Friday, December 31, 2010

Looking Ahead

It is not for lack of content that I have neglected writing of late. I have been living more in my head than in public. Change, stress, sickness, have loomed this past month and seem to have railroaded my creativity and my voice. I am rejoicing at a new year. I love new calendars and daybooks. I love the prospect of changing my routine, a fresh start. I love the blank slate of each day and being able to write - neatly - appointments and events not to be forgotten.

A lot will change in the new year. A new job for me. New tasks for my man and children. Everyone will need to pitch in with patience, skills and help. I feel confident that they will shine. I have known that they really didn't need mollycoddling. I have known that they have always been capable. They have also always been willing. I now relinquish some responsibilities....some tasks...even things that I love will need to have assistance. There is trepidation, enthusiasm, nervousness and excitement all rolling around within my head and stomach. I try to plan and anticipate and know that it will be impossible until we are there.

There will be bumps. There will be tiredness, stress, challenges along with growth, invigoration, and peace. I just say "Bring it on".....as we embark on a new chapter.

Monday, November 8, 2010

I am still tired from laying in the Mayan sun, reading, eating and drinking far more than needed....swimming and napping when necessary. Driving in to work today I felt indescribably content. Satisfaction at having realized what I really enjoy is being a gear in the cog of my family. Eight days away had the ability to sway me either way. I could long to luxuriate a little more, thrown into complacency at my ordinary life...or conversely be the impetus for the bubbling of serenity at the quotidian life that has afforded me far more than the indulgence of sun and sand.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

It happened so subtlety that I hardly noticed. One day I was married to a malleable man who tucked in his shirts and relinquished some rights over t-shirts . I can remember an argument over hospital greens as pajamas. I had ideas of proper bedroom attire. Visions of what married life should look like were deeply embedded.

It might have been the addition of children....they do distract. One day, Ken was gone and in his place I was married to Norman. Norman is a likable guy. He laughs at jokes, especially when they involve bodily functions. Norman does not change his jeans very often....and he does not tuck in his shirt.....and he wears geeky, yet trendy glasses. Norman always wears a t-shirt that has something to do with motorcycles. Norman also has tattoos and he plays in a band....and even at 50, he loves the scene. Ken was more conservative. We used to hang out with friends drinking copious amounts of coffee. The transformation to Norman took years. It began with writing a music zine. Ken shied away from notoriety and so he used Norman, his middle name, as his pseudonym. It was Norman Anonymous at first...until he sent away for a card that certified he was Reverend Norman of some kind of Baptist Church from Tula Vista, California. His moniker became Reverend Norman....and over the years has morphed to others - Motorcycho Norman, and who knows what behind his back.

In the blink of an eye this morning, as we rounded onto the Queensboro Bridge on two wheels, I realized that I have had two husbands, but one marriage. The man inside stayed the same and the things I married him for are more pronounced. It is the idea of the marriage that required the change.

Every now and then Norman suggests he wants to grow a really long and bushy beard. I am horrified at the thought. When I examine why, it has little to do with the scruff or the roughness, and more to do with the attention it would draw to me. That still is way outside my realm of normalcy. I have come more than halfway in this marriage. I am shocked by my tolerance sometimes. More than 18 bikes...innumerable trips...both on a bike and about a bike. The beard is the one stand I feel necessary to take. It is my tipping point perhaps....the place where I know that I have sacrificed more than I can. It has all the appearance of my shallowness, yet my resolve on this does not have logic. There are things on his forbidden list for me. Rolling eyes are my signal of something he hates. I respect that. I also respect that although I married Ken....I love Norman with all my heart.

Friday, October 8, 2010

My house is lived in. Lived meaning life is always happening throughout. While my son is jumping rope to a video, his sister and her boyfriend watching a documentary on buddhism and simultaneously 3 sixteen year olds are in the midst of a rousing game of Scattagories in the bedroom. This morning, the evidence of life was scattered around. A water bottle abandoned by the skipping rope, a stray score sheet on the bathroom floor, another load of dishes in to be washed with a queue of waiting bowls and cups. Life is like that....messy. Oh yes, they try to remember to put things away...but then I also have a lapse in memory or lack of resolve. My life is definitely lived in...just like my house.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Their Phases

At midnight I picked up my son from the transit station. He was wearing a floppy toque, vans and a plaid shirt. He was also carrying a "man-bag" which only weeks before he had teased his dad about wearing one. He got in the car and at my look replied "it's convenient." With great restraint I held my tongue. This is the same son that at four was Peter Pan in a velour green outfit. A month later he transformed into Captain Hook with the hat, feather and black coat. By the time he was eight he was just a pirate - with a red bandana and often a striped shirt and patch over one eye.

Not many months ago, when Mik was in hospital, the boy was dressed in knee high army boots, ratty jeans that had not been washed in months. It was a grunge stage resplendent with a mop of curly, dirty red hair on the top and shaved on the sides. His skin looked sallow - not from lack of fresh food, but lack of soap. This same son insisted I leave to get sleep, and though he values it as much as I do, wanted to stay the night with his baby sister, just to be with her.

Why would I be surprised that he has now become bohemian or a hippy....or even preppy. His older sister predicted it all. When he was in the grunge stage, where being around him meant holding your nose, she predicted his next phase. "Mom, I am sure in a month or two he will probably wear an argyle sweater and have his hair waxed.

I have yet to see him in argyle, but he does have the waxed hair, neatly combed. He has button up shirts, Vans in the style of boat shoes, and he smell great.

These phases have sometimes been a challenge for me. "Is your head shaved as a statement?' I would ask innocently. "Does playing the Banjo means you are switching to country?" We have flowed with it all. The smells, the hair, the attitudes, the health kicks, the punching bag, running, omelette making, fancy sandwiches, the spouting of facts, the spouting of crap. He has certainly made our walk interesting. Through it all, he has been himself. He is not a chameleon....in fact I believe these seasons are in synchrony with who he is becoming.

I have always loved my son. His impish grin, his teasing, his quick wit and his soft heart. I am aware at how much I also like my son for these same reasons, and for not being scared to embrace something that he may have judged before. He is humble enough to admit when he has been wrong.

He is planning on leaving the nest soon. For good. He is excited, nervous and planning. He has his list of needs. The shock when I saw "new sheets, duvet," on it were equal to his abstention from alcohol recently.

I am just wondering what the next phase will look like now.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Phases

Having been through a number of decades, I also recall being through a number of phases. So many phases I cringe at, yet helped to define what I am yet to be, so I cannot pretend I didn't have a Shag. (To all Brits that is a haircut). Before the Shag though like most little girls in the 70's my mother's objective was to keep the hair out of my eyes, so I had a Pixie. In the later 70's Farah Fawcett hair would only do, and that with platform shoes and bell bottom jeans! I rocked...and sometimes tumbled...and often had wet pant cuffs because it was cooler if they dragged a little behind.

Can anyone live down the 80's? Neon, bad hair, lots of bad music, leggings and ugly shoes. The ever changing fashion industry is happy we embrace what they hawk. They are already cooking up the next new thing.

I think of different kinds of phases in life as well. When you get all caught up in a sport, a group, certain friends, activities. We had a brief Boggle phases with friends before their kids grew a little and distracted us. We had a party phases too. One of us would be hosting a party with a band or a theme. That was a fun phase. Currently Ken and I are in the "getaway" phase. Finding a great place to ride for a day or two is what is defining us now.

I am also in a "health nut" phase, which I hope will be longer than a phase. It is not just about being vegetarian. It is not just about doing what you know to do....it is trying to live in such a way that you are doing all you can. Okay....it could be idealistic. It works for me right now.

Reminiscing through the phases is cathartic. The evolution of life and the evolution of myself.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Balance

Parenting is like being in the center of a see-saw. You help your child with both the ups and downs. It also means you need to find the balance between holding on too tight, and letting go; guiding and manipulating; allowing freedom and giving boundaries. There will be times when we will be a little off balance.

"Your hair would look so great if you put it back behind your ears, darling." "You can go to the movie, but I don't want you to hang out afterwards." Many times I have questioned myself, my motives, my reasoning. At times I have wished that "Because I said so!" would suffice as the answer. It wouldn't with my kids. They have honed their skill of banter and debate, reasoning and logic. They have questioned our decisions, our conclusions and our protectiveness.

I like this, most days. I am proud they think. I am proud they contemplate deeper than the surface. Some days I just want them to sit on the end of the see-saw and let me move it up and down, or find the balance. At times they want to be the ones in the center...or just off center...enough to find the fulcrum to move the plank themselves...to find that point where where balance and wobble meet enough to offer the rush of adrenalin; yet still safe from tipping too far to the left or right. Balance.
To say I have understood this week would be untrue. Family issues and stories circulate and wander through dinner conversations and thoughts out loud. Most things have been discussed so many times that the more it is rehashed, the harder it is to break out of the rut of negativity.

I wish this wasn't so. I wish I was able to steer them in a different direction....off the path of destructiveness. I have used humour, logic and reasoning to dissuade the chatter, only to feel like I am the rudder on a toy boat trying to turn a freighter around.

I am ashamed to admit that I have participated, and perhaps even added fodder to the maligning. I stop part way through and say I am judging something that isn't mine. I correct what I should and keep quiet. My arsenal is large. I could barrage with injustice, misunderstanding and not being appreciated, as well as with pandering, patronizing and insensitivity. I choose not to.

Lest you think it is all noble; it isn't. I wish it were. The truth is I know it will go nowhere. To point out others' faults means that three fingers are pointed back at me. I notice that now. Each time I judge I am aware that this is something that is evident in my own life. Each time I feel superior enough to point out another's flaws, I will be humbled by the frequency and severity for which I myself am imperfect.

How we ventured into this sea of repugnance, I do not know. To find the cape that will lead us to calmer waters is what I strive for.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Everything is not as It Appears

It seems logical to say the above. One could be closer - as my side mirrors indicate. One could be further - as my heart indicates. We all recall our stories...some with facts...some with feelings. The intensity and truth of both are equal. I don't feel loved is not wrong. But, it is not true that I am not loved. I can feel fat while simultaneously not being fat. I can feel poor until I am compared against eighty percent of the world. Thoughts cannot really dictate reality, nor truth. Thoughts are fleeting. Everything is not as it appears. I need to remember this.
After I have spent time with them, I recall much that has been repressed and buried for years. Within an hour we have tried to find cell phones and glasses. Some could blame their age, but, in my family, I always remember looking for things. They leave to meet my brother while I call around to see if they were left somewhere along the way.

My daughter is listening to the conversation. She knew the who...and that when Grandma and Grandpa are visiting there will be a search for something. The blaming is hard to hear. "You must have moved them," equates to an accusation of intense emotion, as though there was some nefarious reason to hide the item. I am transported back to childhood when I wanted to make it all go away. I wanted to find the treasure and move on, instead of having the tension climax just before a sweater is moved to reveal the clandestine object, relieving the agony.

I may have found the glasses, we need to drive to find them....and I am okay with that. I am okay with the find...it is the loss that just seems to get so out of control.

Friday, August 20, 2010

I try to pretend I am not...but I know it is a full blown addiction. I plot and plan to get my stuff with lists, notes and emails to myself. Perhaps it was the lure of $4 off toilet paper this week. It could be that I am having a large family dinner....but it never seems to fail that my car heads for Costco with the intention of 4 or 5 things and translates later into several hundred dollars.

It could be the size of the packages lures me into thinking I will shop less. It also might be the thought that I might be missing out. The wool jackets are only there for a week, the yoga pants are $5 off for a few days...and tuna....I go through tuna by the case so the savings multiply with the number I throw in the cart that I have now had to go back and find, erroneously thinking I might have been able to carry my few items to the cashier.

I stuff my cupboards full to the brim, my husband tidying them after me. And then, one of my delightful charges says there is absolutely nothing to eat in our house. My mandate is set to go back and hunt and gather once again, the perpetual cycle of the ancient man and modern woman.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ivy Again

The thing about Ivy is she needs to be watched all the time. I thought I had pulled it all up, only to find a vine twisted surreptitiously around my hosta - choking out all life. When I followed the trail of the vine I could see there was a tiny hole in the weed barrier. Ivy are opportunists. One ray of sunshine or hope and they are back to thriving again. Had I not inspected the plants wilting leaves I might have been too late.

I would like the persistence of Ivy. I would like the tenaciousness - the don't give up attitude, even as some are trying to bring you down. I don't like the sneakiness of Ivy - nor the predatory nature. So, I have liberated the hosta and looked for any hint of green vines extending their tendrils throughout.

To think I saw a woman buying a flat at the garden store. I warned her. "One is more than enough," I offered. "It is for my rock garden, which is rather large," she replied. "I left my garden of quite a size untended with one lone vine last summer. My garden this summer was completely covered and creeping to the north side of the yard...over my diving board," I offered without exaggeration. She furrowed her brow and said, "They are only $1.49 so it isn't going to break my bank." Fair enough I thought....knowing that she will remember the conversation when she is trying to find a hint of a rock in the garden.

Most likely I ignore wisdom that would save me a lot of time weeding too.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Clock Watcher

I had no idea that I was a clock watcher. And when I say that, I mean I reference the time a lot. Perhaps it is early dementia that I forget that I glanced a minute before, but I know I do it. I realized this after the battery of my analog clock was dead. The time was stuck on 3:45 and has remained there all week. The number of times that I have looked up, knowing I need to change the battery astounds me. I seem to have such patience with this right now. Normally it would drive me nuts. Normally the battery would have been changed right away, but for some reason I am in a different place right now. I am in a place that allows me to know that it needs changing and not do it. I am also in a place that continually looks at the clock for a cue to eat or prepare dinner, or pick someone up and even though I know it is wrong, habit makes me glance above the door for orientation.

So, I will now go change the battery, with the awareness that two hands and a face seem to provide me with more direction than I ever expected.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Mom..Mom...Mom...MOM????

Have you ever wondered why mom's have a sense of radar similar to bats? We seem to be able to locate stray socks, deli mustard hidden in the depths of the fridge, transcripts from years ago....We are also called upon to remember everything. "Remember when I fell down and hurt my knee Mom?" I struggle to sound truthful....."Which time are you talking?" I ask for some kind of clue....."The time when we were playing tag and it was almost dark and.." I haven't the faintest recollection of this traumatic event but must quickly cover with placating sympathy. "Oh, you really did hurt yourself then.." seems to suffice for the moment.

We are called on to remember numbers...."Mom what is my Social Insurance Number......my medical number.....my student ID...my login.....?" "Mom what is the number to Translink....the bank......the gym?" Somehow, I expect they think there is a filing cabinet within this brain of mine. It is sorted and organized by frequency of use, name of child, date of last use. I sometimes need these clues....."Where did you see it last?" I might ask....or "Where did you use it last?" might be another.

Then there is all the information we are expected to know off the top of our heads. "Mom, how do I get rid of this stain?" "How do I wash the lining of a leather purse?" "My stomach is churning after I ate those lentils....should I take papaya enzyme with probiotics?" "Where did you get those mangoes....shampoo....sunscreen....?" or "How much were those mangoes...shampoo....sunscreen?" "How do I make that cake you made for my tenth birthday....last year....at Grandma's birthday?" "Where do you buy your vanilla....your quercetin.....your quinoa..?" "How do I cook quinoa.....steel cut oats....black beans?" "Do I need to soak quinoa? Wash quinoa?"

And so, after a days worth of questions that are not rhetorical, I am often asked....where would you like to ride....watch....walk, to which I have no answer. I have used up my quota. I possibly cannot seem to make a decision decisively after deliberating, recalling, explaining and then recanting or revising my response. I am not wishy washy...I am not swayed by popular opinion.....I am just tired of having all the answers!!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Unsung Heroes

I just finished cleaning the shower drain. When you have girls with long and curly hair, this is a necessity at least quarterly. No one warned be about this job. It is disgusting. The hair is tangled and has globs of soap and conditioner making it look and feel like a hairy slug. I have wretched when I pulled on one hair and an entire slimy ball comes up. I never knew this was a job that needed doing. I just assumed the wayward hair would make its way through my drainage system and out to the ocean. I think I assume a lot of things though.

We all have jobs we loathe to do. Many are things no one would have any idea about. Discarding grease from a fryer, cleaning toilets for a public facility...I don't even want to know what happens there. We are all unsung and unrecognized heroes in our own way. Some empty overflowing garbage...others notice drawers askew and tidy them...or check expiry dates on medicine and salad dressings. We didn't ask for the job....we just know it needs doing and it gets done by us. My husband is the keeper of our pool. He frets when there is bits of algae and becomes the veritable "algae buster", scrubbing, concocting and brooding over the proliferation of an amazing species.

And so, off I go to finish other parts of the bathroom that many will never notice need doing, nor notice when they are done, but knowing that we all have our task to do to keep it all going.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Mess

It is taking all my willpower NOT to clean my kitchen right now. It is 10:00 pm and it has been askew for many hours. My daughter ran out @ 3:00 promising to get to it when she came home. She breezed in for a few minutes and her deadline did not include cutlery, counters or dishes. I have tried to keep myself occupied. I have been reading and avoiding the chaos altogether. This is much harder than would seem. For me, I will have to endure this scene at 6:30 a.m. The floor is sticky by the fridge where icing sugar has coagulated with water. The counters have residue to the touch. I cannot use the sink with muffin tins, bowls of goopy coloured icing and baking implements jut out.

I am sure she will be disappointed when she sees it to. The reminder of her promise. The reminder of her responsibility. She will hope that I would just succumb to my dislike of chaos over principle. I should because it is punishing me far greater than it ever will her.

Friday, June 25, 2010

stuck

I get fixated. I can check my email ten or twenty times in a hour...waiting...hoping for a response. For a few days I have been doing this. Checking sometimes frantically, other times distracted and able to hold off for an hour or two. I am fixated because I want resolution. I am fixated because I am so confused about how we have arrived at this place. It is difficult to know someone is wishing your demise. My own wisdom would tell others "don't let negative thoughts rent space in your head" - while my heart beats faster with anxiety and anticipation. If I could change this about myself I would. I am stuck. Stuck and fixated. Stuck and anxious. Stuck and sad that discord has threatened my peace.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I can pretend that words don't hurt me, but they do. A dark shadow has been cast on a sunny day. To understand why the effluvia began is futile, as I have rehashed every circumstances of our demise considerably. Asthenia has taken over as I accede to negativity. Perhaps this was the goal in the beginning. I am not implying that it was the intention to enervate, but possibly, jealousy seethed and became the malignant growth of distress within his soul.

For me, the pain will be momentary. The wound will return to health. I am fearful that his heart will remain obdurate and unable to heal.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Elegance of the Hedgehog

To say I knew where the story was going, would be untrue. There was no incongruence, in fact the denouement clarified much for me. But I would not have predicted that the obdurate Paloma would become caught up in the life of someone decades apart, yet kindred. Neither, would I have foreseen the shrouded root of Renee's aloofness with the residents of her building. I felt captivated by the unfolding of the plot that brought lucidity and optimism; things do not always have to be as they always have.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

It isn't often I feel challenged by authors. Being an erudite has enabled me to comprehend and catalogue vocabulary in English as well as some French and Latin. So, when I began to read "The Elegance of the Hedgehog" by Muriel Barbery, I was startled that within the first few chapters I was referring to a dictionary. This, in no way, discouraged me, instead creating a craving for this enjoyable use of words and commas. By the time I reached Renee's astounding shock at an unnecessary comma written by her educated mistress, her reaction was appropriate for my fellow word nerd....and grammar slammer.

I related because, I don't mean to edit everything I read. It happens so naturally that I am inclined to want a marking pencil when I read magazines, books, websites. Like a gardener seeing a plant meant for a shade garden, set within the flower beds that need full sun, it exasperates. To many, the faux pas is not obvious but, to those few who know, it is like a pebble in one's shoe that needs immediate remedy.

Thus, I find myself in this position, often. Incorrect use of than and then has caused inner turmoil. Lately your and you're seems to have lost all scrutiny - even to the educated. Your is possessive, you're is a contraction of you are. I have explained this to some, ignoring the glazed look. This is important, not only to me, but to humanity. When we allow our language to denigrate we will be left with u r instead, as text messages are frequently the mode of written communication lately. U r might have sufficed when schooling was not mandatory and paid for.

When Barbery challenged my intellect, I felt relieved. Relieved that there are morphemics among us. The feat that was most pleasant, however, was the discovery that Barbery sometimes had misused the words I was forced to examine. It seems iniquitous that I would delight in this, but I do. Perhaps I am more like the protagonist than the author.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Gardening cultivates metaphors for my life. The ivy was once a wanted ground cover. Now it represents control and irritation. It does not die easily either. I continue the eradication process weekly. Friends are helping with my garden. They share their cuttings, their advice and their wisdom. Yesterday, Krista and I were envisioning the garden, when it fills in. Her visions are clearer as she knows that the Solomon's Seal will spread along with the Euphorbia. The encouragement to plant good things is not taken lightly. The light and soil determine a lot of what will flourish. Watering and weeding will help. It is also about allowing each plant to complement the garden without overtaking it. Ivy works when kept at bay, as does praise. But when it takes over as the sole survivor, it becomes the hubris needing annihilation.

Gardening is life. You plant, you water, and nourish with good it will thrive. There will be times of weeding, fertilizing, and transplanting. Sometimes friends will bring their vision and their cuttings. I need their vision in my life, their suggestions, their help at weeding out the unnecessary to make way for the extraordinary. Gardening reminds me to work at what I really want and to plant and nurture what is important. My life is a garden.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

If you had told me 10 years ago, or even 10 months ago that I would give it up, I wouldn't have believed it. It has been part of my routine for more than 30 years. I learned to make it when I was eight. Scooping just the right amount - my mom would know if there was too much or too little - and then waiting until I heard the first plop that hit the glass top of the Corning Ware pot. I vaguely remember having to time the plops, but it is lost in time. After the alloted time, the burner would be turned to minimum and I would get the mugs ready. My mom and dad used evaporated milk. The kind of milk sold in cans that had a cow on it. They both took about a teaspoon and I would fix the coffee and try to bring it to them. Then, and only then, could I have my own little cup.

That is how the routine started, and continued sans evaporated milk and percolation. That is, until last year, amidst the chaos of medical situations and hospital visits, I switched to peppermint tea. Peppermint tea is mostly, predictable. I steep it for a long time and wait until the smell of peppermint tingles in my nostrils. Then it is ready. Coffee was becoming tiring. One cafe made it too strong, the other had line-ups out the door. The rug was suddenly pulled from beneath my comfortable, reliable morning routine. It had to change. Peppermint tea also meant I didn't have to go down the elevator, wait in line, look presentable, talk coherently, and pay what used to be the cost of a meal, for a coffee.

So, life goes on without my morning coffee. Surprising, but there were little side effects. I expected it would have been difficult. It wasn't. I expected I would want to return to the routine when I got home and settled. I didn't. Perhaps it was time for a change. But if you had told me that 10 months ago, I honestly would have thought I had a full-blown addiction. It is nice, for a change, to find out that you are not dependent on everything you think you are.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Without this thought...

....I asked myself how things would change if I refused to be pulled under by fear and worry. Of course logically, I knew that I would feel great not to worry that the kids all returned from the after-wedding celebration safely, or a recent misunderstanding was resolved. I pushed out the negative thoughts that berate me with lots of "should haves" and guilt over parenting, friendships, rifts.

Even with these thoughts I know that I have always tried to be true to who I am. I believe passionately and live that as much as I can. I have been wrong many times, and right many times also. I have been open to change...and I have shifted my stance, my support, my loyalty and my views on further investigation, sometimes. I have often spoken out of ignorance, naivete, fear, ego, jealousy,and spite, as much as I have spoken out of love, understanding, courage, empathy and compassion.

Who would I be without this thought right now, is the question that churned within me, as the anxiety was rising. It was not rhetorical. A reasonable reply would be "calm and relaxed". Suddenly, the absurdity of the dialogue, and its wisdom became apparent. My thoughts were giving me the way to peace, but still needing me to turn the key.

I do not want my thoughts to dictate my life. They are random, fleeting, ever-changing. I can be thinking of the laundry at the same time as viewing the most perfect iris...and somehow the laundry wins my attention. I can remember a slight from 20 years ago, but rarely can recall all the great things that person might have told me.

The question is valid.....without this thought how would things change? I aspire to live in such a way that I would be sure of what I know is true, and let the rest unfold as it goes.

The Effective Ingredient

I am surprised at the effect some people have. Mom did that to me this weekend as she sat with our dogs. I sweep the deck often....but it looks much better when she does it. We bathe the dogs...but now they are well-groomed.

I love a mother's touch. That is what it must be. I think that love and giving change the effect of the world...and this is why even the dog's bowls are now gleaming.

Friday, May 7, 2010

I tackled more ivy today. It was the English ivy in my front yard that has twined it's way around my cedar tree, my rhododendron, my magnolia and has managed to hijack some of the driveway. As I am pulling and following vines I realize how insidious it really is. It has taken over and threatens to choke everything else from the garden. As I liberate the area, I know that this will be an ongoing battle. Beneath the soil is a maze of shoots and rhizomes that will sprout again. I refuse to give in to the feelings of futility I refuse to look beyond today, to lament the work that might be.

Krista saw the potential of this area. She envisioned trailing geraniums, hosta and impatiens. The colour immediately appealed to me. I sometimes need others to show me the vision. I am perfectly capable of carrying out the imagery...I just don't always see the potential in, what I view as, a dark and useless space. When Krista could see colour and beauty, it came alive to me as well.

And so, my arms are aching. My back is sore, but I am euphoric when I look at the cleared area. I can now see what can be there. Isn't that what friends are for?

Saturday, May 1, 2010

I don't think I am obsessive....but perhaps driven. The transformation drew me to keep culling and planting. As weeds were cleared and buds emerged, the work felt more and more worthy. I know some questioned. My son, being 21 could not see the vision I had. He could not understand why I removed all the crushed stone from the walkway....lay down weed barriers, paving stones, and then, began to clean the crushed rock and put it back in the walk. "Why again are you washing the rocks?" he queried ....it is no use to try to answer. He cannot understand the eye for detail I suddenly acquired. The path, now complete, looks great. There are no twigs and errant weeds or leaves. There is no cake of mud.

The satisfaction, I know, will be only be for a season. I will need to be vigilant about that ivy or I am back where I started. I will need to continue to watch over my new Red Maple tree and the many hosta that I planted throughout. Some plants are not taking to the new beds. Some have already shown the signs of being home in my garden. The peonies are budding, as are the asters.

I had no idea that the call to the garden would be for so much delight. Delight and growth. Delight at growth. Seeing the flowers of your labour and knowing that there is harmony and beauty where there was once just plants and weeds.

Monday, April 12, 2010

More Gardening

It must be the phase in my life that gardening is teaching and reminding me of much. I pulled and cut weeds this weekend clearing a garden from ivy that had taken over. I found two plates, several balls, a frisbee, lots of dog bones and a bathing suit top....hmmm now where did those bottoms go...and tell me....how come there is a top in my ivy? Muscles aching, hands raw from pulling I look around. It looks much better - but I still have a long way to go. I need to plan and plant. I need to eradicate that ivy forever...it is not nearly done...but I am.

I used to like the ivy....before it took over my garden. To me there is something idealistic about ivy. Idealistic that is, until I see that it has choked out all the other plants in the garden and has begun to take over the fence, the pool deck....the diving board. The green the ivy provided always felt so clean..so familiar....until I recognized that ivy in fact is not only a parasite, but a despot in the garden. What other ivy is in my life?

I finally understand gardening in pots with cement...or controlled gardens that are beds of rocks with juts of foliage. They know the peril of ivy and have made sure it does not creep to their gardens. Wisdom.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Gardening and Parenthood

I am just a beginning gardener. I understand enough to plant a few pansies and petunias and usually remember they need water and weeding periodically. From time to time I admire the beauty my efforts and the universe have nurtured. After an interesting night involving teenagers and late night drives I was working with the dirt and weeds. My thought life rarely misses an opportunity to process events – especially tragic or dramatic ones that cannot be forgotten. The weeds were responding to pulling and it began to look cared for again. Being a parent is like tending a garden. You help your children grow, feed them, try to help get over the hard stuff, move the rocks that impede growth. Sometimes you fertilize, or even transplant to a more suitable area in the garden. My heart was responding to my thoughts when I saw one of my pansy plants – absolutely beautifully in bloom, and yet it had already been pulled out from the roots. It was dying but there was no evidence yet. It looked amazing from the outside, but it had no roots whatsoever. It was no longer part of the garden but sitting on the garden. And clearly I realized I don’t want my kids to look great on the outside and be dying inside. I don’t want them to pretend to be part of the garden when they are not. I want them to be rooted, growing still – even if there are weeds and rocks around them.

You could take this further and become a more proactive gardener – never allowing a weed to tarry in the soil. A gardening goddess….but you can never make them grow more. That is part of who they are….and who they are meant to be. Some plants have a longer life, some bloom when they are young, some bloom when they are older. Some things in the garden will be there providing shelter and nourishment, some will sap the others strength and either take over or be culled. Some plants or trees like my cherry tree are both an astounding blessing and hard to deal with. In July the cherries litter my lawn. The fruit is great but you have to put a lot of effort into getting the fruit picked and keeping it out of the blades of the lawnmower. Some plants take little effort and they reproduce and bloom. An orchid could never grow in my garden because biologically it would not be able to stand it. I think that about children too. Some children could respond to my weeding and water….some would be smothered…others would need more heat. Hats off – maybe on is best – to all fellow gardeners and parents. Our garden has many similarities and many differences. Some of us have more time in the garden, some more desire, and still some love the gardens that spring up naturally – with no care and inherent to the locale. They all have beauty and wisdom to behold.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

anything motorcycho

If I ever want to buy anything related to a motorcycle….or even hint of anything about a motorcycle, my husband is all over it. He has Craiglist and eBay scanned and can source boots, helmets or a 1969 Panhead quicker than I get the request off my tongue.

He is amazing that way. I just hinted that my current Yamaha 400 Special is just a tad big for me and he was in research bliss. He has shown me hundreds of pictures of bikes…..he has told me of hundreds of bikes that he likes. It is his delight to see what is out there to be “adopted”. And yes – I say adopted, because it is a lifelong commitment when you adopt a bike. I am convinced he thinks they have feelings as to part with one seems unfair to him. This is also why our extra large two car garage is jam-packed with bikes….and that is not all. Our shop that is for a business now displays a few trials bikes, mini bikes, a moped and I am pretty sure there is a flatracker and who knows what else.

It is his passion. I like that about him too. Passionate people aren’t boring. They are obsessive and probably know too much about some things….but they are anything but boring. They attract all kinds of people….wannabes, like-minded, and sometimes people who just admire their zeal. It isn’t their knowledge people want; it is their passion that inspires others.

And so, though I will never park a car in the garage…..and one day he may convince me that a bike would look great inside...I will continue to admire someone that can maintain such enthusiasm every day. Maybe I am a wannabe after all.

Tweezers

If you ever hear a huge sigh followed by a repressed scream it is probably me. To any of you that have 3 daughters and one good set of tweezers you will understand. Especially you will identify with how important it is when you find these tools missing at 6:30 am, as they are all tucked in and you have a board meeting in less than an hour and have spotted a hair right in the middle of your chin that seems to appear like a beard.

You can ask them to put them away all you want. You can threaten, you can lock your drawer…or in my case I once hid them only to not remember where they were and then, had to wait until they weredesperate to sleuth them out so I could use them too.

When did an $8 pair of tweezers hold such value? Probably around the time I started to notice errant hairs growing….and that correlated with the time my girls were interested in tweezing their eyebrows. It’s like that sometimes, isn’t it? You both are vying for the same thing for a different reason….a toy- because it is fun, or because you want what the other one has….a boy – because he is kind to you – or to elevate your status amongst your peers. Life is like that.

Tools we had no idea suddenly become important. I remember being newly married and suddenly interested in Teflon. A few years later it was car seats and strollers. Now it is tweezers…

One minor solution to the problem came one day after many accusations and the eventual finding of the aforementioned implements wedged between makeup in my drawer. The anger dissipated and I was struck with brilliance as I sourced a small piece of magnet and glued it to the side of the drawer. Voila…..henceforth from this day forward the tweezers would be drawn to the side of the drawer….well at least usually….unless they were taken to the bowels of the house to be lost amongst the laundry and blow dryer that has been missing in the pile of clothes. So, for any of you that can relate to the ever changing importance a tool can have in your home…..get a piece of magnet…a lock….or think it through and buy everyone a pair and you won’t need to repress screams at 6:30 am.