“ . . . and he was never seen again.” “Never?” My six-year-old was bug-eyed. My 12-year-old scoffed. “Mom, there’s no such thing as boogie men.” “No? Now go to bed, I’ll put the campfire out.” Flames cast flickering shadows through the trees. Had something moved? I glanced about as the embers died. I crawled into my sleeping bag, bone-tired. Rustle. I sat bolt upright. What was that? Silence. Just my imagination. Snap! No, there was something outside! I held my breath. Silence. I breathed. Rustle! Snap! Something hurled itself against my tent. I screamed. My twelve-year-old laughed. “Boogie man got ya!”
They rehearsed every step with her till she knew them by heart.
Shortly after lunch, she strolled into the market and browsed the stalls. At exactly 2:23, she approached the designated vendor in the designated stall selling the specified doll. They haggled over the price – it had been agreed upon even before The Plan was activated, but bartering was essential for its success. Negotiations concluded, she handed over the money and took the doll.
She sauntered through the market, examining other items. She heard a commotion behind her, tromping footsteps, things knocked aside and broken, then angry voices shouting her name. Why were they calling her? How did they know her name? She turned to look. A bullet ricocheted off the pavement, too close for comfort. This was not part of The Plan!
Her pulse quickened. She searched for a place to hide, but the stalls were jammed together with no space between. She panicked and began to run. Five soldiers dressed in black appeared from between the stalls, pointing their high-powered assault rifles at her. “Stop!” they yelled. She was trapped. She clutched the doll to her chest and screamed.
And sat bolt upright in bed, clutching the blankets. Her heart pounded, her breath came in great gasping gulps of terror. It’s okay, it was just a dream, calm down, breathe, she told herself.
But what was she holding? It didn’t feel like blankets. She reached over and turned on the light.
This painting was done in response to an intriguing short story about a woman waking up from an adventurous, but frightening dream. It reminded me that the things that cause us anxieties, can often be remedied by showing ourselves the same kindness that we would show a small child, frightened by a nightmare. That inner child, who still retains his/her innocence, creativity and wonder toward life, sometimes needs a hug and some comforting words … “It’s Okay, it was just a dream, calm down, breathe.”
[From Voice and Vision 2020: my response piece to Verone’s painting]
She was the most popular girl in high school – beautiful, witty, talented.
I was the class nerd – brilliant at math and sciences, lousy at sports and small talk.
Somehow I found the courage to ask her to the graduation dance. I couldn’t believe my ears when she said, “Yes.”
The big night, I fidgeted in her parents’ living room, only half-listening to her father’s lecture. I gasped when she swept into the room, resplendent in red. God, she was beautiful!
After the dance, she giggled and grabbed my hand. “Let’s go dance in the park.”
We danced in the bandstand, then walked among the blossom-laden trees and talked about our futures till the stars dimmed.
That fall, I went to MIT and began my career as a theoretical physicist. We lost touch.
Thirty-some years later, I returned home for my parent’s 60th wedding anniversary. The hall was crowded with people I hadn’t seen in years. I almost dropped my drink when she walked in. Age had only made her more beautiful. Her face lit up when she saw me. “Do you still dance?” she asked.
My heart skipped a beat. She remembered!
Before we could talk further, I was whirled away to give the toast to my parents. An hour later, I saw her leaving. I ran after her. “Stop! Wait!”
She turned, her eyebrow cocked. “Yes?”
“Um, um.” I was again the tongue-tied teenage nerd. “Let’s go dance in the park,” I blurted.
This [painting] was inspired by a memory. When I met my husband at 16, our first dates were bike rides to Wascana Park, in Regina, Sask. This is a gorgeous park that has lots of paths winding around the lake and through the mature trees, well-groomed lawns and flower beds, and Canada geese. It also boasts a beautiful white bandstand/pavilion, which is set in this lush urban forest. I recall that pavilion being the perfect rest stop since it was halfway around the lake. I’m sure ours was not the only first date at the pavilion that blossomed into lifelong love. Lovely memories.
[NOTE: The Bert Church Theatre interviewed Verone and me about our joint contribution to Voice and Vision 2020. You can listen to it here.
We have a Ure pear tree in our front yard. It’s a hardy fruit tree that will survive anything northern prairie weather blows its way. Every spring, it breaks into glorious bloom. Every autumn, it is covered with pears.
That fall off the tree.
Ure pears are small – slightly larger than a golf ball – and hard as rock. We gather them off the ground as they fall (Plop!) and store them in our basement until they ripen. Pear aroma permeates the entire house, from the bottom-most basement to the upper-most bedroom.
And they keep on falling.
Heaven help you if one lands on you while you are bent over, picking them up off the ground. (Bonk! Ow!) They’re hard as rocks, remember?
The tree continues to shed. (Plop! Plop! Plop!) The wind “helps.” The wind always blows in Alberta and even more so in autumn.
We woke up one morning to the yard covered with fallen pears. We filled a 5-gallon pail, a 2-gallon pail (Plop!), a many-gallon aluminum pot once used to feed cattle, a box (Plop! Plop!) and a medium-sized garbage container.
The pears continued to fall.
We make pear juice. It’s quite simple. Wash and quarter pears, fill the largest container you have, cover with boiling water, cover and let stand for 24 hours. Next day, decant the juice into a pot, add sugar, boil for 5 minutes, put in sealers and process for 10 minutes.
Repeat. And again. Ad nauseum.
But why, you ask, don’t you can them? Or make jam? Or other preserves?
They are small, remember? By the time you peel and core them, you are left with pear slivers. It takes a lot of pear slivers to make jam.
I’ve done it. Every five years or so, I get a whim to make something other than juice. By the time I’m finished, I remember why it’s been five years or so since the last time I did that.
And still they keep on falling. (Plop!)
We now have 51 quarts (and one pint) of juice, plus four pints of pear compote from this year’s bounty. We’ve decided, that’s IT! The rest are going into the compost bin.