Friday, September 30, 2011

Journal 66 Book(s) that made me a Reader

Penguin UK threw down the challenge on Twitter this week, basing the question on what one book you (one) read as a child that converted you to reading. Lots of Brit-based answers, oddly, though, I had read them all, the Enid Blytons, the mysteries, the Americans, the Judy Blumes.

My entry was Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and then, the book I didn't enter, that I read after, A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L'Engle. Both books were dog-eared from my childhood hand, holding them, reading them, over and over again.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory I read at age 7, and had read to me in my grade 2 class, by an animated, elderly, truly lovely gentleman, who was killing time reading us a children's book that is, let's face it, not really for kids.
The image above is the same as my actual childhood copy, which I still own, pointilist drawings scattered here and there inside its pages, still intact.
I hear the reference banded about "golden ticket" and I think it a well-thought-out, high-literary nod to this magical book. I remember how funny my father thought it was that one of the grandparents, out of the pairs Joe and Josephine and George and Georgina, worked in a toothpaste factory screwing caps onto tubes of toothpaste. He really laughed at that.
It didn't bother me--when I opened the book, I was trapped in that magic world. Maybe I've never really left it, as every time I open a book that I start to love, one I know is going to change the person I am, add something to her that she didn't have before, it is magic. It never leaves me.

I read a Wrinkle in Time a couple of years after the Dahl classic. A Wrinkle in Time, again, a children's book not really for children, was more complex, darker, and had a scientific, specific approach to solving the world's problems--love and faith were only revealed at the end of the book, a reward to the child who could slog through the dark universe L'Engle created. I read her New Yorker profile, completed in 2004, shortly before her death, and heard mention of one school-yard score card, where girls silently created an 'other' for themselves--they had divided themselves into two camps: those who had read A Wrinkle in Time, and those who hadn't.
Ouch. Reading about L'Engle's (and Dahl's, for that matter) perseverance in life and what they endured while honing a craft most of us will only be able to stare into the window of...nothing short of greatness.

I was glad Penguin, with its' many publications of classic novels, numerous on my library shelves as a bibliophile adult, inspired these memories of early reading for me.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Journal 65 Five Best Decisions

A blogger that I admire recently filled in this questionnaire-type topic about life.
She has five definite ones, they were all solid, real choices, and she picked them as her five knowing how much they shaped her life. You can read about them here:

I have to admit, I don't have such a ready-made list, one that jumps out at me with a certainty that I feel cemented to.
Part of me wishes I did, but I have to take the thorn-studded route here, meander along it, and muse for a bit, what were five, or more, of my best decisions, rambling as they may be, that shaped my life?

Truly, five singular spectacular decisions stand out, but a few come to mind as life-shapers..although they didn't necessarily look like that at the time:

  • learning to read. I guess this wasn't so much a decision as a government-mandated rule that all children are subject to, but I really took to it. learning to love books came soon after, and this has saved my life, over and over again, when things were bleakest

  • getting a part-time job while I was in school at a local steakhouse. I wouldn't have many of the things I have today: some (most) of my best friends, Mike (I met him through a close friend I worked with), my loft (I saved all my restaurant cheques for the down payment)

  • going to design school after leaving art school during a recession, fearing I would be destined to live in poverty , ie, 'starving artist' for life if I didn't do something fast, career-wise

  • going to therapy after the robbery at said steakhouse, and committing myself to really looking at my life, and the patterns I used to get through it, and how I could change them

  • getting in the car, after all the detrius had cleared out of my way a bit, and driving to Maine, alone

So...that's them. Nothing earth-shattering, but really, once I started thinking about it, they all kind of fell into place. The way those types of decisions tend to do. Even if they weren't the right decisions at the time, they became the right decisions, the way you can really make any decision right if you give it enough time.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Journal 64 The Witching Hour

When I face the witching hour, the time of the day where I have trouble envisioning a future with hope, I need tools.

Lately one of those things is, predictably, a list. A list of things, random though they may be, of feelings and experiences that help stave off anxiety.
It's taken alot lately, since being back from vacation, from that cocoon of safety, despite the high anxiety I had during the drive.

Without further ado.
I will list:

1. Taking random photos as I walk downtown, or, in the case of yesterday, in the 'burbs hanging out at the park with my niece and nephew, checking out the fall colours, and picking leaves off the ground, red, yellow, orange.

2. Unpacking things. Laundry. Cleaning. Chores of any kind that promote orderliness and tidiness. That helps me find things that are missing. (still no sign of the pink running top. Found the white one).

3. Reading. A new book, or one that I'm already deep into. But opening the book to that first page, the first time, or going back to the book I'm reading already. Nothing quite compares to those moments. I open the book, a book, that book. And then...I'm gone.

4. Same thing with running. That magic moment--it doesn't always happen. But when it does, I'm gone again, somewhere safe, with no worry. And I love each second that I'm away.

5. Faith. The feeling that someone, somewhere, is propelling things along. That I don't have to do everything myself.

6. Thinking about sleep. And how restful and restorative it can be when I let it. That moment, just like opening the book, or passing the 10 km mark. Falling away.

7. Looking at the city with detachment. Trying not to hate rude drivers and meandering pedestrians, and just feel warmth in this cold, cold city.

8. Cooking. Not following a recipe.

9. Magazines, including trash like Hello. Easy to lose myself in the flurry of royal weddings and unhappy rich people (because they are unhappy you know. They are).

10. Pajamas. As in wearing them at all times when I'm home. Hair up, 4 inches shorter, ponytail swinging post-run, post-tan.

11. Nail-painting.

12. Organizing. Putting my books and cards in piles, and thinking about what to read next.

13. Trying to observe the passage of time without terror of the future, of the changing of seasons, looking forward to Thanksgiving, to fall, to the next chapter.

Nothing different than any other time. I still don't have any idea what the future holds, no matter how hard I try to peer into the window of what's coming next.

So I just work on taming the witching hour.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Journal 63 Static II

Now for the Great:


Walking in the rain, turning off my ipod and just listening to the rain, the cars splashing through it, the sky darkening around 730 pm.....I won't lie. I pretended it was April, early spring instead of early fall. The half-naked trees played along.

Starbucks coffee on sale at Dominion (Metro-I will always call it Dominion).

The guilty pleasure of Real Housewives (although most of them are divorced..hmm. Wives?)

Speaking of Wives, reading Katrina Onstad in the Saturday Globe (I just read it today, and loved every word, especially as a newly-engaged). Here--I give you the link.


More about walking in the rain, and more about my engagement--pause for shameful moment here--I love walking in the rain even more now, holding my umbrella with my left hand.
Again. Sorry.

Making dinner with the blinds open, but no light coming in--just the clouds, the buildings in my city view obliterated by the foggy dark.

Daily writing. No matter how I feel.

beautiful photo by SJackson

Journal 63 Static

I had originally thought of calling this post "traffic" as in stuck in it, as in getting-every-red-light-for-the-last-two-weeks, but all in all, it's not just the traffic in this city slowly putting me into a tailspin of frustration, it's the static in my head, too.
List-making. I resort to it now.
Not Great:
The 90-minute drive into work yesterday (it's about 25 odd km to get to my office. I know. I KNOW). There was an accident on the 404 Northbound (that's what the DVP is called north of the 401.). It basically shut down the highway. I exited, smartly, fuming, at Don Mills. Guess what was broken down in the bus lane? Got it.
In other news I've started using the bus lane as my own personal Route 66. Hear this lawmakers: I don't give a fuck, I HAVE TO GET TO WORK.

The 2 plus hour drive home from a lovely client's in Mississauga. A Jays game, a pre-season Leaf game, and a Toronto FC game. Here's a tip people: WATCH IT ON TV. Everyone and their mother driving south on the 427. I exited onto the Queensway after hearing a female traffic reporter say "the Gardiner to get into the city is so clogged, there's no accident, I can't figure it out". Huge huge eye roll.

My crampy run this morning. After bragging to Mike about how losing that 5 extra lbs has freed me from alot of leg cramps, that came back to bite me.
In other running news, I have two brand new running tops, one white, one bright pink, from Target. Can't find either of them. I know they are here. Just.....on hiatus. Along with alot of other
items. Note; I live in a one bedroom condo. Usually it's quite neat. WHERE DOES MY STUFF GO?

Neatness: my bathroom needs cleaning, really, the floor. It's my hair. It's everywhere. My friend L. constantly berates me about this. When we were on vacation in 2008 in St. Maarten she couldn't believe it. I know. I also need a haircut. Am getting on Saturday. Three months overdue I'd say.
What can I say? I've talked about my time management skills due to recent events. They are gone. Vacation kind of helped but also hindered. Now I'm distracted as well as being disorganized.

My nails won't grow/don't grow. I give up.

I've had a headache all day.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Journal 62 Mermaids

I've been blogging about them from my time in Maine, and the artwork I saw.
Oddly, the movie was on TV last night, an all-time favourite of mine, and in an out-of-character experience for me, I watched the whole thing. I didn't sit and watch it, because that is not how I watch TV, but I flitted and watched it, made dinner and watched it, ate dinner and watched it, and generally flipped back in time, to 1990, where I was the same age as Winona Ryder's Charlotte character when the movie first came out.
I saw it in an Oshawa theatre with my sister when it was first released in 1990, and I fell in love with it immediately.
I loved the music, I loved Winona (still do) and Cher (still do), and I loved the setting.
Little did I know that it was New England (Massachusetts to be exact) and that I would come to know and love that region of the U.S. for my own reasons at this stage in my life.
As I watched the movie I felt my own teenage angst, an angst that really, never goes away.
It just changes shape, like the woman into the mermaid, and back again.
The worries about love, about the future, the fears about anything happening to your family...they just transform, they loom, and they challenge even more.

I get alot of interesting viewpoints on all of these challenges from all the people in my life, and the people whose blogs I read, in various agegroups.
Reading some 20-something blogs yesterday, I was smiling to myself as one newlywed decreed that there were 2 types of women: A and B.
A hounded men to marry her and was single;
B took her time, played it cool, and ended up married.
I wished it was as simple as that; but I did envy the confidence it took to assert that statement.
I remember a friend of mine who lost her mother young saying to me that the one upside of that happening when she was fifteen was that this death affected her only--she didn't have to 'do' anything, except experience and feel it.
Not that that would be even close to easy--but I admired the way she turned the situation and the memory of it into something special, not just something tragic, and I carried those words with me through-out my father's entire illness, and thereafter-the dealing with funeral-planning, the writing of an obituary, the delivery of a eulogy, the execution of the will-the 'business' of death, so to speak-all of that had a huge effect on me, and I came to carry her words as a talisman of sorts. Strange, I know. I may not be explaining it right, but that's how it felt.
The IMDB describes Mermaids thusly;
An unconventional single mother relocates with her two daughters to a small Massachusetts town in 1963, where a number of events and relationships both challenge and strengthen their familial bonds.

I guess maybe that's why I love this movie--that second part of the sentence, after the comma.
That despite all the events and relationships we experience and store, there can be strength borne out of it all, even if it seems impossible at the time.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Journal 61 Niagara

Dinner with T. and L. late, at the Keg.
Niagara Falls.
Perfect weather.
Mist off the water.
Good wine.

Journal 60

No title for this one yet. Just realized, wow...Journal 60.
I haven't titled my last few posts as journals since they were really more like ...accounts. Of my Maine vacation, of my engagment, and the reaction to it.
As I was emailing my friend L. today..It's Monday and I'm grumpy.
And I have NO reason to be, but I am. Then she nailed it for me: I'm engaged, and I'm on my own here again in TO, and my love is 1100 kms away (800 miles. But I think in kilometres..I can't help it. And when I see gorgeously decorated beach houses on, this decorating site I love, I mentally insert a U in harbour. Oh God.).

Before I continue my Monday rant (rainy weather, summer is over, my hair needs a cut like you would not believe), let me say I had a fantastic weekend with my two best friends, thanks to my friend T's husband who booked a hotel room for us in Niagara and sent us on our way. We wined, we dined, we cross-border shopped, we went to wine country, all along curved roads (more deer signs help me) and tried amazing Canadian wines, saw the Falls, ate Tim Horton's for breakfast, read lazily in the hotel Sunday morning...we did it all.
And at the end of the weekend we all went home, them to their husbands and children, and me back to my condo..alone. And then I crashed. I had an anxiety attack the size of a house, and my sister had to talk me down on the phone. All I needed to do was put a few kilometres of road under my shoes and I guarantee I would have been fine, but I got all dressed to run (around 4pm), shoes and all and then...took a shower instead.
So the guilt of that got all mixed up in the anxiety, and then Sunday Night Syndrome started early, and there you have it.
My sister and I had dinner at her place, which helped, we each had a cry over my dad, which helped (I had seen two very old men at the Vineland Estates vineyard and that set me right off. It does every time. I mourn the years he will miss, that he was cheated out of. The other day I saw a girl about my age having coffee at Starbucks with her very elderly dad and I almost went over the edge. Right over. In the Starbucks. Controlled myself).
So I ended up the weekend finishing the book Madness by Marya Hornbacher, and learning that bi-polar is a scary and frightening thing to endure, and then I journalled, in my fawn-lark journal, with no regard for the lines on the pages, and I let myself scrawl while I made lists for myself, and talked to myself in the pages, and just basically let myself write each and every sad scared feeling.

I will post some Niagara pictures so all can see what a time we had. And yes, I do know how dearly lucky I am. It's just that my head likes to take over sometimes and play tricks, especially on Sunday afternoons. It's one of the reasons I started this blog....

More in a bit.

Friday, September 16, 2011


I've written about my engagement, now I write about the reactions to my engagement, and much like how different people react to different news differently, the pendulum continues to swing wildly sometimes. Out of control, a bit.
It's a ring on my finger, but people notice it. Big time. Mike has no such 'evidence' so to speak--he merely has to tell his people, and they know, and it's all good, and for a man at the age of forty-four, it's still ok that he's getting married now, that he is making the decision to do this now.

For my people, I'm still dealing with alot of shock and awe, I won't lie. Some of it is a bit disconcerting to me. And, truth be told, I have to get this off my chest; hurtful.

I know, I know the people in my office mean well and mean nothing but good cheer when opening some champagne yesterday and putting some baby booties in front of me as a joke.
But my smile was pasted on.
I know that my boss did not mean things the way they sounded when he asked me, very gravely Tuesday morning, if my engagement meant that I had reversed my earlier 'decision' not to have children.
It hurt.
It still hurts, and with the stress of being back at work this week after two weeks vacation, of dealing with being on 'cloud nine' so to speak after so many months of despair and pain surrounding my father's recurrence of cancer and subsequent death, I am my own pendulum, swinging wildly between happiness and despair, between rage at people's insensitivity and compassion at their attempts at kindness.
If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me this week when I am getting married, I'd be spending the lot on a new pair of running shoes, a running watch, and could probably spring for my own Olympic-grade coach.
My closest girlfriends L. and T. know these types of questions and tell me to just enjoy this time and not worry about The Date. I am going away with them this weekend, and I look forward to spilling some of these comments out for them to dissect, analzye, and come up with answers for.
My sister was suitably outraged at my boss's question.

So of course, it took these few days for this to kind of 'settle' in my brain, and only a bit more time for it to start to flutter into my chest, once again 'creating a worry'.
It brought me back to words, and the things we say, to each other, to ourselves, and as my friend A. and I muse--once you let words out, you own them, you can't take them back, and they live on in the other person's head, swirling about, creating worry and doubt, sadness and sometimes fear, and anxiety.
What if I wasn't childless by choice? What if (hell, I don't know, I'll never know) I couldn't actually have children? How would those comments feel then?

I still do things in my own time, a late bloomer, even in this business of getting married. I don't really want the white-dress-my-day type of wedding, because that is not the type of girl I am. That's just me, that's all. I just don't like feeling that my choices are 'weird'. I just don't want to have kids. I've never wanted to, I still don't want to, and that's just me. That's all.

I listen to my Louise Hay cd, I pray in the middle of the night, I lie awake and analyze my own dreams, and then I quiet my spirit and try to be still.

I'm just saying that sometimes we don't make it easy on each other, that's for sure.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Engagement Tale

Ring me.

Everyone wants to hear the story about 'the ring', the 'moment', and everyone at my work keeps rushing into my office trilling "I just heard the NEWS!" (I work in an office of approximately 90% women). Me, in my newly-engaged idiocy; "What news?!"
(then, Oh, yes! Again--center of attention like not me.)
Basically, I got engaged (quietly, on the long-distance line) on August 16th, which was, years ago, my supposed 'real' birthday, the day I was due to be born, but instead I decided to arrive August 24th.
Mike and I were on the phone, late. Yes, we had talked about marriage before, but this time he asked, straight up. I answered, straight up, no hesitation, no doubts. He said, so, we're engaged? I said, no--the ring seals the deal.
We talked about rings (he'd been having a discussion about this very thing with a male friend of his who had just proposed to his own girlfriend). We talked about stores in Portland. He knew alot more than I supposed he would (alot more than me). Diamonds are a stone to me that are too valuable for me to be responsible for. We talked about birthstones, colours, gems. The first major gift Mike gave me, after six weeks of dating, was a pair of vintage-looking aquamarine earrings. Aquamarine, neither one of our birthstone. Instead, the birthstone of the person whose life and death brought us together. And I love blue stones.
Talk turned to the sapphire. I wondered, idly, if it was the December birthstone. In the age of the internet I was able to find out instantly.
September. The month we got together, in 2010, as I waded through the wreckage that was my life then.
It was settled. Never mind that we are citizens of two different countries, that we each have our own life, job, set of circumstances, friends, families. Like I've mentioned before--this time I'm not directing the play.

When I arrived in Maine, late August, right after my birthday, Mike had bought me a necklace for a gift, yellow gold chain, a peridot stone (my actual birthstone, not a favourite).
I'm picky about everything (Virgo) including food, clothes, gifts, and especially jewellery. We discussed returning the necklace and finding a ring instead.
We did, about a week into my trip, and I can remember the drive to downtown Portland, it's cobbled streets, up-and-down hills, the butterflies (good butterflies, like on the ferris wheel) in my stomach, returning the necklace, choosing the ring, together, the one I liked most sliding on my ring finger, no re-sizing needed, a perfect fit.
I wore the ring out of the store, tucking the box into my purse.
We got to the car, a cool Maine day, overcast, some cloud, but that clean ocean air blowing by.
He asked me to marry him again in the car, this time with the ring on my hand, and I said yes.
We went and bought champagne, and for the first time in a long time, I felt like celebrating.

I still can't stop looking at it, glancing at this talisman, one that I had long ago given up the hope of ever having.
Let alone finding a man like Mike.

He is the real star of this play.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Maine Part 5

A post dedicated to the 'creatures' from my trip to Maine...

More mermaids. This is an ice cream shoppe. Here in Toronto no one thinks of putting whimsical creatures on the sides of buildings. We're too busy trying to get the next cab and grab a drink before last call. We're too stressed to notice even if someone did decorate a building like this. I loved these happy child-mermaids. They looked so joyful.

Christmas in September...well, not really. This was a Christmas decoration I found in Mike's basement while we were doing laundry. It was really meant to be standing up or hung on a wall, but it was lying on its back, opening up all sorts of possibilities for...rude comments. At the pizza party we had last week, one of the activities was to imitate that captioning the cartoon contest the New Yorker holds every week on the back page of the magazine. So we handed out pens and paper and everyone came up with something.....I'll leave that to your imagination.

Gulls the size of small labradors, I kid you not, Toronto has nothing on the size of these birds. While you are swimming, they like to 'investigate' your unattended belongings. They also have funny mating rituals, of which Mike and I laughed about endlessly. While others tried to get seagull-free photos, we went out of our way to get shots of the birds.

This was on sale at L.L. Bean, known to NE'ers everywhere as "Beans" (the store, not the outfit). I had a moment of absolute hilarity when I saw this, thinking of the Halloween possibilities. I was in tears laughing. Mike's friends were non-plussed hearing this tale and seeing this photo. Nothing new to them!

Thing 1 enjoyed his time in Maine. We meant to take him out to a 'mini lighthouse' and make the kids think he had grown 'giant' but we ran out of time. The running joke with my niece is that every single time she comes over, without fail, she asks "Where is Thing 2?" (because they travel in pairs, they are identical twins or something. When I was a newly-minted Auntie I didn't know this. So I only bought one. Oh God. I hope I find Thing 2 soon). I change my answer to my niece's question depending on my mood.
Serious: "Auntie didn't know there was a Thing 2 sweetie."
Playful: "He ran off! Woke up and he had left a note saying he was going exploring".
(she doesn't believe this one).

Another great gull shot...he was perched on the chimney of this building on Cape Elizabeth and then came swooping toward me. Lucky shot, I know.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Maine Part 4

I miss Maine, and more importantly I miss Mike.
I miss every corner of the time we had together over the last two weeks.

Leaving dishes in the sink. Towels on the floor.
Driving slowly and taking in the scenery.
Not knowing where some of my stuff was buried in my luggage.
Letting go of the planning, worrying side of me that endlessly turns things around in my head, no matter how useless doing so is.

(On the way in to Montreal, in the second half of the Drive from Hell, I got trapped in massive construction. My rudimentary, high-school French allowed me to discern from the road signs that this road work was a 'make work' project that employs upwards of 100,000 people. Then, below that, was a figure of 553. I figured it with Quebec math: 100,000 people were employed due to this road work. 553 were needed to make the sign. Sorry. I am half-French-Canadian. So yes. I am fully licensed to make these commets. But I digress. Turning my head to look around at the acreage of fields surrounding the highway, 2 hot air balloons floated by. My cousin: did you create a worry about that? me; yes, I thought if one fell we are all stuck here and can't drive away. See? monstrous anxiety).

I've been back in the city only for one day and have already I endured a grocery line up longer than the one at the passport office, have honked aggressively at at least four drivers, and flipped off a female cyclist, going against the light, pedalling like she owned the road, and I was like...wait...what happened to the Maine Me?

Here are some more amazing shots of this amazing state.

This scene, someones' garden, I found eerily haunting, but somehow compelling. I couldn't stop looking at it, and I made Mike stop the car so I could puzzle over this. \
A garden or a graveyard? The grim reaper or an angel of death? I couldn't decide.

On my last day in Maine we went to Two Lights, on Cape Elizabeth, where you feel surrounded by water, and there were some amazing waves, thanks to the stirred-up weather of the last hurricane of the week, Hurricane Lee.

This is the same house, with another area of their vast garden, this face, to me, of almost benediction, a zen-smile, blessing the bicycle below. These people also have hens. Yes. It was quite the acreage.

Mike took this one; misty in the morning.

I took this one of Mike in the waiter's station of his restaurant. The little character with him is Thing 1, of Dr. Seuss fame, whom I brought with me on my trip--we have alot of shots with Thing 1, in the kitchen, hanging out in the fridge--I bought Thing 1 for my niece and nephew one Christmas, and he lives at "Auntie's house". This journey for him was my little nod to the movie Amelie where she delights her father by giving a garden gnome of his to a flight attendant friend to bring on trips and photograph. I can't wait to see E and R's reactions to Thing 1's adventures.

The marking of a soulmate, to me, is that person that finds funny the same things you find funny. Definitely that is the case with Mike.

Another shot of this garden that would not leave me.
Here, a sculpture of a child doing a handstand, obscured by greenery, left an imprint on me.
Who are the people who cultivate this garden, what is their story? Perhaps I'll have to make it up.
But then, the whole year has been. Events of great significance, the dredging up of reserves of emotions I never knew I would use. Good books. Great friends. The hot summer weather.
The lack of sleep, leaving me more awake than ever.

Spirit was all around me in Maine, whether I was looking for it or not. As with my drive through Vermont, I saw many signs that there is a beyond from this place.

Looking up at the stars, running on the beach as a child carved JAMES into the sand, life-size letters, Mike's camera taking random pictures in the middle of the night when we were both asleep, the strong presence I felt of our friend G.

This garden underscored it all for me.

We aren't alone on this drifting boat, for all the times we feel that we are.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I'm Home

And what a journey it was.
Highlights include the failure of mapquest to understand that route 302 in Vermont was
Irene'd and therefore kaput.
Also, the Isle de Montreal is under siege, aka, construction. Let me tell you this; the Champlain bridge one lane each way with the sun at eye level and a bunch of French f*cks driving behind you (yes, I was THAT car) is not fun. Also, when you're trying to read the signs without being blinded by the worry you may have missed your exit.
Then, the fun of the no-light highway to Ottawa, route 417, as the sun is in its death throes. And all the eerie " NIGHT DANGER" signs with the deer and moose emblazoned on them.
Down to 3 bars on the gas tank, at least another hour to go, I called my cousin N. (Down to 2 bars on the cell phone. Jesus.)
Me: "Hey Nance. Ummm...kind of panicking about the dark, my general safety due to Canadian wildlife on Saturday nights, ever getting to Ottawa to your house, and my night vision".
My wonderful cousin: "Oh, you're fine. Just get behind a truck and settle in.
Me: "Ok. Call you in a bit. I have to turn the phone off to preserve its life" (and in my head and mine).
Her: "Ok, Call me when you exit off 417 I'll come and meet you."
A steak dinner and several shared bottles of chardonnay awaited me, along with a queen bed in their guest room and a sleep which I fell into.

Yesterday was a bad grief day. I had 10 hours in the car by myself, murders of crows all over Vermont watching me sweat through a drive where I literally had to tell myself, Ok, Carolyn, 20 minutes and you're at this point; you can do anything for 20 minutes.

This is just a short in-between post before I give you Maine Part 4 and Engagement Tale. But it's an important post, a 'go to the places that scare you post'. Because driving through Vermont and New Hampshire on the way to Quebec and ultimately Ottawa was a real challenge for me. At times on the Vermont detour, I would go twenty minutes without seeing another car. Moose warning signs abounded. I know enough, from my Mom's best friend, about what can happen to you and your car if a moose gets in your path. They will shatter your windshield and possibly kill you. I was nervous, no doubt.

But the scenery through rural Vermont. Indescribable. The trees. The hills, the valleys, the sheer green-ness. The steeples, the little houses (little from my car driving at 1500 ft).

The morning my Dad died he told my Mom he was going to Israel, and she was like...uhhh..okay.

At one singular point during my drive, when I had my wits about me (before Montreal, a city I truly do hate); I looked about me at the Vermont landscape and said to myself, if this doesn't make you believe in God, then nothing will.
The next sign I saw for a park called the "Israel River" park, or something to that effect.
I couldn't believe it.
So I thought, my Dad is here on this drive with me, checking out Vermont. At one point, going uphill, I gunned the engine, that satisfying Mazda push, effortless. But I heard my Dad's voice in my head, quietly, as I did this, saying, Carolyn, slow down.

So, the drive was tough.
I cried alot.
I looked at the ring on my finger and was so happy; but also so sad.

My Dad would have loved to have seen it.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Maine Part 3

There has been a marked change in weather this week, since late Tuesday, and it has been rainy and cold--not beach weather, and definitely not going-into-the-Atlantic weather, a sharp contrast to last week and all the time we were able to spend on the beach, in the water.

There has also been an important event in my life, as of Wednesday night--I am now engaged.
It's a funny word, and it makes me feel funny; not in a bad way, just in a stomach-flip-roll-over kind of way, as in "Oh my God. I was the eternal bachelor...." (Not bachlorette. Trust me on this--I do not own a toaster, kettle, stereo or vacuum. See, I told you). The other funny thing is that M. is the same way--we are just two lucky people who found each other.
After my disaster break-up last year, I swore off men.
And we all know what happens when you do that. Right.
The universe, in this case, intervened.

It's been such a strange, sad year, that I feel almost guilty in my happiness. Not that I will let that stop me from letting joy in, letting love in; it's just I feel like I need my mom and sister to feel better too, before I can be really really happy. My mom is getting through the days right now in her own way, and I know that for whatever reason, my sister has been hit way harder by my dad's death than I have. Not that I haven't been hit--it does sometimes feel that physical, but maybe for her, the baby of the family, this kind of thing was more out of the realm of imagination. All I can do at this point for both of them is to be there to support them, unconditionally.

The cold weather has given me lots of lazy indoor-time, a contrast to last week when I ran in the heat almost every day, and jumping in the ocean was a great way to wake up. I've finished reading "Lit" and am now trying to pick my next book. I've been loading lots of pictures on here, something I don't normally do, a kind of 'blog-cheat' for me; ie, I usually let my words create the visuals.
M. has also shown me pretty much every corner of southern Maine, and I have taken the camera out of hiding to really capture it...

These lighthouse shots, taken in the driving rain, are from Fort Williams--it's a port in the storm, with a real lighthouse (I think) and a foghorn for ships. M. took these two shots of me, water in the background, and that thing that looks like the moon is really a raindrop on my camera lens. I love it though--I know my niece and nephew will see this shot and think that it is, in fact, the moon.

And yes, that is my new Coach purse. Do not judge me. I have an addiction, sir.

Here is the Mumm's we had Wednesday night to celebrate.....I know I will tell the whole story of the engagement itself on here shortly. Right now I'm just savouring it, with a bit of awe, truth be told. As my friend L. reminded me on the phone yesterday--just enjoy this moment and don't worry about when/where/what ie, wedding. It will all happen eventually. She's right.

Here is M. on the beach, again, taken last week when the weather was fine.
The other stomach-flip feeling I get right now is the fact that I have to leave to go home Saturday morning, and I am already dreading that moment, and another sad good-bye. I know it won't be for as long this time, but the last two weeks have been so filled with activities we've done and all the laughing we do, that I dread staring down autumn, the precursor to the Canadian winter and to November, my most hated month, that I want to postpone it as long as I can.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Maine Part 2

This time in Maine, I've been able to really soak up the sights, the sounds, and see the landscape more than my other two visits.

This is a house that I've run by approximately 15 times...just noticed this garage yesterday as I limped back from the end of my run, as my right foot was in pain. I love that someone took the time to do this to their little house.

People in New England love the expression "wicked". I spotted this sign with M. and we were both in stitches. In a bar when we were in Boston we heard a girl, with her Massachusetts accent, say wicked in a sentence, describing something she bought at Marshalls (pronounced in Boston as "Mahshalls"). Wicked.

Old Orchard Beach with its rides--this is on the ferris wheel, seeing things how the birds see them, from up high.

Hanging out with Mike and his friends. Last night we had a grilled pizza party....amazing.

Driving to Portland, and then on to Freeport to the outlets.

More from the pizza party.

Amazing meals. I'm eating and sleeping like I haven't in months.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


I've been in Maine for over a week now.
It's a nice change of pace, as people don't rush here. They don't feel the need to hurry and run around like they do in my city, line-ups for everything, cars all over the place, and this endless feeling of always playing catch-up, usually with yourself.
It's a different feeling for me, to be around all this calm. Here's hoping I can breathe it in for myself, and keep some inside me to bring home.
Just checking in.
Below is the pier at Old Orchard Beach, where they have rides and a little strip of shops;
below that is a building that I described to M. as what Canadians picture when they think of Maine. My entire frame of reference for Maine came from reading Stephen King novels and always thinking of it as a rural, haunted state, which seems to funny to me now, in retrospect, after being able to experience life here, deep into my third visit.
I like it here.