December 22, 2010
But for some, this season has the opposite effect. Families construct backyard ice rinks with the precision of a suspension bridge. People shovel snow away in clean rectangles near lake shorelines, and the Tetris layouts expand farther and farther out as the water freezes thicker and the Saturday games fill faster. Every evening, along my path home from work, a retention pond nestled in the curve of a highway on-ramp hosts a small herd of cars and teenagers hockeying away until they can't see by the intermittent light of headlights any more.
And this, I suppose, is the essence of winter in Canada.
December 18, 2010
Your eyes do not deceive you. Toby's mutant saliva is practically his superhero secret weapon. But just when he's running in the snow.
December 14, 2010
December 13, 2010
November 29, 2010
For some reason, at each turn and twist of this saga, I turned into a weepy puddle of anxiety with each update. When they told me the tooth would have to go, I cried. Every time I made a payment, I cried. Every time an assistant said something kind and reassuring, I cried. Oddly enough, I never reacted this way to the painful parts- just the mental shocker parts.
It was probably the cost, plus guilt for sabotaging three years-worth of torture in the form of braces, combined with straight-up fear of the unknown and my bad habit of imagining the worst possible outcome. For example, I was given the choice between the triple-tooth bridge to cover the gap, or an implant which they attach to a metal bolt screwed into my gum and jaw.
The implant carried the risk of breaking through the upper palate, and as soon as my dentist Dr. Ebenezer Scrooge mentioned this, all I could see was my sad, collapsed face, unable to eat or drink or laugh again, all alone because my husband couldn't possibly love a crater-face wife. This, of course, made me cry in self-pity and horror. And so I went with the bridge option.
You'd think making a decision would calm me down a little, and when it came time to pull the troublemaker tooth I was mostly fine. The oral surgeon used local anesthetic and the whole procedure took less than ten minutes (although it's a little disturbing just how little effort it requires to yank out a molar).
But then, he left the room with my tooth full of emotional baggage, and I let out the breath I had been holding for two hours. As the assistant asked me a question I found I couldn't form a coherent sentence, what with the gasping sobs coming out of my mouth.
I felt bad for alarming her- "Are you okay? Does it hurt?"- and all I could do was shake my head while I cried. As I tried to choke out "I'm fine! I'm fine! I was just scared!" she wrapped her arm around my shoulder and patted my head, shushing me like a small child, consoling in her Russian accent, "Ch-ch-ch, it's okay, it's okay, don't cry! Your husband think we beat you!"
This made me laugh, and calmed me down pretty quickly. Even though the saga of dentist trips was just warming up, the worst of the weeping fits were over, since I had finally managed to wrap my head around the process.
A couple months later, me and my husband went to get our first tattoos together. Halfway through mine, the tattoo artist asked if it was hurting too much, and I informed him that four hundred dentist visits made the tattoo needle feel like puppy snuggles and angel kisses. No comparison.
November 26, 2010
Thanksgiving is the first holiday I have noticed and felt a difference living outside of the U.S., and it felt a bit strange. Not really sad, because I don't really have much nostalgia or sentiment attached to it; but, when I thought about giving the thankful train a wave from across the border, it just felt forced. This week has been a doozy to pretend to be grateful for, and giving thanks for the standard food-shelter-family-freedom just rang hollow.
So, it is good we did not sit at home on Thanksgiving. Because we were tempted. It sounded really good to just wallow and eat some junk food and drink a half a box of wine and go to bed at 8:30. But we dragged our asses out the door and went to small group.
It wasn't earth-shattering, or anything much more than ordinary, but it triggered a small thanksgiving for me. Despite setback after setback lately, it's still marvelous to me just how many of God's small mercies are all over the place. Our own tornado of life changes could have dropped us anywhere, dizzy and bewildered, but it dropped us here, in a pocket of warmth and generosity and people who love Jesus. There is so much richness in that alone, and even Negative Nancy can't deny that.
Tonight we'll probably have a mini-Thanksgiving, and roast a chicken instead of a whole turkey, but there will still be stuffing and green bean casserole, and if I have anything to say about it, an apple tart I am already thankful for. And I am grateful, as Anne Shirley says, that "tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it."
November 15, 2010
November 11, 2010
November 9, 2010
November 5, 2010
"I believe, whole heartedly, that Jesus Christ, himself, wades knee deep in shit to save me.
Not that he did. But that he does. Because I am not yet wholly restored, I am not fully healed, and not nearly perfected."
I think I (and most people) hold people like missionaries and pastors and church staff to a different (and somewhat impossible) standard, and I find her honesty and vulnerability refreshing and necessary.
November 3, 2010
October 26, 2010
October 17, 2010
September 16, 2010
September 14, 2010
September 6, 2010
August 25, 2010
held for it by a row of ancient trees;
you look: and two worlds grow separate from you,
one ascending to heaven, another, that falls;
and leave you, belonging not wholly to either one,
not quite as dark as the house that remains silent,
not quite as certainly sworn to eternity
as that which becomes star each night and rises—
and leave you (unsayably to disentangle) your life
with all its immensity and fear and great ripening,
so that, all but bounded, all but understood,
it is by turns stone in you and star.
August 17, 2010
And how crazy are THESE?
August 12, 2010
August 11, 2010
July 25, 2010
July 11, 2010
July 6, 2010
July 3, 2010
July 1, 2010
June 22, 2010
June 17, 2010
June 15, 2010
June 10, 2010
- when, on an ordinary walk, Toby spies a squirrel in his path and switches into Hunter Mode. His head and torso glide along parallel to the ground, while his shoulders pump like greased pistons- even though he's on a leash and never actually goes for it, he makes me believe he could nab that cheeky rodent. No problem.
- Mr. Dyson. I have a serious crush on this man. Not sure if it's because of his accent or because maybe I just want one of his vacuum cleaners. Either one.
- it has been so cool lately that we can sleep under a sheet, blanket, and comforter. With the windows open. A rare thing in my past experiences of June.
June 5, 2010
And, since this cotton yarn just goes on and on unbelievably, a couple wee hats:
Did I mention she's having a girl? No?
As always, my blogging has lagged because we can't seem to stay put for more than five days in a row. We spent Victoria Day weekend in Grand Rapids, seeing my brother graduate, and then Bryan took off for an extended Memorial Weekend while Toby and I carried on with our daily lives.
Mid-summer, I will head to Michigan FOUR WEEKENDS IN A ROW, which I know sounds insane but will be for all good reasons. I'm not looking forward to that repeated stretch of highway in a car that appears to be starting menopause and has surging hot flashes in bad traffic- but I'm excited for each of the events and that will pull me through. A cottage weekend with dear friends, a wedding, a preaching opportunity for Bryan, and another (what promises to be lovely) wedding. All life-affirming and encouraging events to take part in.
In its own strange way, being so much closer to friends and family has prevented a true, consistent settling where we are, or at least that's how it feels to me. It's tricky to plan ahead and commit to things when our travel schedule is so flexible and unpredictable. Mixed blessing, I guess? But it's also summertime, so maybe that's part of the flurry of activity. It just feels like I shouldn't bother putting my suitcase away for a long time, which isn't exactly reassuring. I just have to take each week as it turns and work with the time I've got.
May 26, 2010
I don't blame them, really. I can see the appeal. See it, but definitely can't feel it. Summer and I have this strained relationship where he is the little brother who follows me around and smothers me the minute I sit still, and I just put up with him and wait for him to get bored with me, because I'm too nice to yell at him to lay off with all these other Summer-lovers around, ready to judge me up and down for not liking summer.
This is the norm for me, but this week at work is amplifying it because the two-story, 100-square-feet reception area I work in is the only section of our building that has inexplicably decided to go on strike. The summer air in every other office area is whipped into submission, but in mine it's allowed to run amuck. Or, not so much run amuck as plop down and unpack its 18 suitcases all over the damn place with no regard for anybody else's personal space.
I'm told the landlord has been called to evict the insensitive punk, but in the meantime I sit in the 81 degrees and perspire. A lot. And what's worse is, I get sleepy. I'm sure I sound a little bit drunk when I answer the phone. And you can only cut back the layers of clothing so much before it starts to get problematic.
Maybe it's the time of year, but today the sitting and perspiring and the buzzing of my wee fan brought back some vivid memories of elementary school. I spent 1st through 4th grade in an ancient, dank, prison/labyrinth of a school, complete with desk-and-chair combos with seats worn shiny by thousands of squirrely kids' butts. Boys had to wear slacks and girls had to wear skirts at this school, and the feeling of sweaty legs sticking to those wooden seats will forever live in the corner of my brain that also houses The Trumpet of the Swan, times tables, cursive, and phonics. Going to school was always just a hair more impossible when you had to sweat the whole day long, knowing summer break was just within reach.
Now, when I'm sitting and sweating, instead of wanting to eat a popsicle and climb a tree and ride my bike around, I just want to take a nap.
Okay, I'll still take the popsicle.
May 13, 2010
immortal longings in me.
- Shakespeare, "Antony and Cleopatra"
I have in me:
An 88-year-old Jewish woman who plays mahjong and saves her tea bags and knits and says things like "six to one, half-dozen to the other" and "whippersnapper" and "Lord willing and the creek don't rise..." (okay, maybe she's not Jewish.)
A 62-year-old hippie who wears multiple loud floral prints at the same time, wears too much jewelry, talks about composting too much, and throws an unforgettable garden party.
A ten-year-old book-swallowing nerd. Although that's really just the same as the current 26-year-old nerd.
What's funny is, most days I don't feel the age that I am.
May 7, 2010
Today felt more like the Ides of March than the first week of May- chilly and steadily raining. And for some reason, my day at work just draaaaaaaaaagged. I'm already bored just trying to come up with a way to describe how slow it was. So, it being miserable and boring and Friday, I was anxious to get home and take off my stupid clicky work shoes and wrinkly work clothes and put on pajamas. (It may be disturbing, but I go straight to pj's at roughly 5pm every day of the work week. I need to get out more.)
However, be it the rain or the Friday crazies, traffic was uncooperative and frankly, a little belligerent. (No idea if I spelled that right.) Traffic and I have a tense relationship anyway, but there's no reasoning with it when it gets in a mood like that. Incorrigible is a good word for it. So I called my On-star (read: husband) who gave me the most reasonable route home from the nearest exit off the highway.
I wasn't sure where I was at first, but then I recognized enough landmarks to realize I was near the Hamilton Cemetery, so out of curiosity I pulled off the road to check it out.
Tangent: three things. 1. The cemetery is old. And crammed. And really lovely. 2. On the City of Hamilton's website, the cemeteries are categorized under 'Parks'. Um, I guess? A really quiet one? 3. I guess they are parks, because outside each entrance are signs depicting dogs on leashes, and people picking up after them, which implies walking your dog through the cemetery is totally cool.
So, I'm rolling around this vast collection of concrete and marble chunks, and that's when I see the lilacs. Along the back edge of the cemetery chain link fence, as far as I could see were frothy, fragrant lilacs in full bloom. And I know exactly where I am; over the fence and down the hill lies my usual route home from work, and I've looked up the hill coated in lilac bushes and wondered how to get up there. And I had got up there.
I've always loved lilacs. In the wild, unkempt back yard of my childhood (well, somewhat kempt, okay Dad?) we could always count on an abundance of three things: lilacs, peonies (GLORIOUS peonies!), and sycamore twigs. The first two I loved; the latter was the bane of my existence every Saturday morning, as we were drafted to gather them all lest they choke and kill the lawn mower. Like that would have been such a tragedy.
But anyways. It took me about eight seconds to decide to park off to the side of the quiet road, and scamper around soaking-wet in my stupid nice work shoes, snapping twig after twig of heavy blossoms. It's the smell. That smell will fill a room in a few hours, did you know that? Those things smell so sweet and light and rich, they're practically spun sugar. Or meringue. Or something. I think it makes me go a little mad, hence the thievery.
And I'll be honest: I stopped and checked over my shoulder, in every direction, a few times. And I even had brief thoughts of what I would say to some horrified elderly resident stopping by to pay their respects... I considered picking out a family member whose grave I would pretend to be picking the lilacs for. Braithwaite was a contender, just because it's a pretty name. But I digress. I just didn't want to get caught like a guilty eight-year-old.
Now, they're clustered throughout the rooms of our apartment, and they're delightful. Dare I say I would do it again? Here's the thing: I don't think the dead would begrudge a bit of spring to the living. The dead can't exactly enjoy them, anyway.
May 2, 2010
Also, because I have a ridiculous amount of book reports from third grade and every photograph I ever took and every book I've ever read, it will be fun to have it all unpacked (or at least a designated storage home) and together under one roof, because our belongings are officially spread between three roofs (and maybe more, who knows). And let me tell you, books are a bitch to move. And it's worse when we BOTH like books, so there are twice as many. I know I've written about this before, but since 2002 I have moved 13 times. THIRTEEN. Of course, this included college which is highly transitory anyway. But still. You get good at moving books. Free tip: pack them in small boxes. I know that means a LOT of small ones instead of less big ones, but your back will thank you. Your arms and shoulders and knees will appreciate it as well.
Point: one day I would like to unpack all my books in built-in bookshelves with a rolling ladder, for easy access when I want to take one to read out on the front porch, possibly in a porch swing, definitely with a gin & tonic. I would also like to take our food scraps out to the compost bin after dinner (eaten at our hypothetical dining room table, with a dinner party of friends, with our wedding dishes currently in hibernation), and weed my vegetable garden to my heart's content, knowing that if something turns out pear-shaped I'll have many more summers to practice. A bonus might be nice neighbors to share all the harvest with, too.
I feel old when I say this, but I want to just settle. Stay put for enough time to care about the walls we'll paint, to gut the bathroom that needs redoing, and generally putter about the house. I look forward to puttering.