Sunday, March 31, 2013

Springtime Stroll

Spring was lurking just outside the window waiting to be discovered and greet it head on, we did! I snatched my camera and hubby and I jumped into the car and headed towards the lake shore. We took an old fashioned Sunday drive -- on Saturday. The sky was the perfect hue of blue and the sunshine demanded cool shades. We drove along, following the lake, content to drink in the sights of people eagerly unpacking springtime, content to follow our whimsy.

It wasn't long before we found ourselves walking the Toronto waterfront. We watched enthusiastic boaters free their vessels from their shrink wrap;  the ducks and swans flit and flirt; and an endless parade of dogs, runners, and bikers stream by. It was evident - there was an epidemic of spring fever raging through the city.

After a long winter of house arrest, we are more than ready shed the shackles of isolation, cold and dreary for sunshine and warmth. And so we strolled along hand in hand, breathing in the fresh and renewed, and snapping pictures as we went. It was a good day, a reminder of promise and new beginnings. And here are a few of the pictures I captured as we walked.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Birthday Bliss

The house is eerily quiet now - or it would be if Fritz would stop his random barking at invisible people. Everyone has gone home, the last dish has been washed; the house reconstructed and Kidlet has submitted her paper just under the midnight deadline.

The walls are still ringing with chatter, clatter and laughter.  In a few minutes another birthday will have come and gone... and all in all, it's been a fantastic day. I heard from people I love  from far and near; and my family came to share the feast that hubby prepared with tender loving care. Daughter Lyndsay baked me a birthday cake from scratch and my sister made me a cherry pie (my favourite). I put my "no sugar" on hold and sampled both. 

I got my birthday wish - to be immersed in the love of my family. Lucky me. And lucky me to be one year older. The good ole days are now -- and if I am getting older, it means I'm alive and living. Doesn't get better than that! So now Fritz and I are heading upstairs, hearts full with gratitude,  to dream about the goodness in my life. It has indeed been a happy birthday and a very Good Friday!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Earthling Ponders

These days I've been obsessed with following Col. Chris Hadfield - Commander of the International Space Station - his tweets, pictures and Facebook postings of Planet Earth. What I wouldn't give to view my home planet from afar; but I think that ship has sailed...

I reflect on the ethereal images he posts and it becomes clear - that we are one; earthlings first; humankind. Then why the divisiveness? We can't see the forest for the trees; we are mired in the most basic of conflicts - greed, power - and forget that we are merely a pixel in a greater picture - part of something bigger.

Looking at the image of that dark blue sphere suspended in an inky sea, it seems incredulous that at any given moment,  upon that tiny sphere, wars are being fought; babies are being born; people are dying; victories are being celebrated; failures mourned; and heartaches and joys abound. All exists and occurs on that dark blue sphere.

If we could pull focus and take a long shot we would see that which is obvious to the man tweeting from the ISS... peace resides in the knowledge that we are part of the human family. When one hurts, we all hurt.

Thankyou Chris Hadfield for giving this earthling lots to ponder.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Tribal Renewals

We come together for monumental milestones: illnesses, deaths, marriages, birthdays, and to celebrate the impending expansion of the family. A new baby girl is on the way and this weekend both sides of the family - men, women and children - gathered in the pink to eat pink food, drink pink punch and remind one another of the importance of family. The tribe is a powerful force of love and these gatherings allow us to feel the strength of connection and security of belonging to something bigger than ourselves.

MIH is beside herself with excitement and anticipation of becoming a grandmother for the very first time, and she threw herself into the planning, creating, and coordinating of her daughter's baby shower. She channeled Martha as she reacquainted herself with her baking pans and transformed stacks of pink tissue paper in to decorative puffs. She reveled in the joy of the process. she gets it -- that the joy is in the journey, not the destination.

A new life is renewal and possibility, it is love manifested, growth and perfection. How fitting then that we celebrated the possibilities and potential of this baby-in-waiting on the birthday of the family's matriarch who recently passed. The circle of life played out before us...

When we lose a member of our family, our lives are forever changed. So also it is with the arrival of a pure and perfect baby. Our  world shifts, and our lives and the tribe are forever changed, and as the Talmud so aptly puts it, "With each child, the world begins anew". And for that, I am truly grateful.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Give a Little to Celebrate World Water Day

It's World Water Day. That probably doesn't mean too much to those of us who can access drinking water with a turn of the tap or take ten-minute long hot steamy showers in one of the bathrooms in our home - or sit on a clean, porcelain toilet which we then flush with drinking quality water. We are the fortunate for whom water is abundant and easily accessible.

But that is not so in so many other parts of the world where drinking water is drawn from filthy rivers by women who often walk miles each day fetching and carrying it to and fro, and where basic sanitation facilities are non-existent.

So today, in honour of World Water Day, I donated a little to the Global Women’s Water Initiative (GWWI).  GWWI is building a group of women trainers who are knowledgeable in a holistic set of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) strategies who can build various technologies, promote water-related health campaigns and launch social enterprises. GWWI partners with local women leaders to design training for grassroots women and groups to bring sustainable WASH solutions that improve their communities' health and self-reliance. 

So far the projects launched by GWWI graduates have led to over 30,000 people accessing improved access to clean water and/or sanitation. I love that this projects empowers women to take control and solve the water issues in their communities.

Read about my weekly  Give a Little challenge and other posts. I have to give ongoing props to Wendy Smith for her inspiring book, Give a Little. Consider giving it a read.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

On My Way Back -- to Myself

What a fun morning I've had rummaging through my drawers and closet, ripping one shirt off after another - to try on another. Eureka! I discovered a whole other wardrobe - skirts, pants and dresses with which I have had a cordial separation. But they never went away - just into hiding.

I could never imagined how positively uplifted I would feel - what a difference a few pounds could make. I've been paying close attention to what I put into my mouth and moving my body more for almost two months now, and the changes have been slow but steady. My body is about 13 pounds lighter but the best part of all is not having to take a deep breath before zipping up my pants, or not having my buttons straining to stay done up, and not having to guess where to put my belt. My MIA waistline has made a comeback!

The layers I had carrying around made me a stranger in my own body. Now as I shed the excess, I am feeling lighter, burning brighter and most of all, I'm making my way back to my authentic self, both physically and spiritually.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Spring and Sprung

Awoke to brilliant sunshine flooding the kitchen, and a beautiful springlike day; perfect for executing "Plan Spring Her". My ninety-five year old step-grandma has been under quarantine for the Norwalk virus for more than two weeks at her seniors residence. Sick residents have been confined to their rooms with their meals delivered. While the healthy seniors are able to eat in the dining room, all activities are cancelled, visitors are prohibited and the place is pretty much in lock-down. Doris has been a trouper through it all, responding to my "it's terrible"s with a gentle, "oh well, what are you going to do. It could be much worse". No complaints. She has stayed upbeat and optimistic but enough is enough. Time to spring her!

I pulled up right in front of the building and walked past the glaring red stop sign warning me not to enter. Doris was ready and waiting by her door and after a quick sidebar on whether to take her walker, we opted to travel light and she took my arm instead. Minutes later she was on the sidewalk inhaling the first breaths of fresh air she'd had in weeks. She turned her face upwards to the sun and sighed a long contented "what a perfect day". Yup - it was just like spring.

We were two girls on the run - Thelma and Louise - racing up and down the aisles at Walmart, Doris tightly gripping the cart as we sped past avocados, up the bread aisle, over to the dairy section. We paused only to debate the merits of soap versus body wash before checking out. Then it was on to the diner for lunch. I opted for the all day breakfast and Doris downed a luscious Belgian waffle with whipped cream and copious cups of hot tea. She charmed the waitress and we got first class service and lots of free refills.

We chatted about old times and husbands. She told me the stories behind the rings on her fingers and how much she missed her husbands, especially her first. Her face softened as she spoke and for a moment I could see the young version of Doris, a girl in love with hopes and dreams.

She fought me on the bill but I won, telling her she could get it the next time. She smiled coyly and as we bid our server goodbye, she said "see you next Saturday dear". I think we have ourselves a new tradition.

She bubbled all the way home, so happy and grateful for the outing and a little visit. It reminded me that it doesn't take much to make her happy, and having her in my life makes my life brighter. And for that, I am so very grateful.

So today, on a beautiful spring day, Doris was sprung. And tonight, we spring ahead an hour.

Spring, sprung, and spring.

Friday, March 8, 2013


It's International Women's Day. 

A sliver of time and space to shine, to
celebrate the strength and resilience of 
who bore and raised us, 
taught and shaped us, 
love and care for us and who
fought the good fight.

A sliver of time and space reserved for
outrage over inequality and violence against
who bear our children
feed their families and
overcome adversity to 
fight the good fight

A sliver of time and space closing in, we're
speaking out and rising up for
fog is lifting in the
gathering storm 
hearts, minds, and wills collide -
in a universal thunderclap.

Keep up the good fight and remember our sisters who are struggling, in danger and in pain.

The anthem for this special day - One Woman - is uplifting and inspiring. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Give a Little Hope to Women

Photo courtesy of One by One
I can remember the first time I heard the word "fistula". It was a funny sounding word for a horrific condition - a hole between the birth passage and an internal organ such as the bladder or rectum. A woman cannot hold her urine, and sometimes bowel content as well.

I was shocked when I learned just how many women suffer the pain and resulting shame and isolation from fistulas caused from prolonged obstructed labour, or giving birth when they are just young girls or - the ultimate act of violence - from being raped and/or mutilated. Mostly it happens because most mothers in poor countries give birth without any medical help.

All of the scenarios are ugly, and preventable. But there is work to do to to create change. In the meantime there are girls and women who need treatment, care and support to repair the physical and emotional wounds of fistula.

This week I donated a little to the Fistula Foundation to support their efforts to raise awareness of and fund fistula repair, prevention, and educational programs worldwide to help eradicate fistula. Women deserve proper maternal care, the quality of which should not depend on where you happen to be living.

Read about my weekly  Give a Little challenge and other posts. I have to give ongoing props to Wendy Smith for her inspiring book, Give a Little. Consider giving it a read.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Finger Lickin'

The homey aroma of garlic and savoury met us at the door and triggered my "I'm starving" reflex. Dinner at the in-laws! Papa Pete was dressed in his "going out for some "air" outfit - sweatpants, tee shirt and toque pulled down past his eyebrows - as he took our coats. I couldn't help but smile as he cracked, "at least it'll keep the girls away".

It had been a while since we'd been together and I was looking forward to the visit. MIH's sing-song greeting came from the dining room where she was immersed in all things baby shower. She's about to  realize her dream of becoming a grandma to a newbie and her excitement is palpable and ever present.

It's been about five or six weeks now since I made the commitment to myself to eat healthy and consciously and to my surprise, it's been easy. By filling up on nutrient rich foods, I no longer have the desire or need to snack on empty calories. I live by the mantra - make every calorie count, and it's worked. I have lost just over 10 pounds and a few bellies but what has got me most excited is how my clothes are fitting -- they fit! No more deep inhales before buttoning my pants or a few muffin toppers  above the belt. I feel stronger and fitter.

That being said, I couldn't wait to chomp on the comfort food that Papa Pete is famous for. With nostalgic tunes singing from the AM radio station, hubby applied his techno wizardry to his mom's new computer, and Papa Pete and I chatted - my eyeballs sucking in the sight of the boiling ribs, marinating chicken, and corn and cob. It was all I could do to keep the drool under check.

Then it was dinner time! The ribs were served up dripping in barbeque sauce with a side of extra spicy and I swapped my chicken with hubby for more ribs. I lost myself in the meat, ravenously gnawing, chewing and licking my sticky fingers, containing all conversation to occasional "mmmmm's" and "oh my God these are delicious". I was in flavour heaven and all I left on my plate were the bones - stripped clean.

What a fantastic way to spend a Saturday night. No fighting (we made politics off limits!) - no awkward lapses of dead air - just lively laughter and chatter, and glorious eats on a platter!
What more could a girl ask for ... a great family and great eats.

I stepped timidly onto the scale this morning convinced that the five pounds of meat I devoured would be reflected in the weight -- but glory be, I dodged a bullet and was exactly the same as the morning before! And for that and all of the above, I am truly grateful!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Amazing Race

It was after 10:30 at night when I got the call from Kidlet that she was popping in to "grab some stuff". Turned out she her sweetie were in the throes of making an audition tape for the Canadian version of the Amazing Race (tv show), and she needed some props from her room.

The door to her room was closed, partly to keep Fritz out of there, and partly to hide the mess -- I liken it to sealing the crime scene. I tidy it up - and she pops in occasionally to sleep in her bed and return it to high school condition (obviously her comfort zone). Then I close the door to leave it exactly the way it is for the next time she pops around.

As she was rustling around in there she told me that she and Josh are auditioning to be on the show. I made a crack about them must not wanting to have a lasting relationship to which she scorned indignantly, "MOM!!" as Josh smiled and quietly nodded in agreement with me. Yikes! Is the world ready for Kidlet on the rampage -- cause I know she would be? Poor Josh. Poor anyone who got in her way. Or maybe her empathetic, caring self would kick in and she would carry her competition to the finish line. Mmmmm a mom can dream can't she? 

The video says it all -- she's a winner! And when I think about it, a cross Canada race with the one you love could teach you alot about yourself, and about your "us". She's fiercely competitive and hardest on herself. It would make for good television ... but maybe not good viewing by future employers.

So if you have three minutes to spare and you want to help Kidlet on her quest, give the video a view. I'm sure she would appreciate all of the "shares", "likes" and comments she could get.

As for me, I feel like I have returned to my seat at the arena, watching her play in a championship game, loving the view regardless of the outcome, awestruck by her determination to achieve her goals, and shouting out above the din, " have fun out there Darcy!".  You too Josh.