Monthly Archives: June 2012

thankfulness

Thankfulness. We think about it on Thanksgiving, we might think about it at Christmas and we think about it when a loved one pulls through an illness or gets home safely after a long trip. How many of us give it any thought on a regular basis?

There are many things I am thankful for and there are some that I think of every day. There are some that I don’t think of often enough and there are some thoughts of thankfulness that are triggered daily by songs on the radio or the sound of BoyGenius’ laughter. I am thankful for the opportunities presented by the technology of today. I just had a Skype call with my mom and it was so neat to hear how proud of herself she was and how excited at the thought of seeing all of us on a video call. The internet has given us many good things (sure there’s some bad in there, as well) and one is the sense of community that can be felt and grown just by reading what someone on the other side of the continent has written.

I am thankful that Deborah Bryan over at The Monster in Your Closet has given me the opportunity to deliver a guest post as part of her FTIAT (For This I am Thankful) series. I would be equally thankful if you headed on over there to take a look at my little bit of thankfulness.

Thank you. ♥

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Categories: music, words | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

thinking of you

I’ve been mulling something over in my head trying to figure out which could possibly be worse: not missing someone when they’re away or missing them when they’re present. Have you experienced either (or both) of these feelings? Both seem wrong but more importantly both, somehow, also seem right.

There is a poem by E. E. Cummings that states:  carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart) I am never without it (anywhere I go you go, my dear; and whatever is done by only me is your doing, my darling) and there is a song that Pete Yorn sings that says: I keep thinking of you, you’re on my mind, for the fifty seven thousandth time this morning. Both of these do well to illustrate why it’s right or okay to not miss someone while they are away. If you are my friend, my lover, my family, you are with me always. I carry your heart with me and I am never without it. You are on my mind and I keep thinking of you. How can I miss you if even when I dream you are right beside me, every step of the way? I talk to you all the time and I can envision just how it will be when I see you again. You may not be here with me in a tangible state but you are always with me. So really, don’t worry if I don’t miss you while you are off somewhere other than here.

whether I miss you or not, I still love you

Now for the other half of the original conundrum; it’s a little bit harder to explain. I don’t have a handy poem or a song that springs to mind to help me illustrate what I mean. But I think you can probably all imagine or remember this feeling. You are with someone, you spend time together but you’re not really connecting. You realize you miss them. You might be sitting in the same room when that overwhelming feeling of, oh I don’t know what to call it, kind of like “homesickness” hits you. This seems like it can only be a bad thing. But I don’t think that’s true. If you are my friend, my lover, my family, you are indeed always with me in my heart, in my mind, in my soul. That doesn’t mean that I always know what you’re thinking or feeling. It doesn’t mean that I get to spend enough time with you. It doesn’t mean that even though you are physically right beside me I couldn’t do with being a little closer to you. I get a “pang” when you and I part ways in the parking lot. I get a little misty sometimes when I look at you over there on the other end of the couch. Sometimes I think it sucks, this idea that I can miss you while you’re right here. But sometimes I let it remind me of just how much I love you, how deeply I care for you. And it makes me smile. It makes me realize that as close as I am to you, I love you so much that I would gladly be closer.

Categories: family, friendship, music | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

escape?

As I sit in my NBF’s backyard, on her fancy deck, and sip my tea while listening, literally, to the wind in the willow – and the maples – I feel blanketed by a sense of calm. I’m watching the branches blow in the breeze and I’m wondering if BoyGenius has climbed that willow tree yet. I’m listening for the birdsongs competing with the rustling leaves and can make out mourning doves, robins, phoebes, a cardinal and the cluck of some grackles – all over the song of the buzz saw from up the street.

I’m thinking: I should get me something like this. A “retreat.” HA! My yard is half the size of this one and my deck doesn’t have room for the cushy furniture. Never mind fitting a weeping willow in somewhere. And then I’m thinking, wondering: where do I go to escape, to retreat? Where is my oasis?

I don’t know about you all, but I tend to go into my head. Of course it would be a much better escape if it was empty. There’s always talk, talk, talk. Sure, sometimes it’s me who starts the conversation but I can’t be held responsible for all of it. I find that in my head I get to say whatever I want to say to whomever I choose. And you know what? They always tell me what I want to hear in the end. There may be some disagreement along the way, that other voice pointing out potential problems and brick walls I’m going to hit, but all in all, things get worked out. The trouble with that is that sometimes I just want quiet. Stillness. Time away.

enjoying a get-away

Where do you go to escape? For some it’s a backyard oasis, for some others it’s running cross-country. Hiking in the woods, laying on a beach, locking the door to the bathroom. I would love to be able to retreat to the woods or the beach. Lay on the dock enjoying the sun while the dragonflies hover close by. Fall asleep on the shore listening to the crashing of waves. I don’t often get that chance. There’s always BG to think of – it’s not really possible to nap on the beach when you have to keep watch over the offspring. So like I said, I take off into my head. It’s kind of neat, because I am able to do it at any given time. While doing laundry, cooking, falling asleep, mowing the lawn. Sometimes I find cool things in there, hidden away where no one would think to look. One I found the other day goes something like this:

If I could write a love letter
I know exactly what I’d say:
to me you grow more beautiful
with every passing day.

I wouldn’t think that would be enough
so I might also have to mention
how whenever I am with you
you ease all my stress and tension.

How I never thought I’d love someone
the way that I love you
and if I had the chance to show it
I know just what I would do.

I’d shout it from the rooftops
in a voice so loud and clear
there could be no doubt, no question
that to me you are most dear.

I’d live each day as if my time
with you were near to end;
I’d fill your needs, I’d calm your fears;
to your every wish I’d tend.

I would capture how I feel
and put it neatly in a song;
it would shoot to number 1 so fast
you’d hear it all day long.

I’d never let you wonder
if my love for you is real;
I’d tell you twenty, thirty times a day
exactly how I feel.

I’d bring you gifts, I’d make you laugh,
I’d cook your favourite foods.
I’d let you know that in your eyes
I can read your changing moods.

I’d ask you if you’d marry me
though I know that there’s no way.
I’d make sure you knew that if you did
I’d still ask you every day.

I’d try my best to make you feel
the fullness in my soul;
To clarify the fact that
you’re the one who makes me whole.

I’d gaze at you so often
just to memorize your face.
And if you ever needed time,
you know I’d also give you space.

I’d do your dishes and your laundry;
clear the clutter from your table.
I’d kiss you, snuggle and caress
every moment I was able.

So if I could write a love letter
and get all this out; a kind of release
it might help you understand that in the puzzle that’s my life
you are the final piece.

There. I escaped for a little bit.

Categories: words | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

writing — or not

So I haven’t been writing much lately and it’s annoying me. To be fair, I have a number of pieces that I’ve started and they seem to be fine and then — bam — I just can’t find the finish. In some it’s like I’ve lost my train of thought and can’t get back to it. In some it just seems that I’ve said enough but I can’t find the right way to wrap it up. I haven’t really had that “feeling” in the last little while, that overpowering urge to put something down, that surge of energy that needs to come out through my fingers.

Of course, I have had other things to do: laundry, cooking, gardening, raccoon catching, clothes sorting, recycling, composting, etc. I’ve already written about laundry. Cooking is having a hard time keeping me interested lately, mainly because I no longer know what the other two members of my family will eat with any semblance of regularity; it’s very hard to be excited about cooking something when you know you’re the only one who’s going to enjoy it. Gardening — there’s too much of it that needs doing for it to feel good, it mostly feels overwhelming. Raccoon catching, now there’s something I could tell you a thing or two about. Okay, maybe. Clothes sorting is something that needs to be done but like gardening can get to feeling overwhelming. It’s a separate category from laundry although much of it stems from laundry. Recycling and composting, how exciting! We have a bit of an issue on those two fronts because it all piles up in our small kitchen and gets on everybody’s nerves — mainly because I’ve only got two hands and so many hours in a day.

This is how they got into my kitchen ceiling.

Okay. Raccoon families. Are you familiar with these rascally bandits? Sure they’re cute. Right up until they’ve pulled your soffit and fascia apart and decided to make their home in the bulkheads on either side of your kitchen. That’s right, in the walls and/or ceiling of your kitchen. My kitchen. I heard scratching, a little bit of movement. No chattering. If we banged on the ceiling you could hear movement from one area to another. It wasn’t until I was up on the ladder pruning a tree that stands right next to the house that I saw where it (at this point I really thought it was just one) had gotten in. I remembered my neighbour once telling me that the bulkheads in the kitchen ceiling were open to the front of the house, and I remembered not really being able to picture it as he described it. There’s an overhang at the front of the house, over the kitchen, it’s closed off, I couldn’t figure out what he meant. Once I realized that Rocky Raccoon was in my kitchen ceiling it started to make sense. The bulkheads are open/accessible from insidethe overhang so once they got in it was a nice snuggly place for raccoons to overwinter, what with all the yummy smells coming from the kitchen as an added bonus. What to do, what to do? Enter Grandpa. I e-mailed him photos of the point of entry and he designed a one-way door, came over and installed it, complete with a ramp so the little rascals wouldn’t fall when they were trying desperately to get back in. (To me it seemed like a balcony and I was sure I’d come home one day and see little raccoon deck chairs out front of their new storm door.) I set a trap in front of the kitchen window. Caught me a raccoon on the third day after the door installation. YAY! Took it to the conservation area and prepared for a quiet night. HAH! Still heard the pitter-patter of little feet. Set the trap again. Caught me another one two days later. Took it to the conservation area. All was quiet for about a day and a half …. then … scratching in the ceiling again. Caught me a third one. I could not believe that there had been three raccoons up there; seriously, there was no chatter, no arguing, no excessive noise. No normal raccoon interaction. Three was it. After another week or so with no movement, no noise of any kind, Grandpa came back and removed the one-way door (and the balcony) and threw up some extra flashing to ensure that the soffit and fascia could not be breached again. This was a year ago last December and we haven’t been bothered since.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, there are still raccoons staring in my bedroom window every once in awhile, there were two up on the roof in the fall and when BoyGenius and I went out to throw tennis balls at them to scare them off the roof they decided it would be fun to keep throwing them back at us. I have an opening under my deck (where a family of raccoons has been known to nest previously) that I never seem to get around to closing off. Well let’s be honest, you can’t really be sure the critters are out until it’s the middle of the night and then the neighbours have been known to complain about the hammering or drilling. But you know, if they aren’t in my kitchen, I’m not too bothered by them. They need somewhere to live, right? So it’s all good until a week ago last Thursday when a raccoon came crawling over my fence just as I was about to leave to pick BoyGenius up from school. That’s right, at about 3:15 in the afternoon. I told it in no uncertain terms that it wasn’t supposed to out at this time and that this didn’t bode well for its future. In the schoolyard I asked my friend if I could borrow his trap again. He said sure, he had just gotten it back from someone else and it was available. I picked it up that evening, set it just before I took BoyGenius up to bed and while I was singing to him, SNAP! It had been sprung within 20 minutes of being set out. Yep. Caught me a raccoon. Closed up the hole under the deck as best I could without having lattice or fenceboard or anything similar around. Four days later I noticed it had been reopened — with a vengeance. That same evening there was a mama and baby out on my deck, with the mama standing on her hind legs, brazenly taunting me while the baby played with BoyGenius’ toys. The trap went back out. I caught the mama; no sign of the baby. Mama took a trip to the conservation area (but I blindfolded her and drove her around a while first). I figured the baby had to come out sometime so I put the trap right in front of the opening under the deck and waited. The next morning there was indeed another raccoon in the trap, just kind of laying there like the lazy adolescent he was; no sign of the baby. When I told this teenager that I was taking him up to see his mama he wasn’t happy about it. I think he knew he was going to get in trouble. There is still no sign of the baby. I have spent quite a bit of time looking under the deck with a spotlight, both day and night and there isn’t anything under there anymore. The trap is still at the deck opening, just in case. I’m thinking I’ll close that hole up this weekend.

Categories: Uncategorized | 2 Comments

childhood revisited

As I watch my son roll down a 50-60 degree decline, onto the tarmac at the bottom, I am reminded of the games we used to play when I was a child. Things were different then. Or were they??

True, we didn’t have video game systems – but we did spend time at the arcade. True, we only got 3 channels on the television up until I was in about grade 4 – but once mom went to work so she could pay for cable, well then we got 13 channels! True, cartoons were only shown early on Saturday or Sunday mornings – except for The Flintstones; they were on every day at lunch. True, there weren’t any “kids’ networks” to monopolize our viewing time – but we did schedule our homework around the ABC After School Special on Wednesday afternoons, The Wonderful World of Disney on Sunday nights and Sonny & Cher, The Hudson Brothers and Carol Burnett.

children at play

We played tag, both the frozen and regular varieties. We played hide & seek. We played Cowboys & Indians. We played badminton, frisbee and touch football. We played marbles (we usually called them alleys). We played Red Rover and British Bulldog. We played baseball or 21-up. We played on snow-hills and in vacant lots, we hiked across town to “Duck’s Pond,” we climbed trees and tried to swing on vines and once we discovered that those vines weren’t the same kind Tarzan swung from we brought rope with us. We hung upside down from the swings and walked from one end of the teeter-totter to the other. We tried desperately to swing so high and fast that we’d be able to go all the way around the top bar (someone had seen someone else do it one time, don’t you know). We rode our bikes, no hands, with the front wheel turned backwards. Standing. Downhill. We rode double and triple (and we didn’t have helmets). We skipped rope, although I never did manage to get more than two jumps in on double-dutch. We swam every day as soon as the weather permitted.

I grew up in a small town, huge backyard, empty fields across the street and next to us, trees for climbing right outside my door, pathways from the edge of our property right down to the lake. The lake was home to the main town park, complete with climbing apparatuses, swings, teeter-totters, merry-go-rounds and fast metal slides. BoyGenius is growing up in a “town” with roughly 80,000 more inhabitants than mine had. There are no vacant lots or empty fields nearby, unless you count the baseball or soccer fields at his school. We have pathways from almost the edge of our property right down to the lake. There are playgrounds along the way but these days you are hard-pressed to find a merry-go-round or a teeter-totter. The school playground is bordered by a small forested area – most of the neighbourhood kids play in there on a daily basis. BG loves to climb trees and the baseball backstop; heck, he’ll climb walls if he can get a foothold. He’ll swim in any body of water that holds enough volume to cover him. He hasn’t quite mastered my technique when jumping off the swings (the one that totally gives you the feeling of flying), but he’s trying. He brings vines home from the forest, hoping to find a way to attach them to trees so he can swing from one to another, like Indiana Jones.

So it would seem that our childhood pastimes are not completely divergent although there are some marked differences. BoyGenius and his friends play tag; sometimes it’s just like what we played and sometimes it’s just a little bit different in that they play it in the forest, combine it with hide & seek and call it manhunt or mantracker. They will play regular hide & seek as well.  The frozen tag they play can be a bit different as well – one version is called graveyard and doesn’t involve any running around  … no movement at all, actually. Cowboys & Indians – well, you’re not allowed to play that anymore are you? I haven’t seen anyone playing marbles in at least 20 years. Neither Red Rover nor British Bulldog are allowed in schoolyards anymore so none of the kids today even know about them. If there are ever snow-hills in the schoolyard the children are not allowed on them. Pick-up football or baseball games have been replaced by organized soccer and t-ball. We don’t let our kids bike all over town or slosh around in duck ponds in hopes of catching tadpoles or snapping turtles. That’s if you could even find a duck pond these days.

As I watch my son roll down that steep hill, I remember doing the same. I remember the feeling and I remember that I loved it. I know that I will have to work with him to perfect his mid-swing takeoff, and work on his landing so he doesn’t break his arm again. And I know that he shares my love of that completely dizzy feeling you get from turning and spinning, arms straight out, in a wide-open field until you can’t even keep yourself upright and fall flat to stare up at the cloud-spinning sky above.

Do you see memories of your own youth in the games your children play?

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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