Posts Tagged With: pictures


So there’s this little thing called inktober and this year I decided to participate, even though I’m not much of a drawer. I mean, honestly, even in school, my doodles usually just consisted of a couple of flowers, some pom-pom looking trees, or 20-30 different sized triangles joined together. Sure, I took art in grades 9 & 10, but my favourite units were lino-cut prints, ceramics, plaster sculptures, and the like. Sketching was really not my thing.

Still, I thought, it’s not about how good or bad I am at it, it’s about doing it. I didn’t keep up with all the prompts (which trust me, I needed since me just sitting down and drawing something will result in the same aforementioned doodles, still, after lo these many years) but I did manage a few. I posted them to instagram, but only to my private account and not to my blog-associated one, since I’m shy that way, but I thought I may as well share them with you here.











Categories: art, memories, NaBloPoMo, NaNoPoblano, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

family — born or built?

Yesterday was my mother’s 85th birthday. Last weekend we attended a “surprise” party to celebrate my aunt’s 90th birthday, and the week before that another aunt had her 85th. When I mentioned these occasions to a friend she said “Whoa, you got some good genes there!” meaning she guesses I’ll live to a ripe old age as well. I like that. I also really like that she didn’t ask for a family tree to figure out where my aunts fit in — because really, in tree form, they don’t.

My parents came to Canada in the early 1950s. My father came by boat and my mother followed a few months later in a Super Connie prop plane. Just the two of them, a young, newly married couple off to build a life together. Just the two of them. My father’s family and my mother’s family stayed behind. It was just the two of them.

My brother SkinnyGuy arrived in 1957 and BlueEyes followed in 1961. By the time I showed up in ’64 SkinnyGuy had been to visit the Fatherland with my parents and my dad’s parents had spent 6 months over here, just missing my arrival which occurred on the same day they sailed back across the pond. My parents had already built a network of friends and some of those friends became pseudo-family to us kids. Whether they were our godparents or just close family friends, they were “aunt” and “uncle” and their kids were our “cousins.” We had cousins — real ones, they were just far away and mostly older than we were. We had our grandparents and our aunts and uncles but we only saw them about every 4 years when one or another of us flew in whichever direction was fitting. For being as far apart as we were, we grew up with a fairly strong sense of family. I think we did well. Most of the success of those relationships is down to my parents making sure we learned two languages growing up, making sure we wrote letters, sent birthday cards and shared photos. It was important to my parents and to us that we know our family.

What was just as important was that we had a virtual family over here where we were the only branch of our family tree. I always marveled at the ease with which some people became aunts and uncles to us and at how some family friends never made it past the “Mr” and “Mrs” stage. Where was the line that those people never got across? Funnily enough, some of those Mr & Mrs couples and their kids are still people I consider family. I couldn’t not. There are also of course some members of my actual family that I hardly know at all.

  • When I was sick at school but my mom was at work I knew there was another home I could go to and be taken care of. It wasn’t an aunt who was home, it was Frau V–. Her three boys are like additional brothers to me even though we don’t see each other often. When she was sick and dying from cancer her daily question to my mom was “is the baby here yet?” but BoyGenius and Frau V– missed each other by 10 days. He knows all about her, though. She’s family.
  • If I needed a place to stay while my parents went on vacation, there was an aunt and uncle who would open their home. My cousins and I tried not to get into too much trouble during those two weeks but we certainly didn’t promise anything. I vaguely remember some broken furniture .. but it wasn’t anything serious. We had each others’ back — that’s what family does. Those people are family to me and I know their grandchildren, their great-granddaughter and their kids’ in-laws. Family.
  • When I told my then-manager that I needed a day off to attend my aunt’s funeral in my hometown she actually asked me if it was my mom’s sister or my dad’s. This manager knew (or should have known) that neither of my parents had any siblings here. She needed to justify (or not) the time off I was taking. My manager didn’t care that this woman was someone I had known and loved since I was 3 years old, that I had been through dark days with my aunt and her family. I couldn’t get a bereavement day because she wasn’t really my aunt and it wasn’t really convenient for me to be off. I took the day.
  • My cousins’ kids don’t call their aunts and uncles by “Aunt” and “Uncle.”  My cousins thought it was too formal and would make them feel too old fashioned .. not to mention too old. I think the kids have missed out. They all call each other by their first names and don’t seem to feel that close bond of “family.” They all get along just fine: brothers, in-laws, cousins, their in-laws, and now we have two new little grandsons in the mix; it just seems a bit distant, somehow.
  • My father’s cousin’s children always thought of my parents as Tante and Onkel and us as cousins (the proper title might be second-cousins or something similar). We are just cousins and to BoyGenius their kids are his cousins. We are family.
  • There are some branches of my family tree that I have only gotten to know through social networking sites like facebook. We are indeed blood relatives on my mother’s side but she had four brothers who spread across the country and didn’t do very well at keeping in touch with one another. My mom worked hard to keep in touch with her nieces and nephews and the internet has allowed me to get to know next generations. My family grows.
  • At my Aunt W’s 90th birthday party I was a little bit shocked when HardWorker asked my cousin, “So how do you guys know each other? How did you meet?” I was thrilled when my cousin, with a confused look on her face, answered, “We grew up together. We’re family.”

a great definition of "family"

Family isn’t necessarily born. In fact, some people strive to get away from their blood relations. Some people must get away from their blood relations. No question. I am lucky that this isn’t the case for me. Does that mean that those people don’t have or shouldn’t have people they call family? No. We are not defined by our families but I think how we define family certainly helps to define us. I have a heart that expands easily and tends towards including most people that I love in my definition of family. What this means is that I have a HUGE family (in my mind). It means I don’t have to explain the relationship when I say “that’s my uncle” (although with certain people I find I do still add “who’s not really my uncle” just for their own clarity). It means I don’t laugh at my Caribbean friends when they talk about some guy they barely know and say “oh yeah, I know him, he’s my cousin,” I just chuckle to myself and know exactly what they mean. It means I am thrilled to bits when my cousin posts some old photos on facebook. It means that a blogger I’ve never met who lives on the other side of the continent has just as big a place in my heart as the next family member in there. It means that I can’t hardly wait to meet two new little baby boys across the ocean or one newish little baby girl just a couple of hours away!

It also means it hurts when my best friend’s kids tell me they’re doing something “just family” on the weekend .. in their minds I’m not family; in my heart, they are. Our definitions differ at this time but that might change someday.

What does your definition of family look like?

Categories: family, friendship | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

I’d like literary genres for a thousand, Alex

So the thing is, I like to read. I have been known to read just about anything, including all the signs (street, business, billboard) on certain streets in certain towns while driving through — and those I read out loud. I think reading is one of the most amazing pastimes a person could take up. I am thrilled that BoyGenius has become interested in reading.

Reading can take you places you will never get to otherwise; places you will have to see because you read about them; places you have been to but forgotten about. And I don’t just mean physical destinations. Reading will take you into someone else’s head, someone else’s shoes, someone else’s life.

I love to read.

I went through a period of minimal reading, I think, or minimal for me, anyway, but now I am back to reading whenever possible: stolen minutes during the day, while waiting at the blood donor clinic or the dentist’s, in the loo (yes, that’s right, I will stay in there until I finish a chapter!), in bed before falling asleep or upon awakening.

I have fond memories of the huge reference library in the city I used to live in and of the libraries at the institutes of higher learning I have attended. It always gave me a little thrill to be able to flash my “membership” card that allowed access to the elevators that would whisk me away into the stacks. I remember where my favourite childhood books were located in my hometown library. I can easily spend hours (probably days if I didn’t have other responsibilities or need to eat) in bookstores. I, like countless others, could spend the better part of a week skipping from blog to blog on the interweb … and still be behind in my reading.

Since hooking up with all sorts of wonderful writers via said interweb I have been introduced to an entirely new (to me) genre in literature. YA (Young Adult) novels. Where did this come from? When did it come into being? Why are these books “hidden” from adults in the library? In our library they are near the dvds, cds and audio books, not where I usually browse(d) for something new to read. Let me tell you, my browsing habits have changed. I have discovered some amazing reads and some amazing authors in the YA genre. I have read some amazing books. I am looking forward to reading many more.

I talk about one of my favourite discoveries, A Monster Callshere on a previous post.

Another is reviewed here (includes a book giveaway contest)! I have not yet had the opportunity to read The Monster’s Daughter by Deborah Bryan but I know it won’t disappoint because I know and follow Deb’s writing at The Monster in Your Closet.

I’m not happy that I missed out on this entire genre for years, but I am happy that Deborah Bryan pointed me in that direction a few months ago. It means, of course, that I’ve got a lot of catch-up reading to do. It also means that I have plenty of great books to choose from. So yes, I’ll take literary genres for a thousand please, Alex!

ps: to see what I’ve been reading lately or am reading now, check out my list.

Categories: books | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Tall Trees – part deux

A few days ago, a friend of mine was having a hard time “seeing” the light and an even harder time “feeling” the light.  Often we tell people that things will be okay but unless they can believe it, see it, or feel it, telling them that isn’t going to do squat.  I wanted to be able to help my friend feel the light.  I sent her a funny cartoon of a lightbulb and it was good.  But it wasn’t good enough.  I thought, “Which of my 6000+ pictures would best help her see the light?”  I scanned through them quickly and came up with a few that might work … but was any one of the photos enough?  A picture is sometimes worth a thousand words but a picture with words .. hmm .. that might do it better.  So which one?  And what words?

Something that you have to understand about me is that I love words.  I love the sound of them, I love the look of them, I love the spelling, I love the meaning.  I love that I can convey so much with words.  I love books, I love poetry, I love lyrics.  Words, words, words.  It’s funny, really, because I don’t “talk” a lot.  Well, I talk in my head a lot.  I don’t talk to people that much.  I’m shy.  Now, if you’re a friend or acquaintance who lives around here, you’re calling ‘bullsh!t’ right about now.  If you’re my best friend or my spouse, you’re just nodding your head because you know I speak the truth.  For someone who loves words, I don’t talk much.  I’m good with comments, I’m good at writing letters, I’m good with the colour commentary for everything from PTA meetings to football games; heck, I am the colour.  I am the comic relief, the valve that lets off some of the steam so there’s no explosion; there may be implosion because I can’t get out of my own head, but everyone else will be spared.

So I looked at the photos I had picked out and tall trees jumped out at me.  I could do plenty with that and within two minutes of playing with it I knew exactly which words would work.  The picture gave me the words .. well, my heart got them from the picture and conveyed them through my brain into my fingertips.  “Remember that there is always a spot for the light to get in … even through the tallest trees.”  I believe it to be true.  I think we often don’t remember that it is true and I think that even if we remember it we don’t believe it.  We don’t see it.  We don’t feel it.  If I can remind someone that this happens, that light gets in to even the deepest parts of the forest at some time or other, then I think I’m helping.  If I can get them to a point where they can see it, then I know I’m helping.  If I can help them feel it … hell, I’m rejoicing.  I think I helped my friend the other day.  I wasn’t alone, a lot of other people helped her that day as well; we pulled together and made a difference.  I think.  I hope.  I smile.

I’m letting the light in.

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

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