Sunday, December 07, 2008

Why and why and why and why and why...

Whenever I open up the application with my photos, there's an option, "Last 12 Months" that pretty well guarantees that I'll get lost in reverie and discontinue whatever post I've started. Or, considering there were 3511 images taken over that period, I'll get to work sorting through them and attempting to organize those files. A monochronic person like me just can't disengage. The perfectionist in me also can't just write a brief post to get the thought out of the way, it has to be birthed, fully-formed and with images. Otherwise, it's stays, nestled in me like a clutch of eggs - photos, words, thoughts, with tiny sharp things scratching at and pecking through the shells - only inside, rather than out. it feels weird, man.

As I've always said, when I didn't blog, I'd burst. Today, I'm at a point where if I don't get a few things out, I'll just start shooting those eggs out willy-nilly with some loud "BAWK", and we all know that projectile-launched eggs aren't pretty. So, to clear some space so that the rest aren't quite so jammed in there, and can come out more gracefully:


I went to visit two friends in Ottawa, Andrea and Dani. Andrea recapped my visit nicely (with appropriate links and accurate detail), and Dani, perhaps wisely, has stayed mum. The purpose of the visit, ostensibly, was to gather material for my freelance writing gig. The Cube Gallery had a show featuring art for children, but really, Josephine and I just needed a break and we missed our far-away friends. A change is as good as a rest, right?

The visits with each family were each deliciously different - and Josie and I enjoyed them much like a parent would love two very different children - equally, but for their different aspects.

The visit with Andrea's family was, well, girly-ish. A warm, elegant home full of fascinating artistic objects meant my eyes constantly wandered, and ill-manneredly rested on anything other than the people I conversed with. Josephine was fascinated by the myriad toys, and engaged in quiet, creative play for hours with Emma and Sarah there. And then, her dreams came through in a walk through the woods - she fed chickadees out of her hand (okay, I loved that bit too) and then we saw deer.

Her palpable excitement, and incredibly loud whispers "That's Bambi's DADDY!" almost sent the buck running - but we all watched, rapt, for an incredibly long time. Through it all, I was grateful for the time to talk about creative projects and growing girls. Andrea and Mark's calm, gentle parenting was inspiring, and the I look forward to the joy of girlhood with Josie with Emma and Sarah as fine examples of what beautifully-formed young women can be like. Emma and Sarah's grace with a bossy, active, boisterous little Josephine was something to behold.

After a meal that felt like a holiday dinner with both families and time spent together after at Dani's, Josie and I were left to the Donders experience. There, Josie and I reveled in the boyishness of it all. While not explicitly allowed, Josie was able to sneak in a couple of runs of her favourite sport - head-first stair body surfing. While bunking in the cosy couches in Dani's comfortable family room, we could hear Tristan, Simon and Josephine running around engaging in light-sabre fights with various bad guys (Quotes from Josie: "I never get to kill things with light sabres at home!" and upon waking up in the basement rec room: "I'd better sleep in a little more now before the boys turn this room back into a jungle gym."). Dani's home is all homey, relaxed as much as Andrea's, and just as fun, full of pictures of loved ones and graced by the most soulful old yaller dog I've ever seen; full of toys fascinating in their alien boy qualities to Josie, and it also came with the best accessory: a baby. Every kid, no matter how actively playing, would occasionally swoop in and give Lucas hugs and kisses and squeezes, and he rolled with the (figurative) punches. Dani and Mark calmly hover near their sweet and typically active boys with smiles and grace and delight and humour and I see a few fantastic, charming, fun boys in their future. Finally, others who match Josie's vast reserves of energy, and with comparable amounts of intelligence, charm and wit. And, as Josie says, "They're handsome."If I had pictures of these times, they would be nothing but striped blurs in a sunshiney room. The only other pictures would be NSFW.

After a bacon and pancakes breakfast (where Dani wins the Perfect Bacon prize) while Dani, her Beloved and I lingered over coffee and enjoyed Lucas' attempts to mash soggy cheerios and cantaloupe in his yawp, Josie and the boys were sent off to get dressed. We so enjoyed our conversation that we didn't notice the silence - and if you don't know, when there are three kids like ours, all aged in the single digits and with sparkly temperaments like theirs, silence means something's up. Giggles alerted us to a naked wiggling girl in the doorway, and more shrieks revealed two naked boys streaking through the house. Chants of "Naked Club! Naked Club! Naked Club!" as we attempted to wrangle them toward their clothes resounded. I had tell Dani something to the effect of "Well, at least they're all naked. I'd be more worried if it's only Josephine." And there lies the other favourite part of Josie's trip to Ottawa, and what we love about our daughter: That she can love reconnecting with far-away friends and feeding chickadees and seeing a deer as much as running naked with two boys she's never met.

My favourite part? Well, as Snoopy once said “I remember once when I had two cookies...A chocolate chip and a peanut butter...and I loved them both." And, much as Charles Schulz was referring to his wife and mistress in that strip, I mean that about the time spent with those two families. My life is better for having been there, and now when I read Andrea and Dani's posts, I can now envision not only where, but how the magic happens.


It was good to come home too - the long drive to and fro with Josephine sleeping most of each way gave me time to think, and to plan, and the snow and wee bit of shopping there put me more in the holiday spirit. The weather here gave me the time to do one last back yard clean-up, and to fluff the porch with greens for the winter season. Due to recent events around here, we'd let it slide a bit, and rotting pumpkins and brownery don't say "Welcome Home" like we need it to. It still needs work, but Andrea aroused the creative urges in me again, and on a whim, a twig basket that formerly held sappy pinecones and squishy squash became a frame for a favourite outdoor ornament and the pinecones after I practiced her cleaning method. I've decided it's too twee, and will be revamping it - but at least I did something, whereas I'd been stagnating in the creative department lately.


The pets.

Machiavelli, the "good" pet, continues to grow, and has had a few good sheds. Surprisingly, the somewhat exotic third in our roster of hand-me-down pests is low-maintenance and the most fun to sit around and snuggle with. Happily snaking (har!) around us as we go about activities, he's like an arm around a shoulder, or at least, a massage device that doesn't eat batteries.

Molly, as is typical with any hound (and as I researched before getting her and promptly forgot about), is in warmth and comfort-seeking mode. Here she is as I most often find her, having snuck into a cosy space that is not her own hair-covered shabby old chair:

While I admire her excellent camouflaging skills (I walked past her like this three times before I realized she was there), the other thing that I read and promptly forgot about before getting her was that hounds have a hound smell. A stink. They're supposed to be scent hounds - not scented hounds. And in the house, that means, bathtime.

While there is now a sure sign of gentrification in Leslieville, it being not just one but TWO places to bathe dogs professionally, we can't always plan ahead for that luxury. Mostly what happens is that I'll go to give her a hug, and recoil; or I'll pat her head, then smell my hand moments later , and the clinging stench is so offensive that I scoop her up and drop her in the tub after I shoo Josie out of her bath. This is now harder, as she is officially a fatty fatty boombaltti, and somehow gained 16 pounds, likely based on licking out the pots I've mashed potatoes in. So it's not really scooping her up - it's lugging her like she's ten pounds of shit in a five pound sack and dumping, rather than dropping her in. After, she's enjoyable for a couple of weeks before her dried-foody ears and fragrant folds emerge and repel again.

Boo Boo is still, well, Boo Boo. After about three seasons outside, he's bridging being an outdoor cat with being an indoor cat with the game called, "I want to come inside, I want to go outside". It looks like this:

...and so on.

This is only marginally more fun for him than the "I'll only come inside via the window but go outside via the door" game, and the "I want to come inside only around midnight and want to go outside starting at 4:30 am" game. Neither of these are fun for any of us, so we all play the "I'm picking you up and carrying you in even if you grab the doorway with your claws because I'm sick of this shit" game, and the "Jumping on the bed in the middle of the night game will get you catapulted off it" game.


I've alluded to some stress? Some sadness in previous posts? Some busyness and a need to have a break? The sources are still there, and they take me away from time I thought I had to do things like paint the stairs and the bathroom, to craft more, to write more here, to find new outlets for selling vintage items and to even attempt to conquer my own apparently insurmountable pile of laundry. My floors have never been so dull, the pile of books waiting to be read teeters. But, the holidays are coming, and I'm now revving up a bit and I've still found time to begin glueing hundreds of vintage buttons to a wreath. Shopping has commenced. And through it all, there's Josephine with her new grasp of letters and numbers and songs and the beginnings of reading that means I'm always diverting attention to the latest creation. This afternoon, there's the laundry, a party and the desire to make bacon candy as the nibbly I'm bringing. And there are still over 2900 photographs that I could tell you about, if only I could lay those eggs. But here's a start.