Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Bucket Full Of Laughter For Us All In 2014!

A HILARIOUS new twist on the old Rumplestiltskin tale by the Brothers Grimm had me laughing in my seat this weekend.

The Pantomime was at the White Rock Players’ Club over the Christmas season. It was a nice way to finish off 2013 and made me realize that I want to laugh more in the New Year.

Humorist Mark Twain once said, "Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand." To me his words resonate like a battle cry over real and imagined foes.

When I was little I feared a boogie man under my bed. My mother would assure me there was no such thing. She looked under the bed with me and in the closet to make sure the room was free of monsters so I could sleep peacefully. As I grew away from her protective care and assurances I came to realize life was far scarier than I imagined as a child. People die (my mother included) suddenly before their time and many suffer due to illnesses, wars and natural disasters. There is violence towards non-human life as well. Mankind orbits the galaxy with the beasts and a blanked out map. In search of meaning, incomplete and competing conclusions are met with discontent.

So when does the laughter jump in you ask? Fret as I might I have never found that worrying about anything has improved a single situation. Complex realms of unsolved mysteries are, indeed, fascinating places for the mind to wander. But sometimes letting go of the nightly news to revel in a hardy laugh is what the doctor ordered. I am not talking about a tepid little titter. I want to roll over with glee. I want my sides to ache. I want to venture into the silliest corners of existence and give the frown a tug upside down. The joke is on me if I do not take advantage of the ironic, surprising and comedic moments.

Satirist Will Durst had the inside scoop when he said, "Comedy is defiance. It’s a snort of contempt in the face of fear and anxiety. And it’s the laughter that allows hope to creep in on the inhale.”

So happy 2014 to all! I did not take many pictures during the play so hope the stand-in smiley pail I found in my garage amuses you and that the tears you shed in the coming year will be from laughing uproariously.

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Copyright by Penelope Puddlisms

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Walls With A Message In A Season Of Hope

FOLLOW ME down this long corridor at the Vancouver Cancer Clinic. Does it remind you (the way it does me) of "the tunnel" with a light at the end that some folks speak about after experiencing near death?

A recent visit there with my husband who was getting a PET scan to shed light on his non-life-threatening condition brought back memories of when I drove my sister to the clinic for chemotherapy.

My sister was strong, resilient and optimistic. Her zest for living, adventurous spirit and curiosity were attributes that likely helped extend her life for years. But she eventually succumbed ... as did our eldest equally strong and resilient sister who passed away earlier, also as a consequence of cancer.

My thoughts were inevitably on health challenges and the struggle to keep hope alive as I walked down the hallway and glanced at the walls lined with heartfelt expressions from patients, their families and healthcare providers.

The Revlon Arts In Medicine Tile Tales Project believes that the arts can act as a bridge to healing. Each tile in the collection has something poignant to say. In Overcoming Adversity (above) a patient in despair gets relief from her fears by envisioning a bright, thick carpet of brilliant hope rolled out beneath her.

Music, or any intense interest, is as uplifting as an imaginary carpet ride. In Discover Your Passion (above) I gravitated to words by Marshall who wrote, “It is never too late, it is never too early, to discover your passion, to sing your own song, to follow your bliss and to come to rest within your being.”

In the Hand Of Hope tile, Rosey speaks through vivid colors. “The yellow is for healing that flows through my wedding band," she explains. "My hand is reaching out to all our futures.”

Some live on through their works. Russell Kelly died in 1997 at the age of 48. His career included hosting a CBC radio show. Among his accomplishments he campaigned to end violence against women and helped raise funds for a shelter for women in Vancouver. Looking at his many photographs and writings lining one side of the corridor wall, I was struck by his wonderment in the face of a dangerous illness. In Eternal Whisperings (above) he writes in part, "... despite cancer, serenity feeds my soul."

Kelly also writes, “Disasters and tragedy plague the best of humanity. Bad things happen to good people. Yet even suffering may yield ultimate good. Ordinary people – often with the aid of compassionate fellow-sufferers transcend their limitations, grow through sorrow, and begin life again.”

Creative messages on clinic walls inspire hope that (when combined with timely and competent medical care) can lead to recovery. But even this may not be enough when modern lifestyles conspire against us.

Interestingly, the search to cure cancer has generated one of the most successful fundraising operations in decades. Yet, by the looks of the packed clinic, more and more people are getting the disease. I was shocked to learn an estimated 75,500 deaths from cancer are expected to occur in Canada in 2013. Has anyone NOT been effected by this disease in some way? I suspect such high numbers are due to cancer-causing agents being woven into the fabric of the products we use every day and in the very air that we breathe. If that is true should not investigating and cleaning up the hazards be as essential as the hunt to cure something that could have been prevented?

Since this is being written during the Christmas season that she loved most, I dedicate this post to my brave sister Alla (photo, 2005) seen here with me. She suffered greatly before reaching the light but she also lived a passionate, fulfilling and hopeful life.

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Copyright by Penelope Puddlisms

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Angels In Tsawwassen

A LUNCH DATE recently with my niece brought me to Tsawwassen, a residential community that is sometimes overlooked as people from around the Lower Mainland drive through on their way to catching a BC Ferry. Surrounded by the Strait of Georgia to the west and Boundary Bay to the east, the area provides a busy ferry terminal for travelers to Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands.

Tsawwassen is also home to the Boundary Bay Cemetery where my niece and I went for a walk before lunch. We found interesting sights to explore there.

Mementos and bits of inspiration were placed by various markers. Although angel ornaments were an obvious favorite, I think the real angels are friends and relatives who visit year after year.

There was an angel carved on a coin and tucked into the wings of this statue.

I saw a stone angel kneeling in quiet prayer.

A dangling butterfly fluttered with the slightest breeze to remind us that someone precious named Lilly once lived in the community.

Among treasures and headstones we found a name inscribed that was familiar to my niece. Although I do not know if this person was related to the pioneering farming family, the Spetifore name is well known in Tsawwassen.

I since read that the family owned over 500 acres of land on Boundary Bay Road. The future of these Southlands has been in dispute for decades. The age-old struggles between housing needs and the need for agriculture and refuge for wildlife has long challenged people seeking balanced solutions.

Angels are people with a social conscious who put their pennies where it counts. I saw hints of that by the local mall where people threw coins in a pool of water to be scooped up later and donated to a worthy cause.

It was easy to see that a nautical theme anchors the coastal community that is part of the broader municipality of Delta in BC. Consequently ...

I was not surprised a starfish topped this Christmas tree made of twigs.

The word Tsawwassen means "facing the sea" and is most commonly pronounced with a silent "s". It can be a tongue twister to say today but not so for the Coast Salish people who likely lived in the area for thousands of years prior to modern day development.

Whether helping out in small ways or making a big donation splash, I saw angels everywhere in Tsawwassen the day I spent time with my niece.

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Copyright by Penelope Puddlisms

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Penelope Puddle Goes To The Local Fair

I LOVE VISITING fairs this time of year to soak in the abundance of creative projects by local crafters.

This Saturday was the rare occasion when I set up a table of my own.

Framed artwork and handmade greeting cards depicting the Penelope character were on display.

As luck would have it, it rained heavily all day long keeping many people away. I brought crayons in hopes that kids would enjoy working on the coloring pages I created of Penelope. The idea was to allow children to use their imaginations to draw, in freehand, whatever weather they envisioned surrounding the character.

With their mom's permission I took a picture of these adorable sisters who did a fantastic job giving Penelope twins some pastel hues. Below are drawings by more children. I can see something wonderfully unique in each, can't you?

I put a star and tinsel on the model sidekick umbrella at my table. It somewhat resembles a drawing (see bottom of picture above) my daughter did of Penelope with a decorated umbrella over her head.

We were fortunate to have a very talented and animated barber shop quartet entertaining us with favorite Christmas tunes. They really knew how to liven up a room as rain-drenched visitors trickled in.

Friendly crafters were easy to chat with and helped pass the time. I loved the flowers created by Melisse Kelly from Pretty Little Things.

Her soft petal creations on headbands for babies were tender to the touch and a delight to see.

Nearby Karin Brown from Eden Inspirations had something so delicious on her table I was tempted to take a bite. Although they looked like mouthwatering fudge or candy the artfully created chunks of soap were not a bit edible.

There was much to admire in the jewelry, knit wear and more at the fair. This teddy bear tree (above) utilizing a cylindrical tomato cage and lazy Susan turntable got my attention. A careful look shows no two bears are alike. Each one was hand assembled and decorated by avid crafter Deb Odgren.

The event was at Alexandra Neighbourhood House in Crescent Beach where I often go for walks. There are several structures on the grounds. Although not certain about the age of the building (above) I was assigned, I did learn that the multi functional camp was founded in 1916 when it served as a holiday destination for orphaned children from Vancouver. You can get all the interesting details about its history HERE.

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Copyright by Penelope Puddlisms

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Signs Of Love Along The Way

A WAVE does not ask to be remembered when it recedes into the ocean and melts back into the sea … neither does a grainy bit of beach sand.

Made of similar matter we humans, however, want to leave our mark and it can seem disrespectful when the memory of someone is neglected. It is the magic of our remembering that keeps people from the past alive.

We were here and we want that acknowledged. So we name everything from bridges to airports to roads and buildings after larger than life figures who had monumental impact in our world and perhaps great wealth.

In recent years we found different ways to commemorate the less known that touched our hearts more personally. Most of the parks I visit nowadays have benches and many have plaques.

Currently I believe a basic bench, along with a plaque, requires a donation of three thousand dollars to the City of Surrey. This ensures the bench will be maintained for ten years after which there is a renewal fee.

The plaque to the left reads, "Tis a simple seashell, one out of which the pearl has gone. The shell was nothing, leave it there; the pearl - the soul - was all, is here."

In another visit to Crescent Beach I rested my back on a plaque that says,
"Warm summer sun shine kindly here. Warm summer wind blow softly here."

In words as few as a modern day Tweet, what would you say about yourself or a loved one and where would you etch such a special note?

I wonder if I could craft a message that is as poignant and concise as the one above that says, "The magic of our love will forever dance."

The wording on most benches strives to be uplifting and imaginative. Plaques are gifts placed where all are welcome to sit and contemplate, enhanced by a desire to inspire while keeping the memory of a loved one alive.

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Copyright by Penelope Puddlisms

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Stones Tell Tales At Crescent Beach

SNIPPETS of writings merging the past and present are etched in stones and scattered alongside the pathways at Crescent Beach in South Surrey. I learned there are 33 memory stones marked with thoughts gathered by artist Tina Farmilo.

Thirteen stones are arranged in a circle like pages torn from a diary by a grassy knoll. I see people meditating there sometimes amid the fragmented stories of days gone by. Aboriginal peoples, pioneers and families reach out as if from a dream or a poem. Is not "leaf shaker's moon" a lovely way to convey winter is coming?

Guided by the seasons, most words express respect for the weathered land and the sea that influenced their everyday lives.

I enjoyed reading the notes on stones amid the thousands of timeless, wordless rocks also in the area. These strong silent types laze around all day without having a single thing to say.

As an afterthought, inspired by a comment from Jen of Muddy Boot Dreams, I include a picture of another one of the 33 stones that speaks for itself at Crescent Beach. It says, “ … years of summer children running barefoot free in the dusty roads ‘til dusk and the horn of the night train calls them home.”

I suspect an inward search can unearth similar wonder at any age ... even when trains are less melodic, and too frequent, and dusty roads are paved and cracked. In early childhood each new moment becomes a piece of forever inscribed into memories that shape future perspectives.

This stone, capped by a pair of lost gloves, speaks for a girl who in 1929 was excited about her stay at a local camp. “Oh boy,” she said, “we get two plates of all if we want. My little brother got three helpings and we are in the water all day and there’s bonfires on the beach at night and I like this better than Christmas.”

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Copyright by Penelope Puddlisms