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Tracie Skarbo was motivated to write by her father, who was her biggest supporter. “He was always behind me, rallying me on with my writing. I would always see him with a book in hand. He gave me a great appreciation for the written word, and the power and responsibility that writers have to shape those who read their words. He also taught me to respect nature and to value the beauty within it; my reflections on my environment are just an extension of this.” Skarbo was raised on Vancouver Island and is working on her next two books.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Ant Poop

I was gardening for a good portion of the day yesterday. I was weeding, and scooping up the rest of the compost to put over the now weedless patches. This compost was quite dark and dry so it was blowing on the breeze. After a while I went into the house to get a cold drink.

My Son: "Hi Mum, looks like you are doing some hard work out there!"
Me: "Yes, but it is worth while and looks great when it is done."
My Son: "What is all over your face?" (I had wiped my brow and cheeks a couple of times to get my hair and sweat out of the way and had smudges on my face)
Me: "That happens when you are working with dirt in the yard. My version of warpaint while attacking weeds!" I made comical threatening sounds and stomped about the room.
My Son: "You really shouldn't do that you know." Said nonchalantly.
Me: "Do what?"
My Son: "Work with dirt."
Me: "Why not?"
My Son: "Because it is full of Ant Poop!" He laughed and ran away.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Wish Fishing

Soup is on the go
laundry is swishin'
time to vacuume
then it's dish fishin'

Hang the clothes
on the line
then later
if I have time

I'll get out in the sun
to run paved ribbons
with grateful smile
for all things given

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Divine Garden Wisdom

Peals of purple laughter
strung on silken strands
delicate, demure,

a staccato crest
feathered mist

black spattered wings float
illusions of powdered lace
movements unexpected
infused with grace
a shimmering mirage
warm currents

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Game Night

Ever since I can remember we have been a family of games.  Whether it was playing cards while camping, playing board games with friends or inventing new games outside when we were young, it was a great way to pass the time and stretch our mental limits.

I think I was seven when my aunt had first taught me to shuffle a deck of cards, not in the clumsy kids’ way, but rather the cards bent with your thumb on top of the rectangle kind of way.  It sounds like when kids put playing cards in the spokes of bikes to make them sound “cool”.  It took a lot of patience on my aunts part, and a lot of practice on my part but eventually I impressed the local kids with my card savvy.  They clamored around me to have their turn with the new card guru.

Mum taught us Marbles in the back yard, and we spent our allowance money on bags of the clear round shooters that had intrigued my mother in her youth.  I loved the way she would describe the tournaments she and her friends would have and how when describing a certain large bowler in her collection she would get this smile on her face and glazed eyes while remembering.  She would tell us how she would hit the other marbles out of the ring and emerge the victor collecting the other kid’s marbles as her prize.  Her grin was large when she got down on all fours to show us how it was done, and when she did, it was like I had somehow stepped back in time and I could see her there as she would have been in her youth.

The most popular games with my family were Monopoly, Sorry, Uno, Gin Rummy, Solitaire, Crazy Eights, Chess, Chinese Checkers, Mind Trap, Mastermind, Trivia Games, and Scrabble and more recently Pictionary, and Cranium have joined the top ranks as well.

Now as we are much older, and have families of our own we delight in coming together to visit over dinner, and once the dishes have been washed and the remaining food put away, game night begins.  We break into teams—almost always it is boys against girls—and there are times when I am sure our laughter is heard all the way down the street. 

Games have taught me many things over the years, sportsmanship, respect, expanding my intellect, rising to a challenge, patience, problem solving, and how to laugh at myself.  More importantly they have taught me more about humanity, how to respect and accept our differences, and how to work through whatever faces us.  Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but it all boils down to how much fun you had.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Eagle's Song

After a long stressful day when I have almost come to the limit of what I can endure, there is nothing like spending time with a mistress of mine, the ocean.  Whether I walk her skirts where the frothy frills kiss the sandy slopes or I converse with her over rocky cliffs with fishing rod in hand, she seems to quench my thirst for calm.  Rippled waves hypnotizing me with their rhythm as they lick the surf.

She sends her children to distract me from my woes and delight me with their simple way of being, no apologies made or conscious effort given trying to be anything other than what they are.  Eagles visiting with their stuttering wise whistle songs seem to tutor me in natures’ way.

Brine scented breezes tease my tendrils and caress my bare sun burnt shoulders while white triangles wink from the horizon’s edge and with this illusion I can understand why those of long ago feared toppling off the salted table’s edge. 

Puckered cumulus blush the sunset’s brink and I am further rewarded with slick black and whiskered faces gazing at me from the waves.  Perhaps they hope that if I catch anything that isn’t big enough for my table, I will throw it to their watery plates instead.

I play witness to fathers teaching young daughters the art of skipping rocks, and mothers sharing sea pool secrets with sons.  I am taken back to my early childhood memories when as a girl I had learned the same thing on these shores, my smile is born and lingers. 

I revel in watching the Blue Heron in his silent hunting meditation and I am struck by his patience and dedication, he reminds me of a grey feathered monk. 

As the sun dips into the sea to continue her pursuit of the moon, I too must make my way.  No longer am I bloated with the strife of life, but rather revitalized in its celebration.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Stress Reducing Gut Buster

When I have those days where deadlines are looming, family is pulling me in different directions, hot water tanks have given up the gusto, or things in general are not going my way, I find that nothing cures what ails me like a stress busting run. 

I wasn’t always a runner.  Before my days of lacing up and hitting the asphalt, I was apt to taking my frustrations out on a bag of chips or pretzels, trying to crunch and munch my way through my throes of woes.  As if I was able to somehow chew my way out of the conundrum presented, if only I found the right food to feed it. However all that the snacking succeeded in doing was increasing my waist size and it did nothing to clear my head, or smooth my furrows of worry.

I first turned to walking, figuring that just getting out into nature and meditating in the sunshine would blow through the fog in my head, giving me the break time from my problems that I so desperately sought.  It worked.  Not that the problems went away, mind you, but I was able to put things into perspective and it turned out that these times alone were great for the reduction of stress too. If I went out regularly, I found that my head was clearer than if I missed a day.  

I gradually progressed to running by joining a running clinic, and this put me into a deeper meditative state then walking did.  I became more focused during the day and able to complete tasks at hand faster.  Things that had worried me before no longer cross my mind and I have a more positive outlook over all.  When I am out on a long run I can mull over problem scenarios in my mind, and come up with the best possible solutions, then come home and soak sore muscles in a hot bath.  Or I can go out with a friend on a run and just forget about everything for a while, which works wonders too. 

Another unexpected benefit I have gained from running is the fact that my health is better.  Running boosts your immune system, and I have reaped the rewards of less colds and flus throughout the year.  Even in the winter when I am running in cold torrential rain or snowy conditions, my body seems to reject the usual viruses.

I have even given up smoking for my new found love of this sport.  I didn’t have to.  I ran for eight months while smoking before I decided it was time to give up the habit.  I was curious about how I much I could improve my performance and how my energy would improve if I gave up the tobacco that had been part of my life since my teenage years.  I won’t say it was easy because it wasn’t.  I will say that if I hadn’t had running to fall back on during that time I probably would not have stuck to it like I have. 

Embracing running in my life has reduced my stress load, improved my health, but best of all it has reduced my dress size and increased my confidence and what can be better than that?