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.


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


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:


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…


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


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: