Junking

has taken the concept of hosting a simple “Garage Sale” to a whole new level. Imagine farm fields, their grassy carpets filled with hip vendors perched on chippy stools, smiling under sparkling white tents. Barns filled with stitched banners made from aged bark cloth, floral, and linen announce, Little Olde This or That. A vintage fair for the seekers of all things timeworn, pretty, cherished or repurposed. An opportunity to recall moments from the past. A chance to whisper, I remember.

beautiful bark cloth
beautiful bark cloth

Wooden shelves are lined and brimming over with yesterday’s treasures or necessities. My eyes spy the china saucers, their mate cups now long gone. Floral chintz, calico and full blooming roses adorn the plates. Sugar bowls, their lids long ago cracked and broken, perfect vessels to fill with hot soy wax and candle wicks. License plates stack in wicker baskets. Each precious piece holds a story from once upon a time.

Yet these bespoke pieces are not lost or forgotten. There are still souls that cherish the dusty and worn.  I pause to behold an old tin medic kit, the red cross sprayed and stark against the white background. The battered tin rusted in spots, blackened down to the metal. I imagine the urgent fingers that lifted the latch and searched for the proper bandage or wrap to staunch a flowing wound.

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My eyes discover a wooden drawer, stacked upright and alone. Walk away. On the front of the wood, stamped in black paint, are the numerals 1929. There is a tender reason I covet such a humble piece. I wonder about the careless owner who dripped the bright orange paint inside the once pristine space.Just an old drawer? Never. Once home I opened my trusty tin of annie sloan chalkpaint and painted the inside of the drawer. Next I searched for a set of legs and found them under an old, IKEA tray table.  There's still some painting needed on the table legs, some harsher sanding to be done. Repurposed gorgeousness.

Is it just an old drawer? Never.

Carefully, I lift my new found treasures from the trunk of the car and place them within the fading light. I consider their loveliness. An old soul stirs and smiles.

Gently I polish to reveal each item’s patina. Shabby yet chic.Timeworn Elegance.

What about the drawer, you ask? I open a trusted tin of annie sloan chalkpaint. My brush strokes cover up the spilled flaws. Suddenly the old drawer softens and suggests a usefulness. A set of folding legs from an old, IKEA tray table are the perfect item for the drawer to nest upon. Repurposed gorgeousness and regal status.

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A piece of barkcloth in pristine condition waits to grace my kitchen.

Salvaged bits from other lives and stories that live on.

It’s Still A Beautiful World

That there is still decency and kindness in the world.This morning on the downtown eastside I sat in my locked car at a busy intersection and witnessed an action that reminded me there is good in people all around us. It also reminded me about judgements.

A woman struggled to get across the busy crossing before the “DON’T WALK “symbol appeared. Confined to a wheel chair and shoeless, she struggled to push the chair forward with her shuffling feet. As she struggled past, I noticed one foot wrapped in bandages and the other covered in a tattered sock.

Suddenly, out from the shadowy streets ran a man, an oddity with his own set of issues. Long hair a mess, eyes unfocused; he jittered forth. This man noticed the woman in the wheelchair and paused. As he bent to whisper words in her ear, he grabbed the handles at the back of the wheelchair and silently pushed the chair through the cross walk to safety, leaving the somewhat surprised woman to negotiate the edge between road and sidewalk. A random act of kindness and compassion toward another.

In fact, I saw several acts of compassion on the downtown eastside from vendors offering a cup of Joe to marginalized people outside the trending coffee shops to two city police officers that knelt beside a forlorn man seated on a blanket. They gently spoke with him.

A reminder to look beneath the surface. One man’s random wish to help another human navigate through this often confused and chaotic world made a view outside the car window a whole lot brighter.

What will you see today and who will you help?

 

Alice Reflects

This is a “flashback” written in “Alice’s” POV. She is in the kitchen, recalls her son. Hope you enjoy reading this passage.

Alice stood in the kitchen and gazed through the window. It was oddly quiet for five o’clock, suppertime. The children from the neighbouring yard were silent. Thank God, she mused. Most afternoons, the neighbour’s offspring tussled and tumbled about the fence line. Their play stretched on for hours. Out of control crossed her mind. This thought from a woman who believed children should be seen and not heard. Alice lit the stove’s burner, felt the heat leap forth to warm her cold hand. She dropped the matchstick. All day she’d felt chilled, out of sorts.

She thought about when she’d gazed into the mirror earlier that morning, when she’d seen the face of an unrecognizable woman reflected back. Lines formed around the corners of her once bright eyes. Were the lines deeper? Silver threads edged along her hairline. Who was this time-worn woman who reflected back?

Focus on the task at hand, she reminded herself as she reached beneath the oven door and pulled out the warming drawer. Fingers searched through metal baking sheets until they felt the familiar handle of the blackened frying pan. This action caused her to smile. She recalled a memory from two years ago. Had it been two years? It was the day Roy unexpectedly returned home, catching the two sisters by surprise. The now faded mental image of her sister, Molly, as she held the heavy cast iron pan like a shield for protection, was comical.

Always, Roy haunted her thoughts. That was the reason Alice so often felt out of sorts and irritable. When he snuck into her head, she got busy. Placing the frying pan onto the stove element, she carefully poured out the correct amount of oil, just enough to brown the waiting onions. Soon the heady scent of caramelized onions filled the tiny room. Alice trimmed a small cut of beef and added it to the pan. As she stirred the mixture, the meat sizzled and browned. Cooking comforted her, gave purpose and routine to each day. It was just the two of them now. Did she mean anything, anymore to her husband?

She recalled Roy’s last visit home, checked the tallies on the new calendar that hung beside the telephone. When last year’s addition ran out, she added the number 365 to the present copy. It was exactly two years and fifteen days ago. The calendar protected the evidence, an ink mark scrawled through each day that passed, signs of her son’s absence. Proof that he was remembered.

Alice didn’t know how to fix her broken family, didn’t realize that it was simple. Shame and pride beat her down. Was she a good enough mother? Pride demanded she hold her head high and whispered back, you were.

Unconvinced, Alice thought about the last time she sat with Roy, remembered the bottled up anger that simmered in silence as they sipped tea. When Roy had left, he slammed the back door. She had noticed, even winced as the door hit the frame. After such a loud exit, Molly startled, hurried to the front door to wave goodbye to her nephew. As he roared off on his flashy motorcycle, Molly had quietly shut the door and marched back into the kitchen. She saw her sister, the cup poised mid-air.

“Alice.”

Stone faced, Alice set her cup onto the saucer and turned toward her older sister.

“Did you have to be so aloof?”

Alice tightened. Molly noticed her sister’s purposeful silence. At last, Alice commented,

“I don’t know what you mean.”

“Of course you do, Alice. You didn’t say a meaningful word to the lad.”

Molly moved closer to the table, positioned herself directly in front of her younger sister.

“Roy comes home, after two years gone and all you can do is sit silent, sipping tea?”

Alice set her jaw, looked away.

“It was Roy’s choice to leave in the first place, “Alice said.

Enraged, Molly grabbed her sister’s wrist, a bit too hard. It hurt. Her words bit Alice.

“For the love of Mike, Alice. Everyone makes mistakes. Including you.”

Alice felt her cheeks warm at Molly’s comment, a reminder of a past she would rather forget. A secret they shared. She shook free of Molly’s grip.

Molly continued, “No one sent you away.”

Alice bristled, “I didn’t send Roy away.”

Molly’s words flew back, “You never gave him a reason to stay.”

Breathe

in the beauty of pink roses and scarlet peonies. Picked from my garden for you.

Pink Roses and Scarlet Peonies
Pink Roses and Scarlet Peonies

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A Tribute to a Lady

My Mother A beautiful lady. I've always felt my Mom resembles the actress and playwright, Isabella Rossellini.
My Mother
A beautiful lady. I’ve always felt my Mom resembles the actress and playwright, Isabella Rossellini.

 

It used to drive me crazy as a teen.

“Tell me what you think, Mom. What should I do?”

Mom would set aside her paint brush, focus her dark eyes upon mine and shrug.

Her comment was always,

“It doesn’t matter what I think; it’s what you think that counts. Think for yourself.”
Brush strokes filled a canvas.

Think for yourself. Three words that held power. Wielding clout to the choices I made.

It was my responsibility to stand at the crossroad and choose the right path. Successes and failures were mine alone to shoulder.

Mother insisted I decide my fate. There were moments in life when I begged her~ tell me, guide me, shield me, and help me. Anything, as I stood alone at the intersection called Life, and clutched an empty suitcase.

“Buck up,” she’d say, “Life’s not a party and it sure as hell isn’t fair.”

Her words, sage lyrics spoken from the heart of a beautiful, brave woman. A lady who learned late the skill set necessary to navigate through the unpredictable forests of life. She understood I was ill prepared, too fearful to fly. So she pushed me.

When lost, my mother’s words take the helm and whisper, Think for yourself. I promise you, the answer is within. Automatically my compass resets.

The Universe sets us down, gives us what we need to deal, in a lifetime. A talisman of courage when we cower, a nudge to stand tall when another breaks us down, the sparkle of beauty amidst ruins and light to shine through darkness.

This Mother’s Day I honour you, Mom. I learned to fly.

Memories

My grandfather had a green- thumb and passed it on. Growing up, we always had a beautiful garden filled with hedgerows, sweet jasmine, pansies, Cherry Blossom trees, and Japanese Maples. At night we sat outside and talked under a blanket of stars. One of our homes had a small pond complete with painted turtles (they always slipped out and escaped the yard). A Brave Girl, my sister climbed fences to hunt them down.

We don’t talk about it much; I was caught breathless by my sister’s beautiful, tiny garden. We remember.

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