Saturday, November 26, 2005

For Shari

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The wise, all knowing crone, holds a secret in her hands. She tells the young maiden who has sought retreat in the Hermitage that 'every life so given mysteriously bears within it the seed of its own death'. Life given and nurtured by Mother Nature is finite. Mother Nature gives life which ends in death. Not taking life for granted in the face of this mortality is an acceptance of this truth Shari. Each of us need to spare a moment to meditate upon how to live and nourish and nurture ourselves and those whom we love. This action is life affirming.

an angel for Shari

may the blue angel watch over you and your loved ones at this time. My thoughts and prayers go out to you.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Prayer Lights - For Shari's Family

copyright Monika Roleff 2005.

For Shari - Captured Just Today

copyright Monika Roleff 2005.


I am returning to the Hermitage today in the hopes of finding solace. It will take time, time for mourning and grieving, time for knowing how to respond, time for re-finding my center and due north on my compass.

The catalyst for this visit to the Hermitage occured at 2 a.m. this morning, the day after Thanksgiving. I was woken to be told that my sister-in-law (the wife of my oldest brother, not the brother who died last month) was in the hospital. Barb had a brain aneurysm. Come to find out later, 2, to be exact. There was nothing they could do for her but make her "comfortable." As the day unfolded I discovered that one of the aneurysms was so deep in her brain that it had caused extensive brain damage. The only brain activity left would be a few body twitches.

My sister-in-law has had MS for about 15 years. She had had bouts with it, times she had trouble walking, but no pain. It was only in the last month or so that she started having pain. We had the sense that her life would be shortened, but not to this degree. She is 52 years old. The brain aneurysm had nothing to do with MS. It was just a freak incident. She had the symptoms of having the flu yesterday, which is about the only symptoms you see with a brain aneurysm.

As I retreat to the Hermitage, my brother and his three sons are with Barb now as they remove her from life support. I've asked the other residents in the Hermitage, and the staff, to send good thoughts out to my family, my oldest brother, Steve, and his sons, especially. Steve spoke today of deja' vu as he was at the hospital with my brother, Stan, as doctors spoke of no brain functioning and brain pressure that could not be relieved...the same things the doctors told him last night in regards to his wife. And, again, he has to be with a very dear loved one as she passes on.

So much pain and grief in the past month is hard on us all, but most of all, on Steve. He was closest to Stan and obviously, to Barb.

One thing that is making a permanent impression on my brain is to not take life for granted. Tell those who are important to you how you feel. Don't wait another minute, as it may be someone's last.

I was awake most of the night and day, having a nap in the middle of the day after visiting Barb at the hospital and saying my good-byes. I will be visiting the Bath House shortly in hopes the warmth and aroma therapy will help relieve the creases in my brow, release the pains of the heart through my pores. I'll schedule a body massage for later to help this muscles I've held so taut to relax, to have the grief kneaded from within.

All the while I'm here, I'll pray for my brother and nephews -- both Stan's and Steve's sons. I'll pray for all those who have or will lose a loved one during the most difficult time of the year for loss. And I'll pray that I have it within me to move on from here, crawl out from under the shadows, stand once again in the sun and walk in the footsteps of those who have gone before me with greater wisdom to guide my days, no matter how short.

Twilighting with Camera

Standing out on the balcony gazing at a distant eagle crossing the sky. I grabbed my camera, but snapping away I did not once capture the eagle. Nothing lost, however, as the ever changing twilighting mesmerised me.

I had a need for a pint of milk, so using that as the excuse and jumping out with camera in hand, I made it my mission to share this wonderful night-sky with you. I can't walk very fast so taking the two blocks to the store recorded the sky over a one half hour period.

This might give you some idea of what a wonderful place Vancouver is geographically. Though winter is expressed many places by heavy snowfall, ours are confined to the ski slopes nearby. We haven't yet had a frosty night.
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This very inexpensive camera I bought with my Christmas money several years ago never ceases to delight me with reliable quality, without a doubt it is one of the best purchases I have ever made. I was in such pain and feeling heavily nauseated, then came this sunset and for a time it was all suspended, truly, art therapy with a vengeance. Now I am going to do some serious warming up in my electric blanket with a toastie (grilled cheese). Life is good.

The Quiet Sunlit Oak

Beneath the oak
it's quiet,
enough to read
a book or
lie on the
earth --
comes without
copyright word and image Monika Roleff 2005.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Flowers By Full Moonlight

copyright Monika Roleff 2005.

Monday, November 21, 2005


This milky haze pulls together the discordant vision of the trees and the transformer towers in such a hauntingly beautiful way.
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One can almost forget that the towers are not organic, but one will not forget which is the Creator's work.

Swamp Cypress in the Morning Breeze

copyright Monika Roleff 2005.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Faerie Faces

copyright Monika Roleff 2005.

Friday, November 18, 2005

For Monika

Black and White Study - Ocean Mood

copyright Monika Roleff 2005.

Black and White Study - Horse Chestnut Boughs

copyright Monika Roleff 2005.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Black and White Study - Redgum

copyright Monika Roleff 2005.

Yellow for Lois

copyright Monika Roleff 2005.

Living Beings

copyright Monika Roleff 2005.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Tree Branches


There is not a man who does not feel a stirring of the heart at the hint of the first Spring blossoms taking a risky glimpse at a New World. Is it a kinship with a sense of awe lost with innocence long ago? Some primordial yearning for a time when work was more directly connected with hands, and dirt and wood? Perhaps a feeling of renewal and strength drawn from yet barren forks into a dream of honeyed garlands and precious fruit? Or is it that we have a special link to the trees, one that we need not understand.

Science has revealed that a tree can unzip the magic double helix of human DNA, and that a man can live alone on the fruit and barks and giving of a variety of trees. Religions draw from trees in symbol and in purpose; an olive branch or a structured tree on a barren hill. Others draw strength from the connected roots and life giving elements from earth to heaven. Entire philosophies are based on the eternal cycling of the trees and equate all life to Rebirth, Nurturing, Harvesting and Rest periods. Whether there is truth in none of these, or in all, explore for yourself. Hug a tree! Embrace the texture, vibrancy, scent and strength. You will discover that this simple act will allow you to hug another person more profoundly.

Unfortunately for our personal growth and internal peace, we tend to forget the lessons of the trees. When confronted with a life branch before us, a choice of commitment, integrity or purpose; we choose a path and then spend all of our time justifying that decision. Each day brings us new choices, and each year a chance for renewal. Our life decisions may need pruning or grafting. The very soil in which we have planted out roots may have to be tilled, nurtured or the field abandoned. Each branch and fork in every tree provides the key to all tranquillity. Time proceeds one addition at a time, each segment in exact mathematical proportion to the one from the proceeding year. All of mans’ attempts to control his environment and stand up to forces of God and Nature cannot forestall this imperative.

The tiny twigs swirling in the ripples of the pool are but a minuscule tree branching into the depths a myth and outward to the mysteries of the heavens. If you view this covenant as an oppression of your spirit it will destroy you! If you view the gift of free will as an obligation or requirement to be restrained by choices, you will never be at peace. If you can live each day in gratitude that a choice was possible, and pass the branch like a baton to another, then you will embrace love and fellowship with the essence of man.

The Wisdom of Trees

This piece is from Kindling of the Celtic Spirit by Mara Freeman. It comes under the heading of The Wisdom of the Trees. I thought you would all like it.

"To walk among the trees is to reconnect with our deep ancestral roots in the forest. To look through the spiraling branches of a giant redwood is to contemplate a living mandala; to gaze at the colors of a maple in autumn is to witness the ever-changing canvas of a sublime artist. To inhale the fragrance of a pine and cedar is to absorb the essences of nature. Trees can help clear our minds from the frenzy of our fast track lives, inspire our thoughts, calm our emotions, and fill us with serenity. They are elders on this planet who embody an ineffable wisdom that they will share with us if we but seek it out. I have found that just a short while spent in the presence of certain trees can make me feel soothed and relaxed, as if the tree itself is gently helping me put my fears and anxieties into a broader perspective. Recent scientific studies have confirmed what many of us know intuitively--that trees can reduce the stress in our lives. My own research has shown that trees not only take in carbon dioxide and give out oxygen; they also act as purifiers by absorbing the negative emotional energy given off by human beings and transmuting it into healthy positive energy. They breathe in noise and breathe out silence; they inhale our pain and exhale peace. They take into themselves all the cacophony of the world of humans and machines and turn it into a dance of wind on branches, the swaying of green canopies, sun dapple on leaves, and all the joyous movement of light."


November Afternoon

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The city is looking much colder, stern and unforgiving. gone the careful more cheering days of summer. I can scarcely wait for spring. Please no-one tell me about the number of shopping days until Christmas. I'd sooner keep track of the number of days until spring.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Wedding Veil

copyright Monika Roleff 2005.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Empty House

Where are the kids who would stay,
and parents who would let them?

Playhouse at Sakin'el -- will sleep six kids



I never used to think of houses lost,
condemned to destruction by abuse
of occupants out of step with neighborhoods;
or abandoned --
ever lonely eyes of broken glass,
to memories of better times.

Somehow we always blame or fear
the house …
never heard of a haunted home.

"Just look at that eyesore …
peeling paint and won-out weeds,
and sagging porch and three leg rocker."

'course I ventured,

"imagine the folks inside …
abandoned hopes and shattered dreams,
weary bodies and crippled spirits."

"Na -- nobody lives there anymore!"

Well, I whistle when I pass …
a merry tune -- just because I can --
just in case there is really
a home inside,
or ever was.

Yellow Native by Water

copyright Monika Roleff 2005.

Australian Native

copyright Monika Roleff 2005.

Camouflage Turtle in Water

copyright Monika Roleff 2005.

Native Grass Patterns

copyright Monika Roleff 2005.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Seed Treasures

copyright Monika Roleff 2005.

Green Leaf Hands

copyright Monika Roleff 2005.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Sparrow Girl - The Great Ape

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I must have been just shy of four years old. We lived in a modest apartment, in a very working class neighbourhood. You could tell a Dutch working class neighbourhood because the buildings were devoid of any character. Built just post war to quickly house the citizenry made homeless by the second world war. The nation was still poor from putting all collective resources into rebuilding it's cities and infrastructure. Wen by then, a decade or so after the war, certain goods were rationed. I would stand in line with my mother while she haggled with other women exchanging tobacco and sugar for coffee etc. It was nothing I was an part of. It was often cold, it rains a lot where I cam from.

We lived in a polder. Disconcertingly below sea level. Ours was one of the older apartment block, Bahrain Street. Much of this outlying area of Rotterdam was built in partnership with Shell Oil one of the larger employers. My father worked for Shell, first as a bottle washer in the labs, and at this time as a lab technician. He attended classes in Leiden. My dad was a tall lanky Dutchman. He suffered from baldness. This was not a natural baldness but one he had as a result of a refinery explosion at Shell. I did not know that or need to when I was only four. I thought that all fathers were bald, that how you could tell fathers from other men.

Other than Robbie Ringeling, the little boy who lived downstairs I had no contact with other kids. I lived my own little life close by the adults, I observed. I suppose I always felt removed. My dog was my good close friend. Cerbie was half chow, half wolf. He was noble and fiercely loyal. My father most especially loved animals, he was a farm boy and stayed a farm boy at heart. After the war he had maintained a volunteer status at the Rotterdam Zoo. The zoo was bed and needed foster homes for some of their inhabitants as well as the manual labour and fund raising. Dad occasionally brought one exotic creature or another home and I had almost limitless access to visits (as determined by my parents). I'd played with animals most kids only read about. Large tortoises, strange birds, meerkats (love those).

It must have been early spring or late winter. I was wearing a new pair of mittens. Red mittens with kittens on them and real bells that made a lovely cling-ting sound as I walked. My mother had put them on an idiot chord. She was phenomenal when it came to sewing, her stitches could hold a battleship together. My mother had handcrafted bras from old clothes at the end of the war, for herself and sold some others for food money. You have to admire the resourcefulness. My dad was always in charge of sewing on buttons, something he became very adept at while in the army, he'd done a two year stint as an army medic.

My father had talked excitedly about this zoo trip, the ape exhibit was opening and the zoo now had a resident Mandril. He had shown me pictures. I understood that these "apes" were very large and came from the jungle, in Africa. I was happy to hear that these awfully large fearsome looking beasts were not native to where I lived, otherwise I doubt I'd have been able to sleep, ever again.

It was one of those guided tours, the insider gala to open the exhibit. It all looked very barren, painted freshly white not at all like a jungle. It smelled a lot like my grandmother's chicken coop. I wondered naively if anyone every cleaned the place. I buried my face in mother's coat.
"Kijk Aletta (Look Aletta)", my father pointed at a very large cage on the right hand side. I sighed, this meant I had to look, even though I'd rather stay looking at the five or six meerkats playing "now you see me" behind a pane of glass. I thought I recognize one of them as a house guest we'd had.

It was hideous, I'd no idea why my parents would be so damn thrilled to see this big, albeit colourful beast. Its nostrils flared, it paced about nervously, knuckle dragging. Occasionally it would storm towards the cage wall and glare at the VIP crowd. The crowd was thrilled, nervous laughter, and big pompous men giving explanation. I was utterly bored. I hopped at bit foot to foot. Standing still is very hard on little children. I could have stood still, if I had meerkats to watch, but I'd as soon not look at the mandrill. My mind was quite made up that all such animals should stay in Africa and for my side of the bargain I intended never to venture into a jungle.

I'd made no note of the cage next to the mandrill. Many of the cages were still empty or animals were back in the private rooms at the back where they were fed, out of the public eye. So it neither came to my notice or anyone else's. The large red ape had sidled right up to the cage wall virtually next to the small crowd, still sharply focused on the noisy, larger than life antics of the mandril. It says something that it did not set off my fear alarm at all. My face was buried in my mother's coat, it filtered out the stink, and the mandril could not see me. My little fingers played with the bells on my mitten, I found the sound soothing, helped tune out the snarling ape.

There was the moment I was safely tucked into the coat, and then the next moment where I found myself righting myself, by myself, in the cage. The dirty stinking rotten ape had hold of my mitten, and managed with great force to pull me into the cage. I reached back. The crowd was gasping and shouting. My mom had managed to reach my hand, she held onto it firmly. She was brilliant. "She likes your mitten", she told me. Here you see the value of growing up in the midst of a war. She knew there was no ignoring this, and it was counter productive to raise my fear above what it already was.

I could see, looking at the great ape's eyes, that she did, in fact, want the mitten and not me. Unlike the mandril, this primate had kind eyes, and except for harshly pulling me into the cage with her, she meant no harm. lovely mitten.

"It is my mitten", the ape tilted it's head, trying I suppose, to understand. It stopped for a second. Then gave the mitten another tug. My mother was ready, she had my arm up high enough that the mitten could fly straight through, idiot chord and all. It was a good plan, but I was not having it. It was my damn mitten and she could not have it. My mother pleaded with "She wants it for her babies". Well, I could see she might have babies, she had breasts alright, so she was a mommy ape. With all my might I held on to the second mitten, the ape was walking away with the first one. Finally the chord snapped. I jumped back to my footing. I can quite recall exactly how it felt. My feet firmly planted, my little hands on my hips. I now yelled "that's my mitten, I want it back....NOW!"

I think I could have got the beast to comply, I was absolutely certain of it. I could have, but a zoo keeper cam in and snapped me off my feet and carried me out. Just one mitten left. I spent some considerable time in front of the orangutan cage, a safer distance away, both parents trying to make me feel safe. Actually I was not feeling unsafe at all. This ape was a sweet animal, a mommy, who wanted something nice. I'd noticed none of the zoo animals had toys and thought that was sad. The Orangutan was contentedly taking apart my mitten.

My mom couldn't find another mitten with bells on it. Mom also never put idiot chords on my mittens. I always have bells in my sewing kit. Every once in a while, some child dear to my heart receives a pair of mittens at Christmas, with little bells securely sewn on. I love the sound they make.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Another Glow

The Glow of Lights

copyright Monika Roleff 2005.