Friday, 2 April 2021

eye lashes

About 40 years ago, while living in Duncan, I took part in a workshop. My recollection is incomplete and there is only one part of it that has stayed with me all these years. 

I remember being in a circle of women, with another circle formed behind me. We were asked to say what we loved most about our body.

I froze.

I did a mental scan of my imperfect physical self, and my anxiety increased.  When my turn came to share, I answered with "my eye lashes".  Even to me it sounded bizarre.

In the circle behind me, I heard a friend say that she loved her entire body, so couldn't answer with only one area of herself. While I saw her as vivacious and fun, I also saw her as overweight.

Looking at photographs of myself, taken at that time, I see a petite woman with a beautiful smile and a fit body. I see now that I would have been considered pretty, although I don't remember ever being told that.

Three weeks ago as I stood in the bathroom brushing my hair, someone I barely recognized was reflected back to me from the mirror.

Her eyes had deep circles beneath them.  Her eyebrows had been micro-bladed to fill in their sparse growth. Her nose had a wee depression at its tip where a biopsy had been carved out. And, for the first time, I didn't apply mascara as my eye lashes were no longer full and long.

How cruel is that!?

I have become used to people showing surprise when I tell them  my age, and being told I look way younger than chronology indicates. I now doubt this discrepancy. I believe I finally have caught up with my age.

Maybe the pandemic has played a part in this.  

Isolation, the cancellation of social events like the ballet, wearing the same old clothes every day and constantly hearing and reading about death. For the first time I see very clearly all the things we own and knowing that my daughters have no room or desire to be left these things when I die.

These thoughts make me feel very old, as if I am already planning for my death. Covid-19 prohibits me from seeing my wonderful grandkids and my dear daughters. Changes are happening in their lives that I can't witness and share. 

Zoom calls are not hugs. The phone doesn't show my smile. I know it's the best we can do now, but the circles beneath my eyes are only getting more pronounced and my body's aches  more numerous.

This is my reality. The question is what can I do that is meaningful now ?

A few months ago I took a felt-tipped pen and wrote "My job is to help people" 

The words wrote themselves. I have begun acting on this in concrete ways and I will seek out other ways to help.  Really, that's all we can do. 

Be kind and be generous with words and with time and, if possible, financially. 

I don't need eyelashes to do this.

    selling succulents

cooking for an outreach program

Sunday, 14 March 2021


While I'm still physically healthy during this time of near isolation,  the health of my creative self is in crisis mode. 

My camera sits on its designated shelf in the den, the iso set to ISO 800 so I can photograph the pizza hot out of the oven, or the special Chilean cake I love as it sits on a rack to cool.

My camera doesn't accompany me when I walk or when I drive.

And even if I take a wonderful photograph, I'm not able to print it as my "print-partner" is strictly following COVID guidelines and I'm unable to come to her house.

So, I've turned to something I have done for much of my adult lifetime--  cutting words and letters from old magazines. Almost 30 years ago I decoupaged tins and small boxes and even a teapot and a pair of wee shoes. 

I'm still using a small notebook I made, with the cover decorated with paper images gleaned from magazines. 

And, how absolutely amazing that 25 years ago I chose an image with the words 

In the collages I have created over many years, I often chose words from other languages, primarily Hebrew and Chinese. These were words as art and decoration, cut in such a way that the meaning was obscured. Words collected in a special bowl in the living room, words that I might use as titles for my paintings and later on, that might become show titles when I exhibited my photographs. 

So, I have turned to these again.

At first I composed small poems, stringing together words and phrases that I had cut and laid out in the dining room.  These weren't glued down and I photographed them while standing on the table.

Soon these poems changed, becoming prose and more personal and becoming images I wanted to keep.

Out came the scissors! Out came the glue sticks! Out came the me captured on paper!


Saturday, 23 January 2021


I've been mulling thoughts about memory and meaning for several weeks.

The question I have been asking myself is would our present lives have the same meaning if we had no memory of our past. 

If I believe that I am all that I have experienced, my place and circumstance of birth, my family and their histories, my gender, health and education, are these things imprinted deep into my unconscious? 

The people I have met and the multitude of things I have thought and done, are these inscribed on a plaque hidden somewhere in the depth of my being? 

Do I need to consciously remember them or does that matter? 

"We dwell on intrusive memories of the past or fret about what may or may not happen in the future," says Buddhist scholar B. Alan Wallace. And then Mark Twain's more direct statement makes me smile in recognition: "I have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened."

I recently saw a poignant video of a former ballerina suffering with Alzheimer's, as Swan Lake music reawakened  her memories of being on stage.  In the video, Gonzalez Saldana seems to feel the music as she sways and moves in her wheelchair. As the music reaches the crescendo, so do her movements. 

Besides being touched by this little-known dancer's grace, I saw, once again, how we allow so little time to practice stillness. We are always doing. Gonzalez Saldana, living with this disease, could feel the music deep in her soul with no clutter in its pathway. 

I fear dementia, with its abnormal brain changes. 
The dismissal of my cognitive self. 
The erasing of the me as I am now.
And, the erasing of my memories.

For these reasons, The Thief of Broken Toys, by Tim Lebbon, distressed me deeply.

Quoting from this short novel's back cover we read that "when a father loses his son and his wife leaves him, he cannot tear himself away from the small fishing village where the boy's memories reside. They're all he has left." He wanders the cliffs carrying broken toys that he had promised his son that he would fix, though he never did. These broken toys keep his son, Toby, close.

And then he meets the thief of broken toys.

When I first bought this book at a used book sale, I was surprised to see that the author was "an original talent on the horror scene." The story seemed to talk of a father's love and his tragic loss.

The loss was far greater than the father or myself could have imagined.

The thief in the story magically repairs the broken toys, one by one. He then asks Toby's father to replace him in this important job, as the thief's time was coming to an end. 

With the father's refusal to do so, a curse befell him.

His memory was erased. 
With that, his love for Toby was erased.
He had no memory of Toby at all.

This is the reason that Lebbon's horror genre includes this slim and powerful book.

I cannot imagine forgetting about Brian. Not remembering my beautiful daughters and their families.
These people fill my heart with love, and how my heart would shrink without my thoughts of them.

Tell me everything I don't remember.

Songwriter Jason Mraz says
"I can't walk through life backwards
Wherever I'm going, I'm already home."

              a card created by Sat-Sung Kalman Hassid many, many, many years ago