Dec 6th Action

December 6, 2016 at 8:15 am (Life) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

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Words matter.

“Women on one side, men on the other.”

“He told us [the men] to leave, and we did.” (p. 171)

From the book: The Montreal Massacre by Louise Malette & Marie Chalouh; translated by Marlene Wildeman. Charlottetown, PEI: gynergy books, 1991.

Do you know the new inclusive words for the Canadian anthem?

Why is it wrong if I need the words of my national anthem to include me through its language?

I am not a son. I am a daughter. I am not a man but I am a person. I am part of us.

Language matters.

Words matter.

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My Previous words of remembrance.

Je me souviens … Geneviève Bergeron, 21; Hélène Colgan, 23; Nathalie Croteau, 23; Barbara Daigneault, 22; Anne-Marie Edward, 21; Maud Haviernick, 29; Barbara Klucznik Widajewicz, 31; Maryse Laganière, 25; Maryse Leclair, 23; Anne-Marie Lemay, 27; Sonia Pelletier, 23; Michèle Richard, 21; Annie St-Arneault, 23; Annie Turcotte, 21.

 

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Falling or Flying?

September 11, 2016 at 8:54 am (Life) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Come to the edge.
We might fall.
Come to the edge.
It’s too high!
COME TO THE EDGE!
And they came,
and he pushed,
and they flew.

Christopher Logue
English poet (1926-2011)

stairs

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The Things We Leave Behind

September 4, 2016 at 8:15 am (Life) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

The things we leave behind — buildings, people, experiences — rarely disappear altogether. When we look back, we find ruins. Remnants. Echoes.

Hope Chest

I’ve moved a lot since I graduated from Grade Twelve. At least twenty times. I downsized every time! I gave away things. I gave up things. I sold things. I lost things. I don’t miss most of those things.

I gained as much as I lost!

There are two things I miss.

Two manuscripts.

Words. I miss words.

Words that I wrote.

The first is a short story I wrote when I was sixteen; there was an unicorn and a black rose in it. For years after, I searched out information on black roses. (This was before the internet). Were they possible? Could you grow pure black roses? This was a topic I researched from 1975 until the 1990s and I still don’t know the answer. I know you can create black roses by dying them. I know that there are red and deep purple roses that will look black in certain types of light. But to grow a genetically perfect black rose; still impossible I fear.

But back to the story. I sent it into Seventeen magazine. I got back a form rejection slip with a very encouraging note written on it in someone’s handwriting. I’ve lost the note as well. I remember thinking “Now, I am a writer!”

The second of my words that I lost was a romance novel.

I wrote it as an experiment. I wanted to see if I could write 50,000 to 70,00 words. This was the length of a Harlequin romance novel back then.

My first draft. My only draft. I write shorter now: blog posts, essays, memoirs. I’ve not attempted anything longer. Maybe I will. Maybe this November. It was a typical 1980s romance. It was probably staid and priggish. My friend Twyla liked. She was the only one who read it. I did nothing with it.

Though, it might be in my hope chest. So might the short story.

I’ve moved the hope chest here, there and everywhere but I seldom explore deep in its depths. There are bombs in there – my wedding pictures, my parent’s after-divorce letters and other such emotional flotsam and jetsam!

I try to stay away from bombs even though there might be treasures also strewn within the minefield!

Thus, these things I’ve left behind may never be found!

Image result for bomb emojiImage result for explosion emojiImage result for bomb emojiImage result for explosion emoji

I was born in 1949, and by the time I was 10, I figured out that my hope chest was not aimed in the same direction as everybody else’s was. And that life was going to be very, very complicated. And that I could either be provocative and declamatory, or shy, retiring and scared. ~Dorothy Allison

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The Ten Dollar Quilt

July 10, 2016 at 8:15 am (Fun, Life) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

10 Dollar Quilt

This is my ten dollar quilt. I bought it for ten dollars when I lived In Weyburn, SK over ten years ago. It is starting to fall apart. There is wear and tear and holes I can’t mend.

It appears that it is an easy machine quilting pattern (see second picture).

10 Dollar Quilt - Center

The center is a plain flower with a white center and two types of petals. The borders are long rectangles sewn together. It is backed in spring grass green.

Borders

I bought it because I loved the black and white cow pattern border. I bought it because it was inexpensive and compact. It fits a child’s or twin bed.

I love it because it is light. I can use it in the summer or winter.

I love it because Lulu (my cat) loves it. She will only sit on my lap if I am covered with this blanket. As far as she is concerned, this is her blanket. It stays folded, when not in use, on a shelf in the tv cabinet and she will get all cozy in there for her naps.

I love it because it is full of stories. There is Lulu’s story. There is my story. There is the quilter’s story. There is the story of who the quilt was made for. There is the story of how and why the ten dollar quilt ended up at a second hand store.

There is always story.

Water & Rock

I am not here today. I am off chasing stories.

There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, but there have been no societies that did not tell stories. —Ursula K. LeGuin

I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity —Gilda Radner

 

 

 

 

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My Favourite Door

June 26, 2016 at 8:15 am (Life) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Stirling Castle_Gate

This is a picture of my favourite door. I took it at Stirling Castle in Scotland in May 2010. Though, technically, it’s more of a gate than a door.

Doors open and close. They invite in and lock out. The doors of my house enclose my cave. I wish I had less windows and doors in my house. I like the closeness of a cave. One entry in and out. This way you always know who is coming. Are they Friend or Foe?

Perhaps that is why I like this gate door because I can see through it. If you look closely, you can see there is someone there. I didn’t notice the someone when I took the picture. I only noticed later when I was able to blow the picture up. I was focused on the door. On the stillness of the door. On the aloneness of the door.

This is me: still, alone, hiding behind doors.

In memory of my Scotland trip here is a Scottish poem about doors.

Go and open the door.
Maybe outside there’s
a tree, or a wood,
a garden,
or a magic city.

. . .

Go and open the door.
If there’s a fog
it will clear.

Go and open the door.
Even if there’s only
the darkness ticking,
even if there’s only
the hollow wind,
even if
nothing
is there,
go and open the door.

For the rest of the poem, go over to the Scottish Poetry Library.

Don’t be afraid to open the door.

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Pure Country

June 12, 2016 at 8:15 am (Life) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Old Barn

This picture was taken one quiet Christmas Eve not too long ago. I was feeling nostalgic. This is my grandfather’s old barn. It is the only original structure left on the property my nephew now owns. My nephew never met his great-grandfather but he ended up buying his home quarter a few years ago. From generation to generation to generation the wheels turn.

Chickens

These are my nephew’s son’s chickens. At five, he is responsible for seeing them feed and selling the eggs. He will probably be a farmer just like his dad and grandfather and great-grandfathers.

As things change (bigger farms, bigger machinery) so they stay the same (chickens to feed, crops to tend to).

Chickens Running

Pure” can convey wholesomeness, something undiluted, or simplicity.

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No One’s Mother

May 8, 2016 at 8:15 am (Life) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I’ll never be anyone’s mother.

I think I’ve known this since I was first married at twenty-four. I started taking care of other people’s children the New Years I was thirteen and stopped, doing it as a job, in my middle thirties.

It’s hard leaving other people’s children once you’ve spent years being responsible for their daily care and knowing you will probably never see them again.

I may not have given birth but I have raised children. I sat up with them when they were sick, took them to the doctor and emergency care, was the sole caregiver for weeks on end, went to their school events and nurtured and worried over them.

But they were not mine!

I vowed young that I would not have children if I could not take care of them properly. To me that meant that they would have two primary parents who could provide them with a middle-class home. I was raised in poverty by a divorced mother with little contact or support from my father, I knew how hard it was to raise a child.

Now I am entering menopause knowing that I will never be anyone’s mother.

FurBaby

And I’m okay with that.

I am okay with being child-free. I struggle to support myself, both financially and emotionally. I thank the stars that I never had to make the decision between my well being or my child’s!

I only have myself but all of me is mine – this is both exhilarating and scary. Who will take care of me in my old age? I will take care of me as I always have.

Straw Doll

There are a million ways to create a family. There are a million different types of families.

I am a family of one (plus cat – the census doesn’t consider my cat to be family).

Friends

There are many types of mothers.

I have a biological mother and a stepmother.

My cousin had an adoptive mother and a birth mother.

I had more than two grandmothers. There was my maternal grandmother, my paternal grandmother and my stepmother’s mother.

I had honorary grandmothers as well. Grandma F who lived to the left of us and Mrs. Stapleton who lived to the right of us across the alley and Grandma Smith who I think was my paternal grandmother’s stepmother.

I had literary mothers. My first librarian, Miss Missler taught me to love books and reading.

Women have been a major influence in my life.

And I hope that even though I will never be anyone’s biological mother that I will be a major influence in the lives of the girls and young women I have constant contact with.

Pink Roses

Happy Mother’s Day to all the women who mother me!

 

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Having A Good Cry

April 10, 2016 at 8:15 am (Life) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

The older I get the more I cry.

I wasn’t a crier as a child or a teen. As a child, I was more prone to violent temper tantrums – I threw a pair of scissors at one sister and bit the bottom of the other. As a teen, I got quiet when I was upset or sad – I’d retreat to my room and brood.

The last crying jags I vividly recall was when my body was acclimatizing to being on the birth control pill – many, many decades ago.

Angel_Wing

I use to make fun of my mom’s weepy habit of crying over Hallmark movies. And now like many daughters, it seems I’ve turned into her. I’ve become a weeper!

I realized this was so when I found myself tearing up during the horror movie, Mama. In the movie:

Jeffrey kills his estranged wife and business partners and flees with his children: young Victoria and one-year-old Lilly. On a remote, snowy road, the car slips down an embankment into the woods. Jeffrey finds an abandoned cabin nearby and prepares to commit a murder/suicide. At the last moment, he is killed by a strange figure in the cabin.

Victoria & Lily are eventually found. Mama was present when the girls were about to be killed by their father in the cabin but saved them and cared for them as her own. She plays with the children but hides from the sight of anyone else.

Who or what is Mama?

I cried for mama. I cried for Victoria & Lily. I cried for their aunt. I know what it is like to lose children that you have cared for over the years and are expected to never see again (in my younger years I was a child-care provider). Mama had my sympathy.

Sarah

I weep all the time during Doctor Who. I feel for the Weeping Angels. Their anger. Their pathos. The way they kill you slowly and somewhat gently. If I was going to be killed by a monster, this is the monster I would choose.

Stone Angel

I weep as I read through children’s picture books. Stone Angel by Jane Yolen (illustrated by Katie May Green) is a Holocaust story. I’ve read hundreds of Holocaust stories since I started reading them when I was thirteen and blase. They’ve always horrified me but seldom made me cry.

Your Alien

Your Alien, written by Tammi Sauer and illustrated by Goro Fujita, is about a cute, lost alien baby and the little boy who befriends it and helps it get home. It’s a modern E. T. for the preschooler set. This book made me weep more then that movie!

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I never use to be this weepy. Do we feel more as we age?

Is this empathy? Is this fear? Is this loneliness?

The older I get the more I cry.

Need a good cry. Want a good cry. Go listen to most of the videos over at StoryCorps – especially the romantic ones.

I dare you not to cry!

 

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Christmas at the Farm

December 27, 2015 at 8:15 am (Life, Memoir) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

A few years ago, without purpose or intent, my nephew bought my grandparent’s homestead. The only structure, of theirs, left standing was the old red barn which got destroyed in a windstorm this past summer!

Barn Collapsing

I’m not sure if this was my grandparent’s original home quarter, that is, the first place that they lived when they came to Canada. I’m pretty sure that this is where my father was raised. He was always very nostalgic about the farm and the surrounding country schools and rural towns nearby.

My nephew was not at first aware of the personal history when he went to look at the place. My father’s parents were both dead by the time he was born.

There is a synchronicity here. A place that once was important to the family comes back full circle.

I spent many happy Christmases here as a child and am now returning to make new memories for a new generation.

Tradition

Tradition. Traditions are important. Growing up, it was customary to spend Christmas at the farm and Easter with my mother’s parents. This was partly because my mother didn’t drive and partly because her father did not want to drive cross-country in the winter. Plus, mom is basically an only child (her bachelor brother was 13 years older) so Christmas at the farm was a lot more fun!

All the aunts and uncles would come and altogether there was twenty or so grand-children ranging through the ages from baby boomers to generation X ers (1956 – 1973), from babies to young teenagers. We were a diverse group.

Mom would take us four kids to Christmas eve service, we’d get to open one gift that night and then in the morning we would open the rest of our gifts and Grandpa would come pick us up for the short drive (15 minutes) to the farm. I couldn’t sit next to grandpa because I was a wiggler and was always bumping the gear shift.

Once at the farm we would all sit down to a big meal, after which the women would wash dishes, the men would talk and the children (no exceptions) would be sent outside to play because once the dishes were done the grown-ups would get down to some serious card playing.

Christmas Eve 2014

We didn’t mind. We’d make forts in the hay stack (this was when hay was stored in smallest rectangle bundles), play in the snow and generally run around going crazy until we got cold.

Once back inside, we would squeeze by the grown-up card players and settle into the smallish living room to watch the Christmas movie on CBC. This movie almost always seemed to star Hayley Mills. I remember parts of Tiger Bay and The Family Way; my favourite was The Trouble With Angels!

We would lay on the floor staring intently at the black and white TV. The youngest children slowly nodding off. Grandma’s Christmas cactus, which eldest sister still nourishes parts of, was a bright pink and green splotch in the corner.

There would be leftovers for supper after dark and slowly us kids would be bundled up and taken home where, no doubt, we slept soundly long through the night. No doubt, sweet dreams abounded.

My grandparent’s home was such a small house yet it still held all of us (20 kids, 9 parents, 2 grandparents and an occasional neighbour or two). I don’t remember feeling crowded. My nephew’s house is probably three times as big with half the amount of people coming for Christmas Eve and it can still feel too crowded to me!

Elf

I’m not saying that I never felt crowded out at my grandparents. Too much party, too many people and I need to escape to somewhere quiet. I’ve always been this way. Neither me or my cat are extroverts.

Too much and I need a place to hide close enough that I still feel like I’m part of the party. At my grandparents that was the spare bedroom right beside the quiet living room which was right beside the crowded dining room full of grown-ups. When I got overwhelmed, I would grab a book (the older I got the more likely it would be that I would have a book with me) and disappear into the bedroom to read all by myself.

All my life, I’ve curled up in a corner reading as life and chatter swirled around me. This is where I feel most at home. This is when I feel most warm, secure and safe. If anyone needed to find me, they instinctively knew where I was! I was somewhere quiet reading!

I loved getting together with my cousins. I loved the sociability. With them I learned on my feet, to get along with people and what love is.

Yes, even though, I was the one hiding in the corner with a book.

This is one of my traditions.

Chicken Bones

As a family of one (and a cat), I mostly get to enjoy the holiday as I want to and I definitely get to create my own traditions.

My traditions are:

  • Garlands of Stars,
  • Celebrating the Winter Solstice,
  • Chicken Bones (see above – I once tried explaining this candy to my Montreal boyfriend and he pictured actual glazed chicken bones),
  • Watching the 1966 Grinch Who Stole Christmas,
  • Watching a darker Christmas movie (like Die Hard or Gremlins),
  • Watching The Nightmare Before Christmas (at both Halloween and Christmastime),
  • Spending time alone reading.

Enjoy your particular traditions.

It is snowing right now. It is a soft, drifting snow. It covers all the bleakness of my lawn and makes it look soft and warm and white.

Happy Holidays to all and to all a good night!

 

 

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How Long?

December 6, 2015 at 8:15 am (Life) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Lifetimes have passed since.

The length of a generation.

It’s been a life time – babies who were born that year are now young women as they were. They were women who never got to fulfill their destiny.

A Mother’s Grief.

A mother who will never hug her daughter’s daughter to her breast.

[We stand] crying before the coffins of strangers,
offering roses and tiger lilies to young women [we will] never know.

“O Lord, how long?” O Lord, how long?” cry those standing at a prayer vigil on another December day.

Family Bear

Je me souviens … Geneviève Bergeron, 21; Hélène Colgan, 23; Nathalie Croteau, 23; Barbara Daigneault, 22; Anne-Marie Edward, 21; Maud Haviernick, 29; Barbara Klucznik Widajewicz, 31; Maryse Laganière, 25; Maryse Leclair, 23; Anne-Marie Lemay, 27; Sonia Pelletier, 23; Michèle Richard, 21; Annie St-Arneault, 23; Annie Turcotte, 21.

My previous words of remembrance are here.

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