Thursday, November 17, 2022

When Weary is Wonderful

November is upon us and we are already midway through. I have often proclaimed my love of this deary, chilly and dark month. I see it as a respite , a pause and a preparation month. The vibrant colors of October have vanished leaving naked deciduous trees , green softwoods and dull Tamarac with just a hint of color in our landscapes. Debate swirls over when to turn on Christmas lights, when to put up Christmas tress and when to decorate our homes and storefronts. That of course is a personal choice. Today's entry title came to me as I brought up my new post page. I am indeed weary . Since the end of March we have been caught up in the huge undertaking of passing the torch, downsizing, moving on to our next stage, selling our home to our son and his fiancé and  establishing a new home up the road. It has indeed been a huge task but we are almost done with the main part of it. My journal pages hold the details of each challenge, each hurtle and each victory. The saying" If  only I knew then what I know now..." comes to mind. This journey has not been for the weak or faint of heart. Patience has been tried and  tested  but on all counts I think we have done our best to be positive, kind and hopeful. On this quiet November day I sit with my weariness and take the gifts it offers. Things will ramp up in a few days and the next frenzied lap of this marathon will begin. I am so anxious to settle in to our new home and make it our own. I am also anxious to watch Caleb and Jenna make the house we are leaving, their very own. This will unfold as it will, in time to  celebrate Christmas which will be the icing on the cake. We knew this transition would not be an easy or painless one but oh the blessings it has delivered along the way. This has been a November and a season in our lives that we will remember and treasure. My weary heart, muddled mind and tired body rejoices in the recovery, rest and renewal we have been blessed with. Let the Christmas lights sparkle!

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

We Travel in Time

 One of my all time favorite movies is About Time.

I have watched it many times and expect to watch it many more times. It has a richness and depth that speaks to me every time I view it. I cry at the same scenes over and over and sometimes I watch it just to do that. It is a delightful ,quirky little movie about time travel and has multiple layers which is why I never tire of loosing myself in it. I love the dad, the mom, the wild little sister, the odd uncle, the love story, the heartbreak and the deep connections it celebrates. We travel in time every day as we like the characters in this movie go back and forth to the times that have shaped us. Each time I watch the father and little boy skipping stones and walking hand in hand back up the hill I remember all those magical moments I had with my kids. I cry and smile at the same time. I try to live one day at a time and stay grounded and grateful for the here and now but my mind and heart go back in time  and leap ahead just as often. The main message of this beautiful little movie is to appreciate it all. I will soon move out of this house we built and have lived in for almost thirty five years. So many memories, so many changes but here we are on this day. We look ahead with hope but can not alter the course of either the past or the future. We must just live it. Twenty three and a half years ago I placed a photograph of Zac that was taken in the pantry on one of the pantry cupboards vowing to never remove it. Now I am removing myself from the pantry and Caleb and Jenna will eventually renovate and remove the cupboard. I am fine with that and with whatever choices they make. Zac goes with me to our new home  even though he will have never stood in the spots we will stand. I can always return to moments when he was with us. That is the beauty of time travel. Perhaps this photograph will be the one Caleb will find a place for in his new kitchen. Either way his big brother held him while stirring  oatmeal and making him breakfast. And those are the times that matter!

Monday, October 10, 2022

I Need a Pep Talk

 Today's blog entry is just for me! Feeling overwhelmed this morning  a memory popped into my head. I am standing in a woodworking shop in Nashwaaksis  holding my nine month old baby waiting to talk to John Brewer about renting his empty farmhouse in Burtt's Corner. I have spent the morning combing the countryside in my father's truck with my easy going Zachary in the car seat, looking for a house to rent. The criteria  of the search has two conditions; we need to be able  burn wood and it has to have a barn for our ten cows. Amid the loud drone of saws and machinery I ask Mr. Brewer if I can rent his house explaining my mission. He is resistant having had bad tenants in the past. I plead and  Zac lays on his charms  until he finally gives in, but says the barn is not safe to use. I can bring in a wood stove though so I agree to rent it. He says $125 a month. I get him down to $100. A week later we use Dad's truck to move in to a house a half an hour away from St. Thomas University where I will  earn my Bachelor of Education. It is Friday and I still have no vehicle  and I start school on Monday. Burton arrives with the  brand new truck he sold the ten cows to buy. I have the weekend to learn how to drive a standard and have no babysitter. My friend Giselle agrees to keep Zac until I find someone and I proceed to learn how to shift gears without stalling. Fast forward to today. I can do this next thing! We can do this next thing!

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Happy Book Anniversary!

 Copies of the 10th Anniversary Edition of The Year Mrs. Montague Cried arrived today. My debut novel is seeing a second life, a re-issuing, an anniversary edition. How amazing is that! I think back to the moments in a quiet classroom while my grade four students were busy writing a provincial assessment, when there wasn't  much required of their  teacher except to be present, when I jotted down the seeds of an idea that had been simmering since the first nights of sleeplessness after my son's death the year before . I remember sitting in the quiet stillness of the night after tumultuous days of grieving and preparing for my oldest son's funeral; an act too unimaginable to truly process but unavoidable. My husband and our other three kids slept while I filled page after page attempting to make some sense of the  nightmare we were living through. I knew in those moments a book honoring Zac would someday surface.  So on that day a year later  in that  testing silence I scribbled the framework of how that book would take shape. I knew the title early on and I knew the ending but at that point I knew very little. The most important thing I knew was that I needed to write it. I made a plan which was attainable but not immediate. I would apply for a 4/5 deferred leave and on the fifth year I would write The Year Mrs. Montague Cried. From that first jotting until the moment I held a copy of the book in my hand  there are  more stories than this one blog entry can hold but I remember the journey in detail. It was a journey toward publication of course but more than that it was a journey toward finding a way to live with the ever present sorrow of burying  my first born child. Tonight I celebrate the 10th anniversary of the publication of my first book ( a year late), I acknowledge  twenty-three and a half years of living without Zac, twenty-two and a half years since getting the idea  for the book to honor my son,  sixteen years since taking the year off to write it,  twelve years since the manuscript  won first place in the Atlantic Writing Competition, eleven  years since  Acorn Press published it, ten years since it won the Ann Connor Brimer Excellence in Children's Literature Award. This little debut novel  has now been returned to stores and bookshelves and to reader's hands. I can again offer it up with the eleven books I wrote and saw published after making sure I told the story I needed to tell first.  Happy Book Anniversary !

Friday, September 9, 2022

All Good Things...God Save the King

 ...must come to an end. We know the truth of that saying but that doesn't make it any easier. Endings, changes, saying goodbye and letting go are all hard. This morning I tried to take in every minute, every sound, the slant of the sun , the breathing of our old dog, every breath I took and the feel of the September breeze during what is likely to be my last veranda morning time. I have always been sentimental over last time experiences. As a child I would stand in my classroom on the last day of school and mourn the passing of another year. I always approach  my last lake swim with ceremony and reverence. I tear up thinking of the last time I saw my oldest son alive, the last time I sat by my  mother and father's bedsides, the last time I visited my dear friend Paul. Life is full of last times. News coverage yesterday showed the Queen in her feeble, fragile state extending her hand to the new Prime Minister for the last time. I have no words of wisdom or comfort to offer except this; Enjoy each moment as if it were the last. I did that this morning and now I move on to the rest of my day anticipating my last lake swim later this afternoon. 


Monday, September 5, 2022

Labour Day

 All good works...The fruits of our labor. If you love what you do it won't feel like work. I am searching my mind for wisdom about work. All in a day's work. A woman's work is never done. Labour  day used to be such a big day for me. It was the last day of summer, the day before returning to a busy frantic September school schedule at work and at home. The day feels nothing like it used to but still holds the exhilaration of change, of possibility, of challenge and adventure along with the sadness of loosing the freedom and scope of summer. The air is crisper, the sky clearer and the breeze cooler. The day heralds the fall even though the calendar still professes summer. This labour day is different yet again. The house I find myself in is no longer mine. I am making the slow transition toward a new home. We will treasure the days of July and August and the days of September and October still ahead before the big move. What a gift they have been to this recovering soul . A new season of life, new chapters written in the ongoing story two kids began writing forty five years ago. The fruits of our labor are many, the lessons, challenges , joys and sorrows bountiful and rich. Harvest after planting and nurturing, dreams and disappointments. Our labour is not done and for that I am truly thankful. Our tasks change and our pace slows. We place our regrets aside and find confidence  and hope in a new vision. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

In The Thick of IT

 I just read back  an entry in which I was reflecting on the relaxing days of July and then went on to read about the challenge of facing August. Right on schedule I would say but in a mess never the less. This purging is hard. It is laborious, time consuming and fraught with emotional snares. I expected this but like some other challenges we expect, while in the thick of it, it feels overwhelming. I am trying my best to keep the end game in mind. I visualize my smaller space every day and attempt to take each task separately trying hard not to let the magnitude of it weigh me down. I spent a whole day just culling pictures , birthday, sympathy, retirement cards, my kids report cards, etc. At the same time I've emptied kitchen cupboards filling the kitchen table with excess glasses, mugs and dishes. I am packing boxes and shoving them in corners out of the way. The chaos and disarray is a mix of us moving out and Caleb and Jenna moving in. It is a transition and those are not easy. Last night as I was running out of steam I got caught up on what might seem like a simple decision to some, but a loaded one to me. Two papier mache rodents. Two dusty, crumbling well worn fixtures which have been a part of my office décor since giving up my classroom and becoming a full time author. A book project from many years ago brought proudly to school by an artistic little girl . She and her mom had crafted  a rat and a shrew(if I remember correctly) to depict characters from the book Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH . I could not just toss them in the garbage bag without some thought, some ceremony, some tears and reflection. They are still sitting waiting for my final declaration and I will let them go but not without some struggle. I am thankful that each glass, mug, and slip of paper does not hold as much emotion or require such attention. I must remind myself I am doing OK . I am moving forward. The transition will happen. In sharing this struggle last night I received lots of great advice. I will take it but in the end this process is mine to get through. So what if I get hung up a bit  in letting go of two faded rodents with missing eyes and brittle parts.