Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Eve

Well the freezer is defrosted, the garbage is gone, the recycling done, and tonight I will put out clean dish towels to ready the kitchen for the new year. These are things my mother taught me to do on the eve of the new year.

I always do these things on December 31, and I always think of her on this day. This year more than ever perhaps because I was gifted a ring this year that had once belonged to her. It is a lovely vintage wedgewood ring with an image of the goddess Diana and the stag. I don't know the story behind this ring - where she got it, or what the significance is, but now it is mine and I wear it with gratitude.

I have often written that I have my mother's hands. This Christmas my daughter wrote me that she feels she has my hands, and so the generations flow. One day this ring will be hers, and who know if there will one day be a daughter for her to hand it on to.

This ring, for me, now, in 2013, represents family, and support. Love and friendship. Faith and Hope.

Diana was the goddess of the hunt. This is her Roman name. Her Greek name was Artemis. She was the twin of Apollo, and loved Orion. She is the goddess of the hunt, childbirth, virginity and the protector of animals and young women. Her father was Zeus, her mother Leda (or Leto)....and that story is not a happy one.

The stag is involved in many myths - one involves the twelve tasks of Hercules.

So I could analyze for hours why this image was on this ring of my mother's, but to me, Artemis is a strong woman, protector of animals and patron goddess to those in childbirth.

It is also said she brings and heals diseases that come to women. That is an interesting paradox.

Orion has always been my favourite constellation. He guides me through the winter skies. And I do so love walking in the forest and hoping to come upon a deer, or stag. Sometimes they come to me - right in my own front lawn.

So it is New Year's Eve. 2013 has not been easy in many ways, but there have been many highlights and stellar moments as well. So it is with every year. So it will be with 2014.

I am looking forward.

That is a good reason to put out clean tea towels just before midnight.

And to sing Auld Lang Syne as the New Year arrives.

And, wherever you are, Mum, this one's for you.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve

The tree is up, the presents are mostly wrapped, the baking is done,and I will probably get out of my pjs soon.

I am at peace during what many feel is a hectic season and I am thankful for so many things. Thankful for our medical system (twice this year!), thankful my daughter made the drive to PEI safely. Thankful for my brother's health due to the new treatment he was on. I am thankful for honest conversations, and good company. I am thankful for good friends who make this season about so much more than material things. I am thankful for apologies accepted. I am thankful that even though neither of my children are home for Christmas I feel close to them.

I am thankful for the birds that come to my feeders outside the kitchen window to cheer me up, and for the delightful Anna's hummingbird that came to feed even during the snow last week. I am thankful for the fox sparrow who has just arrived at the feeder in the last two days. He is a cheeky thing.

Tonight I will sit with my husband in front of the fire, with our little tree, probably watching Alastair Sim in A Christmas Carol and I will cry at the end as I always do.

Tomorrow I will spend wrapped in the love of family and it will be noisy and boisterous and there will be dogs to cuddle. There is always dogs to cuddle at these gatherings.

I am thankful that the days are getting longer, and that the last month of recuperation has given me time to get priorities straight. Again.

I am thankful for all those who read these entries. The thought of you all makes me feel so less alone.

I will read Twas the night before Christmas to myself this year, as there are no children to read it to and it will connect me to my own childhood, as it always does.

"And I heard him exclaim as he rode out of sight, "Happy Christmas to All, and to all a good night"."

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Those wee small hours

December 18

I have taken to waking up around 3am and those are the prime hours for fretting. Last night was particularly bad because I was not feeling well, I had had a stomach ache all day and it seemed worse at 3am. Everything always seems worse at 3am. I was feeling scared, and, well, mortal. Since the moment I heard that I needed surgery my mortality has been front and center.

I finally fell asleep around 7 after a warm text exchange with my daughter and woke up around 10am. Normally I would keep these fears to myself and just move on with the day, but this morning I admitted my fragility, my fears, my worries to my dear husband. There were tears, and soft words, and after an hour or so we both got on with our day. I did dishes, sorted papers and reveled in the gorgeous sun shining into the kitchen. I changed the water in the hummingbird feeder, watched the juncos and black squirrel on the back porch railing and got caught up on paperwork and 'stuff', that had been weighing on me.

I made plans for later in the day, and, despite the four hours of fear in the middle of the night, today feels hopeful. I am enjoying this lead up to Christmas. No scurrying madly in the malls, no fretting about presents, no feelings of overwhelm, or exhaustion - at least not about Christmas. Perhaps it is because I am recovering from surgery and I am exhausted, but for more etheric and physical reasons than materialistic.

I saw the Paradise play yesterday - the first of a trilogy of medieval plays that Rudolf Steiner indicated. Tomorrow I will see the Shepherds Play performed by a group of delightful mentally challenged adults, and on Epiphany I will perform in the Kings Play (I am the angel!).
This is the first year I will have seen all three plays during the Christmas season. A silver lining to the surgery which postponed our intended camping trip down south. I have learned there is always a silver lining. Sometimes it is hard to see.

My best friend's birthday is today. My nephew arrives home from Montreal today. My son called yesterday and my daughter and I have a phone date for later today. I am surrounded by people I love and people who love me.

I will have to remind myself of this tomorrow at 3am.

Thursday, November 28, 2013


Well I have been working on the list, and walking everyday so both are good things. Here is my progress:

Buy new mattress and get rid of old one
Get piano tuned
Get rid of old piano
Get rid of dish set - done
Find missing piece of wood so I can get piano stool repaired (I have been looking for this piece for a year)
Repair or throw out old chair from my mother's house
Get rid of old rattan chair on back porch
Sort out son's clothes in basement room - done
Finish my brother's sweater - done
Finish my sweater - done
Finish that stupid sock I started last spring (I might just frog this and let it go)- done (frogged)
Find turkey platter to match dish set I just bought
Recover kitchen chairs
Get rid of my aunt's, grandmother's and mother-in-law's furs - done

And, on top of that I organized all my mentoring papers which were definitely getting out of hand.

So, progress, although I still am feeling kind of manic. I often feel like this right before a migraine attack. But then I realized. Maybe this is what happy feels like?

Getting hit by the truck

It was so weird. For about a week I kept feeling like I should be extra careful while in a car because I kept seeing myself being t-boned in an intersection.

I was hit by a truck on Sunday. Proverbially, but a truck none-the-less.

So here I sit, uncomfortably, after having emergency surgery on Monday afternoon for an infected gall bladder. I went to the doctor today because one of the incisions is still bleeding, and I was fretting.

I feel like I should feel better. He tells me to be gentler with myself. "Not only surgery, but you have had an infection inside of you for some time as well."

Be gentle with myself.

That would be easier if I felt better.

The doctors, and nurses were so great. So great. We are lucky to live in a place with this kind of medical care.

So, here I sit (did I mention the discomfort). I know I have much to be thankful for. But geez, this has been a sucky year on the health front. I now wonder how much of my unwellness this summer was related to this little organ that no longer resides inside of me.

So, pay attention to those intuitions. You never know what shape that truck may take.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Is this what Manic feels like?

As a person who suffers from depression I have often thought about people who are manic-depressives and wondered what that would be like. Lately I think I have been experiencing small hints of mania, and I don't like it. Oh yes, I am getting things done, making lists, throwing stuff out, talking too much and too loudly (I think), and I feel like I am teetering on the edge of a very high, very narrow, fence.

So here is my list.
Maybe if I write it down I can let it go and calm down.

Buy new mattress and get rid of old one
Get piano tuned
Get rid of old piano
Get rid of dish set
Find missing piece of wood so I can get piano stool repaired (I have been looking for this piece for a year)
Repair or throw out old chair from my mother's house
Get rid of old rattan chair on back porch
Sort out son's clothes in basement room
Finish my brother's sweater
Finish my sweater
Finish that stupid sock I started last spring (I might just frog this and let it go)
Find turkey platter to match dish set I just bought
Recover kitchen chairs
Get rid of my aunt's, grandmother's and mother-in-law's furs

That is just the list I made yesterday.

I feel like I am running out of time. That I have to do these things right now, like there is no tomorrow. It is weird because usually I can procrastinate like there is always tomorrow.

But not lately.

If this is what people feel like when they are manic I can empathize.
But, I am looking for balance.

I am going for a walk.

I am going for a walk.
Because I need to be among the trees that have stood for hundreds of years living one day at a time.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Day of the Dead

I went to my first Death Cafe last night. It was auspicious that it was the first day of November, a day traditionally known as All Soul's Day, a day to remember those who have died because the veil between the dead and the living is said to be its thinnest. In the past I have celebrated this day with a classroom full of students, bringing pictures of dear departed ones, lighting candles and saying a few words of remembrance.
Last night was the first time I have done this with adults. It was lovely, and poignant, and true. Although I went there to honour my father and my aunt, the person that kept coming to me was my mother.

I rarely dream about any of those close to me who have died. I perhaps have dreamt about my mother once, maybe twice. My father, once, maybe twice. My aunt not at all. I wish it was different.

But it came to me yesterday that I have to let it go. I have to let go of the disappointment I have in my mother and her style of mothering. I have to let it go. It isn't about forgiveness. I am not there yet. It isn't about forgetting, because I am clearly not there yet. But as I write this it is just about letting go.

My mother and I had some lovely times together. A trip to Hawaii when I graduated from university. Many, many morning coffees in the backyard chatting about this and that. Some crazy nightclubs where we were more friends than mother and daughter.

She could be lovely and kind to those in need: next door neighbours, shopkeepers, restaurant owners. She was lovely with my children. She volunteered for March of Dimes, and at the Jericho School for the blind. She was an ear when her friends needed to talk.

My friends loved her. Her and her home-made soups and homemade bread. She could be outrageous and had a naughty sense of humour. She had beautiful eyes. And hair.

My father loved her. That in itself should be enough for me.

I chose her to be my mother for a myriad of reasons that I will not remember until I once again cross the threshold from this life to the next.

She came here to do what she was meant to do. It is not my place to understand it all. It is not my place to forgive it, or forget it. It is my place to learn from the struggles I had and continue to have, with my relationship to her. Even though she has been dead for nine years I still struggle and still wish that it had been different.

But, as the saying goes, "If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride".

I will try to stop wishing, and try to stop worrying about not being able to forgive and forget, and just let it go.

And remember the good times. Remember her in light and understanding. And promise to learn from the lessons my relationship with her is continuing to teach me about being human.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

All the blessings, none of the stress

I have been teaching a lot this month. Mostly in Grade 3 and Grade 7, but also Grade 5 and Grade 11. It has been wonderful. I get to teach these wonderful children without having to plan parent/teacher conferences, go to faculty meetings, or do hours and hours of prep.

As an experienced teacher I have lots of tricks up my sleeves, and the students know and respect me already so discipline is a non issue.

Oh the Grade 3's can be silly, and the Grade 7's loud and goofy in that teenagery kind of way, but God I love them. How can you not love a class that launches into songs from the Pirates of Penzance while solving Angle-Side-Angle problems?

I have been helping teach Geometry this past week. I was terrible at Geometry when I was in high school - but over my teaching career I have learned to love it with its orderliness, and magic.

It has been a good month. Except for a sore back, I am feeling very well, sleeping well, and enjoying life on these sunny autumn days. Life is moving along and I feel like I am moving along with it, or maybe even slightly ahead of it.

It is all good.

And I am thankful.

And at peace.

Thanks be to God, as my dear friend June would say.

Yes, Thanks be to God.

And, modern medicine.

And, talk therapy.

Thanks be indeed.

Monday, October 14, 2013


Whenever I have a big family dinner I imagine giving a heartfelt speech at the beginning of the meal, a la those Hallmark family movies. But I don't because I tear up too quickly. But, if I didn't tear up then this is what I would say.

I am grateful for the thirteen of us that sat down for dinner yesterday. Into my tiny little house we figured out how to sit us all around a table with a mish mash of plates and cutlery, cloth napkins and glassware. Mis-matched chairs, and hand me down table cloths. It was perfect.

To my brother, John, who sweetly served me a plate of food, while I soaked my burned hand in water. Thank you. You have always been there for me and our friendship, sister/brother relationship is very special to me.

To my sister, Wendy, who told me to breathe, found me some tylenol, peeled brussel sprouts, brought pickles and made the gravy. Thank you. I know Thanksgiving has always been your favourite of holidays, and I was happy to host it at my house this year. You are my rock. I am so grateful to be on this journey with you as such a big part of my life.

To our dear friend George. I have known you as long as I have know my dear husband. You were the best man at our wedding lo those many years ago and I am so grateful you come to our noisy family gatherings. You are family to me. You are family to my kids. You are my husband's best friend. That means the world to me.

To Tate, my great-nephew. You give the best hugs in the world. Bar none. And you always give them spontaneously and you seem to know exactly when I need that hug or cuddle.

To Ripley, my great-nephew: your stories, your sense of style, your Ripleyness, gives me faith in the future generation. You teach me that being an individual is the perfect thing to be. Always.

To my nephew John-John. Your sense of humour. Your quiet support. Your great laugh. Your podcasts. I love watching you parent your boys. And thank you, thank you for moving furniture and drying dishes. You are a star.

To my dear brother Bill. In your quiet way you make me feel so loved. And you give great hugs. Your heart is huge and I am so glad there is room in there for me.

To Debbie. You are such a star for holding your own in our noisy family. I am so glad you have been a part of my brother`s life for the past two years (exactly this weekend). Thank you for the delicious pies you brought to our dinner and for your incredible laugh. I love that laugh.

To Arwen. Thank you for the wonderful salad and for washing all those dishes. I love your stories. You are such a great mom to your boys and wife to your husband. I love your writing and your passion for your careers. You make my life better for knowing you.

To Dex, my nephew. Thank you for holding the space for all the missing cousins (Ellen, Kyle, Mitch, and Harry) this year. Thank you for all the furniture moving and for being wise enough to suggest we remove the glass before moving the table. Your quiet presence is always welcome. Your connection to my daughter is special and I am thankful for it. It was so much fun watching your reactions to your dad's crazy stories. And, I promise, your secret is safe with me.....

Dear Roger. You are a good friend. I was the best man at your wedding and it is one of the biggest honours in my life. I love your stories, your sense of humour, your gratefulness and your paella! I am so glad to have you in my life and when you sit at the table at one of our noisy, crowded family dinners I always know that your appreciation is absolutely genuine. That is something I have always been able to count on with you.

And Brian. Saving the best for last. Or maybe it is the hardest because how do I thank you for all you have done for me over the past few months. You cleaned (despite your sore knee and shoulder) and shopped and prepped and cooked. You rubbed my sore back, and fretted for me so I didn't have to. You helped me keep going despite a sore back.

You try the new recipes and make sure we have enough wine glasses, and wine to go in them. It was your idea to have the dinner this year and it was a good one. You have put up with my noisy, crazy family gatherings for 38 years even though I know at times we can be a little overwhelming.

And I think I speak for all of us present that we are all thankful you have found a way to prepare brussel sprouts that makes us all want more than the requisite two!

And even though my two children were not there physically, they were there in spirit. I am grateful that my son called us from Edmonton as he was cooking his Thanksgiving goose (one he raised himself!), and I am thankful I could support my daughter over the phone line while she stuffed and cooked a turkey with friends in Halifax.

I am blessed.

For all my friends whom I love and who love me, I am blessed.

I hope those reading this are able to count their blessings today too. We are some of the lucky ones.

Monday, October 7, 2013


Yesterday as I was driving to look at dishes with my dh it struck me. I felt happy. It was probably the third time this past week that this feeling of happiness washed over me.
I haven't experienced this in some long time.

I feel chattier lately. Also something I haven't experienced for a long time. There is a lightness to my being.

I have reduced my meds back to one a day, and even though sleep is still not so easy in the middle of the night, the days contain more contentment.

Maybe it is fall. The cool, sunny days. Even the rainy ones. Maybe it is just the top of another peak and the bear will have another mountain to climb someday in the future.

Maybe it is that my arm is almost fully healed and not getting in the way of things (like climbing on top of the camper to fix a broken vent - yes, I did that this weekend).

The thing is. I am not going to worry about the why, but enjoy the now.

Piglet (which was my nickname in highschool - my good friend was Pooh) and Pooh sum it up nicely:

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Waiting for the phone to ring

Waiting for the phone to ring. One is hunting, and one is awaiting test results. But the phone doesn't ring. It just seems so quiet around here. The quiet is very noisy.

And it is raining. And I don't want to be 'that' person that keeps phoning, and asking.

So I am 'this' person that putters with her knitting, sweeps the floor, takes long baths, and tosses and turns.

I remember years and years ago when I got very sick and needed emergency surgery my sister sent my mother a card called 'The Watcher'.

It is hard being 'the watcher', because you can't do anything. Not really.

So today as I listen to my husband chatter with his young six year old friend I try to busy myself with this and that.

But really?

Really I am just waiting for the phone to ring.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Sometimes you have to ask.

So I have solved the three issues in my previous post. The woman whose class I wanted to take is offering an on-line class that I got on special for 9.99! I have taken these on-line classes before (Craftsy) and they are very good, and in-depth, and I can go back to them whenever I want. So that is good.
Then I talked to the choir director and found out I can join for the 'faculty' price of $50.00.
Then I saw the organizer of the conference and she told me to just pay what I could because she was delighted I wanted to come and participate.
Wow! I just had to ask.
I just had to ask.

I also learned today that I just have to be honest about who I am and what my challenges are. A woman I have known for a few years was surprised to learn that I suffer from depression. It is not something I share very often to anyone but close friends and family. I don't think that serves me well. The love and support I got today was, well, very supportive, and loving and helpful.

My sister reminded me that she and I had made a promise. To tell each other the truth about what was going on with our health as we journey this life together.

I forgot that promise.

She reminded me.

I hope to not break that promise again.

So the lesson for this week. Sometimes you have to ask. Sometimes you have to tell.

Always you have to trust that the support you need is there.

But you have to reach out.

You have to ask.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Two hundred dollars

I am retired. I don't have a pension and won't qualify for CPP for two more years. Enough said. In the past few days I have seen some things I want to do: join a choir ($200), take a knitting class ($130), attend a conference($200). Hmph. I keep hoping the school will call and need a sub for a few days. That would cover it.

I have spent a lot of money in the last six weeks on physio, naturopath, chiropractor. I am glad that I am able to do this. I have almost complete use of my arm. Probably 90%. My back is still sore as heck, but I am sure that it too will get better. Eventually.

But still, this two hundred dollar amount keeps raising its head. I could put an ad in the school newsletter about tutoring. I could cancel my cable which would save probably 60 bucks a month. I am fortunate that this is the worst of my problems.

The world and media keep reminding me that I am one of the lucky ones.

So, I am going to stop whining now, and count my blessings. They are so many.

God will provide. I truly believe this. And I believe in angels.

Monday, September 16, 2013

What a broken arm really means

Ok. I broke my arm this summer. It was suppose to be our big adventure: three months in our camper to the Yukon and Alaska. One month in I fell from the top step of the camper. This is probably a four foot drop. I landed on the point of my left shoulder and I heard a horrible crack. I will spare you the further details.

A month later we arrived home and I began the round of doctor, physio, naturopath and chiropractor appointments to begin to put my self back together again. (Think Humpty Dumpty minus the king's horses and men).

One person told me that a broken arm means that I need to look at my life at see what I need to 'break' with. Another told me that breaking a bone makes it easier to work with the spiritual world. Yet another told me that I broke my arm because I am not able to ask for support and help. Really? On top of trying to heal my arm and back and knee on a physical level, clearly there is some healing needed on the spiritual/emotional/destiny level.

Here is what I learned this summer:

Shit happens. It doesn't matter if you are a good person, or a bad person. Sometimes shit happens.

My son and husband were the best people I could have been with. Far from a hospital, and scared and in pain they took charge and calmly got me where I needed to be. They were angels. Clearly my guardian angel was somewhat distracted at the moment I started to fall, but quickly got back on the job and with help.

When I was totally drugged up on pain medication I had overwhelming feelings of love for my husband. That can't be a bad thing after 37 years.

I don't need as much sleep as I think I do. Sleeping is very uncomfortable and yet when I finally get up in the morning after another restless night I can manage quite well.

There is a silver lining in dark clouds: longer than planned visit with our son, three week visit with our daughter once I got home.

I have really good friends.

Now, something I learned about myself. Well, actually I didn't learn it, but I need to figure out what it is all about. When I fell, after I landed, I kept apologizing. Through the pain, and shock, and fear I kept apologizing for ruining our trip. What the heck is that about?

Maybe once I finish all the physio I need some therapy. Really.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Despite the fog the skies are clearing

Not sure which medication is helping, but I am feeling like the clouds are parting.

Sleep is coming easier, and I am more "up" for doing things. Yesterday was a good day with a trip to the Aquarium and a lovely dinner with my baby brother. He gives the best hugs.

Today I am going to make gluten free perogies (which involves cleaning out the pantry first) and that is good too.

It is foggy again today, and thunder is rolling outside and heavy rains have just past over.

Perhaps a metaphor.

Perhaps it is just the weather.

Either way I am going to ride out this storm.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The first step is admitting you need help

It has not been an easy spring and summer. Well, if truth be told the winter was pretty tough as well. But I soldiered on, because, well, that is what one does. And don't talk about it. Don't air your dirty laundry. That is what I was taught growing up.

So I soldiered on. All the way to Alaska, in fact. But the nausea was there. The anxiety was there. It wasn't as much fun as other camping trips and we had looked forward to this, our first long trip, since before my retirement began.

And then the broken arm.

Well that didn't help things, did it? The myriad of medication, pain, discomfort didn't help at all. But the physio was helping, at least the broken arm part. But the broken spirit? The broken resolve? The lack of initiative? The wanting to stay in bed all day? No the physio wasn't helping that.

So I took the step and went to the doctor. I admitted the sadness and dis-ease. We talked. He suggested a psych consult to discuss different medication. He upped the medication I am currently on. He suggested counselling. He told me that taking this step was important to recovery.

So first steps. After a week I called a counsellor (I have an appointment tomorrow). I talked to my brother - and it was very helpful. I am glad I have him in my life.

I am reaching out, and making plans. Not too many plans because that is too hard, too much, but short little plans are good.

I am taking my vitamins, and trying to drink more water (although that means being up all night peeing). I know. Too much information.

I made two batches of home-made soup. Stupidly I did this on the hottest day possible, but I am happy to have healthy soup to eat.

My nausea seems better today. Fingers crossed. It seems that perhaps one of the drugs I am taking is helping that. I seem to be taking a lot of medications these days: for back pain (they are pink), for nausea (they are blue and oddly shaped), for depression (they are pink and grey), for arm pain (plain old white), to sleep (baby blue). I hate it.

So here I am. Face to face with the first step.

One step at a time.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

September 1

You have been on my mind all day.
I haven't told anyone that all day. I don't know why I keep this day to myself.
I just do.

I felt bad to realize that I always remember this day, but not the day my mother died.
Perhaps it is because you were my first great loss.
There have been many since, but today still reminds me of a seventeen year old girl alone in her basement bedroom woken up by the news that you were gone.
The walk up those stairs that morning seemed long and foreboding.

Like with all deaths, things are never again the same.
It has been 40 years.
So today is for you.

Because it is September 1, and because I love you.

William Donald Burton
January 15, 1924 - September 1, 1973
My Dad.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Best Friends

I have been pondering this term for a while. Lots of people I know designate someone as their best friend. I suppose it starts in elementary school, or high school, or maybe even pre-school. Best friends change. Best friends come and go. Best friends are different for different parts of my life. My husband is my best friend. My friend from grade school is my best friend. My sister is my best friend. My friend from my first year of teaching in my best friend. My friend from my last year of teaching is my best friend. To me, a best friend may be someone I don't see often, but when I do we can just pick up where we left off. I think I have a few best friends. Is that weird?

On the flip side I know that sometimes, irrationally, my feelings are hurt when someone I consider to be very close to announces that someone else is their best friend. I want to be their best friend. Are we only allowed one best friend? That would be silly. Right?

I have been learning to be my own best friend. Someone I can count on when the chips are down. But I have lots of best friends who I can count on for different needs in my life.

This past summer I read Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities. I actually have a lot to say about this book. Most of it uncomplimentary. And I have an opinion about it being on the high school reading syllabus. But. There was this one paragraph that truly stuck with me.

"A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other. A solemn consideration, when I enter a great city by night, that every one of those darkly clustered houses encloses its own secret; that every beating heart in the hundreds of thousands of breasts there, is, in some of its imagining, a secret to the heart nearest it!"

Somehow this passage truly spoke to me. If, when, I feel so alone, it is because I am. And I am glad that I have some best friends to share some of my secrets with and in those moments don't feel so alone. Maybe if we all made room for more best friends we all would feel better. At least a little. At least some of the time.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Bears and goats and elk, oh my

It is raining in Hinton, Alberta. I am sitting in the Smitty's, drinking mint tea, waiting for the oil change to be done on our truck. We are getting reading for the adventure along the Alaska Highway. Today we will head towards Dawson Creek, Mile 0.

So far it has been awe-inspiring. There is nothing like driving the Icefields Parkway to make you feel insignificant, yet connected, to this planet of ours. Every turn of the road brings a new vista and we had to come up with other words besides magnificient, amazing, wow!

We have seen alot of black bears, quite a few elk (even a young, spotted one), and the best was the herd of mountain goats including a little baby goat. It looked surreal, almost like a stuffed toy. Too cute!

We have had a few campfires, campfire songs, and have cooked over the open fire.

I am sleeping better, although we seem to have a battery issue for dh's cpap machine so he is currently browsing batteries next door at the RV place.

I am reading alot, and haven't knit for a week. (Maybe they will take away my Ravelry membership. :) )

So, all is well, we are in contact with our kids as we travel thanks to my new smart phone. It was definitely a good investment.

So, ya, it is raining in Hinton, Alberta, and we are getting closer to our boy in the Yukon, and should be on the next leg of our journey before noon (with new batteries apparently as dh has just returned from his battery finding expedition).

We have been on the road for a week and I am holding my family and friends in my heart as I travel. Maybe it is the vastness of the mountains, or the quiet presence of the wild animals around me, but I am feeling vulnerable, and realizing the fragility of life within the billions of years of geology around me. We are here for such a short time, and need to make it count for something. For something, or for someones, we need to make it count.

So for those around me who are fighting cancer, caring for loved ones, suffering depressions, moving to new jobs in new cities, taking on summer, planning for the future, falling in love, being human, know that you are all in my heart. Keep me in yours.

Monday, June 3, 2013

The clouds are parting

And so the cycle continues. The clouds are parting and things are slowly improving. The ball is heading back up on its endless, repetitive cycle of bounce.

There is more sun. I am eating better. Our trip seems about to begin, for real this time. I am reading more, and starting to fret less. Well, maybe, just a little less.

I am getting things done. When the ball is heading down, about to land with a thud, I can walk by something every day that bugs me and I don't do anything about it. This week I have been vacuuming up those dust bunnies, sweeping up that dirt in the carport, throwing away junk, and recycling stuff. I guess you could call it Spring Cleaning.

My legs are still uber restless at night - a metaphor I am certain for - I want to get going on this next adventure. Soon. We will get going soon. Patience, dear one. Patience.

In preparing for this trip the reality of our age is setting in. It takes longer to get things done. The muscles are sorer at the end of the day. Getting down to the ground takes longer, and getting up longer still. However, all in all, we are moving forward.

And that is always a good thing.

My feet have been acting up this week, probably because I am on them too much with the preparations. Yesterday I lay on the front lawn, helping where I could, while my husband unloaded the truck and camper for a good cleaning. I realized that I have never seen any other neighbours ever do this. Lie on their front lawn. I do it often. It made me feel that feeling of difference. Not a bad difference. Just difference. I am not like other people. My husband and I are not like the other people on this block. It made me a little lonely, but also a little proud that at 57 I could lie on the front lawn and keep my husband company while he did his chores. I am such an odd thing, really.

I did climb on top of the camper to check the seals. (Not bad for an old girl). And I did clean out the cupboards, and found some missing items that had been lost since our last camping trip in February. I always feel good when I find lost things. My husband calls me 'the finder' because I have an innate ability to know where lost things might be. Usually they are small things like wallets, glasses, pieces of lego. Sometimes they are big things like relationships, love, hope and faith.

So yes, the clouds are parting.
That is something to be thankful for.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Happy Birthday

Today is your 65th birthday. Wow! How did that happen? We met when you were 27. I felt so grown-up dating a guy who was 27.

I have know you through most of the decades of your life. We have been married for 36 years, together for 37.

I still love your voice. Everytime I hear it on the phone, I melt. Really, I do.

You can still make me laugh, tears rolling down my face laugh, like no-one else has ever been able to do.

You and I have figured out the division of labour thing. You shop and cook. I do the clean-up and make the bed. We both ignore housework until the last possible minute and then we pitch in together. You do the kitchen and bathroom floors. I dust and clean the sinks and toilets. It has simply evolved that way. Easy peasy.

We enjoy each others company after these many years. We don't talk alot, but it is comfortable to sit in silence with you. And it is funny how often after miles of silence (when we are travelling) we will simultaneously start the same conversation.

You are an intuitive. You often know something about one of our children, or about an acquaintance before I do. You have a spidey sense about an up-coming phone call or situation. You have a spidey sense about me too. Sometimes it creeps me out, but I am glad I am on your radar.

When I met you you were a dark, curly-haired guy with a guitar. Now you are a silver, curly-haired guy with a guitar. You were a jeans and t-shirt guy then, and still are today. They only time I have seen you in a suit was the day we were married and our first anniversary. You are the most conservative, traditional, non-conformist I have ever met.

We still walk holding hands. I love the feel of my hand in yours. Sometimes when we are sitting at the table, at home or at a restaurant, you will reach out and rub my neck and shoulder. It is an intimate gesture of someone who has known you a long, long time.

We camp. Alot. My brother asked once what we do, or talk about, spending that much time, alone, together. It is simple. It is comfortable. It is companionship born of a deep love. And I love sitting around camp-fires with you. With the guitar, sometimes. Singing our old standbys. I wonder how many campfires we have sat beside. And how many more we have together.

We have both started to enjoy bird-watching. And wild-life watching on our trips to the Rockies, or Yellowstone. I hear you in my head " Oh hey!" when you have seen something. And then the look of delight on your face and the sound of delight in your voice. I love that about you too.

Your sister asked me once what I saw in you. It was an odd question from a sister. What I see in you is your love for me. I see myself in your eyes and I don't think there is anyone that is loved as well as I am.

You are the father of our children and although we don't always agree on the tack to take with our grown children, fundamentally we have always held the same values and imparted them to our children. The adult-grown child relationship is not always an easy one, but I see you trying so hard. And helping me try too.

You rub my feet when they are sore, bring me tylenol when my head hurts, and tea to soothe a stomach ache. You try to smooth the road ahead of me.

You give me space, but also a hug when it is needed. You have tried to understand my bouts of depression and I know that is hard for you at times.

You have been my love since I was just a young 20 year old. You are still my love as I head toward 58.

I know you worry. About your kids, about the economy, about our future.

But don't worry about this one thing. Your future includes me. And together we will figure it out. Probably beside a campfire.

Happy Birthday, my love. Happy Birthday.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Defining moments

I still remember the first time I noticed that I didn't enjoy eating anymore. It was 2001, after an open house at my school, at a mexican restaurant with my sister. I had always loved eating, especially in restaurants, but that night the food arrived and it wasn't exciting for me anymore. I remember knowing at the time that this wasn't just a one time thing. This was it. Something else I had lost enjoyment in. Thirteen years later nothing has changed. It is not that I don't get hungry. I do. And the low blood sugar that ensues is not pretty for those who live close to me. But, nothing appeals to me. When asked what I want to eat, or what restaurant I want to go to it is difficult to come up with an answer. Nothing appeals to me anymore. It is not that food doesn't taste good. Those first few bites when I am really hungry are wonderful. My husband often jokes that the secret to getting me to say something tastes really good is just to serve dinner late so I am really hungry. But, still, the pleasure is gone.

It may well be linked to the anti-depressants I have been taking for the past 15 years. My husband says he notices that my moods are flatter. I suppose it is no stretch to think it flattens out my appetite too. Still, I used to really enjoy food.

Recently I commented to him that I wished I could get all my nutrients from a pill - like in those sci-fi movies. Shopping/Cooking/Eating seems like so much trouble for so little reward.

This is what depression is like. Going to bed, getting up, calling a friend, picking up the phone just seems like too much trouble. It is a hopelessness. It is a what-is-the-pointedness. It is a sadness that leaks from your eyes. It is not really crying when the tears just flow on their own. I just notice them, and wipe them away, and sometimes they continue, and sometimes they don't. And when I am asked why I am crying there is no reason. There is just tears.

Even knitting (gasp) is not so much fun anymore as it is just something I do.

I have been reading alot these days. Mostly fiction, but not all. Stories by Ivan E. Coyote. They seem to help.

I am worried about the future and how my vote won't matter because I don't want any of the parties running our government. And I am tired and sad of the behaviour and actions of politicians that speak as though they have my best interests at heart. They don't. Their only interest is their own wish for power and the selling out of their ideals, to make deals, with other people they don't respect.

It is overwhelming that in every area of my life there are too many possibilities, too many choices, too many minute decisions, so that I know whatever one I make I will have regrets and feel like I have made the wrong choice.

It is like Hyperbole and a half wrote in her latest blog. She wrote that it is like your fish are dead, and every one is trying to save you from this reality.

"We will go find your fish."
"Maybe your fish aren't dead, maybe you just lost them."
"Maybe if you just eat right, exercise and meditate your fish will come back to life."

I need everyone to know that just because you can't see my dead fish, it doesn't mean they aren't there. And dead.

If you want to understand how I feel, please read Hyperbole and a Half's latest post. Maybe then you will understand.

It helped me understand my depression better. It made me feel less alone. That is a good thing.

I have been writing this post over the past few days.

Since Thursday I have listened to sixteen grade 12 students present their year long research projects on a myriad of topics: literature and education, biotechnology, computers and creativity, intelligence, emotions, consciousness, commitment, art and society, copyright laws, nature and humanity, the birth of planet earth, mathematics and nature, plant-based whole foods, animal ethics, birth order, and sports psychology. I learned so much from these 18 year olds, and their presentations gave me much to think about.

This generation gives me hope. My children's generation gives me hope.

It is not a corn kernal under the refrigerator, but it is a start.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Your children are not your children

On Children
Kahlil Gibran

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

I heard this a month ago, recited while a class of 14 year olds performed with their teacher. It brought tears to my eyes. I have heard it before at a dedication for a new baby, but then I didn't yet have grown children of my own. Adult children.

All the times people told me, warned me, to enjoy my children, because they grow up so fast, went unheeded. Now I find myself telling others. They grow up so fast. They grow up and they are gone. I find myself weeping, silently at times, sobbing loudly at others.

I think about myself as an adult and how infrequently I thought of, or contacted my mother. It is the nature of growing up. To grow up and grow away. It is what is supposed to happen. There is still a thread, a bond, a connection, but it is different now. Adults lead adult lives. They are on their own path. Still, I miss them.

I miss having morning coffee with them, running errards, watching movies. I miss their company. They are both funny, interesting, intelligent, compassionate individuals. They are both socially conscious and striving to find their way in their world and to make a difference. Even if they weren't my children, I would want to spend time with them.

But they are thousands of miles away. Being adults. They are grown up.

And it is ok that I am sad sometimes. Nobody has to fix it. It just is. And it will not last forever. It will be ok in the end. If it's not ok, it's not the end.

"For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday."

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Knitting Socks as a metaphor for life

I knit socks. All the time. Recently I have been thinking alot about life, and about sock construction.

You can knit socks toe up, cuff down, from the middle out, and recently I knit a uniquely constructed sock that turned everything I knew about knitting socks upside down.

You can knit plain stockinette socks, socks with cables, socks with lace, and socks with texture.

You can knit socks with fine lace thread, fingering yarn, sport yarn, and even heavier yarns if you want slipper socks.

You can knit socks of one colour, or socks using intarsia (many colours), or fairisle (two colours).

You can knit socks with wool that patterns for you, or you can do it yourself in a million different ways.

For me socks are more than a way to keep my feet warm, or to keep my hands busy, or to learn new skills. They are certainly much more than a fashion statement, because even though my socks are definitely fashionable, they hardly ever match anything I am wearing.

The magic of sock knitting for me is two-fold. One - the turn of the heel. There is something almost mystical about turning a heel on a sock. And there are many, many ways to do it. I have learned probably ten different ways, and each one is magical. To me it is a miracle that a straight piece of knitting can turn and head in a new direction.

The second part of knitting socks for me is because it links me, stitch for stitch, with my grandmother and especially my aunt. Oddly enough, although my aunt taught me to knit, she never taught me to knit socks. But she, and my grandmother knit sock after sock after sock for their 'boys' in the army: my grandfather, my father, and my uncle. My aunt and grandmother used to knit sock after sock after sock up to the heel turn, and they would all be lined up over the upstairs banister waiting for that magical day when they would turn all the heels, one after another. An assembly line of heel turning.

I don't know of anyone who hasn't turned a heel, and then stopped to admire the simplicity and the mystery of it. It is always a moment in my knitting where I stop, and pause, and admire, and reflect.

Isn't it interesting that 'heel' has the homophone 'heal'. Perhaps that is why I knit socks. To heal. To heal my heart, my friendships, my family relationships, and ironically even my feet. I never thought of this before, but it rings so true.

I knit socks for family members: my daughter, my son, my sister,my brother, my husband, and recently I have starting knitting for friends as well. Good friends. Not because they ask, but because often when I am knitting a pair of socks I find myself thinking of someone in my life, and so organically those socks seek their owners.

I knit my daughter's partner of almost four years a pair of socks for Christmas. The relationship ended a week before Christmas. I don't believe in the curse of the 'boyfriend sweater'. Instead I think that I knew intuitively that the relationship was coming to an end, I thought of him as I knit those socks, even though I didn't start them for him, and they became a gift of thanks and appreciation for all that the relationship had been and will continue to be for my daughter.

So back to the title. We can knit our life together in a variety of ways - in ways that perhaps we hadn't thought possible, yet. We can live for comfort, or utility, or for grand things. We can live plainly, or fantastically. We can live to connect to the other, or to unravel. Unravelling of ourselves or our relationships - sometimes because we don't take enough care, or it doesn't fit, or it is just not for us. Sometimes the unravelled is fixable. Sometimes not.

I knit socks because there is a mystery in it. An adventure each and every time. And don't get me started on the magic of grafting the toe so the seam is invisible, and darning a well-worn pair of socks with the darning eggs my children made in school years ago. There are metaphors for life in those skills too.

I knit socks because in each and every stitch, every pattern, every turn there is a lesson.

Or a memory.

Just like life.

Monday, March 4, 2013

I wish the truck would just park somewhere else

I feel like I have a truck parked on my chest. This happens to me from time to time. It is sometimes caused by a certain upset or fret. Sometimes it is more free floating. Sometimes it starts out free floating and then I add tonnage to the truck so it sits there good and solid.

I imagined when I retired that I would be able to stop taking the anti-depressant I have been on for the past 15 years. Today the sun is shining, spring looks like it is right around the corner, and I am dealing with an 18 wheeler parked on my chest.

No fair.

I tell myself I am just tired. That it is just because my feet are still sore if I do more that dishes and making the bed. But deep down I sometimes believe I have to resolve myself with the fact that this is it. This is who I am and what I have to live with and it is not about working, or not, fretting, or not, politics, or not.

Maybe it is just about me. Maybe despite the coming of spring I need to increase my dosage. Maybe after all these years I just have to accept that this is who I am and this is the medication I need to take to live a full life. Maybe.

I have been here before in March. Perhaps it has just been a long wet winter and I need summer to get here. Perhaps.

I just wish this truck would move on. I am sure it has places to go and things to do.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Maybe it's February

Maybe it is because my son is in the Yukon and I'm not.

Maybe it is because my friend is moving into a new house and I'm not.

Maybe it is because another friend is moving to a new city and I'm not.

Maybe it is because my daughter is in Halifax and I'm not.

Maybe it is because my sister is travelling to London and India, and I'm not.

Maybe it is just February.

Or maybe I just need a nap.

Until Spring.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

stepping out of my comfort zone

I have played the piano for years. Since I was five - so that is 52 years. I have always shied away from playing in front of people - my nerves get the best of me and I make mistakes, and then I feel bad for not being perfect. I have played recitals when I was taking piano lessons and it was always nerve-wracking. I believe my phobia stems from a piano festival I participated in when I was young - grade two. I arrived at the festival all excited and ready to play. My teacher asked me where my music was. I told her I didn`t need it because I had memorized my pieces. "What if you forget", she said. The thought had never crossed my mind. But ever since then it has. I have never forgot that moment - when doubt was introduced. It was profound and has dogged me ever since.

Recently a friend asked me to help her with a musical comedy her grade six class was performing. She wanted me to help the students learn the songs and then to accompany the performances. Helping the students was a no brainer. As I retired choir teacher that was well within my comfort zone. Playing for the performances? Not so much. My first answer was no. My second answer was no. But for this class, this teacher, I reconsidered. Because, well, at 57 it was time to step out of my comfort zone.

So a week of practising at home, and two and a half weeks of working with the class. Three performances are behind me now. And, it was, fine. I did it, and I enjoyed it. It was challenging, but also, fun, to follow the performers and to provide the background music to the play. I am especially proud of the music that accompanied the two chase scenes. It was those scenes I was most nervous about, and in the end the proudest of.

So, another new skill. Another new trick for an old dog. Another chance to push outside the boundaries and to not limit myself by past experiences.

I am continually surprised in this life. By myself, by others. And I am learning that surprises are, in fact, a good thing. Even if I don`t know it at the time. Surprises make me think, and step outside my comfort zone, and wake me up. And I don`t want to sleep walk through the rest of my life.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Giving Up

Lent begins tomorrow. When I was a little girl I would give up my penny candy. As a young woman I would give up chocolate. In those days I didn`t know about being able to break Lent on Sundays. Every Sunday being a little Easter. Last year I gave up facebook for Lent. And penny candy (which costs way more than a penny all these years later).

This year, along with facebook and penny candy I will also give up my daily crossword. This past weekend we went camping for two days and my husband commented how much he enjoyed morning coffee with me because I wasn`t solving my daily puzzle, but giving him my full attention. It made me think.

Why do I observe Lent? I don`t attend church every Sunday, but when I do attend it is always a deeply moving and spiritual experience. Always.

This past year, in my life, I have two people close to me who are undergoing chemo-therapy. For one it is a 48 week treatment. For the other it is a life long treatment. One day, I too may undergo some form of chemo-therapy. (Although I dare to use the word remission these days).

So in the next six weeks when I reach for the crossword, and then turn the page and put down my pen, or when I have a little craving for my beloved swedish fish that I will ignore, or when I think about logging onto facebook to see what my daughter et al are up to, and pick up the phone instead, I will remember.

I will remember that the central figure of my faith struggled and was lost in the wilderness for 40 days. That he doubted. That he was tempted. That he got mad. Really, really mad.

I will remember those two men in my life that are willing their bodies to win over the invisible foe.

I will remember that I am so very lucky, and really, in my life, I have suffered very little.

I will spend more focused time having coffee in the morning with my life partner.

I will pick up the phone, or write a letter.

I will pray.

As a friend said, for her, Lent is not about giving up, but about taking on.

I will take on looking forward with hope - to Easter and to Spring.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Ganesh and the Venus de Willendorf

I have a model of Ganesh beside my bed. Ganesh is the Hindu diety known as the Remover of Obstacles, and the Lord of Beginnings. My sister brought him back from India for me.

She has a felted model of the Venus de Willendorf that I made for her many years ago. The Venus de Willendorf dates back to 24000 - 22000 BCE and is a woman of size and power, although the orginal relic found was only 4" high. She has large breasts and a belly and big powerful thighs. She is beautiful.

Wherever my sister goes, so goes she. I have many, many pictures of the little felted woman of Willendorf on hotel beds, windowsills, and desks as she travels the world with my sister. When I get the picture via facebook I know that my sister has safely arrived at her destination.

There is a something in the fact that my talisman is made of heavy brass, and hers of felted wool. There is something about the fact the hers travels the world with her, and mine stays put beside my bed.

So every night, and every morning I see Ganesh. The Remover of Obstacles, and I am trying to hear what he is saying to me. Remove the obstacles and begin.

Remove the obstacles and begin. The obstacles of fear, and sadness. The obstacles of worry and melancholy. The obstacles of sore feet and blood disorders. The obstacles of procrastination and inaction.

So, Ganesh, I am listening. And, somewhere in the valley, for that is where she is right now, the woman of Willendorf is listening.

With these two on my side I know it will be alright in the end.

If it's not alright, then it is not the end.