The simple things of HOME (SJT)

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HOME – what a huge topic. I love it!

As I have wandered more into the world of art, subjects of home hold the greatest appeal. Ordinary things can become beautiful when one takes the time and attention to reproduce them on the page.

When I look closely at the things in my home and think about homely activities, I gain a sense of contentment and wealth. Significance can be found in the smallest of things, the humblest of activities. So today, a few images and a poem (written in 2014) that represent HOME to me.

Welcome mat

“Welcome Mat” – Sketch journal entry for Jan. 16/19 (© 2019 V. Nesdoly)

potatoes

“Potatoes” – Sketch Journal entry for Jan 20/19 (© 2019 V. Nesdoly)

Making Soup

When I boil those leftover bones
to loosen the flesh and eke out
every bit of gelatinous goodness
—the kitchen a damp, steamy womb of a place—
I feel like I’m part of the marrow of motherhood
answering the call of nature to nurture.

When I chop the carrots, onions
celery and cabbage, add the meat
scour the fridge for halves of potato, tomato
tubs of leftover veggies, the cup of last week’s chili
add lentils and quinoa
season with bay leaf, basil, cumin and salt
I feel like the Proverbs woman
who brings her food from afar.

This is no Dickens gruel
grey, thin and greasy
or the meatless tin-bowl ration
of a concentration camp
but the savoury red pottage with which Jacob
lured Esau to trade his birthright

and I, the temptress, add soup
to my stock of quilts and afghans
knitted slippers and crusty breads
flannel sheets and apple pie
—the seductions of home.

© 2019 by Violet Nesdoly (All Rights Reserved)

supper

“Dinner” – Sketch journal entry for Jan. 30/19 (© 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

oranges

‘Dessert” – Sketch journal entry for Jan. 15/19 (© 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” Hebrews 13:5

The sketches, above, are from my sketch journal. I try to do some art in it every day in an attempt to improve my drawing skills. This journal has its own Instagram account: @vi_nez.daydraws. Visitors welcome!

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This post is part of Spiritual Journey Thursday, hosted today by Donna at her blog Mainely Write.

Special Day (Spiritual Journey Thursday)

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Welcome to Spiritual Journey (first) Thursday, hosted here today. This month we’re exploring the topic “special days.” Following my thoughts, below, is a widget where you can leave the link to your post.

Somebody’s turning seven! (Photo © 2018 by V. Nesdoly)

The look on the face of my four-year-old granddaughter—of excitement, anticipation, I’m-ready-for-the-spotlight—said it all. This was her special day.

It doesn’t take long for kids to realize that not every cake with candles and pile of presents is for them. How quickly they learn to let the special person of the day blow out the candles and, hard as it is, open all the presents.

But today was our little four-year-old’s birthday and the expression on her face, even though seen only on video, showed that she knew it was her turn.

I think it’s a great thing to celebrate each person one day a year. In our family we do that on the anniversary of their birth (birthday). Letting the child choose the food for a special meal, the guests to invite for a party, the party theme and decorations, the destination if the activity is an outing are ways to appreciate and affirm each little and bigger one.

We are all created in the image of God as one-of-a-kind beings. What a privilege and joy it is, then, to acknowledge this by giving each person entrusted to us, especially in the family unit, a day of celebration.

Special Day

Each year we celebrate Valentine’s Day
giving our hearts as a present.
Hearts gifted back make us feel special.

Other days we circle too, as special:
Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas day
occasions we want all to be present.

But there is no other like the one I now present
a different date for each of us to feel special
our cake, candles, make-a-wish Birthday!

The day we celebrate the present of each special self.

© 2018 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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Now it’s your turn! Please leave your link with Mister Linky.

Gospel Choir Newbie and other reflections on music (Spiritual Journey Thursday)

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Watoto Children’s Choir in Canada – 2013 (Photo © 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

I cannot remember a time when music wasn’t part of my life. The steel-backed Heintzman that I grew up with— that my mom played with flowing chords and that I attacked at 6 a.m. to practice scales, arpeggios and four-note chords in my Royal Conservatory days—still lives with me.

One of my earliest memories is of Dad, up early to do laundry with Mom. He helped her by pinning the loads of diapers to the clothesline. Between loads, he put on records of rousing gospel music with voices and brass ensembles that drifted into my bedroom.

Singing was an integral part of my Mennonite church and community—rich singing in harmony. From childhood on I sang in choruses and chorales, small groups, and mass choirs. Early in life I learned the pleasure of harmonizing with my alto-range voice, using it cooperatively as part of a many-voiced instrument.

Music is still a huge part of my life. Perhaps it’s no wonder that my Spotify app is a close second behind photos for space used on my iPad. It is also testimony to how music’s delivery has changed—many times over in my lifetime—from records, to 8-tracks, to cassette tapes, to CDs. That Spotify business is evidence of the latest change—one I adopted by necessity.

We listen to music a lot when we travel. So when I discovered, just after we had sealed the deal on a new car in 2016, that it had no CD player, I all but panicked. What would we do for music?

A few days later, through our music savvy son, we discovered the music-sharing behemoth, Spotify and the Bluetooth capability of my iPad and our new Honda. I’ve hardly bought a CD since.

Music is the sound track to many hours of my life, especially those spent in the kitchen. Some of my favourite artists are Matt Maher, Shane and Shane, Audrey Assad, Don Moen, Fenando Ortega, and Andrew Peterson, to begin the naming.

The poem, below, is one I wrote a few years ago, after we joined our church choir which, at the time, was very into singing Black Gospel.

Gospel Choir Newbie

You sing coffee
dark, strong, edgy
your bodies a caffeine choreography
with the Hallelujah beat
and the Praise the Lord bop
and the vamp
and the vamp
and the vamp
Amen!

In me the notes are Sweet Jesus
honey flow over vocal cords
wrap themselves around arms
legs, trunk, hold spellbound
mesmerized, forget
to clap, do those little two-steps
and dips to make
our robes sway
as one.

© 2009 by Violet Nesdoly (first published on VerseWrights)

Now, here’s some Black Gospel that really moves—no out-of-sync forgetting in sight! The Watoto Children’s Choir, is an arm of the Watoto Mission of Uganda.

Beat of Your Love – Watoto Children’s Choir

spiritualjourneyfirst-thursday-copyThis post is linked to Spiritual Journey First Thursday, hosted today by Karen Eastlund at Irene Latham’s blog, Live Your Poem.

Thanks Karen & Irene!

Cheerleaders (a poem for Family Day)

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Today is Family Day in B.C. In the year since I first posted the poem below, we’ve discovered that our littlest granddaughter’s developmental delays are most likely caused by cerebral palsy. And so a family very precious to us is walking a new-to-them path with lots of challenges—and the sentiments expressed by little A’s grandma in “Cheerleaders” are more heartfelt than ever. Cheer someone in your family on today!

 

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Swans and cygnets, June 2016 – West Vancouver  (Photo © 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

Cheerleaders

Every wee one who is learning
to kick the ball, hit it off the tee
point her toes and do a plié
summersault, the front crawl
sing in a choir, be elf in a play
play guitar, trumpet, violin
shoot baskets, basket weave
weave in and out in a skillful
soccer dribble to the goal
with the goal to make the team,
every child with dyslexia, autism
Down syndrome, whatever syndrome
who isn’t ever going to make the grade
make the team, team up with the cool kids
(because who are we kidding?)
needs a cheerleader
a yell of encouragement
a bull horn, cow bells, sign held high
banner in the sky
face painted green, blue
or whatever colour the jersey
and an after-game trip to Dairy Queen
because she’s queen of the day
and you’re her mom, dad
grandma, grandpa, uncle, auntie
cousin, biggest fan
on the team of the family.

 

© 2017 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

Take a hike

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A week ago today the Capture Your 365 photo prompt was “Take a hike.” On my walk that day I photographed several woodsy hiking paths, pondering all the while what other ways I could interpret the prompt.

Then, walking through Portage Park, past a newly installed shelter and picnic tables (probably saw them for the first time a week prior), I noticed pink graffiti everywhere. Yuck. What a mess. Take hike indeed!

Take a hike

Graffiti in the park (Photo © 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

Take a Hike

Graffiti boy
on your bike
we don’t like
you using your spray can
as a mike.
Shoo, boy, shoo!
We’ve had enough of you.
Take a hike!
Stay out of our park
for your after-dark lark
we don’t want your mark—
of anti-us snark!

 

© 2017 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

Thankfully the city crew was on it quickly. When I went by a  few days later, it was all cleaned up.

This poem is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by Matt Forrest Esenwine at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme. Thanks Matt (author of the just-out and already highly acclaimed Flashlight Night).

Fleeting

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Fleeting

Fleeting

Magic morning light
paints me Yellow Submarine
bell bottoms

© 2017 by V. Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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This is my Summer Shorts poem for July 30th, when the Capture Your 365 (#CY365) photo prompt was Fleetiing.

TheBeatles-YellowSubmarinealbumcover

For those who don’t remember those wonderful Beatles days and the art style that was all the rage, here’s the album cover this photo reminded me of.

This post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by Margaret Simon, who is celebrating a birthday today! So are Linda Mitchell and Julieanne Harmatz.  Couldn’t help but post a greeting from the band themselves!

Party Hostess

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Party Hostess

Thinking it through and making lists
to cover all the bases.
Imagining each this or that
and putting myself through the paces.
I know I shouldn’t be uptight
I tend to be a perfecter.
I’d have more fun if I cut loose
this fete to faith and prayer.

© 2017 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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This Sunday my husband and I are hosting a big family party. I love being part of this kind of thing as a helper but being in charge is certainly getting me out of my comfort zone. That is our topic this month and a good one for me to muse on this week.

Even thinking about it for this blog post has been helpful. I’ve been intentional about countering every worrisome “what if?” thought with thoughts and prayers of gratitude that this is happening and joy and anticipation as I look forward to getting together with my large extended family. I am trying to follow my own advice…

sjt-2017-graphicVisit Pat at Writer on a Horse to read more “Getting out of your comfort zone” writings.

Dominion Dreams

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Tomorrow (July 1st) is a very special day in Canada. For not only is it our nation’s national holiday—Canada Day—(like the U.S’s 4th of July), but this year we celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday on this day.

I have been well aware of the specialness of this year for quite some time. Eighteen months ago our Fraser Valley Poets Society began working on an anthology focusing on Canada and timed to release just before July 1st. As associate editor some of the weight of that 208-page, 18-contributing poets book fell on my shoulders and so it was with great joy and relief that I saw the book launched just last Monday.

OCanada-bk&fr

O Canada: Celebrating 150 Years – back, spine, front cover.

At the launch, the editor and I explained some of the processes of putting it together, and several of us read selections from it. At the the break all contributors present assembled around a specially designed cake for a group photograph. Then we celebrated with cake and other goodies before an open mic time.

 

I wrote several Canada-themed poems for the book. The one I share, below, was based on an article I came across on the website of the gold rush town Barkerville (a very interesting place to visit if you love history).

The article, written from the British perspective, attempts to dispel the gloom of naysayers and convince Brits of the wisdom of colonizing this newly discovered land—which had monetary value too (and that should convince them, if nothing else did!).

Of course the fact that this wasn’t really their land to claim is a matter to explore another day. You could say that, to some degree, their confident assumptions still haunt us.

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This mural on the side of the Fort Langley Historic Site depicts the Hudson’s Bay Trading Post built on the Fraser River near the current site in 1827. Local First Nations Stò:lō people traded salmon, and furs for metals, ropes, and Hudson Bay Blankets, with guns being a relatively unimportant item.  (Photo © 2017 by V. Nesdoly, Information from Wikipedia Langley National Historic Site and Fort Langley.)

Dominion Dreams

Based on an article published in the British newspaper The Cosmopolitan – June 10, 1867

The amount of earth’s crust to be ruled by our queen
defies European analogies!
No matter that more than half this vast land
is in a perpetual perma-freeze.

That all that grows there is pale reindeer moss
roam the musk-ox and wild caribou.
There’s still much land left not in barrenness’ grip
to claim on this land mass so new.

The climate and earth are not what you’ve heard
why, the song-sparrow sings first of April.
While the melons and grapes and peaches so plump
are ripe long before the first snowfall.

Now speaking of snow, you likely don’t know
it covers the land—a warm mantle.
So the Red River farmer welcomes early flakes
to blanket fall’s spring wheat so gentle.

And Isle of Orleans just below Quebec
navigators have dubbed Isle of Bacchus.
While cows overwinter to Fort Edmonton
—very bearable, that’s what the fact is.

A Governor General under our queen
will rule this vast new Dominion.
We’ve tallied the value of stocks, goods, and land
it comes to over $1 billion!

© 2017 by Violet Nesdoly (All Rights Reserved)

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Happy Canada Day to all Canadians reading here. And to those in the U.S., Happy 4th of July (in a few days)!

poetryfridayThis post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by Diane at Random Noodling.

 

Build Yourselves up (SJFT – REACH)

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sjt-2017-graphicIt’s the day for my Spiritual Journey (first) Thursday post for May. Today we’re linking at Mainely Write where the topic is Donna’s one-little-word for 2017—REACH. Would you believe reach has 29 shades of meaning (by my dictionary.com app)? What a rich word!

When I hear the word “reach” I imagine a vigorous, energetic motion toward something not yet attained or possessed. We talk of reaching goals and dreams. That’s a side of reaching that, in the last few years, I find myself less enthusiastic about than when I was starting out in work and family life. Lately I’m more content to just be and enjoy the moment for what it is. Have I perhaps entered retirement mode?

And yet, the book I go to for spiritual direction and inspiration has few retirees. One of its heroes, Moses, begged God for a chance to continue leading the people into the Promised Land at the age of 120 (Deuteronomy 3:25; 34:7). Another tireless character was the Apostle Paul who, despite resistance, setbacks, and imprisonment refused to quit. He wrote “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” – Philippians 3:14.

One of the things that affects my ability and desire to reach is my physical state. When I’m rested and fit, I’m far more likely to find myself reaching toward a new skill or goal in imagination and activity. I love Psalm 92:13,14 for its ageless outlook:

“Those who are planted in the house of the LORD
Shall flourish in the courts of our God
They shall still bear fruit in old age;
They shall be fresh and flourishing.”

To make that possible, I believe people need spiritual fitness as well as physical. The little poem about spiritual fitness that I’ll leave you with is as true for me today as it was 10+ years ago when I wrote it. May we all keep reaching in body, soul, and spirit.

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Image: Pixabay

Build Yourselves Up

But you, beloved, build yourselves up in your most holy faith – Jude 20

Warm up with worship
hands raised, spirit stretching
to the Almighty.
Increase the rhythm of the heart
with the jumping-jacks of praise.
Hop onto the treadmill of the Word
read it, study it,
meditate on it, memorize it.
Then it’s down on the floor
for push-ups of confession
abdominal crunches of petition
and, firmly grasping others’ weighty burdens,
bench presses of intercession –  set after set.
Up on your feet again for step-ups of listening
then cool down walking in place, silent.
End with a song of thanksgiving
that pours from a well-toned heart.
Now go out to meet the day
your spirit radiating contentment and joy
flexible and strong from its workout
with faith, hope and love.

© 2004 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

Beijing Magpie

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magpie in smog

Beijing Magpie

“May the magpie of happiness return to roost in our trees” – Chinese saying

Pica pica please don’t fly away
Our smoggy air is not a Four Pest ploy.
For health, good fortune, wedded bliss please stay.
We need your dapper black and white for joy.

So you are thief, rogue, louder than a jay
deceptive, sneaky, flashy, brash and coy.
Bold happy bird don’t disappear in grey.
Without you I won’t be a lucky boy!

© 2017 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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Prompt – Inspiration
This is another poem inspired by one of the photos in the Shadows and Silhouettes collection from the Boston Globe. This poem was in response to photo is #24

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VintagePADThis April I’m celebrating National Poetry Month by posting some not-as-yet published poems from my files, along with what inspired them. If the prompt inspires you to write a poem of your own, you’re welcome to share it in comments. Just one more day and we’re done with posting this collection. It’s gone by quickly. Thanks for dropping by!

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