Tuesday, April 5, 2011

More Alive

Finding Heaven
I love linking today with
Jen and this sisterhood here:

I have finished the blocks in memory of my Grandma Marj.

Here is an excerpt from a little essay
I wrote of my memories with her:

After school in the breakfast room, over a glass of apple cider, a wooden bowl holding Triscuts , and a date-filled cookie, I remember Grandma Marj saying, “This morning I saw what I thought was a flock of cedar waxwings in the ash tree, Jodi, but when I looked it up, I found that they were Bohemian waxwings.” She spoke to me at six years old, like I was an Orinthology student in grad school, like I knew without a doubt what a unique treasure it was to have waxwings in the front yard. And, of course, I eagerly responded with a mirror of her reserved excitement as she so precisely pointed out the differences between Bohemian and cedar waxwings as illustrated in her well-worn green covered Field Guide to Western Birds by Roger Tory Peterson. She also noted the comparison information from her Birds of North America Golden Field Guide.

The Peterson field guide was always her favorite and regarded as the most superior to all other bird books. It was a birthday gift to her in 1966, from my Uncle Bob and Aunt Janet Klein from Homer, Alaska. I knew that it was a gift not only because it was a detail that Grandma would have shared with me, but also because it was written in my Aunt Janet’s handwriting on the first blank page as is customary in the VanDervoort family. Along with birds, books were also to be treated with respect and reverent interest. It was assumed that the book would be kept for years. A book was a gift from the heart of another to the heart of the recipient. This was a truth in our family culture that I knew as a child.

Now in reality, I did not know when I walked through the screen door in the garage that day what in fact a “waxwing” was. But I responded with studious interest. A new bird to add to the list was not to be taken lightly. It was a celebration, though not with outbursts of “hurrah” and applause and emotion. No, it was with whispered, wide-eyed excitement and wonder.

I was not sure if the quiet excitement was so as not to scare the birds away or if it was not to disturb my Grandpa Rand reading the newspaper—perhaps it was both. And perhaps outbursts of emotion were improper. They all weaved together I suppose. Even today, I have difficulty allowing excitement and passion burst forth. Reserved and composed, even in excitement, I remain—serious and studious.

Yet, not knowing how to identify a waxwing earlier that day did not stop me from peering through the glass of the living room window at the Bohemian waxwings with wide-eyed fascination and delight.  If Grandma Marj had never pointed them out, I would have missed them.  The significance in this was not just that she told me the bird’s name, nor even the extravagant beauty of the bird.   Because a waxwing is just brown, with a black mask over its eyes and a crested head—like a cardinal but tan instead of red.  The significance was the way that she spoke to me.  It was the care, precision, interest and time that she took with me.  It was a relationship of appreciation between Grandma Marj, myself and the birds.  It could not be separated.

And so, it was with sweet memories that I put these art blocks together . . .

copyright 2011 Jodene (Jodi) Shaw.


  1. First, these are beautiful.

    Second, it brings joy to my heart to hear about someone else's amazing relationship with their grandmother.

    Third, just this weekend, as I was gardening, a bird flew into my red oak tree and was chirping in a way I had never heard before. And, I actually stopped and watched, transfixed by its beauty and song.

  2. Beautiful finished product and beautiful picture. Thanks for sharing both, Jodi!

  3. You touched my heart today, Jodi. I have such a treasure in my own Mom who LOVES birds and I didn't even know it...

    Thank you. Once again you have the sweetest soul.

    Your bird blocks are amazing.

  4. Oh, they're beautiful! Lovely collection.

  5. Thank you for sharing your beautiful creations with us, as well as the beautiful legacy you have from your Grandmother.

  6. I never tire when art and story come together. There are such deep connection when they do..this is beautiful.beautiful
    the memories with our grandparents..when good are something to be treasured forever.
    I am amazed at the way you put color and texture and words all together and it looks good! thank you for your prayers and words too...hugs:)

  7. I love how these pieces turned out...and the words on them evoke so much even in me, and I don't even have the connection with your grandmother that you do! What a beautiful, treasured memory...

  8. Beautiful words of remembering, gorgous art and the picture of you and your Grandma . . . oh my, it is adorable.


  9. What unique and beautiful art. Just looking at them made my heart sing. As a grandmother I hope my grandchildren will remember me with such love and memories.

    With joy,


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