27 03 2014

Oh March.

You silly little month. Sometimes you gift us unbelievably warm days where our cheeks and noses pink up from the sun and bare arms are warm and tingly. Days where a cold cider or beer tastes so good, sipped on the deck while that sunshine warms up everything. You’ve pruned, raked, burned, plucked, mucked everything, and then you reward yourself in the late afternoon on your dusted-off deck furniture you’ve finally rescued from storage.

Days that are the promise of what is to come. Hot days, sun, beers with your best friends. Sitting on the deck in midsummer, the sounds of sprinklers and motorcycles hum in the distance. God, summertime is just the best isn’t it??? I mean, I love every season for its own distinct beauty, (you all know me + winter = skiing/heaven. I love my winters SO much)  but nothing and I mean NOTHING beats summer time.

So, this brings me back to March. You tease us with warm days, delightful foreshadowing, and then you drop the bomb on us: freezing rain, sleet, 8 cms of snow, wind. It just SUCKS. You know what March is? TRANSITION, my friends. Where we all have to dig deep and bear with it. BREATHE IN AND OUT. Just like birth, those last 2 centimeters of dilation where you think you’re going to lose your freakin’ mind…. Take each day with whimsy and humour. Hahah, Mother Nature, fuck you and that muddy slop out there, crusted over with a sliver of ice… I am wearing a skirt with no leggings and I DON’T CARE.

One day soon it will be April and tulips everywhere will be standing proud, chock full of Hallmark Easter colours. Sun will shine and bike rides will be new again. Baseballs and soccer balls litter the deck. Those damn birds wake us up at 4 am with their incessant and delightful chatter. (It’s kind of okay to waken that early; the light and breath of air is alarming in its pleasant vigour) Chocolate eggs and coffee in the morning? Yes please.

May is soft rains and the full moon over the “Swooping Swallow” across the lake behind Procter. Mosquitoes squeal incessantly in your ears and hummingbirds remember their feeder in your yard. Windows wide open! If you’re lucky, you’ve been wearing shorts for a few days and your legs are no longer blindingly white.

June can be a bit of a dirty whore around these parts. She brings epic rains, closed soccer fields and floods down Baker Street, where ski bums hoist their kayaks out and paddle around the main drag while people laugh and take pictures to post to Instagram. Everything is lush. Trees are drunk with spring rain, the green is almost gaudy.

Finally, the heat arrives with July. When it’s warm at 6 am and HOT by 9. Gardens act like leggy teenagers, growing inches overnight. The water in our lake no longer bites, but envelopes us. Light lingers late into the evening allowing lazy swims just before bed.

This is when my soul exhales, even though I haven’t even been aware she was holding her breath. We made it another year, summer is finally all around us. We can relax, paint our toenails and laugh more freely.

It is all in front of us, every single delicious moment. Take a look around and savour it, this wanton anticipation. The reward is almost here.

Girl Power.

1 03 2014

Recently I was tagged by a friend to post a selfie, wearing no makeup. The idea behind this is to promote acceptance and self-esteem among our young women and girls who constantly struggle with being OK with who they are.

I really liked this idea and even being sick, I felt the need to post my No Makeup Selfie this morning…. I have a daughter who will turn 13 this summer and I am constantly aware of my influence  on her and her friends. She is lucky as she has a full range of Other Mothers to take cues from, to learn and grow from.

But still, even being adamant that I wouldn’t EVER talk about feeling fat in front of her, or put myself down or bemoan my jiggly ass or chunky thighs, she is still hard on herself. I hear her talk about how she hates her face, she’s too tall, her legs are fat, she’s ugly. It tears my heart out. Not because she is the exact opposite of all this, but because despite me doing all the right things like talking about media influence and self-worth and how truly hard it is to be a girl sometimes and promoting her wit and empathy and intelligence above her looks, she STILL does what I did, what we all did.

I wonder, is it an inherent girl thing? Is it something we all go through on some level regardless of our upbringing? I deflected it as much as I could and here she is, still on a journey of self-hate and personal degradation.

We talk, her and I. I believe there is a little tiny jelly bean of hope in her heart that truly listens to my words. I say to her that she is kind and fun. That her mind is strong and smart. Her body can run and swim and kick a soccer ball and she can ski 90 k/hour with a lackadaisical manner that defies logic. I say she is loyal and sweet, but with a touch of stubbornness and temper that can be pruned and urged into a powerful force, which means she will never ever be pushed around. And lastly, I do tell her she is beautiful. That her eyes are the colour of the lake on a summer’s day and her smile brightens rooms, but that is never her most important attribute. I think that she does hear me, and while there is more powerful influences in her life right now, she knows she can always believe her Mama.



26 02 2014

Oh, how my heart broke to hear of another life taken by our mountains. So young and handsome was that young man, swept away by a tumultuous flurry of snow. I think of his mother, his family, his lover and his friends and how they must all be clinging together, in a desperate measure to move forward without his smile and spirit.

I hear too, the angst of opinions regarding back-country touring. I read the comments on the article about his death and was appalled at the brashness of judgment: stupid choices, he should have known better, when will these people learn?

And while I can understand the passion behind this, my first thought was please do not say these things while this young man’s family and loved ones mourn his passing. He died! Regardless of how, the ones who love him must move forward in some manner of normalcy, fumbling around for sense and seeking solace. They never have to hear negative comments, they should not read that he should have known better.

You see, when you love the mountains, you do know all the inherent risks. You challenge yourself, you educate yourself, you knowingly take the risk for the love of life experience. For every life taken too soon, there are countless others enjoying the beauty, the rush, the thrill of the back country. On any given day in the winter, we see trucks laden with snowmobiles, groups of smiling faces placing skins on skis, snow-shoers packing tea and compasses to take with them. They do all this with a passion. A passion of recognizing the risk that the mountains give and yet they embrace it fully with the love of the experience deep within. It’s not like they want to die doing something they love; rather they get off the couch with intent of living their own life with adrenaline-infused experiences that give them something they need.

I ski, and I ski fast. I wonder…. if I crashed and died, would others come down on my choices? Would my death be found riddled with fault? Would I be blamed? I hope not.

As we all live in a place where mountains give us joy, we need to accept that some people take that joy and run with it. They love what they do, they do it wisely. These back-country folks who seek thigh-deep powder and fresh tracks are not uneducated buffoons who trek willy-nilly into the wilderness. They have the avalanche courses, they wear the beacons and they do NOT want to die. It is the risk they take. It is the risk anyone would take doing what they love to do.

I admire them. I hope no more lives are taken but I would never dream of telling anyone to stop. Our lives are our own choices, and to be truly alive with every cell in your body is worth it to so many.

May the family of this young man find solace in one another and his light shine on in the smiles of everyone he loved.

This is an “It’s Almost My Birthday” post.

15 02 2014

So I’m going to turn 43 in just over a month.


43!!! Like, if that was a chapter in a book, you might almost be done the book. Just let that sink in…. let it percolate. 43. Man, this life is zipping by, gang. But it’s sure been a fun (and bumpy) ride so far…. Let’s hear it for the next 43! (At least). Am I right?

As my birthdays approach, I have been known to get introspective. It got me thinking this year that I kind of like the wrinkles around my eyes. No…wait. I LOVE the wrinkles around my eyes. If they represent every laugh I have ever had with everyone I love in my life so far, then it’s a great thing to see every giggle and guffaw compressed into little creases around my eyes! By my estimation, if wrinkles are caused by laughter, then I will be one WRINKLY old lady if I make it to 100…. Because I love to laugh. I expect a few people I know will be just as wrinkly… ;-)

Anyways, as I begin this part of my journey, this trip that is known as my MID-40s, I am also super proud of being in shape. (This is where some people might click that red X in the corner. Ugh, they think, here she goes again about working out, as they roll their eyes). I am in better shape now than when I was 23. Back then, I was a drinker and a smoker and I liked to party.  I ate a lot of chips, smoked a lot of smokes and drank a lot of drinks. And partied a lot of parties. (Also I had a lot of sex. LOL, sorry Mom!). But then I met a guy, and then shacked up with that guy. We still partied and stuff, but then we smartened up, had a couple kids, got married somewhere in the mix, and you know, got wiser…. and along the way I got into a healthy way of living. Wow, do I ever love it!

I lift weights and run. I hike. I ski. Evenings of yoga and long swims in the lake. I can do 100 wall balls in 6 minutes. I am sadistically addicted to the muscle soreness of pushing myself.

I said to two girls this week after working out that I feel different in my body now. Like somehow I am more centered. I feel compact and strong. Aligned. It’s a lot of effort to feel this way: it isn’t easy, but it’s worth it. Lugging that laundry up the stairs is no problem anymore. Splitting wood at my in-law’s is no problem anymore.

I hope that this doesn’t come across as braggy. I’m just super-dooper happy with my existence and I wanted to share it with you all. But it’s with everything in life: we all grow and change and evolve. We all have our own journey.

I am more willing to just be happy and not make major issues out of bullshit. I talk to my kids. I express my opinion with less guilt now. I take pride in my job. I bake cookies and muffins and I delight in watching things like Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad and Vikings. I say YES more than NO, but when I say no, I have zero guilt about it. I have the bestest friends and the greatest kids and the lovingest family and the dedicatest husband and the funniest laughs. But, I also sink low with sad times, I struggle with self-hate, I find my joy and carry on. I fuck up and do stupid things but then I try to make it right and forgive myself and move on. I can be a real asshole sometimes. I swear like a trucker. If I love you, I will have your back any time. I tried painting and sucked at it. I have a bit of a temper. I sometimes judge people. But every day I feel myself get a little bit better.

If that is what it is to get older, then I think I’m getting the hang of it all. Learning to embrace the wrinkles makes it that much easier. And knowing that I can physically kick some serious ass…. well, that is the yummy icing on this delicious cake of my life.

Remember when…

8 02 2014

The first hints of springtime are still a few weeks away, but I already feel my spirit start to lift at the longer light during the day, the higher cast of the sunlight through my windows and the calendar being mere weeks away from the equinox.

I remember spring as a child. Growing up in a colder valley, the winter months were darker and icier and snowier than where I live now. Those first few days of thaw that brought in the scent of spring were treasures beyond measure: urging my mother to boot her kids outside after digging in the trunk for the spring jackets. We donned these light coats with glee and waiting impatiently for Dad to grab our bikes from the shed. They were dusty and creaky. We’d wipe them down, he’d oil up the gears. It was never fast enough for us, my sister and I anxiously watching all the other neighbourhood kids riding circles around the street.

Finally, he’d roll the bikes over to us and away we’d go. Usually there were still dirty snowbanks reluctantly hanging on, little overhangs of ice along the gutters as the melt rushed along underneath. We’d ride and crack the ice and crumble the snowbanks, getting our bike legs back, the melted ice spraying our backs with mud.

The one thing that I remember the most is the popping sound of the gravel under my tires as I pedaled endlessly around our street. The sand left behind from the gravel trucks puffed up behind us and the tires would shoot bits of rock away. The crisp tings and pops of the stuff ricocheting off the edges of our tires were the sounds of spring to me. The chickadee’s song came later and made my spirits soar like no other, but to this day when I hear the crunch and pop of gravel under a bike tire, I am again a 10 year old girl, hair in pigtails, cruising Mountain Ash Crescent on my banana seat bike, feeling that cool air stream over my face. I can taste the dust, I can hear the shrieks of laughter, I can feel the grips in my hands. It brings me joy to this day of unequaled strength, a mystical remembrance of days gone by that are still alive in my heart.

So keep the faith my winter friends. In just a few short weeks, that wind will change from icy to fresh. Our windows will be flung open and the birds will dance with glee. And on those days, I wish you nothing but child-like joy in welcoming Spring back to us.


30 01 2014

Just something I’ve been writing. Feedback would be great, thanks!

There he stood, on the porch, by the front door, his hat clutched in his right hand. Sunlight lit up behind him. His hair glowed, infused with reddish glints. Grace rose and walked to him, even though she knew her mother’s eyes were staring at the back of her head with spite and anger at the loss of motherly control.

“I know I’m not what you thought I’d be for your daughter, ma’am.” Ruffie spoke over Grace’s shoulder. “But you have my word I’ll always provide for her and love her like I do right now.”

He switched his gaze into Grace’s eyes when the indignant huff and retreating footsteps indicated disgust and reluctant acceptance from Grace’s mother.

“You know I will, don’t you Grace?” He closed the distance so that she could smell the fresh sweat and wood smoke on his skin. He leaned his face in nearer to hers. “You know that, don’t you?”

Her answer for him was a deep breath exhaled and a tiny nod. Blush rose from her neck as the giddy joy of standing so near to him flooded through her body. He raised his empty hand and touched her collarbone lightly, tracing the bone and caressing her pale skin. His fingers were rough and scratchy. The touch left behind a trail of fire that burned and swirled with something she was not yet that familiar with. Whatever it was she felt now had a life of its own, and every cell became aware of everything around it. Every bit of fabric against her skin suddenly felt raw and sharp. The sun seemed to glow even brighter. The smell of the early lilacs outside became more heady and even with this fire in her belly; she felt a slight course of nausea. She steadied herself by placing her hand on the door jamb. This ghostly urge inside of her wasn’t exactly new, but she now felt there was more to this wanting and need that seemed to haunt her body more and more. At night, alone in her room, she found she could conjure up this same feeling in a guilty way, touching her body and thinking of Ruffie. Standing there now, she blushed more, recalling her own self-ministrations of release.

“When I first saw you that day last spring, this is what I wanted to touch,” he whispered, and retraced the path of his caress. His breath echoed the cigar he smoked before he met with her. “You seemed so delicate. I never knew you were so strong. Standing there laughing with your friend. I never knew I could be something to you. I dreamed it though. I wanted it. I wanted you.”

She leaned in towards him, brazen in the late afternoon sun, there on the porch. And then she kissed him. Only their lips met in a gentle chaste touch. She felt his chapped lips against hers. This tiny kiss, this sweet and innocent gift to each other remained just so on the outside. But Grace felt as though this kiss was the most revealing she had ever let him see her. She became naked in her own wants of this fine young man in front of her. She knew he would always be hers. That she now had control over his entire being. This good and kind man would give her his heart and soul and she wanted to nurture that and care for him always. She wanted to give him back all that he gave her. And under this all, Grace was shocked to find herself wanting to tear all his clothes off and attack his body with a passion now awake, pacing and growling within her own body.

They broke the kiss and smiled at each other. Unspoken understanding was theirs already. He winked at her, and she knew that he felt this passion too, and she also knew that he guessed at her own lustful thoughts. They broke out in huge guffaws together.

“I’ll come by for you tomorrow at 11. Give you time so you can sort things out here with your mama.”

“There’s not much to sort out Ruffie, she’s a pig-headed old cow and you know it. She’s not ever going to be happy about this, and I’d just as soon marry you right now and be done with this.”

“Lord, you are a stubborn one ain’t ya? You won’t back down either one of you. Well, this is all your own business, I guess.” He raised his eyebrow at her and she nodded. “Just don’t let it get to the point that you might have nothing left. This is your family anyhow. That’s something that lots of folks don’t have.”

She huffed at that, sounding remarkably and ironically just like her mother; the woman she detested so much. “Don’t you say a word!” she admonished when he opened his mouth to say just that. “I am nothing like her at all. Nothing.”

“Nope, then. Not at all,” he smirked and put his hat back on his head. Before turning to leave, he leaned towards her again and whispered, “Do you got any more of them kisses for me Grace? I sure wouldn’t mind another.”

“You’re a rotten scoundrel Mr. Payette, and you’re trying to make a bad girl out of me.”

“Never” he said and puckered his lips.

“That’s too bad then.” She leaned in to kiss him one more time. “I wouldn’t mind trying to be a bad girl at all.”

He grinned at her and turned and left. She watched him walk down the steps and turned onto to the street below. He walked with sureness in his step that only a man who knows that his woman loves him has.

Her mother was waiting for her in the kitchen when she came back into the house. The raised brow upon her mother’s face set off some deep-seated ire within Grace. That look, above all else, she hated the most. That look said superiority and judgment. The familiar churn in her belly set Grace’s tone for the conversation.

Grace lifted her chin and said “Now don’t you start, Mother. I will not have this argument anymore. My mind is made up, it’s modern times. I can marry whoever I want and do whatever I want and you know it.”

Grace’s mother, a woman of means and hateful beginnings, rose, with great inner difficulty and walked towards her to embrace her child. “I know. I just wish it could be different. Your father can’t bear this. I cannot say I can either. But I would not be a good Christian if I didn’t say what’s on my mind. He’s a poor miner. He shuns the church. He’s rough. I can’t stand by and watch you lower yourself and not say a thing at all.”

Grace stiffened in her mother’s arms. “This whole town was built by men like Ruffie. Why, you and Father wouldn’t be where you are if it weren’t for men like him. All this money you have to buy you all that you want and need? It comes from men like him.”

She stepped back and looked into her mother’s face. Louise was a strong woman, with clear blue eyes, her face lined and hair a bit gray at the temples, but she still held herself in a fashionable regard, and kept her figure neat. Grace’s own face was a stark reminder to Louise of her own youth, long passed. Louise wondered to herself how her daughter could be the one to defy her family. Then she recalled all the times that Grace had tried her patience as a child, and a rueful smile crossed her lips. Climbing trees. Cussing. Stealing licorice whips from the mercantile. Tearing out the ribbons from her hair and throwing them in the dirt after church, in front of all the other horrified mothers. Running naked across the lawn. Hearing whispers of Grace sneaking out to see this man when she had been forbidden to see him. Louise felt as if she might fall backwards with how much love and hate it stirred within her. This young woman standing in front of her, with a stern look and desperate eyes. Did she really come from me? wondered Louise.

“I’m marrying him tomorrow. We’ll be at the courthouse just past noon. If you want to see me marry, I would love to have you and Father there.” The lie felt sour on her tongue.

Her mother looked at her feet, and shook her head. “I … I can’t Grace. You know your father. I can’t. You don’t understand. Your father, he’s… he can be so difficult.” She looked into her daughter’s eyes. “You’re better than this, Grace Caldwell. Your father and I raised you up to be a good daughter and a good wife to someone better than that.” Grace stared hard, and before Louise dropped her gaze, Grace saw the conflict there.

“Fine,” Grace said. “It’s clear to me that you are spiteful and hateful. I don’t understand you, Mother. I never will. I wish you would stand up to Father. And you know I am just as stubborn as you are anyways There’s not a thing you can say to me to make me change my mind.”

She left the kitchen and went to her bedroom, where her trunk sat on the floor, open and full of all her belongings. She regarded her dresses and petticoats and all of her other belongings nestled inside, and then kicked the trunk as hard as she could.

Louise heard the violent thud, knowing her daughter’s fierce temper not unlike her father’s, and dropped her face into her hands and wept.

Oh, how sweet it was.

22 01 2014

Someone asked me the other day to sum up our little trip to Mexico in one sentence. I thought about it for several days, letting various words dance in my mouth, the structure and play of sentences whirl around my mind like dervishes. Words like tantalize, ache, heat and love, surf and salty breath, sticky, delicious, satisfaction: they all teased me, almost in a sexual way. Erotica in the form of sand and sunshine? Maybe.

But I just couldn’t do it. There was too much to gather, to reveal and to acknowledge, regardless if I jammed it all into a long, run-on, overly wordy sentence jam-packed with semi-colons and pro-nouns and commas and adjectives.

What did come to me was each long drawn out day. Each one arrived with me waking at dawn, sliding out from the covers to peek outside at the sky. I’d stretch and yawn, and marvel at how we still had ___ days left. Each day breaking was like a ribbon, it stretched out before me, waving in that warm tropical breeze. I couldn’t see the end of it, as every moment was NOW. We moved in slow motion, grabbing coffees and heading to the playa to watch that marvelous ball of heat rise from the ocean waves. Pelicans gliding above the water, backlit against orange, tilting each way to play their wings along the surface of each crest. The wind blowing back my hair, feeling that warmth on my my face. Breakfasts with laughter and mimosas and pain au chocolat. Sunscreen slathered, towels gathered. Waves pushing and pulling us to their whims. Fish swarming by, flashing blue and yellow and sparkly silver. Lunch? Yes please! Pico de gallo smothering thick crunchy tortilla chips, finished off with cervezas or margaritas. A stroll to discover treasures amongst the rocks, spotting the camouflaged iguanas. Swimming again, wondering how I can be so sticky from the salt water. Laying down on the beach chairs: that magical afternoon beach nap, where you hover in between true sleep and that blissful zone of awareness without connection. Hearing half a dozen languages around you. Finding out how easy Spanish words roll out of my mouth. Knowing your nose needs more sunscreen and not really caring. Oh, wait! It’s almost supper! Meandering back to the villa to shower off and change as the sun sets. But here in the tropics WHAM, it’s dark almost instantly. There’s no foreplay with these sunsets. Rather than a long, drawn-out dance of colours, like making slow love, hovering and teasing between light and dark for an hour, they are more of a quick and dirty tryst, a quick and furtive knee-knocker, the light is bright orange and then dark…. but both are equally satisfying. No need to bundle up, folks. We walk to dinner in our sleeveless dresses, t-shirts and shorts. We laugh and eat and laugh some more. Check out the entertainment, or maybe another moonlit stroll on the sand? Whatever….We roll with it, we cease to tell time. We relax so deeply and breathe so easy. We vacation in that true sense.

Each day dawns with one purpose. To live in the moment. We stop counting days to when we go home: rather we marvel at how much time we still have here. Oh, it was heaven, and it stays with me still. The echoes of that scent of the air, the smiles of my kids, the peace in my heart, the sand between my toes.  The utter contentment we all felt.


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