Vertigo

I am not afraid of heights, except for that unsettled feeling I have on a bridge when I look down and wonder what it would be like to jump.

I am not that person who gets lost or turned around and can’t find their way out, although there are times I wonder why I am here.

I feel painful pressure in my ear, the kind associated with air flight, except I am firmly attached to the ground.

I stand up too fast and fall down, stand up, fall down again; I stay down, just for a while, so I can marvel at the spinning lights.

I remember when I knew the cause of this sensation; too many rides on the carousel, too many drinks at the party.

I refuse to succumb to the fear that every headache is caused by an undiagnosed brain tumour, but the germ of the idea, like a tumour still grows.

I feel old, and suffer the vertigo of age, unbalanced just a little by the journey to the tipping point between life and death.

Apple Horseradish Jelly

I went to my Friday morning Free Fall Writing session wondering how to incorporate Apple Horseradish Jelly in my writing today, and the first writing prompt (Eating Out/Dining in) was like a gift – as was the Apple Horseradish Jelly. 

A word to the wise; if someone brags about having made Apple Horseradish Jelly, don’t say, “cool, that sounds interesting,” or “delicious,” or anything that sounds like you are vaguely interested in having some to take home. 

One of my gardening clients handed me 2 (two!) jars of the stuff. One for me, and one to give away.  I decided I actually had two jars to give away because, honestly, this gift was like the summertime equivalent of getting Grandma’s Christmas Fruitcake. You know the one, it gets passed along through various holidaygatherings and makes the rounds of the whole family before finding its final resting place as a doorstop. There is some kind of unspoken edict against just throwing away homemade goodies.

Apple Horseradish Jelly

Apple Horseradish Jelly

I pawned off one of the jars of jelly to my boss, (who did not thank me for it) because she was the one who sent me to the job site and I thought she deserved to share the burden. So, what to do with the other jar?  It is not in a pretty or petite little decorative jar, ready for re-gifting, it’s in a big old mason jar with a ragged white sticky label. “Apple Horseradish Jelly.” I think it’s big enough to use as a doorstop, but I already have the fruitcake. 

I don’t dare open the jar either, because doing so will limit my options. You will notice that I am not considering ‘eating it’ as an option. I have flashbacks to the dozens of jars of Crab Apple Jelly sitting on shelves in the cold room of my childhood home; of glistening, translucent, reddish pink blobs on toast and pancakes and cereal – just to get rid of last year’s supply before a new batch was in the works. It wasn’t even our crab apple tree!!

As for horseradish, I never acquired a taste for that either, and somehow, the combination of apple and horseradish does not add to the culinary appeal or the appearance of either. The jar looks like it is filled with a dark red (almost burgundy), cloudy goo.  It might be the most delicious thing in the world, but I’m not going to be the guinea pig.

Apple Horseradish Jelly. Do you want it? Take it, because I’m eating out!

~Minkee Robinson

When Everything Stops

There are those moments in life when everything stops. Occasions when a community, a city, even a country, come to a halt and we all turn to look at that one thing that stops us in our tracks. We are spectators to disaster and we hold our collective breath as catastrophic events drag our attention away from the scattered activities of our busy lives and focus it on one thing for some period of time. Minutes, hours, a day. 

June 21, 2013 was just such a day in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. On the calendar it marked the first day of summer, but it did not feel like summer. It was cool and wet, and record rains falls combined with spring run-off from the mountains to the west to push every river in the region up to, and above the limits of their banks. Not just Calgary was affected, many areas to the north, west and south also declared local states of emergency. 

Emergency alerts, non-stop news coverage, evacuations and dramatic rescues would contradict my premise that life came to a standstill. Obviously not everyone and everything stopped. Countless people worked harder than ever. First responders, civic employees and aid agency volunteers began putting in long shifts with no end in sight until the rain let up and the water receded.  

But above the flood plain, many of us were stopped in our tracks. No school, no work, stay home, keep safe, don’t put any extra strain on the city’s infrastructure, just hunker down and watch. And for a day we did just that. 

This morning when the sun came up and we finally exhaled the breath we did not realize we were holding. The rains have stopped and the waters are receding. Now we can inhale and count our blessings even as the long haul job of getting things back to normal begins.

Few Calgary residents are completely unaffected by the disaster. Most of us know someone directly impacted by this flood, someone who will need our help as the water clears away. The job of cleaning up the mess will call many people to action soon enough, but for that one day it really did feel like everything stopped.

Worm Compost Bin Bonus

 
Worms,
Red Wigglers,
Eat my garbage,
During the long winter.
 

Peels,
Apple cores,
Wilted brown lettuce,
Goes into the Vermiposter
 

Soil,
Amended by
Rich worm castings,
Will rejuvenate house plants.
 

What
Strange thing
Is this growing,
Beside my sturdy Bougainvillea?
 

Seeds,
From tomatoes,
Are not composted,
But nourished to grow.
 

Fruit,
that grows
supported and tall,
My worm bin bonus.
 

Writing by the River

We sit by the Elbow River just west of Calgary city limits. The sound of the river is constant as water tumbles over rocks, creating a continuous murmur that ebbs and flows with the sigh of wind through the black poplars across the river.

Our backs are to the sun, our eyes and ears toward the water rushing past in its headlong haste to reach the reservoir. Small waves lap at our feet where we’ve set up our camp chairs on the rocky bank. Here the water runs clear over rocks that are rubbed smooth and laid out like a mosaic in patterns of small and large, flat and round, grey and beige. Out beyond the shoal of gravel the water is dark brown and green where it gets deep. A log lies below the surface, visible only as a shadow.

Sunlight glints off ripples on the surface. Further out there are waves and eddies. The greatest agitation occurs near the far shore where a steep bank is cut by the river, exposing soil and roots, green right up to the edge. The next time the water rises, it will carve away more of the bank, but for now the Elbow  River is well contained within its channel.

Birds do not chirp out here. They call. They whistle. They swoop and dart after insects we cannot see. Flies and long legged things skip over the rocks at our feet. A pleasant breeze keeps the mosquitoes and heat stroke at bay.

There is no shade except that which we have brought with us—hat, towel and a small patch beside our chairs where the cooler sits. We can spend an afternoon here like this; me with my notebooks and reading material, my husband with his fishing equipment. He’s a ‘metal chucker’ which means that he fishes from shore with a rod and reel, instead of fly fishing while wearing hip waders and standing in thigh high water.

Catch and release. The point is to never bring anything home, not even a photo, as proof of this man versus fish contest. A tiny Brook trout flips itself off the barb-less  hook close to shore. Caught and then uncaught, free to swim and feed, and maybe to be caught again.

We sit near each other. I’m not too close to interfere with his casting and he seldom asks me what I’m writing. I guess that is what 26 years of marriage will allow us, the comfort to be here together and experience the Zen of the River without having to analyze it.

Groundhog??

Bigger than a gopher, smaller than a beaver, how was it that the groundhog got his own day? Did he have a better agent? Did he use his connections to cut through the bureaucracy, to get some extra press, to network, to expand his public profile, to ride the coat tails of the American Eagle?

Does he get residuals from that movie starring Bill Murray? Does he share them with his friend Chuck? Poor Woodchuck, who seems to do all that work chucking wood while Groundhog merely has to get up early one day a year. Where is the fairness in that?

Just some questions to ponder this Groundhog Day.

~Minkee

Art Point Tree Carvings

Art Point: Tree Carving

Art Point: Tree Carving

Carving in stone or wood is a special art, a trust that the carver will not impose their will upon the substrate of nature, but rather reveal what is there. Did this tree scream as it died, as its once majestic height and girth grew frail and failed to take up nutrients? Or did it sigh a long exhalation of relief that its struggle was coming to an end?

Did it embrace that time when the fight against the elements of wind and weather, pests and pathogens, or the animals that chewed and gnawed at its very being came to an end? It transitioned to this new place and form–a hollow home for fauna, its molecules have become the sustenance for new flora, the sloughing off of bark has revealed its heart and soul.

How long did it wait for the artist? That fleeting being whose life span is just a blip on the cosmic timeline, to reveal its pain, its new majesty, and place it here for others to wonder about this struggle– of tree, of man, of art and of life.   ~Minkee Robinson

Art Point: Tree Carving

Art Point: Tree Carving

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