Friday, December 26, 2008

images

It took a while, but I finally managed to upload some pics from my camera. Here's a wee visual glimpse of my life.....The photos are in no order whatsoever because that's how Blogger uploaded them.

The town I work in:



My puppy waits for his winter outing:



Girl with a broken leg:




My reward for shoveling all that snow:



My street in winter:







My attempt at a self-portrait after coaching from my teenage nieces:



Emily opening her favourite gift - a pink poodle webkinz:



Me on Christmas Eve with the re-decorated tree:




My kitchen. I love my kitchen. That's one thing I will be sad at leaving behind when I move:



The tree (before it fell...it looks much the same now):






Thursday, December 25, 2008

christmas weather timeline

December 23 7:00 pm: Snow. Megan's boyfriend shoveled the driveway.



9:00 pm: More snow. N came over to see Emily and shoveled again.



December 24, 7:00 am: Judging from what I see out the window, at least 30 cm (12 inches) of snow fell last night. You can't tell that anyone shoveled.



7:30 am: It's raining.



7:45 am: The snowplow drives down our street and dumps a ton of snow at the end of my driveway.



7:50 am: I leave for work and discover said snow. Heavy and wet, and at least 2 feet of snow to shovel out. Good thing I gave myself an hour to get there.



7:52 am: I realize I am about to do serious injury to my back.



7:53 am: Enter neighbour with shovel. Hallelujah!



8:45 am: I arrive at work to discover that the only kids there belong to the child care workers. Everyone else stayed home.



12:45 pm: A small shot (very small because I'm driving) of home made Bailey's. mmmmmmm....



1:30 pm: Home again. Roads are wet and flooding, as the huge snowbanks melt and more rain falls.



3:45 pm: I begin the drive to St. Marys. Rain and wet roads.



9:45 pm: Time to leave my parents' house. N drives the Focus and I drive my parents' vehicle, some kind of SUV, but dad assures me it has good winter tires.



9:46 pm: Gee, it's windy. Good thing the snow is wet and heavy. There are a few flurries.



9:52 pm: I hit highway 7. Snow is scudding across the road. The puddles on the edge are still wet, no ice. The flurries are coming down faster, but there's not enough accumulation to worry about. The wind rocks the car. Emily is looking for Santa out the window. She thinks she can see him.



9:58 pm: I can drive through Stratford, which is about a 15 minute time delay, or Ican take a back road to Kitchener, which runs through Tavistock. I never drive that way in bad weather, and it's a bit windy. If I take highway 7 through Stratford I run the risk of hitting unsalted ice and heavier traffic. I turn right.



10:00 pm: Cool. Lightning.



10:02 pm; Okay, it's snowing now. These are not flurries. And it's windy. I can see about 20 feet in front of me. I slow down. The wind batters the car. Swirling whiteness. Emily wants me to help her look for Santa and I tell her that I'm too busy trying to stay on the road.



10:10 pm: Good thing I know this road like the back of my hand. I know where the bad spots are. Where there are open areas, it is very difficult to see.



10:15 pm: "Emily, sweetie, can you sit very quietly for a few minutes? Mommy needs to concentrate on the road."



10:20 pm. Tavistock. Streetlights. Visibility. Sometimes on the other side of Tavistock the weather can take a dramatic turn for the better. My fingers are crossed.



10:25 pm: Leaving Tavistock. I hit my first whiteout about 1 km out of town. Seriously. I can't see in front of me at all. I can't find the yellow line. I am driving blind.



10:26 pm: Hazards on. I suspect that N is right behind me, but I'm not sure. At least the vehicle I'm driving has some height, which makes visibility easier. He's a good driver. he keeps his distance. There is no one in front of me - if I could see tail lights ahead, I would feel better somehow.



10:35 pm: I'm driving at about 20 km/hour (less than 10 mph). I am ready to pull over, but if I do, someone from behind might hit me. When I see oncoming traffic I simultaneously panic and rejoice. I'm still on the road, but oncoming headlights make it difficult to see. I really don't remember driving through conditions this bad before, and I've been driving back roads through snowstorms since I was 16. I'm talking out loud constantly at this point, trying to keep myself calm.



10:38 pm: I must be somewhere near Punkeydoodle's Corners. Dangerous, blind curve, and five point intersection. I can't see a thing. There have been a lot of fatal accidents at this location, and I don't want to be part of those stats. I call on whatever divine help I can muster. Gods, goddesses, angels....please help me get through this curve and home safely.



10:39 pm: The snow stops. Completely.



10:42 pm: I navigate the curve and make it to Highway 7.



10:43 pm: Icy and slow going, but I can see. Lots of Christmas Eve travelers who don't know how to drive in winter.



11:15 pm: My driveway. Sweet relief. My legs are like jelly, and my hands are still shaking. N has followed me all the way home, and gives me a thumbs-up as he carries on to his place. Emily is still awake, has been sitting like an angel for the last hour, and now wants to put her cookies and milk out for Santa.



It's Christmas, and I'm home safe. What more can I ask for? I feel blessed just to be alive and safe today, and I'm blessed with family, friends and people that aren't in my life yet, who I am about to meet...



ETA: One of my favourite writers, Jane Urquhart, once spoke about how writing was shaped by our landscape. For me, the landscape is not so much the cold as the snow that drifts across the road, the snow that sculpts itself into curves and crescents over the banks left by the plow. It's the whiteness, the swirling unknown that I walk or drive into. It's the wind above my head as it sighs through the trees. It's the solitude of a snowy walk through an uncharted cemetery near my house. And it's the warmth of home as I gaze out at the cold....and although I didn't mention it in my post, my Christmas Eve with my family was frenetic, wonderful, busy. I am driving back for more of the same this afternoon.













Tuesday, December 23, 2008

rambling right along

It's been awhile since I've been here. Oh well, 'tis the season, I suppose. Too much to do - baking, decorating (or in my case, re-decorating, at least the tree), braving the malls with teenager in wheelchair - you think navigating crowds are bad, try moving through the masses with a wheelchair bound kid who has an uncasted broken leg.

And I try to keep it simple. I'm not really a Christmas person - I'm more of a Yule person. December 21, winter solstice, is the part of the season that I really love. I celebrated Yule with my "sisters" (I have a coven, we are now eight in number), in a beautiful, quiet way last Saturday. Some pagans see Yuletide as a return to the light - we are heading into longer days, and many pagans recognize solstice as a time of rebirth and new beginnings. Perhaps it's because of the climate, but I (and my coven) view solstice in a slightly different light. Although the days are starting to get longer, it is still dark. And it's cold. We stay inside, we keep ourselves warm, we wait, like the earth, for the warmth of the spring to renew us. Underneath the blanket of snow, things are stirring, there is life, but that life is quiet, contemplative, dark. I call winter the dark time. And I love it. What I dream in winter comes to life in the spring.

We celebrate Christmas as well - my family is Catholic, and Christmas has always been a time for family, a time for celebration. So there is still a lot of running around, visiting, preparations to be made. We're traveling to my parents' on Christmas eve, to spend our time sharing gifts and food. We've celebrated this way since I was a child. The only difference is that now I don't go to mass on Christmas Eve - I used to, and I sang in our choir for many years. I love the carols still, but hate the sitting and standing, and the prayers, prayers that are contrary to what I believe now - such as "I confess to Almighty God, to you my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault. In my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done, and what I have failed to do".....some things will be with me until I die, whether I want to remember them or not.

Once in a while, if I happen to be in church, I still make the sign of the cross. It bugs me because I have a problem with participating in an institution that is both misogynistic and homophobic, and so I stay away.


We have had a lot of snow this year, more than usual. Sometimes I just want to wrap myself up in a warm blanket and hibernate the winter away, dreaming, writing, curled up warm and comfortable while I watch the snow fall. But I love the snowflakes, the wind, the smooth curve of drifted, unblemished snow, walking at night under the streetlamps, alone. And don't let anyone tell you that miniature poodles are delicate creatures - my wee doggie loves the snow, loves to be taken for walks in places where he can run through snowdrifts and chase snow as the wind carries in in swirls around his head.

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. And on Christmas morning I will have only one of my girls in the house - the oldest is spending Christmas Eve/morning with her boyfriend's family, and Emily will wake up with me, Her father will join us in the morning. My youngest will be driving with her dad to visit her other family, and I will be alone for a few hours on Christmas morning - after the gifts are unwrapped. It really doesn't bother me as much as I thought it might. I can relax a bit, drink some coffee, and gear up for another trip to St. Marys, with the older girl, for dinner. Stretches of time alone are not only bearable, but cherished, especially when a lot of life involves hurrying.

Something has shifted inside of me. Another shift, one of many that I have experienced this year. I'm contemplating life alone and I'm okay with it. For now. I'm not worried any more about how to earn a living because I'm proving to myself that I can make it financially without help, and without stress. I may have a new home in February, and the independence that will go with it - as long as I live in a house that we both share, I can never truly be independent, never shake his influence, and his subtle attempts to control. Or not-so subtle, as the case may be.

I'm growing more comfortable with my appearance - hey, when you used to weigh 300 pounds, weighing 170 is an adjustment, but it's a matter of recognizing my own face, feeling comfortable with the skin and body I was meant to have. I thought I would be curvy, and I'm not. I'm beginning to like it. My hair decided about three months ago that after 43 years of ambiguity, that it wants to be curly. I don't quite know what to do with it - I'm trying to grow it out to shoulder length, but it just keeps getting bigger instead of longer....



(I'm trying to get more comfortable with having my picture taken. It's just so damn hard to get used to.)

......my Yule gift to myself was a shopping trip. I need new clothes, because the old ones are all too big. Not that the old ones looked so hot... as a shapeless person I used to choose shapeless clothing. Now I'm actually able to accentuate something. I bought something that makes me look amazing...and if I can remember to buy batteries for the camera tomorrow, I might even post a picture.

And moment of moments, on Sunday afternoon, I walked into a lingerie store and walked out with a bra. Seriously. A bra with a single-digit cup size. A bra that fits. A bra at all....I've never been able to do that. Most of them came from the department store, untried, unfitted, and whatever style came in my size.

Well, that was a bit of a ramble. I guess that's what happens when you try to cram a week's worth of thoughts into a single post.

If I'm not back here before Christmas, I hope that everyone has a safe and happy holiday.


Saturday, December 13, 2008

reflections on a small-town Christmas parade

Points to ponder:

- in small town parades, there are generally more people in the parade than there are parade watchers.

-most of the parade participants are children. Children in costume, local youth groups, children who just feel like being there, the local hockey heroes, and big kids who get to drive expensive cars sponsored by the local dealership. And if they're really lucky, the kids may get to ride in a snowplow, a fire truck, an enormous earth-mover or a bus. There are about seven actual floats-flkatbeds with people riding. The rest of the parade seems to be comprised of large, shiny, noisy vehicles. The trucks barely fit the width of the road I'm standing on.

-watching the rest of the parade after you've marched the entire route (okay, it's a small town, the route is not that big) is not conducive to warm feet or hands.

-everyone really does know everyone else. Except me, because I don't live there.

-it is really unwise to place families with small children between the fire truck and the nifty snow plow. In the dark. With sirens and horns wailing while small kids whimper and hold their ears

- you cannot sing Christmas carols while strategically placed between a fire truck and a snow plow

-somebody must get a thrill out of having trucks drive slowly past them, with no decorations, sounding their air horns every 30 feet or so, deafening the spectators as they trundle past. It's not me.

-Tractors and snowplows with Christmas lights. Oh my.

-It is also unwise to throw candy from a float in a night parade. This sends small children scurrying into the street, directly in the path of a transport truck or a snowplow.

-I must wear winter boots next time, not hikers with wool socks. Frozen feet do not improve my humour.

-A rural community and a parade with only one live animal - a dog pulling a small cart filled with stuffed animals. Not a horse in sight, in spite of the large Mennonite population.

- No music. No marching bands, bagpipes, baton twirlers. We're talking really small town here.

-Kids love it when you recognize them and shout their names as they ride past.

-Somebody must really like transport trucks....

-Those travel mugs that all the adults are carrying? They're not filled with coffee....

-if the firetruck in the lead cannot keep a good pace, child care workers and parents pulling wagons full of children end up running down the street for brief periods of time, in order to avoid being run over by the snow plow that is following them.

-if your child is in the middle of a group of children that she likes and feels like she's part of something big, she may ask (several times) why we can't move to that small town and live there. And saying "your dad wants to see you during the week" is not a satisfactory answer as far as she's concerned.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

yesterday

Yesterday did not start out well at all.

I had planned to create a post about our weekend - the kind of weekend I love. It snowed a lot, I shoveled the drive and walked the dog - my mini poodle loves snow, and snow storms. He chases blowing snow, and buries his head in snowdrifts just for fun. We have a neighbour with a doggy pal, and when we walk together, the dogs go nuts in the snow.

Later on Saturday afternoon Meg and her boyfriend and I went grocery shopping and picked out a tree.

In many ways my eldest has shown great maturity lately. But underneath it all, she's still sometimes the little girl I nurtured and loved. In Christmases past, when she picked the tree, she would manage to pick the most unsuitable tree possible. The one with the needles falling off, or the one with the great big gaps. The tree with two tops, or missing crucial limbs. We adjusted. Once they're decorated, you can't tell the difference anyways.

I paid for the tree, and I went to get the car, to bring it to the tree yard. Meg is still using a wheelchair to get around outside the house, so we needed to load wheelchair and tree in the back of an 06 Focus. Fortunately, the trees in the Zehr's lot were pretty small. I pulled the car up to the lot, and there they were, standing proudly with one of the biggest trees I'd ever seen. Tallest, anyways, and it was wrapped, so I couldn't gauge how big it was. It fit in the trunk, barely, with the trunk open, and we drove home slowly through a typical SW Ontario squall - big wet flakes and driving winds, with paranoid me thinking that the tree was going to fall out any minute.

Once we were home, we left the tree outside. Emily was with her dad until Sunday, and we weren't putting the tree up without her. The next morning, I looked outside and noticed that the tree had rolled across the porch and was covered in snow. I went outside to prop it up against the wall - I'd rather not have all that snow indoors, thanks.

I couldn't lift it.

Now I am not small, nor am I feeble. I occasionally lift my 5 year old, who weighs about 55 pounds. I've never had a problem lifting up a Christmas tree before. Even when N was around, I was the tree person - he does not have much affinity for Christmas at all. But this darn tree was so heavy that I could barely drag it across the porch.

Meg's boyfriend put the tree up while I was out walking the dog. It is huge - it's the kind of tree that belongs in a hotel lobby somewhere, or in someone's great big vestibule in their expansive suburban house. Not in the tiny corner that we have for a tree. But we managed to make it fit, even though we can barely fit through the living room doorway.

We had a wonderful afternoon. We decorated - Meg sat in my desk chair and rolled around the living room, putting up "her" ornaments, that her uncle has been buying for her since she was a baby. The tree looked very much like the tree in the commercial, where only the lower half of the tree was decorated, because neither one of the girls could reach the top of the tree. I pitched in a bit and moved a few things. But the poor tree, it looked rather - empty. I've never had that problem before. Megan has her own ornaments, and I've been a preschool teacher for 16 years. There are three kinds of gifts that are favoured for teachers, at least preschool teachers. Candles, chocolates and Christmas tree ornaments. I usually have more than enough to fill the tree.

But it was a beautiful tree, especially after the ribbons and garland went up.

We spent the rest of the afternoon baking cookies - gingersnaps and haystacks. Meg wheeled around in the desk chair,stirring and mixing, doing everything she could. Emily sugared the tops of the gingersnaps, sang a lot, and started to become her usual overexcited self around bedtime.

Monday was a typical Monday. Nobody wanted to get up.

Tuesday morning I was lying in bed. I'd turned the alarm off already, and it was about 5:45 am. I was doing a good job of pretending that I really didn't need to get up when I heard a sound. It was a slide and a gentle tinkle, like a sheet of ice sliding off the roof. I went to the bathroom and looked outside - no freezing rain, so no ice. What could it be?

I walked downstairs. Meg was sitting in the recliner, cats at play around her feet. And there was our glorious tree.

Lying in the middle of the floor.

Okay, I'm late for work, the tree's on the floor and I can't lift the damn thing up by myself. I tried, but I accidentally put the tree in Megan's lap, which did not please her. Emily was upstairs crying and telling us that the ornaments had to go right back on the same branches she put them, and I'm swearing and sweating, and not very happy at all. Damn cats! I thought, but Megan pointed out to me that the cats had been downstairs with her when the tree fell.

I had to leave the tree, and my crying child, because it was snowing hard and I needed to get to work. I fed them breakfast, and brushed all the snow off the car. I turned my key in the ignition, and turned on the windshield wipers, which went up, down, up, and then...stopped.

You can't drive without wipers in Ontario in December. Particularly when it's snowing heavily and the forecast is calling for freezing rain.

Back inside. I call my supervisor, and tell her I'll be in as soon as I can. When you work in preschool, you can't just take a day off- you need to be replaced.

Whew! At least I was able to go back inside and calm Emily down, and try to clean the tree up a bit. I also got to walk her to school, which I'm not able to do these days because of my work schedule. I took the car into the garage, and walked home. By the time I arrived home, the mechanic had called.

There is a small part in the wiper that needs to be replaced. A fifty-cent component. Ford will not sell the piece on it's own. Instead you have to buy and replace the entire wiper motor.

Total cost, including labour: about three hundred and fifty fucking dollars. Excuse my language but I'm still pissed off. And the part won't arrive until sometime the next day.

I got a day off, and after I de-stressed a bit, it wasn't too bad. my sister came to visit. I baked more cookies (my christmas cookies are rapidly disappearing from the freezer, almost as fast as I can make them. I must speak to Megan about that)

And I applied for membership here:





This housing co-op is about a 25 minute walk from where I live now. They have a three bedroom townhouse available for a nice, low rate. I've lived in a co-op before, and I like the principles of joint ownership, and joint responsibility. I could rent an apartment for the same amount of money or a little bit less, but I wouldn't get the same benefits;
-an on-site playground
-a community garden (important for me, my hands need dirt sometimes)
-fenced in yards
- a walking trail beside a creek, adjacent to the units
-a few blocks from uptown waterloo
-walking distance to groceries, and a really good school district
-community
- a bit further from the old neighbourhood than is comfortable for walking, but I think the benefits outweigh the disadvantages.

I'm going to arrange a viewing tonight. I walked around the outside on my way home from the garage and I really liked what I saw. It's exciting to find something that I like, something I can see myself comfortable with for the foreseeable future. I'm not really big on "owning" a house anyways. And co-op members are joint owners of the property. Good co-ops are amazing places to live, if you don't mind putting in the time and effort to benefit the community as a whole.

So my not-so-good day turned out to be not-so-bad after all.




Wednesday, December 3, 2008

changes

Yeah. Even more of them. Hopefully not tomorrow or next week, but they're happening all the same. Change is not necessarily bad, but it's...change. Something new to cope with. Another flurry of activity and angst before things settle into...what?

We've talked and talked. I've resisted, acquiesced and resisted again. I know, deep down, that I can't afford this house, that my better than average ECE salary is enough to rent a really nice place, but not enough for mortgage, plus taxes, plus the hefty utility bills that come with owning a barely-insulated 100 year old house. I can't keep up with cleaning a house that has four levels, from attic to basement. I love my eldest but she really needs to be renting her own place - when she's up and about. I could learn to sand and stain, install windows, caulk, replace flooring - I am capable, but I must do all this in my nonexistent spare time, in between working full time, parenting, and trying to live a life.

But I love my house. I love the creaky wood floors, and my amazing kitchen, with pull-out cupboards and lots of counter space. I love my main-floor laundry room, the big window in front that looks out onto the street. I love the old-fashioned front porch, and the tiny walled-in back yard.

I love my gardens. I put a lot of work into my garden, and I don't know what I'll do if I can't stick my hands in dirt once in a while.

I need to let go. It's too much for me to handle. But it's so hard.....this has been my home for four years, I've put down so many roots, and when I transplant, all those little connections will be lost, or pulled out painfully. It will take time for the dirt to settle, for me to feel at home in new surroundings.

Our finances are still tied together, and will be for the next few months to come. But he's offered to buy me out - take over the house, while we split the equity. That would (hopefully) put some money in my pocket, and even if that amount is small, I will be debt-free, and fully independent. I need this. I need to make my own decisions, I need the freedom of living only for myself and my kids.

The ideal plan is for me to find something in the neighbourhood - so that we can both be close to Em and her school. There are lots of lovely old duplexed houses around here, but there are things I need. Ground floor access. A yard for the dog and for Em. Enough space so that she can play and live comfortably. Storage. Laundry. Trees. Perhaps a bit of earth to dig in - or closer proximity to the nearest community garden.

Em gets to have a place to live with both parents. Right now she lives with me and visits her dad - occasional overnights, but his living situation doesn't allow for more than that. I'm still the primary, but she needs her own room in his home, she needs her own space. But I worry about the effects of another change on her - she has gone through so many changes lately, and another one would be hard. Change is always hard for her - I am starting to recognize that she has some special needs, and she needs lots of love, encouragement and support. More about that in another post.

There will be compensations. Maybe I can take a real vacation. I'll have more time (hello notebook - pen -ambitions). I have lots of warning, so I'll be able to find the home that I want. I won't be rushing around at the last minute and taking whatever I can find.

But it's hard. Saying goodbye all over again. Does it ever stop?

(I'll post pictures when I get home from work)






Monday, December 1, 2008

we don't discuss that

It's almost December. I've missed a self-imposed deadline by about two months now.

I was determined, way back in early September, to come out to the rest of my family as soon as possible, by Thanksgiving (Mid-October here) because I wanted to move forward, keep going with my new life, make sure that everyone important to me had a chance to know who I really am. It didn't happen that way.

And on the heels of another needless argument with N over nothing in particular, where he made perfect rational sense and I became angry and defensive yet again, I started to wonder - why? Why can't I tell my brothers, their wives, their families that I am queer. What's holding me back? I barely slept last night - there's a virus setting in, and I am just overwhelmed with worry and fear. How will they react? What happens if they reject me, because they might. More likely, it will become, as it seems to have already, the next family secret. The thing we don't talk about.

N spent a lot of time reassuring me in September - our parents love us unconditionally. They will accept me for who I am, they will understand and support me. And when I drove down to see them, to tell them about myself, I did it when I was raging over something else, when I had no support, no one to talk to, nobody around me who could give me the comfort that I badly needed. For goddess' sake, my relationship was over, I was grieving, he obviously wasn't because he just sailed into something else like I didn't matter, like I'd never mattered. At least, that was my mindset at the time.

What I had hoped for in coming out to my parents never materialized. They didn't disown me or anything - I'm still family, family sticks together, don't you know, and there I am, cooking thanksgiving dinner, making birthday supper for Meg's family party, hovering in the background with this big thing to say, and no courage to say it. I silenced myself, again, I am waiting for this big opportunity to come, and it never will, unless I create it. And how do I do that?

My parents said it didn't matter. But they act like it does. Do they ask me how I am, how things are going for me? No. When I told them that I was grieving, they said to me "well you can't really blame him for moving on." Like there was someone to blame, and the someone to blame was me. I wasn't throwing blame around at the time, just carrying a lot of shame and guilt for having wreaked so much havoc in so many lives. On bad days I still do.

They told me that they wouldn't tell anyone else. That it was up to me to come out, in my own time, in my own way. But they added a caveat - that I should let my siblings tell their children - or not - as they see fit. Which means, that I structure my revelation in a way that does not include the kids, even though my older nephews and nieces at 21, 16, and 14, are well able to understand what I'm talking about.

There is something to hide. There is something to be embarrassed about. There's something wrong with me. That's the message I got when I came out to them, the message that I internalized and carried with me, giving it no conscious thought until yesterday, when I was trying to explain that I didn't have time to come out - why? Because when do I ever see my brothers without their kids unless the occasion is completely contrived? So do I feed them dinner and make a big announcement? Do I drive an hour to my hometown in the dead of night to tell them when their teenage children are asleep, giving them the opportunity to lie or conceal the truth from their almost grown-up kids? Do I become the pariah, the person tolerated but not accepted because my being flies in the face of the 'traditional" values they espouse?

My mother told me that I could have come out to her when I was 21 and it would have been okay. I told her that I didn't believe her. It's not okay now, it's so not okay that I have not had a conversation with them about my sexuality since that day. And it's so important to me right now - it's what i spend a lot of my time thinking about, mulling over. Every major decision and change I've made in the last three months has been a direct result of being queer and acknowledging it to myself. So why can't I talk about it, given that it's such a huge part of my life right now, and always will be?

I feel like I'm standing at the foot of this giant mountain, with all my gear, ready to climb, and there's no one to spot me. I can't do this alone. How do I do this at all?


Thursday, November 27, 2008

oh yeah, that's what single parenting is all about

Wednesday 11:30 pm - Bedtime, after making my lunch and Em's for the next day, unloading the dishwasher, feeding cats and dog and watching top chef with the dog in my lap. I feel guuilty. He didn't get a walk because Meg was asleep before Em, and i didn't want to leave Em alone with only someone sleeping two floors down.

Thursday 12:30 am Cat wants outside. Cat paws frantically at the baby gate that still blocks the top of the stairs. He starts off quietly, and if I don't move fast enough, he gets louder and louder.

12:35 Anna lets the cat out.

12:45 Sleep. Again.

1:45 Meg's boyfriend leaves for work. He works crazy shifts. He slams the door on his way out.

1:50 Thank goddess Em is still asleep.

1:55 Small voice in the hallway. "Mom. Turn off your alarm." Em hates my alarm clock with a passion. It literally keeps her up at night. I need something loud enough to get me out of bed at 5:30. She needs something quiet and unobtrusive, because loud noises bother her. Enough to wake her out of a sound sleep and get her worrying about the next day.

1:56 Em and I are cuddled in the rocking chair, so that she can settle down again.

2:00 "Mom! Mom! I have to pee!" Not from the five year old in my lap, but the almost- nineteen year old on crutches who sleeps in the basement. She doesn't climb the stairs by herself.

2:10 Oldest child back to bed.

2:11 I am back upstairs. Emily is waiting for me in the hallway. She is wide awake.

2:12 Back to the rocker.

2:15 Em has to pee.

2:20 Snowplow is clearing the sidewalk across the road. "Mom, that's too noisy. it's keeping me up.'

2:30 Now we're trying to sleep in my bed.

2:50 Em has kicked all the covers off because she's too hot. And now I'm cold. She's wide awake. "Are you sure the alarm's off, mom?"

3:00 Back to the rocker.

3:10 I'm in the rocker and Em's in bed, staring at me. Not sleeping.

3:15 "Mom, I'm sick. I can't go to school tomorrow."

3:20 "Mom, when are we getting a Christmas Tree?"

3:25 The parking lot at Tim Horton's (for my US readers, best darn coffee ever, across from my house, too much light and noise in the middle of the night) is being cleared of snow. Scrape of blade on bare pavement. That darn beeping every time the plow reverses. Emily is lying in her bed quietly, with her eyes screwed shut. I have only asked her to try to sleep about twenty-five times at this point.

3:30 Back to my bed, alone. I've asked Emily to just lie down quietly if she can't sleep.

3:40 "Mom. I can't sleep. Did you turn the alarm off?"

3:41 "You know what, Em. I think it's time for mom to buy a new alarm clock."

3:42 Her feet are in the small of my back and she's got the covers all twisted around.

3:50 Deep, regular breathing from the other side of the bed. Finally.

3:55 ZZZZZZZZZ

5:25 One eye open. I shut the alarm off before it rings. I'll let Em sleep and get her things ready (it's a school day today).

6:10 I really wake up. I need to leave for work in 30 short minutes.

6:11 I roll out of bed, jump into my clothes, pay absolutely no attention to what I am wearing.

6:12 Bathroom.

6:13 Put library book in Em's backpack. Put lunch in backpack.

6:14 Throw something in my own backpack for supper. Staff meeting tonight and pizza for the rest of the staff. I don't eat pizza, and don't want to be a party pooper so I bring my own.

6:15 Em's clothes laid out ready to put on. Meg can supervise but not assist.

6:18 Cat is scratching at the window.

6:19 Feed cats. Let the dog out.

6:20 Get Em's breakfast ready. Always the same - corn flakes with brown sugar, toast with strawberry jam, and fruit.

6:25 Descend to the basement to rouse and assist eldest daughter.

6:30 Get Meg's breakfast.

6:35 Someone is wailing at the top of the stairs.

6:36 Em comes to terms with my departure and sits at the table to eat breakfast.

6:37 Megan needs water.

6:38 Where the hell are my car keys? My mittens?

6:39 kiss the girls goodbye

6:40 Thank goddess it didn't snow much. I don't have to brush off the car.

6:42 Tim's. Egg and cheese breakfast sandwich, and two extra large coffees with double cream. One for now, one for my break at work. I take the top half of the english muffin off and throw it away. I have no time to make breakfast, and I need to eat.

6:45 On the road to work, to be there by 7:15.


I'm tired today. Any questions?




Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Silent Blog

My silence over the past week or so is not meant to offend in any way. Nor have I decided that blogging is not for me. I'm trying to keep up with everyone else and commenting where I can. But the reality of spending 11 1/2 hours away from home is that there is less time for everything. And in terms of relative importance, blogging falls well below spending time with my youngest, and caring for my oldest as she recuperates, but somewhere above cleaning the house. Who needs to clean, anyways?

It's late Sunday afternoon, and the sun has just set. I still love snow, and it's a good thing, because it's like January outside right now. November is usually a combination of grey and white, snow flurries and frost on the roof much of the time, but interspersed with the first chills of winter and depressing rain. Not this year. We've skipped autumn altogether and moved straight into winter. More than two feet of snow fell in St Marys on Friday night, so say my parents who hesitated to come up yesterday for my daughter's birthday celebration. Thankfully, there's not so much here. I like snow and all, but I have no winter boots yet - only my hikers.

My oldest daughter is holding her own. Our insurance claim has provided her with some relief. She will start getting home care for several hours a day on Monday, because she can't function all alone in the house. Her leg is not casted, and she can't weight bear for another six weeks, so she needs assistance to do just about everything. Fortunately, her boyfriend has been as supportive as can be, but even so, my workload at home has increased. I'm doing all I used to do, looking after her, and realizing how much she was doing around the house in the few short weeks that she was home before the accident.

Her 19th birthday is on Friday. In Ontario, that's the equivalent of a 21st birthday in most states in the US. She's a little bit bummed - her words - because the outing her uncles had planned for her has been postponed indefinitely. But I'll take her out, she can order a drink, they'll ask to see her ID ( I hope that having her mother along won't deter the server from his or her legal obligation). And she'll be "officially" 19. One drink is all she gets - shiny new wheelchair rental or no, she needs to be able to navigate on crutches at the restaurant and at home.

I can't believe that I am the mother of this beautiful young adult:



Maybe it's because I'm single this year, and feeling younger than I have for a decade (losing 120 pounds has that effect), but I can't be a parent to a grown up. Can I? I've barely grown up myself.

N and I are working our way through the ups and downs of separation. It's a good thing we like and respect each other, because we've seen and talked to each other a lot the last two weeks. Between M's insurance claim, planning for a lawsuit, and talking about what to do with the finances in general, and the house specifically, we've had a serious discussion almost every day.

It's not easy. We agree on most things, but everything is still up in the air. All we have is a general sense of where we are going financially. I'm someone who likes to know what's going to happen and work for it. Of course, I'm the one who turned my own life upside down, but I had to, despite all the unknowns that I now face.

I wrote a post last Tuesday that will never see the light of day. It was completely morose and self-pitying, written in the throes of yet another depressing moment. I think fatigue is getting the better of my common sense. I'm tired all the time, and as the week wears on, I get more and more fatigued and irritable. By Friday I am a walking zombie, having had 11 1/2 hour days, plus all the parenting, cooking, cleaning and general stuff to do when I get home.

Writing? Who has time to write? I manage my morning pages because I have time to do them at work. I plan on spending a few moments today with pen and notebook. The house is empty for the first time in two weeks.E is at her dad's. M's on an outing, and I have some badly needed "me" time.

I have mentioned the long hours twice, but I have a half-full glass, not a half-empty glass (although I may think differently on Wednesday night at 10:45 pm when I'm still emptying the dishwasher at home and I have less than 7 hours before I have to start another day). I really like my job. A lot. The long hours are only temporary. By January sometime I should be working a regular shift. I like my co-workers, our non-profit employer treats us with respect, and the kids are great. It's also nice to work in a place where there are sufficient resources to meet the needs of the kids. And the food...a local Mennonite-run restaurant caters the food, it's fabulous, and if there are leftovers we can take them home. I would rather do this job, at this child care centre with long hours and everything, than take another job with regular hours somewhere else. For one thing, I'd likely suffer an unpleasant pay cut. For another, I've worked in a few child care centres in my 16 years as an ECE, and there aren't many that have the right philosophy and working conditions to meet my standards. This centre does.

Emotionally, as I mentioned, I am up and down. Mostly okay, sometimes not. I've always had body image issues. Losing 120 pounds has helped in some ways - hey, I look good in clothes, and I never did before. Not ever. But I am 43, and I've had kids, there are saggy and wrinkly parts of me, there are more imperfections than I would like to see. And there's some disassociaton - I still don't get that the person that I look at in the mirror every morning is me. So many angles instead of curves and heaviness. Healthier. Stronger. But somehow, not yet me. I will grow into myself, at least I hope so.

Then there's this whole "I'm gay and I've never been with a woman and who wants a 43 year old 'virgin'" thing that I've got to get over before I can really move on. The thought of being with anyone scares me silly. I know I'm not ready. But I want to be ready someday.

And last, but not least, there are still family members to whom I have not yet come out, who deserve to know who I really am. I must find the time and space to come out to them, so that I don't waste anymore time pretending to be someone I'm not. I can't be authentic, I can't begin to live my life until they know. It's time.




Tuesday, November 18, 2008

the superficial

Who would have thought that it would make such a difference?

My feelings of isolation and sadness come and go. it helps to be away from home for long stretches - 11 hours a day - because work and doing stuff at home take up almost all of my time. I have no time to think. I have enough time to get something on the table, unload and reload the dishwasher, put my laundry away, put Emily to bed, read a few lines of whatever book I'm trying to read, and then I collapse somewhere. If I'm lucky, I wake up in my own bed. The other morning I woke up in the rocking chair in E's room, still fully clothed, because that's where and how I fell asleep.

She's not always there, my little girl, and it's hard to be at home when she's away. The house is too empty. My own voice echoes through, when I talk to the dog, or the cat. And I do.

You'd think that with one daughter on crutches, and the other just five years old, I would have no time to wallow in self-pity. Megan's doing well - she doesn't need constant attendance anymore, and she can get up and down the stairs, which means she no longer occupies the living room. But that gives me more time on my hands, which is somehow dangerous, these days....

After all the changes I've made, it's difficult to acknowledge that I'm still not comfortable with who I am. Part of it is a physical thing. I've never been comfortable with my appearance. you'd think losing 120 pounds might cure that - I thought it would. But I still cringe when I see myself in the mirror - for different reasons. Instead of being large and soft, cumbersome and awkward, I am angular and severe, wrinkled in strange places, and awkward. The awkwardness never leaves me - it places my head at strange angles in every photo I take. Do I really look like that?

I disbelieve the people that tell me I look good. M thinks that a good shopping trip will cure me - all I need to do is find clothes to make me look good, and I will feel better. But I feel comfortable in my jeans and sweaters. I like them. When I try to dress like someone else I feel....awkward.




Sunday, November 16, 2008

Snow

Images of last winter:







It snowed last night, the first real snowfall of the year.

I love snow. It is a quiet blanket of white that covers the earth and muffles sound. Flakes can fall gently, as they are this morning, or they can whip about in an angry widnstorm. I love all facets of winter.

It's only fitting that yesterday I bought a new winter coat, and today the ground is still and white.

Winter is my time of turning inwards. Time for stillness, silence, reflection, planning for the coming year of growth. Solstice officially marks that time for pagans, but my time of reflection begins at the first snowfall.



This song speaks of winter in my part of the country. Loreena McKennit lives just a few hops away from my hometown:



Snow

White are the far-off plains,
And white the fading forests grow;
The wind dies out along the height
And denser still the snow,
A gathering weight on roof and tree
Falls down scarce audibly.
The meadows and far-sheeted streams
Lie still without a sound;
Like some soft minister of dreams
The snowfall hoods me around;
In wood and water, earth and air,
A silence is everywhere.
Save when at lonely spells
Some farmer's sleigh is urged on,
With rustling runner and sharp bells,
Swings by me and is gone;
Or from the empty waste I hear
A sound remote and clear;
The barking of a dog,
To cattle, is sharply pealed,
Borne, echoing from some wayside stall
Or barnyard far afield;
Then all is silent and the snow
Falls settling soft and slow
The evening deepens and the grey
Folds closer Earth to sky
The world seems shrouded, so far away.
Its noises sleep, and I
As secret as yon buried stream
Plod dumbly on and dream.
And dream
And dream
I dream
And I dream…









Peace.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Weighing in on same-sex marriage

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

On July 20, 2005, Canada became the fourth country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide with the approval of the Civil Marriage Act. Court decisions, starting in 2003, each already legalized same-sex marriage in eight out of ten provinces and one of three territories, whose residents comprised about 90% of Canada's population. Before passage of the Act, more than 3,000 same-sex couples had already married in these areas.[2] Most legal benefits commonly associated with marriage had been extended to cohabiting same-sex couples since 1999.

The Civil Marriage Act was introduced by Paul Martin's Liberal government in the Canadian House of Commons on February 1, 2005 as Bill C-38. It was passed by the House of Commons on June 28, 2005, by the Senate on July 19, 2005, and it received Royal Assent the following day. On December 7, 2006, the House of Commons effectively reaffirmed the legislation by a vote of 175 to 123, defeating a Conservative motion to examine the matter again. This was the third vote supporting same-sex marriage taken by three Parliaments under three Prime Ministers in three different years.

I take things for granted sometimes.

By virtue of being a Canadian citizen, I am legally entitled marry a woman if I so choose. I will likely not choose to marry anyone, because of my own personal beliefs about marriage in general, but I can do so if I choose. I can walk down to Kitchener City Hall and apply for a marriage certificate. Every citizen of Canada has had this right since 2005.

But it goes further.

If I cohabitate with my same-sex partner for one year, I am entitled to the tax benefits/restrictions of common-law couples. If I cohabitate with my same-sex partner for three years, we are considered married by common law, which gives us the same legal benefits of married couples. Or almost - because my five year old and I have different last names, there are complications when it comes to passport applications and out-of-country travel - but her father and I are separated, so that would be the case anyways.
-we can file joint tax returns
-we are legally entitled to joint heath benefits ( I think - correct me if I'm wrong)
-we are entitled to government pension and survivor benefits
- all property acquired during the marriage, common-law or otherwise, is considered joint property
-I have a legal entitlement to make decisions regarding my spouse should she become incapacitated (but I believe that my spouse must put this in writing - this is the same for hetero couples)
-I have a right to custody and access for children, there are also legal rights and obligations regarding child support

and further still...

- I don't know about other provinces, but in Ontario, same sex couples are legally able to foster and/or adopt jointly.
-recently, same-sex parents were given the right to have joint names appear on a child's birth certificate as a child's legal parents, thus eliminating the need and expense of an adoption by the non-birth parent
- it is unlawful to discriminate based on an individual's sexual orientation
-gays and lesbians can join the military with no restrictions

Now, to be sure, not everyone agrees with the decisions our governments have made over the last five to ten years. There are conservative provinces (Alberta) that would happily rescind those rights - but when the legal definition of marriage was changed on a federal level, they were forced to comply. There are religious organizations and social conservative groups that are still hoping to change the legal definition of marriage as "between one man and one woman." Our federal conservative government is a minority government, which means that their power is somewhat limited - they are well aware that re-opening the marriage debate would mean defeat, as they do not have the support of other parties in the House. If the Conservative party held a majority of seats, the marriage debate might be re-opened, in spite of their assurances that it will not.

But here I am, living a country where gay marriage has been legal for three years. Longer, in the province where I reside. I take my rights for granted. I assume that I will always hold those rights. The only reason that I have been extended those rights is because the country I live in is somewhat enlightened.

Yeah, that socialist country that has universal medicare. What else can you expect?

Last Tuesday all eyes were on California. And in my heart, I was hoping that prop 8 would be defeated. It was not. I spent election night in Toronto, watching Amy Ray in concert (I have way more to say about that, but I'll save it for later. Suffice it to say that meeting her was incredible). When the election results came in, Amy and the band were emotional, jubilant, crying onstage, and that feeling swept through the audience. Because of the three-hour time difference, we didn't get the results on prop 8 until much later - I'm sure the jubilance would have been tempered with sadness.

To me, it's not just a question of what constitutes marriage, or who can marry. We are dealing with basic, fundamental human rights, and the denial of those rights based on what seems to be a moral, or religious viewpoint. I am a woman living in a country where I can legally marry a woman. This shouldn't be about luck, or geography.

Fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear that extending rights to same-sex couples will somehow undermine "traditional" marriages. But isn't it true that allowing same-sex couples the right to participate in marriage strengthens the institution of marriage as a whole. Who decides whether or not families are legal, lawful, legitimate? I'd invite anyone who thinks that same-sex marriage corrupts or undermines families in any way to visit my province, to see for themselves that nothing has changed. Life continues as it always did, except that there are no second-class citizens here when it comes to marriage rights. Or family rights.

That's not to say that there is no bigotry. It happens everywhere.

What I don't really understand is how such a fundamental human rights issues ended up being decided by referendum. Perhaps I am not very politically astute. But I have heard more than once, that "majority rules" cannot always be the deciding factor. If every human rights question was debated and decided via referendum, how will minority rights be protected?

And yet, several states allowed such an important question to be decided by "the will of the people." Politicized, funded, backed by various groups in favour or opposed to the fundamental question. I don't want to knock the "no on 8" campaign - it was necessary and needed. But what makes me angry is that there had to be a "no on 8" campaign at all, when I thought that the California Supreme Court had already made a decision.

Should we make all aspects of constitutional change a subject of referendum? I don't know - like I said, perhaps I am not very politically astute, but democracy seems to have failed here. Are the courts not there to decide points of law?

To make a long story even longer, I'm angry. I'm furious that in this so-called enlightened age, discrimination is alive and well, and enshrined in law. I am sitting here in my safe place, and I'm chomping at the bit to do something, anything, to give everyone the same rights that I currently enjoy. I want to march, to protest, to be part of a growing, vocal group that peacefully, non-violently, and yet directly supports the right for same sex families and couples to have equal protection under the law, no matter where they live. If we work together, if we all raise our voices as one, we can create change.

At ritual, when we cast a circle we say "We are between the worlds. What happens between the worlds can change the world." In other words, our thoughts, our actions, the work we do matters. What we imagine, we can call into being. We can work for change, no matter where we live. The words we write matter. Out songs, our voices, the art we create - they all matter, they can be agents for change. This is not a time to be silent.

This is my identity. This is who I am, and I am proud of it. Let's go!




Saturday, November 8, 2008

my hometown makes the national news...and why???

Big stink in St. Marys

November 08, 2008
Melinda Dalton
RECORD STAFF

ST. MARYS

A quiet main drag oozed like something out of a horror flick yesterday after a tanker truck spilled chicken blood from one end of town to the other.

"When I got up, the street was completely red," said Murray Anthony, who awoke to cleaning crews mopping up the mess in front of his Queen Street home. "The dog went kind of nuts because he sensed food."

"I've definitely lost my appetite," said downtown salon owner Wendy Czajkoski.

The truck loaded with 4.5 tonnes of chicken blood was headed from the Schneider poultry plant in St. Marys to a rendering plant in Dundas. It was travelling west down Queen Street at about 11:30 p.m. Thursday when blood started leaking from a broken valve, Ontario Provincial Police said.

"We got the call first from a citizen, who said there was a liquid on the road," said Const. Glen Childerly of the Perth County OPP. "When we went there, we discovered it was blood. There was blood everywhere and in spots it was three inches thick."

The truck driver didn't notice the leak until he reached Highway 7-- more than six kilometres from where the horrifying trail started near St. Mary's Hospital.

The Environment Ministry's spills action centre was called, but no immediate threats were identified, spokesperson Kate Jordan said.

"We confirmed there wasn't any impact to the natural environment, so the blood wasn't getting into the sewers or the water courses in the area."

Police charged the truck driver with having an insecure load.

The truck is owned by Rothsay, an independent rendering company owned by Maple Leaf Foods. It was last inspected in August and no problems were identified, said Jeanette Jones, a spokesperson for Maple Leaf.

She said the driver followed all the protocols once he realized what happened. These included calling in a hazardous response team, which arrived within an hour to clean up.

"I was advised that by 9 a.m., it was about 95 per cent complete, so they had made fairly quick work of it," she said.

Crews used sand to absorb the blood, concentrating first on the hilly downtown, where some of the liquid was pooling. The mixture was then swept up and hauled to a ministry-approved landfill site, Jordan said.

Berms were placed around catch basins on the road.

Municipal crews with the Town of St. Marys were called in to sand and sweep the road. At the request of police, they blocked off Queen Street from Highway 7 to downtown.

"It was slippery," said Dave Sharp, the supervisor of public works. "It seemed to get worse as it was on there longer, because it started to dry and was getting a little tacky."

One minor crash yesterday morning could be attributed to the slick road, the OPP said.

Crews opened the downtown to traffic in the morning, but areas east of the core remained blocked off while sweepers removed blood-soaked sand.

By mid-morning, word of the spill and the putrid smell had reached most residents. Much of the blood had already been trucked away, but the odd pool of red liquid remained stuck.

"This is disgusting," Maggie Dotzenroth said, shaking her head as children crossed the road through pink-tinged sand. "And the stench -- what if this was next week with our Christmas parade? It's unbelievable."

The town contacted the Perth District Health Unit, but the incident was determined not to be a significant health threat.

"It's similar to how you would treat dog feces -- try to avoid it as much as possible," said unit spokesperson Rebecca Hill. "But if you have come in contact, practise thorough handwashing."

The cleanup was expected to continue today, with crews power-washing the street to remove the lingering red stain, Sharp said.

The rendering company will be investigating the incident, Maple Leaf said.

While few people in town could recall anything like this, Sharp said there had been other local spills in recent years -- most involving small amounts of waste that were fairly easy to clean up.

"But, 4,000 kilograms of blood? No, that's a first."

(my comments here: yuck, yuck yuck!!! My mom had to walk to work through that mess....)


Friday, November 7, 2008

from the "it never rains but..." department

My life was settling nicely. I have a ton of things to blog about, and no time to do it. I met Amy Ray, it was fabulous...

Last night at 11 pm I got a phone call. The kind of call that everyone dreads - from the hospital. My baby - the older one, almost 19 - was hit by a car yesterday as she was crossing a busy street, with the light. Someone turned left and hit her. I don't get it...anyways

She's going to be okay. Eventually. She broke her leg, she had surgery, and she'll be in the hospital for a few days.

I thought mothers had instincts about stuff like this. I figured if something happened I would instinctually "know." But I didn't. I carried on with my day. I tutored at night, came home around 9, walked the dog, chatted with N, and wondered why she wasn't home yet - her boyfriend leaves for work at the same time I do, and they are never out later than 9. She'd left the lights on in the basement, which is not like her. But I only gave it a passing thought.

The accident happened at noon. Her boyfriend couldn't find my work number, or her dad's number - so I didn't find out until she was able to call from recovery.

Thank goddess she's alive. It could have been much worse than this.




Saturday, November 1, 2008

As usual

When things are uncomfortable and intense I tend to shut down. I don't write about everything that's stressful until after it's passed. Instead I write about how much I like my new job. I really do like it. However, in the same week I started my new job, N moved out, my daughter M moved in, I went shopping for a car, I had to set some boundaries around this residence being our house, but my home, I was almost late for my Samhain ritual because my dad insisted on buying gas at Canadian tire, and N and I had some really intense discussions that centered around financial things.

In short, I am stressed.

And I feel like the roller coaster that's been my life for the last few months is continuing it's pattern. It moves fast - up, down, sometimes upside down. I can't catch my breath. I can't orient myself to this earth, because it is always shifting underneath me.

I'd like some calm, please.

Once I find my feet, I may have time to cook dinner again. And sit quietly with a glass of wine, all by myself, and do nothing at all. That will be nice.

In the meantime, I'll keep my shoulder belt fastened, and tie down my belongings. Until I've completed the circuit a few more times. I'll climb off, feel dizzy for a little while, and start living my life again.

I love Samhain. New year starts for me when life in the natural world is coming to a close, is winding down for the quiet, contemplative season of winter. Death is part of the cycle that bring rebirth and renewal. It's kind of fitting that it all happened this week - it feels like a cycle has come to a close, and a new one is beginning. At the ritual tonight, when everyone called forth their beloved dead, to honour and remember them, I bid a silent farewell to the old me, the me who lived in fear, who didn't live because she was fearful. I took off my black cloak, and underneath I was wearing this kick-ass velvet dress (that my friend KS found for me in a thrift store last week) that made me look absolutely amazing. And I felt as good as I looked.

I really am not a new person at all. I'm just bringing myself out of hiding.

My sister sent me this song a couple of weeks ago, and wrote that it reminded her of me:




Friday, October 31, 2008

no, really I like my job

The last entry was so short....I had to leave just when I'd gotten started with it.

I really like the job. It's a good working environment. They pay me fairly. I even have paid lunch hours, which is totally weird - not that I'm complaining or anything. Don't let anyone tell you that there's no difference between non-profit and for-profit child care. I've worked in both, and I would much rather put my trust (and my kids) in non-profit.

At my last shiatsu session, on Thursday, my therapist remarked on how good I am at manifesting what I need. A life on my own. People that care about me. A job. A child care subsidy. A car - yes, my dad is taking me car shopping tomorrow. I could probably keep the Focus if I wanted to, but I'm hoping to find something with lower payments.

Perhaps someday I can manifest a relationship for myself.

In the meantime, I am way too busy. I'm away from home 11 hours a day. Emily is with me on alternate days, and since I'm a "floater" I am in her room some of the time. Long enough to spend time with her, not too long for her to drive me crazy - she's testing me already.

And the little village where I work is an amazing place. Very small, very quiet. There are a lot of Mennonites, which adds to that old-fashioned aura. A river and a pond in the middle of town. The smell of apple cider wafts through the streets on windy days - there is a cider processing mill just a few steps away from the day care. Which, incidentally, has no parking lot - parents park in front. I am the only employee who drives to work.

Weird. But I like it. I could live there.

If I ever remember to buy batteries for the camera, I'll take pictures.

Happy halloween, everyone! My witchy friends and I are getting together to celebrate Samahain at a public ritual tomorrow night.

I am so tired.....off to bed for me!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I'm at work.

There is a computer.

In addition to my two hours of unpaid time off, I get a one hour paid lunch break. I don't know what to do with all this spare time.

I forgot my book.

Ironically, as soon as I get home, I'll be rushing to get everything done so that I can get to bed in good time, and get up again at 5:30 tomorrow morning. Going home on my time off just doesn't work when I live in a different place.

but I like it here, so that's all good.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

OC's questions answered

What is your favorite song?

My favourite song changes all the time. it's usually something that resonates with what's going on in my life right now. Lately, it's been Joni Mitchell's "A Case of You." "Iowa" by Dar Williams, and I listen a lot to songs I am learning to play on guitar. Also a couple of yet-unreleased tunes - "Second Time Around" by Amy as an Indigo Girls tune. Kate has a song that will be on her upcoming CD, called "Rise Up" which is amazing - she played it for me in Michigan, and I cried. She performed it in concert that week, and I cried again. I think it's the part that goes something like "my heart's been frozen for so long...' that gets me, because it's exactly where I was for so long. She didn't play it last week (wrong kind of crowd). I recorded her in concert, but can't share.

Your favorite perfume/smell?

chocolate chip cookies in the oven, baking bread, autumn leaves, fresh snow

Dark or light beer?

Local and micro-brewed preferably. Dark is better than light.

Red or white wine?

Red

Favorite mixed drink?

Beer and wine. That's it.

Favorite shot?

See above.

Your favorite weird comfort food?

Pistachios. Tomatoes and avocado with mayo in pita bread. Dal, or any kind of lovely curry. Mashed potatoes with rosemary. Diet Coke. Chocolate.

Your favorite color?

It changes. Right now it's the orange of the falling leaves.

Do you have an iPod?

A shuffle. I love it because it's so tiny, and it has a clip, so I can wear it when I walk or work out, and still have my hands free. I like the random aspect, too.

Favorite song in the whole world.

It changes by the day.

Mac or PC? Why?

PC, because my brother the priest gave it to me and it's all I have. I have successfully removed the religious-themed desktop and all other catholic paraphenalia. Someday I'd like to own a mac, but I need money first.

Kids?

Two of my own, age 18 and 5. Lots of nieces and nephews. And I work with kids, so it sometimes feels like I have a very large family.

Perfect Passion Filled night?

I'll let you know when I figure it out.

Favorite kind of pasta?

Pasta is one of the things I can't eat, along with pizza. I sometimes eat rice pasta, because I can digest it, unlike pasta made with white flour. But it really doesn't appeal to me.

Favorite blog, (besides mine of course...hehe).

Earth Muffin, BearsMountain, Just Eat Your Cupcake, Mama Llama, MLC, the Wishful Writer, so many more, and I'm finding more every day....don't be offended if I left you off the list, I just have no memory when I'm put on the spot.

What is your biggest worry, social cause, passion??

Worry - I worry about everything. I tend to focus on peripherals in order to avoid bigger issues. Like, who's going to get the wok instead of my emotional state.

Social Cause - hmmm...women's and children's issues, poverty, native rights, feminism, gay rights, reproductive rights, environmentalism.

Passion - I'm passionate about passion and I hope to create some in my own life someday. Like, maybe within a relationship or something.

And I'm pretty passionate about music - hearing it and playing for myself. I set it aside for so long, when my life was all about someone else's interests, that I can't get enough of it now - live, CD, or on my ipod.

Any off the wall thing you want to tell me.

This may be TMI - but I really don't enjoy the celibacy side of being single.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

settling

This is my favourite time of year. I love the changes that autumn brings, the colours, the wind, the leaves that scatter across my path as I walk. I used to love this time of year because it was finally cool enough for me to tolerate the outdoors, but I must confess that this year I am a teency bit cold. Less insulation.

I pretty much missed out on autumn last year. For the early fall, I was housebound with my bad back, then I had surgery, and by the time I was really feeling better, autumn was over, winter had swept in and whitened the ground around me. I'm making up for it this year, with long walks in the cemetery near my house, long walks anywhere, I can't get enough of the outdoors, and I revel in the exercise that used to put me out of breath after a few short minutes of trying.

When I look back, I have a hard time believing that so many things have changed. Or rather, that I have made so many changes in my life. I'm starting to get more comfortable with the person I see in the mirror each morning, but more than that, I am acknowledging and honouring the person within, the person who is strong, and capable, and independent, who made all these changes because she wanted something more - and better - than what she had.

Materially, I was dandy. That's about it. Except for my kids, just about everything else rang hollow. I was a wannabe writer who never picked up a pen. I stayed in a sterile relationship because I was afraid. I could not acknowlege, to myself or anyone else, that I was queer. I lived someone else's life - because I was afraid. Afraid of my true nature, the unknown, the depth within that I had never explored, in 42 years of living.

That's not to say that fear doesn't still overtake me at times. I had about a month of uncertainty, of instability, because I wanted to be safe, I wanted what was familiar and stable in my life to keep going. I, the agent of change, wanted to reverse everything, because not moving forward is just so much - easier. In the short term. Ten years from now, I may look back and think that my problems were trivial. It's more likely that I'll see all the pivotal moments, and marvel at my own fortitude all over again.

I am strong and capable. I have never felt this strong, this capable. And for the last week or so, I have had inner calm and peace - a sense of knowing that what I'm doing is right. A knowing - I can be alone, but I need not, if I choose. Right now I choose, because I need time to myself, time to give me the things that I denied myself for years. I'm watching someone else choose differently, and that may be right for him, but I need space. Space to grieve, if I need to (but honestly, I don't feel grief-stricken at all. I think I'm past that).

And who's alone, really? My friends have all crawled out of the woodwork. I'm actually seeking them out, not jsut for support, but because I like them and I want to be around them. And I have the latitude to choose how and where I spend my free time. Nobody brooding in the basement and waiting for my ritual to be over, for people to leave so that he can load the dishwasher and sweep the crumbs. My family haven't really visited since we moved here, and yet all of them came for Thanksgiving, and we had a blast. I'm not alone at all.

In three days he'll be moving out. And I couldn't be happier about it. Now that I have work, I feel like the final piece of the puzzle is together. I don't think life will be much less stressful - after all, the daughter is coming home, and her boyfriend, and the cats. I don't think that life will be suddenly rosy and bright - there will be new stresses, and different things. But I know that I have what it takes to get through this time of great change, this season's pull into darkness and contemplation. And whatever is next for me, good or bad, I'm ready.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

about that universe thing

I got a job.

The job I wanted.

A job that pays more than I've ever made (although that's not saying much).

A job that is a 25 minute commute through quiet country roads instead of between two busy cities. (Ask me how much I love my quiet commute in February).

A job where I can bring my child to work with me.

A job in a non-profit centre, that's still growing.

A job where I can walk down country roads on my lunch break.

A job that allows me to keep this roof over my head, food on the table and financial independence for the first time in my life.

A job that means a lot to me, but not as much as my family, my kids, and my writing. I'll still have lots of time for the important things.

okay, I'll give it a whirl

I was tagged, twice. So OC, and MLC, here you go....

Link to your tagger and list these rules on your blog.

* Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog - some random, some weird.
* Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blog.
* Let them know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog

Seven facts....hmmm

1. Since the early summer, almost every time I remember a dream, there's a dog in it, somewhere. Usually the dog is close to me, standing around, or baring their teeth at someone who approaches me. Sometimes the dog in my dream is my own, and sometimes I meet a similar dog after dreaming about them. And while I love dogs, I wouldn't have described myself as a dog person until this summer. And the dogs love me - they seek me out, wag their tails, jump on my lap - and it's not just my imagination either. I've been thinking about getting another dog - but we'll wait and see what happens after the daughter returns home next week with her two cats.

2. I had gastric bypass surgery in October of 2007. Since then, I've lost 120 pounds. I've gone from a size 26 to a size 14. Sometimes I'm afraid that I won't stop losing after I reach my goal (170 - 10 pounds to go, I'm 5'8" and big boned). But often I forget that I don't weigh 300 pounds any more. I walk everywhere at night and never worry about whether or not I'm safe, because nobody in their right mind would tackle a 300 pound woman, right? And I think of myself as I used to - unsightly, heavy, unattractive. It's a dichotomy - I'm only comfortable in my own skin when I remember what I really look like.

3. I have social anxieties. Sometimes I am uncomfortable going places by myself(like to bars, not the mall, or grocery shopping etc), because I am afraid that there will be no one to talk to, and that I'll end up by myself all night long. Last Sunday my friend Kate was in town, performing at a local club, and I almost didn't go, because I didn't want to go alone. I had to give myself a good talking to, and in the end I went because I wanted to support her, and I knew she would be disappointed if I didn't go. And she lives in Vancouver, so I won't see her again for months. And guess what - I had a great time. I met a woman at the bar who was there to see one of the other performers, had a great conversation with her, and ended up sitting with Kate's partner and her family. Boy, do I feel stupid for being so anxious over nothing.

4. I have this weird obsession with this person:


and I have my knickers in a knot because she's playing in Toronto on November 4th. I am so going to be there.

And really, I am a friend of a friend of hers. Really.

My friends have been teasing me a lot about this, lately. That's what happens when you've come out, and then decided that you need to be on your own for a good - oh, eight or so months. You start fantasizing.

5. I have to eat the things on my plate that I like the least first, so that I can savour the things I like the best.

6. I really, really like women. Seriously.

7. My ex is moving out on Saturday, and I am so ready for him to go. I'll miss him, I still care about him, but it's time for me to lead my own life.

I'm breaking the rules about tagging. I think that everyone I know has already done it.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

the universe

...will provide. The universe really wants me to have a job. I have not one, but two interviews tomorrow. The first is with my local credit union - but the pay is awfully low and anything to do with financial services is a bit shaky right now. The second is at a child care in a small town nearby. new centre, and probably lots of opportunities.

And my interview on Saturday for the assistant supervisor position went really, really well. They gave me a tour of the centre on Tuesday and I met the kids and staff I would potentially be working with. Generally, that doesn't happen unless you're being seriously considered for the job. I'm waiting to hear back from them, but I'm also keeping all my options open at this point.

Something will come of this.

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

two five-year-olds discuss politics

My friend's son comes to our house in the mornings for an hour, before he goes to school. I repeat and record this conversation for your reading pleasure.....

Me: Oh, today is election day. I need to vote.
M: what's voting
Me: I help decide who forms the next government.
M: Oh....of the country.
M: I wonder which man it's going to be.
E: It could be a girl, you know.
M: No it won't. It's always a man.
E: Well, I'm a girl.
M: You just don't know.
Me: It could be a girl. Or a boy. It depends on who can do the better job.
E: Mom, does it have to be me?
Me: No, sweetie.
E: Good. I don't think I could run a whole country.
M: I could. You just don't know.
Me: well, E, maybe that's something you'll choose to do when you're older.
E: If I have to do that, will you come with me?

Monday, October 13, 2008

It's THAT time of year in K-W - the bad, the good, and the honest

Okay, biggest Bavarian festival outside of Germany, and it literally takes place outside my door. What 's not to like? Music and food I grew up with. People are happy and laughing and waltzing around with their little green hats with feathers. Celebrate! Ein Prosit!

I live across the road from one of the four German clubs in the city. This past weekend and next I get to witness the results of Oktoberfest overindulgence. People stumbling around and shouting, and pissing on my front lawn at all hours of the morning. Beer. Music. More beer. Some bratwurst. More beer. Roll out he barrel. More beer. Walter Ostanek. More beer.

Today E and I watched the Oktoberfest parade, which takes place, again, right outside our house. She watches while covering her ears because the music is just too loud. She eats her freshly baked pretzel (which used to be one of my highlights, until surgery) and then we wander home. I like parades. Especially this one, because the music I hear is the music of my childhood, and I remember, fondly, being whirled around at family weddings, too small to dance on my feet, to the polkas that are blared from loudspeakers as the floats pass by.

I get it. We all need something to celebrate. Why not?

But when my former partner, who has displayed nothing but disdain for such displays of nationalism in the past, announces that he will be attending such festival with his new girl, well that sticks in my craw.He rationalizes that because she's German, he gets to see the cultural aspect from the viewpoint of an insider.

Jealous much? Uh, no. I don't want him, she can have him....(oblique polka reference, in keeping with the weekend).

He sees nothing amiss with his participation, which is fine. But, he has previously expressed that he has problems with me involving myself or our child in Pride activities in any way. Or making jokes, self-depreciating or not, which reflect my sexuality. Or listening to music which favours any kind of sexual identification. Cause there's no such thing as heterosexual pride, right?

What is Oktoberfest? German Pride. If he chooses to participate in that kind of activity, but questions my judgment when I express an interest in doing something similar, I call that....

hypocrisy.

And bigotry.



This is also thanksgiving weekend, in Canada. Yesterday I hosted family thanksgiving for the first time...ever. Cooked a turkey, and a kick-ass roast beef. Served and cleaned up after 21 people and had an awesome time. Everyone came, even my new niece, only five days old.

Did I mention that I have a new niece? She's absolutely adorable. And so tiny. And so perfect in every way, as all small babies are.

There I was surrounded by family, and in my element - at home, cooking up a storm, visiting with my siblings and nieces and nephews. And for a while I was just - me. It was great. Comfortable in my own skin, doing the things I like to do. The ex stuck around for a while to visit with my family which was also nice. I'm glad he was able to do that, it's comforting to me that he understands that he hasn't really lost a family, because my family will always consider him family. he's E's dad, and that's what matters.

And they will apply the same non-judgemental attitude when I am fully out. My parents know. My brothers will know before Christmas. As for extended family, their knowledge and their reactions matter less to me...

When N left I didn't miss him. And I didn't care where he went.

What I care about is being alone. And what I worry about is getting to the point where I can be comfortable with someone else again, not plagued by insecurities. They are myriad and unfathomable. The way I look - used to be too big, now too angular and elongated. The way I can't connect to people right away. The fears I have about being close to someone else and being hurt again - having to watch them pull away when I'm just not ready. I have mentioned - perhaps - that I feel like a virgin all over again and my lack of experience in that quarter is another basis for more irrational insecurity.

And I'm unemployed...at least I am today. But I had a job interview on Saturday for an assistant supervisor in a small child care centre, and it went very well. They can pay me what I'd like to be paid. I"ve done that kind of wrok before, it's with toddlers, and I love toddlers, so it's a good fit for me. E can come to work with me on her non-school days. So I will likely be ables to strike unemployment off my list of worries. Knowing myself as I do, there will be another worry to add to the list.

I could go on, but I'm sure you get the picture by now. If I sit here and think too hard, it just gets worse. Better to do something, like clean out the toy room in anticipation of eldest daughter's imminent return. Listen to good music, sip that Tim's coffee. Play my guitar for a little while. Sing. Write a bit. Better to focus on what's positive in my life, than what's absolutely wrong. And it's not all that wrong - working through the insecurities is a normal and natural process. There is another end to the tunnel, and I'll see my way out some day.