A good day was had

Yesterday was the first freezing rain of the year. Perhaps because of not having grown up with it, I am always amazed by just how difficult it is to get around in such weather, as well as how stunningly beautiful everything is with a sheen of even a light coat of ice.

BH had already put on the winter tires and shoveled out the garage, so the car was inside and easily managed the roads. The sidewalks were another story altogether.

I managed to get to work by lazing around till BH was ready to take the girls to get their flu shots, and he gave me a drive right to the corner where my bus stops. I nearly did the splits getting out of the car, but grabbed a hold in time, and ventured on towards the verge of grass that parallels the sidewalk for most of the distance between the corner and the bus stop.

In case anyone reading this has not experienced this weather, I should explain that frosty grass provides ample secure footing compared to the truly invisible ice covering the slight dips and grades of the sidewalk. Sliding along a flat surface is one thing, but trying to climb the tiny rise of a where a curb is cut to facilitate wheel chairs (etc. – what is that called?) is nearly impossible. At the very least, you lose at least some forward ground with each step, and at any moment you may come a cropper.

Once I made it to the grass, I stopped to catch my breath. Just then a fit young man landed right flat out on his back while crossing the street. He was going fast enough that he slid a foot or two after landing. Another young man, waiting for the bus, called out and made sure the fellow didn’t need help getting up. Then he turned to me, and, very graciously, offered me his arm to maneuver the last four meters or so to the actual bus stop. I appreciated the offer, I said, but I was worried I’d take him down, too. He retorted that together, we’d be four-by-fouring, and so much more stable – and off we went. It was all very cheerful, and very kind of him to try to make out like he’d have offered to anyone, but I still felt pretty ancient!

I arrived downtown where either there’d been lots of salt laid down, or it was just warm enough to melt the ice. There were only the odd (and still invisible) slippery patches. While I was picking my way somewhat carefully along, but not in full shuffle mode, I noticed a man busking outside the World Exchange Plaza. He was playing, it seemed, some kind of bright red wind instrument. I thought it was some kind of bagpipe, maybe? As I got closer, I realized the red thing was some kind of neoprene cozy for a recorder. I could see it was a soft tube about 10 or 15 cm across, about the size of a large-diameter wine bottle. It must have had a hole on each side to let his hands in, since his jacket cuffs disappeared into it, and presumably a hole in the top for his mouth fit on the recorder and one on the bottom to let out the sound. It seemed a brilliant idea: his fingers, and the instrument, were completely covered. He played beautifully.

If I wouldn’t have had to re-route an extra 10 meters (on treacherous ground!), and fish around for some coin, I’d definitely have contributed for his hard work, and the pleasure the sweet sounds gave me.

I had another couple of things to be pleased about, too. I had on a new-to-me sweater that a good friend had passed on to me, disappointed because it just didn’t work on her. It’s a lovely sweater, not only for its colour, a rich periwinkle blue, but its delicate all-over crocheted lace pattern. I was somewhat dubious about my outfit, feeling rather frumpy with a big wool skirt and a white cotton sweater under the cardigan. However, A pulled out a gorgeous almost-cobalt blue string of beads from my dresser while watching me dress, and insisted they would just make the outfit. I indulged her, or bowed to her better fashion sense, if you will, and figured I might as well give it a try. I was glad I did. Over the course of the day, I got several compliments for the sweater, but most importantly, I loved just looking down at my arms on the keyboard and seeing the cheerful colour and remembering the kindness of my friend who had given it to me.

That same friend also took time to check on me, since I had been at somewhat less than my best the night before. Her inquiries were very timely, because, despite my cheery sweater, and having a couple of good anecdotes to recount from my trip in to work, I really still needed that extra boost. As an even greater bonus, we made plans to attend a local church’s labyrinth walk on Friday evening – so, something to look forward to, too! I am extremely grateful to have her in my life.

The ice had completely disappeared by 11 when I went out to run an errand. In fact, it was just cool and wet-ish enough to make me feel like the little West Coast puddle-jumper I am at heart. I began, for the first time in ages, it seemed, to feel in my element.

Some awesomeness on the Internet

I have a huge passion for blogs.
I rarely do much here, or comment on others, and now I am even limited in the time I have to even read them, but lately,  there’s been some great stuff – go check out:

http://dancewiththereaper.com/

Tim Hoyle’s post on Willpower http://motivationaccordingtohoyle.wordpress.com/2013/01/11/will-power/

And the almighty Julia: http://julia.typepad.com/julia/2013/01/rebel-without-a-clue.html

I keep THINKING blogging, I promise I’ll soon actually write some…

Video

Beauty Unbounded

In honour of my first born’s half birthday. May she always pursue her dreams.

Wherever you go…

There you are.

We’ve been through a patch of rocky ground, my small family and I, for which I take full responsibility. Yet through perseverance, dedication and downright stubbornness, I think we are approaching the other side.

At the same time, there has been much worthy of celebration, much growth and, you know, life goes on. Little A is turning 5 at the end of the month, and is more independent, willful and beautiful than ever. J is 6 and a bit, as caring, insightful, and concerned, and equally, though remarkably differently, beautiful. I am absolutely gob smacked by them. They are so completely their own people, with their lives separate from me, creatures I feel I have had little hand in creating, only delivering and caring for.

I know it is a biological imperative that they adore me, no matter how great it feels to know that they do. But then they do stuff, for good or bad, that is all me, and I think, nature or nurture, I have passed on something here, I have changed the world.

It is all I can do to contemplate the power I have invested in me, continuing to mold these young minds simply by choosing how they spend their time, their influences and stimulations. Or, at least the awesome job of trying to protect them as they venture out into the wider world. It’s terrifying.
But, you know, keep on swimming. And they keep on growing. And so do I.

Depression and writing

In my humble opinion, depression and writing may, on occasion, happen to be responses to the same stimulus. But writing , or any other art, does not depend on great emotional turmoil. But for the most part, the pain just makes the art harder.

This idea is better put, here:

On depression and the writer | Write Anyway with Alice Bradley.

The idea that depression somehow feeds creativity is nonsense. Depression is a parasite. We all have limited reserves of energy, and mental illness drains these reserves.

Her point was  further supported in this delightful snippet I stumbled upon at The Sun Magazine:

Why must every literary examination of Robert Lowell, of John Berryman, of Anne Sexton, of Jean Stafford, of so many writers and artists, keep perpetuating the notion that their individual pieces of genius were the result of madness? While it may be true that a great deal of art finds its inspirational wellspring in sorrow, let’s not kid ourselves about how much time each of those people wasted and lost by being mired in misery.
 — Elizabeth Wurtzel

Just touching base

Rain is keeping me happily at my desk, and I thought I’d best let anyone who’s checking know that all is well at Chez Treehouse.
At work, however, not so much.
So: back to the grindstone, and I’ll see you on the other side.

Too good not to share

The meaning of life, explained.

http://motivationaccordingtohoyle.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/the-game-of-life/

(Edited: the meaning of life was not in the comments to the post linked to. It was the actual post. Apologies to anyone who tried to figure that out earlier.)

Best feeling ever!

I thought I had read everything written by novelist Tom Robbins – of Even Cowgirls Get the Blues fame – years ago. Then, one day, recently, I picked up Half Asleep in Frog Pyjamas from a library sale table. For a buck, I thought, if I’ve read it already, I’ll enjoy his poetic prose again. And, with any luck, my pathetic memory should allow me to be surprised again at the plot twists.

The real surprise was that I had not read this one! Published in 1994, I had missed it entirely.

I have been rapturously enjoying it of late. It is full of improbable characters, plotlines and paragraphs like this:

”There are landscapes in which we feel above us not sky but space. Something larger, deeper than sky is sensed, is seen, although in such settings the sky is invariably immense. There is a place between the cerebrum and the stars where sky stops and space commences, and should we find ourselves on a particular prairie or mountaintop at a particular hour […] our relationship with sky thins and loosens while our connection with space becomes as solid as bone.”

I have been transfixed by the giddy delight of knowing I have found something that not only is great fun to read, but provides a chance to renew my acquaintance with a favourite author and his luscious descriptions of Seattle weather- yes, I actually miss the rain on the Westcoast

Walking the talk

The varnished floor gleamed in the quiet room, reflecting flickering candles set at select corners of the labyrinth. About 10 people sat in a semi circle around one side of the labyrinth. We came in late, and people leaped up to get us chairs. We were welcomed by the facilitator, who then proceeded to suggest how we might all go about this walking meditation on all soul’s night.

I was worried that I would not be able to control my emotions if I participated. What would happen if I started sobbing aloud? Nevertheless, I got up and joined the others walking slowly on the small, painted, twisting paths. The other people were distracting, but quickly became part of the whole experience – other seekers on their journey.

I was thinking about my dad. He’s been gone more than twenty years, now. He would finally be truly an old man of 78 this year, had he survived. It made me laugh when I found myself shuddering at one woman’s shawl with a fringe, despite the fact that it came nowhere close to the flames, because it could ignite — I laughed because I remembered how much candlelit services made him cringe. And I knew he was always part of me, his humour and his foibles.

I remembered other things as I walked, and I talked, in my head, to him about what life was like for me now. When I reached the centre, I stood, soon shoulder-to-shoulder with my two good friends who had accompanied me. That felt good. I told him that I did have good friends now. And of course, my two wonderful girls.

When Dad first died, I was angry that he left me with Mom. He was never supposed to go first. That eventually faded. After all, how long can you stay mad at someone for something they never meant to do? But I was deeply saddened by the fact that he would never know my children, if I was ever lucky enough to have some, and they would never know him. As I walked, I realised that had he lived, I might never have stayed with my Beloved Husband – and thus never had our fabulous girls. Maybe losing him when I did was how it had to be.

And then I noticed something else. I had thought that I would be symbolically letting go of Dad this night, giving myself permission to move on, but, instead, I found myself reassuring him that I was OK, I’d be alright, and he could move on.

Being a parent now, I knew how hard it would be for me to leave my girls, and I appreciated that I somehow needed to make sure he knew all I had gained from him. I am well taken care of, grown and capable. Even though I miss him, I am forever grateful.

Overheard

My older daughter, J, loves nothing better than to explain things, and her soliloquies are often so amusing that I wish I could capture their essence on the blog, but I appear unable to recall conversations well enough to portray even their gist.

There is one from a couple of weeks ago that is staying with me no matter what I do:
It was early, and J thought I had snuck off to work, as I sometimes do, without waking her. I overheard her explaining to her sister that Mama had gone already, and Mama has to work, “and sometimes she needs to work extra hours so that she won’t lose her job. She has to work extra hard so that she won’t lose her job, that’s what that means.”

She continued, after an interjection I couldn’t hear by her sister: “Losing her job means that she won’t be able to go to work anymore, and she’ll need to find another place to work. Yeah, well, she tries really hard but she needs to try really hard, because she has to keep her job to look after us. We have to understand, because Mama is needs to not lose her job.”

That was about four repetitions of “lose her job” more than I wanted to hear. She’s a sensitive soul, and takes things to heart, but I had sort of hoped she hadn’t internalized ALL of the angst that is going on around here – as I try to progress from contract to permanent employee. So much for that faint hope!

Naturally, she has her own understanding of what is going on. It probably helps her to verbalize it to her sister.

I have no idea what A thinks of all this. J keeps things inside, but eventually speaks about things. A, in contrast, acts out. And she’s been doing a fair bit of that lately. So I am concerned. Though both of them seem pretty ecstatically happy most of the time, the dull ache from worrying about next year’s job is accompanied by its twin, the worry for the girls’ well-being in the face of family life frought with uncertainty and stress about the future.

Things are good right now, but it is only now that I can look at my family’s year. I’m hard pressed not to be really scathing with myself about it. However, I take one big breath and another and realize that only by chipping away at my fears can I build a future worth having.

Meanwhile, A is getting better and better at speaking, J seems to have more confidence every day, and well, we’re just a family moving forward.