Friday, April 29, 2011

A Few Thoughts That Stuck

Yes, I watched it. 

I hadn't really planned on doing that, but something about the uniforms, the horses, or the young happy faces of William and Harry just got me. I got sucked in and carried away with all that joy that a wedding brings. The optimism. The beauty. The hope. The fairy tale and its iced cake.

And then, about the time Kate got out of the car, I got sad thinking about my own wedding not quite ten years ago. I thought about The Man, who we were, the promises made that have been broken, our expectations that may have been too high, our pledges to each other, shattered, and now super glued back together...

And then I listened to The Bishop: 

"The spiritual life grows as love finds its centre beyond ourselves. Faithful and committed relationships offer a door into the mystery of spiritual life in which we discover this: the more we give of self, the richer we become in soul; the more we go beyond ourselves in love, the more we become our true selves and our spiritual beauty is more fully revealed. In marriage we are seeking to bring one another into fuller life."

"It is of course very hard to wean ourselves away from self-centredness. People can dream of such a thing but that hope should not be fulfilled without a solemn decision that, whatever the difficulties, we are committed to the way of generous love."

"As the reality of God has faded from so many lives in the West, there has been a corresponding inflation of expectations that personal relations alone will supply meaning and happiness in life. This is to load our partner with too great a burden. We are all incomplete: we all need the love which is secure, rather than oppressive. We need mutual forgiveness in order to thrive."

Mutual forgiveness. Generous love. This is what makes marriage. 

I think ours still may have a chance...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


I remember when I was young and took that massive spectacular tumble off my bike at the bottom of our neighbourhood hill. I scrapped up both knees, banged my head, and started shaking, wanting to vomit, just thinking about having to ride that evil bike back home, up that huge, horrible hill that now seemed fifteen times bigger than it ever was.

By the grace of good neighbours, I got home and my mother ran a hot bath where I soaked my knees and my wounded confidence. Eyes stinging, boo-boos throbbing, I wondered why on earth anyone wanted to ride a bike in the first place. Especially around hills.

It was hard to walk around with those big old scabs on my knees and I was convinced that everyone was staring at me, laughing that I obviously didn't know how to use my brakes well enough. I was ashamed of my big ugly sores and tried to cover them up with a million Band-Aids, which of course, only made it worse.

"What on earth happened to you?"

After a couple of days, I sat in yet another of the endless hot baths I was addicted to and ripped those plastic things off and had a really good look at all the dirt still stuck in my wounds. I picked around with my fingernail, digging out what was left of the hill's gravel that I had been walking around with. Of course, digging and probing only made my knees bled again and when the scabs dried, they were deeply cracked and more painful then when I had originally fallen down.

It was hard to leave those scabs alone, you know. I'd subconsciously pick at them while at school, accidentally hit one with the edge of a table, or scratch them like mad as they started shrinking and pinching my skin. It was almost a twisted game to see just how much of that scab I could rip off without making myself bleed again. Sometimes, I did great, most times, I just made them worse.

Somehow, after several weeks, and in spite of my own self-torture, the scabs fell off on their own, leaving there, on both knees, a pretty pink puckered spot, a smudged speck, to remind me that one mustn't brake too hard on hills. In spite of all the blood, all the gravel, all the pain, and all my picking, the scabs were finally gone. I had healed.

I don't know if it was days or weeks later but somehow, someday, I headed out on my bike and went down that hill. This time, I didn't brake hard when I saw the bottom of the hill come racing towards me. Sure, I was screaming bloody murder as I somehow rolled around that corner but you should have heard me laughing as I stayed on that bike and peddled my pink knees as fast as I could up the other side.

Lesson learned with no visible scars to prove it. There are a lot of things in life that are just like riding a bike.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Latest Lawn Mowers

Once again, it's that time of year when the back field becomes a massive jungle of stinging nettles, dandelions, and weeds. Ever so beautiful and ever such a nightmare to cut. Last year, you may recall that we had some horses come and help us out with all that and it was lovely. They strolled around in the back garden, ate the grass, and just looked majestically stunning out there.

This year, we were asked by another neighbour if we would could help them out by letting their three donkeys come and have a go at our field. She swore up and down that they would be much better munchers than the horses and even eat those pesky stinging nettles. Alright then. Why not?

Well, let me tell you a little bit about Caramel, Chocolate, and Tornado....

Caramel is the lovely little wonder, nicely nibbling at the grass in the picture. She seems relatively sweet and just meanders around, following the other two where ever they go. Like a gentle, naive younger sister, she seems happy just to see what the other two get up to.

And speaking of the other two....

Tornado is that rasta-looking donkey giving us "that look." She's pesky, curious, and has taken to scratching herself with some strange J-Lo butt move on the wall. She's knocked over the cement mixer, eaten a package of cement, and played football with an old plastic bucket. She and Chocolate, the little one in front here, have this thing for climbing up the rock piles in the garden and playing King-of-the-Hill.

These donkeys run, romp, and cause mayhem. They let you rub their ears for hours and then go and eat the swing-set. They've figured out how to bray at the dogs and get Typhon to howl without the bells. The love The Princess and have a thing for Bubba-Love's little wheelbarrow. (I just hope it still has its tires. Not sure I'm eager to see what donkey poop de pneu looks like.)

Yes, they definitely are a change from Melting Pot and Calisse, but for some strange reason, I think we might be a much better fit for a bunch of asses.

Friday, April 15, 2011

April in the Auvergne

There's that famous song out there somewhere about April in Paris and if my computer had speakers, I'd actually go find it and link you to it here, but since it doesn't, I won't. But I'm sure most of you might have an idea of what song I'm referring to.

" Paris." I sing so well, don't I?

Yes, April in Paris is a wonderful thing. Or so I've been told. I think I was in Paris one April about 10 years ago and it rained the whole time we were there. The Man and I toured the major museums with my sister & her family and then at the end of the day, we did what other people have done when it's raining in Paris and well, we got a nice little souvenir we call MH... ah yes, " Paris...."

Ok. Sorry. Once again...I digress.

Right, it's April and we are no where NEAR Paris. We are miles from Paris. Decades, one could claim even, from Paris. This is the Auvergne. And here April is all about allergies and cow poop, baby lambs and blossoms, warm days and chilly nights. The grass gets so green this time of year. It's like I forget that this colour exists and then one early morning, the sun hits the field behind the house and I'm transported to Oz, with Dorothy as my guide. Green, glowing, alive and beautiful. Not a café or a museum in sight.

April in the Auvergne is how I will always remember France. The village, still only inhabited by year-round residents, is quite and peaceful. My people watching consists of observing the new leaves dancing with the wind. The grey volcanic stones of the houses are no longer dull and dingy with winter's light, they are now brilliant and sparkling, the perfect cadre for purple blossoms, white flowers, yellow daffodils, a sharp blue sky, and that green, green grass.

Close your eyes. See it. Sit with me on my front steps, have a coffee, and watch the world go by, one meandering cow at a time.

Souvenirs of my Auvergne. Sing it with me, " Paris....."

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

And We Grow

We went for a hike with friends a couple of weekends ago and came upon a magnificent tree. It stood there, stoically stretching its branches up to the sky, laughing at us as we traced the outline of its belly button. 

At first, I thought that the tree had been hollowed out, shaped like that by man, but it soon became apparent that the tree had actually grown this way. Old decayed wood had fallen away exposing the delicate nature where the sun and wind had passed, but overall, the trunk was true and solid.

I stood amazed at the determination of this old soul. How it must have struggled to reconnect its base and find the will to grow tall and strong even though something had split it centuries before. Its desire to be one, to be whole, was obvious...

Perhaps I'm waxing too poetical about this tree. Perhaps it was nothing more than mere chance that it is still standing and that it really didn't fight its way back to wholeness. Perhaps over time, bugs and bees had nibbled their own right of passage through it and that's all. All sorts of things may have troubled this tree and created this space that shouldn't be.

But I don't care. 

To me, this tree is still strong, it's still one. There it stands, giving hope to those branches who are unfazed by whomever or whatever tried to take it all down. They are there still, reaching towards infinity.