Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Dream

I had a dream. I dreamed a story.

The family were living in Norway, a foreign country. Father had a one-year transfer to a veterinary clinic as a small animal specialist, while Mother and daughter Anna settled into their new home amongst the spruce trees, which was a short drive to the nearest town and school. The scenery was breathtaking but Anna was finding it difficult to settle into school life. Her language skills were hesitant and although she tried hard to converse she found it difficult to make friends. Many days she came home from school unhappy.

One day her mother noticed the sadness in Anna's eyes, and asked what was the problem. Anna, eyes downcast, murmured she was OK. Mother knew her daughter better than that. Gently, settling her on her knee she asked again what the problem was. Anna's tale came out haltingly with sniffling and uncertainty.

Slowly she managed to tell her mother that she didn't have any friends … that the children laughed at her because her Norwegian was not fluent. Mother, a wise lady, asked Anna if there was anything she could do better than the other children. Anna's eyes brightened ... she could crochet and none of the other children had mastered that craft.

Mother laughed gently, soothed Anna's sadness away with a biscuit and a drink. Next day, when Anna was at school Mother drove to the shopping centre and bought up several balls of wool and some crochet hooks. She then designed some invitations, featuring crochet as the theme, and gave them to Anna to give out to some of the children at school. Two days later a troop of eager children appeared at the door. Mother who had sandwiches, small cakes and milk shakes ready, introduced herself.

She sat the children down; let them choose which colours of wool they wanted, and handed out crochet hooks before demonstrating how to make a square. The children, quiet at first, slowly picked up the basics and by teatime they had mastered the art of simple crochet.

Anna was able to go round each child and help out with the harder parts such as turning a corner, and soon all were laughing and chattering as though they had known each other for years. Next day at school Anna had many friends, and the crochet lessons continued for several Thursday afternoons until everyone was proficient.

Another Mum decided to show the group how to do origami and these simple little craft afternoons became a wonderful way for children's friendships to develop.

One day, many months later, when Anna was telling her mother about the many friends she had, her Mother said, "Anna, do you remember when you hated school because you had no friends?"

Anna frowned. It seemed such a long time ago. "Yes," she replied, that was ages ago."

"It was," agreed her mother. "But the thing is, it wasn't that you never had any friends, it was just you hadn't yet met them. Life is like that. We go to new places, we know no-one, and so we have to look for a common meeting place."

Saturday, June 19, 2010


A confession. I have an addiction. It consumes my day and interferes with my night.

Not for me the time consuming, not to mention health-depriving addiction of smoking: no that is common and ordinary. If one is to have an addiction one should at least cultivate something that is different. Or is any addiction different? All addictions envelope the person until their life is taken over.

I know of many who are addicted to work. They have my deepest pity. All day, some every day of the week and for more than the forty hours considered 'normal', these people let the work ethic rule their lives. Should one dare to ask why, they are met with blank stares of incomprehension. They declare they work to pay the bills, to have a better lifestyle, to pay for a long awaited holiday, while some even confess to liking the pain it inflicts upon their soul. One could go as far as to say they enjoy being a paragon.... not of virtue. In my opinion, be it ever so humble, these folks are afraid of the time they might have if they stopped working so hard. They have nothing to fill their lives apart from work.

Then there are the many millions addicted to smoking. Some, bless their little cotton socks, even sue cigarette companies for enticing them to not only purchase the nicotine impregnated weed but also for forcing the tissue wrapped article to their lips and coercing them to draw the life threatening fumes into their lungs. Every week I witness the pathetic picture of a woman riding a mobility scooter who, after parking her vehicle outside a shop door, will struggle to the counter, breathless and gasping for oxygen, and ask for 20 cigarettes of her favourite brand. In her twilight years her addiction holds her in its tentacles.

Witness also those others addicted to the bottle. They swagger around breathing alcoholic fumes which if captured should power a motorcar. That’s an idea worth considering! Gas for cars! And as recycling is all the rage, what better than recycled gas. Fumes from the alcoholic would substantially cut down on the amount of petroleum needed by the world. In fact, going just one step further down that road, the nations' drunks would have cheap fuel.... unlike the rest of us. The sad irony is that once the drinker partakes of too much of his or her favourite tipple their nature changes. Arguments get out of hand. Rash statements are made, and often punches are thrown. The headaches and the delicate state of their constitution can only be eradicated by swallowing more of the same.

Of course other addictions are equally consuming. All addictions are consuming ~ otherwise they cannot be properly called an addiction.

One hears, though personally I do not know one, of people who pursue some obscure line of enquiry. They read books about their subject, they write page after page in the hope of persuading others to be equally interested. They are very interesting people should you wish to listen to the long-winded discussions they feel compelled to launch into at the slightest provocation.

I do know genealogists. They are a dime a dozen in my family. Hour upon hour is spent scraping the dredges of my mind for aunt Alice's second cousin's husband's name. Does it matter? To the genealogist it is of utmost importance as it fills a gap on a page of the family tree. When, a few weeks later, another meeting with the family scribe occurs it is so disheartening to have to relate the same piece of information again. Why? Because the original piece of paper on which the initial information was written has been lost in the filing system. The filing system! A box of paper would be a better description. It would be true to say that many of us who are not genealogists have more information on their computer under the scalp about who is who within the family than the aforesaid genealogist. However as an addiction, genealogy is harmless.

But, back to the point. I have an addiction. It is ..... now wait for it ..... WORDS! Every waking hour my mind runs amok with words. Should I hear a new word I am instantly curious as to its origin. A trip to the dictionary is a trip to the movie theatre. I spy a word.

Instantly I have a mental picture running through the brain of that word and all its concepts. I make a movie from a word.

Once I never knew words. I was but a child then. I learned to read. I learned to write, and from that moment on my addiction has grown in magnitude. It is harmless. Hopefully it isn't life shortening, and under proper control it can be useful.... some of the time anyway!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Life Support

Rose's clambering embrace gave life support to weathered and near crippled Fence.

Years ago Fence was erected to replace a more ancient structure. Families living on either side spent endless hours oiling Fence, and spraying weed-killer on his foundations in an earnest endeavour to preserve his aged facade. Mother Nature had another agenda. Slowly, relentlessly, lichens took up residence on Fence's silvered exterior, attaching themselves to exposed regions. That coat gave him an almost distinguished appearance.

Rose's lineage was impeccable. Sturdy White Briar with feet firmly planted in the ground suckered sweetly perfumed, blowsy, Blush Pink. When severe pruning of the thorn-encrusted limbs destroyed Blush Pink, White Briar flourished. Spreading her arms she smothered Fence and edged her way towards the delicate lemon and cream honeysuckle clinging nearby.

One cruel winter's night a storm brewed from the west; wild winds gathered strength and hurtled debris through the darkened sky. Rose and aged Fence clung together against the onslaught of the screaming intruder, battling to remain upright as branches of their taller neighbours, and errant plastic bags, whipped by.

The calmness of the dawn revealed the devastation, in the centre of which Rose and Fence lay together, entwined in death as in life.