Category Archives: What Matters

And Unto Us

A Child Is Born. Merry Christmas!

Unto Us A Child Is Born


We Are Christmas Eve People

IMG_8901Mary and I are. It’s our favourite night of the year. The darkness of solstice just past, anticipation of the light to come. The quiet, the waiting. Just like Mary. Waiting…. before all the shepherds and angels and people with gifts. Time to have her baby boy, put him in the manger, let the animals sing him to sleep and just relax before all hell breaks loose.

Enjoy Christmas Eve my friends.

snow new westminster 1959

Blue Christmas 1959

Running Salmon

spawning salmon melodie-grabner-watercolour-5

Fish, especially salmon run in my blood.  My father was a fisherman. He moved from landlocked Manitoba, land of 1000 lakes to the west coast of BC in 1933; escaping the depression. My parents and my three older sisters lived on the ocean for 20 years, until I was born and my mom said that’s enough.


This weekend, we made our pilgrimage to Adams River to witness the annual salmon run. 2015  is a subdominant  year when you can see 100,000+ sockeye return to spawn in October (and maybe a bear or two).


The next big year will be in 2018, where you can see millions of salmon return.

spawning salmon-melodie-grabner-watercolour-1

I like to go every year as it is a pilgrimage to impermanence. The salmon come to spawn and die.


Sadly, this beautiful life cycle could also be dying. Hindered by global warming, urban encroachment and overfishing,  salmon numbers are dwindling. From the days of my dad when a 60 pound chinook was common place, today it would be a rarity for a sport fisherman, and you would have to go the Haida Gwaii to catch it.

Just as I now live on a riparian stream and do my best to keep it natural, I hate to think that only my paintings will be left for my great-grandchildren, when my father left me the ocean.

Happy Thanksgiving


Happy Thanksgiving


Wild Turkey



Bless All Creatures St. Francis

St. Francis

“Blessed are you, Lord God, maker of all living creatures. You called forth fish in the sea, birds in the air and animals on the land. You inspired St. Francis to call all of them his brothers and sisters. We ask you to bless this pet. By the power of your love, enable it to live according to your plan. May we always praise you for all your beauty in creation. Blessed are you, Lord our God, in all your creatures! Amen.”

Today is the feast day of St. Francis, patron saint of animals and ecology, namesake of our Pope Francis. St. Francis believed that everything that the creator made was a work of art and sacred. This includes, earth, wind, fire and water. Is there any wonder that Pope Francis wrote his encyclical on the environment Laudato Si?

Today is the day to ask for blessings for all your animals and pets current and past.


Today is the day to make a commitment, however small, to protect our environment, Creators gift of a home for us.


Individuals must act. “An integral ecology is also made up of simple daily gestures which break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness,” he writes. We should also consider taking public transit, car-pooling, planting trees, turning off the lights and recycling.

Really it will change everything.


Practicing Imagination

“I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”
Albert Einstein

Fairy_riding_Dragonfly copy

My granddaughter Stella has a diet heavy in television. Some age appropriate and some not. She had a hard time with the fairy garden. New houses appeared overnight, fairies borrowed things. Sometimes the whole street scheme changed. When the two ponies and the barn arrived, she was beside herself. She kept asking if the fairies were real, how did we know, she would ask. How did I know about fairies. “They live in my imagination” I said. “Anything that is in my imagination is real for as long as I want it.”

Stella asked me last week if she could crawl into my ear. “Say what?” I said. “I want to see what’s in your head” “The pictures you see, in your imagination”

“Well,  I see a fairy, practicing riding her dragonfly, kind of like your riding lesson today. She has to be very good at handling the dragonfly so she doesn’t crash-land”

Today she was in my studio helping feed my canary. She suddenly asked how I could make my dogs fly. I was a little perplexed until I realized she was looking up at a memory board of pictures..

echo-agilityPractice, sweetheart, just practice!”

Don’t forget to practice your imagination today.

“Everything you can imagine is real.”
Pablo Picasso

Memories, Duck Eggs and Roosters


Okay, so I am human. I haven’t posted since November and Christmas is already past. Not feeling guilty because for the last 7 weeks I have been attending to  what matters. This was my goal for the year 2014; to pay attention to what matters and not get caught up in Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda! It has been tempting. I am in awe of my daughter and her blog. She is a busy mom and probably has less time than me, but she still writes them beautifully and it’s my favourite reading before I go to bed or over coffee early in the morning. Her last post on the memories of Christmas past and ghosts made me very happy. I really know that I have been attending to the important things and when I forget everything falls off the rails.

I babysit my two youngest grandchildren every day. I have to be at their house at 7:30 am so I need to get up at 5:30 am. Hard for a grandma. But it’s important. We go to playschool, gymnastics and skating. We are creating memories.


We build forts and we do art. ( hey I wanted to create every day, I just didn’t tell my muse, what)).


We learned that  “a box” is not “a box” (very important for later spiritual life)


We learned that family is important, memories are created in the very young.


I learned that when you are attending to important things sometimes you have to ask for help. I learned that Papa (Cowboy) can run the farm. I learned that sometimes when you don’t know something, more is revealed. Like Aflac, we didn’t know what sex she was but in time she told us. (neither of us wanted to blow on her vent to see). Three eggs a day now from the hens and Aflac.


I learned that when you buy day old chicks at the small animal flea market, you get what you get; four roosters, two hens. Three roosters had to be culled. (and yes we are eating them, no life should be in vain)

Life is like that, and memories are created. Merry Christmas to all my blog readers and a prayer that you created many wonderful memories this season.

Remembrance Day


What do you teach a three-year-old and her not yet one year old sister about Remembrance Day? They know nothing about war or death. They haven’t experienced loss. You teach them with art, song and poetry the only thing that’s important to know. Be loving and kind, and peace will grow.

Poppy Poppy



Hearts Broken Open

syslvester-fire copy

We said goodbye to our oldest cat last Saturday. Sylvester was 18 years old, arthritic, blind and tired. I still remember the day we brought him home from the shelter, 25 pounds of love. He, again was one of those animals that really needed fostering. A horrible upper respiratory infection meant his eyes were glued shut and he couldn’t breathe, but he never stopped purring. After two weeks he was much better but we couldn’t take him back. We had completely fallen in love with him.

Sylvester’s blindness didn’t stop him from anything, he learned to make his way around the house, garden and stairs. If he needed something, like food or pick me up he came up behind you and scratched your leg. Over the last six months the backs of my legs have acquired many scratches. They will  heal, but the hole in my heart from losing him will take a long time to repair.

Sylvester was the gentleman of our house. (you only have to notice his tuxedo)  He loved everyone and in doing so everyone loved him. A multi cat house means there will sometimes be spats. Sylvester was always there to referee. He taught 12 years of puppies how to respect cats and our grandchildren to gently pet a cat in return for kisses and loud purrs.

IMG_6737He loved the winter fire, long snoozes in the garden, drinking from the frog in the pond and cat nip.

Sylvester was all those things that make people love cats and watch those silly cat videos over and over. He had a great sense of humour and I know he would say to those people “gotcha ya


No one misses him more that his side kick Sparkle. We are all so much better for having known him. They say our hearts get broken to let the light in,  well then this is fitting.

“I have lived with several Zen masters — all of them cats.”
― Eckhart Tolle


“Siblings are the people we practice on, the people who teach us about fairness and cooperation and kindness and caring quite often the hard way.”

Pamela Dugdale


My daughter sent me this link from NY Times the other day.


She was sure I would love it and she was right. Four sisters who have  their picture taken every year for forty years . It is definitely change in motion. If you look at each picture you don’t see it as much but if you look at the first and the last, my god, where did the years go?

I love it for a couple of reasons.  I am one of the five sisters. We are different from these girls. For us, there is twenty years difference between the oldest and the youngest. It was a terrible shock to my older sisters when my younger sister and I came along. They were grown up and getting ready to start their own families.

I think it would be wonderful if we someone had the forethought to take out pictures together for forty years. This is the last one that I can remember of us together. There are lots of one or two of us, or my younger sister and I with the grandchildren that started arriving right after me and before my younger sister came along.


This is my favourite picture, my oldest sister and I. She could have been my mother. In fact, my name was what she wanted to name her first-born girl. My mother at 43 in 1953 was a little lost for names. She had Irene, Colleen and Sharlene. My dad used to joke that my younger sister and I should have been gasoline and kerosene. We did ignite quite a kerfuffle. At 52 and 45 when their last one was born, my parents were ancient in 1955: a whole generation away from us.

What luck for me to have my wonderful oldest sister still in my life today. She just had her 80th birthday and closed down the establishment her party was held in, dancing.

Today, both our families are grown adults, we have grandchildren and she has great-grandchildren. We love many of the same things like gardening, painting and music. We really like spending time together.

She doesn’t even mind my goats.


This Thanksgiving weekend with my children and their children around the table,  I was so happy that they had siblings.  Even though, “big sisters are the crab grass in the lawn of life” (thank you Charlie Brown), I am not sure where we would be without them. “Help one another is part of the religion of sisterhood” LM Alcott.

A sister is a forever friend and I know my sister has the best sister!