A Dance In The Hurricane

The other day I was cleaning out our closet.  It was time to do some much needed purging.   I decided to gut out everything and go from there.  I ended up finding some old cards from a few years ago when my mother passed away.  I opened each one and read them again, this time with five years behind me.  They were sweet and sympathetic.  My Aunt had sent one reminiscing about when she and my mother were teens and very close.  Some I kept and others I didn’t.  So much for the big purge.    In among the cards I found a letter that was written by a childhood friend of the family.  Her kids were friends with us when we lived in the old neighbourhood.  She and her husband were friends with my parents.  We used to visit them at their house after they moved away into a new house.  She wrote to say how dismayed she was of my mother’s passing and that she hadn’t realized my mother continued to reside in Chatham.  She assumed she had moved in either my brother or myself.  She was disappointed she had not made the effort to reconnect.  I think she was disappointed neither had my mother.  I don’t think it was anyone’s fault that they got disconnected.  It was just life.

Kids grow up, graduate, move on to university or not, tragic events unfold, weddings and new houses, new babies, new lives.  It’s everything that happens over a lifetime. We get disconnected. We get disjointed and enmeshed in the everyday we forget the connections that were made years ago on a summer’s day when the children were small, who later walked to the bus stop hand-in-hand on frosty fall mornings, caught “all things squirmy and squishy” (her words) and played basketball until nightfall.

letter

Those days get lost in band practices, packed lunches, hockey games and baseball tryouts.  People get older, move to other streets or to other towns.  They work, they make new friends, they move on to other hobbies, other occupations and other past times without the old acquaintances that have become a part of their past.  The present is different.  Its fluid and changes with the seasons and the ever-speeding passage of time.  We don’t notice the children becoming adults until they are there.  We don’t notice our hair changing colour until our hairstylist points it out (while saying loudly WHY ARE YOU NOT COMING HERE MORE OFTEN?!  )  we don’t notice the deeper cracks in the sidewalks outside the house,  how the maple tree has grown exponentially or how few little children are out playing street hockey these days, until all of that suddenly seeps into our consciousness and we take a look around us with open eyes.  And older eyes.  How did this happen?  When did we get HERE?

I understand her disappointment and dismay.  It seems like a sudden about-face of one minute she’s there, the next she’s gone, but really it wasn’t like that.  It was a lifetime of being, of living of surviving.  The disconnection of relationships is unfortunately, an everyday occurrence that can be prevented if we take the time.  Aye there’s the rub.  TIME.  We never have enough. It flies away so fleetingly.  If only we had more time to connect, to say ‘hey’, to reminisce, to support, to actually stop and watch everything grow and change without having to be awoken to its transformation.  It’s a difficult dance.  Maybe we don’t want to watch because if we do, then we’ll have to admit that we are getting older, life is flying by without us even moving or flinching in this hurricane.   Maybe we don’t really want to see the children getting older or the sidewalk cracking or the maple tree growing so big we can’t see across the street, anymore.  We’d rather hold on to today, to live in the present, just let me have one more day!

Connections are our lifelines.  We crave them, seek them out and some hold dear for a lifetime.  Our intentions are for connections to last as long as we take a breath, to be eternal and constant, but sometimes those bonds get weaker and grow more distant, then are suddenly lost in the gale force wind.  It’s not wrong.  It’s life.

I’m thinking after all of this time, to send her a letter of reply.  To let her know I did receive her letter and I did read it and I still have it.  That I remember everything she said was true.

Maybe, that could be one little dance in the hurricane.

The Journey of Self-Discovery

 

As we get older, I think we realize the person we have become is different than the one we envisioned ten, twenty or even thirty years ago.  We aren’t as rich as we thought or driving that Jag we had hoped.   Our professional aspirations may have hit a few snags along the way and we opted for security instead of enjoyment, or the opposite and opted for enjoyment instead of security.  We didn’t marry that guy or venture to the outreaches of the universe…or join the Peace Corps because the best friend at the time, had the logical explanation of running water was obsolete and showering might be an issue.  Duh.  I kinda knew that…and who wants to bother saving the world anyway, when you have more important things to do like date that guy who says he’s applied to be a Mountie?   Gawd, who wants to date a pre-Mountie?    Well….

Maybe one date.

Whatever it was, the path we may began has somehow veered off into directions that have been surprising or disappointing, depending on your point of view.  Spending valuable time and energy wondering what may have been is a waste and I try to concentrate on the here and now.  Not the yesterdays or the last weeks.  Not the tomorrows or the next weeks or even next years.  Today.  What’s happening today?

My interests have become varied and I’ve often switched creative ventures, balancing the need to be alone with the need to be writing or painting or doing something crafty.  It’s weird.  I was never a crafty person, but I’ve found lately I enjoy the solitude of sanding a chair or refurbishing a dresser.  I like the work with my hands and the dust on the floor.  I like the smell of the paint and the different looks I can make if I mix two colours together.  It makes me feel productive….accomplished? Maybe?  I don’t know.

It’s not something I’ve ever imagined myself doing, but somehow it comes naturally to me.  I look for pieces to redo.  I get complaints from the fam that there is simply no room for another piece of furniture, but I look anyway.  There will always be room…somewhere.

The dreaded “M” word is knocking on my door and a day does not go by without another exclamation of ‘oh, what fresh hell is THIS’ from my lips.  Now, it’s a rash…next week it will be the ever refreshing onslaught of hot flashes, the week after….who knows?  THAT’S WHY WE NEED HOBBIES. AND WINE.

To keep from maiming those around us…

And to keep us sane.  Busy.  Useful.  Needed.

So, on your journey into Self-discovery, don’t dwell too much on the past and concentrate your energy instead on the here and now.  The accomplishments you have achieved, the awesome person you have become and are still becoming.  The people around you who have been influenced and are touched by your presence.

AND, for those of you who are encountering the ‘M’ word, or are about to, remember WHORE…

W- ine

H-obbies

O-ccupied

R-efreshed

E-nergetic

Because without Whore, we would simply be OLD ladies repainting shit.

Ugh…

My mason jars are apparently out of control….

chair

Bestie’s refurbished rocker…I think I need a matching one…

 

East Coast Trail The Sequel, With Art and Everything!

We, meaning the ladies and I and a few little ones, embarked on our second epic East Coast trail hike last Sunday morning onto Cobbler Path.

2016 645  A 4kms and change hike into awesomeness that can only be described as steep and climby and a wee bit sweary.   Although it wasn’t raining…it was foggy, instead.  Newfoundland weather never disappoints.

2016 657

See over the cliff?  That’s the ocean.  See it? IT’S RIGHT THERE! 

So foggy, I couldn’t see the ocean…which was a bummer because who doesn’t like to see the ocean?   AND, we had to walk/hike/climb and of course, swear up the long stairs onto a steep cliff to look down and see…nothingness.  White nothingness.  Ugh.  At least we got through it…with a balancing act of epic proportions, I might add.

2016 647

  WHERE ARE THE DAMNED RAILINGS?!!

2016 665

 

The last pics are the artwork we found on the buildings just as we were heading out of Red Cliff.

Enjoy.

 

 

 

2016 678

They are waiting for me to cross the rocks and water.  Smartasses.  

2016 700

Graceful as fuck.  Again. 

2016 702

We are happy we are not lost in the fog…BTW…THERE’S THE OCEAN IN THE BACKGROUND.  WE FOUND IT. 

Wow…a wee bit sweary, but interesting for sure…

Our next adventure we are expecting to see actual vistas…and scenes.  And hopefully each other at some point.  One of the ladies is hoping there will be railings on the stairs, but I’m not holding my breath.

2016 667               2016 685

 

 

http://www.eastcoasttrail.ca/

http://eastcoasttrail.ca/trail/view.php?id=22

 

A Few Words to Newfoundland and Labrador

2000px-Newfoundland_Tricolour.svg

 

I wrote this piece a few years ago when the Powers That Be were deciding whether to relocate us (mainly Hubby, we could join him if we wanted to) to another province.  I wrote it because even though Newfoundland and Labrador isn’t my first home, the one I was born and raised into, the province where I spent my childhood or even my teenage or young adult years, I have grown to be a member of its community.  To be rooted in its existence; to be placed within its confines and be a responsible member of its society.  We are raising children into young contributing adults, who are attaining education and part-time jobs, building relationships and creating independent flourishing lives.  This latest budget is like a kick in the guts for all of the work we’ve put into creating a family rooted in a flailing province.  We feel like fools for putting our lives in the hands of politicians we trusted into moving the province forward, so our children could make lives for themselves here, and maybe not be forced out of its doors with their degrees in hand and goals thrown over Signal Hill.  We were wrong.  Now, with the encroaching end of University life for two of our ‘children’, we are egging them to move onwards and upwards, out of the province into which they have grown, out of the province they have called home for all of their lives.  Out to get better jobs, better lives and a chance at moving forward.  We may be going with them.  It wouldn’t be the first time we’ve contemplated jumping ship…or were asked politely to heave-ho.  This budget may be the kick in the arse we need to get there.

 We still love it here.  We still think Newfoundland and Labrador has a lot to offer, however, we are dismayed and broken- hearted over the debacle they call fiscal responsibility.  It’s not all of ‘them’.  We did this too.  Ugh.  So, do we jump into a plane and head Westward young man with our young adults to start anew, or do we stay and weather the storm that is this brutal budget?  Tough times, ahead my friends and the decision to stay or go will be made more visible as the cuts keep coming.  I can’t sit and pretend my head is not on the chopping block.  The cuts to services like mine are always the first to get the axe.  Vulnerable populations are swatted aside in the name of ‘fiscal restraint’ and are forced to deal with already difficult challenges made even more arduous due to our inability to put humanity first.  Compassion and human dignity are too expensive to support.  And so it goes.  I sit and wait to see where my fate will fall in the grand scheme of the government’s budget. 

Thank you, Newfoundland and Labrador for the past 22 years…    

From An Open Letter to Newfoundland and Labrador

“…I’ve had the privilege of living in a world where crime was on a much smaller scale, the children that my kids went to school with have become life-long friends no matter where on the island they live, and we have had family close by and far away, but never completely gone.  From Danny Williams’, our former Premier’s mouth, came the phrase “Newfoundlanders have an innate sense of responsibility for their communities” and I have witnessed this several times over.

  There seems to be a sort of communal outpouring of care for each other that is lacking in other provinces or even towns west of our shores.  Here in St. John’s, we live in a neighbourhood that embodies that spirit.  No child can walk down our street without the mother or father being friends with other mothers and fathers.  We make sure someone is home; we make sure there is an adult present and if there isn’t by some happenstance, we step in.  That’s called community, people.  Fundraising for playgrounds, for sports teams, for Girl Guides it’s all in a child’s life and my kids have done their share.  The understanding that family is the main portion of a child’s sense of self and giving that family the support it needs to sustain a life is an inherent part of being and living in Newfoundland.  The past year we have seen many challenges to that family life, with the provincial cuts and layoffs, however, I have also seen a spirit here that will surpass these pitfalls with the never-ending belief that their home is not away, it’s here.  Even if the jobs are scarce and the times are difficult, the young people forced out to look for work in other provinces, come back with a fervor that this is always ‘home’.  We have made friends here that have become part of our family.  We vacation together, live on the same streets, share the same worries and celebrate each other every chance we get.  There’s a foreboding that this could all somehow end.  That we could lose something or someone to change.  No matter where we end up, I will have my SLS family, my family in Central, my family now on the west coast and my mainland family.    

These provincial cuts have had a hand in our impending future.  Hubby’s job is tenuous at best and with the thought of another move forging its way onto our doorstep, I can’t help but be grateful for the past eighteen years here.  We have been able to raise our children in an environment free from abhorrent abuses of power, bullying, crime and rampant drug use.  Oh sure, all those issues are here, but we seemed to have escaped their reach.  The recent drive-by shooting has all residents appalled and angry that such violence has reached our rocky shores and so we should be appalled.  So we should be angry.  This isn’t indicative of the province I have come to know and admire.  This is what happens on the mainland, not here.  A mainlander I am and a mainlander I shall always be, but crime to this speaks of higher issues and greater responsibility.   Get ye home, b’y we don’t want this shit here.  We don’t want to be like everybody else.  We are unique. We are the home of quiet acceptance and hospitality.  Warm hugs and raucous kitchen parties. Tea and biscuits kind of people.  We are Newfoundland.  The only city I know of that when a TV show is shooting in any area of town, they broadcast the street closures on the radio and then the star of the show tweets his apologies for the inconvenience.  He’s sorry that you had to detour making you five minutes late for work.  He’s from the Goulds, Newfoundland.  “Innate sense of responsibility for his community”.  Yeah. 

That’s Newfoundland.

Thanks for the eighteen beautiful years.  I’m just looking for eighteen more….

God love ‘ya.”

 

A Practical Guide to Surviving Holiday Parties

 

Christmas is a wonderful season full of good will and good friends and family.  Parties and social gatherings are a given at this time of year, and getting together at work socials and/or a spouse’s work social can be a stressful and anxiety inducing event.   Here are my top tips for enjoying these special occasions while maintaining your dignity and Christmas spirit and enthusiasm for the season.  Enjoy!

  • Be prepared ahead of time by drinking a few cocktails before leaving your house (ensuring you are transported safely by a designated driver…I’m all about safety) that way you will be more at ease and further inclined to tell better jokes…which invariably leads to you laughing at them yourself…at least SOMEBODY will find you funny!
  • Wear your festive garb with pride. Nobody likes a fuddy-duddy and nothing says getting into the Christmas spirit more than wearing that fugly sweater with matching flashing earrings and socks.  Remember…everybody will be drunk eventually and will laud all over you with sentiment and admiration for your bravery….and awesome fashion sense. You will rock that partay.
  • Stash the Elf on the Shelf dude in a hidden place with a half empty bottle of whiskey during the party. The host will have fun discovering it later when she cleans up and then instantly blames her husband for his awful taste and poor judgement….and wasting a perfectly good bottle of Jack on a stuffed elf.
  • Be sure to bring a party favour for the host. Christmas is about giving so bring something nice along to thank her for inviting you.  Like wine.  Wine is good. Be sure to crack that bottle open at the party when she’s not looking, that way you can taste it and make sure it’s suitable!  Then you can toast your good taste and generous spirit by drinking her gift.  You rock!
  •  Compliment her Christmas tree and decorating finesse during the party.  Later, when everybody is hammered you can ‘fix’ it by rearranging all the ornaments to look like her three year old snuck out and got creative.  She’ll be sure to admire it  after she finds her angel face down in a bottle of Peppermint Schnapps and tinsel strewn around all corners of the house.  Again, she’ll blame Hubby…
  • Find a nice quiet corner to sit and contemplate the true meaning of Christmas whilst watching everyone else drink themselves silly and discuss why Joan Jett would sing Silent Night and the Little Drummer Boy, but not Santa Baby….hmmm….then get more wine and circle the gathering by humming ‘I Hate Myself for Loving You’…spread the Joan Jett Joy.
  • When eating boxed chocolates, read the chocolate guide to ensure you don’t eat the yukky cherry cream, or orange sherbet stuff or coconut cream ones. Leave those and eat the other caramel filled yummy ones.   Then replace the missing ones with the orange sherbet and coconut filled chocolates from the bottom tray.   Throw out the now empty tray and leave the one full tray of orange sherbet crap and coconut filled ones on top, that way everybody will think the box is half full, when really, it’s half empty….or it IS half full…of crappy chocolate.  Either way, it’s a psychological thing.  They’ll be happy that they scored a full load of chocolate and you’ll have already eaten the best ones!  Win-Win!  You’re all about spreading Christmas cheer….

 

There you have it.  You are now all set for the Christmas parties that are sure to come your way!  Enjoy yourself and remember, elves and Jack go together like wine and me…sweet and…well, we’ll just leave it at sweet. 

 

 

Family Time and Dog Farts

It’s not very often that we can gather together as a family, these days. With daughters working and going to Uni full time, and son also in his first year of high school and slightly employed (I say ‘slightly’ as he has secured a gig as a referee for some minor hockey games, but only on the weekends), our busy lives have prevented us from being in the same room for longer than fifteen minutes at a time. So when the opportunity presented itself for us to take a road trip to Nanny’s house Christmas day (a 4 1/2 hour long road trip), we surprisingly jumped at it. Turns out, the spontaneous let’s squish in the truck with an anxiety prone dog who should be taking Prozac and anti-farting medication was one of the better times we’ve had.
Why?
A short trip that entailed little in way of responsibility for any parties involved and virtually no expectations except that Nanny would be home and happy to see us. Yay for the latter, as Nanny happened to be out and we were waiting patiently for her return…but when she did show up, she was happy to see us. And we were happy to be out of the truck and away from the smell…ugh.

Our drive home on the open road...

Our drive home on the open road…

What?!  I didn't fart...that was the boy...I blame him.

What?! I didn’t fart…that was the boy…I blame him.

As fast as that road trip was (up and back home the next day) the time in the truck produced laughs, cuddles for us in the back seat, one spilled hot chocolate, a wandering dog who enjoyed licking everyone’s faces and some serious book time. Except for the dog’s flatulence and the tragedy of a hot chocolate downed on a Christmas shirt, it was quite a great ride home. One I think we needed in order to get that ‘family’ togetherness we have been lacking.
Since our spontaneous arrival at Nanny’s meant no Christmas turkey (Nanny had been invited out for turkey that afternoon), we postponed our dinner for a couple of days and invited Bestie and her fam. for the event. That meant, nine for dinner. Besides a runny bread pudding and less-than-baked cheesecake, the turkey was great and everybody around the table for dinner was amazing…
A nice way to spend Christmas.
New Year’s Eve prompted the annual Resolution Reformation and I cannot remember what I declared in Miss H’s binder of, what I am confident to be, intelligent and non-inebriated declarations of determined goals for the year ahead. However, after giving it some thought and a couple of prompts from Miss H herself in the forms of prolific quote and thoughtful email, I have decided to enjoy more.
That’s it really…smile more, laugh more and enjoy more. Fairly simple, really. I want to be able to enjoy the moments around me, the people who pass in and out of my life and the little stuff that we take for granted. For example, the quiet snowfall last night…I went out in my pj’s and took a few snaps, stood in the falling snow with my face to the sky and stuck out my tongue. I caught a few snowflakes and admittedly, a few questioning glances from neighbours, but I enjoyed the shit out of it. I got to linger in the peacefulness of a quiet night, the black sky darted with fat snowflakes falling gently onto my face and I thought “this is a wonderful night”.

Our snowy night...

Our snowy night…

That, my friends, is an awesome start to a new year in my books….how was yours?

The Bracelet

For the past couple of days, I have been wearing a charm bracelet that was given to me when I was nine years old. It’s silver with little charms that dangle from rounded chains connected by other rounded chains. It’s like those paper chains we used to make in school from colored construction paper and then hang from Christmas trees as garland. Only made of silver. And much nicer. It was brought back for me from Holland. I’ve added some charms to it over the years, but I still keep it in a special place in my jewelry box. The person who gave me the bracelet was very special to me. Although she is no longer with me, I wear the bracelet at times I need to feel her presence; when I need to feel her closer to me and to be nine years old again. I think we all need that from time to time.
A friend just recently lost his father. It’s tragic and sad and reminded me of her. Not of her death or of her illness that took her, but of the woman who was very involved in my life, who said I would always be a little bit hers. Of summers at the cottage, trips to baseball games and our first ride on a plane. She died at the age of fifty after a stroke and health problems that left her weak and unable to speak. I still miss her and carry her with me everywhere. The memories remain even if she is no longer in my presence.
I wanted to say something that would ease the pain of losing a loved one, but there is nothing that can be said; only that the person may be gone, but you carry that person with you always. He is not lost, he is not gone forever from your memory or from what makes you, you. He is gone from your house, from his house, from his car, from the physical portion of your world, but he remains a part of you. The words he has spoken, the essence of who he was, what he meant to you, how he made a difference in your life, is not gone. He is carried through your life, through your children and through your words and actions.
I’ve lost my parents, my brother and my friend, but their presence is always one I feel. Words I say to my kids, I can often hear my mother’s voice. When I look at my son’s eyes and see his passion for golf (yes, golf) I see my father. Every time I get the opportunity to work with a struggling student, or hear the rumble of a motorcycle, I see my brother’s smile. When I feel the sand between my toes and hear the ocean, I think of Oogie and remember how much she loved the sound of the ocean waves.
Sometimes it takes a tangible object like my bracelet, to bring them closer. I still have my mother’s jewelry, I still have trophies that once belonged to my brother, I still have my father’s slides and old projector, and I have my bracelet. All things that once belonged to my loved ones, but I keep in remembrance. Not that I need these things to remember, I have them because they once loved these things. They once touched them, admired them, and belonged to them. I guess they make me feel closer to them for having something they once loved, but I don’t need these objects all of the time.
My loved ones are never far from me. I just know where to look….