April 25, 2019

Plucking the Tulips

It is always strange to watch from our big window as a woman, and it is always a random woman, looks into our yard, and then stoops to pluck one of the six tulips that bloom near the sidewalk, imagining no one is watching. Of course it is rather funny that someone is always at the front window when the offence occurs.
I would understand and not feel badly if they picked the plentiful bluebells at the other end of the patch, but every year we see at least one woman pick at least one of the few tulips in the garden.

We puzzle over it because it is not something we would do. They are not ours and they are not in large supply.. So what compels someone to do such a thing? Six tulips are not a bunch, so removing one is quite significant. And if I am not taking them into my house, what would make someone feel that entitled to have it at theirs?

Anyway, not a big deal, it just puzzles us every year.

Luckily we have a gazillion bluebells to soothe our out-of-joint noses. (Photos to come)

April 7, 2019

Dusting off, moving on ...

I'm feeling like I'm finally going to dust off this old thing and get it moving again.  Hoping that there aren't too many of you out there, but just enough for a conversation. Will it be intense? Perhaps. My intention is to work through some bigger thoughts that have been making me feel pretty crazy, like this one: The Modern-Day Nation-State is a Cult. Too many hyphens? Perhaps so. That can be the start of the debate, but I'm hoping by the time the debate peters off, as these things generally do, we won't care one wit about hyphens, ellipses or even the carefully placed commas.

And if there is no debate, if there are no readers, truthfully it doesn't matter. Because it is time once again to get going, to practice, to find a voice.

So here we go.

January 3, 2016

Foggy Morning Glory

On unceded Musqueam, Tsleil-waututh and Squamish lands.

My kids and I wonder how these spiders do it on such cold nights, spinning these webs so glorious, and where they go in the mornings?

November 16, 2015

Rainy Day Starts -- Working through the Inner Critic's Power

A couple of weeks ago I started a writing class with an art therapist. It is not my first foray back into guided content creation -- for the past two Septembers I have taken a storytelling class hosted by the Vancouver Fringe Festival. While it was thrilling to have opportunity to perform again, it was also incredibly traumatizing.

"Why?" you might ask.

Well. The first year I took the class it took me almost no time to figure out how firmly planted I am in telling stories of myself that are firmly written in the "victim" narrative.

Which seemed weird to me, given that I have a pretty great life, overall.

Okay, not entirely shocking, as I had a childhood in which I was fairly victimized and not at all protected or nurtured by the adults around me.

I think I've said here before that I went to therapy instead of university, and that I hold a degree in me. I continue to practice "good mental health skills" as I go along, learning what I can from here and from there. And I've never been opposed to re-enlisting in therapy as it seems warranted. My husband and I did a bit of couples' therapy at one point, and I found it to be immensely helpful.

Last year, when I mistakenly thought a freak case of intussusception was just me being emo, I hired myself a top-notch therapist who came highly recommended by a friend and paid a fortune to see him once. I shortly thereafter visited an emergency room, and underwent emergent surgery because the big meanies in white or blue lab coats wouldn't let me leave without offering up a chunk of my large intestine. Ouch.

Anyway, back to that art therapist.

So far, two classes under my belt, the second of which I even arrived for on time. (New Leaf.) The first class was great! I had fun, let myself have at it without too much inner monologue. It was fun! I thought, "I can do this!"

Sadly, however, the art therapist asked us to explore our inner critic last week. To describe it. To give it physicality. And then to make it ridiculous.

Um ... that's a bit of a quagmire for me, it turns out. Sure, I was able to describe it: a brick wall that stands in my way. Encased in a thick steel casing so you can't chip away at it. Topped with glass, so that it is hard, cold, and any sound I make bounces back at me, amplified and distorted.

That was just the description.

To make it ridiculous I saw there were speakers attached to the wall, telling my WHY I can't do what I want to do with my abilities and talents, filling the room with noise that makes it impossible to hear a thing.

Turns out that wasn't quite what the therapist had in mind ... but my monkey brain doesn't always catch the finer details of an exercise. Turns out she expected us to make that critic funny, hard to take seriously, less harmful.



Not sure how you do that with an impenetrable wall.

I said I would work on it, but so far I got nothing. Class happens again tomorrow. Guess I will give it another go ... and I plan to be on time too. I mean, how do you slay your dragons if they get there before you?

May 15, 2014

Violence at School

My son, now in grade one, was punched in the face by a child from his class who is prone to sudden violent outbreaks. Two days later, I can see the stress this occasion has caused. I'm thoughtful about the fact that if this happened between two adults, one would be up on assault charges and my son would have the right to proper counselling for PTSD. I worry about the other kid. I have the full knowledge that their home life is fraught with tension, that another older sibling is as predictably unpredictable.

Two days ago, my child told me about the day's event during a quiet lazy moment out in the backyard. Never underestimate the power of being idle. These are the moments that allow the waters of communication to flow easily.

My son has asked to stay home from school today. He attended some kind of counselling session with the school counsellor and the other child that he didn't really understand. I was told he was helpful at the meeting, but I'm not convinced anyone recognised that he might also require help. I was not told about the meeting, nor informed about the strategy. I am still unsure whether it was an exercise in forcing a kid who doesn't know why they're sorry to apologise, or an attempt to practice restorative justice.

Two days on, my son is showing signs of stress, and I think he will benefit from a day of relative safety at home. His sisters can be cranky, but at least not they are not physically abusive. They've been made aware of his needs, the middle child generously has offered to play Lego and the eldest, in some funk of her own, is keeping her distance.

I worry hard for that other child, the assailant. My children have me, a person who's worked hard at having decent mental health skills and predictable behaviours, when they return home from the world. I know personally how hard it is to be a child who struggles, is not particularly valued or liked by teachers at school, and has no support system in an unsafe home. I know what it is like to be seven and to feel completely alone and unloved in the world.

July 18, 2013

Trifecta Week Eighty Six - Fat is a Fact Word

This is my entry for this week's Trifecta Writing Challenge.

As usual, we are using the third definition of a word selected by those relentless Trifecta editors. This week's word is crack.


My son called my daughter fat, and she ran down to tell me in sharp-eyed outrage.

I looked at my daughter, raised my eyebrows, and asked her a single question: “Are ya fat?”

Her 10 year old lips quivered and, for a moment, she looked like she’d say yes.

“No,” she replied, a sliver of insecurity gleaming through a crack in her angry demeanor.

“‘Fat’ is a fact-word,” I told her, “not an insult; it a fact. Either you are or you aren’t. If someone uses it as an insult, you can choose to be offended or reject it as a untrue. But even then ... let’s talk about this a bit.”

I called my son down and together we explored what it means to use a fact word as an insult. He’s six and the only one who’s recently attended public school, where I imagine he picked up this taunt.

“Guys, fat is a fact word,” I say. “Almost all of the people in the world have a degree of fat on their bodies. Some more than others. Some of them are fat.”

By now, my middle daughter has joined the conversation.

“Adam, when you turn a fact word like fat into an insult word, you are more likely to hurt me. I have more fat on my body than you or dad; I’m closer to actually being fat. Did you mean to insult me?”

He shook his head.

“Georgia, when you’re offended by a word like fat and you accept it as an insult you are supporting the idea that fat is something bad.”

The tension in the room eased. I pulled up the article I was saving, published on Huffington Post, showing side-by-side “Barbies”, one manufactured by Mattel and shaped by an artist to represent an average woman. As we clicked slowly through the photos, we talked about the pictures, Barbie, Lego, Archie comics, magazine images and how we hurt people by turning fact words into insults.


July 14, 2013

Trifecta: Weekend Seventy Six: My writing process ...

I've missed you, Trifecta editors; I've missed you, fellow Trifecta writers. And I see you've grown. Together and without me.

(Don't worry, I think that's exciting.)

Last year my mother died. In the wake of this event and the inevitable rippled, I decided to take the year off. In many more-traditional cultures, life stops for a while when someone close to you dies. Or is born. Or leaves. In ours, we forge on. In my writing, which is a tenuous activity at best, I couldn't do that.

And anyway, here in my muttering space, I had nothing much to say.

It was inevitable my relationship with my mother was going to be left unresolved, mine alone to sift through as opposed to being a two-way thing. My mother's relationship with herself was so intense, so all consuming, that I never really existed. I loved her, and she tried in her brokenness. Her death is a weird thing to mourn.

My mother's biggest concern was to never be "exposed". Ironically, as a mother who made that her life goal -- to the exclusion of good parenting skills, solid mental health habits, or anything reasonable -- she was bound to have at least one kid who would have a deep-seeded need to expose her, to explore the experiences in written format, if only to save myself.

Anyway, I can't promise to be back in any way regular or dependable; I'm saving that for my kids. But here I am, for this moment of time, offering you these three words to describe my (excruciating) writing process:


This weekend's Trifecta challenge is to write 3 words of my own choosing to describe my writing process. You can read more about the inspiration for this challenge here. I hope you didn't mind the bonus, but just in case, I wrote those three words in bold. I'm going to the canoe races, and to a yummy salmon barbeque. I'll see you when I get back.