MY ANGEL READS CHARLES DICKENS AND LISTENS TO LEONARD COHEN

There is a private place where I can slip away into another world.  It restores my soul and brings me joy.   It allows me to collect my thoughts, write, dream  and face each day with strength and resilience.    Virginia Woolf called it  A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN.

I’ve been thinking about angels.  A flicker of movement in the corner of my eye.  I turn quickly.  Nothing.  But I know it is an angel.  My angel.

I think about the music my angel would listen to.    Beethoven’s Moon Light Sonata,   a love song without words.   Cohen’s Hallelujah,  over and over again.   The final chorus of angels from Gounod’s Faust.

My angel likes her wine decanted .  Wine from a bottle dusted with age and filled with grace.  She was there when the grapes were planted.  The vineyard at  least a hundred years old.    But my darlings this angel like most angels  is much, much older .

There are over 129,000,000 books in the world.   My angel has read all of them.  She is re- reading  Dickens’s   A TALE OF TWO CITIES.  She likes Dickens.   I know a Christmas Carol would be more appropriate in keeping with the season but this angel considers   Dickens important for our present time.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredibility, it was the season of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

Oh dear! Of all the books in this wide world why is my angel reading this book.   I certainly didn’t intend to take my angel back to 1859.   A TALE OF TWO CITIES  ends badly for many BUT  there is a sense of optimism in Dickens’s last words.

“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done;  it is a far, far, better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”

There is a strong sense of optimism in Dickens’s final words in TALE OF TWO CITIES.  We must take heart and take care – of ourselves and our fellow man.

The idea of my  wine sipping, music loving  angel makes me smile with delight.    At night when the skies are black and the stars are sharp as ice I catch a flash of white and the strains of  music . . Hallelujah  Hallelujah  Hallelujah.  Thank you, Angel.

 

 

 

ALWAYS WELCOME STRANGERS FOR THEY MAY BE ANGELS

A very, very long time ago, in a place far, far away I bought a cabin.  It was built of huge logs harvested on the property.   The road a faint path grown over with years of neglect.  It stood alone quietly  facing  a small lake in Northern Saskatchewan.     The windows obscured with the dust of many years.  Velvety moss covered the stone doorstep.    Over the  door a sign ALWAYS WELCOME STRANGERS THEY MAY BE ANGELS.  I bought my cabin never stepping inside.

Later when I picked up the key I learned the history of my cabin.  It had been built in the early Twenties.  When  World War Two was declared in September l939 the son  of the owners enlisted.  He never came home.  His parents never returned to their cabin.   Twenty-Two years later I walked into a time capsule.    It was as if they had simple closed the door and gone for a stroll.   I kept the iron beds.  The “crazy ” patchwork quilts.    The  kettle for heating water.    The Union Jack to hang on the flag pole.  The tiny child’s wooden boat.   I kept the sign over the door.

Thus began my fascination with angels.    I was fascinated with the concept of entertaining angels unaware.    Their wings.  What do angels do with their wings?  Tuck them under their coats?  Hang them at the door?   The Christmas issues of my French magazines always featured angel wings in their decor.  Hanging over mirrors.  On the backs of chairs.    Now I was obsessed with finding  angel wings.  Not flimsy cartoon versions of wings, but big, white wings with feathers.

It was in July of the past summer when I walked into our Ladner Thrift Shop and discovered my angel wings.  They were hanging with children’s costumes.     Teary eyed I stroked the feathers.  They were perfect .  They were my long sought after angel wings.

They hang surrounded  by all things French .    The setting is perfect.  My angel wings catch the early morning sun and in the evening tiny fairy lights light up the night.   I remember the sign from long ago.   I live in hope remembering the cabin sign.   Welcome strangers for some have entertained angels unawares.

 

 

HOW TO MAKE MAGICAL CHRISTMAS CARDS

Homemade cards are so beautiful and so personal those who receive them sometimes keep them around all year.  Cards tucked into mirrors,  used as book-marks, fastened to the refrigerator.

I continue to practice “slow Christmas”.  Each day doing a little decorating. Today gracing the fireplace with fresh cedar from the garden.

Wrapping gifts to mail to my sisters.

I fuss over the wrappings.

Lingering over my collection of beautiful ribbons.

Searching for just the right color.

My sewing room/atelier floor glitters with fairy dust.

There ‘s a pile of paper  rustling and whispering to me.

Pages from a discarded music book.

Past Christmas cards to beautiful to be discarded.

I have silver glitter in my hair.

Gold dust on my face.

A discarded song book gives me the words.

I play at paper dolls  or rather paper angels.

Glue them to the cards and embellish them with ribbons.

Photographs from long ago lends inspiration.

“Tis the season to be jolly”

I’m having fun with this old photograph.

Stern, unsmiling she needs to have a little fun.

I’ve tacked holly to her hair and filled her arms with Christmas cheer.

The cards are done.

I mail them at the post office in the village, and receive a handful of red and white striped peppermint candies along with the stamps.

This is how Christmas should be.  No malls, no strident music, no jostling for parking space. It’s been a”slow Christmas”.

The very best kind of our home here on The Farm.

ARCHANGEL GABRIEL BLOWS HIS HORN

“To laugh often and much;

To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children

To leave the world a better place

To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.

This is to have succeeded. ”

(Ralph Waldo Emerson, Poet, Philosopher, Journalist  1803 – 1882)

Toronto’s edgy West Queen Street West is a fabulous neighborhood.  Doorways beckon; come in, poke around, find a treasure.  This is a neighborhood of  eccentric shops and charming cafes,  art galleries and funky bars.

In a crowded, musty store filled with yesterdays memories I met Gabriel.    His horn was playing an illusive song.  The melody haunted me.    The words just out of my grasp.  I carried Gabriel away.    I placed him high, high on the wall.  He looks down at us and blows his horn.

I hear the words.

“Hallelujah   Hallelujah   Hallelujah”

(Gabriel is another Angel I have collected.  Gabriel hangs in my home away from home.  I am never far from angels.)

ABOUT ANGELS AND THE PUTTI (cherub) WHO ALMOST GOT AWAY

 

Meet the angels in my life.

I have a  love affair with angels and putti(cherubs).  Their faces  intrigue me.  Late one  Christmas Eve I was shopping for flowers on South Granville in Vancouver,  and discovered this putti .   White plaster waiting to morph into something wonderful.  I  painstakingly gold leafed her.  It was time-consuming work but I was so enchanted with her face it was a joy to bring out her beauty.

You can’t see this putti’s face but he has an adorable tummy and dimpled knees.  Another white plaster  cherub that I found in a thrift shop.  I painted and aged it until it looked like perhaps, just perhaps, I have found it in an old casa in Italy.

 

 

 

I found this putti with downcast eyes and a sad expression in a Thrift Shop.  She was a little battered so I gave her a face lift with a marble finish.

 

 

I plan to fill the urn these cherubs are holding with lavender.  Another white plaster object that I gave my “famous” French finish.

 

 

More faces, more tummies  and another of my antique, distressed paint creations

 

 

It was the week before Christmas.  Market day forty years ago  in a remote village in Mexico.  Beautiful Daughter and I were shopping.  She bargained for a tin lantern and I found these rustic angels.

 

 

This angel is  Matilda.  A gift from Titan haired daughter-in-law.  Her job is to guard my sewing room. She makes me smile.

 

 

An angel from Italy.  For years she graced the top of our Christmas Tree.  I couldn’t bear to continue to  hide her beauty in a box for eleven months of the year.  Now she guards my book.

 

As for the putti who almost got away …

 

This is Francis.    Francis was plain brown paper mache when I discovered him.     I created  several looks  for him.  The first year he was aFrench putti,  pale gray brushed with white.  The next year he took on a new persona and I gave him a marble finish.   The following year I thought something rustic, something to wreath with pine boughs. and holly, and a few white roses.   So Frances was painted an earthy ocher.   I hung Francis on my front door for several  Christmases.

Last Christmas I wanted a wreath lush with pink and scarlet roses,  and velvet ribbons.  There was no place for Francis.  Perhaps it was time he returned to the Thrift Shop, and a new adventure.

I was unloading him from the car to take him into the Shop when The Good Husband asked what I was doing.  I told him.    “No” says The Good Husband, “No angel EVER leaves our house”.  So dear friends that’s the story of Francis the putti that almost got away.   It’s also the story of  a man who is gentle, caring, loving, and who can always find room for one more putti.

THE RITUAL OF THE CHRISTMAS TREE

The lot that sells Christmas trees is on the main street in our Village of Ladner.   Around the third week in November I begin watching for signs the trees are arriving.  First the fence goes up, then the poles for the trees.  At last the trees arrive. For me  Christmas has begun.

The ritual for selecting the trees is always the same.  The Good Husband goes in one direction.  I go in the other.  Each searching for the perfect tree.  It’s a gentle day. I walk through a forest of  evergreens.  A carpet of cedar chips mingles with the fragrance of the pine needles.  The secret to finding the perfect tree is to look for one with the broadest base.  It should have the thickest branches.    The Good Husband holds up a tree.  Too sparse.  I spy a fat looking tree with a broad base.  It is the one.  But then every year the tree we pick regardless of what it looks like,  is the perfect tree.

 

Putting up the tree is a two-day event.  The first day is the complex procedure.  The Good Husband sets up the tree, and then arranges the lights.  Sister Heather has sent me a pair of sparkling red birds.  The newest decoration is the first decoration to adorn the tree.

 

 

I bring out boxes of memories, and hang them on the tree.

 

Fifty-five years ago my Mother gave me this tiny copper kettle.  It is time worn and part of the spout is missing.    I hang it front and center.

 

 

I pour a glass of sherry.  The tree is taking on a sparkling attitude.  I love the whimsey of  this  monkey.

 

Birds perch on the branches singing Christmas Carols.

The last decorations are “the angels”.    They are my favorite.  So much so one year I couldn’t put them away.   The Christmas angels spent a lovely year in various rooms in our home.

 

 

 

 

I adjust a glittering ball or two.  Step back and admire The Tree.  Sparkling, twinkling, happy Tree.

 

 

I’ll wrap more presents   This tree is calling for them.

 

 

The ritual of the Christmas Tree ends.

We admire.

Sit by the fire.

Watch A Christmas Carol.  The best one with Alister Sim.

The Good Husband and I enjoy our “slow Christmas:”.

 

 

 

WE SHALL SEE THE SKY … CHEKOV

 

 

We shall find peace,

We shall hear the angels,

We shall see the sky

sparkling with diamonds.

(Chekov)

 

Last night torrential rains thundered through my garden.  I gathered the wayward pieces  of the sky.   Their incredible blue fills my room and feeds my soul.

 

 

Flowers from my garden, Sunday July l7th 2011