Saturday, September 08, 2007

Madeleine L'Engle: Time can be wrinkled...

One of my most favorite authors passed away quietly this week, on Thursday, September 6th.

Madeleine L' Engle, the woman who wrote the award winning book A Wrinkle in Time first caught my interest when I was ten years old. I was so fortunate to have been led to read Wrinkle the year it won the Newbery Award; I believe my entire fourth grade class read the book together.

I didn't read another of her books until I was in my late thirties.
By then she was not only writing novels, but she was also writing about her quest and practice of faith. Her book Walking on Water refreshed my understanding of faith, and widened my definition of belief. I discovered her writing on caring for her extraordinary mother, and the challenges which that life passage presented.

Amazingly, I also found that the people I had met in A Wrinkle in Time had continued on; a trilogy had been written; then another book more, eventually a quintet. Then there was another whole series (The Austin Family), books flowed from her, as natural as conversation over tea, yet with a depth that made her words worthy of underlining, and tacking up in places to be further mulled in quiet moments.


Madeleine was named Author in Residence for Victoria magazine. Bit by bit I learned more about her, and realized she was a gift to us all. Such an intelligent, creative, spunky, curious, and secure woman. She was a happy wife, a mother, a grandmother, a caring daughter, yet she never buried herself behind any of those labels. Rather she brought herself into those roles, and continued to make space for personal growth. She was an inspiration to me.

Women who quest to deepen, to dare, to explore and to wonder will do well to reach for L'Engle's writings. I am saddened to know that her time here on earth is over, yet I rejoice that she has eternity above in the heavens, and we here will have her voice and her thoughts for eternity as well, via her abundant body of written works.

I am so glad I found her thoughts at age ten.
And I am so very very glad that through the miracle of the written word, anyone at anytime may find her yet.

When the pages of a book are open, a tesseract appears.
It turns out that it isn't a wrinkle that will enable us to pass through time, it is instead an unfolding of the covers of a book that will always allow us to travel to a place in time when Madeleine was inspired, and wrote.

If you have a favorite L'Engle book (and if you can bring yourself to only name one of her 62 titles, I doubt you have read many of her books!) please leave a comment and write the title(s).

Oh, how I wish we L'Engle fans could meet and chat in her memory!
What a marvelous band of women we would find!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Canada Adventure: Day Five

Monday, August 20, 2007

Back to the Canadian adventure...

Lovella's long time friend Kathy and her husband Scott were camping out up at a local camp ground the week I was visiting.
Apparently whenever one of the couples goes camping, the other couple comes up for some of the time to share a wienie roast and some platz, along with a little fishing and a lot of conversation.
I was so pleased to find that I was invited to come along for a visit and get in some good old fashioned woods/lakes/hills camp time.

When I was in Camp Fire Girls, we used to shorten the name of that kind of place to "Camp Wolahi."
It sounded more Indian (er, Native American) that way.

We pulled into the parking lot and there was Scott and Kathy.
A happy unplanned coincidence!

We were able to follow Scott and Kathy up the road to their camping site. Right next to the road there was a gorgeous buck nibbling away at a bush. I had never seen antlers still in velvet before! He seemed completely at ease with us in the car just a few feet away.

Once we got to the campground, the ceremonial platz was served with hot cocoa. It was just a bit rainy and a tiny bit cool out, so even thought it was August, a cup of hot cocoa was nice.
(The platz deserves the title of ceremonial because 1). it is apparently one of the official food groups of the Mennonite people and 2). Kathy had brought some to Lovella and Terry when they camped, so this was a return favor, and, I suspect, a tradition required of camp site visitors. Or at least it will be after this!)

The menfolk took off for a little fishing in a little boat, and we women folk went for a walk around the lake.
I thought these two boats looked dreamy reflected in the water. The green is created via a combination of the reflection of the forest edge and the depth of the water

I could have sat right here and painted...but there was more to see.
The bridge...

...and the trail.
Kathy and Lovella are great hikers! I thought they were so cute together, as they are about the same height, wore the same cut of jeans and have similar shorter hairstyles (how Texan of me to notice!)
Almost like sisters, they had lots to talk about and catch up on and I enjoyed seeing the glow friendship between them. It is so rare to have a friendship between couples these days, and Kathy and Lovella's husbands are equally in sync.
What a special blessing!

People have asked me what it was like spending time with people I had never met before.
Short answer: Just wonderful.
I went to Canada feeling like I already knew Lovella pretty well via our blogging, emails and fun little postal exchanges.
I felt like I kind of knew Becky through her blog and a few emails, and the same with Julie.
I felt that Becky had strong opinions, and a tough and tender type personality, while Julie was more of an unfailingly cheerful personality who was interested in beauty and making spiritual connections to what she saw.
It was interesting to me to find that their personalities and speech cadence matched what I had perceived them to be like via their written communication. Their writer's voice matched their oral communication style.

The only real surprise was finding that they all spoke with somewhat of a Scandinavian style accent.
Now they don't think they do have an accent, but the truth is, everyone does have identifiable regional inflections their speech. Southern California people have a characteristic "uhm" and "unkay" that they throw into their sentences.

I was ready for a lot of "eh?" to be spoken as part of the BC speech pattern. I certainly heard a lot of that from the east coast Canadians, and the Canadian that lived in my neighborhood.
Instead, the West Coast Canadians (or maybe just the Mennonite ones...I'll have to listen more carefully next time I am in BC) tend to end sentences with "yah", with the same lilt that I hear from Minnesota residents.

(Personally I like accents. I wonder how long it will be before television wipes out the Jersey, New York, Deep South, Texas drawl, Irish lilt, etc etc etc.)

It didn't take long before I found myself responding with "yah" and "oh yah" as an encourager to continue talking instead of my usual "uh huh".
(Think short "a" sound, like "yaw" not the long "a" sound as the western style "yeah", as in "yeah..giddy up")

I hope some time Lovella can make a trip down here to Texas. She will probably have a hard time keeping a straight face when she hears all the accents around here. I know I do!

Anyway, back to meeting folk:
Kathy was not an active blogger, and I had no sense of what she would be like before I met her. The pictures of her that I had seen of her on Lovella's blog did not do justice to her animation and energy!

Since I had not read anything of her writing beyond a few paragraphs, I had thought she would be a very reserved person, and a bit aloof.
Nothing could have been farther from the truth. She was warm, engaging and very outgoing!

It turned out to be a echo of the lesson learned in Switzerland about written communication vs visual communication.
In a post about that I observed that a picture may be worth a thousand words, but a picture without words is often worthless.
At least that seems to be the case where pictures of people are concerned!

Hey you guys! Turn around! Let me get a picture of you two!
Oh, that would make a great picture!
Yah, it would!
I am always interested in textures, so I take a lot of pictures of tree bark.

And fern, especially when the fern is covered in rain drops.

Berries are another interest of mine.I once read an article in Victoria magazine about using vases of berries as a centerpiece instead of flowers, and ever since I have been fascinated by berries.
(I'd be happier if I knew the name of this particular berry...)

This flower looks like a fantasy flower. Seriously, if I made this flower up in silk ribbons, and showed it to you, wouldn't you have thought it was just a crazy flower idea and not a replica of a flower found in nature?
(I want to know it's name. Drives me crazy not knowing the name. Note to self: Never go anywhere in the world without a field guide to local flowers and berries.)

The way the forest smelled, and the sound of soft rain, and foot steps on the mulchy path...bliss.

Each lake I have ever seen seems to have its own particular color. The lake's color was muted because of the overcast conditions, but there still was a touch of the milky blue that always seems to be found in Pacific Northwest lakes.
The path wound through the forest, and the view of the lake wove in and out according to the meandering of the path.

Who doesn't love a wooden bridge?

Another berry, a kind that was always seen as a cluster of two.

What color would you use to draw a leaf?
Haven't you ever seen a purple leaf before?
(Wouldn't this picture be an interesting key to use to develop a room's color scheme pallet?)

Someday I'd like to see if I can put together a rainbow using berry pictures.

Hello Lupin! Have you been hearing about your cousin lupin flower, the Bluebonnet, from down in Texas?
Well, they say to tell you "howdy"!
Lupin seems to have varieties everywhere I go. I appreciated this plants late season effort to still be available for me to see.
It was a such a beautiful walk through the forest. Kathy had the perfect napkins to use for our post hike cookie break!

Once the gys got back (sans fish), we got down to the serious part of the day.

Campfire time...

and wieners!
Thanks Kathy and Scott for letting me share your campfire and a day in your beautiful mountains.
It was such fun!
You're welcome to come visit us at our campfire (or more likely, inside air conditioned space) any time!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Berries, blooms, kitty boys, and bonnets

I've been slacking off on my posting, and I still haven't done the last three days in Canada, but I decided to do some catch up on random pictures from around here.

First of all, the Beauty Berries are now magenta colored throughout the woods.
Floral shops sell the branches with the leaves stripped off, leaving the berries as clustered knots.
I'll probably post a few more shots of these later, as the berries color continues to intensify throughout September.

Along the road to my college there are fields of this flower/plant.

I caught a "lovebug" in the middle of this flower. Lovebugs are a drag, as they hook up with other lovebugs and fly around connected, hence the name. They can really get thick around gas stations for some reason, and they stick to whatever they land on.
Even the fact that they have almost a heart shaped dot on their back does not make me think any kinder of them.
No PDA's, please!

While I was in Canada Bernie had to go out of town.
Which meant that Uncle Scott came to visit.
He left Tiggie and Hart a new toy....
...a snake for the boys. It is a soft velour fabric tube on a clear wand, and boy can Tiggie get some air when the snake is flying around.
I'm not sure who has more fun with it, Bernie or Tiggie.

My orchids in the kitchen continue to bloom nicely...
...and my brand new African Violet (new in January) has bloomed with surprisingly large blossoms.

See how much smaller these blooms are on another plant?

I do love a variegated leaf on an African violet. This one blooms in bands, like two lines of flowers going across the plant.

Whereas this one blooms in cluster formation. These violets are around my garden jacuzzi tub, which overlooks my back yard. It's a nice place to hang out and enjoy a glass of wine and the fall color change or the spring time azaleas.

I just finished this hat this morning. Another Daphne style, it is going to Virginia, my co-worker, who has now successfully completed her chemo, and is now, at the very end of all the chemo, finally going sans hair.
I promised her I would make her a hat if she needed one.
Actually, I chided her for NOT needing a hat for so long.
I figured if she needed to wear a hat at work, then I could wear a hat a work, and maybe everyone at work would want to start wearing a hat in solidarity with Gin.
(Her chemo blog is on my side bar, but she has another blog somewhere called "Gin in the Library, Don't tell". How funny is that?)
The top of the hat is a treat provided by Lovella. When we visited the quilt shop in her little town, there was a table full of yardage pieces being sold by the kilo. Lovella threw my selections in with her fabric purchase, so Virginia's hat has a touch of love from Lovella in it too.
I thought the fabric with four circles like the top of this hat was very cool. Each circle was a variation of the look, and Virginia selected this particular panel.
She wasn't at work on Tuesday as she developed blood clots (a chemo related issue), so she hasn't seen it yet.
But my other co-worker Hope saw the hat, and immediately said the hat looks like Virginia, so that is a good sign.
(Those are peacock hurls clustered behind the button bouquet on the side of the upturned brim.Just in case you were wondering...)
Here's another view.
I'll try to get one with Virginia wearing it if I can.
A few weeks ago I posted a link to a pattern on another blog for a cap.
I finally found some fabric that I liked and some time to make it up.
Just finished it this afternoon.
The bill/beak is made from black velveteen.
Velveteen is SO messy to work with. I've got little black specks from it everywhere in the house now.
I got enough fabric to make this cap several times over, and I think I will do just that.
This first try is just a bit snug, and I think I'd like to position the print a little differently next time.
(And figure out how not to have velveteen specks go all over the house....any suggestions are welcomed!)
It is such an easy pattern, and looks so cute on that my brain is racing with ideas for making more of the caps.
Stay tuned on that one!

(PS: Do a good deed: The pattern only requires 1/4th of a yard of fabric. If you don't have a sewing machine, it wouldn't be too hard to even tackle sewing the hat by hand.
If you have a problem with fabric addiction, this may be the way out for you.
First, admit you are powerless over your addiction.
Second, Sew up a bunch of these caps and donate them to your nearest cancer treatment center.
Get together with some friends who share your addiction. Have them bring some of their stash, and their sewing machines. Mix and match your fabrics to create some really great hats.
Tell the truth: Don't you have several stashes of left over fabric that you don't really know what to do with anyway? Get creative, have fun, and donate!)

Tiggie isn't planning on staying tuned or sewing anything.
Chasing the snake just wore him out.
Good boy Tiggie! You wear the same outfit everyday anyway.
No fabric addiction problems here!

Thanks for reading!