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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…

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.

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.

Suggestions welcome!

So I’m turning 50 in two years. I have a personal goal, not a very well defined one, of becoming “Fit by Fifty”.

But I’m feeling like the occasion warrants a more momentous activity. Although sorely inspired by 50 for 50 , a fabulous (and fabulously successful) endeavour by the awesome Communicatrix , I think raising $50,000 is a  wee tad beyond me. But I’m willing to stretch, some.

I’d like to do something valuable, for kids, for their world, something that is related to food, maybe. But I’m sure raising money isn’t my forte. I’m not particularly good at raising awareness, but if I could find a cause I could truly get behind, maybe a purpose, a goal would arise.

So, any thoughts? Causes you’ve heard of, that you find inspiring, or think I would? Could I raise money walking to Toronto? Or awareness by pedalling naked? I wouldn’t mind public speaking, if I could find a cause that needed that. No one is in need of marathon book readers, that I know of. But I’m ready, I think, to take on a cause, make a mark, take a stand, be counted. But for what?

Help me out here – what would be worth doing, that I could use as both a celebration and a contribution?

 

If you go into the woods today…

Sunday morning, the girls and I met a moose on the trail near Mer Bleu.

Seriously. A big bull, with a full rack, he seemed to fill the space under the forest canopy where he stood, blocking our return home. We had ventured out early-ish, and had made our way through woods and clearings, covering, I guess about 4 or so Km.

We had just turned around when we saw him. We were in a large clearing, and after backing J and A down the trail a bit, I found a place where I could stomp down the undergrowth (about chest high on me) and pull the girls further off the trail, despite their bare legs and skirts. We heard him huff and puff, and I threw J’s apple core to one side. Then we heard him crash through the brush that-a-way, and shortly he was out of our earshot. We waited, then we carefully proceeded back the way we came, going as fast as little legs would take us past the place we’d seen him.

After that, we saw our first people on the trail. We told each group in turn what we had seen, and they all seemed impressed and appreciative. One couple, with twins in backpacks and a 3 year-old on foot, took the opportunity to walk back to the car with us, which was a boon because A was announcing she was too tired to walk further. With a new friend in tow, the girls zoomed ahead, A suddenly filled with energy.

It was a banner weekend for the great outdoors.

 

Meanwhile, back at the ranch

The fact that I finally got my sunglasses on my head, for the first time this summer, on September 25, says a lot about how things are going for me.

I found them occasionally, more or less where they are supposed to be, on my dresser, but they never made it into my purse, the car, or in anyway over my face, since this spring. I feel more than a little bit sheepish about that, but no more than realizing my last post announced Easter festivities when now Thanksgiving is near upon us.

But now, people, I am taking the bull by the horns and attempting to get back online.
I have a number of random posts waiting, and with no further ado…

Here we go!

We’re ON

In case there was any doubt –

The Easter Egg Hunt is on at Chez Treehouse at 14:30 today.

(Yes Good Friday is a little untraditional, but hey, that’s how we roll.)
Hope all the locals reading this can join us!
Happy Easter to all the rest.

Friendship – an abstract art in itself

I am mostly dressed, but I go back and put on a necklace for courage. It is made with extra love, and even has inspirational words on a couple of the beads. “Faith,” I read, then “hope,” hearing the words spoken by the necklace’s creator. It buoys me up as I prepare to face the elements, and that sense of lightness makes me smile to myself. I’m thinking about our two gulls and a buoy, and the giggles we’ve all shared.

Outside, the trees are bending and shaking in the wind, rain whipping at my face and clothes. I turn my back to the gale and fish my key ring out to lock the door behind me. Deep in my pocket I feel its soft wood, another gift from my treasured friend, knowing it is emblazoned with my hard-fought status: “Mama”.

That elicits another grin, as I realize it’s been five years we’ve been in this together. From the first, she was my stalwart supporter, the first person to sing to my daughter and the woman with whom I celebrated all her firsts. Even as she struggled through her pregnancy, she somehow found enough energy to be our girl’s biggest fan, and time to watch her so my husband could come with me to attend a myriad of tests on our unborn baby.

My husband was at home with our girl while I was in the hospital with daughter two – and  despite that her hormonal hell had not abated,  my friend brought me food and caring, just what I needed, supplanting the soul-destroying desolation of hospital catering.

And she’s been there for me ever since, encouraging me through depression and dilemmas; crises and career angst. She’s been that little spark of courage, held tightly in my fist, deep in my pocket, through the worst storms, and the hallelujahs ringing clear to acknowledge our new lives’ accomplishments.

But above all, she’s been an inspiration. She’s kept on giving and believing, being present and persevering, succeeding in improving the world through her work, her marriage, her art, her motherhood.

Happy Birthday,  my bestest friend. Let  your grace shine on.