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.

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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.

Conundrum from workplace trenches

It is no longer safe for me to use the bathrooms on my floor.
A trip to the washroom is rife with candy landmines – Halloween goodies – prominently available for the taking on my route. Since I have no willpower, my safest option is to go up a floor, avoiding my level and the storey below me, with its cafeteria smelling like fabulous fresh muffins (damn them!). But, that puts me into Executive Territory and forces me to change into full office dress. I hate wearing hose and heels, and I am very happy slobbing around my floor in my runners and socks all day when I don’t have any external meetings. It is usually close enough to noon, arrival or leaving time to pretend I just arrived and haven’t yet changed. But on the exec floor, well, that’s trickier.

Being as I am lodged in a cubicle these days, making myself presentable means going to the loo to put on hose. At some point. So you can see where this is going. Yep, right past the candy again.

And it is good stuff – chocolate, not just suckers or something.

What’s a girl to do?

Halloween survived

This year, we got the pumpkins a week ahead, carved them a day ahead, lit them an hour ahead, and generally had things under control.
Nobody decided to be something different an hour before trick-or-treating, nobody complained about their costume. J stood very still for her make up, and was virtually unrecognizable as a witch in green face paint. A was the same blue fairy she was last year, only with fewer outdoor clothes on top. About the same time the girls could no longer contain the urge to crack their glow sticks into light, our friend came over to man the door at home so we could venture forth to demand treats from our neighbours. The glow sticks ignited and attached to costumes and bags, and flashlights in hand, we set out as merry a band as every you’d see.

We ran into a boy from the neighbourhood who used to be in J’s class, and assimilated our little group with his, catching up on news with his Mom and Aunt. The boy said absolutely nothing, but J more than made up for it, explaining all the details of neighbour’s names, families and, oh everything, to him and his mom. Nobody panicked at the sight of the Aunt’s little dog – although A continuously told him, at the top of her lungs, as she climbed down steps from front porches with her growing stash of treats: “You can’t have any!”

The weather was mild and pleasant. We managed over an hour outside, and with the many long driveways in our neighbourhood, the kids earned their few treats before bedtime, and fell fast asleep even as they tried to mumble again that they weren’t even the slightest bit tired.

At our house we had a grand total of 3 groups of treat seekers – for a total of maybe a dozen kids, including ours. We have enough candy to last us till New Years.

Any time at all

Wednesdays, we have a standing arrangement with our baby-sitter; she comes over for an hour or so, Beloved Husband and I get out for a walk together.

This week, we weren’t feeling well, either of us, and we decided to go to the little mall near us instead of marching around outside in the cold. BH had some toys he wanted me to see at the department store at one end of the mall, and then we’d check out the grocery store at the other end. At the department store, I did a full tour of the toy shelves tucked into the furthest corner of the department store, while BH moved on to the electronic section closer to the mall doors

That’s where he was when he heard the shots. Being him, he recognized the sound. But, unusual for him, he discounted the possibility. I didn’t hear a thing, and I met him in electronics just as staff closed the mall doors, not too unusual at 8:45 . Then, when we made our purchase, the outside door was also shut. The store was locked down. After a very brief delay, the doors were opened; we went out, and then into the rest of the mall to do our other shopping.

Two people had been shot to death in one of the mall stores, as it turned out, men who were involved in drug distribution.

Apparently a purposeful shooting, and we were at no virtually no risk, though it shocks me to think what if we had finished our perusing a little earlier, and had been wandering past as the gunman tried to escape? I can vividly picture that going very badly.

But what I really did see is bothering me. As we entered the mall, about half-way along, a woman ran past us, with so clear an expression of pain on her face that BH remarked on it. I made some comment on stupid high heels. She ran down to the crime scene and began to cry. I pulled BH on, to do our shopping, but I can’t get her out of my mind. Presumably she knew the deceased, but is she deeply connected? Married to one of them? How is she now?

This kind of thing doesn’t happen often in our city. It isn’t a big place or a highly crime-ridden one. But that undercurrent is there. And, crime aside, life can end abruptly. I’m hugging my kids and BH a little harder than usual this week.

An update

Already a week to Hallowe’en.
I’m doing better than last year – The kids have worked out their costumes, the pumpkins are purchased.
Now, I only have to catch up on the cleaning, cooking and laundry, decorate the house, shovel out my personal, financial and scouting paperwork, organize clothes and gear for fall, tidy up the yard toys, put the gardens to bed, rake, organize our social calendars (through till January) to ensure we get to see ANYONE on weekends, get back on the exercise program and get some Christmas preparations in place.

This weekend was all good. I spent 15+ hours at a course on how to be a Beaver Leader, and met some lovely fellow leaders, new and experienced. Sunday morning, the girls got to ride their bikes (with training wheels) on a 4 ish Km route – which involved run-walking for their parents to keep up. Thank God there are two playgrounds enroute, where at least I get to stand still and just push swings.

I was exhausted. I made lunch, then imposed quiet time. I lay on the couch with my book – kids in separate rooms – until my book fell from my hand and I slept. The kids got me up shortly after that. A had fallen asleep on the toilet and needed consoling. Not my finest moment, but we recovered.

Then we managed a two-part grocery trip, wherein I managed to buy neither supper ingredients nor two vital supplies: eggs and raisins. Again, we managed. Following a late supper and baths, Dad came home, and we all put together a map of Canada (200 pieces – the Northern parts are tricky – all the same colour!) and then bed, and laundry/ the last 2 episodes of Big Bang Theory Season 2 (? maybe 3?) bed and oh, my God it is Monday again.

I’ve just recalled I can post by email.
So this is a bit of a test – let me know if it is unreadable or less-than coherent. A real post with less “and thens”, and more actual stories, to come.

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.