Repost – Lyme Disease

This is a repost of a repost.  I post this every year, as I feel it is important everyone is aware of the dangers of ticks.  Yesterday I walked my dogs in a field of tall grass and spent several hours gardening.  When I went to go take a bath, I was horrified to see a small tick embedded in my skin.  It was too small to remover with our tick remover, so I twisted it out with a pair of tweezers.  I put it in a jar, in case I want to get it tested.

I decided to continue with my bathing plan, and was once again aghast to see another small tick embedded in my knee. As you can see, it is barely longer than the stubble on my skin.  I pulled that one out with tweezers and gave tick #1 a friend to play with in his jar.  I was slightly uneasy about the whole insects in my skin episode, and still am.

On the upside, my legs are nicely shaven.  No nicks or ticks.

Please share this post, and the information.  Less bites, less Lyme disease.

Tick Photo

The sun is shining and spring is here.  This also means it is tick season.  I wanted to repost my post about Lyme disease because we all need to be well informed when it comes to these super bugs.  You need to know what to look for, and check yourselves and your kids regularly.  Don’t forget your parents if they live alone, as they may not be able to see one on their back. Ticks are rampant in rural areas but also in cities.  Please reread this post and tell all your friends and some of your enemies.  Remember only 80% of people bitten by a lyme tick get the bull’s eye rash, so get tested if you are bitten.  These little jerks are not going away anytime soon, so be informed as it is your best defense.  In case you are a new reader to my blog, thankfully my little Ruby Loo made a full recovery from her tick bite.

IMG_6215

My lovely little Ruby got bit by a tick last week. Her sister was the first to notice it and brought it to my attention. I removed it successfully with my handy dandy tick remover that I purchased at the vet’s last summer. Removing ticks properly is essential. They dig their mouth into the host’s skin. If you simply pull a tick out, their body will dislocate from their head. The head will remain in the skin, and and release their bacteria into the host. The trick is to hook their neck with the remover, and twist as you pull to dislodge the head. If you don’t have a store bought tick remover, you can Macguyver a similar tool with a paperclip. Either visit your vet or have your office supplies well stocked.

As most of you know, ticks can carry Lyme disease. Infected ticks release Lyme disease causing bacteria when they bite their host. The first sign of Lyme disease is a bull eye rash that occurs at the bite site. This rash can appear 3-30 days after the initial bite but only to 70-80% of infected people. Early symptoms are fever, headache, joint pain, and fatigue. If left untreated, Lyme disease has a myriad of painful symptoms including arthritis, meningitis, and encephalitis.

After I removed Ruby’s tick, I swore I would keep a sharp eye on the wound. By the next morning, like most fantastic mothers, I had all but forgotten about the tick. It didn’t occur to me to check her bite until yesterday, a full seven days after tick contact. I was worried when I saw the rash. I promptly cancelled our bike ride, packed a lunch, and headed to the emergency ward. She is currently on antibiotics, and at home with a fever. We have been advised to meet with our family doctor before the end of Ruby’s two week round of antibiotics to decide whether she needs to have the full Lyme disease treatment.

Ticks are about the size of a poppy seed. They stand on the end of a blade of grass with their hands in the air to find a host. They are able to sense heat and a change in light as you or your dog passes them by. A common myth is that they are only found in long grass. Ticks do not differentiate based on grass height. They are prevalent during the spring and fall seasons. They do not like very hot or very cold conditions. They are a super bug that does not die but simply hibernates when the weather does not suit them. In the hot days of summer, it is still cool enough in wooded areas for ticks to be active all summer long.

Ticks were mostly thought to reside in only rural wooded areas. They are now finding ticks blossoming in urban areas. One theory is that they have been brought to the city on family dogs and cats returning from cottages and camping. In the past, ticks have fed mostly on deer and were prevalent only in areas with high deer populations. Researchers now know that ticks frequently feed on birds and rodents and will travel where their host takes them.

To protect my family, I was told to have my children wear long pants tucked into their socks during the spring and fall season. I almost choked on the word socks while I struggled to maintain my composure.  As soon as it hits 12 degrees Celcius, my kids are in their bathing suits spraying each other with the hose. My goodness, we are Canadian, gosh darn it! Who wears socks once the sun shines past 7pm?

So what to do? Until it gets really hot, I make my kids wear sneakers and socks, and I spray them with DEET from the knee down. I’m not a of fan of using DEET on my children, but I’m less of a fan of Lyme disease. We have also started daily tick checks. My kids are old enough to bath and dress themselves so I don’t see them naked as much as I use to when they were little. Now we check for ticks before they put their pajamas on.

I am worried about my little one whom I adore. After a long wait in the emergency ward, Ruby told me very matter of factly that she would like to change her name to Glitter Avery Vortex. If she beats this whole Lyme disease thing, I may have to reward her with a permanent name change.

Be strong my Glitter Girl!

Advertisements

We Are Open!

_MG_0036milford

I am confident in saying that spring has sprung.  I do realize that six days ago we were in the midst of an ice storm, but on a warm sunny day like today who could argue that better days are not just around the corner.  Or better yet, just around next week.  It’s been a long, snowy, Canadian winter in Ontario and we are all looking forward to striding outside without all the fuss and muss of countless layers.

IMG_8288

And with those warm spring and hot summer days ahead, I am here to remind you of all we have to offer here in Milford, Prince Edward County.  Yes, this is an unabashed self promotion, but also a genuine concern for your vacation needs.  Let’s call it a public service announcement that include some perks for me.

IMG_8279

I like to remind you that we have three rooms to rent at South.  Each suite is 750 square feet, with it’s own living and dining area, kitchenette and private bath.  There is a fully loaded communal kitchen located in the staff room for your use.  Each room has it’s own outdoor space, and BBQ.  Kids and adults alike drive for miles to jump off the Milford bridge.  We are only a 15 minute drive to Sandbanks Provincial Park which has the best beaches in Ontario, and we give you a park pass to use during your stay!  Can it get more awesome then that?

Well of course it can.

Our building is a decommissioned 1950’s elementary school.  It closed down in 2012, and we moved in in 2013.  We got to work fixing it up just so you could come visit us!  Two of our suites were former classrooms, and the chalkboards are still in those rooms.  And our third suite was the former library, principle’s and secretary’s office.  You are lying to yourself if you said you didn’t want to spend a night in the principle’s office!

We also have nine acres for you to run around.  We are both kid and dog friendly, and wheelchair accessible.

_MG_0039milford

We still have room for your spring and summer getaway, so don’t delay and book with us! You can find all our links to AirBnB from our website.

See you this season!

 

 

Year Four

IMG_4847

Four years ago today I watched my mom die.  Each year I think I won’t write about it. But I am compelled to, as today is a significant day for both me and my mother.  It is a day I put aside to ponder death, and those whom I’ve lost.  I don’t speak of my pain very often, and am not one to wear my heart on my sleeve.  I am the type who will be first in line to offer help, but last to ask for it.  I keep my sadness close to me.  Writing has helped me find my voice and my voice has solidly landed here in my blog.

My mom died three weeks before my 42nd birthday.  I thankfully saved her last voicemail wishing me a happy birthday.  I play it to myself once a year.  This year I cried when I heard the first syllable.  I cried through the whole message.  I am always hoping I will find joy in hearing her voice but it just reminds me of how incredibly sad I am that she is gone from my life, and the life of my children.  When I heard her voice, it was so apparent to me that my wound is still fresh.  It hasn’t healed over the last four years. I’ve just become better at bandaging it up and tucking it further into the crevices of my heart.  I take it out on holidays, and birthdays, and seemingly joyous events.  I unwrap a layer at a time behind closed doors and cry by myself.  My sadness is always firmly stashed back in place before I open the door and reenter the world.  I have a damn good game face.

As time passes, I always think I should be further along emotionally.  Our society is so linear. We assume that as the years pass so should our grief. There are stages, and as you go through them the process will complete.  I’m not sure grief goes away.  I think you just get accustomed to having a gaping hole in your life where your mom use to be.

My good friend suggested I listen to the podcast Caleb Wilde is a Funeral Director. Caleb suggests that grieving is a form of worship.  I think more specifically it is an extension of your love for the person who has died.  And why would you want that to go away? I want to talk about my mom, and celebrate her awesomeness.  I want to remember all of her crazy quirks, her capacity for love, her sense of humour.  I want to talk about her so she is not forgotten.  So I don’t forget.

IMG_4850.jpg

North American culture is so uptight about death.  No one talks about it.  It is as if it doesn’t exist.  You will die, as will every single person you love. It is even uncomfortable to write that last sentence because my first instinct is that it will offend some of my readers.  But it is simply a fact.  When it is going to occur is the unknown, not death itself. We need to become more familiar with death to be able to process it emotionally.  Our lack of dialogue, our need to look younger, using machines to help the sick breathe, and our customs after we die separate us from our natural and inevitable relationship we have with death.

After my mom died, I had to catch a train back to the County for my daughter’s birthday.  The funeral parlour needed me to identify my mother’s body before they sent her to the crematorium.  I was pressed for time, and asked for an earlier appointment.  The funeral director refused stating that my mom hadn’t been prepared yet.  I argued that I had watched her die, and was quite comfortable seeing her fully dead.  We compromised and I waited.  I was shown to a curtained off area.  My mom lay on a table dressed in her best casuals with too much makeup on.  She had been costumed to look more alive.  The dead don’t wear rouge or dress for company. I understand the aim of this charade was to cushion my emotions against the reality of her death, but the assumption that I needed to be shielded seemed misplaced. A clean set of clothes and some makeup wasn’t going to change the fact that she was dead.

Living is so inextricably tied to death that is seems a natural extension to mix the two together.  Pour a little death in your cup of living.  If it is going to happen to all of us, shouldn’t we speak of it more often? Shouldn’t it stumble into conversation more frequently?  I am so ready to talk about death but only do so with close friends who share the same sorrow I have.  I keep waiting for my friends who haven’t been to camp death to bring it up, but I know they don’t know what to say.  I hesitate to bring it up myself because I don’t want to be the downer friend who can’t stop talking about her dead parents and all the soul crushing details that that entails.  I don’t want to describe all the minute heartbreaks that occur when you are caring for someone who is dying.  I know that one day they may know.  When they do, I will be there when they step over to my side and join the club no one wants to join.

I would of liked to have been prepared.  I would of like to have had more meaningful conversations about death with my mom.  We joked about it.  She said she would come back and haunt me.  We even had a safe word in case her haunting was freaking me out, or I just wasn’t in the mood for a spiritual visit.  Our conversations were practical and regarded her finances, and the destination of her belongings.  We didn’t talk about my impending heartbreak because it was too close at hand.  We should of started talking about it when she was well, and we were both strong enough to confront death honestly.  I’m not sure we would of known what to say, but it would of been a beginning.

We don’t talk about death because it is uncomfortable. It tends to only become a subject of interest when someone you love is dying or already dead.  Emotions are running so high at those times that it can hard to find the words to describe your grief, and your fears.  So many of us go into the world of the dying unprepared.  As soon as we start to prepare ourselves we allow others the space to do the same, simply by opening up the conversation.

Several years ago I heard about Death Cafes.  The first Death Cafe was organized by a Swiss anthropologist in 2004.  They are “group directed discussions of death with no agenda, objectives or themes”. Strangers come together and talk about their fears, ideas, and experiences around death.  There have been thousands hosted all over the world.  I’m dying to go to one.  Yes, the pun was intended. There was one in the County a few years back but I was too overcome with grief to attend.  I want to go to one and hear what people have to say.  I know I am not the only one who wants to talk about it, but I also want to listen. It is not grief counselling, but feels similar. I feel like I may find my peeps there.

We need to begin the conversation, and continue it no matter how uncomfortable.

If you have someone who has loss someone close, take the time to reminisce with them.  Open up the space so it is no longer awkward.  You won’t hurt their heart, you’ll warm it by showing that you care enough to talk about their dead.  We don’t have to forget the people who have died. We don’t have to have closure, or get over them. We can keep them alive by remembering, and talking about them out loud, in the open.

And if a loved one is dying, bridge the gap.  They may not want to bring up death because they want to protect you.  Let them have a chance for their voice to be heard.  Be the strong one and ask them about their fears today, and their hopes and dreams after they are gone.  Be the friend they can talk to even if you can’t possibly understand what they are going through.

IMG_4849.jpg

I am going to repost the essay I wrote when I was struggling to cope after my mom’s death.  I was in a hole and couldn’t see the light.  Writing helped me process my thoughts when they were so crammed in my head that I couldn’t think straight.  It was a place where I could leave a trace of my pain, and take a break from it.  I am able to articulate on paper what I only share with a small few in person, as it pains me to hear the words.

I know there are others who have lost loved ones this year, and the pain is fresh.  Find a way to let a little of it go by talking or writing or any other medium, so you can let life back in. My friend who lost her son, told me to live for the moments between the grief.  As time passes, those moments will get longer.  It doesn’t mean you have to forget, it just means life will come back to you even though you may feel as dead as the one who died.

Relieved

I wonder if there will be a day when I don’t think about her.  At each celebration, will I forget that  she should have been here to experience it with us?  If I need advice or want to share my day, will there be a time when I don’t reach for the phone to call her?  I wonder if the time will come when I don’t relive those last few days in the hospital with her — knowing the end was coming, wishing it would come quickly, and not wanting it to happen all at the same time.

I was always very close to my mom.  She was full of adventure and laughter.  She was the kind of mom who would melt orange cheese on toast and cut it into pumpkin shapes for Hallowe’en. She would sew matching dresses for me and my favourite doll.  She would pretend that she was a kissing monster and chase me as I ran screaming around our apartment.  Often we would go on long hikes in High Park and nearby conservation areas.  My mom would pile as many neighbourhood kids as we could fit into our broken down blue station wagon.  The horn on our wagon needed to be fixed.  It would go off unannounced for an undisclosed amount of time.  My brother and I would slouch down below the window in embarrassment, while my mom would laugh and wave as people stared.  She could always see the humour in every situation.     

We didn’t have much money growing up, as she left an abusive marriage when we were young.  Not once during my childhood did she say a negative word about my father, even though there were a few to say.  She never let us know that the child support cheque hadn’t arrived, or that money was tight.  She wanted us to be happy, and to have it all.  When we moved into our small two bedroom apartment after the divorce, she let my brother and I both have our own rooms.  My mom opted for the couch in the living room for her bed.  She gave us the best she could give.  We were taught to be grateful.  There was always someone in the world who had it worse than us, and therefore there was no reason to complain.  Everything was attainable if we worked hard.  She supported everything we ever did, and truly believed that we could do it all.           

My mom had a long fourteen year battle with non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, with a little thyroid and skin cancer thrown in.  She had a brief period of remission, and then got Leukemia as a result of her past cancer treatments.  We would spend our hours together at the hospital doing the crossword puzzle.  We had our system down pat.  If she was well enough to walk in, I would drop her off, park the car, and return with our morning coffees and the paper.  When she was unable to walk, I would wheel her in and run from the car park to her side.  Once she was settled, I would bring her her coffee.  It was never drunk on those days.  I didn’t need to hear the doctor tell me that her blood counts were too low, or that she had an infection.  I always knew from the untouched Tim Horton’s coffee.  We got to know the other patients in the Hematology clinic, not by name but by symptoms.  We would talk about how the overweight guy who always wore overalls wasn’t looking very well, or the skinny lady with her chatty husband was walking and not using her wheelchair, or that young mother who sometimes brought her daughter no longer needed her IV.  If one of the regular faces wasn’t there it was never discussed.  I think we both secretly hoped that they had miraculously been cured.  There was an unspoken desire for everyone to get well.  If they could beat cancer, then there was hope for all of us, both the ones in the waiting room and the ones yet undiagnosed.      

My mom did countless rounds of chemotherapy, and radiation, in addition to a stem cell and bone marrow transplant.  She lost her hair and her sense of taste many times but they came back.  My mom always came back.  She was a fighter until the day she died.  She never gave up until I told her she could.  One of the hardest things I ever had to do was tell my mom that she was dying.  She didn’t need to have her blood work done, or take her medication.  She didn’t need to eat or drink.  It was ok to let go. 

She died the next day. 

There is relief in death that is seldom spoken of. I am relieved that my mom no longer suffers, that it isn’t a struggle for her to eat, swallow, breathe.  All the things that healthy people take for granted every day become near insurmountable challenges when you are fighting to stay away from death’s door.  I am relieved that my mom doesn’t have to watch the seasons pass through a hospital window.  She was such a lover of nature.  She found pleasure in the simplicity and never ending beauty of all animals, and flowers.  She drank it all in.  She would marvel at the intricacy of an insect’s wing, and be equally awed by the expanse of a colourful sky.  I am relieved that she is no longer tired, or nauseated, or just sick of being sick.

I am also relieved for myself.  Most caregivers don’t allow themselves the freedom to be relieved after a loved one has died.  My mom was an oncology nurse for 18 years.  She saw death every day, and knew the anguish those left behind endured. There is no shame in relief.  It does not negate the love you feel for the one you lost.  There should be no guilt.  We need to tell ourselves and others to let that relief flow.  We need to allow ourselves one soft landing in a world of sadness.

I did all I could to help my mom while she was alive and while she was dying.  But I am relieved.  I am relieved that I don’t have to spend countless hours every week at Princess Margaret Hospital.  I am relieved that I don’t have to watch her struggling to suck liquid up her straw because she lacked the strength.  I am relieved that I don’t have to watch her skin slowly turn dark yellow from liver failure.  I am relieved that I don’t have to wipe her mouth when she can’t.  I am relieved that I no longer have a front row seat at death’s dance.  I am relieved that I don’t have to put my life on hold for her illness.  I am relieved that I no longer feel so helpless.  I am relieved that I don’t have to demand that the doctors do something, anything to stop my mom from dying. 

I miss her.

I’ve dreamt of my mom twice since her death.  The first dream was the night before her funeral.  We were at the Art Gallery together, laughing and rushing to the next installation.  “You know mom, they told me you were dying.”  My mom looked at me with a mischievous smile and said “Well then, I’d better go see a doctor,” and ran off, taking her smile with her. 

The second dream was just last week.   I was in my daughter’s room while she was sleeping.  My mom flew through the door, and past my head.  “Mommy! Mommy!” I cried out.  She paused briefly on a window sill very high up, looked down at me and disappeared.  

I have been told that grief gets easier with time.  It is true in a way.  It changes.  The shock subsides. My daily phone calls with my mom have morphed into thoughts of her.  I no longer reach for the phone.  There are days and sometimes weeks when I feel normal, not happy, but normal.  Then it returns.  Grief goes on vacation but it always comes back.  It’s harder to get out of bed, to enjoy life, to get outside.  I understand that these periods without grief get longer.  That one day, grief just doesn’t return.  It finds a fresh wound to thrive in, leaving me and my family room to heal. I’m still waiting for that day.  I am not convinced it will come but trust the counsel of those who have taken this journey before me.

I try to live the way my mom would have if she were here and well.  It is hard. I am not sure I am fully up to the task at the moment, but I plan to be one day.  I try to take my mom’s advice, pretending she is by my side and whispering it in my ear.  Go outside, laugh, walk your dogs, be kind, forgive, iron your clothes, have fun, play a mean game of Scrabble, love, read a good book, go on an adventure, water your plants, do a craft, and most of all be happy,

These are words we can all live by, except maybe the one about ironing.    

Screen Shot 2018-02-24 at 6.42.38 PM

            

  

 

 

 

This is your chance!

IMG_4697

Have you ever wanted to run your own store in the cutest little town?  Well here is your chance.  Our beloved store in Milford just went up for sale on Thursday.  It is the local hub of our community.  Our kids often walk here in the summer, on the way to the Milford bridge. They buy themselves a treat and then watch kids jump off the bridge into the waters below.

You can always find out the latest news at Jen’s store.  She is always good for a chat, and has her finger on the pulse of Milford.  But alas, she has other fish to fry, and is ready to move on to her next project.

Her store has a commercial kitchen, seating area, washrooms, general store and an apartment above.  You can have all this for $335,000.  But don’t delay.  It is only for sale for the next 30 days.

You can check out the full listing here.   C’mon, you know you want to.

 

Sweet Sixteen

IMG_3970

Happy birthday to me!

Above is my school photo from grade nine.  It is hands down my worst school photo of my educational career.  Funny enough, it was my dad’s favorite photo of me.  He use to carry it in his wallet, showing it to colleagues and asking them to guess my age.  He thought I looked so much older than my 13 years.

Today I am 46.  The kids and I have decided we are going to pretend it is 30 years ago.  So I am celebrating my sweet sixteenth birthday and my forty sixth all in one day.

Around my 16th birthday, I fell ill with pneumonia.  I was mostly passed out and in bed for about a week.  I could only get out of bed with the help of my brother or mom.  I barely ate or drank that week, and completely missed my sixteenth birthday.  It seemed like a tragedy at the time as most interruptions do at that age.  But nonetheless, it was missed and must be celebrated.  There will be sixteen candles on my cake, but I will receive forty six patty whacks. I guess I have to take the bad with the good.

My day has been great so far.  I was showered with cuddles from all my significant others first thing in the morning.  Ruby made me breakfast, Wini brought me a perfect coffee with steamed milk, and Reya baked me a chocolate cake from scratch.  We made the snowy trek to Wellington to go for lunch, where we had had multiple laughing fits over family jokes, and planned our adventures for 2018.

We are now back at home, snuggled in by the fire, with a family movie planned for tonight and individually dressed nachos by Jess on our dinner menu.  Perfectly simple for this 16 (+30) year old.

 

 

 

The Journey

IMG_3811

We have just returned from a lovely, warm trip to Florida.  Sandy beaches, short wearing, pool swimming, ice cream eating, tropical wildlife and sight seeing filled our lazy days.  After several long days of driving, we returned to our frigid abode.  We have a unique home with a equality unique heating system.  It is hard for us to leave in the winter months as we have a manual heating system.  Our wood stove heats our gym, and our wood pellet boiler heats the rest of our home.  Both need daily attention.  Jess fills our pellet boiler twice a day and I load our wood stove countless times as I like it to be roaring and toasty in the gym as it is our main living space.  To leave for a week, we have to shut it all down.  Jess blew out our water pipes and turned our water off.  We filled buckets of water for impending toilet flushes, and made sure we knew where are cozy slippers were.

After a 14 hour drive Monday night, we returned to a chilly home.  The pipes had frozen despite the antifreeze, and Jess was up until 4 am getting our system back on track.  We stocked the fire and put mattresses on the floor around the stove and had a good old fashion camp out in the gym to get us through the night.  Two days later, it is almost back up to comfortable temperatures but we still need our slippers close by.

I have never driven to Florida before.  I realize it is not a novel concept and many people have done it before us.  It was quite manageable with three kids and two large dogs in the back.  Sitting in a car for 12-14 hours a day naturally inspires a certain amount of navel gazing.  Although it was hard to even find my navel amongst all the snack wrappers, dog hair and take out food, I did manage to have a few thoughts on the road.  As Jess did all the driving, I was well stocked with books, magazines, movies and podcasts to fill my hours.  Surprisingly, I mostly just looked out the window.  I thought a fair bit about what sort of entertainment I had brought and why.  I had three large bags at my feet.  One was full of coloured pencils, a colouring book, a sketch book, my embroidery project, books titled Drawing Figure Drawing, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, and The Artist’s Way.   My other bag was stuffed with design magazines, a giant Rohinton Mistry novel, and another sketch/note book.  The third bag was filled  mostly with DVDs for my kids, as I couldn’t master illegal downloading on the fly, and two for me: BBC’s Pride and Prejudice miniseries, and a documentary on Fran Lebowitz.

So what is the theme here? Let’s work backwards.  I found my DVDs at Value Village and I have never enjoyed a miniseries more than Pride and Prejudice so that’s an easy 6 hour kill.  I may become a Colin Firth stalker in my next career, but that is fodder for another post.  I am going to hear Franny speak in Toronto in April, so there is that.  The rest of my bundle of treats combine art and design, with a little design and art on the side.

From an early age, my mom told me to never depend financially on a man and to always have a job.  She had left England at 16 to become an au pair in New York, met my dad, and had two kids.  By the time I was seven, my parents were divorced, and my mom still had us kids but also lacked any marketable skills for the job force.  This is not a sob story, and that divorce was the best thing that ever happened to the three of us.

My mom had always wanted to be a nurse.  While working a low paying job, with little financial support or childcare, my mom went to night school and became a nurse.  She was a superstar, and a damn good oncology nurse.  She may not have been the most technically minded nurse out there, but boy did she kick every nurses ass on the love and compassion front.

IMG_3969

I took her advice to heart.  I have agonized over what career to have since I was 12 years old. My career plans have changed as frequently as my age.  I always wanted a job in the arts but it didn’t seem like the path to stable employment.  So I looked the other way, and marched down the road of practicality. I choose my second degree not on interest but on future job prospects.  I researched which educational stream would provide the most job options in my geographical area and chose accordingly.  I am even boring myself thinking about it right now.  Automation was a thing of the future so off I went and enrolled in a robotics program.  I was top of my class and got a good job that I excelled at.

And then I gave birth three times in three years, and fully depended on my man financially for years to come.  I had no energy for any job in my sleep deprived, diaper filled world other than parenting.  Sorry about that mom.

But don’t you worry, it has all worked out so far.  We have made some unconventional decisions, some wise and some not. I am currently self employed with months of unpaid work in my fiscal calendar.  If my mom was able to become a nurse amid all those obstacles, I think I should be able to be an artist with my unfettered calendar.  I am not aiming to be great, I just want to lose myself in the process.

I am turning 46 in a few days.  This is the year I am going to embrace the impractical, and the whimsical, and throw logic to the wayside.  I will still look the same when you see me.  I won’t be walking around town unbathed, hair matted and speaking in tongues.  I will still be me but I am going to open that door that I closed long ago and let the light in.

I am going to use The Artist’s Way as my guide, and my starting point.  I bought it in 1991 and have never fully used it.   I have read it and thought about it but never begun it.

Tomorrow it begins.  Wish me luck.

AlysaFloridaCoffee

 

 

 

Merry Christmas and all that

IMG_E2909

On the last day of school before the holidays, a winter storm has barged in and dashed all my hopes for a little solitude before the winter break.  The school buses have been cancelled, so the kids are home and the holidays have begun.  I do love a white Christmas.  Snow makes all the below freezing temperatures worthwhile.  It is also much easier to kick those lounging kids outside for some exercise.  It does make me want to hibernate and cuddle up with a good book in front of the fire, but I am also quite keen to get some use out of my cross country skis this year as they were barely touched last winter.  When I lived in Montreal in my twenties, my first winter was unbearable.  I had never experienced a colder, or snowier environment ever in my life.  It wasn’t until I started cross country skiing that I started to look forward to the snowy winters.

Snow also makes Christmas seem much more festive.  Without snow, Christmas can seem like an orgy of forced consumerism.  At least with snow, the consumerism orgy is a little more aesthetically pleasing.  There is always that someone at an orgy that you did not want to see naked.  A little snow obscures your view just enough to make everyone beautiful.

img_2903.jpg

When did humans start needing all this stuff?  How can there be a list of goods wanted every year?  I know it is tempting to want what that other guy has, but isn’t everyone tired of having so many things? We try and downplay the gifts and up sell the giving around here.  Each of my kids chooses a charity to donate to each year, and can submit a small wanted list.  I do some of my shopping at the thrift store, some new, and a lot of homemade.  We were the lucky recipients of a bin of felted wool (thank you CakeTin Hats), and have all been crafting our little hearts out for most of the month.  I am sure Jess will be thrilled with his one lumpy slipper I have made him.  He has size 15 feet so I am not sure he has had a pair of slippers that has ever fit him properly.  His dream of well fitting slippers may not be realized with Lumpy #1, but we have high hopes for Lumpy #2 which may appear after Santa is long gone.

img_2911.jpg

I know for many people Christmas is about Christ and not the gifts.  But when you are married to an atheist, God not only plays a minor role during this season but he is sometimes completely cut from the show.  My stepmother has visited us twice in the last 6 weeks.  She brings a steady dose of God and his pals to our house when she is here.  I am all for the religious education of my kids, as I would like them to be well informed and able to make up their own minds regarding religion.  I want their knowledge to be well stocked when they have that believer/non believer debate sometime in their adult life.

However you celebrate your holidays, let them be merry and full of love.  I hope you have food to eat, a dry roof over your head, and loved ones by your side. Be grateful for the people at your table, as they may not be there next year.  Be kind, not just to the nice ones but the grumps too.  Sometimes the grumps need your kindness the most.  Be gracious, we are all just doing the best we can right now, even when our best is a bit crumpled around the edges.  If you have nothing to bring to the table, bring love.  Love and forgiveness will take you far beyond the holidays and into the new year.

Love to you all this holiday season and may all your wishes come true!

IMG_2517