late summer yellow

changing cold mornings, hot afternoons with a wind that sends shivers through me and calls for sweaters wrapped around leather booted tights.  fall is technically still a couple of weeks away but i definitely feel the bite.

i have been thinking that i might stop by here more often, sip hot coffee and write bits of nonsense.  maybe.  everytime i think i will come here more often, i stop feeling like it so it might be premature to actually announce that i may start regular blogging again.  does anyone even read this thing anymore and who really cares.  i like the documentation though, it is easy and even easier to flip backwards and see where i have been.

i was telling a friend last night that along with the hot humid languidness of summer, some pretty big energy shifts have found their way to me, through me, in me.  of course, it makes sense because my son graduated highschool, turned 18 and is moving out in less than a month.  we have also had one of his friends living with us since spring.  the house has been full and there has been a lot of activity and i am looking forward to the quiet aliveness that fall will bring.  there will be leaves to rake, plants to divide and move and a garden to clear out and ready for the snow fall, for spring.  and i have been wandering, long walks in the evening breathing in solitude and not really thinking about anything in particular, thoughs drifting by like clouds.

i am at peace.  i am content.  there is no struggle.  and in the absense of struggle (oh struggle my dear old friend), of anything to overcome, i find myself wondering ... what next?  i love my family, house, my neighbourhood, my friends, hell i even love my job.  i wish i could point to a day, an aha moment, a point in time and say ... this is when it happened but it life doesn't really work like that.  it was a slow unwinding i think and a lot of changes and moments, decisions and hard work and drifting relax that brought me to this place.  this place of dare i say ease.  and i lost weight.  a lot of weight.  all the weight that i gained on bedrest with the twins, the weight that came after they were born, after they died and the weirdest part is i haven't been trying to lose this weight.  for years, i ran and swam and went to the gym and dieted.  name a diet and i've been on it over the past six years.  but i let all that go this spring.  i decided it didn't matter.  and then.  it just disappeared.  just like that.  maybe it was all the walking.  maybe it was all the work in the garden.  maybe it was just the letting go.  i have no clue.

what i do know is the frenetic energy that has always swirled around me, the drive to prove something to myself, the constant need for more, more, more ... that energy has settled into a quiet calm.  and so.  i don't know what comes next.  it is as mysterious as the swirl of fog that rises up from the river clearing in its own time.

and the yellow leaves drift down, poking between the corners of sidewalks and dotting green lawns with the reminder that change is constant, cyclical and ease and contentedness doesn't necessarily mean that it is time to sleep.  my creativity has gone into the garden, house projects, garage cleanups and painting worn ancient wood and stone, creating a home to house the light of our souls.  and i find myself waking up to creating from this deep down rooted place.

 twitch twitch and let the white rabbit run on by because alice has all the time in the world to grow small and grow large and open doorways that have been hiding behind the long hedges of summer grass.

tree ballet

tree ballet (canon rebel g / kodak tri-x)

the trees save me, every single time.  they are a ballet and a whispered symphony and a breath all rolled up into one ancient wise being.  they understand the deep down root to the mother and they understand the circle, the cycles of death and rebirth.  they break in the storm, pieces falling, the soft weight of release. and they continue to reach out and rise up as though with their wounds caking over with the wrinkled bark of time.

the trees save me, every single time.

even when i don't know that i need to be saved.

***

i have a sty in my eye.  and it hurts and i can feel the poison, the infection throughout my entire body.  it is hard to hold on to any sort of optimism and the rudeness of so many people clunking away at their keyboards and giggling in hushed whispers annoy the hell out of me.  the way they never ask how you are though they expect you to give them the common civility afforded to a so called civilized society.  i grow weary of this automated world sometimes and long to return to the wooded marshes, a birch canoe gliding through river's stream plucking wild rice from the lake shore and sleeping under a frosty star lit sky listening to the chatter of magpies and the howl of the wolf.  but i am here.  smiling through gritted teeth remembering a weekend spent stuffing pickles into a jar, a faded housedress and her words of encouragement melding from memory into the hot steam of jars happily popping letting me know they have sealed.

my life is a good 95% of ease and contentedment, happiness even as i sink deeper and deeper into the solitude of myself and the close knit loves that i hold in my heart and hands.  and the other 5% i will leave behind, the fake smiles and bitter acid tongues and the sty in my eye that reminds me that this is nothing, means nothing and i release it to the chatter of perception that can be snipped off so easily and plunked into the compost ready to grow light after a dark slumber.  so unlike the trees, deeply rooted to the mother and the dance and sway of truth.  the tree ballet.

the anniversary edition

anniversary edition (instagram)

yesterday was our anniversary.  6 years married.  right in this exact spot in our living room.  and on thanksgiving, which we consider our REAL anniverary, it will be 10 years.  blessed and grateful for this man, this love and all the adventures, the crazy, the sad, the grief and the healing.  i sometimes feel that we have packed a life time into the relatively short time we have been together but i wouldn't have it any other way.  happy to be married to my best friend and love the way we live our lives honouring the needs of the other and allowing space to grow both as individuals and as a couple.  and of course, there is always a lot of laughter.  as it should be.  grateful.

and the spaghetti squash continues to grow ...

spaghetti squash i i used to take photos, hundreds a day sometimes, oftentimes.  and i used to come here and write long drawn out thoughts, poetry and bits of fluff and i never planned it, never knew what was going to pour out of me.  it was healing. it was fun. it was something. 

i suppose i sort of miss it.  the daily exhale.  i still take photos, a ritual of documentation not worrying about lighting or composition, filling the hand held phone computer that didn't exist back when i first started doing it.  everything changes. constantly. but watching my spaghetti squash grow plump on the vine.  those changes are constant, year after year. and slicing it in half and roasting it until i can pull a fork through and pile strands high in a bowl topped with a dab of butter and some pepper and maybe a sprinkle of chopped up jalapeno mixed in.  yeah that.  that is the smell of crinkled up orange and yellow leaves, the smell of bounty mixed in with green decay.  the constant change of the seasons that is reassuringly changeless.

a new city, a different job, a marriage, a divorce, a child, a death, another death and then more death piled on, love, confusion, a hair cut, weight gain, weight loss, a gin n' tonic, a trip by plane, by car, by boat, an inch or two, a sliced finger, a graduation, another marriage, a party, a butterfly emerging, a cocoon in darkness and the rains pour down and the sangria laughter fills the air and the sun comes out and snow drifts high against the wall and i lean and waver in the wind swept prairie and hide beneath the lake filled water and pine needles rain down on my fingers clutching at that last piece of bark ... and i come here and i write with no expectation and nothing in mind, an exhale of words that sit beneath the bones of my thoughts. 

everything constantly changes and within that everything stays reassuringly the same.  and i have no answers and i have no questions.  i have sunlit floorboards and long walks of aimless thought.  but i am here.  and that is enough.  more than enough.

endings are beginnings

Untitled (polaroid sun 660 / impossible px 680 gold edition)

"how are you?"

"i am really good."

and that pretty much sums it up.  this summer was interesting in that way that sounds boring but is actually the farthest from boring that i can imagine even if i quip that my life has become beautifully boring.  there was a lot of change, a job move/change and a son graduating and then turning 18 and instead of traveling all over, we camped for a week in the rocky mountains which is pretty much a few hours drive from home and we spent a week at home reading and walking around the neighbourhood.  it was quiet.  still.  exactly right.

my days flow from one to the other and my garden grows high and wild around me and i read and i weed and i have begun to make jam and to can and to pour over recipes that i learned at the knee of my granny.  "i am in grandma training", i quip and then realize that it may be true afterall.

my life feels solid and deeply rooted.  i feel like anything i had to prove has found air and flown away.  i don't even feel like i have anything to prove to myself much less anyone else.  perhaps it comes from the realization that i have raised this boy who has become a man, this boy who is huge hearted and independent and who has the skills to navigate his life, to clean a bathroom, cook a meal and to make appointments with insurance companies to pay his own bills while holding love and space with his girlfriend, his friends,  his family, his community.  maybe it was this simple knot tying coming together after the unravelling and the simplicity and ease that comes in the end of it all which is so different from the beginning of becoming a mother, learning responsibility that at one time felt overwhelming and scary but always love soaked.  perhaps, it was this ending that brought me to this inner landscape that is feeling more and more familiar and less like something i have to grasp onto for fear it will evaporate into the sun shone air.

and i notice that in the quiet, in the living rooted in my life that more and more i am shedding all manner of things that may appear to be isolating but i am feeling less and less that i can live by anyone's expectation but my own.  and in the clearing away, the shedding ... i am becoming more and more disciplined, my friendship circle has tightened up to a small manageable group that feels close and intimate and trusting and while i have no idea what this next phase of my life really looks like, i am so okay with that.  there is no urgency to know.  there is no urgency to be. 

there just is a quiet communion with the trees that surround me.

obsessed

Untitled (lilacs from my yard / instagram)

i ache inside for all the lives lived and the memories savoured.

i ache inside for all the lives missed and the memories poured out in tearful pain.

i ache inside for the ways in which i have found myself over and over again.

i ache inside for the ways in which i have lost myself over and over again.

and then the light pours in through purple silk sari curtains, dappled by leaves made green, the cycle of spring, plum blossoms reminding me of loss and lilacs reminding me of childhood past and cherry blossoms reminding me that i have grown into something new.  and i clip and hold them close, briefly, in the sunlight of the home we have made, the walls that held me in grief and loss that gave way to something else entirely.

and i have been so disconnected to this world, this world here, this world of blogging and social media and creativity shared and book deals and e-courses and words lingering and homes revealed and lives tweeted.  i remember quite distinctly the day that i pressed the yes i am sure delete all butten on my google reader and watched in horror as hundreds upon hundreds of blogs disappeared from my view.  as the weight of it all lifted up off of me, i felt a rising panic.  that was years ago now.  it was the start of something that i haven't been able to articulate in any meaningful way.

there are some things that are never really talked about.  or maybe they are.  i don't know because i am so far out of touch when it comes to social media and blog reading these days.  my time on facebook is minimal and i tweet on twitter once a week when i post polaroid girls or the four.  i am probably on instagram the most and that amounts to no more than five minutes a day.  i guess one could say that i don't really exist in this world anymore or at least not in the way that i used to.  i moved my blog without telling anyone and killed off most of my readers i think.  i have done this a few times.  i am quirky that way. or weird but i prefer quirky.  i guess i was not sure what i wanted or needed from it all.  this blog.  social media.  even now, though i am a far different place emotionally, i am still not sure.

because there are some things that are never really talked about.  or maybe they are.  i don't know.  it really doesn't matter i suppose.  it is not good or bad or even a judgement at this point.  here is what i know.  when i started blogging back in 2003, it was a novelty,  a little escape from work.  i didn't really read other blogs just the few friends i had who had also started a blog.  and then i rekindled my love with photography and started photoblogging.  and then in the midst of that, flickr opened up and a photoblogger friend sent me a beta invite.  and then some people liked my photos and gave me an opportunity for publication and then a show and then some people hired me to do a band photoshoot and it was exciting and intoxicating.  i had been sharing my poetry and i had another opportunity for publication and i did a reading.  i was astonished at the opportunities that presented themselves and i leaped into each and every one of them.  and then.  i got pregnant.  and then i had twins.  and then they died.  it was in that place of grief that i started reading other blogs and discovering this rich blogging community.  i wrote about my grief, i poemed out my pain.  i met other bloggers.  i went to art camp and blogging retreats and made friends, deep friendships, circles of women, tribes, and some of those friendships i still have, some of those friends are incredibly close and sacred to me.  so much good came out of it all.  but there was another side.  the side that is swept under the rug a lot.  i know from conversations and so forth that i am not the only one.  who feels this.  this other side.

and i don't know how to articulate it without it sounding like sour grapes. and so i don't.  instead i sniff the lilacs and give thanks for what is, what was, and what will be.

a work in progress

Untitled I have been living in a state of grace.  The way of grace.  I see it in the light that flows through the old wavy glass windows of my house and it follows me around and whispers to me in the rustle of leaves and sometimes it brings me to my knees, tears rippling down my face and I can't find the words to describe this feeling, this way that life has me, the way that my soul feels anchored not only to my body but to the everything  and I sometimes don't even feel so much connected to the world outside my eyes, but I feel as though I am actually the world outside of my eyes.  I have these moments where I am one with everything and that state of suspension, grace, life feels grounding, solid and whole.  It feels like it happens more and more often, with greater regularity than ever before.

Grace.

"There are two ways through life. The way of nature and the way of grace. You have to choose which one you will follow." (tree of life)

There are lines that stick in your mind long after you hear them. They tickle your brain and worm around and sometimes they rise up when you look at an image, the sunlight, the world through eyes blinked once then twice. The opening lines to Terence Malick's Tree of Life have haunted me since I heard them. I love pretty much every single Malick film I have ever watched but this is not a review of the film nor is it a social commentary of any sort ... it is just me grappling with the idea of nature versus grace.

I confess that in the turning around in my head, I struggled with the words. Nature. Grace. What does it even mean to me and why do I have such a problem with seeing them as opposite ends of a spectrum and why would I need to choose just one. It brings up all sorts of insecurities around my lack of religious practice, lack of religious knowledge. I am surrounded by people who grew up in strict religious families, who regularly not only attended but also participlated in church faith, in grace. I did not.

I am in awe of those who are born into a community, born into a religion. Every sunday when all of my friends would go with their families to one of the churches in our town, we would bundle up food and various bits depending on the season and head out, walking through the trees, swimming in the lake, skating across ponds while wolves ran through us and owls made their presence known. I learned how to identify tracks and what berries were good to eat and what sand to avoid and how muskeg felt on bare feet and the earth was always my place of worship even though I didn't realize it until I was much older.

I struggled with not knowing where I fit in. Growing up I didn't feel as though I fit in anywhere and the only place I was comfortable and felt accepted was out there, under the trees, water flowing, dirt beneath my fingernails. and then I ran as far away from that as I could get but find myself in recent years reclaiming that sense of interconnectedness to all things, to the earth that I am a part of and I worship life and the thread that binds us all. love. It never really left me only I chose to focus on the other feelings, the feelings of not belonging anywhere when really I belong to the earth and the tears and the laughter of what it is to really live.

So, perhaps, for me nature and grace are so intricately entwined. But what do I know about grace and nature. So of course, I consulted the oh so mighty oracle at my fingertips,

The origin of grace: Middle English: via Old French from Latin gratia, from gratus 'pleasing, thankful'; related to grateful. (oxford dictionaries)

The origin of nature: Middle English (denoting the physical power of a person): from Old French, from Latin natura 'birth, nature, quality', from nat- 'born', from the verb nasci (oxford dictionaries)

A deeper search found the following from How Should We Then Live? The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture by Francis Schaeffer which I originally found at Perpetual Anticipation):

Nature, the lower: the created; earth and earthly things; the visible and what happens normally in the cause-and-effect universe; what man as man does on the earth; diversity, or individual things, the particulars, or the individual acts of man.

Grace, the higher: God the Creator; heaven and heavenly things; the unseen and its influence on the earth; unity, or universals or absolutes which give existence and morals meaning.

Grace.  It seems to be the only word that describes what I have been feeling even as I am unsure if that is the 'right' word, the 'correct' word.   It is a much different feeling than I used to have when I was engrossed in the worlds of hemingway and spent countless hours writing notes in the margins of Jean-Paul Sartre's Nausea even as I poured through Out of Control by Kevin Kelly.  And I say this because I used to spend a lot of time thinking about existance and life and virtual realities and the simulacrum and at some point over the past decade, I have dropped it all away in favour of just living and following my twitching nose rather than intellectualizing it all.   Perhaps, even following the way of nature as opposed to the way of grace by these definitions.  Or perhaps not.  Fucking hell.  I think that this is not a blog post at all but rather an essay that I need to research, contemplate, write.  I wish it were possible to go backwards and actually finish that Masters in Philosophy that I started over a decade ago now.  I might have to blow the dust off of my philosophy books and re-examine the terminology and take another crack at it.  Grace.  It is how I am seeing the world and I feel as though I need to find a way to explain it, if only to myself.

I feel like none of this makes any sense. i am scattered in my explanation. i will finish it by saying that i see god/goddess/spirit in the eyes of myself, in the eyes of my sister, in the eyes of you, in the blue of the sky, in the tears of the rain, in the root of growth, in the crumble of dirt, in the shift of rock, in the wave of wind.

my first cleanse

It is true.  I have never done a foodie cleanse before.  I have always wanted to but somehow always resisted the urge.  I eat pretty clean.  mostly.  I was vegetarian for well over a decade, vegan for almost two years and I am not a big sugar junkie though I do have a weakness for really good dark chocolate and those super cheap chocolate cherries.  oh.  and licorice.  I do like me some licorice. So, when a friend introduced me to Get Fresh - A Spring Cleanse, I was all over it.  It didn't seem overly extreme like 'eat nothing but lemonade water for a month' or drink only juice for 10 days.  I admire those who can do the extreme cleanse but my body likes to eat and there was that little problem with anorexia in my teens and cough cough early twenties so I don't like to spin the wheel on starvation.  Seems simple, cut out sugar, alcohol, gluten, dairy and meat (seafood is okay, whew).  Easy peasy.  Oh yeah.  Caffiene.  Um.  What??!!  I am not a big coffee drinker but I do have one rather large cup with a dab of cream every single day.  I will admit to you that I miss the coffee.  Oh how I miss the coffee. 

So, my food looked something like this,

 a

 a

Stephanie provided us with some super yummy tasty recipes that were shockingly easy and fast to prepare.  I need easy and fast especially during the work week when dinner hour starts off something like this, "what do you want for dinner?"  "i don't know, what do you want?"  "i have no clue, so tired.  what do you think?"  "shrug, no idea".  Well, you get the idea.  Hello pizza or chicken potpie's from the deli counter.

So cooking was a breeze and it was all tasty and delicious and easy.  So easy.  But outside of the actual meal prep and cooking, was it easy?

Day 1:  Started off with a yummy new to me smoothie, hello peach almond bliss.  I do green smoothies a lot but I had sort of fallen out of the habit over the past few weeks and am happy to have been kickstarted again.  They really do start the day off right.  By the end of day 1, I had a pretty kick ass headache going on.  I went to bed early, hoping it would go away.  I suspected it was the lack of caffiene. 

Day 2:  I woke up to a raging headache.  Not good.  Wanted coffee.  Didn't have any.  Moved slowly through my day, thankful that it was Sunday.  By Sunday afternoon, the headache was gone replaced with a burning ache in my lower back that radiated down my thighs.  I have no idea if it was the caffiene withdrawel or the gluten withdrawel but it was nasty.  So nasty that I woke in the night in pain and couldn't sleep for hours.

Day 3:  Without being too graphic, I was in the washroom.  A LOT.  and I do mean A LOT.  pass the pooper scooper please.

Day 4:  I woke up gingerly assessing my condition and realized that I had no more pain, no headaches and I actually felt pretty good.  Clear even.  Sort of like when I was vegan.  Hmmmmm.  and I have been good ever since.

Today is Day 10.  The last day of the cleanse and I am feeling good, a little bit on the tired side but it's Monday and I am always tired on Monday so no surprise there.  When I look over the last week, I see that I have been a bit emotional and some tender feelings have surfaced but overall I feel amazing.  And I have lost a good inch of bloat in my stomach.  Nice. 

And now I am faced with some decisions.  I have to slowly reintroduce food, no more than one a day I think so I can figure out what feels good and what doesn't.  Did I mention that I miss coffee, the taste and the swirl.  But that would be coffee and dairy since I use cream in my coffee.  Which means I have to introduce dairy before coffee.  I don't really miss dairy and in fact am wondering if dairy might be a problem for me with regards to the bloated feelings I had been having prior to this cleanse.  And then there is the fact that I have been putting maca powder in my smoothie for the past few days and am really feeling energized and I suspect the maca is better for me than the coffee.  and then there is the gluten.  My husband and I often joke about wheat belly but I do miss toast and gluten free bread is just not the same. 

I will take it slow because these days I prefer moderation over extreme.  I don't want to permanently cut anything out of my diet because that would feel extreme to me.  but.  I want to keep eating as clean as I can and for me that means staying away from processed foods, eating organic, local and preferably out of my backyard.  Soon, very soon.  This year's garden is pretty much mapped out and in a couple of weeks it will be safe to plant everything. 

My first cleanse feels like a raging success. 

*I clearly needed the detox.  *I have a swack of new recipes at my fingertips which is good because the same old same old song and dance in the kitchen gets old.  *I might limit my coffee consumption to the occasional weekend.  I might limit my dairy to my occasional coffee consumption.  *I have been drinking coconut water for a while now but it never occured to me to use it in my smoothies. um. hello!! yum! *juicing more than once a week is a good thing and I am reminded how easy it is to clean my juicer. *it really is not THAT much extra work to bring lunch to work every day and it not only saves me from the eating out bloat and afternoon slump but it saves loads of money too. *chocolate avocado pudding. two of my favourite things together 'nuff said. *the realization that I haven't gone this long without coffee since I was pregnant and scarfing down chocolate in an attempt to get my caffiene on. hmmmm. Do I really want to go back to what feels like an addiction? Hells yes and Hell no. Still haven't reached a decision on this one. I have time.

 

watching for words

Untitled A blank white page doesn't tell the story.  There are volumes piled up, crumpled into each other with peanut butter stains and crayon chalk drawings; swollen with the wet rain of tears and smeared with the joy that comes from kicking a soccer ball and running with a kite. 

In a month's time, I will watch him walk across a stage in a cap and gown.  I will likely cry because I tear up just typing those words.  He will graduate and then we will spend the last bits of the summer together before he packs up and leaves me with an empty room of sunshine filled with boy cave reminders.  It is all changing.  It has already all changed.  It will continue to change. 

I've been watching One Tree Hill (OTH)  Don't judge.  Or do judge.  I don't really care.  I am the girl who wrote an English paper in grade 11 defending so called romantic paperback trash novels (not the romantic era of Wordsworth, Keats, Shelley and Coolridge not to mention my favourite Byron) as valid reading material.  I can high brow it and low brow it with the best of them, thank you very much.  My boys laugh at me and my OTH addiction but I enjoyed watching the highschool antics move into grown up realities and the music and the quotes and bits of literature.  My favourite quote,

  "happiness is a mood, not a destination" (Julian, OTH)

Yeah.  So simple and I know it deep down but it still blew my mind just a little bit.  truth has a way of doing that.  word.

I remember when I graduated high school.  Well, to be honest, I went through the ceremony and did the graduation thing and partied hard enough to end up on crutches for weeks afterwards, but it was years later that I graduated because I sort of gave up and quit.  Yes it is true, a person can quit high school and still end up going to university and acquiring more than one degree, with honours even.  Don't judge.  Or do judge.  I don't really care.  Anyway, I remember the feeling of standing on the edge of something and not knowing what was going to happen next.   I felt that way that first night in a strange city in a new mostly empty apartment, that night that I slept on the kitchen floor because it was the only room that had any furnishings in it and so felt safe.  I felt that way when I was pregnant too.  There I was newly married and halfway through my first degree and newly pregnant and standing on the edge of something and not knowing what was going to happen next.  I felt that way when I got divorced too.  There I was newly separated having barely finished graduating from my second degree with no job and a five year old son, standing on the edge of something and not knowing what was going to happen next.  I didn't really feel this again until I found myself, standing in the living room of our newly purchased house, marrying the man who helped me birth our twins and held me tight through nicu and death.  And that was six years ago. 

And here I am ... standing on the edge of something and I have no idea what is going to happen next.  There are these moments that we can trace backwards and forwards.  These pivotal moments that sometimes stretch out for hours, days, weeks, months and that linger like markers in our memories.  I am in one of those moments.  And I stare at the blank page and wait and watch for the words to reveal themselves to me. 

And.  I am happy.  It is the mood that I am most familiar with these days.

 

heart

Untitled for as much as there is pain and loss and anger there is heart enough to encompass it all. 

i want to come from a place of love. always.  but i don't always succeed and sometimes it feels like i come from a place of anger and fear and stomp the earth with my pain fist in the air, eyes blackened ready for the fight of a sullen middle aged woman who still feels like an angry child.  and sometimes, it is all so easy and smiles light up faces and the simple light washed over already yellowed with age walls and i love every single person in the world, every single buzzing insect and all the spaces of molecules that drift around until the monsters come out and nip at me with their talons.

it is complicated right?  this living.  it is as complicated as it is simple and somedays i can wrap my head around that and somedays it just makes me weary.  and so i come here with my run on sentences and lack of good punctuation and i scribble on the blank walls and forget to capitalize wOrDs drifting through the wind spoke places of my mind.

and i look for my heart in the sullen sway of curves, the faithful clicking of this keyboard and images pour through my body written in the smoke drift of a thought that i cannot quiet or quite convey.

do you know that i have been watching for mice.  waiting for them to sneak into the walls and leave shit in the vents and scurry around chewing on flickering lights.  i have been watching for those little fuckers even as i hope that this year they will find somewhere else to gnaw their bones crunched beneath the sturdy traps you can buy for cheap at the hardware store.  the snow continues to melt even as i can see the beginnings of dandelions making their way up through the strawlike grass outside my window and i notice that the window frames need a lick of paint and maybe this will be the year that we find enough pennies to have new doors put in, doors that won't rattle and gasp open letting in the furry night of death. 

and i am just writing.  rambling.  shaking my bones. waiting for something to illuminate the spaces left untouched by sunlight.  this is a draft destined for nothing more than the taking up of space.

and somedays.  that is enough.

welcoming spring

Untitled (polaroid spectra / impossible pz 600 silver shade film)

Every spring I am made poignantly aware that Spring in my part of the world is very different from what I see when I visit my friends' instagram feeds, facebook photos and blogs.  Very different.  And for the longest time, it really bothered me, like somehow got under my skin and itched me from below bothered me.  After a fairly mild winter for these parts and an early spring (not withstanding the storm warning about to hit us with up to 25 cm (about 10 inches) of a last gasp of winter, spring snow storm), I was determined to figure out what the heck was bothering me anyway (notwithstanding the curse of april's death anniversaries that keep my emotions pretty close to the surface of said skin).

On Saturday, the sun was shining and the snow had pretty much melted (though it would snow again the next day rendering that point moot) and I noticed the way the sun turned all the brown to a golden glow and I had this image of me in a playground field boots squishing through the soggy bits until the dry strawlike grass was found.  I loved pulling it up and forming tiny little nests out of it and i would leave them scattered about dreaming that the robin's would lay speckled eggs in them.  I was always pretty much a romantic at heart.  On Saturday, tears filled my eyes and I blessed the snow melt, the longer blaze of the sun that turned my world golden and all that brown grass carrying tiny seeds of green waiting for their right time to crack open.  I looked at the bare branches of the trees and the knew that in their own time they would sprout tiny buds of spring green and the lilacs would eventually burst free and the double blossoming plum tree that we planted for the twins would have their day to blow pink into the air.  In its own time.

In its own time. 

I breathe in deeply and remember that seasons all over the world have their own agenda, their own distinct timelines based on their situation to the equator, the weather fluctuations, the surrounding elements.  This is where I have always lived and I was always charmed by spring before I realized how different it was from somewhere else.  I am ready to be charmed again.  In fact, I would say that I am already downright charmed by it all (even that pesky spring snowstorm that will sweep through and melt in no time at all).

And so I packed up exactly one camera and hopped in my car and headed out to explore somewhere I had never been.  I headed out to an industrial section of the city, a maze of roadways and wreckers and powerlines and construction.  It felt strangely comforting to wander on new ground and to notice that in amongst all the industry and the rubble, there are vast fields of golden brown and a big sky that goes on forever. 

And I made a nest under the watchful eye of a couple of truckers and I planted some seedling dreams out there in an empty field of field mice and scurrying beetles and the vibration of dust blowing activity. 

I am giddy with the warming air of spring and I think it will be pretty easy to hold gratitude in my heart for the unique beauty that is spring in my world.

fresh flowers

IMG_9380 copy (canon 5D Mark II, 85 mm f/1.2 lens)

i am easily overwhelmed by the world, the constant jag of sounds and opinions and stories and ideas and the flotsam of noise that skims the surface of green coloured ponds in the drone of a hum that sounds like too many bugs chattering on wings of gossamer thought.  i am so sensitive to my environment and i pick up on too many subtleties and i hear too much and it is so easy to lose the line that separates me and my emotions from the emotions of others. 

i am grateful for this gift as i believe it helps to make me a better writer, a better artist but i also recognize that i need coping mechanisms because i live in the heart of the city and i work full time in a demanding job and my time is so very limited.  for the longest time, i also had a photography and creative business and i blogged and hung out on social media in all the spare parts of my time.  but over the past couple of years i have let most everything beyond my home, family, my closest friends and the full time job that pays for my life erode.  it was the best thing i could have done for myself even when it felt painful like a tearing searing loss of something i thought i needed.  i realize now that i need to learn the lessons that solitude give me more than i needed to feel as though i belonged somewhere. 

i belong to myself and to the earth and to that indefinable breathe that is life.

i love the world and all its infinite possibilities and all the ways that people create and share and work and live.  going through my archives (and i am no where close to being done) has reminded me of what i have been through, all the stages of grief and the potholes of beauty.  i see myself more clearly as i notice the cycles that are tied so intimately with the seasons, the extreme seasons that are a part of the land that i sprung from.  i am falling in love with myself. 

i don't need to fit in anywhere and i don't need to be a lone wolf walking the contradictory path either.  i can just be me ... an ever changing, evolving, de-evolving creature of the earth.  and in this moment,

  • i am tired.  exhausted to the bone tired. 
  • i am looking forward to my upcoming vacation and spending time with myself and with friends as i escape the bone white chill of the prairies and breathe in the power of the mountains and the lush green swell of an ocean wave. 
  • i am in a place of quietness, of words written out on pages, of contemplation, of grace.
  • i am filled with awe over the simple things, the way dough feels kneaded under lavender scented hands and the way light has a life all its own and follows the seasons much like i do.  winter light is gentle and soft and whispers and turns over in a way that makes the most ordinary objects softly spill out a calm that soothes my frayed nerves.
  • i am finding it hard to live in a society that is filled with demands, work harder, work faster, produce produce produce consume consume consume go go go.  there is a season for that but this is not the season.  this is the season to rest and to linger in thoughts.  the time to produce comes later. 
  • i am in rest mode.  spring will be time for planting my seeds and will begin the dance of energy.  but these last weeks of winter find me burrowing in as deep as i can while still meeting the commitments of my life which includes work both outside the home and inside the home.

Every weekend, I scrub my house and pick up any lost bits.  I wash floors and cupboards and clean out the fridge before filling it again.  I move around rocks and stones and arrange fresh flowers as I dust off every surface and shine up picture frames and change out art that no longer feels fresh.  Every weekend, I chop vegetables and herbs and soak dried beans and ready them for the week and I knead dough and chop fruit and wash rice and quinoa and taste granola on my tongue. 

My weekends are slow moving in their productiveness and I watch the light wash over the freshly cleaned surfaces and it soothes my heart.  I know it might not be in vogue but I need a home that doesn't contain dirty dishes or clutter or hampers of dirty clothes.  I like to be organized and I need to breathe in beauty in the spaces of my relax.  I work outside the home and so my house is my sanctuary, the place I go to remove the masks that society requires of me ... be pleasant, smile, work hard and don't show any stress.  If my house is in dissarray, all the stresses that I am so good at concealing will come out and thunder around me and turn my sanctuary into a prison but if I am successful in creating beauty and order, my sanctuary gives me peace and comfort and I can relax and peel away the layers right down to the bone of myself.  and it is good.

I like this blog of mine, it has lessons to teach me and so I see myself coming here more often and chattering away to versions of myself and to versions of you if you find yourself here.

peace.

dormant

vines are dormant in the winter cold but somehow flourish and grow more with each passing year.  c

(instagram)

i thought that i was being wishy washy and confused and well, sort of crazy.  somedays i feel sort of crazy.  and fragmented and lost even as i feel whole and complete.  i did away with all my archives on my blog a long time ago and i kept starting anew freaked out by too many words, too many pieces of myself.  i lost myself in the hum of voices and the drone of desire for something else.

and then.  i thought to myself.  self.  what if you brought all your blogs together, all of it since you started back in 2003 and what if you stitched it all together here.  so very slowly, i have been pulling in all the old posts, finding the photos, re-sizing what needs to be resized and threading the years back together again.  and though i still have a lot of work to do, i have been going over the past decade in bits and pieces and in the process i have realized how much i have grown and how rooted i am in my cycles and how the seasons tell a story.  i have witnessed what has remained the same and what has been left behind. 

i am realizing that i have been living a wonderfully rich life even in those moments of despair.  despair and grief and happy and joy and acceptance and connection and isolation and noise and quiet and all the spaces in between like a quilt that comes together over time and takes on a pattern all its own.  i am stitching myself together.  and finding myself whole.

winter's grace

(polaroid spectra / polaroid image softtone film)

on saturday, it snowed. and it snowed.  and it snowed some more.  we got more snow in one weekend than we have had all winter.  of course, this happens mere weeks before i am due to hit the highway for a good 13 hour drive through rocky mountains and hills and valleys and more mountains.  in a fit of insecurity, i looked up the price of plane tickets and hyperventilated as i tried to convince myself that it would be five hundred dollars well spent.

and then i watched the way the snow softened the sun and i pulled out my big bowl of yarn and knitting and crochet needles and fell into a rhythm that can only be defined as grace. 

five hundred dollars can better be spent elsewhere and i have done this particular drive many times, in the dead of winter even.  and i reminded myself that i have driven through blizzards in january and in march and yes even that one time in july deep in the rockies for a harrowing 5 hours of slow crawl between jasper and banff with a 4 year old in the back seat.  and i am made of sturdy stuff even as i grow older and my eyesight grows weaker and i have gotten mighty used to letting my big strong husband handle the highways.

and i chopped vegetables and boiled quinoa and sliced an avocado and peeled big thick kale leaves off their bark like stems and the light joined me in a song that can only be defined as grace.

i am faced, daily, with a series of choices just as i have always been.  i move one way, fall down and skin my knee and adjust my course.  i grow cocky until i bruise myself on the fall down and then i have a good cry and begin again with a bit of humble pie strapped to my back.  i have been reading about a lot of fatal car accidents in the news lately and i start wondering if that is a sign to slow down and then i realize that i slowed down a long time ago when my belly was full of him.  and then i gave birth to death and i stopped trusting that my body was a safe haven for even myself.  but i am stronger than i look and more practical than i seem in between the lines of my life.  a fresh oil change and my snow tires and a trunk full of snow pants and quilts along with some sweetgrass for a ceremony by the ocean as i smell the green that won't arrive here until sometime in april if we are lucky. 

i will fold my stones in between the spaces of light and i will plug in my music and i will not need to search for grace in the tired drive of a highway because i know that the light will converge over the yellow lines of my thoughts in a way that can only be defined as grace.

little griefs

(polaroid spectra / impossible pz 600 silver shade film)

as i slow down more and more,

sinking into the cycles and rhythms of the earth, of the bones and blood and bits of dust that come together and create me, i find myself, again and again, more often than not whole.

little griefs as a good day ends, little joys of celebrations as i wander through and find myself whole at the end of a particularly hard day. slowing down has made my days longer, stretched out, one life time after another even as they all somehow flow together, waves of the ocean, flowing from the source.

as the weeks go by, i find there is less and less that i need from the world and i find that i spend less money, i seek less validation finding it instead in the hollowed out spaces of my self and the ache, the deep ache that i can't define feels more like a companion on a journey that is starting to make sense in quiet conversations with friends, words passed back and forth in an offering of love, and the beautiful scratchy sound my pen makes as it flows over the lines of my journal.

as i slow down more and more, there is an ease that feels deep and ancient an ease of knowing that slowly, in my own ways, i am living the life that i choose.

peace.

winter's shiver

(holga / expired NPH 400 220 film)

how do i find myself here then instead of there and where would i be if the shadows didn't linger quite as long as they do in the dead of winter's shiver of a whisper down my spine.

was it ever as simple as it is right now or as complicated as it is right now.  the longing and the ache that has lived with me for as long as i can remember can sometimes find me searching for ways to lose myself in the pain of not enoughness.  when i lived in that small town by that large lake under that big black blanket covered with the stars i couldn't reach no matter how hard i tried to lick the light from my face, when i lived there, i would play this game of imagining how i was just this little girl living in this little town in this little country in this cold outreach part of the world where bears searched for garbage and wolves howled for answers and i skated down the length and breadth of the lines that covered her face.  i wanted to embrace the world and so i read every word i could find in the tiny libraries of my town, in the shelves of my parent's living room, in the hidden corners of the corner store.  i wanted to gulp it all down like an icy cold glass bottle of cola that refreshed until it settled into a sickly hot sweetness of stomach aches.

and now.  i find myself in the dead of winter's darkness.  and yes, the solstice brings hope and light but not enough, not enough when you live this far north and the dark crawls into your head and causes eyes to droop in tired relief as you stumble around in the dark looking for the morning toothbrush and the cold wind whistles that there is too much too do as you crawl into the cubicle that houses the pay that gets you to another bill checked off the list.

i am tired.  vulnerable.  laid bare like the branches.  and so the stimulation of social media crawls at me and pushes the world at me in a too fast, too much sort of way and i want less.  i want so much less than everyone is doing.  i want to save my pennies for a day when i won't have to push other people's papers around a desk that is at once too big and too small to contain me.  i don't want to hear about all the ways everyone is dancing at the edges of themselves when i am struggling to open my eyes in the darkness of the morning glazed over smile of a dream already faded and wilted.  and so i stepped off the train of losing myself in the pain of not enoughness or what serves to provide me with that these days because i am more than enough.

i deactivated my facebook page.  i am avoiding twitter and instagram.  i am hunkering down into the light of myself for a while.  i am starting a new writing project, a new novel.  i am moving slowly spending weekends in the kitchen cooking, on the lake ponds skating, in the pool churning and taking long slow walks in search of the stars, the bright ones that push through the lights of the city bright.  i am here.  blogging.  for me.

winter's solstice

(polaroid spectra / softtone edgecut expired film)

the darkness has always held a constant in my life even as i sugar coated her ways with bright pink sunshine layers of orange melted thick and candy coated sweet across my body.  when the darkness is so strong that all i have to fight her with is the too bright colours of the rainbow.  and so i lived this way for years, ruffles and socks bright hiding the pain that swathed me like a pindrop in a too quiet room.

2010 was the year that held me in a grip of fear, one foot in front of the other as my world shattered in every direction.  last year around this time, i woke up  to who i had become while asleep in my grief and i entered 2011 craving the simplicity of my life, my life viewed by me and i succeeded.  i released so much this year that when i look back, i am astounded.  i held onto my guide, my intention for the year and i let integrity guide my actions, i aligned the person i was inside with the person that i am on the outside.  it is an ongoing struggle and i don't always succeed but i do more often than not.  2011 was a really really good year. 

and so I flex my fingers and look in the mirror and see a woman that i like, a woman that i want to get to know more.  i see where the pain has brushed across my eyes and i see light and shadow embraced as one.  the darkness.  i have made peace with her yet again.  i embrace the ways she holds me and reminds that the dark is also a place of comfort and ease that prepares me for the energy that comes with the light.  the more i shed, the more i release, the more i find myself enjoying the simple lines of muted tones and when i look around my home, i see myself again in the bright walls adorned with artwork, dark complex subjects replacing the cute and pretty filling my line of sight with beauty and freedom of spirit.  i notice that i reach for books that are a well of depth instead of the ones that are filled with light laughter and i notice that there are more calm moments where i breathe in the sheer bliss of being alive.  my dreams pulsate and my intentions are filled with the rich energy that comes from loving my life and longing for more.  i can see my breathe hover in the dark light of myself and i feel the power of it radiate through me like a fire that has burned and left behind the new buds of growth. 

i am learning to navigate through my eyes, my heart, the power of my experiences, taking what i need and discarding what i don't.  i am learning to trust that all the answers to my life are inside of me.  i am becoming all knowing when it comes to what i need, what i desire and what i want to do with the time that i have before me. 

tonight i celebrate the darkness and the slow return of the light.  7 hours and 27 minutes of sunlight today which means 17 hours and 33 minutes of darkness. and i am embracing the dark, embracing the fire, embracing the curl of a candle flame and the flicker of a thought that i can't contain and a heart that spills light out of dark eyes

365-344

and a poem that i love, that speaks to my heart and though it is not mine, it also speaks from my heart in that way that the best poetry does,

"Winter Solstice

Thinking only makes the heart sore. – I Ching

when you startle awake in the dark morning ... heart pounding breathing fast sitting bolt upright staring into dark whirlpool black hole feeling its suction get out of bed knock at the door of your nearest friend ask to lie down beside ask to be held listen while whispered words turn the hole into deep night sky stars close together winter moon rising over white fields nearby a wren rustling dry leaves distant owl echoing two people walking up the road laughing let your soul laugh let your heart sigh out that long held breath so hollow in your stomach so swollen in your throat already light is returning pairs of wings lift softly off your eyelids one by one each feathered edge clearer between you and the pearl veil of day you have nothing to do but live

by Jody Aliesan Grief Sweat, Broken Moon Press 1991"

brain jumble

(self portrait.  instagram)

i am learning myself.  learning my cycles.  my ways.  side step left and then go right.  i think it is about this time when i want to crawl into the dark slice of the moon and bury myself in the rubble of my own destruction.  i am tired and mystified by the beauty that sears my eyes every morning, every evening.  the light is so miraculous, long shadows of golden curves, a wink and a whisper and then she makes love to the dark shape of another whose darkness lingers longer and longer.

and this is when i become most sensitive.  tears spring up at the sight of a chalkboard message on the pavement of this city.  i start feeling unwanted, unloved as though the world doesn't even notice that i am here, flesh and blood.  i feel invisible and insecure.  so insecure.  and then i remembered.  i felt this way last year as the trees started shaking their bony fingers at me.  i felt this way the year before as the dust that was fresh life six months ago begins to choke my lungs.  i felt this way 10 years ago as i drank way too much gin and tottered around on high heels with a toque pulled down low over my forehead.  i felt this way 20 years ago when i stopped going to class because the pull of the darkness seduced me into a long fearful hibernation.

and this is where i am most raw and alive.  the urge to dance in the cool air spirals me around and there is a part of me that feels as though i can do anything.  there is a nothing to lose attitude that comes with the breakdown.  i start feeling the molecules rearrange themselves into something new and i know with certainty that everything is changing.  every great romance i have had started in the autumn, october.   my sons were all conceived in october.  death.  life.   i am standing in the in between.  death and sleep on one side of me and the watchful passion of being fully awake on the other side of me.   i can walk in the fire, skin scorched and raw and i can hide away curled up into myself.  i am too intense.  too intense.  too intense.  and find it too easy to live in the mediocracy of myself.  i see the world through a complicated framework of too many questions, too many angles, too many conficting sides and i find it impossible to settle on any one position for longer than a moment.  and i have grown weary of the examination, the argument and so i fall backwards into the space between death and life and hover there in the grey until it hurts too much and i have to shift the perspective again.

i want to come here and give you pretty pictures and pretty poetic words but that would be a lie.  i want to come here and drip angst filled pain across a rusted out bathtub but that would be a lie.  my house is clean, bathroom scrubbed shiny with a brush and clothes and bits organized in shiny obedience until they are not.  i have a junk drawer that hasn't been cleaned out in over five years.  my closet has been reorganized within an inch of its life.  i am ocd and i am a disorganized mess. all at the same time.  i am neatly lined up books, alphabetized in categories and i am a locker of piled up crumpled papers soggy from tuna sandwiches left for too many months.   i am at peace with my contradictions and i am miserable and wish i could just choose a way to live, to write, to work, to be.  what i really need to do is to get out of my head.

fire

 

i watched the orange glow of the fire as i tipped the bottle and felt the burn of vodka slide down my young throat, the music floated over me as the trees towered above.  one of the ever changing bush party sites was a campsite directly across the river of my grandfather's ranch.  Of course by the time i was old enough to party at the site known by partiers as [insert his last name]'s campsite, he had long since died.

when i was 12, my grandfather died quite suddenly by a brain aneurysm.  it was unexpected and brutal as death often is.  i remember my mom saying that my grandfather was at the hospital and that we needed to drive out to the farm.  on the way, in my head, i knew he was dead.  i can't even tell you why, i just knew.  when we got there, i couldn't get out of the light blue velvet accented van because i knew even though it seemed to me that no one else knew.  they were all hopeful while i sat there in the dark sunlight, in the knowing.

the vodka hit my brain in warm fuzz and the stars hovered above the lick of orange flame illuminating the black ink sky with the beautiful dream that something, anything could happen.  even as i watched the stars separating myself from the drunken laughter of the endless conversation that twines itself around every party in its sameness, i could feel the collective pull as smoke drifted up from across the river.  there was a much bigger fire going on across the river, bright orange ribbons dancing in the night distracting from the wooden pallet fire at my feet.  even as guys stumbled over the bridge and weaved themselves to the shape of my uncle, wanting to help, i knew that it was just a normal burn, a cleanse of sorts ... a clearing out, a way to make way for new growth.

When the fires hit my home town this spring, I felt shattered.  The not knowing, the worry and the wondering, the remembering that life can and often does change in a moment. 

I am remembering that fire is a part of nature, a powerful force that winds up from lightning strike threatening bambi and the field mice scurrying across the jackpine floor.  Dead and old trees are burned to make way for the dense green of the new.  There are pine trees that need the heat of fire to open up their cones, to create the seeds that repopulate. 

In August, I walked through the town where I grew up and saw the devastation, burnt out vehicles piled high on top of each other as entire blocks were charred even as a sunflower patch grew up high as though it had never happened.  Amazed at the clearing away that had taken place in such a short time getting ready for rebuilding.  New growth

I wandered along the ridges of the beach road, the sun dipping into the lake,  blackened trees shining her light even as her fresh new green skirts swished in a multitude of layers and wondered at the clearing of space. 

  

Lately, I have been embracing the lessons of fire even though I consider myself more of a water person.  Fire has always deeply scared me (i rode my bike with streamers on the handlebars and stared up at the bright blue sky as the fire bomber planes soaked trails behind them) but I am learning to make peace with that fire.  I am letting fire rip through me, I am letting it spark out of my fingertips as I clear away the dust and debris, the clutter that interferes with my need to allow new growth to rise up.  The fire is burning away the last of the deadened branches that grew around the tender seed of my heart and breaking open new seeds, a fresh new green skirt.

and high above the bright lights of the city glow.  i watch the stars.

fragile

My grandfather was a boxer.  He also won an arm wrestling championship when he was in his sixties and I remember watching him standing next to this much taller, 30 years his junior muscled up young man as they handed out the trophies.  Next to the second place winner, my grandfather looked small, old and fragile.

I was a young pigtailed girl with a splattering of freckles across the bridge of my crooked nose and I didn't know much about the world.  But in that moment, I felt the earth shift and it was my first real indication that fragility and strength could live side by side in absolute harmony.  Since then I have seen it so many times, the strength that sits squarely in us when we are at our most fragile laying in crisp sheets, the stained spot on the blue blanket that covers loosely wrapped bones.  The bright blue eyes of a newborn baby, searing eyes holding the wisdom of knowledge even as skin melts into shivers of soft mewing.

I remember the first time my grandfather put boxing gloves on me and showed me how to hit the bag.  I didn't feel powerful.  I felt awkward and unstable and suddenly felt a need to protect myself as though somehow wearing the gloves made me more vulnerable.  I grew up in a family of boys.  For the longest time, I was the only girl in a sea of boy cousins and so I learned to hide behind a spunky feisty attitude fueled by the red neck anger of a blue collar town.  I wore it in darkly drawn on eyeliner and big black boots topped off with a sullen scowl and bright orange hair.

I am continually learning to sit with my fragility with the understanding that sometimes my strength is misunderstood.

I had a friend once.  She talked about the importance of being seen but I don't think she ever really saw me and maybe it was my fault for trying too hard to honour her need to be seen.  Or.  Maybe I cloaked myself.  Maybe I wasn't strong enough to allow myself to be seen because I didn't trust who I was becoming in the midst of grief's upheaval.  Maybe I had lost so much that I wandered backwards to that pigtailed girl and her awkward gloves.

Recently, I tried to remember when I started wearing pigtails and realized that it was around the time that my sister died.

Recently, I have stopped wearing pigtails preferring the blown hair of tangled freedom.

I think that friend was right though.  I think it is important to really be seen and to allow ourselves to be seen.  So I am learning to honour my need to see me, to really see me.