A Bird in Hand

A small bird slammed hard into my big kitchen window yesterday, landing on its back in the flowerpot below, wings splayed, dazed. I went to it and scooped it gently into my hands and sat on the porch steps. Its eyes were open but the left one was squinting. Must’ve hit on that side. Cradling it in my cupped hand I let it rest, feeling the ball of so much heat radiating from its little body into my palm. I felt a kindred. It closed its eyes and began to doze off.

Then I thought of concussions and that sleep can be fatal, so I began to gently move the bird to roust it, opening its eyes again. We sat on the porch for twenty minutes or so then I thought this may take a while, and decided to place the bird in a basket on my patio table. It would be safe, and would have to take the chance  that though it may sleep, it will be all right.

I watched it through the window as I worked inside. It stayed on the cushion I had put in the basket for another hour. I’d go out to check and it would open its eyes, but not move. Another hour passed and I looked, it had moved to perch on the edge of the cushion, but I noticed it was a little wobbly. Not wanting to disturb it I watched closer through a pair of compact binoculars from the kitchen window. Although it was standing, it was still dozing off, dipping its head down.

Eventually I went out and quietly sat in the chair beside the patio table and observed the little bird, still perched, for several minutes. Its eyes were open now but made no attempt to move. I began to think maybe this little bird will never fully recover, that there may be brain damage. Forget how to fly, how to find food.

I went back in to get my sketch book, thought it’s not often one has a live bird this close and still, and sat by the bird again. It was looking more alert now. I began to draw, just getting its initial shape down before it suddenly flickered away off and up into the nearby bushes.

Leaving me fascinated by that little creatures resiliency after a hard blow. A human would not have fared so well I think.  Leaving me wishing the bird well.

I smiled. I should have brought my sketchbook out sooner.

 

Reflection

fullsizeoutput_1757So we soon close another year. It has been one hell of a time, and I wish that meant it had been so great, but this isn’t the case. There feels to be a shredded wake stretching out behind me.

Seeing 2016 close means leaving the year that I was last in the company of my brother, the year I was with him, talking to him, spending time with him, before dying of cancer. He won’t be in this new year.

It has been a year rife with friends passing in early mid-life from cancers, a co-worker who died in her sleep with what was thought to be a simple virus, another young chef co-worker suffering a coronary, spending a month in a coma and now re-learning how to make toast. His memory of his small children nearly wiped out. Another musician friend struck with the same type of attack while working in Edinburgh.

It was a year of watching and being with my mom in the hospital for three months go through some terrible heart wrenching episodes, of moving her out of her own place of independence, then moving her twice more and finally into a full care facility.

Then the seemingly endless string of beloved celebrities that left us.

I seem to recall a feeling of trepidation on the threshold of 2016, something ominous about to happen. It seems my premonitions were correct. As a final salty rub in the wound, the looming political horizon.

I am not a doomsday, pessimistic personality. I don’t look for tragedy or drama. Yet there is no mistake the reality of the last 12 months. These events happened and it was painful. And I have no desire to gloss over. To see the cheery side. It was a dark year.

So I am reflecting, which is what we do at this time, but not without also offering gratitude. And I do. But I can’t yet put into words what for.

For witnessing the strength of the spirit in all who were struck down and in those left standing whose hearts were pierced? For presence? Yes I think so, I think that comes close. Maybe sometimes presence is enough. Mind-full presence.

So I am embracing the hardship of 2016 as a mother tightly holds a fitful angry child until the fight leaves him. Then releasing with unconditional love and hope for a brilliant new sunrise.

 

 

 

Novembers last day, a stroll through the park

There is only a narrow watery gap that flows between my island home and an 800 acre island Provincial Park which come autumn is virtually uninhabited. The campers have all gone, the boaters have secured their vessels in the marinas for another year. The only access is by water and although our little ferry will bring you from town to the Park for a fee, few people take the time. It amazes me that few people even know about it,  local residents of Vancouver Island included.

So this time of year, it’s all mine to wander.

This park is rich in history with the Coast Salish or Snuneymuxw First Nation, being a place where they came to mend the heart when in mourning, collect medicinal herbs and fish herring.

A good life, before us. Before it was ripped apart for coal and stone, and before CPR ships brought floods of elites to dance in the pavilion.

The park has, since a few years ago, been returned to the First Nation, under their rightful stewardship.

It’s mending its heart.

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A deep breath and carry on

Ok it’s been an emotional time, beginning many months back. While attending our mother through her hospital ordeal and her moving etc. over the last year, my brother was quietly attending to a tumor that took possession of his liver. It won on September 8th. He would’ve been 65 in November.

This culminated in some deep introspection with the grief of mourning my second brother to be taken by cancer. My father too in 2003.

It brought up feelings about family, about fulfilling a life, and brought home what it means to say Life Is Too Short. Because it is.

But with this reality there also must come license to do the thing, go to the places, be your best self, blossom, because there is an end here; the one certain thing for all of us. Grief has given me a greater appreciation for my time here and the people who are still here with me.

So head up, eyes clear, heart full, it’s time to get back on the horse  ~

 

 

During this time ~

During this time~ my husband and I crossed a milestone of 25 years of marriage. Our original wedding rings were silver native art works, and over time the engravings of Salmon and Raven had etched away and my husbands ring was so thin it split. So new Native Art bands of gold to carry us another 25 years were quietly exchanged ~

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During this time ~ my brother succumbed to liver cancer and passed away on the morning of September 8th.

Coming of Age

Photo by D.K. Brint
Photo by D.K. Brint

I’m not sure it has anything to do with approaching 60 in a couple of years but it probably does. I’ve become selective. Decisive. Choosy even. Grabbing the damn rudder and steering the frickin’ boat.

This coming from an individual who has always rolled with whatever; sometimes to my benefit and sometimes to my detriment, thankfully nothing that ever landed me in absolute dire circumstances. Thankfully life has been kind. I was the go with the flow person you’ve heard about, the let it be and carry on person. The shy wall flower, who rarely if ever said boo.

I am now more apt to walk away from something or from someone who annoys me, and I will not hesitate to openly voice my thoughts when someone’s view conflicts with mine. I don’t have time for acquiescence nor do I have to endure buffoons. I’ll tackle it all -politics, sex, religion or lawn care, what have you, you’ll hear my perspective. In fact there in lies an empowering statement: I DON’T HAVE TO.

Say it out loud-  Sooo liberating. This proclamation can be shortened to simply NO! Toddlers are on to something. I’ve come full circle.

I’m the boss of me. I know me better and acknowledge and respect my tolerances, shortcomings, the time I invest, and to what I prefer to turn my attention and to whom.

It’s clearly understanding my wants and needs, and if maturing can give me anything other than skin damage, a slowing metabolism, hair in unwanted places and the torment of hindsight it should give me that.

Who’s the captain now, eh?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whats in a Picture?

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A thousand words. His story is in the central placement of the cracked hearth, the brick and mortar, the rectangle opening on the one side of the hearth, the space between the hearths’ lamps, the blue sphere above, the ladder against the wall, the small yellow halo near his forehead, the free-form black paint strokes in the painting before him, the broom handle, the light filled open door, the placement of his face.

I was taking some Insurance pictures of the little house my  good friend here is renovating to sell, and what surprised me later when I looked at this photo was an immediate realization that the array of random objects convey so much about this man. That it’s rife with symbology. Now, I understand that a home will of course contain items that represent the individual who abides within, and because I know his story well from a 20 year friendship, in this image it’s not only the objects but also their placement within the framing that jumped out at me.

He  stays in this house only occasionally once or twice for short periods in a given year when he is not traveling elsewhere – which is most of the time- so it is sparse, containing just the basics.

 

Being There

Sunset over Vancouver Isalnd 2016 D.K Brint
Sunset over Vancouver Isalnd 2016 D.K Brint

If you’re not up on the current stream of my life a large part of it is involved in the care for my 90-year-old mother who presently is in the hospital because of strong chest pains, blood pressure and pulse through the roof. Five days in now and those vitals have leveled out, so good.

10 years ago I never would have thought that caring for an elderly parent would be so all-consuming. 5 years ago I got a clearer picture.

Always thinking of her well-being, is she depressed and sad, does she seem more confused, the ongoing aches and pains and how to alleviate them, finding a suitable residence, the adjustment and settling (or not) in, will she ever feel comfortable in her new place, is she sleeping through the night and if not is she safe, taking care of her finances and ensuring she can live where we have moved her, how are the nursing staff doing with her, is everything getting done, getting to appointments with the doctor, making sure she is getting enough physical exercise, it goes on.

And because I have a tremendously involved sister it is a shared responsibility which is a good thing.

There is little room it seems for anything else.  My husband is working hard too and soon will be away for work for a period of time, and making space for us has been a struggle at times. He has been so supportive and understanding and accompanies me when he can when I do go to mom’s; he enjoys her and loves to see her, but also confesses that if he wants to spend time with me he needs to come along.

I am not complaining, I need to write it out. And it’s my life right now. I do try to fit in some quiet personal time where I can find it – I recognize better now when I’m reaching saturation point, and take steps to defuse.

And I know this sounds corny and high horse but I wouldn’t change a thing.

 

 

The Need to Vacate the Premises

A day in the sun

On Saturday my sister, her husband and I planned to go kayaking, they have their own and I would rent one, so Saturday morning I called the outlet only to be answered with a recorded message that they are closed for the season.

-C’mon, it’s April already! Didn’t expect that.

I was really looking forward to this, I needed this! A mini adventure, a break from my modus operandi but now that activity dashed I found myself at home with the choice of how I should spend my day, which ironically left me with indecision.

I had been ready for a great day of paddling. It was like being ready to pop a piece of white chocolate in your mouth but it’s white cheddar, tasty yes, but startling to your taste buds. So I’m eating white cheddar.

I wanted to be outside in this gorgeous sunny day, but thought I should maybe spend time at home while I have the chance since I’ve been in constant motion lately, so ok I can immerse myself into my current read in the back yard, find a patch of sun in my predominately shady yard and tuck in. Good.

Not good. My next door neighbor has fired up his chainsaw. So back in. Pace around a bit, thinking.

Hmmm, I guess I could wash the windows, or wash the pollen off the deck or work in the yard, but I really didn’t want to do anything like work today – wait, he’s stopped- alright, step outside- uh, nope, on again. This in an’ out went on a few more times until I decided leaving was the more sane alternative. My husband took the car to work yes, but I had the boat and fortunate to have a big provincial park, which is also an island, right next to me -this is where I would find my peaceful escape.

And I did. I got lots of sunshine and luscious uninterrupted reading time with a tremendous view of the water. To get out and away was just what was needed. Most times it’s the only way to ensure that getting sucked into doing obligatory tasks doesn’t overtake ones need for R&R.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t fence me in

I have a grinding urge to run away.  Unhitch, unload, unlatch – and run. I crave to dissolve, disengage, dismiss, and dismantle. Shake it all lose.

And where would I want to carry this out? Oddly, I suppose, it’s not Mexico or the coast of Croatia, or the Santiago de Compostela – well actually that last one is definitely a strong desire of mine, but no right now the place is Val Marie, Saskatchewan. More accurately, the Grasslands. Humble, unassuming, and utterly breathtaking to me.

Photo courtesy of the internet
Glacial erratics on land within the proposed boundary of Grasslands National Park (West Block), Saskatchewan, Canada

Photo courtesy of internet

5 years ago, stopping in for a day on one of our drives to Ontario, this place immediately  wheedled its way under my skin. And I return to it in my heart often.

I suppose it must be the limitless sky, somehow perhaps symbolic of freedom, openness, expansion. Feeling as I am at the moment, perhaps all the things I perceive are missing currently in my day to day.

This is where I would wish to set up camp for an entire summer. All unnecessary accouterments stripped away. Just me and that big ‘ol sky all day and a blue-black dome filled with stars all night.

Okay, Bob can come too.

 

 

 

Fallen Angel

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I looked out the window to my backyard and noticed my Garden Angel had become liberated from the fence she hung upon.

To hell with it, she might have said, I just have to smell that lavender bush.

I totally empathize.

It Takes a Village

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Because I live on a rock that I share with about 300 others, you get to know its people. Many I’ve known for over 20 years, others more recent. For me this is the longest duration in one community in my entire life – in California we moved several times: Garden Grove, Tustin, Santa Ana, Huntington Beach, and this continued when we relocated to Vancouver Island.

Landing here on this tiny Gulf Island I remember saying to my new husband (that would be Bob) that I have no intention of leaving. Of course this was after experiencing the grunting work of loading cars and boats with my things and barging across the waters to off load, then reload onto a truck to the final destination of Bobs house. Then off load. I ain’t doing that again, I think is what I mumbled under my breath. Little did it sink in then that this in fact would be a constant way of life. Hauling things. But I’m good with it now.

So this is home and I am surrounded by people who know me. They know my children. Our story.

And I know some of theirs, when someone gets married, when there is a new baby, when someone falls on hard luck, the fundraiser events. But because I’ve been working so much out of the home for many years these events have been more on the periphery of my scope. Acknowledgement, appreciation, yes – but also a little taken for granted.

Until now. Living in this community the more I am awakened to the profundity of it, the depths it reaches into what it means to know your neighbour, to be a part of this tiny part of humanity.

She was a gardener, taking care of others’ plants and flowers, she and her partner working together on landscaping jobs for about 15 years here and she passed away. She was in her 50’s and died of Lung Cancer a few days ago. And when I mentioned this one evening to a friend how many neighbours have passed my friend said, It’s our age. She said, there were three people in my condo on my floor that had died within a few years of each other.

I thought about what she said, but it wasn’t the same.

It was then that I realized what it is I am a part of here.  At that moment I came to fully understand the connectedness that resides here, what it means to be a supportive community, to BE IN a community. I realized how far on the sidelines I have dwelled.

It was an epiphany.

Because when I see Anne I can remember her husband, and see Liz and remember her husband, and see Pat and remember her husband, and see Veronica and remember her husband,  and see Keith and remember his wife, and see Shannon and remember her daughter, and when I see Dan I can remember his partner. And because I can see my neighbours navigating catastrophic life changes and doing the wrenching work of carrying on, of salving wounds. Of finding a new normal everyday.

I have newfound respect and even a reverence that wasn’t so present before as a resident here. Of what Home means, and Connection.

 

 

 

 

Washing up

 My kitchen sink

When we renovated the kitchen several years back we decided not to install a dishwasher thinking there is just the two of us, how many dirty dishes could there be? Not well thought out when one of us is a chef. I can utilize A LOT of pots and pans and cutlery when putting a meal together, but in my defense, I am a clean cook, meaning I clean as I go so I keep a handle on the fall out.

And although I find myself periodically pining for a dishwasher I do find it relaxing washing by hand. Sometimes. When I was younger living at home this was when I sang – over a hot soapy  sink, alone in the kitchen with good acoustics. Other times it seems as though my hands are constantly in the sink.

My hands, when I look at them I think of a commercial when I was a kid. It promoted a particular dish soap claiming you wouldn’t be able to tell who was the daughter and who was the mother by just looking at their hands. If my hands today were put up they would have no trouble guessing who was the mother; I’d win, hands down. I never wear gloves, my hands are in and out of water constantly when in the kitchen,  I should take out stock shares in Aveeno moisturizer.

But it’s all good; Bob washes up after dinner often, or in the morning before I get up – and to be honest washing up by hand is a meditative act. Hot water, fragrant soft bubbles and the slow action of rubbing a dishcloth around and around a plate gives you time to think – or sing.

 

 

 

Days gone by

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To briefly catch up, I have been busy with my weekly Spanish class which has proven to be a fun and supportive gathering of neighbours as we learn to grasp the language through role play and songs, and I’ve been sitting in on her small intermediate class held later on the same day which helps me in listening comprehension, lots of laughs too- Wednesdays are mi dia de Espanol! Last class is tomorrow.

I was called back to work for two weeks (I opted to remain on the casual list) where it was good to be around my co-workers again, although my reason for being there was on a tragic note, filling in for a good friend and colleague who had lost her 21 year old nephew by suicide. He was like a son to her. Then attending the celebration of life, so many came in support, heart wrenching.

I cleaned out the shed (that was a job, take my word) and on a gorgeous crisp/clear Saturday did a backyard clean up and burn- I love a good bonfire. Primal.

The studio space I am planning is beginning to take form and look forward to start working in the new year.

I’ve also been doing some Holiday baking, something I haven’t had much time for over the last few years, and my moms 90th is next weekend so there is the organizing taking place at the moment. And as for my mom, my visits are steady throughout the week taking her out for walks on the boardwalk on the beach when the weather suits, for appointments,  just being with her.

The featured image at the top of my post is my Garden Angel, I felt she encompasses this post in a way; the approaching Soltice, the grace I feel she expresses when I think of my friends nephew, and my mom’s common response of “Bless your heart” to us or anyway who does a kindness for her.

Found her many years ago in a second hand store and paid $7.00. She has been watching over my growing things ever since.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Walk in the Park

Sharing some Tree Study photos I took on the weekend in a large Provincial Park that is also on an Island, right next to my Island. How lucky am I?

 

Lattice
Lattice

 

Wood Watcher
Wood Watcher

 

A Walk in the Park
Exposed

 

 

Opening
Opening

 

 

Cleave

 

 

Dk Brint
Arbutus Eye

 

 

DK Brint
Cleft

 

Rorschach Test

 Everything we do and say during our lives is our public autobiography.

A proclamation to all that reveals our inner selves even though we may not intend it. Even if we think we are hiding our true selves.  All the choices we make say something about who we are.  Doesn’t matter the object,  the color,  the clothes,  our choice of words,  the music we listen to.  We reveal ourselves in all things.  Even the stories we fabricate speaks volumes about who we are;  even the lies we tell ourselves. There are no falsehoods, or illusions, everything is true.

What do you see when you look at someone,  when you listen to them? How do you respond or react to another and  what does that say about you? How do you interpret them? Responding to another persons behavior is a deep lesson to the one responding.  We can discover so much about ourselves just by paying attention to how we respond or react to another.  Opportunities are everywhere for self awareness,  with every encounter.

Night Owl

I think I may be one. Something about the velvet cloak of the night that stirs and wakens the reflective, or creative state. Tonight is such a night or could be if only I could stay up late, but tomorrow is work. It’s 9:50 p.m. in Vancouver and the wind is blowing across the water causing large starry openings in the night sky, and pushes against my little vinyl cabin. And I love the wind. I think it may make me restless, want to run along beside, want to hitch on and be taken. And the music on CBC is so good tonight, It’s always good late. So many enticements to refrain from sleep~~

Winter Roost

I have found a home away from home for the next four months. It’s perfectly suited to me; sitting so near the ocean, so great when the weather turns turbulent. So near to where I need to be, five minutes from my mother’s house.

Everything is temporary.

I will return to my little island each weekend, happily, to be in my own home, cooking good food, sitting by the fireplace with my husband, walking to visit friends. Recharging.

Then back. Two refuges.

Solitude

 

Exquisite solitude of a foggy beach front. Alone in these moments where the plunge into deep self reflection comes easily. Insights are teased out of the congestion of a run ragged life. These moments when we meet ourselves again and remember who we are, and the dreams we once dreamed.10475420_10152769632080733_7090254452178634763_o

 

And then there is the solitude from the perspective of a seagull while digesting a large starfish. Very lonely time for him. Cant fly, paddle in the water, nor interact with his cohorts. Must sit alone. Digesting.

 

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