Saturday, August 14, 2010

Taking A Time out

We all jump headfirst into Summer with its multitude of much anticipated activiities... grabbing at every opportunity to be outside... cottaging, camping, boating, fishing, swimming, picnicking, barbecuing, travelling. On many of these occasions we often share these traditional summertime events with our family and friends.

Strangely... in this what we consider a sophisticated and advanced culture, that this summertime ritual of "gathering"has been with humankind for much longer than we'd guess. In nearly every part of the world and in most every culture, the peoples of a culture meet when food is plentiful and being harvested and the weather is moderate enough to enjoy gathering as.... a community/tribe/clan/family.

August was traditionally the month for the "gathering" of the Sherman clan. Our nuclear family members would meet on the lawn of our beloved "Shangri-la"... a simple cottage on the shores of the St Lawrence River and nestled in the famous Thousand Islands. It was always looked forward to and was the focus of a celebration of family birthdays. My Dad's birthday was on August 16th... my sister Christine's was on the 19th and my Mom's birthday closed out this birthday celebration gala on August 21st.

It was a great time for young and old alike. Lots of laughing... good summer food... burgers, corn, salads, watermelon... cool ones, lemonade and pop -something for every one's taste. We swam, croqueted, lawn darted and sang the time away... together and in full harmony. These were memorable... halcyon days, but as Time seems always to dictate... they came to an abrupt ending... and have since ceased.

The fifty-plus years of cottage occupancy by Shermans and this annual gathering was brought to an abrupt end when the cottage was sold. My aging parents were in declining health and my Dad required more medical attention than could be given in their home. So My elder brother Larry and "I" helped them to relocate in a seniors' living facility... aka nursing home... where they lived out the final part of their seventy-five year married life together.

My other two siblings live in Alberta and Vancouver Island... so that getting together becomes problematic given business and family responsibilities across this distance. The deaths of one's parents is in fact, by itself, a modifier of family interaction- at least that is the case in our family. Parents are the glue, or mucilage which binds a family together. Their passing leaves a very huge void that often cannot be filled or worse in some cases... permits family ties to become unravelled and petty grievances to replace love and respect.

On this weekend," "I" choose to look back remembering and cherishing those halcyon days... and more importantly to count my own blessings... one by one. A shiver of sadness rushed over "Me" while I searched for birthday cards for sister Chris.... and for my Lovely Lady Bug wife Deb. Her birthday became my way to bring that happy ritual forward to the Now. "We" celebrated on August 10th in a wonderfully uplifting and fulfilling way for us both. I truly believe that life can present a continuing opportunity for celebration for the Living... of our small daily blessings.

"We"... abandoned duties at the Paint Box Gallery and headed off to spend a few days travelling the roads in Southwestern Ontario, particularly around St Jacobs, Ontario. This area is the farmland homeland of a very large Amish and Mennonite Community. The St Jacob's Farmer's Market is renowned for its rural earthiness and plethora of products ranging from produce, meats, furniture, leather goods, corn brooms, world-famous heirloom quilts... to handmade whirligigs. mailboxes and children's wooden toys.

We gorged ourselves on visits to many good galleries and craft shops.... fine food and more than a couple soft ice cream treats. "We".... took a Time Out. We are both back on board... full of new energy and exciting "ideas"..... ready to "rock n' roll " !!!!

My "Happy Birthday" from "Me" ... to those "I" love and cherish forever... comes from a small book that I found and purchased in St Jacobs at the Stone Crock Restaurant Gift Shoppe. It is very small... but is powerful in its simplicity and Truth. "I" hope that "You" might enjoy An Amish Portrait-Song of a People by Merle Good... as much as "I".

We watch the past and create the now -
And wish to plant before we plow-
We hear "goodbye" in each hello -
And wish to stay when we must go -
We seek for peace in time of war -
And watch the rich receive the poor -
As day makes night a fugitive -
The living dream,
The dreaming live.

-Merle Good
An Amish Portrait-Song of a People
Published by Good Books Intercourse, PA 17534

Hello to those "I" simply know... or those "I" love -
Whether here on Earth...
Or those who rest Eternally... Above.

Good Summertime Dreamin'.... Take a Time Out... with Family!


  1. A truly beautiful post, Bruce...

    I do not know you except through this blog, but I enjoy your reflections on life, family and art...

    As you reflect so do your readers. Thanks

  2. Lovely post, Bruce. What a sweet, prosperous world we would live in if everyone had your outlook and appreciation for life and loving. I spent countless summers at my grandparents' cottage in Lion's Head, Bruce Penisula - they too held our family together but when they were gone things were never the same. It got very acrimonious. Still, I have tried to recreate that sense of living that I always experienced at the cottage and have pretty much succeeded out here on the island, so I am very fortunate, as you seem to be also. AND, my birthday is also in August!

  3. Dear Friend Marian!... Thank "You" for your continued willingness to share ideas and feelings so openly!

    Admittedly... neither of us knows the "other" personally. But because we are able still to "meet"... purely through blogging and find such a base of commonality of values as they pertain to our daily lives... family and art commitments... distance and firsthand meeting do not in any way seem to diminish the "connections" we share!

    Thank "You" for your always uplifting and encouraging comments and words of support Marian! They're much appreciated.

    Good Painting... and Happy Summer!
    Warmest regards,

  4. Dear Friend Karen!... So good to hear from "You" again!

    My... how strange it remains in the parallels we seem to share between our lives! Cottager youths... August birthdays... and on it seems to go!

    A very special Happy Birthday just especially for "You"... from "Me"! What is the exact date?

    "I" firmly believe that the world would indeed be a happier... fairer... and more prosperous world if more artists and people who value art... beyond owning it... were more visble in the decision-making that we live with... and under. Maybe...

    I always look forward to our positive "conversations" and sharing of art... it is a highlight in my day-to-day living.

    What more can "I" add... besides another BIG
    "HAPPY BIRTHDAY"... to "You"!

    Good Painting... and Happy Summer!
    Warmest regards,

  5. Fabulous post, Bruce. Funny too because I was thinking that when my mom is gone, I don't know that any of us kids would see much of each other. I also stress that I don't think my own kids would see much of each other when I'm gone. It truly is sad. Still, gorgeous memories and what a wonderful two paintings you've shown here. Your parents are just simply exquisite and I am sure you miss them both so very much. The family lake cottage reminds me of the song..."Over the river and through the woods, to grandmother's house we go..."

  6. An eloquent post Bruce. Yes, you described halcyon days indeed. I have memories of times like that too, although not specifically a cottage. If those times must come to an end, I guess it's a treasure to carry the warm memories.
    Wonderful that you and Deb had your batteries re-charged! And the writing by Merle Good was lovely. Take care!

  7. Hi there Autumn!... Good to hear from "You". Time brings change and we humankind struggle with that... continually it would seem!

    Life is about peaks n' valleys... light and dark... calms and storms Autumn! We "run the gauntlet" through life... making life joyful as we can... getting up and going on further when life knocks us down.

    Picasso said it so very well:

    "Man's only purpose on this earth is to find himself."

    And if we are fortunate... along the gaunlet... to discover a "significant other"....... then we are doubly blessed.

    "You" have a wonderfully uplifting and joyous spirit Autumn which is why a host of friends... my Self included... come back time after time to visit your blog site.

    That spirit will travel with "You"... and sustain "You" (and the "Other)... no matter where that truck takes "You"... should "You" choose that path!

    Good luck working things out! THEY WILL WORK OUT....."What goes around... comes around."

    Warmest regards and sweet thoughts!

  8. Hi Friends Kim and Harry!... Thank "You" for your kind words of encouragement Kim!

    We all ... somewhere in our individual pasts share common markers such as these halcyon family memories. We also eventually share a common loss of the individuals ... our parents who greatly helped to shape us.

    "You" and "I" obviously shared the blessing of having had wonderful and caring parents... whose values are now deeply imbedded in those we have now formed with our spouse and family.

    Taking... or spending time with those loved ones was the intended message in the post Kim... before Time does "its thing" and takes those we love and cherish away from us.

    I choose to hold on to... and further celebrate those memories and create such memories with, and for my own loved ones to hold... when "I" am no longer here.

    Thus the Circle cannot be broken. That's Life... Eternal in my own belief system. It's entirely about choices... and after parents leave... the differences of choices and attitudes amongst siblings become ever more evident. Such is life... it's indeed about making choices and living with the consequences that come out of those choices.

    "I" VERY much look forward to the plein Ayr outdoor get together in September... Good times ahead! Back to the easel!

    Good Painting... and Happy Hot Wheels to "You" Kim....HAHA!
    Warmest regards,

  9. Such a beautiful post. I have tears in my eyes just now from where your words took me. And i loved the poem which i have copied and sent to my wife. Thanks for sharing part of your journey with us. Such a blessing for a Sunday morning. I think i will go home, roust the gang and see if they want to head out for a picnic.......

  10. Hi there Ross!... So happy that the message in this post has been meaningful to "You"... and it would seem has "You" thinking!

    Life itself... Health and Family are the most precious of gifts and blessings that we possess. Ironically... each of us will/must surrender these gifts at some yet unknown point along our earthly journeys.

    Realizing and embracing them from Today... brief gifts is the key to True Happiness... for any one of us Ross!

    Do hug your wife... roust out the gang... and get "out there"... picnic hamper in hand!

    Good Painting... and HAPPY SUMMERTIME DREAMIN'... to "You" and Yours!

    Warmest regards,

  11. Thanks for the Summertime Wishes Bruce. What a beautiful story. It's good to set some time aside for nostalgia now and again.

  12. Hi Keith!... Thank "You" for dropping by!

    One must always reserve a space of remembrance "within"... a vault where precious memories and people who have contributed to one's quality of life can remain alive to give comfort and solace.

    Too often in our society... nostalgia and openly showing one's deepest feelings "get a bad rap"... and people show ridicule towards those courageous enough to share their feelings openly and honestly with others.

    In my mind... and practice... Truth and Emotion are to be lauded... to be emulated and to be expected. Life without these seems pretty shallow.

    In my way of thinking, nostalgia and honest emotions are often a vital "trigger" for good painting!Just my thoughts!

    Once again... my heartiest congratulations regarding your coup and well-deserved honour received from HRM Prince Phillip!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,

  13. Hi Bruce;
    I just wanted to let you know that i did indeed go home and roust the gang to go for a picnic. They all said, "yes"! My wife's nephew was staying over with us and also my step-daughters friend came along. We ended up taking two cars and the two dogs as well! We have two Boxers who hate to be left behind. We went to my favorite place behind an old church in the country build in 1856. There is a lake there formed by a dam so we were alone on the shores with picnic basket and other treats in hand. The water is frigid but some of us had a swim while my wife sat on the shore and knitted. We all came home a wee bit tired and everyone was smiling. It had been a long time since we did anything like that. A fabulous day for sure and we have decided to not wait so long till the next time. And all because i read your post this morning about "Taking a Time Out".
    Thank you for the inspiration and the push. I am most grateful.
    Blessings to you and yours,

  14. Hi Ross!... What a wonderfully warm feeling your comment sends back to "Me"!

    "E"... enabling "You"... enabling "Me."
    "What goes around... comes around."

    All that "I" wish this blog accomplishes... is to create an awareness that there are indeed many "pilgrims" like our Selves... who face the same struggles and challenges... in separate but parallel lives.

    None of us need feel that we are alone with the difficulties... or the joyous discoveries and events we each experience. These feelings and events are in fact "Universals". All that changes in the equation... are the faces n' places.

    Your situation and discovery gives evidence and testimony to the fact... "that the best things in life.... are free!"

    The freedom to conduct your own voyage is a huge privilege not to be taken for granted. But with every privilege... comes responsibility... and choices.

    "I" am so happy to reach out to good people like your Self Ross... genuinely seeking nothing more than to share the findings of my own very full personal and artistic lives... in the hopes that they might serve "You" in finding your own pathway to Inner Peace.

    Blessings back to "You" and "Yours",
    Warmest regards,

  15. Hi Bruce,

    Your blog brings reflection. What a lovely cottage and what lovely memories. It is true what you said about parents being "the glue". We always had family picnics, holidays, birthday gatherings, etc. Now that they are gone I rarely see my brothers, mainly because we are scattered in different states. All the more why those memories are treasured. Very nice post, Bruce.

  16. Beautiful sentiments and reflection that you posted here.

  17. Hi Sue!.. Thanks for your comments and for adding your own (similar)memories to the "conversation."

    Memories and relection are both such powerful agents of healing and coping... treasures to hold on to...for each of us in our unique lives.

    Good Painting and Happy Summer Sue!
    Warmest regards,

  18. Hi Becky! ... "I" indeed am happy that the post and sentiments expressed in some manner were meaningful and enjoyable to "You."

    Despite our different backgrounds and experiences... it is comforting to discover that we share similar feelings and experiences that enjoin us as friends and acquaintances... even across vast distances!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,