of course …

I was born to write. Write, I did.  All my life.  

 

So  Thursdays With Harold , a journey that commenced some years ago on the writers’ website, fanstory.com  , is finally a reality.

A ping on my phone one evening some years ago, alerts me to a message from Judy Starritt.  She’s found this blog and read the first teaser chapter of Thursdays With Harold.  She asks for more.

Judy has ALS , is paralyzed and has lost her power of speech.  She still has marginal use of her hands, however, and can read and type on her Ipad.  She’s a hawk for typos.  The teacher in her connects with the teacher in me.  We become fast friends and communicate daily via Facebook messenger. Her joy and determined vitality are infectious. She’s intrigued by Harold, the main character in the book, who is also an ALS patient.

I email her six chapters at a time.  

 Judy sent me this picture of her manuscript of Thursdays With Harold, which her husband printed for her to read.  It lies against the backdrop of the sheets of the bed she lay in. There’s a rainbow on it. We shared a mutual love of rainbows.
 Judy Starritt, wife, mother, grandmother, retired math teacher, an irrepressible, inspirational, vital, clever woman, who blazed a trail even through her ALS journey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Judy comments  –

I finished your book about 3 hours ago.  Would you like to know my thoughts about it?

This book is TOO good to be tucked away.  THIS IS A BOOK THAT SHOULD BE READ.  A book club and discussion sort of book.  A PERFECT book club book that would lead into wonderful discussions.  A book that stays with you.

Is this book at a publishers? 

It is time for it to come out of the closet … or drawer… or hard drive.  How can I help with miracles? This SO needs to be published. 

There is such an awareness about ALS now. I could be in charge of East Coast publicity. I have learned that anything is possible.

Judy in the final days with her newest grandchild.     

Judy passes on some weeks later.  I’ve never met her in person, this woman who’s become such a dear and intimate friend.  I fly out to eastern Canada to attend her funeral in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.

The hospital bed in which Judy spent her last years, set up by her bedroom window. On the bed lies her Ipad.  It was surreal to visit Judy’s home the day after her funeral in January 2018, to meet her family and experience the overwhelming sense of a woman I’d known so well, but never met face-to-face

The dream she’s rekindled refuses to die.  Anything is possible, she said …

But I need a cover design.

I reach out to Avril Borthiry, a talented Canadian writer of medieval romances.  We got acquainted on Fanstory.com when she was creating her fascinating novel, Triskelion

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, child and closeup
Avril Borthiry, talented writer and amateur cover designer par excellence, author of several novels,  My favourite is the haunting Triskelion.

“Who does your covers?” I asked.                            

“I do my own,” Av said. “I could design yours!”

It’s lovely when artists are generous with one another. 

Triskelion: a legend continues by [Borthiry, Avril]
Triskelion, by Avril Borthiry. A haunting tale of medieval Cumbria.
Avril produced a cover that read my heart.  She pushed me to persevere.  She sent me tips and links, made suggestions and critiqued. 

“I loved Harold.  It’s a story that must be told,” she said.

And so, the dream came true.

Thursdays With Harold is  available on Kindle and in paperback on Amazon –

(https://www.amazon.com/dp/B084YXJRDS…)

Also as e-book on Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Indigo, Apple, Baker & Taylor, Bibliotheca, OverDrive and 24 Symbols.

(https://books2read.com/u/mKDxvd)

This is the story of Thursdays With Harold —

Thursdays With Harold: cover design by Avril Borthiry

Harold Stedman, a quirky sixty-something suburban lawyer with a crooked smile and zany sense of humour, is retained by Fiona to represent her in a bizarre case of copyright theft and wrongful dismissal.

Shortly into the legal proceedings Harold is diagnosed with ALS. Within months he’s lost his power of speech, but he’s determined to see the case through.

Fiona makes weekly visits to Harold’s office as attorney and client make a united effort to laugh their way through the harrowing circumstances

Lorraine, Harold’s wife – a strong, stylish professional – and Fiona become friends as time ticks by and the case drags on. Then Lorraine Stedman turns nasty. Very nasty.

There’s a trial looming and finances are depleted. An ugly cloud hangs over Fiona. Will there be a way out?

Charged with pathos and fun, unexpected twists and convolutions, this is the compelling story of an unlikely friendship, misplaced trust and the mad scramble to wind up an ill-fated lawsuit.

Come on in and visit with Fiona on Thursdays with Harold …

 

Thank you, Judy Starritt, for believing in this novel.  I’ve dedicated it to your memory.  You came out of nowhere, reached out through cyberspace and helped me believe the dream was worth pursuing.

Thank you, Avril Borthiry for sharing your time, talent and expertise, and for convincing me to see this project through.  Without the crucial, final detail of an eye-catching cover Harold would never have hit the public forum.

Remember how your mum would tell you not to judge a book by its cover?  Not true in this demanding digital age!  The cover counts big time.  It’s the reader’s first exposure to the author’s work — to tempt or to turn away.

So this dream’s done and dusted off.   And now, there’s a brand new one simmering on my mind!  

I believe the best is yet to come.

Until next time,

Excitedly yours,

Judy sent me this picture. “… and the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true …”

Goodbye Yesterdays

Summer’s done.  Trees begin to burn with autumn angst.  

Backyard bursts with bloom.  Garden glows.

20190909_143450~2.jpg
A glance through the dining room window, just as sunlight spills all over the kneeling angel under the apple tree.  Heavenly moment …

A shaft or sunlight swoops down on Kneeling Angel.  She shines against an emerald veil of vines. My heartbeat halts for a fraction of a stunned second and I’m all awash with the delight of summer past, the fascinating fragrance of my Secret Garden.

Such a summer of serendipity it has been.  Such finds …

20190811_141739~2_Signature.jpg
View from the bay window where I sit at my desk to write.  Summer garden of 2019 — my living museum of broken, abandoned and unwanted things.
20190819_084405~2
A once-upon-a-time fondue set preening on a tree stump by the fence.
20190819_085011~2.jpg
I found this beautifully rusted, ancient wheelbarrow abandoned on the kerb.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like I’m pushed to pass by just when this stuff is outside, begging to be taken and pleading for a new destiny.

Click on the arrow below to savour 30 seconds of my Secret Summer Sweetness …

 

Which brings me to my Last Summer Serendipity 

Saturday morning, off to the mall.  Spy something intriguing as we drive by.  Little vintage school desks.  The kind with a bench attached to the front of it.  There’s a pair of them.  In front of the old house that has a pile of stuff out each week, ancient things, free for the taking.  Sometimes there’s a handwritten sign on a large white board: For Sale.

I have an image in my head.  Of a chronic hoarder, who’s amassed stuff for years, urgently requiring to rid himself of a huge pile of junk.   

“Could we check them out on our way back?” I ask.

Husband nods.

So shopping done and happy hubby holding the first new suit he’s acquired in years, we head homewards.                              

The desks are gone.                                                

It’s only been an hour …

I’m crushed.

“Maybe they took them back inside,” he suggests.

“Why would they?  There must be someone like me on the prowl! We should have stopped right away!”

“But there was no room in the car.”

True.  

I feel forlorn.  

I remember from time to time in a sad kind of way and when I do, I whisper, “Please, if he’s right and the owner took them back in, let me pass by when they’re out again …”

A fortnight goes by.  Then one day, on my way to the dentist, my gaze strays to my left … and …

Whoa!

 … they’re back.

U-turn, park in a by-lane and trot over to inspect.  These are not from the ’50s as I’d guessed … the two darling desks are relics from the late eighteenth/ early nineteenth century.

Straight out of a late-Victorian era classroom or Anne of Green Gables novel.  There are holes for the inkwells and circular openings in the ornate cast-iron legs to bolt them down to a wooden floor.

Be still, my heart!

The munchkin school furniture is chained together on the grass by the kerb.  The chains are solid.  Rusty.  I waltz up the driveway.  There’s an elderly gent sitting on an aged white garden chair, staring out into space by his garage door.

Waiting for customers …

“Are these for sale?”

“Yes.”

He’s all I imagined he’d be.

Self-confessed hoarder.  Eighty eight years old. 

The house is hidden behind the trees.  Possibly the last of the original homes on the avenue. 

“I have a garage full of things,” he mumbles.  “I’m tired now.  Just want to get rid of them and go.”

The desks? 

He shrugs.  “Found them downtown. They were tearing down an old schoolhouse, I think.   Don’t remember.  I pick things up. They’ve sat in my garage for over 30 years. ”

20190910_174656~2.jpg
Late Victorian schoolhouse desk.  The little beauty that took my breath away.  The bench folds up. Dear hubby was right.  The desks were taken back in as the owner had to visit his wife in the nursing home and couldn’t risk his possessions being stolen from the kerb.

We agree on a price.  For one of them. I’d like to have both, but the other one’s already taken.

I ask if he’s got old books.  He shows me. A load in the entrance-way, tidily packed in boxes for donation, awaiting pick up.

“Help yourself,” he says.  “They belonged to my wife.  I never had time for books.  But was she ever a reader!”

Mustn’t be greedy.  I’m running out of shelf space at home.

20190923_153823~2.jpg
My library of vintage and antique books bursts at the seams.  No shelf space left!

 

 

 

 

 

I pick 20 hardcover copies — many from the fifties — several first editions and a 100 year-old beauty.  The books are in marvellous condition.  Most of them in vinyl cover-protectors. They look brand new.  

Cared for by a woman who delighted in her books …

20190923_153721_HDR~2.jpg
This book, over a century old …
20190923_153742_HDR~2.jpg
… contains some fascinating historical photos and maps.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He invites me inside and I enter a rabbit warren of rooms in the Land that Time Forgot.

There’s some medical equipment, fine china and a collection of miniature cars.  I take pictures and promise to put the items on Kiji on his behalf.

We sit at the kitchen table and chat awhile.

“My wife had a computer.  She was an accountant.  She did all that kind of stuff.  Now she’s at the nursing home and that’s all I have …”  He points to an old wall phone from the seventies, looking lost on the kitchen table.

“I live like a hobo, I’m sorry,” he adds.

“Don’t be,” I reply. “I’m amazed at how you’re coping. I’d love to help.  Could I bring you some meals – dinner once a week, maybe?”

“No.  Food is not a problem.  I take those.” He shows me a crate of protein shakes.

“And there’s a collection of china teacups and stuff … my wife used to have tea parties. People don’t do that kind of thing anymore …”

“I do, actually!”

He mentions the wife a lot.  I admire the faded cross-stitch pictures on the walls — her handiwork, he tells me.  “But no one does that kind of stuff anymore.”

I do, actually!

“Could I take a photo of you with the desk?”

“But I’m honest,” he protests.

I smile.  “Not because I don’t trust you.  I’d like to record this moment.”

“Oh … okay!”

He sits and strikes a pose.  I click. 

20190910_172504_HDR~2
My new friend and the antique school desk (picture used with permission).

He picks the desk up with effortless ease.  It’s heavy.

“You’re strong,” I comment. 

“You don’t know what I had to do for my wife until two years ago,” he replies airily.

There’s something endearing about him.

“It’s hard to dispose of your entire life,” he adds.

I see desolation in his eyes.

“I can only imagine,” I sympathize softly.  

His sadness reaches me. 

Goodbye Lifetime of Yesterdays … 

Mr A.jpg
All alone.  Mr. A taking me to the shed in the sprawling backyard, to show me his grandparents’ stuff.  He built the shed himself using old garage doors!  My kinda re-purposing guy!

I remember that I’m not as young as I used to be and reaffirm my resolve to squeeze every last precious drop out of the rest of my life.

I’ve been back to visit a couple of times.  Bought more stuff for myself and on behalf of a friend.

His name is Albert.  I call him Mr. A.  

It’s kind of a privilege to have met him.

suitcase
This suitcase would already be old if it were checked onto the Titanic.  There’s a single handle located on one side.  With solid wood trimming and brass embellishments, it certainly wasn’t designed for air travel! I plan to turn it into a coffee table
sewing machine
This beautiful Singer treadle sewing machine is over a hundred years old.  Mr. A purchased it 40 years ago from an old farmhouse.  The carved drawers hold the original machine accessories, bobbins, needles and spools of thread.  It weighs a ton and I have no idea how he and his son carried it down the narrow flight of stairs ready for pick up.   It’s now my whimsical new foyer table

                                               

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I said … such a summer it has been, of delightful discoveries and intriguing encounters.

Sweet, surreal serendipity …

 

Until next time,

sincerely

 

PS:  Pause to breathe and linger in this year’s Secret Garden.  Take a stroll in the Garden of Dreaming 2019 and savour the splendour of this summer past …

 

FOLLOW THIS BLOG AND RECEIVE NEW POSTS BY EMAIL: (Go to Follow button below or on side bar or click here)       
CLICK HERE FOR THURSDAYS WITH HAROLD BY SELINA STAMBI

                                                                                                                  SelinascoverKobo

LIKE THIS AUTHOR’S FACEBOOK PAGE: CLICK HERE                   
BE A FRIEND AND PASS THIS POST ON. (USE SHARE BUTTONS BELOW.)

Root Of The Matter

For years it sat in a backyard flower bed.

IMG_20150724_155944136_HDR
The dead remains of an ill-fated evergreen in the brown planter. Everything struggled and died.

Nothing thrived. The toughest annuals barely survived in the glazed clay pot.  Shade might be the problem, so I tried to heave the hefty thing to a sunny location.

It wouldn’t budge.  Stuck a shovel inside to empty out and lessen the load.  Struck something hard.  

Attempted to tip the thing over.  It moved a bit, not much.  It was firmly anchored down.

On my knees in the grass, I discovered the culprit.  A stray rootlet from the apple tree, creeping in through the drainage hole had grown upwards. The lower three quarters of the container was blocked by a solid serpentine coil of unyielding root.

IMG_9486
A root from the apple tree (left) growing upwards into the pot, created a gaping hole in the process.

Who could have guessed?

I hacked the ropey mass away – not an easy task – chopped and eased it out. Most of the soil was gone.

No wonder  …

It blazed with joy in its bright new location and burned with bloom all the way through July until October’s first frost. Brand new beginning.  Plenty of sunlight.  NO sinister strangling roots.

Food for thought …

IMG_9649

IMG_9487
Sunny new location.  An old CD rack repurposed as a trellis support for a vine.
IMG_8058
No hidden roots to contend with. These gorgeous pink trumpet-shaped blossoms created a spectacular bright-spot at the foot of the deck steps.

Isn’t life like that?  Think of how relationships fail and situations deteriorate because of covert root issues lurking beneath the surface that never get acknowledged, dug out and disposed of.

Abandoned things are like hurting people. It’s worth investing time in them.  A little care, nurture and a dab of creativity might go a long way towards bringing about a transformation of loveliness.  

japanfaces
Abandoned things are like hurting people going through life wearing masks, when all the while there’s possible loveliness waiting to be excavated, if one only knew how

It would require a certain eye and angle of perception, of course, to realize the hidden value and immense potential in discarded things (and difficult people). 

The site of unwanted cast-offs gets my imagination all fired up —

cartofjunk
Thrift store finds.  Note the upside down chair at the top of the pile …
woodenchairwhitepaint
Here it is. A lick of leftover paint …
decoupagewoodenchair
… glue and a pack of rose-print paper napkins.  Several coats of lacquer and behold! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What wonderful things get tossed out and lie listlessly on the kerb, yearning for a second chance.

Clueless, careless people pressed for time, seek the trash can as a quick, convenient way out.  

First world solutions …

The owner of a local antique store told me she pays someone to scour the streets of certain neighbourhoods on garbage day.

“You won’t believe the valuable things we’ve found and sold at a price,” she said.

I believe her.

I’ve made some magnificent finds myself.  

Like these –

20181009_091200~2
Something similar to this darling drop-leaf tea cart from the 1920’s-40’s (straight from a Downton Abbey-type setting) had a price tag of $350 plus taxes at a local thrift shop.  It would go for double the price at an antique store.  In excellent condition, I rescued this one from the kerb just minutes before the garbage truck roared by.  All it needed was a good scrub to get rid of dust and cobwebs.
20190328_12395412
This adorable tilting mirror (I can just picture it in a scene from Jane Eyre) was lying face down in the grass as I jogged by just after dawn one morning.  I paid a few dollars to have the murky mirror replaced, had it sanded and stained, and what a conversation piece!  The price tag on a similar one at an antique store was astounding!
20180816_181559~2
This little bit of old-world loveliness sat forlornly outside a front gate after the owner failed to sell it at a garage sale.  He was delighted to give it to me for nothing.  It’s a whimsical reminder of a summer visit to my sister in the US. (Yes, it was driven back over the border to Canada!)  A bit of popsicle stick to repair the chip at the edge and …
20180816_183259~2
… more paint, glue and rose-print napkins and …

               

           

20180816_221826~2

20170518_160838
I just managed to grunt my way through the process of lifting this heavy carved triple mirror into my trusty hatchback.
IMG_9483
Reflections from a bygone era …
IMG_7758
… here’s where it ends up, with a pair of Daughter’s boots, an ancient two-legged chair (right) which serves as a pot-stand for a brilliant coleus. (The bridge is an online purchase, a fabulous Mother’s Day gift from the kids and their dad).  Not entirely visible (left) a birdhouse perched on a tall floor-lamp base.  #Repurposedlife !

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My friend, Gail’s eye fell on this ugly blanket box as we drove by.  She suggested I pick it up –

20181105_094601~2
Looking quite hideous. Peeling wood with splinters, a cracked lid and stains from water damage …
20181109_171322~2
Sand it down, a coat of white paint ..

 

20181112_200256~2
… shredded tissue paper and some glitter glue …
20181114_213543~2
… and behold!  A bench to sit and dream (and a chest to store twenty years’ worth of a hand-written journals).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love browsing in thrift stores –

20180425_162004
Treasures. My favourite thrift shop.  Cash only, no tax and all the proceeds go towards mental health awareness.
SalvationARmystore
A great place to hunt out vintage books. The Salvation Army Thrift Store is not-for-profit, so no taxes on top of the price tag. Children’s books are just a dollar.  I picked up a 1915 hardcover edition of Little Women (Luisa M. Alcott) with dust jacket in mint condition, for a buck. (E-bay tells me it’s worth way, way more.)
VVstore
Prices at value village have sky-rocketed lately and there is tax on top.  Books average $7.00 for hardcover, exactly double what others charge.  Someone is making a hefty profit out of donated junk.

20180528_122316

You never know when smiling serendipity will direct you to the find of a lifetime.

Perhaps a gold-embossed book published in 1915 that you hold breathlessly in your hands to gaze at the faded name scrawled in elegant fountain-pen handwriting across the fragile fly leaf.

20190114_161005~2
Classics from a hundred years ago 

You might even find a bonus in the shape of a Christmas or birthday card tucked inside, with formal, handwritten greetings from almost a century ago.

Sentimental birthday greetings and Christmas wishes from the early 1900’s …

Or a rare first edition of a book by Dickens that you didn’t even know existed.

20190222_185003~2
The Life Of Our Lord, written by Charles Dickens for his children.
20190222_184952_HDR~3
Contrary to his wishes, it was published posthumously in 1934

The creative possibilities are endless.

Check out the evolution of this found item from vintage breadbox to desktop knickknack holder –

Or the resurrection of a sorrowing three-legged chair –

Or an ancient soccer ball reborn as glowing garden gazing ball preening on a cast-off plastic lampshade –

There’s no better place than a garage sale to locate sad things dreaming of a fresh purpose and renewed destiny.

Last summer I drove by a lawn sale and screeched to a halt when out of the corner of my eye, I saw this worn wooden ladder from the 40s/ 50’s.

The perfect stage for seasonal decorations –

IMG_8151
Old ladder.  Perfect garden display stand for vintage kitchen implements, including meat grinder, sandwich toaster and Mum’s old tea kettle and teapot.
20181031_131628
Porch platform for autumnal Thanksgiving decorations.
20181206_174546~2
Winter world .  Ladder aglow with Christmas lights and silver stuff.
20190312_085715_HDR~2
Ladder hosting assorted antiques ‘n’ things for in-between times (including an ekel broom from Sri Lanka).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I came across an identical ladder in an antique-store window.  The price tag was exactly ten times what I forked out for my weathered treasure!

A garden is the perfect platform to showcase dreams of discarded things.

–  Blooming barbecue planters …

– Chair plant stands –

– Coloured bottles –

– Old windows

– An unloved bicycle, a sad old door –

IMG_20150824_113244004
This decorated door took three of us to haul it out when I was done with it.
20180711_085334~2
Old bike festooned with flower baskets.  Squirrel finds a moment’s rest on the handlebars.

– Abandoned light fittings –

The pipes from an old tap for stems, glass lampshades from an ugly old chandelier and solar lights make for stunning garden decor that lights up the night …

The chandelier itself becomes a bird feeder with coconut shells for bowls …

IMG_7782
Chandelier birdfeeder with cocunut shell bird seed bowls.
IMG_9650
Blooming three-tier shoe-rack planter stand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DSC06183 copy
Solar bulbs clipped to the skeleton of an outmoded chandelier create a dreamy glow under the cherry tree at night.
chandelier
A single solar light inside a wee crystal chandelier lights up the corner under the apple tree  

A garden bedroom –

IMG_8026
A garden bed (literally).  A mesh for a perennial jasmine to crawl all over and create a blooming summer bedspread.  Old cupboard door for bedroom window.
IMG_8036
Optical illusion … a frame placed in a flower bed creates the appearance of a reflecting mirror.

You can never have too many mirrors in a garden …

Reflected dreams …

When the sun sets and the stars come out –

How they glow …

From hideous, useless to one-of-a-kind wonderful, these once-unwanted things shine in a quiet space of gentle dreams, enhancing this place of rest and relaxation.

IMG_7935
… and haven of rest …
20180805_080717~2
A place of discovery …
IMG_7390
… to meet and eat
IMG_7910
… and sweetly dream.
20190325_090340_HDR~2
These newest acquisitions have been out all winter, weathering nicely to acquire the perfect patina of age, all ready for spring planting.
20190327_114232_hdr2
The plumber didn’t think I was nuts when I wouldn’t let him throw out this old laundry tub.  (He knows me well.) It’s going to be re-purposed as a pond this summer, with fountain water flowing out of the taps.
IMG_0865
The old downstairs powder room wash basin got re-purposed as a shallow pond some years ago

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have to draw the line at old toilets, however.  

20170516_151058
Spring and fall renovations see dozens of these on neighbourhood sidewalks.  As we drive by I’m told, “Don’t you dare, Mom!” (I have my standards, of course – I wouldn’t dream of it!)
garden toilet
Upcycled toilet adorning a garden.  Doesn’t feel too sanitary … (courtesy Pinterest)
20190331_083416_HDR_2
Spent hours last week, picking up a winter’s worth of lap-dog droppings.  All ready for spring and then … woke up on Sunday morning to a marshmallow world.  #thisismycanada!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Longing for spring, in spite of this past weekend’s dump of snow.

Dreaming of those long summer days.  Of pounding the pavements in running shoes at dawn and sitting out on the deck, reading till the stars come out at night …

Always mindful that there is a fresh purpose for everything.  The ugly-useless and despairing-broken — people and things.  

Keeping a sharp eye out …

Until next time,

sincerely

nvr2old2dream_nametag

20181108_112602~4
Re-purposed picture frames make a fine a bathroom collage

 

 

 

 

 

 

FOLLOW THIS BLOG AND RECEIVE NEW POSTS BY EMAIL: (Go to Follow button below or on side bar or click here)

LIKE THIS AUTHOR’S FACEBOOK PAGE: CLICK HERE 

BE A FRIEND AND PASS THIS POST ON. (USE SHARE BUTTONS BELOW.)

Just Junk (Or Maybe Not)

Fascinated by the art of decoupage as portrayed on Pinterest, I began to look for forlorn bits of this and that at garage sales and thrift stores.  Ideas for their transformation simmered and stewed until the magic moment arrived some weeks ago. 

20180408_140810
When you wake up know it’s time to tackle the task …

The relentless force of it carried me through a fortnight of sanding, painting, gluing, lacquering.

20170713_205327
When you start and simply have to keep going …

Exhibit One –

A handcrafted stool lurking on a pile of junk in a country thrift store.  One word: hideous. The darling drawer with the dangly handle was my undoing. 

20180402_065028
Exhibit One – after sanding.  Lovingly handcrafted and painted by someone who knew what they were doing.  Water damage and peeling paint …
20180402_125442
Mixed two shades of Dollarama paint to obtain the colour I needed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A coat of Dollarama paint, two favourite hymns on the top and all around …

Et voila !  A quirky stool to tuck into a corner.  For occasional extra seating …

20180402_134443
The music sheets of old hymns on top and all the way around
20180402_134451
Aerial view of stool.  I ‘aged’ the sheet of music using a soaked tea bag.

Exhibits 2 & 3 –  Plain brown wood straight-backed chair and child’s rocking chair –

Forgot to take pre-painted ‘before’ pictures …

 

There’s a story to tell … 

I’d hunted fruitlessly for wrapping paper or paper napkins with an old fashioned sort of rose design. 

Months go by …

Searched for wrapping paper or paper napkins with a design like this one.  (Image downloaded from Pinterest)

A week before Easter my friend, Gail presented me with a bouquet of lilies.  The bridal blooms were done up in a layer of tissue paper printed all over with … red roses.  The exact kind I was looking for.  The attached card was from the florist at the mall up the street.

Woo hoo! Can’t wait to get going.  Transformation time.  Decoupage, here I come …

 

 

Pleasing finale. Tissue paper roses on garage sale salvage …

 

Wait …

That old flip-top table could do with a matching makeover. 

Rose-covered table to set off the seats.  Lovely …

Gail’s tissue paper yielded just enough for the two chairs – nothing left over.

Alas …

Flash of inspiration.  The mall florist might have a sheet or two to spare.

Right?

So I went.

Me: I received a bouquet of flowers from your store some days back.  It was wrapped in an unusual tissue paper with a beautiful rose print on it …

Pretty straight forward, huh?

Florist guy:  Yeah.  I know the one you mean.  You know what’s weird, though?

Okay, what?

                    …. We never ordered that kind.  We never have.  Don’t know why they came here.

Opens drawer and fishes around …

                                                            …They’re all gone.  Guess the girls used them up.  And we won’t …

Me:  … be getting anymore.

Florist Guy:  Weird, huh?  As I said, we never ordered it.  We only use the plain kind.

Weird all right …

IMG_20180411_215522
So what’s going on? (Which door? Dreams or reality? Thanks, Nicole, for this pic.  Luvit!)
20180404_211656_HDR
Love how life works … noticed this licence plate at the traffic lights on the disappointed drive back home!

Roses on two chairs AND a table would have been overkill anyway.

So I covered the table top with white lace, edged with baby ribbon.

20180408_221048
Forgot (again!) to take a pre-painted pic.  The ghost of a once elegant table, with chipped paintwork in a floral crackle-effect off-white and blue design

 

 

 

 

 

 

20180409_115125.jpg
A chandelier rainbow settled on the tabletop as I worked .  It turned out rather nice.

 

 

 

 

Love the finished effect …

I paused to ponder on the Tale of the Florist and the Tissue Paper

A light went on –

There’s a dream waiting to come alive in every rejected thing and there’s a dream-bringer who makes it happen. At the top of the chain is the Dreamgiver who creates the dream, orchestrates and manipulates events to make it all come true …

20180419_213105_HDR.jpg
The way I saw it …

This poor monstrosity has lived in the basement since forever –

20180419_092411
Haven’t been able to bring myself to toss it out …

Just had another idea for a fabulous furniture facelift.  

Watch out for the next Cinderella table-metamorphosis story coming to this blog!

I love breathing new life into dull, dead things.  Adore the thought of being prompted by a dream-giver.

20171209_152010
Found this book in a clearance bin at a bookstore.  Couldn’t put it down. (The Dream Giver by Bruce Wilkinson – author of The Prayer of Jabez)
20171209_152304
Check it out …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So there’s really no such thing as junk …

Thankful for beauty-basking-beneath-ugly-if-you-only-choose-to-look

Thankful for dreams.

20180306_072203
A passerby as I took a walk one morning …

 

20180215_104600
Why ever not?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s always another dream.  And then the next one.   And the next.                                                      

20180425_080021
Roses … tiny dreams-come-true.  Teddy bears’ teaparty time for two little tykes! (Thank you my friend, Liesl, for the vintage ‘roses’ table lamp – a perfect match!)
IMG_7232
On my desk to remind me …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can’t stop dreaming, no matter what!

Until next time,

sincerely

 

 

P.s.  ‘Crafty’ weekend guests offer invaluable input.  Thank you Roshini!

 

Keep it moving! Send this post on Whats App.   Scroll down for share buttons, like and pass on.

THUMBS UP ! Like this Facebook Author page: Click here 

For Her Eyes Only

Life’s poignant vignettes erupt at unexpected moments.

Like that time in the hotel in Delhi …

She hovered uncertainly and looked anxious.  Out of place in a sprawling hotel lobby teeming with tourists and brass-buttoned bellboys. 

A bouquet of flowers in her hand.  Red roses, in orange florist’s wrapping. 

A dark swathe of garment flowed from the crown of her head all the way down to her heels. Only the hands were open to scrutiny.  And the eyes.  Beautiful eyes. 

Elegance and grace.

He stepped up from behind.  A brief exchange of words and she relaxed.  The fabric of her shroud merged into the black of the couch.

eyesblackedout
“Only have eyes for you …”

The quiet tête-à-tête played out in the mirrored wall behind them.

His eyes never left hers.  She leaned towards him.  An ease, a pleasant familiarity in their interaction.

A glint of gold flashed on her fourth finger.  I caught my breath.

The blinding brightness of Diwali, the annual Hindu Festival of Lights, crawled all over the streets outside, dripping off buildings and dangling from trees.

India ablaze …

… with light —

Bargain hunters poured into late-closing stores, negotiating traffic-snarled streets.  Pavement hawkers squawked and beckoned. 

Loud distraction painted the cosmopolitan metropolis and seeped into the marbled luxury of the hotel.

IMG_5509[1]
… other symbolic Diwali decorations 
IMG_5508
Images of Hindu deities in the hotel lobby and …

She nodded and waved a slender hand.  The band of gold gleamed in the light of the crystal chandeliers. 

Her eyes smiled.

The aching weight of might-have-been.

Playing with fire …

…………………………………………………………………………

And then there was Farah …

My tiny friend  flirted toothlessly and allowed me to hold her when harrassed-mom-of-three-kids-under-six looked like she could do with a break.                                 

20180312_125959
She sat on her mother’s lap, smiling all the way through a 15 hour flight.                           
20180312_132213
Farah: “That’s my mommy and she’s wonderful!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She nodded off from time to time and I caught this moment  in cameo.  It touched my heart –

20180312_133641
Sleeping Farah – an allegory of rest in complete trust

as I recalled lines from the Psalms –

But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a child quieted at its mother’s breast. (Psalm 131:2)

A powerful visual image. 

 …………………………………………………………………………………

There is an air of haughty luxury about some Middle Eastern airports –

20170913_124527

and a mysterious modesty surrounds the veiled women –

The preoccupation with cellphones, of course, is global –

In the Middle East …

In India …

Sri Lanka …

A worldwide phenomenon, here to stay.

Does one even remember life before mobile devices?

………………………………………………………………………………

Thankful for leisured people-watching fiestas during long layovers at far-flung international airports.  Life at its unselfconscious best. 

And thankful to be home.

Puppy found his present …

 Until next time,

sincerely

20171014_140346
“Get lost, silly tourist!” (Amritsar,  India) 

Keep it moving! Send this post on Whats App.   Scroll down for share buttons, like and pass on.

 THUMBS UP ! Like this Facebook Author page: Click here

Good Morning JOY!

Dear Judy,      

The sun glowed orange during rush hour this morning.  My heart sagged under a weight of joy and I slowed down to take pictures –  

I almost sent them off to you.                                         

Then I remembered …

I recalled a recent dialogue we had.

Me: Could I use these pictures of you, please?  There’s such a beauty about you that’s riveting.

.facebook_1507624146079
… and this one. (Judy wrote:that is Eamon reading a letter that I wrote to him. I love my bedhead look.”)
facebook_1512657689514
I asked her for this picture  … (Judy with a mixing bowl and the rubber chicken she used as a ‘bell’ too summon assistance)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 

 

You:  You can use every picture you want.  You don’t have to ask.  Surprise me!

So I’m surprising you today …

You: How long was your fight with cancer?

Me: The cancer battle was over a year and a half.  My oncologist calls me a success case (I prefer miracle patient).  I don’t look like myself in the picture, do I?  Within two weeks of your first chemo, the hair starts falling out and you mutate into someone else. I began to practice intentional thankfulness.  When gratitude seeps in, joy is not too far behind.  Those were beautiful, dark, lovely, intense and precious times.  God sends angels, as you know, in many shapes and forms.

You: I don’t look like myself anymore, either.  I was always on the go.  Now it is my mind that is on fast.

Enjoying the evening
What a girl! My friend, Judy, as she used to be.
11-at-the-quarterdeck.jpg
Judy (right) standing tall at 6′ 1″, with her mum and sister, Linda (left)

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

The aircraft commenced its descent into Halifax last Thursday afternoon and my thoughts overflowed with vignettes from your heart –                                                           

  • My mum sent the pink rose to me today … just because.  The Ford Escape is on the lawn because Cam wanted me to see it.  He just bought it yesterday as a second vehicle.  My wheelchair van rides low so it’s not practical for snowy days ahead.  I always loved a Ford Escape and Cam would drive a van.
received_807340769427979
Her mum’s rose in a vase on the window sill and Judy’s view of the Ford Escape, parked by the hen-house.
  • We have a cottage on the Bay of Fundy and watch the tides go in and the tides go out.  Nature at its best.  September is a special time.  Most cottagers are only there on weekends, so the solitude and beauty is magnified.  My paradise …
.facebook_1493652741936
Her paradise – the cottage on the Bay of Fundy
received_774939672668089
A serene spot to sit stare in a sky-blue chair

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your beloved Cameron –

  • Cam and our brother-in-law are re-shingling the back of the cottage.  It has been a  busy day.  For me, the moments when I can look out the window and see the eagle fly, sandpipers having their last meals before heading to South America and the magnificent clouds being reflected in both water and wet mud are highlights of my soul.
20140831_180629
Judy and  Cameron
.facebook_1515557440542
Judy and her beloved Cam on their wedding day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  •  Today it was 29 degrees and sunny,  so I went out in my wheelchair to enjoy.  On impulse I drove on my lawn around to my gardens to see the tulips and bleeding heart.  I felt free until my wheelchair got stuck in soggy lawn.  Resourceful Cam got blocks of wood and we managed to get out.  BUT my tires were full of mud.   Cam cleaned as much as he could off and them I wheeled myself in.  A flashback hit me.  How many times had I told the boys NOT to wear their dirty boots in the house?  Cam, patient Cam, has been working at getting the wheels clean ever since!!!

JOY was your three-letter codeword –

  • Went to the Festival of Lights today in Wolfville, where Cam and I met while going to Acadia University.  At the farmer’s market, it was all about Indian food and entertainment.  I got a dragonfly and the word JOY done with henna and several Indian silk scarves for Christmas gifts.
received_807340739427982
Waking up to JOY on her arm each morning …
received_798764990285557
 Henna tattos: dragonfly-and-JOY  (the dragonfly is the ALS symbol)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • I am waking up immediately to JOY in the morning for the next couple of weeks.

 

  • What made my day?  My careworker this morning for 4 hours was Holly. Someone that previously had only been there for my half hour tuck-ins at night.  We were sitting at my kitchen table in the sun, when I asked her about her heart-shaped ring  … and that was my further joy for the day.              

You infused JOY into every moment, Judy, distilled, savoured, sipped on it, then infected the air you breathed and intoxicated those around you.

IMG_6533
… in Judy’s home
This says it all
JOY glowing on her front lawn and …

You: There is no such thing as coincidence. 

Absolutely. I agree …

You:  Maybe I came into your life to show you the other side of ALS.  The joyful side.

You did just that.  And you did it so well …

.facebook_1510338556250
Always smiling.  Judy (left) chose joy during her four-year journey with Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS)

Your boys: your pride and JOY – 

Our sons or Charlie's angels
Judy’s/Charlies’ Angels! The three Starrit brothers all grown up. 
.facebook_1516918074907
Judy’s JOYS: Cam and her sons
  • Tim is home. Happy heart.
  • Just got back from taking Tim to the airport.  What a lovely visit and a wonderful son.  He left such wonderful memories behind.
received_813211132174276
Tim with his newest nephew, Henry
received_793195314175858
Andrew and his boys  
  • Andrew came home on Friday and stays till this Friday.  Check him out on You Tube in the Hot Fireman ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.  (Click here to watch  Judy standing at Andrew’s side as he takes up the challenge.)

 

  • .facebook_1515373974030
    Matthew visits at Christmas

    Matthew was home from Wednesday to Saturday.  Shared the big news that Laura is pregnant!  Be still my heart.  We are so blessed.

Those grandbabies –

  • Got a wonderful card in the mail today, with an ultrasound picture on the front and the announcement inside saying “It’s a boy!”  Our third grandson is due the end of October.  The Starrit genes were working again.  OverJOYed!!!!
  • He was born yesterday and all is right with the world.  8lb 11 0z of pure JOY! Yesterday was such an emotional day.  Waiting, wondering, wishing, praying.  And then the phone call came.  Rejoicing, heart exploding, celebrating our new JOY!  And then by 10.00 at night, emotional breakdown.  Thinking about what I will be missing in his future, but being so overjoyed he is here.  A part of me.
received_830924487069607
Celebrating Henry, the newest JOY …
received_830924383736284
Judy with sister, Linda, and tiny Henry
  • He’s Henry now.  Named after Cam’s dad.  We are still on our baby high.  Will be for quite a while.
  • Cam just stenciled a picture of him onto a pillowcase.
received_801185646710158
Cam’s handiwork: Baby Henry-on-a-pillow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Tomorrow Andrew, Findlay and Eamon are coming for Thanksgiving weekend. I am beyond excited!!!

    received_793190580842998
    They’re here!  Watching for Findlay and Eamon through her bedroom window.
  • I have arranged for the pilot, Debbie, of the only plane that travels to Sable Island, to come and speak about her experiences.
  • I took pictures, but my hands were unsteady with excitement.
22292207_793195067509216_126083908_o
“Starfish or a shell?” (Pilot Debbie engages the kids in discussion)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grandad, Grandma, Findlay and Eamon
“Smile guys!” (Gramps and Grammy with Findlay and Eamon)

 

 

 

  • Eamon just messaged me.  Andrew is taking them to a movie.  He likes to keep me informed.

Your sister —

  • Tonight Linda comes.  Any minute now.
  • Linda is here and we are going to listen to the sixth CD of the Book Of Joy, a conversation between the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu.  This is our sixth Monday night doing it …
The Rhuda girls
Sister Linda (right) with Mum and Judy

… and the whacky, wonderful friends –

  • My friend, Mary, and sister are coming out to play a card game called Quiddler.  A weekly event.  I am on a winning streak.
  • Mary brings muffins for Cam
  • My tree is trimmed and …
IMG_6528
The tree is trimmed … (in Judy’s living room)

 

 

 

 

 

… the Wild and Woolies are coming at 4.00.  Laughter will abound.

  • The Wild and Woolies have been getting together for over thirty years
IMG_6497 (1)
“Wild’s the word: wool’s the game!”  (The Wild and Woolies, Judy’s crazy rug-hooking gang at her Celebration of Joy)

 

image1 (1)
Laughter abounds. Judy with Wild and Woolly Pal, Jean
image1
The Wild and Woolies hooked a pun-ny Christmas gift for Judy:  JOY TO THE WOOLED

Don’t forget the goats

  • Andrew and Cam have just taken the goats up the hill for a walk.    If we let them loose too close to the house, they would eat all the flowers coming up …
facebook_1516918315589 (1)
Playing the giddy goat … Cam at her bedroom window
IMG_6523
Goats-on-a-quilt. Judy’s handiwork …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • I always have flowers in my view.  I even got flowers for Father’s Day!

 

 

 

 

Gotta be kid-ding – goats at a wedding?(The “kids” are included in Andrew and Shantel’s backyard nuptials) …

… and the chickens (of course) —

  • Just had the chickens playing the xylophone at my window.
FB_IMG_1493652549791
Chicken serenade.  Pecking a little tune.   (JOY on the windowsill)
FB_IMG_1494337703037
Cereal inducement.  Cam scattering cheerios on the keyboard of a toy xylaphone! 

.facebook_1516918254011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Homecare just arrived, but chickens come first!

 

On living with ALS –

  • I have a whole new view on listening.  My boogie board is my voice now.  People don’t wait until I finish writing and assume what I’m going to say and rush off to do their own thing.  Also, they read it wrong, and I have to get their attention and underline a word or words.
  • It cost less than $30 at Costco.
received_830924303736292
Judy’s “boogie board”.  She used a tablet-type device to communicate.
  • I WAS a talker!
  • I do most of my writing on my phone now.
  • I am using my BiPAP for about 20 hours a day.  It gives me the freedom of not having to think every time I take a breath.  The strength in my hands has diminished as well.  I will NOT let that keep me from living a full life but it has put limitations on what I can do.  ALS sucks sometimes.

Sucks? The beast stinks …

.facebook_1514787004748
Judy: Bipap to breathe, crimson manicure and loads of laughter.
  • Thank you, my dearest friend, for caring so much

You have no idea how much, Judy …

About the annual ALS Walkstrong fundraising campaign

#9 PALS Award (1)
Judy (right), active spokesperson and ALS Awareness campaigner with Kimberly Carter (left) of the ALS Society of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia
  • Success.  Beyond resounding!  My mind is still going.  Still walking.  Still enjoying yesterday.  There were 59 people, including care-workers, friends and family on Judy’s Joys.  I am blessed  Truly blessed.
.facebook_1516918013838
Judy’s Joyful Angels – one of the  teams representing Judy in the ALS fundraising walk – and …

 

 

 

 

.facebook_1512506811185
… Judy’s Joyful Jewels

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Took 5-6 days to get over the walk.  SO worth it!

 

 

We shared our rainbows, you and I —

In your home …

… in mine –

You: We are definitely sisters from another mother.

There’s no doubt about that!

You: The physical meeting somehow eludes us, but we are so much beyond that.  We are so much closer than that.  What we have done for each other is beyond friendship.     

Me: Can’t wait to meet you, Judy.  It will be odd, though.  Kind of like having a first date after being married for a year!

You: I, too, want to meet you!  If I could, I would be on a plane now.  But the other side of reality is that I know I won’t be travelling by plane anymore.  Too many uncertainties. 

IMG_6471
Just a text away.  Judy used pictures, video clips and GIFs to express herself.  They were dead on and often hilarious.  (Bottom left, her Facebook profile picture.)

You:  Wish, wish you lived nearby.  Always thinking about you.

Me: Me too.  I love how Cam cares for you, love the chickens, love the red bike.  I even love your ghastly puns!

facebook_1516309226912 (1)
Flowering bicycle planter (painted red by Cameron)
.facebook_1516918193787
Hilarious hens partying at the window

 

 

 

 

 

FB_IMG_1494337676646
The lady loved her puns. One of the many groaners on Judy’s Facebook Page

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

You: Our friendship goes much deeper.  I needed you as much as you needed me.  You took me outside of myself.

  • By the way, Cam is going to mail a parcel to you tomorrow.  No parcel from you yet.  Tomorrow.

Your parcel arrived by express post on December 23rd.  Icicles dripped off the eaves as the mailman hopped from one foot to the other and blew on his hands, while I hastily inscribed a signature on the electronic board he held out to me.

20180103_084134_HDR.jpg
DREAMS made from Scrabble pieces  Hangs by my desk to inspire me as I write.   

Such a treasure trove of thoughtful things inside …   

         

Me:  Did you make the Scrabble ornament?  Love it!

You:  Bought it at the ALS sale.

Me:  It was meant for me.

You: I found your DREAMS, didn’t I?

You sure did!

20171209_153235

 

 

 

 

 

We called on Christmas Eve, before heading out to church.  Husband, Daughters and I sang We Wish You A Merry Christmas on speakerphone.  Cam said you raised your arms in delight and crossed your hands over your heart.

On Christmas day we shared cameo moments.

You sent me –

25188182_821034691391920_1521955600_n
Joy on the Christmas tree
received_827633390732050
Mum sipping a cup of yuletide tea

and I sent these –

  • Isn’t this fun?

Absolutely!

  • Our house was always the ‘go to’ house at Christmas.  I used to make rolls and shape them in the form of wreaths and Christmas trees.  Decorate them, of course, and wrap them in clear, cellophane with fancy ribbons.  That is a thing of the past now, but Christmas still comes and goes!

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

I sent you a song on Saturday night.  It came with my heart.  Your response set my heart ablaze.

Click here to listen

I picked up Cameron’s message on Sunday afternoon.  You crossed over an hour after we last messaged each other.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Cousin Preman met me at the airport and drove me to the afternoon and evening visitations. 

20180111_195402
Joyful Judy moments up on the  screens at Knox United Church

 20180112_131626.jpg

 

 

 

 

20180111_141524
Judy’s JOY all over the church foyer

 

 

 

 

 

 

I met Cam and Linda, Mum and your boys.  And the Wild and Woolies, of course.

Linda told me she’d packed my Christmas box of  goodies for Cam to mail.  She recognized the necklace I wore.  

received_778893972319382
Wore it to the funeral.  The breast cancer ribbon necklace from my Christmas box – celebrating survival
20180111_193126
Judy’s sister, Linda, at the evening visitation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I laughed with the Wild and Woolies.  Such stories they had to tell …

It felt like I’d known your friends and family forever.

20180111_141309.jpg

Your final farewell on Friday was one immense celebration of joy.  The church was packed.

An unusual, uplifting occasion.  You planned it all yourself, Linda said in her tribute. 

Your beloved Bhangra Boys danced their hearts out.  

IMG_6493
Judy’s Maritime Bhangra Boys performed 

(Click here to dance with Judy and her Bhangra Boys, on her birthday last year.)         

I picked up my tea bag and one of your dainty, embroidered white hankies on my way out.

20180113_095829
There was a tea bag ‘party favour’ for everyone, with Judy’s instructions to have a cup of joy with a friend and an invitation to take one of her lovely old fashioned handkerchiefs to be used to wipe away tears of joy and sadness.

 

 

 

 

(Click here for photos and video clips of Judy’s funeral Celebration of Joy)          

 

 

 

 

It felt strange to visit your home on Saturday.  To walk up the ramp and knock at your kitchen door. 

facebook_1516918282502
Cam and Mum on the volunteer-built wheelchair ramp 
IMG_6519
Judy’s hospital bed (from which she took many pictures), all neatly made up, will be donated to the ALS society.

 

 

 

facebook_1516918366190
Google Earth view of her home posted on Judy’s Facecbook Page

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_6536
Cameron with Andrew (left) and Matthew.  Tim had left for the airport

Joy all over the house, pouring from every corner.

Cam and I sat in your room.  We chatted like we’d known each other forever. 

My Christmas package finally made it out to you after New Year’s, he told me. Two days before your final departure.  Cam said you smiled when he showed it to you

He showed me your rubber chickens.  I peeped into the henhouse on my way out.

IMG_6527.JPG
Cam with the rubber chickens. Judy used them like a bell, to summon assistance
IMG_6538
Had to check out  the henhouse.  An infrared light keeps the cluckies warm in the winter

You wrote three months ago: PS:  Oct 11 – went to my regular 3 month appointment with all the specialists today.  They are all pleased with how I’m doing …

 The only predictable thing about life is its unpredictability, isn’t it?

 ……………………………………………………………………………………………….

I’m sipping, as I remember and write, from the mug I found nestled in my surprise Christmas box.               

20180108_153326
From my Christmas box.  Life sure surprised me with you, Judy.
20180110_083443_HDR
From my Christmas box.  The dragonfly is the ALS symbol

                            

 

 

 

 

The dragonfly brightens my kitchen window.  I love how it begins to burn when the sun seeps through.           

We never said ‘hello’ in person, Judy.  I never got to write about what I discovered in the bombed out jungle graveyard in Tellipallai, Jaffna.  This was not how our Dear Judy travel series was supposed to end.

I’m thankful you found this blog and reached out in joyful friendship.

(Click here to read how we met)

Thank you, my courageous friend.  You are proof that a purpose-driven life does not necessarily embrace a bed of roses. You were a true and unique gift.

.facebook_1515373943396
RIP Judy Starrit, my amazing, inspirational friend. 
  • Loving you from afar. Love, xx Judy

I love you too, Judy …

We’ll meet face-to-face.  On the other shore some day, when my own journey’s done. 

20180127_152600

20171201_192012
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nopain any more, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4 RSV)

 

              

 

 

 

 

 

 

His Master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant … enter into the JOY of your master.” (Matthew 25:23 RSV)

Until then,
sincerely

20180129_115440_2

           13724128_10154214751441285_3664275386834145870_o

              THUMBS UP ! Like this Facebook Author page: Click here

Good Morning Jaffna!

Dear Judy,

The snow’s piled up outside.                                          

20171212_103513
This morning’s view through kitchen door.
.facebook_1512506811185
My friend, Judy Starrit (seated), who lives in Beaver Banks, Nova Scotia.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20171122_130954
Just the beginning …

Summer still clings to my head in spite of the skeletal trees brooding outside my window.

20171119_110051_HDR_2
There’s a desolate ugly-beauty about leafless tress 
IMG_20151217_093542
Sigh …
IMG_20151217_100317
Not if I had any choice in the matter …

Okay, so returning to warmer times in sunny climes …

We are now in Jaffna, Judy.  Part Two of our virtual travels  together, you and I —

Click here to read  Good Morning (Again) Colombo! (Dear Judy, Part 1) …

1511377820324817233987
This is the island of Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean, the tear drop at the foot of the sub-continent of  India.  The pink shaded area in north is the Jaffna peninsula where our ancestors hail from.

We drove into Tellippalai where Dad’s parents settled on their return to Ceylon (Sri Lanka’s pre-republic name) from the British colony of Malaya, shortly after World War II. Grandpa, a communications officer under the British government, took up the post of Airport Controller in the neighbouring town of Palaly.

Ghosts of war-time devastation lined our route.   Cringing skeletons of  bombed out buildings still haunt this once-upon-a-time ghost town. 

IMG_3158
Tellipallai was subjected to merciless bombing, in an ugly game of political tit-for-tat 

 

 

 

 

 A trickle of former war regugees are returning after decades of absence.  Several  unclaimed properties are now in government hands …

Desolate brick-and-motar wraiths of buildings steadfastly guard their ground –

So on day three of our odyssey, Husband and I found ourselves  at the entrance of the graveyard attached to the Church of the American Ceylon Mission.

The rubble of shattered gravestones poked their way through tall vegetation, thorny underbrush and rope-like vines.   A tangled tatch of tropical  jungle.

20171002_162424
The entrance to the graveyard-turned-jungle.  A short way down the road from the church.
20171002_162357
Rope-like vines with broken bits of tombstone peeping through the undergrowth

 

 

20171002_162339

Yikes! How trustworthy is the church caretaker who said there were no snakes?

But I have to tell you first about the journey leading up to this moment, Judy.  

So this is how it came about …

Husband and I made a spur-of-the-moment decision to visit our ancestral homelands in the Jaffna Peninsula, a war zone for decades and only recently open to tourists.

How to figure out the details in such a short space of time?

I remembered Yamindra Watson Perera of Jungle Fowl Leisure Planners

Yamindra Watson Perera, partner at Jungle Fowl.  Her cousin told me about this adventurous new start up.

— and presented my wish list to Mariesz, her assistant. A demanding cut-and-paste itinerary, a combination of every location in the area associated with family history and lore.  Neither lady turned a hair.

Until …

Mariesz:  No.  So sorry, we are still in the process of setting up our site for online payments.   IMG-20171215-WA0002

Me: (wailing) But I don’t have time to go to the bank!

Yamindra and Mariesz showed up at Dad’s condo the next afternoon, with Accountant Lady and credit card machine in tow.

IMG-20171204-WA0001 (1)
The Jungle Fowl team: Yamindra Watson Perera (left), Mariesz Ebert (centre) with the credit card machine, smiling lady accountant (right)

Impressive service or what?

All booked and paid up by the time Husband flew in from Toronto.

Still pitch-dark.  Growling clouds burped and released a deluge as we drove away.     

20170930_060700
Droplets on car window as day awakes 
20170930_061219_HDR
Sunrise over cocunut trees

 

Rest stop and a scalding pot of Ceylon tea in the ancient city of Anuradhapura

20171003_124657
Tea at Seedevi Family Restaurant, brewed the Sri Lankan way — strong, with loads of sugar and condensed milk.  No time to linger unfortunately.
20170930_094804
Nirangan, our driver/guide, sips his tea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Searing heat.

And it’s well past the hottest time of year …

20171003_121411
Brave tourists on bikes, mopping moisture off their persons
20170930_063036
Go girls! Ladies on scooters and mo’bikes.  The pillion rider is texting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Landscape grows arid, parched and thirsty.

IMG_2942
The Jaffna peninsula’s signature palmyrah palm thrives where no greenery would dare
IMG_2945
Gasping to grow …

 

 

 

20170930_123518
Salt farms along the coastal line.
20170930_123502
Post-war reconstruction has produced impressive roads. Highway skirts the ocean and rail route

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A paradox-panorama of war and peace as we fly by –

20170930_122352_HDR
Memories of war – Concrete water tower resting on its side.  Toppled over by the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam) militants.
20170930_123552
Monument to peace – the island of Lanka supported by multiple hands, the national flag in full flutter

Crossed Elephant Pass, a sliver of strait connecting the northern province to the rest of the island, sandwiched on either side by shallow stretches sea.

Welcome to Jaffna, the traditional homeland of the Tamil people  …                    

img_2688-1.jpg
Finally the Lion of Lanka has united the troubled northern region (where once flew the  Tamil Tiger Flag)  with its southern brethren.
20171003_092903_HDR
Approaching Elephant Pass

Zipped through Vavuniyya, then Chavakacheheri —

 — and on to Jaffna town.  

A different ambiance manifests beyond Elephant pass.   It’s unique, distinct.

Ladies on bicycles

20170930_131213
Don’t forget the handbag. Multi-tasking with ease!

— scooters and motorbikes –

Neatly draped sarees and all …

Scooters/ motorbikes are the new, affordable middle class family vehicles –

20171002_180015
Not a single car to be seen in this parking lot

 

 

IMG_3044
Gentleman clad in traditional sarong, climbing nimbly on 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A plethora of Hindu temples at every corner –

Temple architecture is typically South Indian …

20170930_132123

IMG_2949 (1)
… and dozens more under construction.  (Protective ‘cadjan’ screens made of coconut leaves)

 

 

 

 

 

Ancient deities –

– worshipped in nooks and under spreading trees –

IMG_3094
Ancient (could this one be from as far back as a thousand years, I wonder) and …
20171002_152133
… relatively modern.  An occasional Roman Catholic icon in a glass box.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sages and ascetics, some long dead ..

… and some still very much alive —

20171002_181015
Those burning eyes …

A distinct, bright South Indian flavour in the traditional women’s fashions –

20171002_180858
The mannequins in the shop windows are very European-looking!

One-of-a-kind cuisine –

20171002_075021
Couldn’t  get enough of thosai (crisp, savoury crepes) with its spicy, vegetarian accompaniments
20171002_180744
Vadai (savoury ‘donuts’ with a hole in the middle) for sale in display case

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Holy’ cows roam the streets unchallenged —

20171002_183916
Foraging for food in a pile of garbage
IMG_3102
All dressed up and nowhere to go.  Wearing a coronet of green leaves and tethered to the premises of an ancient temple undergoing reconstruction

 

 

 

 

Ubiquitous stray dogs- 

IMG_2307
… or in packs. (These guys growled and barked as we walked by, till someone stepped in and shooed them off. Thoughts of dog-bites and rabies made for some unpleasant momentsn
20171001_172909
By themselves (this one has made a hollow in the soil and slumbers unperturbed in the hot sun as hundreds of people mill around him ) …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 A conservative culture still –

Check out  the sign, Judy.  Chuckling with you …

IMG_2832
In three languages. Wise up, folks! Big brother is watching you … 

Discreet couples sneak into quiet corners away from the prying eyes …

IMG_3014
… and somehow a stray dog will find you!
20171001_171853
With a  cellphone, of course …

A certain demureness about the young women.  Untainted grace and elegance.

Long tresses, often worn in a single braid, still the order of the day  –

Post-war phenomena: 

(1) Shopping malls boasting …

… beauty parlours and bright billboards 

IMG_2340
For the emancipated post-war woman ..
IMG_2338
... and a banner advertising lingerie. (Someone must be blushing!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(2) Supermarkets –

Shopping in airconditioned comfort versus haggling over prices at the local market …

IMG_2353
Bombay onions and manioc (cassava) – locally grown produce

(3) Upscale tourist hotels –

(4) Mobile phones –

IMG_2983
Hunched over and lost to the world. The universal body language of the millennial
IMG_2726
Even on temple premises …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(5) … and Tom Cruise!