Monday, December 26, 2016

The Way We Were

MY HUSBAND and I stood on the church steps some thirty-five years ago not thinking that the lovely historic First United Church in White Rock with its big steeple would one day be demolished. The building has more wrinkles and cracks nowadays ... my husband and I do too.

Unlike in Europe where buildings exist for hundreds of years our relatively young country of Canada has a habit of ripping up "the old" for something new, especially in BC where buildings are mostly constructed of wood.

Although not a regular church goer, I nonetheless felt sentimental about its demise slated for next year. I took pictures of it over Christmas to preserve its memory and to show how impressive it still looks now. The evolution of the church began in 1910 and is documented HERE. The property is worth millions today and I believe, at this writing, the plan is to construct a smaller church and provide senior housing on the remaining portion of the land.

Over the years, ministers and dedicated volunteers within the church walls inspired folks in need and strove to make the community better. Christmas day dinners were served in the church basement for some thirty-five years.

This year would be the last and it was high time I helped set up the tables as well as enjoy a meal there. There were buckets of vegetables being peeled in one corner of the room and cooks expecting 250 guests bustled behind the scenes in the back kitchen on Christmas eve. Once all the volunteers arrived and we got past the initial confusion of where to begin everything fell into place beautifully. Wherever something needed attention someone got to it. Amazingly, the entire large room was decorated and the tables put up and set in little over an hour.

I don't think there would be a single starving person on the planet if people pulled together the way these volunteers did. Many who came to help were strangers to one another.

They say competition and/or religion make you strong and good but I think it's basic human kindness and pure cooperation that builds a better world.

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Copyright by Penelope Puddlisms

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Grotesque Monsters & Glorious Worlds

THE ICE AGE saw the destruction of many monsters but it seemed as if some came back during a recent cold spell in southwest BC. A string of Icicles clung to the greenery with a firm dinosaur-like grip smothering the winter berries.

Reptilian creatures with grotesque heads devoured the fruit.

Their jagged claws with freezing sharp tips sent a chilling message.

Beware you don't get stabbed by an icy spear on your way out the gate, it said.

Ducking to get to the car in the driveway ...

I observed magical reflections within the icy formations.

Ice cages entrapped the berries and ensnared their leaves.

I could imagine ice palaces within those slithery smooth walls and strange worlds where everything glistened and warmth was feared.

The glorious architecture all the more worthy of being revered because it is normally short-lived in my rainy corner of the world.


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Copyright by Penelope Puddlisms

Monday, November 28, 2016

A Smile Shared With My Younger Self

A BLURRY picture of me when I was about six jumped out at me when going through a box of old photos. It was before anyone imagined digital and before I imagined how life would unfold. My sister painted over the picture when she was young to give it some colour. We are an artistic family, n'est–ce pas?

I thought about my younger self and how she created the story of her life through the choices she made and the smiles she gave. I thought about the faltering steps, new discoveries, happy and unhappy surprises, wasted worrying, successes and sometimes sad endings and rude awakenings. I thought about the times she postponed joy for some vague future when she wished all would be better. Beyond the dramatic chapters of challenges met and unmet, there are still fresh pages to paint in whatever mood she chooses.

Her older self picked up some lessons along the way from people like the Dalai Lama who said: "Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength." and from a Yiddish Proverb, "What soap is to the body, laughter is to the soul." Even actor Alan Alda had wisdom to share. "When people are laughing," he noted, "they’re generally not killing each other."

More smiles less worry is obviously a good thing ... as is channeling the wonder and bright expectations that endured within that little girl.

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Copyright by Penelope Puddlisms

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Dig In For What's Right

PARENTS BROUGHT their children to an orchard planting party at a community green space recently. It was a unique idea since, although community gardens are fairly common, local orchards are scarce nowadays.

The kids were having fun digging into the dirt while the parents were feeling good about teaching their children some important environmental values.

The young trees were spindly and bare and the shrubbery was rather tiny.

But we all knew that if planted right the foliage would bear good fruit one day.

Tree planting is a key to combating global warming and thoughtful parents wanted to set a good example for their children. They also no doubt taught them that bridges are better than walls and that kindness is better than bullying. So, on reflection, I don't know how to explain the results of the very long and agonizing American election. The protesters now marching peacefully have my respect because sometimes you just have to dig in and fight for what's right.

Read Here's Why We Grieve Today HERE.

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Copyright by Penelope Puddlisms

Friday, November 4, 2016

They Go Low, We Go High

HOW REFRESHING it was to look up and see rust coloured autumn leaves fluttering over the roof recently.

Although it's easy to feel low when mired in politics, a cotton candy pink sky put current events into broader perspective while a leaf, stuck on a branch, appeared ready to fly when the morning light shone through it.

Meanwhile, seemingly overnight, a plant gone to seed had burst into stars.

I don't think it's quite what Michelle Obama had in mind when she said, "When they go low, we go high." But it is uplifting to look beyond the noisy chatter into what nature does continuously without much fanfare every single day.

See more horizons from around the globe at Skywatch.

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Copyright by Penelope Puddlisms

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Caught In A Storm

THE SMALL BLACK squirrel clung to a branch of a large maple tree long since vacated by birds during this week's windstorms. I tried to capture the fuzzy silhouette with my camera, wondering if it was afraid of the rough breeze or enjoying its roller coaster ride.

The branches swayed chaotically and the creature was hard to find as it darted from one branch to another during momentary lulls. Was it confused about whether to go up, down, left or right?

When the leaves whipped frantically about, it vanished into a beautiful blur only to reappear like ebony ink spilling into the greenery.

A swish of its tail came into view to disappear again into swirling hues.

Nearby a leggy "trapeze artist" dangled on a string. The spider attached itself to its unfinished web to avoid being haplessly tossed in the wind.

As we all so often do, it found its own ingenuity to cling to.

In the early morning after the storm the world was eerily silent and still. Out my window I saw the moon sail through brooding clouds that rolled like ocean waves across the dark mysterious sky. What the day would bring was uncertain but I hoped the creatures outside had survived.

I saw branches and leaves shaken loose from trees. Pondering the outcome for birds, spiders and squirrels, I was saddened to later learn a 16-year old boy had been killed in Surrey by a fallen tree. For his loved ones the effects of the storm will be felt forever.

Postscript: There is currently a fundraising initiative online for memorials planned in Shakir Salaam's name which will include a 16-year rugby bursary, a water well in Africa and donations to BC Children’s Hospital and the Heart and Stroke Foundation. Ironically, Shakir had two open heart surgeries when he was a baby which he credited for extending his not always easy but bright and interesting life.

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Copyright by Penelope Puddlisms

Saturday, September 24, 2016

When The Road Gets Rocky ... Make Faces

ONE CLEVER family along my path got creative with some rocks.

The faces they painted where perfect for the oval/roundish shapes of the stones. All ages were represented. Some had a grin ...

while others looked more prim.

Each wore a fixed expression like a picture frozen in time.

I loved them all ... this rock-solid dynasty spread out by a tree.

I went back a day later and wondered if they survived a downpour.

To my delight the rain made them brighter. The one above was my favorite. Fallen leaves curled up alongside its head like ears.

They looked similar from afar but no two stones were alike when I got near. It was clear that the individual markings, curves, textures and tones nature provided enhanced their differing personalities.

One character looked a bit miffed about the leaf on its brow. Or maybe there was some relationship issues going on with the rest of the gang.

Despite being inanimate objects, each face told a human story, including the pretty (little Geisha?) or masked girl below.

Had there been thousands more stones each would be unique, even if painted by the same hand using the same brush. Whether in art, stones or with the living, diversity is nature's key because as Winnie The Pooh said, “The things that make me different are the things that make me.”

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Copyright by Penelope Puddlisms