“She’s cross-eyed.”

“Aren’t we all!”

‘Jacqueline’

Pandemic Painting #7

‘Jacqueline’

Curate beauty within the mind of a child. Painting presents an opportunity to fill a young mind with wonder and mystery. Begin with picture books and fairy tales. Note the wreath of stars, the egg in nest. Follow watery paths through the forest. Notice the towering trees. Speak of perspective. Flashes of yellow, like sun beams, flit through boughs. The ‘Pine Siskin’ takes flight. Follow its course to the misty forest floor. Moss blankets bark. Press a cheek to velvet.

Absorb colour, explore its range and depth. Study images and great artists. Notice shape and size. Speak of fairy folk and hidden lairs. Search objects that visually intrigue. Perhaps a stone or feather?

Gather memories.

There’s a toolbox on a trolley. Unfasten the lock, note the rusted patina. Tucked inside are tubes of colour. There is Painter’s Tape, a necessary anchor for paper. A daughter’s brushes wait in a vessel of cut glass.

We nod in agreement- it’s rather beautiful and decide, paper bags make the perfect canvas.

We speak of Evergreens, imagine an empty nest. It is almost winter, after- all. Even the sky is moody.

You wonder where animals find shelter.

We speak of homes and families, land and loss, bears and garbage cans.

You offer up your pumpkin as a gift of food. We promise to deposit it to the forest floor, for the birds.

Today is a slow tempo of pause and reflection, a pensive adagio. We smear to appreciate haphazard brush strokes. Violet and yellow make moss. A blue daze sky of ink and agate surround the branches of the evergreen.

I sip coffee.

Your wee fist drags a stick through puddles of paint, marvels at the lines. Brush strokes blend dark and light. An imaginary cloud rips open. Softly, softly, flakes fall onto branches and into the nest. All to enchant.

Hearts smile.

The Evergreen

Medium- Acrylic

Early Learners

Cherish it. Frame it. Tape it to the wall.

Beauty And Wonder

“And I learned what is obvious to a child. That life is simply a collection of little lives, each lived one day at a time. That each day should be spent finding beauty in flowers and poetry and talking to animals. That a day spent with dreaming and sunsets and refreshing breezes cannot be bettered.” 
― Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook tags: beautybreezeschilddreamingpoetrysunsets

Light a candle to remember, to celebrate, to wish upon. Soy candles are simple to make, lovely to behold, and necessary- especially in Pandemic Times. A lit flame is a symbol for light in darkness. It is energy with the power to change and illuminate.

The world holds ancient wisdom. Sit in silence. Breathe in. Exhale. Better days are coming.

Ingredients are available at most local craft or specialty shops for pick up or delivery. Soy is made of natural elements. Essential oils add allure. ‘Rose Turmeric’ is a subtle scent, notes of crushed petal grounded in an exotic mix of pollen and golden hits of sunshine.

This grouping was formed in repurposed and recycled glass and tin. The vintage glass is a favourite. It allows for sparkle and shine. Clear glass suits any decor. Group an assortment on a tray or table. Place one, in a simple paper bag, to leave on the doorstep of a friend.

Kitchen chemistry, music to soothe the soul, big love. Some things endure.

DIY Soy Candle Tips on topics from wicks to fixes are abundant on Pinterest or a local supplier.

• A Favourite Read: Style & Simplicity, An A to Z Guide to Living a More Beautiful Life- Ted Kennedy Watson

• Always use caution around a flame.

~aliceandmolly approved

x

Beautiful Words:

“Each spice has a special day to it. For turmeric it is Sunday, when light drips fat and butter-colored into the bins to be soaked up glowing, when you pray to the nine planets for love and luck.”

― Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, The Mistress of Spices,

Goodreads

My mother bites her lip, fishes the depth of her purse, rummages through lipsticks, combs, and compacts, to offer something, anything to sweeten the journey and soften the grief.

“People disappoint,” she says. “Best get used to it.”

Words drop. She is tired of the narrative. Her eyes fixate on the contents of a purse, scattering her lap, rolling out of reach.

“Ah- here it is.”

I watch as she lifts a tissue bundle, holds it mid air.

She regards peppermints as medicinal. A sugar salve to cover grief and sweeten the moment.

“Take one,” she says. “It helps.”

She tucks the peppermint bundle beneath a stashed scarf, clicks the clasp of her purse.

“Grief aches like a broken bone,” she says. “The good news- you learn to carry on.”

I watch as she squares her shoulders and stares down the end of the road.

“For awhile, it’s horrible. You speak it. Words pour out, ugly, pathetic. You stop speaking. People say, ‘Find peace.’ You wonder, How? There’s a hole in your heart and it won’t heal.”

She shrugs. “So- you throw yourself into charity, community, family. You summon new interests. Delight in passionate pursuits. You dare believe you can write your story.”

She turns to admire a grove of trees on a distant hillside. Their limbs seem as if adorned in scarlet ribbons, lit by ochre light.

“How beautiful,” she comments. “I used to rake the leaves of the chestnut trees lining the boulevard. Oh those leaves. Such a rich shade of green. You do recall?”

I nod. How to forget? Year after year, the trees grew taller, more abundant. Today, they form a canopy overhead. I do not tell my mother. In autumn, I return to the block. I choose one chestnut.

My mother speaks. “You’d toddle along, amusing yourself, collecting chestnuts. Only a certain few stayed in the wagon. As the pile of leaves grew higher, you grew bolder. Arms high, face first.”

She places her hand on mine.

“You learn to go on. Softly, softly. Forward.”

***

My Grandmother ends each visit with an offering of peppermints placed in tissue.

“Just a moment,” she says.

Bags rustle on a pantry shelf. Fingers fumble. She centres five peppermints, twists the tissue and presses the bundle to the palm of my hand.

“Tuck this away. Later, when you take tea, slip one. Don’t share.”

I meet her gaze.

Her eyes are oceans.

We come to understand. Life is loneliness and then it is joy. It’s sweet, tiny moments and sacred silence. We laugh and then, we’re overcome by sorrow. It’s a question without an answer. Scar tissue thickening on a soul. We seek the road home. It’s a song on the radio, a photograph that slips to the floor and then, everything collapses.

Draft Two

Tiny Struggles

Fiction

An Autumn Moment

I knew the truth. Love changes like the seasons: cold rains fall, leaves rot, people leave.

I watched as her finger traced the veins on the backside of the leaf. Her touch, like Braille, feeling each line as if a road on a map. I saw the future, like the beauty surrounding us, disappearing into mist. Yet, I had convinced myself: This is now. It is fine to love someone a little too much.

“What will you do with a leaf?”

“Press it between the pages of a book,” she said.

“Look up.”

The sky was a canopy of stars. The moon hung, ripe, against a backdrop of black and light.

She asked, “Is this not a beautiful night?”

I nodded.

Her eyes glittered gold, “Like a Van Gogh canvas and we’ve stumbled into the scene.”

I slipped her small hand in mine. “Promise.”

“Anything,” she had said.

“When the world turns ugly, you’ll stay beautiful.”

~ excerpt from a scene

Draft One

“when the world turns ugly,…”- source unknown

cliches, quotes, venations, parallel lives

Fiction

Some events are predictable. The return of autumn is one certainty. Falling leaves, starry nights. Moon light and magic. People have an autumn, too. As leaves hit the ground, humans turn reverent, circle round what is true. In hushed moments, they stand solemn, on a moonlit path, with only stars as witness.

Photo by Jonas Ferlin on Pexels.com

 

 

 

 

The Mind

The red door is shut, the handle, polished steel. It begs to be opened.

I turn the handle to enter, brave. The room is cold. Two chairs stand in the middle of an Oriental rug. One is empty. A child, stares back. I have seen her face before. A forgotten photograph found inside a weathered cigar box.

A wild- eyed, willow wisp. Her moon- face stuns the dark. Emerald eyes glitter. A stubborn curl falls over one eye, as if to shield her from the world. Freckles dot the bridge of a tiny nose, claiming the familiar landscape of wide cheek bones.

My hand reaches forth.

It is as if she has waited an eternity to place her palm in mine. 

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

Draft Two

Excerpt From A Scene

Free Write

Hands and Heart

Lately, I find myself drawing inward. Wondering. Hopeful. Creating. Sometimes, it’s a friend’s gift: stalks of rhubarb. Sugar and cinnamon moments. Other times, it’s following my curiosity to learn a new skill or craft.

So it is with soap. I prefer organic melt and pour process or “cosmetic” soap. There is less fuss. I avoid lye. Simply White. Drops of essential oil elevate the experience. Petals from the garden crown the artisan slabs. Parchment paper wrapping. Twine tied.

Watson Home

COVID19 Moment

When you are weak, stand with me. I’ll lend you strength.

I’ll hand you a crumpled paper bag.

You’ll open it to find a scrap of heart, still beating.

I’ll reveal the scars that criss cross a back.

They will not diminish us.

I’ll offer you a photograph.

Allow the images to speak.

You’ll sense a glance, familiar. A posture, strong. A smile so endearing, your heart cracks. Turn the photo. A penciled notation is fashioned in perfect script. Evidence of loss and struggle amidst beauty.

I’ll reach for your hand.

You’ll reach back.

It’s impossible to separate our souls, our stories.

Our ancestors do not leave us, rather, they gather to bear witness, to stand alongside.

Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

~Long ago I learned to make friends with silence.

” We must have pie. Stress can’t exist in the presence of pie.”

David Mamet, Boston Marriage

I close the book. Summer rain falls. A breeze slips through the screen on the open door. Autumn is a patient friend. One who waits for leaves to fly. A resident squirrel, cheeks full with acorns, scoots between the tall evergreen and fence. The world’s metronome taps a steady beat.

Some things remain uncertain, even in their certainty. I miss my mother. She waits for the seasons to turn and the pandemic to leave.

“It will leave.”

Her voice sounds less certain, more guarded.

“I don’t know. The world’s a mess,” she says.

These are not the words I wish to hear. I want her to rally, offer up sage advice, to have an answer.

“Hold to hope, Mom. The world is changing, perhaps, for the better.”

The world is slowing down.

Every sunrise, hope returns. Built to heal, I find comfort in words, friends, mornings and increasingly, time spent in the kitchen. There is something sacred about standing in silence, in front of a stove, while flipping through the pages of a cookbook. If I can’t help you, I can nourish you.

I will bake a pie. Pie is a reminder of a simpler, slower time. The act of baking something as lovely as pie, soothes.

Pie is a memory.

‘Julie London’ croons from the speaker. My mother hums ‘Black Coffee,’ off- key. She stands in the kitchen, notices the large mixing bowl, her rolling pin, the one I kept. Flour dusts the floor. Pie is messy. Fruit stains like a bruise. She adjusts her apron.

I watch her turn. She pours herself a cup of Joe from the espresso machine. Tucking a lock of hair behind one ear, she pivots and smiles. “A looker,” with her symmetrical features, fairy- tale widow’s peak, a grid mark leading to a crown of raven hair. Red lips. She favoured red lipstick.

I remember. Standing in the doorway of the tiny bathroom, I’d watch as she opened the tube and etched colour to her lips.

She had said, ” The trick is to blot with Kleenex.”

As children, we’d find ruby lip stained tissues carelessly left upon the bathroom counter, accidentally dropped onto the floor or peeking from her opened purse. Sometimes, I would scoop one up like a specimen, tuck it into a book, all to preserve a tangible piece of her.

Those days, I’d sit at the table and exchange knowing glances with my sister. Our mother’s style is now lost, other era, a nod to a fancier time where dresses ruled the kitchen and sling backs waited at the front door. Her ‘French look’ and clothing cut from Vogue, tailored by Singer, was soon to be another lost art. We thought her beautiful.

I watch as she lifts a teaspoon from the drawer and samples the filling. She closes her eyes, pleased.

Turning around, she has gone.

It’s certain. The world spins, seasons change, people come and go. What’s new is old. Some people enter our lives to teach us. Others, so precious we never forget their presence, and then there is pie.

Once considered old fashioned, pies are having a moment. Boutique bakeries offer pies “to go” because “made from scratch” pies are thieves of time. There are steps to follow: use cold butter, cut it into the flour (use two knives). Slightly beat the eggs. Add sugar by the teaspoon. Squeeze the lemon. There is timing in the mix. Chill the dough. There are tools to assemble. Find a four inch cutter. Shhh. I use a marimekko sugar bowl. Find a pastry brush (a small, clean paint brush does the trick). Prep the fruit.

As children, we picked our fruit from backyard trees. Sometimes apple, other times, pear or plum and once in awhile, at the end of a particularly long school day, we’d arrive home and spy a freshly baked pie on the counter. Cinnamon whispered stories of far away lands.

Our family rarely ate pie. When the spirit moved our mother to make a pie (and it was usually in autumn), she’d save the left over pastry bits, kneading and patting the dough to form a ball. If she was short of filling, she’d substitute jam.

I sense my mother’s return.

Gently, she rolls the dough out onto the counter. Dipping a spoon into the saucepan, she tops each round with filling. A brush stroke dips into a saucer of milk, coats the edges of pastry. Overlapping and pressing, she lifts a fork, touching the tines to the dough. With a sharp knife she fashions a top cut.

“Hand Pies.” The semilunar fit was perfect for our small hands. Silently, we’d nibble along the pressed edge, allowing crumbs to fall into a dish of vanilla ice cream, every bite of steamed fruit, richer, tastier. In this moment, we understood. Mom had loved us enough to create a magical delight at the sweet end of the scale.

I place three Hand Pies into a tin. For her.

A text appears.

You bake pies?

I smile. Say it like it’s a bad thing.

You can’t.

Quote: David Mamet: Boston Marriage

COVID19 Moment

she bakes pies