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sailboat

“Sailing Boat with Two Passengers”  (La Barque), 1900, Odilon Redon

Whoever said, “Old age is not for sissies” was certainly right! It struck me recently that living each day, especially during one’s senior years, is like sailing on an uncharted sea. This state of affairs makes life challenging, to say the least. And there’s nothing wrong with facing challenges!

I’ve decided to create a navigational story for myself, and am happy to share it with any of you (no matter what age you are) who are interested. This will be an ongoing project, appearing on my blog from time to time. The navigational entries will always be titled Beautiful Elders: Sailing on an Uncharted Sea.

“As we advance in life, it becomes more and more difficult, but in fighting the difficulties the inmost strength of the heart is developed.”

—Vincent van Gogh

van gogh

“Vincent van Gogh–Self Portrait with Grey Felt Hat”, 1887

Each blog post will contain encouraging, sometimes humorous, and always positive ideas for those of us who are sailing on occasionally stormy seas, occasionally calm ones, and mostly uncharted waters.

For the past few years I have noticed that older people like me are seldom to be seen in much of the media, or even on the streets of my city. Many retirees, (including five of my friends!) have moved away from the city and over to Vancouver Island or to the Sunshine Coast. Living in those places is more peaceful and less expensive than it is in Vancouver.

As for the media, it is full of young stories, young faces, and young bodies. Is this what we are meant to aspire to? Or must we, as elders, become invisible? Must we try to appear younger than our actual years? So it appears!  Of course, keeping fit and healthy, and having good muscle tone is great. But, grey hair is beautiful. Accepting our ageing bodies with grace is wise and positive. And hopefully, our graceful acceptance sends a reassuring message to younger generations.

NOTE TO SELF: KEEP MOVING!

AND: “DON’T LET YESTERDAY OR TOMORROW TAKE UP TOO MUCH OF TODAY”. In other words, try to LIVE IN THE PRESENT MOMENT. Easy to say, more difficult to practice!

“There is no peace that cannot be found in the present moment.”

—Tasha Tudor

Tasha Tudor

Tasha Tudor canoeing

In our present-day North American culture, whatever has happened to the concept of respecting the elders? In some cultures (bless them!), such as those of North and South American indigenous people, elders are revered even to this day. It used to be the norm to learn from the wisdom of older people, but in present day Western society, this idea seems to be rare.

However, there is hope! Here’s a quotation from a thirteen-year-old girl I know:

“In another time, being an elder would mean that you had survived. This society has become obsessed with a misconception of beauty that doesn’t include what is real.”

And remember:

“The pursuit of truth and beauty is a sphere of activity in which we are permitted to remain children all our lives.”

—Albert Einstein

Until next time, Pleasant Sailing!

 

 

 

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“Blue Skies”

Re-blogged today, June 25th, 2017…because we have “Blue Skies” today!

Joie du Soleil

We have blue skies today, here in Vancouver! An early Autumn treat, in between rain showers. I’ll be potting up a container for the front porch, with white Violas and some colourful Spring bulbs and grasses.

Following along in the spirit of Joie du Soleil’s initial intention, which was to focus on the light, the positive, and the upbeat things in life, I’m posting a once popular old song which came to mind: “Blue Skies”, composed by Irving Berlin and sung here by Doris Day. I’m happy to report that Doris is still alive and well, and living in Carmel, California. She’s still an animal rights activist, and through all of her years as a Hollywood actress and singer, she presented a cheerful outlook, and an inspiring image. Some may say that Doris & I are being “Pollyannas”, but I’ve found that focussing on the positive is better than dwelling…

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Crocheted wool afghan

Grey wool afghan

Here’s an inspiring little story about a fellow crocheter:

In 2009, a ninety-eight year old woman survived the earthquake near L’Aquila, Italy. She was found alive and uninjured, buried under rubble and in her bed, about thirty hours after the quake struck. She told her rescuers that she had passed the time crocheting as she waited for help. Amazing, but true!

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Crocheting has been there for me, too, since I first discovered it many years ago. I’ve taken my crochet hook and yarn along with me to so many places, including the beach, and have used every spare moment to practice this age-old craft. I find it to be both relaxing and invigorating at the same time. It’s been such an engrossing challenge to see what I can create with a little hook and a ball of yarn. Afghans, clothing, housewares, toys, and home decor…on goes the list of things I’ve enjoyed making for friends, family, myself, and others. If this is an addiction, at least it’s a positive one!

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It’s the process of crocheting that I love. Rather than selling the items which I’ve crocheted, (something I’ve done for many years),  I now agree with the following statements:

“I do not worry about the marketplace.”

—Alex Cuba, musician/singer

“Better a craft than gold.”

—Jenkins Family motto, Ewenny Pottery, Vale of Glamorgan, Wales

My aim, or hopeful intention while crocheting, is to create beauty and to share what I make with others. But, to be honest, I crochet because I love it!

 

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It’s been a grey and colder than normal Winter and early Spring here in Vancouver. Cherry blossoms are a few weeks behind schedule, but the daffodils are bravely blooming. Here’s an old Carter Family song to remind us to stay positive! (and to look forward to some sunshine!)

 

 

 

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Crochet

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Crochet: My Definition: a calming, soothing, magical craft, a meditation in itself. Creating useful and beautiful items for others to enjoy is a bonus. Crochet is a portable craft: just a ball of yarn, a hook, and a bag to carry it in. So simple!

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“The autumn wind blows through

Little Pines-a lovely name-

Bush clover and pampas, too.”

–Basho, 1644-1694

The weather of autumn and winter 2016/17 has been more like it used to be in the old days here in Vancouver. Before climate change brought warmer winters, we had more snow and ice, and more pronounced seasons than we’ve been experiencing for the past few decades.

Here on the south coast of B.C., this past autumn and winter have been different, starting with a cold snap in early November of 2016. We’ve had three notable snowfalls during this exceptional winter. It seems that “climate change” does not necessarily signify warmer weather all the time, but it does mean unpredictability and changes in climatic conditions. It was unseasonably cold from November right through until early February, and our heating bills can attest to that fact! We’re back to milder weather now, and spring is on the way.

Here’s a retrospective of photos taken from October 2016 to early February 2017.

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Blue Pumpkin with Spanish Chestnut & Hazelnut…Cotoneaster berries in vase…Canadian Thanksgiving, October 2016

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Japanese Maple tree, Autumn colour, 2016

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“Every leaf a miracle”…

–Walt Whitman

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Schizostylis (Crimson flag), Autumn 2016

“To create a little flower

is the labour of ages.”

–William Blake

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Super Moon & Clouds over Vancouver, November 14, 2016…the closest the moon has been to the Earth in 68 years. Photo taken from Trimble Park, W. 8th Ave. & Discovery St.

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Winter sun & shadows…

“Beauty lies not in objects, but in the interaction between the shadow and light created by objects.”

–Junichiro Tanizaki, in his essay “In Praise of Shadows”. (1933)

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Blue sky, white clouds & Blue Atlas Cedar tree…December, 2016

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And then it snowed. Three little trees at the edge of Pacific Spirit Park on West 16th Ave.

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Hollyburn mountain, West Vancouver housing developments, freighters visible in Burrard Inlet, all seen over the rooftop of West Point Grey Academy, next to Trimble Park, (aka West Point Grey Park).

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Grouse & Seymour mountains at sunset. Stanley Park is visible, stretching out into Burrard Inlet.

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Snowy West Point Grey sidewalk, December 2016

“Snow had fallen, snow on snow,

Snow on snow,

In the bleak mid-winter,

Long ago.”

–Christina Rossetti

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bee on Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia….English Lavender)

Grown in slow-motion by Nana (moi), the boulevards at our daughter’s family home are being transformed. Be gone, foul grass! And welcome, herbs and perennials!

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Work in progress…a perennial bed in the making…

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.

—Lao Tzu

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Oregano, Mint & Marjoram (very attractive to bees, and organically grown!)

Bees have been experiencing a rough time worldwide, due to a variety of human-caused problems. Pesticides, herbicides, loss of habitat, climate change, lack of flowering plants which are loved by bees, mite infestations in hives, (caused in part by lowered immunity, as a result of stress, perhaps?), and on it goes.

Planting flowering herbs and perennials which bees love for their nectar is one way that we can help the bee population to become stronger. Without the bees and their ability to pollinate plants, much of the food we eat would not be able to grow.

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Sedum “Autumn Joy” & Michaelmas Daisy (Aster)

My garden has a mind of its own, and I love it! Just when I think that my garden ideas are working out as planned, up pops a surprise. For example, this little Aster plant hitched a ride (unbeknownst to me) from the previous garden to its new home, hidden in amongst the Sedum leaves. Instead of trying to control everything, I’ve decided to let it be, and just enjoy the mingling of the flowers and leaves, and their attractive colours.

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Michaelmas Daisy (Aster x frikartii ‘Monch’) and English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

There is no gardening without humility. Nature is constantly sending even its oldest scholars to the bottom of the class for some egregious blunder.

Alfred Austin

When I’m down on my knees, digging out the grass to create new flower beds, I certainly feel humbled! As you can see, there is plenty of grass to dig out, still. It all goes into the city’s “green bin”, to be composted along with Vancouver’s food scraps and whatever garden trimmings don’t get put into our own garden compost bins.

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There’s so much work to be done! A little at a time is my approach….this is going to be a short stretch of shade garden. I plan to add ferns, hostas, and plenty of home-made compost. The soil is depleted and dry, just crying out for some organic matter to be added!

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And finally, serendipity! I’d always meant to grow some of these in other gardens:

California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica) & Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus)

And up they popped, all on their own, self-seeded in the long grass under a phone pole, planted there by the previous owners. This week I’m going to plant more poppy and cornflower seeds, as Autumn is a great time to do it. But first, out with the dratted grass!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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