Bowls

This isn’t a craft blog, but I want to show off some bowls I made. I was reading Gathie Falk’s memoir Apples, etc., admiring her paper mache dresses, remembering I’d once played with paper mache — didn’t we all? — and my fingers itched to try again. Something easy, like a bowl or two.

Is there, in fact, an object as lovely as a bowl? Both in its usefulness (real or implied) and its shape? In what it signifies — receiving, holding?

My bowls are thin (about three layers) and — in terms of bowlishness — a little wonky. Nevertheless, they gave me pleasure, making them. Still do, looking at them. For the three below, I used tissue paper: purple, white, yellow. I painted the inside of the white one and glued on pressed hydrangea flowerets.  Continue reading

Getaway

H. and I enjoyed a short getaway last week: two nights and three days in the Chilliwack area, at the Fraser River’s Edge B & B, about an hour-and-a-half away. We filled up on a gorgeous view of the river, the warm hospitality (with full pandemic protocols), delicious breakfasts, and restful ambience of the lodge. If the continuing Covid season made a change of scene seem urgent, it also made this particular spot possible, for, as co-owner Adriana told us, they’re normally fully booked by out-of-country guests who come for fishing adventures.

We let the other two couples at the lodge wrestle with fish (a nine foot sturgeon, we heard, which beat the humans after more than an hour’s effort) while we explored the river’s edge, Chilliwack Mountain, and the Vedder River trail; bought and ate the best corn of the summer from a local stand; and found my grandparents graves in the Chilliwack cemetery. We’d roamed about in that cemetery some years ago, looking without finding, but this time I’d phoned ahead to get the exact location, and thus we successfully completed the earlier quest. Continue reading

Aunts, in particular & as beloved category

Susie Harder Loewen

My mother’s youngest sister died this week, at 91. So I’ve been thinking about her, my Aunt Susie, and gratitude swells as the memories gather. Her qualities of competence and hospitality and commitment to family. Memories of being junior bridesmaid at her wedding (though I mostly remember my dress), her hosting the gift-opening after my own wedding, and her house — of course — being the place we could drop our first child while rushing to the hospital for the birth of the second. It was Aunt Susie, not Mom, who taught me to sew, and I remember that week with them in their Winnipeg house, how patient and wise she was with her little girls. There was a sense of welcome about her, and as far as I was concerned, every expectation that the welcome should be there. Taking it for granted, I suppose. She was my aunt, after all.

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Harder family (late 1930s?). My mother, Tina, standing far right; Aunt Susie seated beside their father.

She’s the last of them on my mother’s side — the last of The Aunts, I mean, a category all its own. (Mom, 98, the only one of her family still alive.) My mother had four sisters, thus we had the four aunts. As we got older and had families of our own, my siblings and I sometimes discussed and compared them, for The Aunts — the Harder aunts — seemed formidable women, strong was the word, and each in her own way, opinionated too.

I’ve noticed the role of aunts in fiction. Their usefulness as foil, as rescue. Just recently, for example, I read Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life, with its unconventional Aunt Izzy as contrast to Ursula’s traditional mother Sylvie. And in real life too — and I’m speaking generally here — aunts fill gaps mothers may not fill, provide near-hand models of other personalities to watch, perhaps emulate. Their faults become instructive as well, perhaps arouse appreciation for the mother one landed to. They belong to us, that’s the thing, they’re our heritage, but by virtue of connection plus difference, enlarge that heritage. Sharpen or soften it. Round it out. Sometimes, if they’re single professional women, they may tip a bit of money our way, which when we’re young and beginning, feels enormous. If we’re fortunate, they root for us, encourage, offer advice sought or unsought, in other words, freely help themselves to our lives, as we to theirs, and as a bonus, are interested in and involved with our children, and all this with less thanks in return than they deserve. Blessed be The Aunts!