Monday, October 31, 2011

Tribe Time

Kitchen chatter
Friday night was a historical one - at least for our family, and for several reasons. It was the first time the parents of my daughter and her fiancee met, and it was the first time that all my husbands - exes and present - were together in celebration, in one room. My future son-in-law has an extended family as well and he was proudly represented by his mom and step-dad, and his father. It sounds complicated, however it was a relaxing family mosaic of diverse personalities and relationships bound together by the abiding love for the young couple.

We nibbled, drank, laughed, teased and debated around our dining room table. We exchanged memories, and ideas, and frivolity and joy reigned supreme on the beaming faces that lined the perimeter.

There was consensus - we all liked one another! I think even the dog liked everyone or at least no one got bitten. Life serves up some pretty tough challenges and lessons and sometimes, when it all comes together so easily, it is reason to rejoice and hold tight these gems. They are off to a fine start!

Harmony and her beloved are fortunate; they are anchored by a council of wise elders ha! and have a large, loving tribe to support them in their journey. They are loved by many, and now, with the tribe expanding to encompass even more, so are we all!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Stand Up

Image from
Bullying and teen suicide. The tragedies and images are leaping off the pages, and our TV/computer screens. It's beyond disturbing. It has become an issue of epidemic proportion.

Someone I love once described suicide as not having a desire to die, but rather being too exhausted to live. Bullying can do that to someone. It can wear them down; grind them into disenfranchised shreds; strip them of self worth and deplete them of the will to go on ...

Although there are often complex reasons behind a suicide, being gay or different seems to be a recurring theme. Our teens are killing themselves because they can't find a safe place in our society to become all they were meant to be. Being gay is not as rare as we are lead to believe ... if everyone who was gay - every teacher, judge, politician, pastor, athlete, leader, celebrity - was "out" and living their lives authentically, it would not only diffuse the "different" factor just by sheer number, it would show our kids that everyone has a place at the table; it would give our kids something/someone visible to relate and hold onto.

I am a mom of a gay daughter and I will not accept "tolerance", pity, or sympathy for me or her, nor fear; nor judgement from anyone. I won't accept anything less for her than all she is entitled to; the same love, respect, rights, responsibilities, liberties, opportunities that are granted to every citizen in our country. Nothing less; no comprise. None.

But it's time for us to give the news stories more than a passing sigh and moment of silence. It is time for us to be outraged and become warriors to protect our children -- our future generation. Bullying has to be dealt with head on in the schools, in the home, within families, in the workplace and in the justice system. We must speak out, demand that our schools educate our children about bullying and the roles everyone have to play in preventing, protecting, and reporting. Gay adults have to step forward to dispel fears of the unknown; to model a different face of "normal". We adults (gay or otherwise) must STAND UP and provide a safety line for young people drowning in misery. Most of all we have get over ourselves and let people be who they are or who they want to be. Unless of course that means becoming a murderous criminal or bully. Period.

Rick Mercer, a talented Canadian famous for his clever, witty passionate rants, added his voice to the chorus of adults who publicly declared their gay status in the "It gets better" video shot a year ago to encourage young gay kids. He feels that it is time to move beyond telling our kids that it will get better, and start working to change that which is hurting them - and protect them. He can speak for himself; watch the video below:

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Trading Shackles

News footage shows the rejoicing in Libya at the prospect of democracy; Libya’s new leaders said they intend to make Islamic Sharia law the main source of legislation. And although it does not necessarily mean that the government will implement all provisions (some harsh) of Sharia - it is subject to interpretation, laws related to personal status - divorce, inheritance, marriage will likely apply. Women are not granted full equality in this system. I understand and respect the rights of religions and cultures to establish their criteria, however shouldn't participation in said be voluntary; chosen of a free heart and mind? This will be difficult when the laws and hence the penal systems uphold the new way forward.

I can't help wondering what this will mean for women -- half the population. Will the women of Libya who fought as vigorously as their male counterparts for change and liberty be forced into societal shackles, or will they be able to exercise free will? Will they have the right to choose their own destiny; and will there be harsh punishment for non-compliance? It is troubling to me that this direction for the nation is being determined by a leadership practically devoid of female voice.

I can only hope that the women of Libya will get the life they seek and deserve. And that's the political rant for the day.

Monday, October 24, 2011

My Clan is Bigger Than Your Clan

On Friday night the tribes will converge, merge and hopefully not purge -- I am cooking, after all! We are hosting the first - of what is sure to be many - wedding tradition: the "meet the parents" dinner. Harmony will have her mom (ME) and three dads (each of them very nice, but I have my favourite) and her sisters to prop her up if she overdoes the sparkling water and rice crackers. Her beloved Hubby-in-waiting will have his mom and step-dad and father in his corner. hmm, seems a little tilted to the bride's side.

I have promised to be on my best behaviour; no inappropriate jokes relating to sex, religion, age, gender, speech impediments or appearances -- hair, the lack thereof, or the quality of makeshift solutions. I will refrain from retelling any frightful tales related to Harmony's birth how many stitches I had or about her father making a quick stop to grab a submarine sandwich on the way to the hospital while I laboured gracefully between short, rapid breaths. It didn't stop me from rolling down the window and calling after him to "grab me an "assorted". I'll be hungry later". And I was. And I gobbled it up within minutes of delivering her. But I digress ... see the problem?

Getting back to the blessed event ... the Friday night dinner I am throwing; the roasted squash and apple soup is made and nesting comfortably in the freezer, and the menu is set. Hubby will be grilling the livestock on the the BBQ while I drink and I will ensure there is something to satisfy every dietary restriction- gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian - and guilty pleasure - chocoholic fixes, seafood and wine -- lots of wine.

All kidding aside, it is fun to look forward to all of the pomp and tradition that comes with these milestone events. My little one has grown into a woman and time is marching on. Things that were once mysteries to me -- what kind of woman she would become; if she would marry, and if so, what kind of person she would  choose - are now being revealed. Life is truly a wondrous adventure serving up the predictable and the unimaginable, and the whole time reminding us what it means to live.

Life is good, and for that I am truly grateful.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Pups, Pregnancy and Pictures

What a relief to awake to sunshine today after a full week of dreary. A sunbeam streamed in the window, beckoning to me. So I left my nasty headache on my pillow and joined the day; I had a good feeling ... and rightfully so!

Another fur-ball joined the tribe. My almost thirty daughter she hates when I say that picked up her puppy this morning and brought it over for a Fritz inspection. Of course the precious little ball of fur with the button nose sucked us all in and we found ourselves cooing and speaking in high pitched baby voices. Fritz was skittish and confused. He went nose to nose with the pint-size while we held our collective breath, hoping he wouldn't pull a sudden lunge or nasty attack. But he didn't. It was as though he knew that this little one was harmless and needed a delicate touch. In mere moments, the little puppy was shadowing Fritz all over the house. So, so cute and endearing.

Next on my agenda today was a little photo shoot for a young couple expecting a baby in January. My Tender Heart friend is going to be a grandma and I offered to document the pregnancy. We headed to the lake on this perfect fall day and soon we had a little audience watching the loving young couple pose for me.   The banter between the couple was easy and affectionate; and I couldn't help but get caught up in the joy of impending parenthood. I teased them and cracked inappropriate jokes to try to ease them into the poses. We exchanged "when I was pregnant" stories and we laughed as the lingering audience tossed out little quips and advice. Just like puppies, everyone loves a pregnant woman ... and the possibility and potential she carries under her blouse.

It's been a while since I've done a photo shoot for someone else and I thoroughly enjoyed it even though my DSLR and I are in the process of getting reacquainted. It was a good day, filled with life -- fur, button noses, beaming faces, bulging bellies - other than mine - and photos. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

Meet Runyon - my daughter's pup 
Parents in waiting
Measuring the girth

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Women Power

I don't fancy myself a particularly "girly" girl woman. I never have been. I spent my teen years in Greb work boots and denim overalls and usually opted for the shirt and tie for school band performances. I played a baritone (smaller version of a tuba) and sat in the back with the mostly male brass section. I felt most comfortable in my well worn blue jeans and soft flannel shirt with the ground firm beneath my feet.

These days I dress for the office but my off duty style hasn't evolved. My love for my blue jeans and comfortable footwear remains intact and I am most happy in my hubby's flannel.

My notion about what is feminine has never been connected to my appearance. I was surrounded by strong women - mother, grandmother and sisters and raised three independent young women. I have been immersed in the feminine my whole life; I have felt my most feminine when:

  • I have felt my power surging through my veins, driving me to ask for promotions or challenging me to right a wrong.
  • I felt my babies move inside me.
  • only my hugs and tender loving care could comfort my sick baby.
  • I wiped the brow of my ailing mother.
  • I stood side-by-side with a man whose love for me is as great as mine for him
  • I could support myself and my family.
  • my strength was tested and I learned just how resilient I am.
Loving myself and becoming the best version of myself makes me feel good - thus look good, although these days the "power surges" I experience have more to do with age than anything else. Peace and contentment radiate as authentic beauty that cannot be manufactured. What makes women feel feminine is as diverse as the women themselves; as for me, femininity has been a state of mind that has more to do with my sense of self and little to do with the height of my heels, the cut of my blouse or the shape of my brows. We women are blessed with an unique energy and essence that offers unlimited possibilities, if we can learn to access it.

And that is why my girls and I used to start our day with arms raised bellowing chanting "WOMEN POWER".

Monday, October 17, 2011


She got mail! My mom has been gone for almost fourteen years now impossible! and today, she got mail. I couldn't help but smile when I saw the envelope laying on the kitchen table, with her name on it.

Just in case I had any notion of letting her memory lapse, she gave me a gentle nudge, just as she has done so many times before.

Mom, we speak your name every day; the advice you so intuitively dispensed is passed along generously to those who need it most; and your handwritten notes flutter out from nowhere to remind me of your loving spirit.

Thank you ... you always seem to know when I need you most. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Exposure and Closure

It takes on an unwelcoming cloak in the gray drear of the October cold. This beloved cottage of ours is a summer paradise; a slice of heavenly nature. But with nothing but uninsulated plywood flooring between my woollies and the great outdoors, the chill in the air is unrelenting.

Hubby and I went north to close up the cottage and ready it for winter hibernation. It just so happened that we picked probably the most inhospitable day possible for the task. It was 6 degrees Celsius with wind warnings and worst of all - it poured rain the entire time.

My electric heaters raised the temp a few more degrees to 12 so I couldn't see my breath (thankfully) but the toilet seat felt as though it was a block of ice. Hubby had it far worse pulling water lines out of the lake, lugging the dock furniture up the steep incline to store under the cottage and disengaging the floating docks in preparation for the ice and snow that is sure to follow in the months coming. He was drenched to the skin and the love affair I was having with my rubber boots came to an abrupt end when they cracked and flooded with lake water.

It was so miserable that it was comical and hubby and I giggled uncontrollably as I attempted to lift my corner of the waterlogged dock. I was more of a hindrance in my clumsy as I struggled to keep my balance in my unfashionable but beloved boots on the slippery rocks. Hubby ruled with his Herculean display of strength and endurance and I saluted him on bended knee as I tried to get up from my latest slip.

The beds were stripped and wrapped in plastic; the fridge emptied; the water lines drained; the deck furniture and canoe stored safely under the cottage and the electricity shut off for the winter. Everything packed up with another year's of precious memories from a summer loved at the cottage.

It was bittersweet pulling away; the half naked woods left the cottage looking forlorn and exposed and me with a feeling of sadness in my heart. But the yearning for a hot shower to warm my aching chilled limbs made it a little easier to leave and tune my channel to gratitude for the gifts that have been bestowed. For all that and more, I am supremely grateful.

The mountain of cottage laundry!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Travelling Girl

I love Canada! I boarded my baby plane (thankfully had a bathroom but no sink ... alcohol based sanitizer if you were wondering) and headed east for work. The colours were magnificent and because we were flying in a plane that travels close to the ground, I got a bird's eye view of the spectacular foliage in eastern Canada. I have been in every province and territory in Canada with the exception of the Yukon (am saving that one for Harmony) and I have never lost my awe for the rugged beauty of this wondrous land.  I get giddy as soon as I hit the airport cause that means I am going somewhere! Today was no exception.

I people-watched intently as I waited for my flight and pretended not to eavesdrop as I witnessed the unraveling, converging and unfolding of lives. Intriguing. Technology ruled the departure lounge of course but I couldn't help noticing the elderly couple across from me - her with her Kindle and he with his tablet and me with my stealth little camera.
The cab ride was a treat. In the 15 minute chat I learned more about the local woes, best spots to check out and the pride my driver has for his community. Cab rides are like that ... wisdom imparted to a visiting guest that seems to set the tone for the duration. I arrived an hour before sunset so I had time to troll the streets and get the lay of the land ... the nearest Cora's for breakfast; a handy little noodle hut and the venue where I will be working. In the offchance you are interested, I shared some pics of this quaint autumnal town and resisted the urge to  photograph food. Did I tell you how much I love my beautiful grand country?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Thanksgiving Pixels

It was the warmest, sunniest Thanksgiving I could remember. No typical sweater weather here, in fact thoughts of air conditioning danced in my head. Having the oven on all day added to the tropical feel inside but I still lit my pumpkin candles.

There were people missing at the table .. a few of my sibs and kids and for the first time ever, my dad and step-mom. And despite the absences, there were no empty seats at the table. We had grandparents that don't usually come and of course we had our beloved Doris who at 94 makes us all look old for our age.

It's all about traditions: the same turnips get cooked even though only half of us like them; the stuffing is made exactly the same way; flour in the homemade gravy; homemade cranberries, turkey of course; the fall fair; and most importantly, time with our family.

Since a picture tells a thousand words, get ready for a few "grand" visuals of our Canadian Thanksgiving weekend:

Mile high brownie pie

Gluten-free apple cranberry cake

Oh the pies we could make!
Greedy little pigs!

Hanibal Lecter sheep

My kind of race.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Simply Perfect

It's been one of those days that I will file under "simply perfect". Mother Nature so generously bestowed some beautiful autumn weather, with warm brilliant sunshine haloing the gold and yellow leaves. I shut the furnace off and threw open the windows to let the fresh air blow through the house. I cleaned my fridge, made a call to update my dad on the election results, gloated over the Liberal victory with him and then dashed off to do my grocery shopping with my eldest girl.

I was feeling the abundance so I said "yes" to everyone who was collecting. I baked pumpkin tarts, made a brownie mile high cake and peeled everything that needed the outer layer removed. I stopped short of my neck. I filled vases with rustic bouquets and lit pumpkin spice votives and resisted the urge to eat them. Tomorrow we are having the family over for Thanksgiving dinner and I am almost ready. Tomorrow I will dust off the vacuum, declutter (dump everything into a laundry basket) the top of every flat service in the kitchen, make stuffing, and set the table. Hubby will coax the innards out of the turkey and work his magic on the 20 lb bird. My stomach just growled. I'm getting hungry.

I think I may have ingested half my daily calories in cake batter. I got to lick the spatulas AND the bowls ... and now you know what made this day simply perfect!  To my fellow Canadians celebrating Thanksgiving, I wish you a wonderful weekend and hope that you have someone you love to share the wishbone with.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


You turned 99 today; a milestone of monumental proportion. We thought you wouldn't understand or remember, but when your daughter showed up bearing joy and birthday greetings, you spoke up loud and clear, "My birthday is in October". And you were right. You are so full of surprises, riding a roller coaster of oblivion, despair, recognition and momentary clarity. Much of your time is spent inward in a world of your own design.

You are loved, and tenderly attended to by your devoted daughter. You know you have a daughter Shirley, even though you are unable to attach that knowledge to her face. She squeezes you tightly and tells you that she loves you. You whisper "I love you too". You sit slightly slouched, eyes tightly closed until she coaxes you back. You don't see the tears escaping, rolling down her cheeks. She is quick to erase their traces; fighting to keep the mood light and happy, to create a world to keep your interest.

But you are disappearing swiftly Nana. The spots of joy are fewer and farther between. Life is not offering you the comfort you need, and the disease is stealing more of you each day. It's painful for your loved ones  to witness your decline, to release that over which we have no control.

But today is your birthday, and you had cake. And for a few moments,  there was sweetness in your world. You didn't need words, you could taste it. You didn't need to know her name, you felt her. And at ninety-nine years of age, sweetness and love may be all we can give you.

Happy birthday Nana.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Weekend Brief

The little numbers in the corner of my laptop tell me that it is October 2nd. Hard for me to believe ... September seemed to slip through my fingers and now we are into October. With my calendar already blotched with appointments and commitments I can see that this month too will fly by; be over before I know it.

There have been reminders of the new season being ushered in. The trees are in various states of undress and colour and this weekend was cold (6 degrees Celsius) and rainy. If I were a bear I would be heading for my cave to hibernate. Instead I crawled the mall (purposefully), went to a movie with hubby, did the laundry, got reacquainted with my iron, baked a cake, made potato leek soup, and started (but didn't come close to finishing) reorganizing our basement and spare room (AKA my personal space). Have you ever over-zealously tackled a reorganizing project, gotten sidetracked by reading every greeting card,  pouring over old photos and ended with a pile in middle of the floor harder on the eyes than the original travesty - just as you run out of steam. Get the picture? There is lots more to do know but I admit that I enjoyed the leisurely reminiscing. I just have to get better at letting go of mementos, keepsakes and STUFF in general.

Suffice to say the house is in worse shape than when I started and there are miles to go before I sleep (or before the Thanksgiving famjam). But the weekend ended on a high note with an impromptu turkey dinner at my Dad and Step-Mom's place.

Shopping. Sloppy. Spontaneous. Familial. That was my weekend in a nutshell.  Now I am going to crank our heat up just a notch or two so I won't see my breath.

Hope yours was good where ever you are, and whatever season you are enjoying!