The Piano

Denim in color with a fine coat of dust, and a faded Avery label at the top.  The handwritten title on the hardcover notebook read:  Will Notes – J A R Palin.

I opened the three-ring cover and found the brand “Hilroy”, size 8 1/2 x 5 1/5.The inside was a hounds tooth pattern, black and white.  The yellowed edged paper with rounded corners framed my father-in-law’s handwriting.  And what was the first item he wrote about willing to someone?  The Piano.

I skimmed through, from beginning to end of this first special notation to find the date:    April 8th, 1990, and the name of the person who was to receive the piano.

I scampered out to the shop where my husband was helping me take some staples out of a project and I showed him the treasure.  Together we read through the notes, me aloud and he silently until I came upon a town or a word I couldn’t make out, then he would interject and we’d continue.  The piano began its travels in 1911, from Oshawa, Ontario to Flaxcombe, Saskatchewan….and on the story goes.  Something about rain and getting stored in a tent while a house was being built.  Water damage then lending it to a piano teacher, and so on….

It was late when I plucked this little gem off the shelf.  I had already found two mechanic manuals that I placed in our son’s room on his shelf next to his hat collection.  I was sure he would appreciate the sentiment.  Dad had probably given them to him a while ago and somehow they had gotten misplaced and forgotten.  They boasted the year 1977.             I couldn’t begin to imagine how the art of mechanics had changed since then.

But this little notebook, I had not seen before.  Unfortunately there were not enough of Dad’s precious handwritten notes.  Not that he didn’t leave lots of stories, and a family genealogy complete with pictures – he did.  It’s just that once a person is gone, what is left never seems to be enough.  The more stories you can find the clearer you may hear his voice?

The notes on the piano should be scanned and reprinted and preserved for her.  On some vintage card stock perhaps.  I picked up my first ever meter of music fabric the other day, it would serve as a great backdrop.  The project would be nothing short of perfection if we could frame the actual handwritten notes, but they’re double-sided, and we can’t miss a single word of the story, the curve, the scrawl, the shape of who he was at the end of each stroke of his pen.  A reprinted version will do, with the originals in an envelope on the back.  It will be as if it was always meant to be, and the project may even find its place hanging above the actual piano in their home.  What’s a piano without the history?

Thank you Dad for taking the time to write out so many little details about so many things that were important to you.  They are important to us and we are grateful!





On Pet Peeves, Writing and Something Red

Hard to believe I’m typing on my laptop at the airport in Kitchener/Waterloo International, it isn’t something I like to do.  Everybody else might, but I don’t.  It’s just a ridiculous as phoning someone on your cell phone when you’re out for a walk – as if the world will end if that person doesn’t hear from you in the next sixty seconds.

Another thing I don’t like, a pet peeve if you like; people clapping in movie scenes.  There’s some sort of hollow, lack luster insincerity when they clap, the one moment in the entire movie where it’s clear they’re acting.  My shoulders rise, and I shiver the same as when the little girl in the church pew behind me rattles her gum wrapper.

While we’re on the topic of pet peeves, opening packages seems to still be in the running for number one.  Hubby says I need to use my teeth, but I say that’s not lady like.

Our trip to the mid-east of Canada for the Word Guild Gala and the Write Canada

Write! Canada

Conference has been both informative and relaxing for us, although for some, programming the GPS for random interests then driving to them, may not sound like fun at all.

We like to frequent city centers and drive around the historic areas, snapping pictures of old houses and the backsides of dilapidated downtown buildings, usually found from a  back alley view.

It doesn’t matter where you go, there’s always a welcoming Irish Pub, and we found two on this tour, one of which came with a beach volleyball net and a truckload of sand.

I got to buy a fancy dress before we flew out for the conference.  Hubby bought me a matching clutch with bling to match.  St. Jacob’s market on a hot Saturday afternoon afforded me one classy floppy sun hat with a black and white polka dot sash (which I’ve always wanted) and one pair of much-needed sun glasses that fit over my prescription lenses.  I thought for sure the glasses would look stupid, but they are very cool in my opinion.

I didn’t win in the Word Guild Lyric category, but feel very honored in having placed as a finalist.  The writing conference that followed kept my brain spilling over, you could almost see a chandelier (as opposed to single light bulb) above my head and strings of words crawling out of my ears.  I have approximately four hours on the plane ride home to review eight hours of workshop material where I plan to reorganize my writing calendar, so I can meet my new writing goals.

Oh yes, and lest I forget – we continue to be on the hunt for all things red in order to know what accents to buy when our kitchen is complete.  Can’t identify my decorating flare,  although I have a sneaking suspicion it is “eclectic”, but I’ve decided I am going to make a list of my favorite finds and then make and create my own versions instead.  For example; I love the plethora of Eiffel Tower decorative structures we found, but I’ve never been to Paris, so why buy one to sit on my counter?  So I’m going to think long and hard about the some of the places we have been, mix that with my personality and see what transpires.  Some of the photographs we took on this trip could be changed to black and white and I could Photoshop one focal point red?  Whatever comes of my creative brainstorm,  I’ll be sure to write about it and post it, so you can laugh or applaud.

And if I thought I was a writer before, I can hardly wait to see how my writing grows from here……

P.S.  When I get home and feel like uploading photos, I will make sure to share one here!

A Heart at Home Anywhere

So Friday morning came and I was up and out of bed to see our daughter off to the airport.  So proud of myself, organizing and starting breakfast.  The only thing was,  I forgot I started breakfast and went out to my workshop.  When I came back in the house it was full of smoke.  I felt like a total ditz.  Talk about having my mind on something else.  Anyway Julie forgave the smoke, and I decided I simply couldn’t ever try multi-tasking when it came to cooking, again.  That way she’ll have a home to come home to, when her DTS in Australia is over.

I’ve been thinking about her latest post in, about “feeling out-of-place”.  I was working on a paper for school yesterday and reading about how Moses felt out-of-place in Egypt and in Midian.  It wasn’t until God called him to lead the people out of Egypt that Moses felt like he was living on purpose.

In the last forty years of his life I suppose it could be said he never had a home.  I suppose his tent sufficed, but I believe Moses heart was always at home with God.

I was blown away to read about the death of Moses in Deuteronomy 34.  Verse seven tells us that his eyes were not weak and his strength was not gone when he died.  In other words, God decided to take him and Moses obeyed.  Don’t you find that amazing?  Doesn’t that make you want to have that kind of relationship with God?  Moses trusted him, Moses was in love with him and knew there was a bigger picture.

I suppose many don’t press in because they want the relationship but not the sacrifice.  That says a bunch about our culture.  We want the marriage but not the sacrifice.  We want children but not the sacrifice.  We want to be Christians but not sacrifice.  We want a church but not the sacrifice.  We want our house and our cars and our shopping but not real life.

Real life, real honest to goodness living is having a heart that is at home with God.

You press on Julie!  Press on Wes and Laura and Eric and Madison…..don’t settle until you’re living on purpose!

One Person’s Call is Our Opportunity!

I’m learning so much about faith.  How when someone in the Family of God is called to believe and act on that belief, it affects the entire family.  One person’s call means we are all called to do something in relation to it; pray, walk together, adjust, give.  Their sacrifice, must be our sacrifice in some way as well.  Sometimes it means we are to give up something.  Giving doesn’t always mean money.  One person’s call to serve is our opportunity to hunker down and re-evaluate our walk, to revisit issues like relationship, forgiveness, or unconditional love.  Sometimes it means being still and quiet and not rushing to the rescue so God can move!  Faith is all about action, but sometimes that action looks like we’re stalled, but waiting on God for permission to take His next, strategic leap!

Sometimes we think that following Christ means we’ve done something to deserve the call, earned it in someway (negating His mercy), then when we’re called to follow through with that call and find ourselves short of strength or resources, we then conclude that we’ve done something wrong or we haven’t heard God correctly (negating His grace).  Remember God’s ways are not our ways.  There are some things we don’t understand, can’t figure out, cannot control and that makes our selfish pride crazy!

We humans are all about conditions, power, position, measuring – God is not.  This morning, Christ’s sacrifice hit me on another level.  He gave his very life knowing that many would reject His gift.  He put no conditions on that gift, gave it for free.  He also knew some would embrace what His sacrifice means, only for a time, then turn away, but He still drug His cross up that hill and allowed His own creations to pound nails in his wrists.  He died!  He, the Son of God, laid down His life for everyone!

If you’re called to do something for God, do it for life!  Not just today, not just tomorrow – but for life!  You’ve accepted his gift, you’ve answered the call, answer that call everyday!

As Christians we think “responsibility”, as followers of Christ, we must think “throw caution to the wind” because as believers we cannot trust in our thinking at all.  Nobody likes to hear that because it’s an insult to our desire to feel and believe we’re smart.  Without God – we’re nothing.  I remember praying for my children’s safety and hearing God say “why?”, when we’re called to serve Him with reckless abandonment. Nobody likes those words because they sound unintellectual, and irresponsible.  I’m sure the disciples families and community thought the same when they left their boat with nothing but a robe and a pair of sandals,  and never looked back.

But we back up often, to apologize and try to sound theologically, or is it politically correct?  Following Christ is about being made new.  Starting all over with a “spirit” mind.  Hold onto what you were taught while growing up, with reverence and respect, but hold onto it lightly.  Jesus comes along and does the sorting and ultimately it is His leading and His Word that you must hang onto – tightly.

We’re in this together!


My Master is Painting

Driving alongside the Columbia River that divides the Washington and Oregon States. Even in the rain I see Him.

My Master is painting

I see his hand as we drive by

Broad strokes purposefully plunging the earth into the Columbia

These mammoth hills, his naked canvas

Rock, layered upon layer

Tufted with narrow upward strokes of straw grass

The tip of his brush stamping texture


Dabs of color, drips and runs the rain

He breathes in close and fog shrouds the sun

He steps back just one universe’s width, before

Smiling in yellow to highlight the peaks

He stills the wind with an upright palm

Rests his brush on Mars

and admires this valley

I turn to look out our rear view window

“This isn’t goodbye” I whisper

“The road ahead will lead us to more of You”!

©Cindy Palin November 11th, 2012


What Freedom Looks Like


Harris Beach, Oregon

The lady at check-out had told us to stop off at Harris Beach, if we got the chance.  She didn’t say our lives would never be the same, if we didn’t.  She should’ve.

We followed a brush shaded walking path, generously covered with a week old, chocolate/gold leaf carpet.  Then out into the open, to paradise.  I carefully stepped over an ancient washed ashore tree and saw what freedom looks like.  Immediately my lips sang words in praise of you, out loud, as if I’d always known the song!

Barefoot I stood in the sand watching the left over lace from a powerful receding wave, tickle my toes and erase early morning deer tracks.  Scattered mini mountains soldiered the shoreline as if they were my personal guardians.  As the surprising November sun warmed my face, I felt your watchful eye upon me.

My arms lifted from my side without permission, a signal to my spirit’s invisible wings to fly closer, higher and light upon your shoulder to hear your morning whisper and feel your breath in my hair.   I heard you and replied, “What you have made is good indeed, my Lord!”

White knuckled waves clinch the rocks before me, shake the earth beneath me, thunder all around me and I tremble in reverence.  But I only bow to you.  The faith pulsing behind this mortal frame, because of the cross – is stronger than this sea.

My body is but a pebble on this glorious shore, but a pebble with a purchased soul. This pebble sized faith can speak to this untamed leviathan as if I were the moon’s gravity itself and freeze the tide mid roll, if you asked me to, just as Moses stretched his staff towards the Red Sea.  It parted, folded back on itself, lifted towards the heavens and for what?  For your Glory!

I could live on this beach, I could lay in this sand for eternity!  I recall a prayer spoken one year prior, an ache for a beach, and a rest, a vision of sand and sun.  Here I am and here You are!  And knowing You and Your love, should I be surprised?




A New Kind of Oxygen

Hiking through Lady Bird Johnson Redwood Grove, California

Was gold discovered here – thus the name “Eureka”?  Didn’t think to ask a local if that’s how the town was named.

Our day’s travels through the dense west-coast forest of the Northern California Redwoods had filled our lungs with wonder, something more invigorating than oxygen.



We dumped our bags in our hotel room and flopped our “Gumby” bodies on the bed.  Soon dreams of animated towering trees fluttered behind our eye lids, filtering their sunlight like the sea sifts her sand.

The forest canopy lifted its arms through the mist in praise to our Maker and remnants of holy rain, fell as an offering to the forest floor, to resurrect the dying, to kiss our awe-struck faces.  Rare windows framed with branches on carefully carved turnouts, reveal billions of tree tops for a thousand rolling hills and a sobering awesome truth envelops me.  We could be lost, but they know we’re here, Jesus knows we’re here and without Him what would all this mean?

We descend as sharply as we had ascended, for mile upon mile, twist upon turn, to find a mighty King tree who graciously allows us to drive right through him.  We reverently go around and park nearby.  Our necks cannot bend back far enough to see his crown, but I know it’s there between the clouds and stars, rusted by salt air, blown in on the Pacific wind since the beginning of time.