Friday, January 25, 2008

JVincent's poem about growing up

7 Glory Hills Drive, Stony Plain, Alberta

my mother kept birds in little cages
insignificant blue pet shop parakeets
who chirped in unmanageable tiny hoots
among the dozens of summery flowers
that my mother kept in the kitchen

my mother hated the frozen months in Alberta,
hated watching the icy Winter
drag flowers and birds and Summer into snow and dirt.

my father was never a violent man
he led his flock on Sunday mornings
and Monday through Saturday
put old farmer's wives in the dirt-
those who'd come to the end of their canola harvests.

my father only lost his temper once
flew into a rage and left a permanent monument to his anger
by putting a grim shoe through the kitchen door.

the boringest place in the world

Okay - so I am working at home today. I have the TV on in the background. Rachel Ray cooking chicken of some kind. I am not paying attention until the local LEX 18 News cuts in with a breaking story. Yummy. Something of interest as I slog through my work.

On the screen, standing before a small apartment building is a young woman holding a microphone and wearing a red serge coat and a seriously concerned face. She informs the public that police and fire fighters have solved the toxic gas issue on this apartment's first floor. Apparently a cleaning lady entered the building earlier and was overcome with toxic gas. The cause? A male resident, in an attempt to thoroughly clean his apartment, overused amonia. Whew. Close call.

So all is set to the rights here in Lexington. The safety officials have forestalled a major incident. We, the public are informed.

Where does one find such a diligent man, I wonder?

I wonder if the budget for National Security has contributed to this speedy resolution? I didn't hear the emergency sirens (recently changed from the 50's style air raid sound to a more pleasant and less alarming beeping.)

To be fair, I am glad an overly zealous old fellow armed with amonia is our worst problem in Lex today. Even if I am bored.

Monday, January 21, 2008

I need to buy some Vitamin D

So it is winter here in Lexington Kentucky. The ground is icy and the air is frigid. I am a Canadian and people say silly things like, "But you like the cold!" Stupid things really. Closer truth is that I have survived winter, not come to peace with it.

Calgary winter is long. Boreal green disappears with the first frost, not uncommonly arriving in late August ... (Steve heroically rescues the tomatos which are still green and I ripen them in bags in the food cellar) ... and it is fully June before one can safely bank on frost free nights - for six weeks. Zone 2. Six week growing season. Every vegetable plant in the garden started as a half grown bedding plant from the greenhouse.

When winter comes in Calgary, I disappear into sadness. Sometimes I curl up on the floor in the dust flecked square of sunlight dull through the window, and as it moves across the room I move too. The natural gas furnace blows lots of heat but no vitamins, no joy. The sunshine brings no heat but it feels good on my face.

When I am desperate to get away from artificial light and artificial heat I bundle up and walk the generous paths through a ravine that starts in a gully a half block away. There are sundogs - three suns - in the sky, one mirrored sun on either side of the usual flaming celestial body. The backdrop sky is soft winter blue with whisps of mare's tale. Mountains stand majestic gray like shadows painted on the horizon, the ragged peaks white with snow and ice. And I feel unbelievably miserable. Without energy. Sad and hopeless. Alone.

I am the only living thing visible on the ragged edged path. The frozen scrub around me as I lumber along is thigh high - it doesn't grow higher than that in our short summers. Berries from the summer hopelessly hang on it like tiny black shriveled gonads. I hate them hanging there so burned by the cold. I hate everything.

So I reach with my gloved hand and scrape along the branch, ripping the old berries off into my mitt. I throw them to the ground. I crush them under my heavy boot. I turn to walk away, stop.

There at my feet, mashed against the frozen lumps of gravel is a sprawl of luminous lime green. I stare. Like a florescent crayon melted onto dull old concrete, it defies and condemns fact with imagination. It is wonderous.

I break off a small branch of berries, gently this time, and canter home, somehow lightened in my step.

Now, my journal has a black cover. I chose it for this winter. Equally dark the inside ... words of lament and yes, maybe self pity. I tape the small twig with shrivelled berries to the front of it, celebrating what might be. I feel hope.

Two days later, taking up my journal, I dismay to find the berries have broken off and are lost in the bottomless flotsom of our winter home. Only the twig remains, stuck miserably to my gloomy journal with matte scotch tape curled up at the edges.

Showing Rachel I say, "See. This is winter. Everything is lost in winter." She looks at me. "You're wrong," she says. "This isn't about winter. This just shows you that you have to learn to secure the important things."

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

living with me

I have this thing I do where I struggle in an issue for a while and then one day, without fanfare, I move on. Perhaps the moving on moment is the spurt of growth, or maybe it means the growth has been accomplished.

Steve said to me, the other day, that maybe the reason I am so tired is that I spend so much energy not being like my family (of origin). Hmm. One of the things about being a survivor of sorts is that you decide you are going to make it, make it with flair, and make it alone (whatever 'making it' means). So I have lived my life wearing the survivor super-shell, er, super-cape. This cape, while quite attractive, is fairly wearying.

Lately I have been looking at my life, our family life, and my contributions to the greater world with a new lens. Did I make the right choices? Did Steve and I raise the kids properly? Were my values adequate?

Today, maybe yesterday too, I stopped myself and dumped everything into the "did that, did it as well as I knew how, did it with humour mostly, can't re-do it" file. I feel peace again.

I want to learn. I want to change and grow and mellow and soften. But that mellow soft person will still be intense, creative and somewhat insane in a normal way. So get counseling if that bugs you.

Friday, January 4, 2008


Birthdays, from a mother's point of view, are different. It was a delivery the day the child was born, and it is the mother who is delivered of the child, not the other way around (lesson in language.)

But delivered from a baby into a life. Rachel told me that when a woman carries a baby she has that person's cells in her body the rest of her life. Cool. She is marked physically and forever changed. Even the mother who rejects her child is forever marked by the child's life, internally and externally.

I have two birthdays to celebrate in January - Kyra and Mark. A little girl and a big man. And just having these two in my life makes me full of little wealths.

So today I will party in my heart. I read lately that 'anyone can be passionate, it takes a lover to be silly.' I think I will be silly (as silly as I can muster) as possible at any given moment today. I've had two cancelled appointments this morning so the day is looking fine for a Friday.