Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Help - Not Wanted

It's a strange sensation to be forced into retirement when you aren't ready. And I am not talking about work.

Kidlet doesn't need me anymore ... I know she loves me and still needs me to love her back and for incidentals, but she doesn't need me for the big things anymore. And she doesn't want to need me. I was going to say she doesn't need me like she used to ... and then it dawned on me that she hasn't ever been a child who has sought me out.

She was the 18 month old at Moms and tots swimming, struggling to get out my arms, wanting to swim alone. I had to let her sink like a stone to prove that she needed me couldn't swim. She was the the two and half year old who waved hello when I went to pick her up a nursery school, and then turned back to her activities. On one hand I was in awe of her independence and confidence - and on the other - I secretly wished that just once she would hesitate when I dropped her off at school, and display just a hint of clinginess.

When she was three I took her to parent and tot skating with the thought that we would have some quality time together. Wrong. She pushed me away and made off like a wobbly Bambi on her ankles skates to make a friend. I on the other hand used the hour to buff up on my skating and got better than Bambi.

In her lifetime with me she hasn't been one to need me -- that is, until she got sick. Thankfully she was prone to ear infections and to my delight, she would call my name out in the night, arms outstretched, and no one could console her except me. To this day she still seeks out the comfort of my mom hugs when she is sick or not feeling well. But tonight she balked when I insisted on going to her medical appointment with her (just to hang in the waiting room). She insisted that she didn't need me to go -- but she didn't realize I did.

So now my little five foot nine Kidlet is throwing me into semi retirement. She wants to leave the nest --no nudging by mama bird required. She has been counting down the days to freedom as have I (for other reasons). Kidlet may not need me anymore but I can't help feeling that it is somehow easier for her to leave knowing that she has parents who are here, arms eternally outstretched, ready to receive should she want a hug ...

I know she is prepared for the changes before her ... just not sure I am.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Meet, Eat, Play

Friends, family and flames. That is what consumed me for the last week, and I loved it. There is something supremely satisfying about keeping connections and spending time with people that matter to me.

Last week my friend Jilly and I kept what has become an annual tradition. We stole a day from our busy lives and spent it together, wandering High Park, chatting excitedly as we walked, exchanging all of the revelations, events and opinions accumulated since our last meeting, pausing to take in the sunshine and natural beauty of the foliage and ponds. We don’t get face time very often, nor do we speak on the phone except to make plans. It matters not.
We have been friends for a lifetime; we are the keeper of one another’s secrets. When we finally get time together, we pick up exactly where we left off. She was telling me that she read that with a good friend, time doesn't pass by -- it's more like you're floating on a sea of time. That is how it is with J - easy, effortless, and eternal. A few stops for refreshments, a hearty veal sandwich and my first Chai latte and we called it a day – until the next time. I drove out of the city back to my little waterside town owning contentment like it was nobody’s business!
Surprise! Kidlet said “yes” when I asked her to go see "Eat, Pray, Love" with me. After I scraped myself up off the floor and bolted for the car before she could come to her senses¸ she mentioned that she wouldn’t mind grabbing some food. Well I’ll be darned, will wonders never cease. I listened to her life lamentings over teriyaki and took mental pictures – frozen moments for future sustenance. We topped off our together time by a late night visit to Walmart for some dorm gear. I'm gonna miss you ...

The week wrapped up with a weekend at the cottage with hubby. Just hubby and I. We swam, we played, canoed, soaked up UV rays, slathered on SPF60, ate when we were hungry – or weren’t – and fanned the flames – literally – of our shore fire and the morning fire hubby stoked to kill the chill. We gazed at the inky black sky spottled with diamonds and the plate sized moon and marvelled at the changing personality of our lake at sundown, and at our good fortune.

We weren’t home five minutes and I was out the door and down the street to see Pops and T who had just returned after weeks away on vacation. I stayed for hours catching up and covering the usual topics of debate.

I fell into bed exhausted, sun toasted, and contented.

Friday, August 27, 2010


Photo courtesy of Oxfam
There is much need in the world. gross understatement  Sitting on my comfy couch noshing on a delicious, enormous bowl of ice cream surrounded by expensive electronics, watching the reel of horrors of the Pakistan floods play out before me, the images shock like cold water on the face. wake up call.

I have alot. gross understatement I have more than enough. I have excess and abundance. I can have more ice cream if I want it. I am in a ship beside a sea of drowning humanity. Will I toss - at the very least -  a lifeline, or even better, a lifeboat to help save but a few of my brothers and sisters? Will I answer their cries or simply turn the channel distance myself from the ugliness and pain?

I am not turning away. The one thing I learned on my Kenyan trip was how much help is appreciated and how far our dollar goes in a crisis. I am starting with Oxfam and the Humanitarian Coalition. The Canadian government is matching our donations until September 12th. These catastrophic events are opportunities for us to rise up, to remember the greater family we all belong to, and exercise the goodness we have within.

Pakistan needs us now.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Peace Seeker

It occurred to me that I have become a peace seeker ...

There was a time when I enjoyed being
in the centre - or cause - of frenzy,
caught up in chaos, and
immersed in plenitudes of people.
I thrived on a constant current of hum and background noise.

Times have changed - not sure why.
I much prefer the sideline view,
watching the scene unfold before me.
Watching, feeling, luxuriating in it and then
loving the silence that follows the end.

My time spent  remembering, reflecting and contemplating,
is precious and a gift I give myself.
I dream a dream and then explore its possibilities.
I wonder and ask why -- and why not?
I visualize the life I want -- and then realize
I am living it.

I seek peace with my loved ones
and my work family.
I envision peace for humanity
and hold hope alive that it can be.
I wrap myself in moments of "still", and am
calm, contented and peaceful.

I can't remember when the shift occurred and my world tilted just a little;
I only know that peace for me is paramount and
I no longer depend on or require the company of others
to fulfill me or for happiness "to go"...
But I do enjoy it!

So I guess my extroverted, loquacious, self
has learned not only to thrive in living colour,
but also to appreciate the subtle shades
that graduate the spectrum.
And there within those quiet tones, find grace and peace.
Oh peace seeking me.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sunday Situation

I had something very important to write today but it didn't come easy. I was blocked. How did I break that block? Did I persevere, stimulate my creative juices, search for inspiration?  I suppose so, if you would consider procrastination any/all of the above. With this impending deadline breathing down my neck, I proceeded to:
  • check my Facebook updates
  • eat some popcorn
  • change up the music on my Dell jukebox (no, I don't have an iPod and even I can only listen to John Denver for so long)
  • stare at the second paragraph
  • clean out the second drawer of our buffet (found some toffee  from my Christmas stocking)
  • eat a piece of toffee (softens if you suck it a really long time)
  • make a sandwich for tomorrow
  • chat with my daughter on the phone
  • stand at the window and wish for sunshine on my shoulders
  • roll on the floor with Fritz
  • make yet another mug of tea
  • chat with my ex husband on the phone (our version of co-parenting)
  • stand and stretch while singing Perhaps Love.
I finally finished my piece and I think I consumed about a 6,000 calories in the process and stayed up way too late. Oh well, some days are diamonds, and some days are stone.  And if you hadn't already notices,  I definitely listened to way too much John Denver today!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Coming Home

Watching CNN tonight and caught footage of U.S. soldiers returning from Iraq.
Outstretched arms.
Soppy eyes.
Faces buried in grateful shoulders.
Arms enraptured and group hugs.
Reunions of relief.
Expressions of sheer joy, exaltation.
Answered prayers.

And now it will begin for them; the long journey back to life at home.

All I know is I couldn't tear my eyes away from the scene of perpetual reunions. Tears leaked with each and every one. Young boyish faces and fresh faced young women flushed with the exhilaration of having survived as well as seeing the loved ones whose support sustained them, carry the horrors of their experience in an emotional rucksack.

Welcome home. You made it. Thousands of others didn't.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Today is Hubby's birthday. He is  celebrating a milestone - in his own subdued way.

I teasingly call him Dr Doolittle, because he is constantly telling me what the animals are thinking/ feeling.

About the falcon: "The baby is confused and doesn't know where to go, so he is hanging around the area that he is familiar with. He sounds like he may be sick."

About Fritz when he came and rested his chin on the sofa where I was sitting: "He's upset that you are in his spot." I scoffed but when I moved over, Fritz leaped up to claim the spot."

About the raft of ducks that swam up to our dock: "They thought we had food. They are disappointed."

About the chatter of the chipmunks: "Listen. They are spreading the word. They are rattled by the falcon."

Hubby will rescue and release the pesky spider, vole, mouse, and any other misguided critter that comes his way. He is more comfortable with animals than he is with people. He is shy and quiet and it takes time to get to know, but when you make the time and investment to really know him, the payback is huge.

Being the unassuming man that he is, he will not be thrilled to be featured on my blog (he made my lovely header by the way). But I couldn't let this special day pass without sharing a glimpse of my gentle giant.

Happy birthday my love; I can't imagine cruising this autobahn of life with anyone but you. Race on.

World Humanitarian Day

Today is World Humanitarian Day. It is perfect time to reflect upon those in our big human family who do not have the basic human rights that most of us in our country enjoy.

We can reflect upon the millions of people
including children
who have no food to eat; no clean water to drink;
who bury their families
who have succumbed to preventable diseases;
and upon those for whom education is but a dream.

We should pause to think about those
who by a simple trip to get water,
risk physical harm and rape.

Today we celebrate the freedom, safety and security awarded us - our human rights,
and remember those
who do not.

Today can be a day in which we become inspired to make right
that which is wrong. 

Just a thought ...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Senses #1

I decided to borrow a page from over at M. Heart's Secret Notebooks ... Wild Pages and do a "Senses" post. [Thanks M. Heart]
  • wilted roses in a dehydrated bouquet - past its prime - propped up in a vase on the kitchen table
  • wild growth of weeds and assorted foliage poking through the patio stones 
  • sagging pockets of something - creating soft jowls on my face, offering a shade of my mom 
  • cool blue of the pool beckoning
  • Kidlet's stack of books and university paperwork on the buffet
  • Fritz's frenetic thumping as he fluffs and puffs himself
  • clicking of the keyboard keys as my fingers fumble across them
  • hissing of the kettle boiling
  • chirping from the forest over a track of  hum of distant traffic
  • sounds of Glee from the TV
  • oddly contented and discombobulated at the same time
  • melancholy
  • hot -- maybe a personal power surge?
  • sleepy
  • wood burning ... someone has their chiminea blazing
  • traces of residual curry from my microwaved leftovers 
  • garden fresh tomatoes and pears grown by Dad
  • spicy heat from leftover aloo gobi
  • cool sweetness of vanilla ice cream laden with walnuts and a dribble of maple syrup

Monday, August 16, 2010

Mixed Pickles

We drove home from the cottage yesterday after a family packed weekend. We were tired but relaxed. This weekend was hubby's turn; his parents and sister had their first time with us (except his mom who had the sneak preview a few weeks back), along with two of our girls. Our little 750 square feet of paradise is a little cramped for our large family, but I have noticed a recurring feeling that washes over me when I watch the last car pull away up our lane way. Melancholy. For as much effort it takes to entertain a cottage full of people in close quarters, it is the sound of their laughter and splashing in the lake that energize our cabin and create lasting memories. I say "lasting" because even after the last car has driven off, and the last bed stripped, and the final dish washed, the walls of our cottage still vibrate with the love and good feelings that come with sharing our special place.

And now another weekend is behind us - sadly. Summer is far too short. So now we sit at mid August staring the start of a new school year in the face. I have mixed emotions; this fall is bringing a monumental shift in our household. Kidlet will be leaving in just over two weeks for university - the last of my babes. And I know from experience that she will never live at home again the same way. Home will be a temporary landing place for her between semesters and travels. It will be a safe haven and place to return for brief interludes and have laundry done. It will become the launching pad. It's the end of an era and the winding down of my hands on, active parenting.

On the other hand, I can hardly wait for her to experience the exhilaration of freedom that comes from making all her own decisions, big and small, and living them. It will be a thrill to hear her stories of dorm life, studies that she loves and loathes, and how much she misses the big screen TV comforts of home. I can dream can't I?

So I guess my emotions are all over the place. I feel like a jar of mixed pickles - some hot, sour, sweet - but all good! All of these bittersweet meanderings and feelings are rambling around and I never know which one I am going to bite into at any given moment.

Life  is good - and tasty! And for that, I am truly grateful.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Keeping the Connection

I know I said I would spare you all from further posts about my Kenya trip (and reserve them for the Africa Calling blog) but the positive aftershocks of this experience has so deeply permeated my daily life I just can't resist one more.

The group on this trip formed an incredible, easy bond. And even though we all professed our desire to stay in touch afterwards, I wondered if we really would. I needn't have doubted. Most of us have added one another as Facebook friends - including the Maasai warriors and trip facilitators. Every single day since my return, I have had correspondence from one or more of my comrades; messages on my Facebook wall, emails, picture sharing and commenting, invitations to reunite and last night, a phone call from Meg, my soul sister from Arizona. Kidlet snatched the call first - excitedly chatting away to her, bringing Meg up to date on our lives, and sharing some laughs. I finally wrangled the phone from her to reconnect with my far away friend.

Meg is one of those relaxed, go-with-the-flow kinda gals. I could use the word "sweet" and "beautiful"  to describe her (her fresh face and attitude belie her 50 years) but I wouldn't want to make her gag. She is just one of those rare human beings that I have met and felt an instant "knowing". Just hearing her perky voice on the line made me smile and for the next few hours we recanted the highlights of our experience and swapped insights - agreeing that this has left us forever changed for the better. I have enjoyed sharing my tales and pictures with my willing victims family and friends but I have to admit that there is a richness to the conversation/communication that I share with the people who travelled the road with me. There is a deeper understanding and appreciation of the yarns and threads that cannot possibly be expected from those who are bystanders.

Every night since my return I have had dreams about my trip: the lush countryside; the freshness and cool of the morning air; the smiles on the shiny faces; the singing and rhythms; and the people in our group. Kenya has not left me yet and I am certain it never will. The people I met along the way are colourful, glossy beads added to my life string - permanently fixed and mine to hold and treasure for always.

Meg and I hung up reluctantly after several hours I wouldn't want to be getting her phone bill. We covered alot of ground - memories, quantum physics, spirituality, and basically the meaning of life.  We agreed that we have to get better organized and use Skype the next time. It costs a fortune to solve the woes of the world! The friendships are the part of the trip that have kept on giving. Lucky us -  it's worth it to keep the connections!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Life has been lush and forthcoming - especially this past year. I feel as though I am walking through a garden of abundance, plucking sweet red tomatoes from the vine, rescuing crunchy cucumbers from crowded vines, and having the choice of anything I desire from this fertile offering. It's almost more than I can handle!

I suppose a garden is a perfect metaphor for life. We sow seeds where we can barely imagine any possibility and if we continue to nurture the seeds and prepare for the fruit, firm in our faith that something will grow, something surely will. It may not be a whole field, or even a row that blossoms, but we will reap a harvest. If we don't plant a garden; if no seeds are planted, one thing is certain - there will be no reaping of rewards, and there will be no harvest.

And sometimes, even when we are diligent - things happen that are beyond our control; drought, flooding, twists and turns that are imposed on us. These can be seasons of devastation. But the season is not forever; it is but a few months before a new season of possibility presents itself. The trick is to hang on during that time, strong in the knowledge that it is a cycle and that this too shall pass.

These days I am like a happy farmer, collecting delectables in armfuls more than I can carry. I have had some years that have been more bountiful than others and some - even lean. But for some reason, this year is yielding a bumper crop. And I'll take it!

And for this I am truly grateful.

PS - I didn't plant an actual garden this year ... I ate my dad's stuff. All that about sowing seeds ... I was speaking metaphorically.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Phone Frenzy

Well I am not sure what hole today slipped into; it started off nice and slowly and somewhere along the way the middle of the day slipped into a chasm - a black hole. All I did is set off to buy a new cell phone and between the parade of latest, greatest and smartest of phones  (that practically update and escalate your social media statuses all on their own), I lost a chunk of my life. Technology quicksand!

I didn't appreciate the dubious looks I got from the skinny twenty-something techno geek sales associate when I said I wanted to look at the Desire.

He: looking kind of confused at me. "The Desire? It just came out you know."

Me: "Yes, I realize that. It came out yesterday".

He: still looking a little confounded, "How do you use your phone now?"

Me: getting impatient "That's the point ... I want to be able to access my social media ... update my blog, and Facebook and Twitter more easily - and tether."

He: "YOU have a blog?" smirk, slight rolling of eyes

Me: I'm not a %&^% dinasaur. I wasn't born under a rock. "Yes, I have several (blogs).

To make a long story short, we bonded over his phone envy ... for the latest and greatest that I was holding in my hot little hand. His iPhone had lost its glitter and glean after only 3 months and he was scouting the "new stuff". When I pulled my old Blackberry out of my purse to get a phone number, he gasped as if he were staring at the orignal invention. "How long have you had that? It doesn't even have a camera in it!" He really needs to eat more - and get more sun to add some colour to those sallow cheeks.

As I picked up the crispy paper shopping bag that held my new possession, he couldn't resist a parting barb or was it genuine concern .... "Are you going to be alright with this phone? We offer one hour courses you know". I assured him that I knew how to use the Internet and could probably find any answers I would need there.

As I walked to my car, my shiny new phone (named Desire ... dumbest name ever) started ringing. I stopped on the sidewalk, dropped my bag and scrambled to find out how to answer this technical marvel. Caller Unknown. "Hello?"

"Hi Mrs. B. (way too much respect considering he was just rolling his eyes at me) It's the skinny techno geek Ian from Tel**. I just wanted to make sure you could answer your phone. Glad everything's okay."

Little twirp! There are just some things about getting older that really suck are really irritating. I think that will be my next Facebook status update, and my tweet and my blog rant!

- official end of rant -

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Helter Swelter

Sweltering heat has been the order of the day -- for the past three days and nights. But I have no complaints. I work all day in  freezer like temps; drive home in my air conditioned car; and save the 10 metres walk from the car to the house, spend the rest of the night in an air conditioned house. Ironic, huh?

We basically spend 9 months of the year in cool to frigid temperatures, during which fantasies of sweat and swelter dance in our heads. When fair weather finally makes camp, I like to go with it, appreciate it.

Okay, noble as that intention is, I do have one small gripe. Sleeping is near to impossible with a steaming ball of fur sprawled on my body as the air conditioner chokes on its long journey to our bedroom. I lie on my back, melting into my mattress (or is that a night sweat?), a sheet within arms length for security, nearly drowning in the puddle with the ceiling fan creaking at a pitch that rivals a bad violin. And I can't figure out why we aren't fricken bony twigs; goodness knows we must sweat off our reserves in this heat.

Other than that, I am peachy keen. We are in the dog days of summer and I like both (dogs and summer). I plan on clinging to the second half cause before we know it - Kidlet will be gone, I will conduct a post leaving cleaning spree and then that will be it.  * wahhhh *.

Time for bed ... time to sweat.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Weekend Snippets and Remnants

The days were full; the tiny cottage stretched to accommodate the half dozen people and two dogs. Hands and feet entanglements and hip checks in the kitchen served as testament to the awkward layout. But happy chatter alternating with gentle puppy commands trumped all discomfort. I oscillated between my own childhood memories that the cottage triggers and the warm feelings that the family weekend conjured up.

I snapped some pics for posterity; you and your pal chilling on the dock - you - guitar in hand, singing at the top of your lungs and your pal sprawled out soaking up the sun. It was a weekend of firsts. You took your gangly puppy for her inaugural canoe ride as we waved you on from the dock. You christened the bunkie and filled it with your spirit. Sweet memories. We chatted quietly by the morning fire as the run rose over the islands. [File under "magical"]

It was a wonderful weekend; sometimes frenetic; at times chaotic and discombobulated and mostly memorable. Not even the broken septic pump and subsequent deployment of the outhouse could dampen the mood.

We waited as you packed up and then walked you up the hill to your car. Luggage and puppy loaded, a second round of hugs and you pulled away, waving and smiling as you disappeared up the drive.

And I stood there waving as well, feeling the lump in my throat swelling as my smile stiffened to abort the tears that appeared from nowhere. What is happening to me?

I walked back to the now silent cabin ... the walls still alive with your laughter and energy. I sat staring out onto the water. And I thought ... I am finally understanding how my parents must have felt when we came and went from their home as adults. Smiles, hugs and tears.

It was a bittersweet experience with each of our girls when they finally made the final break from home and forged out on their own. In a few weeks I will experience this for the last time when Kidlet leaves for college. Upside: house will stay tidy. I expected that to be the final hurdle but I am realizing that the conflicting feelings will be repeated again and again as long as I have daughters I love coming and going. A part of me never stops missing them and the clatter that comes with them.

So after a nice, long holiday weekend, I am surprised to find myself trying to reign in these remnants of confusing emotions. Motherhood! Maybe I'll make me a quilt!