Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Room of Her Own

Early morning did not go well. Lately, each dawn wages a new battle. It's the 2-year-old toddler struggle-for-control blues. Mommy has to get to work or to an appointment and clothes that are offered first, then with choices displayed, after which are forced over the head or tugged onto flailing legs, are summarily removed and thrown onto the floor. There is wailing and gnashing of teeth (on both sides). There are hugs, pleadings, bribes. There are visits to the back deck to swear at the trees briefly so it is not directed at a wee one.

"Stop! SssshH! Crash!" The rhythm of our mornings lately.

Yesterday morning in particular begins roughly as I must administer a nasal antibiotic spray up each nostril. As a single mother, this involves straddling him, pinning each arm down with a knee and trying to insert the spray end into the nostrils of a head swerving rapidly from right to left and not hate yourself because your little lad is crying and begging you to stop. I finally get the damn spray "bottle" in and it doesn't SPRAY! Why o WHY do manufacturers feel the need to change something that WORKS? This isn't a  plain old bottle you can squeeze so it sprays the old fashioned way. No. It's got some g-d device you are supposed to easily 'click' to administer the antibiotic. I want to throttle the person who invented this. I manage to spray into the other nostril but one of them begins to bleed a little and he is saying, "I'm sowwy. I'm sowwy." As though he has done something he shouldn't have and he thinks I am punishing him. He just wants me to stop. It tortures me that he thinks this is punishment. I hug and hold him for the better part of a half hour and assure him over and over and over that he has done nothing wrong and we just want his nose to get all better. We move on...

I finally get him fed and dressed and as I pull out of the driveway it is now 9:32am. This morning, aside from it being my first day of vacation, I actually had an appointment. My very first portrait session which was to begin at 9am. I manage to pop off an email that I hope to be there by 9:30. Foiled again. I hit every red light on the way to the daycare. Buses which stop every five metres appear out of nowhere in front of me. I rush him into his room and give him big hugs and run down the hallway. My hair is the way it was when I awoke. I have no makeup on. I hit every red light on the way to the appointment. I had promised to bring a coffee and figure this is the least I can do since I am so behind now.

Jubilant about Juliet

When I finally arrive, my friend Carrie is gracious and forgiving. I almost burst into tears explaining the nasal spray, the morning. She remembers. Her youngest is now three and she has four beautiful kids. She remembers this stage of things. We move on to the Great Event as we down our coffees and chat. Beside me on her kitchen table sits an advanced reading copy of her latest short story collection, The Juliet Stories, due to hit bookstores in March. I remove the lens cover as we chat about the excitement of this collection of stories, now a solid thing in her hands. She is jubilant. Capturing her hands at this moment is like trying to capture my toddler. The blur of motion as she handles her new 'baby' belies a thrilling ecstasy beneath Carrie's generally calm composure.

Writing haven off the kitchen...

Carrie and I got into photography a bit more pronouncedly as a creative outlet close to the same time a couple of years ago. We have recently been discussing a joint (ad)venture involving our mutual facebook friends, of which we have 34. It is inpsired by an etsy post I'd recently come across. A few months back I described to Carrie the idea for a project of my own entitled "ipowr". The anagram stands for Intriguing People of Waterloo Region but also a play on how powerful photography can be and what the "eye" (the one behind the lens, the glass 'eye' of the camera) captures. Ipowr is a portraiture project I hope will encompass images captured and journalistic features on people who live in my area; people who are accomplishing and exploring intriguing things, both on a small scale and a big one. I'm starting big and have asked Carrie to be my first 'victim'.

Aunt Alice's Chair

Recently, Carrie's beautiful, Victorian home has undergone a new facelift. The prospect of a brand new porch meant that, for a stay-at-home-mum of four who is also a writer, a new office space all her own could be factored in. I open the original door of bubbled glass. A small office takes up part of the original front porch in the house. As I step into the space, the first thing which greets me is the heated floor. I am thrilled for Carrie and what this wee haven means for her. The left wall of the office as I enter is a warm redbrick. The ceiling height is majestic and three gorgeous, marbled lamps reach down to hover over Carrie's head as she works at her mac.

'The Carrie Stories' Photo Shoot

The photo I want to take, the photo I have imagined to kick off my new photography project will have to wait. This morning I'm here to capture the author in A Room of Her Own. And she owns the space as she enters it. I ask her a gazillion questions about her writing process, about her upcoming collection of short stories set in Nicaragua, about what inspires her and how the stories came to be. Carrie begins my photo session by grabbing her own camera and shooting some of me. I laugh. As the photographer, this is something I clearly was not expecting. My unkempt hair. Face sans makeup. Clothes thrown on from the floor of my bedroom that morning. But it's an act that puts us both more at ease as the shoot formally begins.

(Not So) Still Life with Redhead

We have a great session and I feel 100 times better than I did two hours before. Plus, I now know new things I didn't know about this friend of mine I've known on and off since we were in our 20s. She inspires me with her energy, her writing, her motherhood and her grace. I feel thankful to know her and that she's helping me to give birth to my own project just as her latest one is arriving in her own arms. Fitting as, outside of being a writer, mother of four and a triathlete, she is also a certified doula. I know this is all the tip of the iceberg called Carrie Snyder. Check out her wonderful blog. She'll hardly remain obscure for long, I warrant. You'll have to change the blog name, Carrie!

Just as lovely in black and white

And I await with bubbling anticipation our next shoot! Today is the first day of Winter and tomorrow's dawn will bring just that little bit more of sunlight into our days. Thanks, Carrie, for making the eve of the Darkest Night of the Year so bright for me!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

My Want

He turned 2 1/2 years old last month. This is the first Christmas he is 'aware' of someone called Santa. That he knows Rudolph is a reindeer with a red nose. I am teaching him as much as his little mind will comprehend about the Wintry Solstice (the hollyday his mum prefers). This time last year, we had a lot more snow in our old village than the light dusting that has fallen thus far where we now reside. I'm praying for a storm.

snow falling on cedars

This past weekend my parents took him while I went out into the country and came home with a scotch pine, wobbling my unwieldy load through the side door and plopping it inside the stand. It is still lopsided. I can't get it straight and haven't decorated it yet other than adding the lights he insisted should be on it. We will decorate it together next Saturday and I will make popcorn and string it and hope he doesn't decide to eat it off the tree.

December morning, bananas and honey

I am cherishing this Christmas. I imagine it is the simplest it might ever be. When I tried to explain to him about Christmas morning and getting a present, he studied me carefully. I asked him, "what would you like under the tree?" and held my breath. His first instinct was to shout the name of the daughter of close friends of ours. I try to explain to him that we can't put people under the tree as gifts (HA!) and what kind of present might he like.

He said, "My want...a red present!"
He said, "Mommy get a blue present!"

"Perfect!" said I.

And that is how I feel. I think to myself, "you are my little blue present, sweet boy." The morning of the 22nd, which is when Solstice falls this year, he and I will open these colourful presents, whatever they are and I will leave a few more under the tree for Christmas morning. Undoubtedly he'll have a few more to open at his grandparents.

handful of stars

But as I become increasingly disillusioned with how commercial this season becomes, I cherish this moment in my heart. I know in a couple of years a tinge of its complete innocence will be lost to him describing to me exactly what brand and what name of item he wants: "not the one with the..." this, "but the one with the..." that. I know he will still hold a lot of innocence for many years to come. I'm turning 45 next month and like to think (I hope) that I still do.

But this moment. This moment. This Christmas.
This one I will always remember as perfect in its simplicity.

Some close friends will gather with us at our home the evening of the Solstice and I will fill paper bags with sand and stick tiny white candles upright in them, light them and line them up and down my driveway and along the porch to guide them to the wassail warming on my stove.

tin tree

And hopefully I can instil in him the importance of giving back. To the community in which we live. To the earth. To thank our yule tree for coming into our house. When we burn the yule log from last year's tree. To the sun for warming our toes again as she stretches the days back towards Summer Solstice. To the cherished gift that is friendship and the reason his very first instinct was to shout my friends' daughters name as the perfect gift for him on Christmas morn. That is what "my want".

peace on earth

Happy holly days, everyone!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


It's 2:45am. I can't sleep. One part longtime insomnia since giving birth. One part overemotional weekend. My body, my nerves are still attempting to unwind.

My son has been battling what I was told was an ear infection since Thanksgiving weekend. But it turned out to be a very serious viral illness. I could not figure out why the amoxicillin he had been put on was not eradicating high fevers at night. Two weeks ago he vomited at daycare. I took him to a walk-in clinic. He had already been on a high dose of amoxicillin for 5 days and I thought it had resolved the ear infection.

Again, he was put on amoxicillin and, by the following Wednesday, his body broke out in what was thought to be hives. I took him to an after-hours clinic: third time he'd seen a doctor in 2 weeks. I was told to lather him with aveeno natural colloidal oatmeal to help with the itching and give him some benadryl.

at my friends' cottage in September

Two days later, his body had changed dramatically and I took him to emergency. He was whisked in ahead of everyone else. The doctor wasn't quite sure what we were dealing with and asked us to stay for an hour. After the hour had passed, he said we were going to do bloodwork. After the bloodwork, he told me he'd asked the pediatrician on call to come see him. She diagnosed it and said, "it's not hives. He is not having an allergic reaction to a drug. He's fighting a bacterial infection. A mycoplasma."

He was admitted to hospital. They kept him in for two nights to rule out whether his symptoms were related to two other conditions that were lifethreatening.

I can't exactly describe how it feels to look a doctor in the eye as they tell you they have to rule out some lifethreatening conditions for your child other than to say its hell on wheels. Your heart, where it normally beats beneath your left breast, moves up into your throat so you can't breathe so easily and you forget about everything in your life. Nothing else matters but that your child is suffering and that he become healthy again.

lounging in the sonroom

He was put in isolation and visitors had to wear masks and gowns. Not because he was contagious but to protect and strengthen his own immune system. I didn't leave his side, of course. I didn't even shower or change my clothes. My hands just kept lathering him to help relieve the need to itch. He was not dozing off for more than an hour before he would awake again to scratch himself and cry out, "itchy! itchy!"

He has always had clear skin and how his body had transformed scared the shite out of me. His little feet and hands and face swelled up like tiny balloons. His entire body from his scalp down to his toes was covered in raised, red-purply welts with white centres which eventually changed and merged together in a blotchy pattern, not so raised anymore but with brown/bruised looking patches on his skin. He was fighting fighting fighting this mycoplasm and now I knew that this hadn't been a simple ear infection which is why the amoxicillin hadn't resolved it. He'd been fighting this thing for 3 weeks, really. And what a brave little man he was. What a stellar patient. Thanking the nurses and doctors in his sweet, little voice, "Sankyou!"

On Sunday, they ruled out the two more lifethreatening conditions and we were released. Today was the first day he smiled in what felt like weeks. He played; he joked, even. On doctor's orders, he must stay home for the week to further strengthen his immune system as daycare can be riddled with germs. I am still coming down from the crazy emotional chaos I went through this weekend, watching him suffer and not knowing what it was exactly he was fighting and praying (yes agnostic-me) that it was not one of these other two syndromes.


The markings and itching have diminished considerably. He is returning to his happy, playful self. Children are so resilient and their inner strength amazes me. As quickly as he appears to be recovering, I think it's going to be a while for me. I'm nowhere near over what we went through yet. There was no Hallowe'en today. I didn't want him exposed to a gazillion kids with potential colds and flus ringing the doorbell after what he just went through. He was showered with treats without dressing up. This weekend had been scary enough for both of us already!

But I am thankful. I am so thankful. For the love and support of my family and friends. And for a smiling, happy, playful son today whose skin is clearing now. I know there are parents out there right now in hospitals dealing with worse nightmares. Where the kids actually have the nightmare conditions ruled out for my son. Or any kind of illness that is lifethreatening. Some of them likely don't even have hospitals to care for their kids. Free health care. Clean water never mind a hospital bed. My heart is with them this night. I only had a tiny, bitter taste (and it was blessedly brief) of what they are going through.

Sonshine is going to be just fine. And has begun to shine again from the inside. Leonard is singing, Hallelujah, as am I.

He is home. He is safe.
Safe and sound.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


A smirk forms as I compare this year's meagre blogging output of 9 to last year's whopping 43 posts. The total is directly proportionate to the growth, mobility and energy rate of my son (and the exhaustion factor of his mama).

I miss writing. And often, these days, the only time I can devote is the wee hours of morning. It's 2:59 right now. I'm awake because my son is finally sleeping. Last week it was ear infections, this week fever during the night, several nights in a row, and now, vomiting.

chocolate cake cheeks

I look back through my blog and want to kick myself. My posts have been so infrequent this year, that when I finally put my fingers to keys in the wee hours like this, I end up vomiting myself. On the page. My posts read like long, lazy, badly edited novellas. I need to hone the discipline required to keep it short and sweet and maybe the act of writing a blog post would not prove so overwhelming and demanding of my time! Haven't posted in a while but my blogging friends keep me inspired and I discovered yet another new blog to love this night. 'Bakerbabe'! What a great name and a lovely gal!

Lately, my precious spare time has gone towards exploits primarily photographic than literary. I belong to a club of photographers via flickr and finally met some of them for a drink and to partake in some night streetshooting. This involves approaching actual strangers and asking them if they'd let me shoot 'em. Camera, not gun. Ahem.

Streetshooting: Sacha with his uke

What a wildly intimidating journey for me because I have so very much yet to learn and absorb (about my own camera never mind shooting strangers). The club has some very patient mentors, thankfully, and I took full advantage of some fancy equipment with my Canon. Turned out to be a really fun and informative night. I am so accustomed to shooting inanimate objects in the light I prefer. When it comes to animate, I feel most comfortable capturing my son. He's my easiest, handiest and most compelling subject! A gaggle of lovely, local girlfriends have promised to be my next victims so I can acquire more practice in shooting people. Maybe I can convince some male friends, too. Have yet to purchase some extra equipment (and get my shite together) before that can happen.

Streetshooting: the fun and funky John Q.

Mastering portraiture intrigues me - not the stiff, boring, posed kind, but a far more journalistic snapshot of real people and their real lives. As scary as this latest adventure proved for me, it was also highly eye-opening and rewarding. And it markedly improved my comfort level approaching strangers to snap some photos at a recent birthday party for a friend's daughter. More and more, it's as though my camera is becoming a kind of spare limb extending from my body — something I use to reach out, touch, to embrace everything around me. I am 'owning' it, finally.

Strangers no more: shot two hours after meeting this lovely family.

And as I experiment and explore, it's not only the shutter that clicks, but my relationship to the world around me, new people I meet, Nature. Life. Life can whiz by you. So it's been really great learning to freeze frame some of its more precious moments. And discover people I would not otherwise have had the pleasure of meeting. If there is a belief that a camera can capture someone's soul, then I embrace that thought. When a portrait lacks 'soul', it's just not as captivating, in my opinion.

Connecting, clicking, with other souls on this planet is really the point of all this, right?

Yes, Life flies by much too quickly so here's to longevity! And to moments of brevity and levity, too. So much is worth the capturing via words and lens.

I hope to do it justice.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Ketchup (Part Deux)

Hello. Hello, Autumn. Damn! Have I missed the hell outta you! This summer absolutely flew by and I had so much to write about but neither the time nor energy by end of day to do it. Even the lovely five-week chunk off with my Sunshine (where we swam in Georgian Bay waters and Huron Lake waters and lazed around with sand in our toes and all our clothes, our hair and mommy played far too much with her camera) did not afford me a blogging moment. All for the best, really.

Georgian Bay palette

I meant to write about the crazy-ass construction ripping up the very street we live on where skid steers and steamrollers practically park on our front lawn each night. My son thinks, of course, this is some private party I've arranged to happen daily for him so when we descend the stairs each morning, he gets to watch diggers at play out the front window as though it's some big screen television.

morning ritual

We don't gots a black box, but he doesn't seem to be missing out on much (nor do I). We have busy enough days and plenty to do versus sitting on a couch zoned in (or rather, 'out') glued to some  boob tube. The construction has been pretty major and shakes the whole house so it was good to get away during our time off together. Although, one advantage is that perhaps I may be the only woman on my street who knows every g-d name of each piece of machinery. Last week, strolling him home, some dude walking past us attempted a little male bonding by saying to him, "Howja like that backhoe?" I couldn't help but correct him. "That's actually a track excavator." He seemed slightly offended as he shirked past me. "Get your mighty machines right, dufus," said I, with a smirk (though admittedly not aloud).

And then, of course, another special someone died: Jack Layton. Far too young. His death affected me more than I could have imagined. He was 'my guy' when I lived in Toronto-Danforth. I voted for him so many times, I've lost count. I'd see him round my old neighbourhood riding his bike. He was green before it became the thing to be. I adored that man. Actually shook his hand and chatted with him one night at some fundraiser years ago at the El Mocombo or some place. What a class act, a gentleman, a passionate soul, a good man. Rex Murphy summed it up pretty well.(Thanks, Rex. Take that, Christie Blatchford! You small-minded, jealous, two-bit hack. Why not get a soul next time you're out shopping and maybe take Rob Ford with you? See if there's a two-for-one deal.)

Er. Ahem. *insert Buddha-inspired smile of peace and composure here*

Last week, Sunshine started full-time at a new daycare. The transition proved only slightly painful—nothing like the first time he attended last March, thankfully. Where he spends his days now there is a lot of outdoor, shaded greenspace, a big sandbox, slides, stuff that looks like granite but is spongy and soft to run on, flowers outdoors to water. Even tomatoes to watch grow!

bunny for comfort, lion for courage, doggy backpack for protection

You might remember my post of last April in which I relayed my all-night vigil to land him a spot in this special place. All the parents who froze their arses off that night finally gathered again weekend before last at a barbecue. We hardly recognized each other out of our parkas and scarves but we had a fabulously fun reunion. I am thrilled he is finally at the place I wished for and will stay put there until gradeschool - this one's walkable and bikeable to and from home and work. So mommy bought herself a fancy new set-o-wheels and a trailer for me babby. No more carrides until wintrytime! YAY!

bicycle built for two

I hope everyone's summer was beautiful. It used to be that Autumn was my favourite season. There seems a tug-o-war going on in my heart between Fall and Winter for first place. For now, Autumn, you is it. I await the equinox, the cooler nights, the layering of clothes, the changing of leaves, the smell of woodsmoke with baited breath...

And the celebration of our very first year in This Old House, come mid-October. Wow. Did that fly by! He'll be 2 1/2 in November. If only I could wind my clock back a year or two when Daylight Savings Time hits. *sigh*

Saturday, June 25, 2011


'Kay. So I promised not to write a novel again when I blogged. But then somebody extra special died. I learned something new today. I learned the debut episode of Columbo was directed by a 25 year old Steven Spielberg. I'm in my 40s and I never knew this before. Neato.


As a kid, it was clear I wanted to be an actor. I was the nerdy cousin who inflicted my grandiose ideas of entertainment upon my twin and other extended family members and friends to put on some form of cabaret or play during family get-togethers and I was quite the bossy little director. I'm sure I had a vision each time I made them learn lines I'd made up and waltzed them around the concrete basement so they'd learn their blocking correctly.

Falk called Columbo an "assbackwards Sherlock Holmes"

Growing up, I watched Columbo. I was a little obsessed with character acting and I remember being impressed that "that guy could do that with his one eye". I thought it was part of his character schtick. I didn't realize he really had a glass eye. Because of his stature, I remember thinking he was Irish when I was a little girl. He had that glint in his eye. Both eyes. (And not because one was glass.) He'd lost his eye due to cancer at the age of three.

Peter Falk.

What was not to love? He was that sweet mixture of self-deprecating humour and humility married with a distinct aura of wisdom wafting off the shoulders of his shabby trenchcoat. He was Columbo. But he was also an incredibly versatile and talented actor.

When I was growing up videos were unheard of. The only way you'd hope to see some of your favourite films was to try to catch them on television. Every year, my siblings and I would scour the new seasonal copy of the TV Guide for when our favourite movies were going to run. At Christmastime, we knew what to expect and mark 'em down on our calendars: It's a Wonderful Life, the original A Christmas Carol in black and white with Alistair Sims; we'd highlight in the guide when White Christmas was on and The Year Without a Santa Claus.

But the rest of the year, we had to pour over that guide with a fine tooth comb for stuff that would run maybe once and on some obscure date. Classics like: Twelve Angry Men, To Kill A Mockingbird, Duck Soup (really anything Marx Brothers), The Quiet Man, Mrs. Miniver, How Green Was My Valley, What's Up, Doc?, Murder on the Orient Express and It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.

Falk played the taxi driver in that last one - this was pre-Columbo days. What an ensemble cast with the great comedic brilliance of: Spencer Tracy, Milton Berle, Buddy Hackett, Edie Adams, Ethel Merman, Phil Silvers and my personal fav from the film, Jonathon Winters. But no matter how brief the appearance, even in an ensemble production, Falk would shine. That aura, again. I read that, as an actor, he was always late. This makes me love him more somehow. HA!

When interviewed on the role of Columbo, Falk said, "I'm a Virgo Jew, and that means I have an obsessive thoroughness. It's not enough to get most of the details, it's necessary to get them all. I've been accused of perfectionism. When Lew Wasserman (head of Universal Studios) said that Falk is a perfectionist, I don't know whether it was out of affection or because he felt I was a monumental pain in the ass." A Virgo. No wonder I loved him. A fellow Earth sign. And he was about as down-to-Earth as you get.

I think of him in another role I loved of his: the grandfather in The Princess Bride. One of his lines was so Falkian, I'd wonder if he adlibbed it except that William Goldman wrote the damn thing. I love that Goldman, who wrote screenplays for films like The Marathon Man, All the Presidents Men, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and A Bridge Too Far also wrote The Princess Bride. He authored the book first, then penned the screenplay. In that film, the grandfather (Falk) tells his grandson, "when I was your age, TV was called books". Amen.

Falk's character also explains that everytime Westley tells Buttercup, "as you wish", what he's really saying is, "I love you."

The film that made me want to join the circus
and become a Trapeze Swinger

When I was 22, I fell in love with a film directed by Wim Wenders called Wings of Desire. I remember seeing it during its first run at the local indie cinema - the only places those days you could catch foreign films. I remember being so stunned by that film, I sat in silence while all the final credits rose slowly upwards on the screen until the projector actually turned off before I was able to move and leave the theatre.

I tried to order the soundtrack and it took me 3 years to finally find a copy I could purchase. The original score was penned by an amazing musician named Jurgen Knieper. A crush inevitably developed on Nick Cave.

That film gripped my heart in so many ways and I kept returning to see it. I must have seen it maybe 10 more times over the next few years, grabbing any chance I could when it ran again. And every time, there was something new that I had missed before. There just was so much depth to that film. So many layers. And it held more meaning for me once I fell in love for the first time finally myself.

One of my favourite aspcts about the film is that Falk plays himself. He's Falk in Berlin doing Columbo but you get the real sense that this really IS him playing himself. And you totally believe that he can see the angel Damiel, played brilliantly by Bruno Ganz. Maybe it's the glass eye that makes you believe it. For me it was one of the special qualities of that film - how the children can still see the angels. So it's no surprise that an adult like Peter Falk can, too, with his childlike spirit and amazing insight.

When my son was born and, especially the first few months, when I would hold him and nurse him, or lie him down to change his diaper, he would look up at me and then up, further up - he would look past me, he would gaze at the ceiling and sometimes he would giggle and smile. I swear to God, a few times he pointed. Now I'm not religious at all, but I'm a spiritual girl. And when he'd do this, sometimes the hair rose on my neck. I wrote a short piece on my photography blog as a kind of nod to this. When asked about death, Peter apparently once said, "it is just a gateway." I can believe in that. Damiel is mortal now so I hope Cassiel is showing him the same kinda ropes. Welcoming him to that other side with a warm "Compañero!" I like to picture that.

To smoke, drink coffee. And when you do it together, it's fantastic!

Today I read that Peter suffered Alzheimer's when he died. Apparently he had trouble remembering who Columbo was. It sucks to read that. He was so brilliant at playing an absent-minded detective. Of course, that was just acting - not just for the role, but the character himself. Columbo was only pretending to be absent minded while he was solving the crimes and figuring out the criminals he pursued. One thing for sure, whatever he suffered with dementia, we will be slow to forget his legacy.

To this day, Wings of Desire remains my very favourite film.

The scene where Falk describes to Damiel what living a mortal existence is like may have been scripted but you get the sense that Falk is 100% behind the scripted words. That Falk knew Life should be lived just like that. Every little thing appreciated.

"Just one more thing..." We're heading out to the video store right now as I finish typing and I'll cross my fingers Wings of Desire is there. I haven't seen it in years, but tonight, after I put him to bed, I yearn to crawl under the covers and turn the lights out and extend my own hand for a shake. And as I watch, I'm going to whisper, "I can't see you, but I know you're here...I wish you were here. I wish you could talk to me. Cause, I'm a friend." I hope he hears me.

The same day Falk died, New York became the largest state in the United States to legalize gay marriage. Little steps. A small gain after this huge loss. Maybe a gift to the betterment of humankind from the other side.

A wink from a glass eye that could see beyond the gateway.
As you wish, Lieutenant. As you wish.

In a final scene of Wings, a motorcyclis is killed and an angel bends over him to recite this poem as he moves from Life into his next existence.

Appropriately, named The Song of Childhood, here it is. For you, Peter.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


Yes, actually, I am still recovering from the Harper majority win, why do you ask?

When I last posted, I was going to follow up my political plea with a post called The Hangover or The Morning After The Night Before. Unfortunately for the next reign of Harper there is no morning-after pill. I am still floored. What galls me is that violent riots shook Vancouver the other night when the Canucks lost the Stanley cup but people DIDN'T take to the streets after Harper WON! The riots post the Bruins win left a bad taste in everyone's mouth across the Nation.

I don't mean to imply I encourage such a disgustng display of sorelosered-ness, but if it had happened after the Harper win, I might have understood a bit more what inflamed the rioting. I don't understand those nimrods in Vancouver who left the rest of their city and country flabbergasted and ashamed. When you witness around the world what people actually riot for, when it's legit - the right to vote, to overthrow a dictatorship, stuff like that - what happened in BC makes you just shake your head. Pathetic.

My girl

The thing is, I really was going to write a response to the Harper win, but my dog died two days after he was voted in. She was 14 years old and I first got her when she was about 9 or 10 weeks old. I can't write about her right now. But I do plan to write a memorial post dedicated just to her. Her loss kind of knocked the wind out of my sails for a bit and I didn't care much about Harper anymore (the ire over his majority win is rearing its ugly head once again, though, to be sure. It's like a zombie that will not stay underground.)

say cheeeeeeeeeeese

Also, since I last posted, my baby turned two years old. Jesus. So yeah. I've yet to write about all I feel about that. Since the last post there's been a death, a birthday, a wedding and a baptism. It's like I've been cast in a Mike Newell film. I guess it's true what they say: when one door closes, another always opens. If a door ever closed on Harper, though, I hope it just stays shut. No welcome back mat rolled out for him again, please, Cosmos, I beg you.

So that's the current plan: I'll be playing some 'ketchup' for the next few weeks and will endeavour to post briefer, more concise, blog-sized, edible posts more often rather than being absent for months at a time and then trying to catch up by writing a novel. I've lots to say...but I'm going to have to work backwards a bit to catchup and then I'll just move forward at a better, more regular pace from there.

fresh maple syrup

Thanks, again, for your patience. And the condolences I know you send to me. For the Harper win. For my doggy loss. The weather has been matching the mood of these events pretty well over May - it was both wet and cold. But now the sun seems finally to have located where I live. I think he just got lost for a while there. With solstice approaching this week, I really do want to believe that summer is finally here.

We could all use a little Vitamin D right now. It's time.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Slaying the Dragon (Part II)

(...continued from Part I)

Since the second week of March, there visited upon us, back-to-back, non-stop illness in one form or another. I think it began when I stayed out all night in the cold to grab him a spot in a highly popular local daycare. I'd heard the stories that people "lined up the night before" and I was thinking this meant perhaps 10pm or midnight. Registration wouldn't open until 8am but when did I end up lining up? 5pm the night before.

That's right. Twelve, perhaps fifteen crazy-ass parents lined up in the cold outside a daycare for 15 hours until those blessed doors opened for 8am registration. My parents took him for me and, unlike most of the other parents in line, I had no partner to "switch off" with. My body was cozy. Yes, it was early February, and I had donned every layer in my closet, but my feet were freezing! I begged everyone to let me keep my spot while I raced home and put on my cross-country ski boots. They were gracious enough to allow it. Hell, it actually became a really neat, bonding time with some funky people. There was a guitar, a ukelele. Everyone sang, told jokes. Someone had set up a tent. A couple of guys brought a propane heater. And when one of the spouses showed up close to midnight with a bottle of bourbon or scotch, we were suddenly figures in some Tom Waits song because by that hour, let me assure you, none of us cared we were all swigging from it like Depression-era, train-hopping hobos.

Singing the Sheep Dip Blues

Of course, come 8am when other dazed, sleepy parents trickled in who had not heard about the night-before-lineup-rumour-that-turned-out-to-be-true, the sudden realization that perhaps waltzing into a daycare to sign your child up with the reek of bourbon breath was perhaps not the best first impression to make dawned on all of us, but by then it was too damn late (or early) and we were too exhausted and frozen to care. We were only too happy to be herded like sheep into the warmth of the actual building where we could begin to defrost, our hands shaking as we filled out the necessary paperwork, faint smiles playing around our frozen lips, proud of our sacrificial selves in the knowledge we had secured our bairn with a spot the next autumn.

A bonus: the knowledge that for the next few years, we as parents could walk our wee ones into the daycare pointing at the ground, saying, "See this slab of concrete? Your mother lay on that all night in the WINTER so that you could come here..."

Okay. Okay. I refuse, as long as I possibly can, to play the guilt trip card, but it's fun to dream and giggle over it now. I actually met some amazing people that night and thought, "Wow. These are the parents of the kids my child will be hanging with over the next few years. Cool."

The downside, of course, was the sinusitis that ensued. I quickly passed that on to my wee boy. And that, combined with the emotional stress of parting ways (me to work, him to daycare full days), brought on pneumonia for him. This was followed almost immediately by full-blown ear infections in both ears for me (loss of balance and hearing in my right ear for close to two weeks), followed by a bout of pink eye for him and then the nastiest gastro bug working its way through our region hit us both with all its might.

You give me fever

He vomited Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I took him to emerg the Thursday and Saturday in between neverending loads of puke-piled laundry. My tummy waited until Monday to begin vomiting. I lost 8lbs in one week. And having already lost about 15lbs over the winter carrying him on my back in his carrier while we walked around town, I dipped well below my weight before I got pregnant.

For close to two months, not one week went by that one or both of us did not end up in emergency at the local hospital and/or our family doctor's office when we could get in: Sinusitis, Pneumonia, Otitis Media, Conjunctivitis, Gastrointitis. Somebody-save-us-nowitis. Bang, bang, bang, bang. By all accounts, our bodies were rejecting this huge transition in our lives and screaming, "We're not ready yet for this! We don't think either of you are ready!"

I spent almost as much time at home or in medical buildings as I did at the office and just as I'd returned, too. The other parents of wee ones on staff gave slight sympathetic nods and chuckles, recalling their own germ-induced onslaughts, I suppose.

Since last I posted, my wish was to turn my focus solely onto him for a spell during this massive transition back to work and into fulltime daycare, though it quickly became obvious I would have no other choice regardless. We have been going through extreme emotional and physical change (he is growing like a weed and I'm withering away to nothing). This blog o' mine remained sorely neglected. I wish to thank those of you who've visited, commented, discovered, read and stuck around.

In two weeks, he will, unbelievably, turn two years old and he is now, thankfully, thriving in his new environment. Got a note the other day from the daycare to say how proud they are of him that two days in a row when he saw another child crying, he went over and hugged him. He has moved from consolee to consoler already. I fought back tears reading that note, but the tears won, let me tell you. And even though I feel this kind of caring and compassion is just in his nature, I'm going to take full credit while I can. We've been, for the most part, on our own since he was born. Family and friends have their own busy lives going on, understandably. Such is Life. And we are surviving. Better than surviving. And, when in dire need, kind souls dropped soup to us, baked loaves, tucked chocolate and sympathy inside our screen door. We are blessed where we live.

The Dragon of Germ-ridden Daycare has been slain now, I hope. At any rate, I'm lowering my sword, dropping my shield and slowly raising my visor.

We are finally surfacing into health again, resuming happiness, and opening our minds and hearts to a Spring that has yet to really show herself. We call to Her now. Come, come to us! We need you. We're ready.

We're ready now.

Slaying the Dragon (Part I)

I recently wrote one of my writer friends that I felt my blog had become this withering, old grandmother of mine in some distant, remote long-term care facility I rarely visited anymore. Of course, both sets of grandparents are long gone for me. But I've been really missing blogging and feeling guilt over its constant neglected state. Life has felt more harried and health issues have been munching up the last few months, dining on each spare moment I might have had without even a belch.

Starting in January, we were allowed occasional visits to my son's new, upcoming daycare as long as I remained with him. I would take him and stand apart to observe how he played and explored his new environment. With each visit he seemed to grow more comfortable with the place and the number of other little people, the concepts of sharing, waiting a turn. Our initial visits were brief: perhaps an hour, no more than two, each time. I could sense that, though he was fine to go off and play without the interaction he was used to from me at home, there was a subtle "checking in" every so often. He would get lost in play but a glance would be thrown my way to ensure I was near and accessible.

Driven crazy by daycare

I thought he was adjusting admirably. My mistake was the February visits became much more frequent such that he became used to my presence there with him. There I was, patting myself on the back like a fool counting her eggs, believing the transition to fulltime was flowing as smoothly as possible. By the first day I returned to work fulltime (March 1), he was in shock that I would not be spending the 8 hours with him.

I began to measure his growing acceptance of this fact by where/when he'd begin to cry during the dropoff stage. At the beginning, he'd wail when I put him in the car on our driveway in the mornings. Slowly, I could get him in the seat tearless, but when we parked outside the daycare, he'd burst. Eventually I could park and he'd wait until he was inside the actual doors. Then a few mornings, we made it as far as down the hallway before the act of removing his coat in front of his cubby brought on Niagara Falls. On other rare occasions, I could get him all the way into the actual room before the waterworks.

What put my heart through the ringer most mornings was the fact that, in the face of his howling sobs and upstretched arms and the cries of "Maaammmmmmmmaaaaaaa", I had read in the literature that you, as the parent, are encouraged to keep a 'happy countenance' as you drop your child off so that she/he doesn't sense any worry on YOUR part about leaving her/him there for the day.

Now, I am a trained actor. In addition to four years of university training and various subsequent workshops and seminars, I've had a good amount of theatre and film experience. I further auditioned for the Royal National Theatre's Summer Programme in London, England, a programme which auditions in five cities in the States and two cities in Canada for a mere 30 spots each summer, and I got in and garnered some incredible training in that programme.

But I can say without hesitation that doing a tapdance with a big smile on my face while choking back my own tears and burying the deeply ingrained desire to grab hold of my reaching Sonshine and run out of that daycare with him every morning in some mad embrace, wild and happy once again, to the freedom and luxury of time we've had for close to two years was the most demanding acting job I've ever had.

My friend, Karl, tried to console me with "in a few weeks, you'll show up and he'll be totally indifferent to your presence and not want to leave what he's doing there and that will hurt even more." Damn you, Karl, for being spot on.

But just as I began to feel all sorry for myself that he was maybe no longer missing me or yearning for me the way every cell in my body was for him while I sat back at my desk, the onslought of germ warfare began. Perhaps this was Mother Nature's cruel joke, "You want more time together again? Okay, bring on The Sick!"

(Continued in Part II...)

Sunday, January 16, 2011


The end of one year has come and gone and what a year! Last year's word for the year for us was "Move" and that is what we did: my Sonshine rolled over, reached out, began to crawl, stood up, toppled over, and eventually began to walk and then toddle. Now he is on the verge of running his little heart out as I chase him around the kitchen every night, something he loves.

And, of course, we had our own epic "Move": from my rural home of the past decade to a new, old farmhouse (only slightly younger than the old, older one) in an urban setting this time.

Yes, last year was definitely the year for moving. And this year, I am moving on ~ onward, ho!

This year, I've chosen my Word of the Year to be "breathe/breath": as in take a breather, step back and breathe, stop and smell the flowers, take a breath before speaking (integral for me because I tend to blurt out my emotions without thinking or taking time to formulate what I'll say or recognize how my words might affect the listener(s)). I want to focus on getting back into yoga again and more regularly. After the harriedness and chaos of last year's monumental changes, my focus this year will be to close my eyes, take a deep breath, relax and trust myself, my instincts with each step forward.

I have also made this particular word choice for the year to focus on finding my breath deep within and by that I mean discovering my voice in my writing and further, in the storytelling I do via my photography, something I equally wish to kindle as a growing project on the side of the work I do to pay the mortgage. I continue to play with various photography projects on my current flickr photostream. This year it is my fervent hope to really let my creativity spark and see how high and hot its flame can grow. Like Gordo sings it, I'm trying to get into things more happy than blue. Hope you'll join me as my journey continues...

To that end, I have begun a new photography blog: Lenstrel. The title is one I've coined based on the definition of a minstrel: a traveling entertainer who recites poetry and sings folk songs. With my photography blog, I intend each photo to be its own poem in a way, and I will include music that inspires or complements the photos I share, along with a short, creative writing blurb at times (at other times I will let the photo tell its own story).

I turned another year older last Friday and this particular year I feel like I have been reborn in more ways than one! So 'breath' is definitely an apropos word for this new year as I feel I am taking my first real breath after a long period of stress and upheaval. I look forward now to the new year that stretches out before me and feel excitement (and some nervous anticipation) about all the changes it promises.

locks curling with (nervous) excitement

One impending change will be my return to work after almost two years off to give birth and raise my Sonshine. So I am cherishing these days we have left together but I know he will thrive in a busier learning environment than I have been able to provide alone with him. His mind is a sponge right now and absorbs every little thing. He will love the busy routine of the days ahead. And the plan is to have atleast 6 weeks off (paid!) each summer as he is growing so this will not be the end of our free time together, thankfully. We hope to travel, camp and I intend to delve more than spare time into my writing and photography once the days grow warmer.

I want to wish everyone out there one magical 2011.

And remember to BREATHE! :)

Music: Gordon Lightfoot, Minstrel of the Dawn