January 19, 2012

web2012fivebeauties edited-1

Today I spent a lovely day with four friends; two old friends and two new friends.  One of these friends,, Liz ,has been a friend for thirty seven years.  Janice has been a friend for twenty-five years.
Somehow these two also became friends.  They had a little craft group with two of their other friends, Susan and Nancy and lucky for me I have been welcomed into this group and now I have two new friends as well.


Today we got together at my house for crafts.  I think we did more laughing and eating than anything.  I took a photo on the timer of the five of us as old apple dolls and then a photo
of us in our glory!  We're going to take another photo in fifteen years and see if we truly look like old apple dolls!
I'm a new felter and I love it.  You just poke bits of wool with a felting needle and voila "a creation"
Today as we talked and knitted and felted, I thought how important all of my friendships are.  I am so blessed.  I still have my oldest friend, Cathie Smith.  Cathy and I met when I was three.  


January 10, 2012


This morning, outside the shower door, I found a brownie badge.  Immediately the fifty years disappeared.  I was a pixie; “Helping others when in fixies”.  All of our songs and promises came flooding back.  “We are known as Little People; Aims as high as any Steeple.” “ We are known as the Elves; Helping others not ourselves.”  “I promise to do my best, to do my duty to God, my Queen and my country and to help other people every day, especially those at home.”

On Fridays, the year I was eight, I proudly headed off to school wearing my glorious Brownie uniform.  My tam was rolled perfectly on my shoulder, my tie had it’s golden brownie pin on it and my  belt with it’s shiny brownie buckle had a tiny dangly pencil and a leather pouch containing a dime which was my fairy gold.  After school, we, Brownies, would head for the Kindergarten Room.  I loved everything about that room even though my Miss Dunbar was no longer there.  I loved the six blue wooden milk bottles that fit in a blue wooden milk bottle container, the minature tables and chairs and the rythymn instruments, tamboreens, triangles, bells  and  sticks.  I even loved the short white toilets in their two separate washrooms.  Our Kindergarten Room had a Brownie cupboard just for us.  In it we stored our giant toad stool and the grass it sat upon as well as the chest for the fairy gold.  We’d drag everything out and set it up and then form the lines of our sixes; waiting for our turn to dance and sing around the toad stool.  When I was eight, I longed to be as smart, as tall, as good as our sixer who headed the Pixie Six

In the spring, we went door to door taking orders for our brownie cookies.  I knew every multiple of fourty cents.  Wearing my uniform, I was thrilled to knock on doors and to look inside all of the houses on our street.  The first year I sold cookies, an older brownie sold the most cookies and she won a pink plastic comb, brush and mirror.  Once I knew it was a competition, I was determined to win the next year.  The next year, I sold cookies everywhere, not just on our street.  My mother bought a year’s supply of cookies. I won for best seller but my prize of a book about Lord Baden Powell was definitely a disappointment.

After my first year in Brownie’s as a Tweenie, I became a full fledged Brownie and I could start working on badges.  I was the oldest in my family, adored and perfect in the eyes of my parents and grandparents and so I went to my first badge testing with confidence.  My Dad had taught me how to light wooden matches and make a small fire in our driveway in the winter.  My Mom had taught me how to wash and peel and cook carrots.  At the exam,   I put my perfectly chopped carrots on to boil and then I went to do my fire badge.  My examiner gave me a book of paper matches and we were inside!  Try as I might, I couldn’t hold the end of a paper match and get it to light.  When I returned to my carrots, they were black and the room was filled with smoke.  I had managed to light a fire but not the right one.  I remember this day as my first failure in life.

When I was eleven, with my family proudly watching, I flew up to Girl Guides.  On Monday nights, I wore my blue uniform, I learned semifor,  never failed any more badges and in the summers I survived Guide Camp.  Two years later, my old Brown Owl, Mrs. Edwards, asked me if I’d like to become a Packy Owl and help her lead the Brownies.  I was thrilled to wear my blue uniform to school on Fridays and after school to head to the Kindergarten Room with all the little Brownies. Just before Christmas, Mrs. Edwards, called  my  home and said that she was ill and could I handle the Brownies on my own.  “Of course” I said.  I knew all the dances, songs and chants,  I was totally reliable and I was still the world’s best Brownie in my heart.  Our Brownie pack carried on.  I remember Mrs Edwards as being dour and square and having heavy fierce eyebrows.  If anything we had more fun without her.

Late the next spring, we had a surprise visit from the Commissioner.  “Where is your Brown Owl?”  she commanded.  “She is ill.”  I replied.

“Where is your Tawny Owl?  She demanded.  “We don’t have one.” I signed.  And just like that, with no thankyou for the splendid job I’d done all year, with no inspecition of my perfect happy little dancing Brownies, we were shut down until they could get a “real” leader.

My days of being a follower, or helping others, or wearing a uniform were ending.  The seeds of leadership, independent creative thinking and expressing opinions “but loudly” had been sown.

September 1, 2011

newfoundland1 edited-1-1

Newfoundland; “The Rock”

Word picture by Joy Snihur Wyatt Laking

Vast rolling hills of gray granite;
Pitted and etched.
A million years of standing
Naked and tall.
Now slightly worn by ferns and flies,
Wind and water.

In some of the hollows,
Puzzle-shaped ponds mirror
The cerulean sky.
Along their edges,
Ragged blankets of olive, ochre and sienna
Keep a tenacious toe hold.
Pitcher plants, orchids, asters
Are laced with vines of
Cranberry, bake apple, marsh berry.
Only the rock that is shear and vertical,
Wind-swept or ocean-washed,
Resists comfort and remains barren.

In the coves and valleys,
Where the rock meets the Atlantic,
Clusters of brightly painted houses
Sit solidly.
They nestle together cheek by jowl.
Triangular windbreaks on doors,
Small salt-sprayed windows,
And ample chimneys
Foretell the weather.

The clotheslines flap with laundry or cod flakes.
Winding paths with rickety handrails,
And curving roads over and around rock,
Connect the houses down to the fish sheds.
The wharfs, cantilevered out over the ocean,
Are balanced precariously on thin posts.
Along side,
Skiffs and fishing boats rock and reflect.