I so remember the excitement and wonder I felt, as a young child of five or six years, walking the five blocks to public school and seeing, really seeing, blades of grass, an ant or caterpillars (of which there were many), a stone which caught my eye, the shapes of leaves rustling in the trees, a crack in the cement sidewalk, the gravel between the sidewalk and the road. Each day was a new, anticipated experience that made me feel so incredibly alive. Being so much closer to ground than an adult, gave a magnified view, a more immediate perspective to nature. The old-fashioned perennial gardens right smack at my eye level were magic with their bleeding hearts, roses, peonies, and a multitude of other bright and beautiful blooms and fragrances.

I dawdled on my four daily journeys, to and fro’ in the morning and again after lunch, loving the experience of examining my world. In between the walks, having to sit quietly and still in the classroom was an impossibility for me. Filled with thoughts itching to be expressed and bubble forth, my chattiness resulted in reprimands. Then came the inevitable long minutes in the hall, waiting to see the principal and suffer the strap on my little hands. None of that deterred me. My thoughts, ideas and experiences persisted in being expressed.

The one punishment that gave me pause was the notation about my talkative nature in my report cards. A gentle admonishing from my parents resulted. I hated disappointing them.

Authority figures in school were another matter. Their opinions did not impact me as much as did Mom and Dad’s. My quiet rebellion at school continued into my post grad nursing program where I was always in trouble. I did try harder with teachers whom I liked and respected. But even as a young child, I tended not to respect anyone who did not like or respect me.

I don’t know where this ingrained belief system came from. Perhaps it was knowing my parents not only loved me, but trusted and respected me. Adults who did not live up to that mark in my eyes, experienced my talkative, waywardness, my only method of exerting some control over my own life.

I was an only child for the first eight years of my life with no peers to share my wonder of the world around me. Perhaps that influenced my desire to talk in school.

Whatever the reason, I remember with great affection, the magic of my childhood and the magic of my small, happy world. And such memories keep me feeling like me, despite the wrinkles and limitations of age.



Be Prepared! . Memoir .

Be Prepared!

My Zentangle Garden. I drew it in the wee hours of this morn when all sane people were asleep.
My Zentangle Garden.   I drew it in the wee hours of this morn when all sane people were asleep.

I am a Girl Guide from way back. Do you remember their & Scout’s motto? Well, I am preparing!

For the past two decades, I have jotted down notes in a file for my children and husband (if I predecease him) for my funeral arrangements. When I first mentioned it to them they were aghast, “Oh Mom …” Then Paupst humour kicked in: “Are you planning to leave soon?”

But the need for this came to me when I realized that since I no longer held my original Presbyterian beliefs, nor the Roman Catholic ones of my husband, that I would be denied the traditional church or chapel service, nor would I want it. So I began thinking of alternatives, ones that would have some meaning for my family that would, hopefully, be grieving my departure.

I realized that any ceremony would have family participation – because we always do major things as a family. It would have to have humour, since that is the most memorable and most cherished part of my life with my family. That would allow them to remember my foibles and eccentricities and there are many; my excesses – chocolate, breads, butter (all the healthy things they berate me for). It would HAVE TO have music. Music has always been my solace, my tranquilizer, my joy. My iTunes library has my favourite music that could be played non-stop for 3 or 4 days without a repeat – Nina Simone; ‘Yo Yo Ma Plays Ennio Morricone’; Leonard Cohen; Chopin; Sissel – Lloyd Webber’s ‘Pie Jesu’ and Shubert’s Ave Maria; Beyonce – Ave Maria; The Priests – Ave Maria and Pie Jesu. (yea yea I am neither Catholic nor religious in any way, but I appreciate magnificent music!)

My Genealogy volumes should be present to represent a major life accomplishment. And flowers – to represent my childhood in my parents flower shop, greenhouses, nursery, and a continuing love for them throughout my life. A few, favourite pieces of my art would be nice to warm up the chosen venue and make me a presence there.

The written word, in poems or thoughts that have meaning for me and may provide comfort to some one or two of my family, would be important to be a part of any ceremony or memorial –

 I Belong

“That is part of the beauty of literature. 

You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you are not lonely and isolated from anyone.

You belong.”

– F. Scott Fitzgerald


“Death ends a life, not a relationship.”

– Mitch Albom: “Tuesdays With Morrie”

Some of my ‘words of wisdom’ I published in the early pages of each “Lineages & Memoirs”.

And … the recipe for my hereafter …


Don’t bury me in the ground
Toss me in the air
Throw me in the wind
Float me on a prayer

Don’t put me in a box
Let go and let me fly
I don’t want pretty daisies
I want the bright, blue sky

And when I fall, I’ll melt into
The gorgeous, deep, blue sea
Or maybe a wild, green river
Or maybe into a tree

I can sway and move with earth and sky
And heaven all around me
At long last I’ll be free
A part of all this bounty

From ash to ash, from dust to dust
Nearer my God to thee
Don’t bury me in the ground
Let me fly, peaceful and free

Copyright © 2013 by Mary Alexandra Stiefvater

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NATURE’S CATHEDRAL . ‘Decades’ . My (early) 60’s .


photoSt. Joseph’s Oratory, Mount Royal, Montreal Quebec


As I descended the wide, unending stone stairs of St. Joseph’s Church on Mont Royal, I took in the panoramic view of Montreal. From any vantage point in the city far below, St. Joseph’s green dome is visible.

I had just escaped the thronging masses inside, all eager to experience Roman Catholic tradition and the accoutrement of the church‘s famous Oratory and Basilica. The escalator was broken and I marvelled at the concept of a church whose purpose was to allow ‘the people’ to praise their god, yet the edifice was so grandly and tortuously high, it was impossible for the elderly and infirm to navigate its uppermost reaches. Though a magnificent building, it held neither comfort nor spiritual attraction to me.

Once outside, I witnessed two men crawling on hands and knees in prayer-filled pilgrimage up the thousand stone steps. Imagine. One man stopped to kiss each; the other, resting on each step, fingered his prayer beads in supplication.

I needed to escape the staid, formidable edifice and the vision of those extremely devout men on the stairs below me. I veered right, drawn by the allure of intricate patterns of sunlight and cast shadows. I entered a garden awash with green hues and intermittent statues of white stone. These were the Stations of the Cross – graphic depictions of Jesus‘ ordeal as he was made to carry his own cross to Calvary.

Despite this cruel and vicious reminder, the garden was a tranquil contrast to the solemn,  crowded atmosphere inside the church. Gradually, as I sat in the beautifully manicured and contemplative gardens, surrounded by a sweet choir of birds, peace began to wash over me. For more than an hour I absorbed the gentle quiet and occasionally read passages of the novel tucked in my bag.

A woman approached along the path. She was walking quickly as though late. Noticing me as she rushed by, she pointed toward the church and said, “There’s a mass at 12:15”. Then she repeated hurriedly, conveying the weight of her judgment, “There’s a mass at 12:15. It is the greatest treasure of all.”

She continued her brisk movements toward her appointment with her god. Just before she was out of my hearing, I heard her rushed and passionate exclamation repeated, “It is the greatest treasure of all.”

I was amazed by her passion and singleness of pursuit.  My quiet thoughts, filled with love for this place, responded just as passionately, “I am in God’s garden, sitting in Nature‘s Cathedral. This is the greatest treasure of all.”

Natures Cathedral

‘Nature’s Cathedral’, watercolour by Linda Paupst



WASAGA TRILOGY . ‘Decades’ . 3 Poems by LRP .

Fuschia Star Magnolia . Ink & Watercolour by LRP .

Star Magnolia – Ink & Watercolour by LRP


No sharks
No leeches
No reeds
Only fresh, clear water
Soul-warming sun.

Undulating wave patterns on firm white sand
Mimic the surface above, of Georgian Bay‘s aqua water.
I tread on, ankle-deep, knees kissed
sand bar raises me up, then down.
On and on, nipples caressed.

Wind and waves create white turbulence
My body thrills by their power.
I bounce and sway to water’s rhythm
Laughter escapes my tightly-wound core.
Simple life pleasures.



As a child, young adult, I loved our lake,
Cottage life, slalom skiing, boating,
Treks through the woods to discover river source,
Pitter-patter of rain on roof,
Rolling thunder, a friend.

Fresh raspberry pies from prickly roadside canes
Laundry waving like flags on the line
Puzzle pieces scattered on table, ready for a rainy day
Dad’s stone barbecue, three succulent chickens rotating, roasting.
Simple life pleasures.

I am asked, “Why choose Wasaga Beach?”
Fourty-seven years land-locked in south-western Ontario,
I yearned for water –
Its shore, its sound, spectacular views, sunsets.
Now, I feel at home once more.


I sleep under a tree
Gentle breeze lifts branches, whispering.
Birdsong adds sweetness to nature’s cantata,
Unhurried lyrics of tweets and trills.
Exquisite beauty.

In recent years, I felt bereft
In our 10th floor condo-cocoon.
Memories of years ago cottage days
Lolling by the lake, at peace with the world –
Sadly absent from my condo reality.

But once more, I thrive on familiar minutiae …
Coffee on the back porch, Coco sleeping under my chair,
Dragging the hose to water planters
Abundant with fuschia geraniums, cascading lime, potato vines.
Simple life pleasures.