Tuesday, November 28, 2006
The trip seemed to start off well despite our 3-year-old's impulse to talk constantly, about anything to anyone at anytime. whew! We were relieved to arrive at my parent's house where she could divide her verbal abilities among more adults than just my husband and I. We settled into the room where we would be staying during our visit and after some bites of my mom's amazing homemade pizza, promptly fell asleep.
The next night, we had BBQ hamburgers for dinner. Our daughter was chomping away with nearly half the burger gone when my husband noticed how pink it was. He looked at me with alarm and asked, "is that okay?" We all had a closer look and decided to cook the burgers longer. My husband and I both felt a faint sense of dread, but decided to hope for the best and trust that no harm was done. We finished the meal and enjoyed the rest of our evening.
This is where I describe what it's like to eat a "toad" in the wee hours of morning. Around 2 am, I awoke to the sound of our daughter shuffling around in the dark, trying to make her way to our bedside. I reached out my hand and drew her to me. As she got closer I felt heat radiating from her small body and heard her groggy voice mumble "my tummy hurts, ma." She crawled in bed beside me and made a coughing sound. I recognized what was about to happen, jumped from the bed, clicked on the light and spread an old towel beneath her just in time to catch a large amount of vomit. yikes. My heart was pounding from fear that she had contracted E Coli or some other bacteria from the undercooked burger.
My mom awoke and found the old glass thermometer I used when I was sick as a child. Alley dutifully held it under her tongue "just like Laura in Little House on the Prairie." It read 102 degrees. I asked my husband to give her a lukewarm bath while I went to the computer to search the Mayo Clinic website for health information.
It turned out that she was fine. Her fever subsided the next day and there was no diarrhea and no more vomiting. But for the rest of that early morning, from 2 am to 7 am, my husband and I took turns comforting both children as they restlessly woke up over 10 times. My daughter was uncomfortable and sweaty, afraid that she would vomit again. Her restlessness would wake Soul-Baby and on and on. At one point, my husband rolled over and hugged me in the dark and with a small chuckle said " this is unbelieveable."
And that friends, was the day we ate an early morning "toad." By sunrise, things were looking up. The kids felt happy in the warmth and sun and were able (most days) to take good naps during the day. But for some reason, for the entire 8 days, they awoke repeatedly in the wee hours of morning.
It is in these moments that we remember that our parents have done the same for us and that parents across the globe know what it's like to sacrifice precious sleep for these small humans in our lives that rely entirely on our care for them.
I was thankful to have my husband beside me. I felt we were comrades, silently and lovingly continuing where the other left off.
There's just something about eating a "morning toad" beside the man I love.
Mike Rich (screenwriter for Finding Forrester and Radio) has completed his newest project in time for this year's Advent season. I heard an interview on the radio this morning and was intrigued by his responses to questions about his casting choices for The Nativity Story. Keisha Castle-Hughes, the amazing young actress from Whale Rider, plays Mary and is in her mid-teens. I took a look at the trailer and am eager to view the entire film. You can get the whole scoop on their website
The film opens in theaters across the world this Friday, December 1st.
While in University, I asked a dear friend of mine a question that she did not know the answer to. She looked at me with gentle eyes and said simply "I don't know." Full stop. She didn't qualify or fumble around with possibilities or anecdotal guesses. It was liberating for me to hear her reply. And I started to answer more honestly when I truly did not know an answer.
If I were to psycho-analyze myself, I would say that some of my experience is out of my desire to please others, to seem intelligent and to feel like I have a good memory and ability to retain information. And not all of these motivations are wrong. But there is a restless element to not being able to simply admit that "I don't know."
I was reminded of this earlier today when my husband asked me a question and my reply of "I don't know", came honestly and without guilt. I am thankful that my friend in University was able to answer in this way. She taught me to slow down and be more truthful.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
On November 15, a dark and stormy night, my husband and I drove through a torrential downpour, past deactivated electrical wires to Regent College to absorb the haunting music of Over The Rhine.
I LOVE the music of Over The Rhine and for years have wanted to see them in concert. By a random Blog-searching fluke, I came across an e-poster announcing their coming appearance in Vancouver. Here's a few facts about this intoxicating-creating-dynamic duo. Did I mention their music is amazing?
Based on a small farm in Ohio, Karin Bergquist and Linford Detwheiler are a married pair of artists, devoted to creating deeply passionate music.
I was first introduced to Karin's ethereal and jazz-tinged voice during my years in highschool. The first song I heard, "Lullaby", still makes my skin tingle.
The band first began performing concerts together in 1990 at local Cincinnati clubs and small personal venues with audiences of mostly friends. An exerpt from their website reads, "Enveloping their listeners like family, Karin and Linford kept them close to the fold with simple candle-lit stages and playful handwritten newsletters."
In 2003, they hit a point in their career where they realized their marriage was falling apart. Linford wrote a letter to his fans with an explanation for their decision to cancel the last half of their Fall tour. In it, he described their marriage as a tree saying "there are two trees in our lives: one is our music and one is our marriage. Sometimes we water one or the other, hopefully both. We've poured our hearts and our souls into our music this year, and we've seen that tree bear a lot of fruit and flourish. But we've increasingly realized that there has been very little room left over for anything else including our relationship and marriage. As difficult a decision as it is, we've decided we must go home to do some much needed caretaking and work to preserve this part of our lives."
So, they went home. They sought the wisdom of a marriage counselor and the support of friends and family. One night, shortly after Christmas, Linford bought two cases of red wine and told Karin to meet him in the kitchen. That night and for many nights after, they opened a bottle and talked until it was gone.
Out of that painful, soul searching time came the redemption of their marriage and the conception of a new album: "Drunkard's Prayer". They chose to record the album in their living room, where a great deal of emotional healing and vulnerability had taken place. In Karin's words, "it's an album about two people finding their way home..."
My husband and I had read their letters and biographies and were interested to hear from them in person and to see their interactions, to put an atmosphere and persona to who we knew them to be through their various recordings.
We were struck by their drastic personality differences. Linford is slinky and lanky with a hunched posture and a mellow, lumbering gait. In the words of my husband, his thick brown hair flops over his head like "the humble curls of a black lab." He talks with a SLOW southern drawl with very little fluctuation of tone or affect. In other words, he is Mr. Mellow Yellow. He quietly and nonchalantly plays rolling melodies on the piano, finishing with a slight bow of his head. His thick, dark-framed glasses surround large, kind brown eyes.
Karin is sassy, fast-moving and fiery like a pixie. During the concert she spoke articulately and confidently in her vibrant red sleeveless shirt and her high-heeled shoes She shot perfect-pitched notes into the air like firecrackers. She seemed dominant and high-strung and determined. She laughingly explained herself as "nervous and type-A" and at one point she told the story of how angry she was at the airline for losing their luggage. Linford shruggingly spoke into the microphone, referring to the explanation of her "outbursts" as a "bitchy conviction."
We were surprised by their obviously opposite personalities.
But in the midst of the differences, we could tell they loved eachother and knew eachother well.
They seemed at home. We were inspired by their openness and the courage with which they chose to drop everything and return home to reconnect and fight for their marriage.
They risked their career and a whole lot of money. But they decided that drastic vows require drastic measures. And they have come through on the other side with another intoxicating disc to chronicle their journey through the deep waters.
2005: Drunkard's Prayer, Back Porch Records
2004: Changes Come Over the Rhine LIVE
2003: OHIO, Back Porch Records
2002: The Cutting Room Floor
2001: Films For Radio, Back Porch Records
2000: Good Dog Bad Dog: The Home Recordings, Back Porch Records Re-release, digitally remastered with previously unreleased track.
1999: Amateur Shortwave Radio, Grey Ghost Records
1997: Besides, Scampering Songs
1996: The Darkest Night of the Year, Scampering Songs
1996: Good Dog Bad Dog: The Home Recordings, Scampering Songs
1995: Till We Have Faces, IRS Records Re-release
1994: Eve, IRS Records
1993: Patience, IRS Records Re-release
1992: Patience, Scampering Songs
1991: Till We Have Faces, Scampering Songs
Sunday, November 12, 2006
We have experienced life with an unreliable vehicle for 10 months now. Back at the beginning of 2006, we were involved in a 7 car pileup on the bridge curving over the river and toward our town. It was a rainy January night around 8 pm. My husband had just picked me up from the hospital where I had worked a tiring 12-hour shift on our bustling maternity unit. I was 6 and1/2 months pregnant with our second child and our 2 and 1/2 year old daughter was in her carseat behind me.
The air was filled with light fog, and the constant spittle of winter rain slicked the asphalt, causing it to shine in the headlights. My husband was driving the speed limit in the right hand lane. He was watching the road, driving carefully amidst the blur of rainstreaked headlights and I was chatting about the events of my shift.
As we drove up a small incline in the road, I saw a grey car without lights on in the lane immediately ahead of us and yelled "Car!" when I realized it wasn't moving. My husband slammed on the brakes while intermittently pumping them against the slick road and we screeched to a full stop literally 2 inches from the car's rear bumper. The SUV directly behind us did the same, screeching to a stop within inches of our car. Unfortunately for the driver of the 3rd car, she was going way too fast and had no time to even depress her brakes. She slammed headlong into the SUV, which slammed into us, which caused our front bumper to become lodged quite determinedly beneath the rear bumper of the originally stalled car.
We continued to brace ourselves as the sound of screeching brakes cut through the night. Besides mild whiplash and residual anxiety, we were without injury. But the aftermath of car repairs and insurance delays continued for months.
Our car should have been totalled, but they decided to repair it instead. It has been difficult to know which repairs are a result of the accident and which are par for the course of owning a 1985 Volvo station wagon. Needless to say, our car "big blue," was already dragging it's legs like an old gopher, and is now crawling on its final front leg. Just last week, the heat and defrost function stopped working. And if you know anything about living in a rainforest, which I'm sure you do, you know that defrost and heat is essential.
The Volvo is mine and predates our wedding of 4 years ago. I bought it from my brother back in 2000 after "Mahli", my burgundy 1980 Volvo sedan, tuckered out. Both "Mahli" and "Big Blue" have served their time, carrying me thousands of miles between Arizona and British Columbia.My husband is 6 foot 8 inches and has done well to tolerate the low, cozy entrance to the driver's seat. For over 4 years he has wriggled and contorted his expansive frame into an insertable posture, tweeking his neck and back in the process. So, friends, we have started to look for a new vehicle.
For years, the Volkswagen Westfalia has been top on our list for vehicles to someday own. It is the perfect family vehicle. Most models seat 5 or 6, are fully camperized, sleep 4 adults and are fairly easy to repair if the owner is willing to slow down, take a swig of ginger beer and read the manual. We have also heard a lot of involved stories about these beauties breaking down at inopportune times, so that means we need a good one!
For a few months, we explored the possbility of owning a Mitsubishi Delica (check them out at http://www.japanoid.com/). These unique-looking vans seat 7, run for MANY kms per fill-up of Diesel, are imported from Japan, and are amazingly affordable at $7,000. We seriously considered the Delica and put our names on a list to be contacted when one was available. In the meantime, we visited two friends who had recently purchased one and were able to take a closer look. We discovered that the amount of headroom is less than our old Volvo! My husband looked like a giant on a mini-bike trying to fit into the driver's side. So, we abandoned that possibility. And now we are on the search for a sweet deal on a sweet Westy.
Feel free to smile and honk and to send good thoughts our way when you pass one on the highway.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Dove (the soap and miscellaneous beauty product manufacturer) has launched a "campaign for real beauty." Their attempt is to uncover the lies that we believe about our worth as women based on what society portrays as "beautiful." Their website has a video clip of a woman undergoing a makeover in order to reach billboard status. When you visit the site, make sure to click on the short film.
I have thought a great deal about this over the years, particularly since becoming a mother and observing the various morphings and stretchings involved in bearing another human being. My body is indelibly marked and most days these etchings shine for me as badges of honour to commemorate my motherood status. Otherdays, they burn as inconsistencies on the smooth skin I once knew. I value health and physical wellness and enjoy eating seasonal, nourishing foods that provide rich energy. And I have always loved to get out and MOVE my body with yoga, running, swimming or working out at the local rec centre. But even while maintaining health, and working toward a return to my pre-partum body, I have come to a place of acceptance as I observe the aspects of my bodily changes that simply will not return and are not able or meant to. This is part of my becoming, and it is beautiful.
Earlier this week, I spent an evening with a deeply beautiful group of people. We met to discuss traditional Anglican Creed Beads and their use within the cycle of prayer. The hostess answered the door with ease, dressed to the nines with a bright paisley dress, golden brooch and shiny black dress boots. She is a queenly, "put-together" woman in her late 70's or early 80's. Her head is covered gently with snow-white hair revealing her age, yet she always wears childlike earnestness and glee in her glistening eyes and pulling at the edges of her glowing smile. She exudes grace and hospitality and people are drawn into her presence. I was grateful for the chance to *see* and know more of her by sharing time in her home.
We were invited into the den where others were waiting. The darkness of night settled around us and we drew near to receive what we each needed. Toward the end, the hostess led us upstairs to her kitchen where she had lovingly prepared an elaborate array of teas, coffees and various pastries, breads and fruits. She showed us a few pieces of original artwork hanging on her walls, while explaining the history behind a certain miniature print she was particularly drawn to.
As the night wore on, I discovered things about her that I share in common. She is a nurse by trade, she passionately enjoys art and music, she has an eye for photography, and she writes poetry. I found myself inspired and encouraged by the sharpness of mind, grandeur of spirit and lively energy that swirled around her.
She and her husband walked us to the door and as I pulled on my shoes, we chatted about our lives. She shared about difficult circumstances from earlier in her life and the details surprised me and quieted my spirit with a sense of overwhelming grace. She experienced the reality of loneliness and alienation and judgement from others. And yet toward the end of her journey, in the winter of her life, she is able to stand with dignity and outstretched arms. She holds no judgement and the years are being redeemed.
I felt quieted as I thought of difficult and unwise choices in my life and the lives of others I love. And I felt in that instant that our lives are like a vast windswept plain stretching for miles in every direction. The blades of grass and sways of wheat combine to create gold. And no matter how trampled parts of the field become, there is a possiblity of rain, another harvest, redemption.
Monday, November 06, 2006
On Sunday, November 5, the 22nd day after Pentecost, we brought our son forward to be baptized. Many friends were able to join us for the ceremony and the following reception at our home. During the baptism, Soul-baby was calm and mellow, as he usually is. He rested contentedly in the arms of our Senior priest and trailed his small pudgy fingers through the font's shining water. His curly blonde locks were sprinkled with water and he was carried around the sanctuary as a sign of belonging and welcome into the church family we have come to call home.
We have grown to cherish the beauty and grace of infant baptism. It has become a visual symbol to us of our charge as parents to prepare the soil of our children's hearts and souls with loving, nurturing care. We see baptism as a nourishing ingredient of the soil. Through it,we express the hope that as they grow and as God plants seeds of knowing and yearning in the soil of their hearts and souls, they might readily recognize and respond to him, flourishing in response to his goodness and love.
Saturday, November 04, 2006
Last night we left our children with a trusted friend and went on a long overdue date together.
We met up with another music lover who had procured tickets for a Bruce Cockburn concert at Vancouver's Centre for Performing Arts. The venue allowed for a perfect size of audience and our seats were in the 5th row. Amazing. He opened with "Lovers in a Dangerous Time", from his 1987 album "Waiting for a Miracle", and then continued for 3 full hours. Generous.
LOVERS IN A DANGEROUS TIME
Don't the hours grow shorter as the days go by
You never get to stop and open your eyes
One day you're waiting for the sky to fall
The next you're dazzled by the beauty of it all
When you're lovers in a dangerous time
Lovers in a dangerous time
These fragile bodies of touch and taste
This vibrant skin -- this hair like lace
Spirits open to the thrust of grace
Never a breath you can afford to waste
When you're lovers in a dangerous time
When you're lovers in a dangerous time
Sometimes you're made to feel as if your love's a crime --
But nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight --
Got to kick at the darkness 'til it bleeds daylight
When you're lovers in a dangerous time
Lovers in a dangerous time
And we're lovers in a dangerous time
Lovers in a dangerous time
Toronto September 1983
He looked old and road weary, but his heart was evident in the songs he shared with us. His head was sparsely covered in short spiky whiteness. His tired eyes glistened behind small, circular, wire-framed glasses. Large, well-worn Dock Marten boots clunked the stage as he walked back for two encores. His black velour-looking trenchcoat nearly reached the floor and swung loosely around a bright purple T-shirt with a large black cross scrawled across the front. His "small but perfect" band included a drummer and keyboardist who threw themselves headlong into the show, dancing and stomping out rhythm with energy and familiarity. The woman on keyboards, Wolf, sang background vocals and harmony in a deep, rich alto that made me feel like I was settling into a natural hotspring pool in the mountains. She sang a solo for one of the encores and seemed to move and play with ease and confidence. Her molasses voice filled the room effortlessly.
During the first hour, I was an emotional mess. It was the first time I had left my son to be put to bed by someone else and I was stressed and anxious! My reasonable self knew I should relax and relish the time out with my husband enjoying magical music in a magical city. But I was not relying on my reasonable self. I kept hearing my son's cry inside my mind and in response to my worry, my milk came in and made me yearn overwhelmingly to be home again. I calmed myself down, had a few tears and called to check in again. He was asleep! I felt an enormous weight lift from my shoulders and was able to slide in beside my husband with a more peace-filled smile.
I am fascinated by the intensity of bondedness that exists between mother and child; it is fiercely instinctive.
During the intermission, my husband wondered allowed if a mutual friend of ours was at the concert, since he shared our love of Bruce's music. In that instant, I glanced across the auditorium to the left of us and saw him leaning against the far wall talking with is wife! There was even a muted spotlight shining directly on them. Bizarre. We shuffled our way through the sea of legs in the row beside us and went to grab a few minutes of conversation before the second set. It was wonderful to see them again and mysterious to experience such an uncanny moment of reconnection.
Friday, November 03, 2006
My husband woke me at 5:30 am as I had asked him to. I shuffled through the pile of clothes on the floor by our bed and pulled on my slate grey Yoga pants, turqoise tanktop and midnight blue sweatshirt. My hair was already tied back, my socks seemed clean enough and my shoes were waiting for me by the front door.
The leisure center seemed more crowded this morning, likely due to the pouring, cold rain outside. I tried a new machine, a funky treadmill/stairclimber combination contraption that really worked my leg muscles. I finished the rest of my circuit routine, stretched and reentered the still darkened morning.
On the way home, I stopped at COB'S and pretended I was in Europe where it's common to duck into a roadside bakery to buy fresh bread in the mornings. Three sleepy-eyed bakers turned my way when I entered, said nothing at all and merely dipped their heads in a somber greeting. A small middle-aged, soft-spoken fella shuffled toward the front where I was waiting and washed his hands slowly and meticulously. He straightened the billowing chef hat on his head and waited for my order. I chose six freshly baked seeded rolls, and three loaves of "traditional bread": two country grain blends and one with whole wheat and rolled in seeds and oatmeal.
During my drive home, I was surrounded with the delicious warmth and engulfing scent of freshly baked bread.
I drove up to my dimly lit home and wondered internally if my children had awakened yet. I pushed my way through the front door with bags of bread in both hands, and was greeted by a bubbling chatterball with disshelved blonde hair and bright purple pajamas. She had her green stuffed bunny under one arm like a football and skipped toward me with her other arm flung out and ready for a hug. A few seconds later, my husband peered around the corner holding our grinning, thumb-sucking bundle. What a glorious welcome it was. I was overcome with disbelief that I have been given this great gift of family. My husband and I are overwhelmed daily with the miraculous truth that we have been given the capacity to
(co) create new people to love. Incredible.
As my daughter hugged my neck, I looked around with a smile and I heard her say "ma, we are your kids! we are all your kids!"
Yes, truly incredible.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
When Mac was swimming
I was running late,
walking around New Orleans
looking for a birthday cake.
It was a great surprise to him
so many people came.
Nobody knows, darling.
Nobody knows how they are loved.
Don't worry, my darling,
the sun's coming up.
Let's get up early now,
dive clear into the day.
Let's get out of the car
with open arms,
not wait to be embraced.
The flowers that grew,
the things that happened
since the day you came.
Nobody knows, darling.
Nobody knows how they are loved.
Don't worry, my darling,
the sun's coming up.
(the innocence mission)
As I awoke this morning, I heard the faint tapping of rain on our roof. I crawled out of bed, from beneath our heavy Alpaca-wool blanket, and stepped lightly onto our cool hardwood floor, shuddering from the drafty coolness of air escaping into our home through the open bathroom window. Soul-Baby was squealing with excitement as Alley filled his crib with toys and stuffed animals in an attempt to "play" with him, still a wee 6-month-old infant. They were occupied in this manner for nearly an hour which allowed me a chance to shake sleep from my mind and turn instead toward the newness of the day.
We enjoyed a breakfast of homemade granola, toast with butter and steaming mugs of Tibet Lavendar tea while we talked about the plans of our day. Alley helped me clear the table while I put Soul-Baby down for his morning nap. Once he was settled, I printed off 4 coloring pages from the DLTK website and took our watercolours, tin of water and collection of brushes down from the art cupboard so Alley could paint at her wooden table. When her wiggles grew too hard to ignore, she took periodic breaks to jump on Grandma's (borrowed) trampoline in time to the country music I was listening to as I finished the dishes.
After awhile, we decided to bundle up and sit on the porch together. I grabbed two of our favorite books: Johnny Appleseed and My Mama Had a Dancing Heart, and we hunkered into our fleece blankets to read. Our music choice by this time had changed to classical and in the background we could hear a faint lilting-ballad surrounding us with a sense of timelessness in that moment together as mother and daughter.
Soul-Baby awoke from his nap with a boyish grin. Once I had my fill of cozy hugs and cuddles from his chubby self, I bundled him and sat him beside Alley so they could breathe in the fresh air and gaze at the red and golden hues of autumn leaves on our blueberry bush.
Somehow grasping these moments of autumn makes me less afraid of winter.