Wednesday, March 31, 2010

solar power cleaning

   So, I made it to A New Day. I have not completely shaken the grumpies, but I am trying to keep busy and hope that I lose them around a bend in the day. So far, my two big tasks on the list are checked off;

  1. pay bills 
  2. make extra house keys
and I am on load number three for laundry. I am even being a greenie today and hanging clothes on the line (my electricity bill came yesterday and reminded me that I have a cost saving measure out in the yard; summer = line drying = $$). Of course there was a water main that broke in the area yesterday, so doing a gazillion loads of laundry might not be what the city wants, but oh well. I am not perfect. Grumpy me says "phfttt!" to the powers that be. Whatever ;)

   With a road trip just days away, I have also realized that there are a few tasks needing to be accomplished before leaving; ie. clean bathrooms, vacuum, maybe even tackle the mop and beg it to be kind with me this time. Going away for a weekend isn't really a big deal, but we are going to be gone for upwards of a week. That means getting someone to come in and take care of the kitties. That means that someone else will see the disaster that I call home. Ugh. So embarrassment has me fretting over cleaning. Really, whomever comes over will truly not care about the state of my house, I am sure. They have been here before and would be shocked to walk into a sparkling palace. No need to cause heart failures in friends. So perhaps, I will just contend with the bathrooms before heading out to yoga this afternoon. Don't Sweat the Small Stuff, so the saying goes. I will try to relax into that thought, but right now have to go add another load of laundry to the line. Solar power cleaning. My meditation for the day.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Care to join me?

I am grumpy this evening.

I had a huge hankering for chocolate,
but had to make do with a white russian.

I could do with a jug of them,
but I am distracting myself with conversations about Easter
and chocolate bunnies.

Perhaps I should 
flush my brain
and call it a night

For yes, tomorrow  is 

Monday, March 29, 2010

Welcome to the Sugar Bush

   With the crispness in the air, but sunshine on my shoulder I decided it was time. A lazy start to the day, but I committed myself. I was  going. And you know what? I am glad I went. A road trip was in order. I do not know why I am sometimes so difficult to pry from the confines of my space. I love to get out and socialize, but when theory gets pushed to practice, I feel myself balk. I shirk thoughts and want to slide back underneath my rock. Not this weekend though. In fact, I only committed to one night, but stayed a whole nother evening. To be fair, a little bit of me expected that I might do that and I brought extra clothes just in case. As it was, it would have been almost midnight before hitting home, if I had left when the original thought went out. With two kids in tow? Silly ole bear. Tricks are for treating, not playing on oneself!

   So I stocked up on fresh air from Central Ontario (3 hour tour away). I gathered hugs and smiles from friends that I can call mine from decades past. Twas needed by all parties, to be sure. I thought of you as the hours ticked by and I realized that I would not join you for our daily visits. I twisted, but then relaxed into the company of friends. Earth hour was upon us and candle light by the fire is a pretty hard vision to run from. Yes, real life interaction is grand on occasion. To make amends, I will treat you with a few pics from my wanders though. We spent Saturday at the sugar bush collecting sap with buckets and fingers, then watching it boil down into syrup. Yum!

Alas alack-a-day eh.
I am back another day.
I shall try not to stray
too far away
from you again my lovelies...
After all the fresh air,
wood fires and
sugar scented scenes

Can you blame me?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Memories of Chobe

A perfume of trees
caresses my nostrils.
Amidst the thorns a
 baobab fills the air.
A skirtish impala
breaks through the bush
  and leaps,
while a baby scrambles quickly behind.

The smell is incredible.
The view,
I am in a land of age
that knows no age,
only sand and sun
and how to survive.

Breaking rain
soaks the earth
bringing green grass
  and smiles;
a long forgotten visitor
 to these parts.

Oh zebra, kudu
 giraffe and gnu
our telephoto eyes
will not harm you.
Beware the lion's deadly gaze.
The cheetah's leap
and leopard's fang
A constant graze of fear
   and survival.


Is that a wild dog I see?
It's glittering eye looking at me.
Off on a hunt
with the rest of the pack
to run down impala;
 a mid-morning snack.

Lazing on the river
in a mokoro boat.
Splashing at each other
when we're allowed out.

It's off to view a hippo
and maybe see a croc
Not to worry if they get to close
The polers are off like a shot.


How to spell tsessebe?
-A thought that crossed my mind
With its circled bum
You can easily see
This antelope friend of mine.


I saw a road closed sign today.
I had to laugh, I'll have to say.
For what is a road
in this land of sand?
but two tire tracks
going from pan to pan.

    These are poems that were written from the road many moons ago. The rough script in my journal can be deciphered, despite the bouncing location they were written in; high atop an overland truck, our mighty Samil. The poetry is a little weak in my opinion, but I appreciate the images that they put forth, so I thought I would add them as a continuation to my African tales. Oh, and the animal mentioned in the second to last poem was incorrect in its description, for those of you that may know. A Water Buck is the antelope with white circular markings on its behind. A tsessebe is more comparable to a North American deer. Enjoy. I wish you a safe road to travel as you wend your way through life...

Friday, March 26, 2010

Cold Sunshine Promises

The weather outside my door
has turned a might

Spring gifts
are left closed,

in its splendour
and promises
of Spring

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Advanced Pose

    I stretched out on the floor with my eyes closed. Her voice gently tickled and encouraged its way into my psyche. A huge yawn escaped me and she reflected that this was our bodies' way of cooling down the brain (hot head. Ha!).

   "It also serves to give us more energy", she advised. With limbs the weight of oak trees and  an attempt to stretch arms to the skies, I had to agree. That yawn must have given me some energy, as I could not lift them overhead at day break when little people were curling in to bed with me. Now my leaves unfurled with passion. I was a mighty tree with roots reaching down into the earth, as other swaying trees tried to distract my touch with the heavens.

   Breath. Advance pose for those that want to try it; curl the corners of your lips upwards as well. It's called a smile and she can always get one from me. She is beautiful. A red-tipped flame we all flock to for strength and approval. "So what", she says at our off days. We are here, now, and present. That is my present. Yes, to me. To breath and take on the advanced poses with that tricky little action called a smile. For so long I could not accomplish that tricky trick. Today, I forced myself to drag into the studio, hoping not to fall asleep in savasana. A little piece of me knew better. My yawn and closed eyes opened to a new day. I had energy and life and that little thing called a smile to carry forth into the rest of my day.

Namaste to you, my teacher V. Namaste to my fellow yoginis who teach me so much about life on and off the mat (and introduced me to a new Japanese restaurant today. Yum!). Namaste to me, for being present and showing up on the mat and sharing my smile with the world. Peace unto you.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Date with the past

   I am trying hard not to listen to that practiced little voice in my head. I can hear it. Oh, yes I can. I am trying really hard to not give it substance though. This is the struggle that I have been grappling with for the last little while. Ok, more like long while. Despite making headway with several avenues of my  life, I am sliding back into self-doubt with an imminent date with my past. Sigh, I just cannot be good enough. shit

   Excuse me, I do not like to be vulgar or swear here. That is not what I need to do in my blog. I want to write, grow, be creative and learn with this process. All of these things I have done (I think?). I do not have a huge following by any stretch, but I do have friends that swing by to see what is happening in my world on a regular basis. I love that. I really do. As I have noted recently, I think that this process is bringing me to a more creative forte. I am becoming a better writer, in my eyes anyway. So I truly value this place and the process that is bringing me this worth.

   So what is my problem today? I am meeting up with a relative of my husband's for dinner this evening. We have seen each other pretty infrequently since he passed. We do talk on the computer, probably more than any other of his relatives. She has marginal contact with Brad's parents (their relationship is not quite as strong as it could be, I have been told). There might not be a spot of our conversation that goes beyond the bounds of McDs, but then again there might be. Does it matter? I guess my stewing right now tells me that it does. Damn, why do I let things haunt me? You see my relationship with my husband's kin kind of dissolved not long after he died. It is truly a shame, as I regret my children losing a Father, but also a big chunk of family after the fact. Marginal contact with a few aunts on both of his sides exists, but not the same as on my side of the family. I struggled with these relationships after Brad died and tried to make peace with where things were. And I have. At some point, I may go back and make more amends, but I am not ready yet. Part of that has been my self-worth. I have struggled for me to be good enough for me. I have jockeyed with this in my mind as my status with other people too, but ultimately it comes down to me. Right now, I am feeling better about myself. I am sure sunshine helps that along, but really many more days find smiles.

   Today though my mind twists. I imagine the conversation tonight. "How are you and the girls?" fine "What is new with everyone?" everything and nothing "What are you doing with yourself nowadays?" ack! Whatever answer I concoct, will it be good enough? I stand by truth, but you still present and form it into an acceptable picture for others. STOP! stopstopstop

   Ok, I am going to clean my house (so that I can feel like a better house wife?) and maybe sort through some clothes for my donation pickup on Friday (so altruistic!). I am going to turn on some music, so that I can distract myself. And I am going to let it all go. Thank you for letting me vent. I am sure I will be fine. Back to me another day...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Darwin weighs in

    My gaze flicked the horizon for tell-tale signs of the animals that we had been surrounded by whilst in the Okavengo Delta. Occasionally the fleeting form of an antelope of some sort or another would bound out of view. My face was beginning to hurt from all the smiles that had dwelt there over the past few days. I was in awe at the beauty of Botswana’s back country. From the inherent safety of our mokoros, I reflected back on our time in the Delta. One day we had been taken to a dry plain within the vastness of the swamp, where we had explored our surroundings on foot. The day started early, as decent game viewing was only accomplished at dawn. While feeling the twinges of apprehension at exposing ourselves to the dangers of the wilds, and protected by the merest of cautions offered by our guides, we set forth with cameras in hand to capture our surroundings. Elephants and giraffes grazed ahead of us, not quite far enough to be called distant. Wildebeest moved along with herds of zebras. I refused to believe that anything as dangerous as a lion or hyena would cross our path as we walked along on foot. By the time the heat of the day sent the animals into hiding for siesta, we too were ready to seek out our shelters and rest. Later in the afternoon, we bathed in groups in the warm waters of the Okavengo River. Even close to camp, we heeded the caution that was put forth. More stories of crocodiles coming to snatch us from our feet, kept us close to shore. We had gone back to a primordial time, where survival of the fittest was a fact of life. This reality was not lost on us, as even Darwin joined us around the campfire at night. From the security of memory, I drifted.

Monday, March 22, 2010

No Great Mischief

"No Great Mischief" written by Alistair MacLeod (© 1999, McClelland and Stewart Ltd.)

It is that time of the month in my world. Yup, book club. Well, it has actually been postponed a week, but I finished the book last night. I thought that I would write a review of this month's title, as it was a good read. I find it interesting to review myself, before we discuss the merits of the book in question with our little group. Sometimes opinions change, so here is my two cents worth today.

Last night as I turned the light out on the last page of "No Great Mischief", a tear slid from my eye. I am a sentimentalist at heart and never fail to be moved by a well written story. Turning the last page and snuffling back my goodbyes, it is safe to say that this book touched me. 

While wandering through the reflections of a life lived, the reader is offered a glimpse of some of the hardships to be had in living a life linked to the sea in Cape Breton. This is where the story begins for the man known by everyone as gille bhig ruaidh, (little red-haired boy)this for his looks and links to the clann Chalum Ruaidh. The Gaelic language plays heavily throughout the story, giving the characters roots that travel back several generations to the Scotland of their fore-fathers. At times the story wanders back to the generations past and the protagonist and his kin think on these past players with an almost melancholy loss. The history is reflected like it happened just yesterday and the tragedies that played out then, are still felt and mourned today by the present clann. While this personalizing of a past that is ancient in memory is interesting and gives some insight into how MacLeod's characters play out their scenes, the story gains depth as ancient history is translated into present day.

"No Great Mischief" is narrated by Alexander MacDonald  as he wanders back through a life struck by tragedies, but not shattered by them. He reflects on the losses starting with that of his parents and brother, when he and his twin sister are only three years of age. With the loss of his parents his eldest three brothers (14, 15 and 16 years) strike out on their own to find their own roots and beliefs. While the burdens of an adult life thrust upon them so young is a challenge and struggle, kin always plays a pivotal role. 

Much of the novel focuses on the eldest brother Calum and his strengths and struggles along the way. He is labelled a trouble-maker, but 'ille bhig ruaidh gives us a picture that paints understanding and strength of character for the solitary figure of Calum. The ancient losses from generations gone are compounded with the more recent losses of parents to be worn with the solidarity of kinship pride. The feeling of melancholy that weaves throughout the story is poignant. That kinship follows from the Cape Breton coast, to mining towns around the world, from the distant shores of Scotland to the busy streets of Toronto. Having lost my own father at an age where imagined memory is all I can muster, I understand the searching that 'ille bhig ruaidh is struggling with. The clann Chalum Ruaidh might suffer its losses, but they do not forget and no one is left behind. So while some actions are not always acceptable to polite society or different pockets of the world (like the French Canadians they meet in the mining camps),  the clann Chalum Ruaidh never wavers but to carry on. 

While I did not have the string of the tale fully grasped at the beginning of the novel, by the end Macleod had all my sympathies and heart. In the book, Grandma is often fond of quoting "Blood is thicker than water". This is the string that wends its way through the pages. It is also what won Alistair MacLeod an International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. My opinion; Thumbs up from me.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Bowling and Birthdays Begin

Little feet
treading into new territory

with an independent air
and jaunty swing

born from friendship
that dreams the way to tomorrow.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Glass for Eyes

I hold the ocean into my belly
with a heartbeat on shoulder,
Rain trickles in
from across the room
and the singing,
Singing note fills the spaces
  left all between.
The trance it holds me.
I am no more.

Come, a beaded note.
One silent rush
to gently hold me
as the wavering bird
flies through my skies.
Wing slice of sound.
Empty me out of sound.
  of fingers trembling.
I am no more.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Happy Anniversary to Me

   Hello my bloggy friends!

   I am coming up on a milestone that I wanted to share. I started this blog a year ago this month. When I started out, I knew little about the blogosphere and what it contained. I noted in my first entry that an acquaintance had seen me scribbling in my journal at a coffee shop and suggested that perhaps starting a blog might help me towards the publishing world. Well, a year later and I am probably not any closer to being published. (sigh). Really, that is okay though. I started this blog as an experiment and it has taken over my life. I now write in it every day. Not every day is wonderfully deep or contains fabulous prose, but I try to make a point of showing up. And you know what I have learned? That the more I write, the better a writer I become. So while publishers are not knocking down my door with offers of book deals to keep me fabulously wealthy for years to come, a little bit of me believes that with a little more perseverance, those published words of mine are closer than I think.
   You see, I have always had a fondness for the written word. As a young child I could be found with my nose in a book exploring the far reaches of the universe. My sister would encourage me to go out and play with her and her friends. Sometimes I would join her. Many times I would decline, as I was in a particularly delicious part of a story. I have made many friends through the books that have littered my bedside table. I believe that all of those books and all of those words have filled me up. They filled me up and filled me up and now they are slowly seeping out of me. Every day that I tap words and sentences into the computer, they slowly stand up a little taller and straighter. I wander through other people's worlds exploring their thoughts, taking what ideas I see work and making them my own. The talent pool that is out there is magnificent and for me, inspiring.  I even took a writing course this winter to hone some of my talents and expand my knowledge of how to put "me" out there on a bigger scale. I am pulling this information in, processing it and thinking. The figuring can be a slow process sometimes, but I sit with it.
   So today I can look back and say, "This may just be a blog", but I know different. You that sit there reading my words, you encourage me to come back tomorrow and tomorrow. You that sit there and read my words make me the author that I have always aspired to be. For regardless of whether my thoughts and words ever show up between the pages of a bound book, my words are already out there. I have read them. Many others have as well. Your comments let me know that. Your praise has touched my soul. A thank you is tossed into the winds with arms wrapped with hugs. For while I would truly LOVE to see my name on the front cover of a book, I am okay if it takes a while yet.

Thank you...
Thank you...

Thursday, March 18, 2010


The heartbeat of the drum
drum, drum, drum
enters my hands
drum, drum
steals my eyes
drum, drum
fills my heart
drum, drum, drum
empties soul
drum, drum
becomes me
becomes us
drum, drum

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Paddy's Day

Remeber to smile, laugh and play,
Even if only in your mind,
Every day  
Nurtured by love

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Drifting with the swish of the water

   Marjorie and I leaned back into the mokoro we were drifting in. Oscar casually pushed us along with his long pole pushing through the still waters. Occasionally he would stop and point to a distant moving dot on the horizon and whisper “Look impala!” or “Wildebeest”. I was constantly amazed by all of our guides keen vision. They could spot an animal large as an elephant or small as a jackal from seemingly miles away. The words we did not want to hear were the warnings of “Hippo!”, as their dangers had been spelt out to us from Karel on the drive in to our meeting spot with the polers. A hippopotamus caused more deaths to humans than any other animal, due to their massive size and weight. The belief that their weight would slow them down would not save you if you were to get between a hippo on land and its route back to the water. Those stubby little legs could reach speeds of 30 km/hr and leave one trampled to death in its wake. Being in the mokoro was no safer, as they could easily tip the little canoes and leave you vulnerable in the water. Although vegetarian, their large teeth were deadly. Thankfully the grey and pink submarines were spied from a safe enough distance away to satiate our curiosity, but not tempt safety.

   So as the sun shone down upon us, we soaked up the serenity of the Okavengo Delta. I relaxed into the sense of security that I chose to envision. Personally, I needed the peace. We had spent another night over-imbibing on the local brew. The morning had certainly been a rough start. The night previous, we had welcomed Marjory into our travelling group with gusto. Friendships were forming fast, as stories flew around the bar stools. Smiles of anticipation had splayed across everyone’s faces. An abused body and hazy brain were the resulting trauma of the night, but reaching a battered cup into the clear waters of the Okavengo River smoothed even the roughest edges. Now we had nothing to do, but watch the world glide by from the safety of our mokoros. Lunch was the largest issue that we would have to tackle until reaching the campsite.

   As Marjorie and I rounded a bend in the stream, we saw the lead boats pulled up to a shallow area. Tristan and Sassa were stepping out of their mokoro and wading into a sand bar. We had reached our lunch destination. It was one of few spots we had seen that looked solid enough to even stand on, let alone set up table and chairs. Oscar pushed us hard into the shallows and jammed us into the soft bottom of this Botswana super highway. Freedom was ours as Marjorie and I gratefully jumped into the warm waters of the Okavengo. Leaving shoes behind, we waded towards the little group that was forming on the shore. Food hampers, stools and folding tables emerged from the boats that had sped ahead to set up our lunch siesta. As the last of our straggling crew joined us, we all tucked into sandwiches ravenously. The fresh air created appetites apparently unrelated to the activities we had partaken of during our morning paddle. Anon, the food disappeared along with the beverages on offer. After the crumbs were licked off of seeking fingers, we were allotted a measure of free time to splash in the comparatively safe shallows of our nook. Bath time was ours to splash like preschoolers at a water park in glee. And splash we did. The warm water washed away the last of the previous night’s cobwebs and sighs of ecstasy were the loudest roars to be heard in our vicinity.

   Alas, this was not the last stop of the day. After packing up our lunch debris, we stepped back into the mokoros to continue our course. We were headed towards a bit of land in the middle of the swamp. It would be considered home for the next few nights. We would be sleeping in our canvas tents and cooking over a roaring fire. The scorpions that Karel had warned us about had not materialized yet, but were definitely around, he intoned. Bigger threats now though were the animals that surrounded us in the wilds. We had left the security of civilization behind. We were now in their home. Stories of crocodiles and lions were the ghost stories that would fill the late night campfire banter later. The illusion of safety in daylight was our companion as lechwe leaped off in the distance of our sublime climes.

   By mid-afternoon our polers had maneuvered us to the spot of land we would take over for the next few days. Again we poured out of our trusty mokoros, but leisure would not be attained until earned. I re-joined my tent mate Eric to erect our domicile and roll out our beds. Lucky Marjorie got a tent to herself, as she was last to join our band of merry men. I was not heart-broken about sharing a tent with this 1.93m blonde haired, blue eyed man though. Thoughts of home were buried in the far reaches of my mind. I was in Africa and the wilds were embraced. I refused to question what I did or did not do, only pulling back as safety beckoned. The smile that lived on my face was the thrill of adventure being lived in this incredibly exciting time.

   With tents erected and homes laid out to our specifications, we re-emerged to the group. Rocks were gathered for a fire pit. Brush was dragged into the clearing to be hacked away with machetes into sizeable pieces for the fire. Lines were strung for laundry. This work was done by Karel, Masters and some of the polers, but people from our group joined in to help as well. We were paying members of this troupe, but expected to help out as necessary. That meant that we all took turns at helping out with dinner prep. We all washed and put away dishes. We were on this adventure to be exposed to the beauty of Africa and were expected to leave behind nothing to mar its beauty. Everything brought in, must be carried back out again. The only exclusion was when it came time to using the toilet. As we had already been exposed to, there were no water closets in our domain. Karel was adamant about reducing the footprint of our journey. This was as much for our safety as for the enjoyment of the pristine beauty for others. In order not to attract wild animals with our scent, we needed to lesson it. That meant that when we had to relieve ourselves we went to a dedicated spot and took a shovel with, if necessary. Modesty still existed, but handing off the shovel to a squirming face was done with knowing eyes and the mirth of roughing it to the extreme. Having camped in the past, I was not adverse to squatting in the bush, but this proved to break down any last vestiges of reserve that existed between us.

   The busyness of setting up camp slowed as the sun made its way across the horizon. A simple meal was created and we settled in with relish. I took my turn as dish washer, thrilled to be dwelling in the bush, if only for a time. We discussed plans for the following day, then settled in to enjoy a campfire and the stars in a sky unmarred by city lights. The occasional cry of lions in the distance reminded us that we were not alone at our circle of light. Vulnerability lay in the dark beyond the fire’s glow. As our troops slowly melted into weary beds, we went with the knowledge that a small measure of security was afoot. The many polers that had sailed us into the Delta would play babysitter and guard for us as the hours grew long. They had set up a camp a short distance apart from ours, but close enough for comfort’s sake. Insurance aside, it would not look good on the adventure brochures to have a tally of deaths en route. Turns would be taken for someone to guard the perimeter throughout the night, ensuring that safety of all was maintained.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Blinded by the Baobab

   My gaze roamed the horizon.  A smile slowly spread across my face. I was standing at the edge of a salt pan in the middle of Botswana. A sign board posted tidbits of information on the Makgadikgadi Salt Pan that we were exploring. A nearby observation tower gave visitors some height to partake in bird watching, without disturbing the myriad of species that inhabited this unique place. No other significant structures could be seen. That certainly was not due to an abundance of trees to block the view. In fact, very few scrubby trees could be seen. Dry, dusty-looking soil gave a tenuous hold to vegetation that looked not far from fossilization. This was home to flamingos in the thousands when the rains from further North made their way down to this former inland lake. Now, my little band of travellers was scurrying around it with cameras, binoculars and grins at our first taste of the wilds of Africa. We gathered dust and salty shoes, as we pointed out new species for our mental checklists; kori bustard, secretary bird, springbok, reedbuck. It was just a taste of what was to come. It fuelled the excitement of our adventure.

   As the rains had not been down to fill the pans in what appeared to be many moons, the area was quite dry around the edges. Upon wandering further into the pan, you could manage to get your shoes a little more mucky. Without more moisture, we did not spy the legions of flamingos and other birds that were attracted to this area for breeding at other points. The novelty of the salty terrain soon wore off for those of us who had toasted our travels once or twice the night before. We eventually remounted our sturdy Samil truck and slowly  left the reserve, scouring the brush for sight of game. The sight that awed me the most though was of a tree. As noted many of the trees were rather sparse as a result of infrequent irrigation. One tree stood out from the rest. Rising majestically above the world was a most unique species; the baobab. It was monstrous. It appeared to have been flipped upside down by the Gods pulling pranks in this arid land. The sparse branches appeared more like a  root system, with what should have been the main part of the tree living underground.  We came across one giant that had finally succumbed and was lying on its side. It was two stories high as it lay prone! We were let out of the truck to gape at its immensity and several of us tried to scrabble up the sides of it, to no avail. These behemoths had time spans that surpassed lineages of locals in the area, perhaps growing a thousand years. I was completely awe-struck by this magnificent piece of nature that seemed so stark, but somehow survived.  

   Still slack-jawed we were ushered back into our transport. The road lay ahead of us and another traveler was to join our midst at our next stop, Maun. With a laughing blackbacked jackal trailing behind us, we settled back into our benches and dreamed of drifting through the Delta in the days to come...

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Drab day outside my window
leaves me curled into blanket nook
of dreams

ah, yes
   to dream, to dream
I dream of sunshine,
flowers wriggling through cool earth
fighting to gain topside
As we all do
  on a day like today

Colour my world in sunshine
paint my world without tears.
of grief and passing,
I do tire.

Let Spring vault
far higher than
the dirth in earth outside
For I am tired

Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday Fun

   I have read a few blogs that have much fun with days of the week. There are Project Mondays and Free-for-all Fridays over at Notions and Threads. Tree Huggin Tuesdays and Feature Fridays grace the pages of Hip Mountain Mama. My good friend Is That a Promise of a Threat? even discovered Friday Follow at One 2 Try. They are all so inspiring, but my Fridays never look like that. Typically on Friday we are lucky if we are dressed by lunch time.

This is what my living room looked like this morning.

This was it last Friday around 10:30 am.

   Today, if I can tear myself away from the computer, we are inspired and out the door early. I leave behind the ghost fort that the girls created this morning and take to the road. We are off to Grandma's house to wreak havoc on her world. She started it with the temptation of crab legs. unnnnhhhhh, yum! So I applaud all of you who are crafty and creative, but Friday I am in love with Chaos.  And the road calls, so carry on...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Spring is in the air...

   The windows are opened to let in the tentative days of spring. Lunch has been eaten outdoors twice this week and the barbeque has come alive in even-time. Patches of snow still spot the yard, but more soggy grass is evident every day. While I long to shout "Spring has sprung!" from the rooftops and garden beds, I wait. It is still early March after all. My cautious Canadian brain wags its finger at me, forewarning a spring squall or two to come. Planting season is still eons off, as the rule of thumb is not to plant til May 2-4. Temptation is strong though in my pale green fingers. Discussions of spring cleanup in yards gave animation to talk over lunch. Oh yes! It is coming. One friend added to the list of additional places to get my hands dirty gives me a giddy grin. How many additional gardens can I reach my hand into this year? For today though I make do with the delicate breeze wrought from the Earth's tilt to the sun. Craning our necks we all reach for it. I don't have shorts unpacked just yet, and cannot quite bring myself to put away the winter jacket, but it is coming. Oh yes, Spring is in the air...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I Remember...


 *Splashing in huge puddles at the side of the road as we walked home from school in spring/summer. We would yell to the passing cars to "speed up" and "splash us! splash us!" laughing madly every time we got soaked to the skin. Truly a dirty little experience and dirty little memory, but a smile drifts in...

*The smell of fresh bread baking in Grandma's kitchen was enough to make any soul salivate, with little hands and faces plastered to the oven door to watch the golden goodness rise to its full glory. Any leftover dough (and Grandma always made sure there was a little left over for her googly-eyed Grandkids) was transformed into fried treats sprinkled with sugar. We thought we had died and gone to heaven...

*Staring up into my Mother's spent face as she explained that my Father had died. Our vigil was over. This was my time to say goodbye, before life moved on. Standing at the side of the bed I stared. My five year-old brain did not have the words to say a thing. I stared and stared. Life moved on...

*Sitting in the back of a speeding big rig in nowhere Namibia wondering what had possessed me to think that hitch-hiking was okay, and safe, and a good idea? Screaming to my guardian angels to please, please, PLEASE help me out of this one. "One day I would grow up and realize that I wasn't indestructible and if I could just get this little favour and end up outside of this truck in one piece mentally and physically, I would Learn!" One scary lesson to learn from those said angels. Thank you

*Having wave after wave of the worst pain I had ever experienced slam into me. Looking up into my husband's eyes knowing that just his presence alone was enough for me to keep going. Wanting release, but not wanting to give up for me and for the baby inside of me. The blessed bundle ratcheting my pelvis into a position it felt appropriate regardless of my physiology. Knowing that I could do it, despite everything my body tried to connive me into. And doing it. Breathing with wide-open eyes as the miracle of life was bestowed upon me. A shared moment of love with this man. This man that I had walked with, talked with and now created with. We made life eternal in the form of a tiny human girl. My touch with perfection and the pristine pool of pure love.

*Opening up the newspaper and seeing my face and my name perched beside an article written by my hand. Knowing that I had received my five minutes of fame by reaching out to touch the world with a picture that I could share of me to whomever was willing to read. And knowing that people read, cared and liked what I had to offer, even going so far as a brief TV time slot. Pride and fame are mine...

*Taking my two girls by hand and walking with them into the future. Approaching the building that represents their start of tomorrow, their independence. Breathing smiles into me and my progeny. We have been one. Love binds us together. Trust must let me walk beside them for a distance
    and then wave goodbye...

School starts September.
Change comes eternal for me and you
Never stand in way

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Burgers are up!

    Sunshine heralded the first picnic of the season. Rather early I'd say, but with the sunshine filling wintry eyes and warming pastie multi-layered skin it was a must. Left-over soup was less palatable with weather demanding fresh fare plucked from the garden. As nothing will grow in March mush and snow, I acquiesced  and opted for water to fill me up instead. Topped off with a cookie or two for good measure (beware those of you with peanut allergies -Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk sated my sins). Tempting as it was to uncover tender tootsies to the air, I made do with sock-clad sandals. Aghast as I would be to see such fare in mid-summer, it pleased me on this Tuesday in early March. I banished the thoughts that more snow will undoubtedly fall before winter wearily wends its way out of existence.

   Spring is in the air! Shorts are on the runners and bicycles have been bouncing down the boulevards of my life this week. It cannot be denied. So with those uplifting thoughts, I pulled into my driveway this evening and headed straight for the barbeque. It was time. I lit a match and watched flames leap across cold, cold burners. Burning the winter winds away takes time, but I scraped off memories of chilly nights. A New Day was upon me. If I could whistle I would have been full of tunes. Alas that skill has never been fostered, so I hum te dum daaed in the waning day.

 "Sizzle, Hiss, Sizzle, spizzle, spit..."

  "Burgers are up! Grubs on for my first bbq of spring"

Monday, March 8, 2010

Girls to the right. Gents to the left

   The truck bounced along the highway, but could not succeed in bouncing the grin off my face. I had left the safe confines of my relatives and had ventured out on safari. I was headed to Botswana to explore Maun, the Okavango Delta, Moremi, Chobe National Park, and the famous Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. No seat belts tied me down in my open air transport and I felt free and alive. My companions began chatting amongst themselves as we sped along the highway. I attempted to write about the experience, but quickly gave up as the pen sprawled illegible across the jouncing page. Instead I stowed my pen away and took in the world passing by my non-existent window. Gradually, I too was drawn into conversation. Tentative relationships sparked as we discussed where we were from and other trifling banter that crossed our midst. We were strangers thrown together by circumstance of adventure and that was all that united us at this point. Time would change that, but for now we were polite in our greetings.

   Our first stop of the day was the border. I excitedly added another stamp to my passport and gloried in being in Botswana. The landscape had been steadily getting more arid and isolated the farther we got from Johannesburg. No significant towns passed us by as we zipped across flat expanses of terrain. With the border behind us though, Karel seemed to relax into his role of tour guide. He turned in his seat to chat with us, but soon enough jumped into our world through the back window of the cab. I loved his South African accent and jovial mannerisms. His smile was infectious as he described the history of Botswana and its people. He had obviously done this many times before, as no questions stumped him despite only walking the planet for twenty some-odd years. He talked to everyone and brought us all together a little more in our adventure experience. When he climbed back into the front seat, you could feel the tension drift away behind us. The thoughts to day dream over were camping in game parks with the sounds of animals as backdrop, spying those same animals at day break and relaxing at the end of the day with a meal cooked over an open fire. Perhaps not everyone’s idea of a perfect vacation, but I was excited beyond words. This was the Africa I had envisioned through the years of my youth. Now I was here and about to immerse myself in all its offerings.

   My delighted musings slowly dissipated with the realization that we had been bouncing and bumping along for quite some time without a stop. Scanning the horizon did not materialize any towns to view and I began to squirm on my bench. The day shone hot and many had doffed layers as we streamed through the countryside. Removing a sweater did not dispel the tightening around my mid-section though. My discomfort led me to notice other's wiggles as well. I began to reach a saturation point. How was I to delicately ask for a bathroom break within a group of relative strangers, I wondered?

“Karel, when are we going to stop next?” Sue piped up.

“Yes,” I thought. Thank God!

   Disappointment wrenched my tortured bowels (recovered yet? I wondered to myself), as Karel stated that it was still a ways to our destination.

“I have to use the toilet,” Barb stated.

“I do too!” I exclaimed with hope.

   Several other murmurs of the same filtered up to the front of the cab. Karel turned around and waved his hand out the window with a huge grin.

“There is nowhere around to stop,” he said. “If you have to go, this is your water closet.”

   Desperation was amongst us and agreement went out. Masters pulled the mighty Samil to the side of the dirt road we travelled on now. As soon as it stopped people dropped from the sides with haste.

“Girls on this side,” Karel hollered out. “and gents on the other.”

   Roughing it struck home as the ladies sought out scrub brush to squat behind. Privacy and decorum departed as relief washed through our band of travelling companions. For this is what we now were. Kleenexes were shared around to those in need, with lopsided grins as thanks. We stretched legs and numb bums. Laughter aided in letting go of a few more tensions. This was Africa. This was the start of our 16-day excursion and it would surely get rougher from here. With an empty bladder, my smile returned.

   “Ok. Let’s go!” Karel yelled to our little bunch of tourists. We climbed back up a little less hastily then our descent moments before and were headed back onto the rough road again. A picnic lunch on the side of the road was soon a memory, as we set destination for Nata Lodge. Before the day was through we would have our first lesson in how to pitch a tent, our homes from now on out. We would also be instructed in checking underneath said tent for scorpions before taking it down in the morning and warned of the perils of leaving shoes outside overnight for fear of said scorpions again. Karel had a way with words and everything seemed to have dangers linked to it. I realize it was prudent to keep us all aware of the potential dangers that could befall us on this very real tour into the wilds. I also think he enjoyed the looks of trepidation that crossed his stead’s faces as he proclaimed, “Ja. Really!” Spiders, snakes, scorpions and spaghetti, all things to be feared if not respected in the proper light. We would be cooking our own meals and woe be to those who feared their turn at the potje pot. That would be another night though. Nata Lodge had most of the comforts of home, so a cold beer, hot meal and washroom were enjoyed for the night. And enjoy it we did.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Enter the Samil

   I stood on the edge of a growing group of people. Naude encouraged me to talk to someone, but I hung back not quite ready to commit myself to the adventure I had signed up for. A black and white striped truck stood central to the waiting cluster of people. Two men stowed the adventurer to be’s bags in cubbies under the seating area; one a young white man heavily tanned from many days spent in the sun and the other quiet individual, black as night. My eyes moved from these two strikingly different men to our mode of transport. The vehicle was nothing like I had ever seen let alone ridden in. My home for the next two weeks was a Samil truck or overland cruiser. I suppose it was akin to an army transport truck for human cargo. It was big. There were bench seats facing each other in the back, with nothing but air and the height of the monstrous tires to protect us. Bulging rolls at the top of the windows appeared to be flaps for protection from the elements, if necessary. While I hoped it wouldn’t be, I wondered if those plastic flaps would give any protection from the animals that the brochures promised we would spy. Not likely.

   The truck appeared to be able to hold twenty people, but thankfully there were not that many milling about. I wanted to meet people, but was not keen on being over-whelmed right off the hop. By the looks of our guide and his assistant, plus the smiles on some of the faces around me I suspected that true adventure was upon me. The group was made up of a couple in their late forties, another in their early fifties, two young women (sisters) that appeared to be in their late teens or early twenties, another couple in their twenties, a tall blonde man in his late twenties or early thirties, a single young man, a single young woman and myself. We picked up another woman in her late twenties farther down the road to complete our band of adventuresome amblers. We were a diverse group collected from Austria, Germany, South Africa, Switzerland, USA, and of course Canada. With a final farewell bade to watching friends and family we all clambered up into whichever seat took our fancy. Our guides Karel and Masters swung into the front cab and with a rumble the truck was alive. With my passport tucked close to my body and a smile playing across my lips I waved Johannesburg goodbye. The next stop, Nata Lodge, Botswana.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Butterfly kisses

Today sunshine filled my heart and I overflowed.
I needed to give back to my little ones.
I choose a piece of the summer that hints at arriving back in our world sometime soon.
We followed winged flight to water's roar
all to my girlie's delight
and to mine.

Delicate ruffles on flitting wings of fire's sky

Eyes demand attention
as they feed on nectar of summer's gold.

Around another bend your russet wings charmed me

and her also.

 Tattered souls were given time to rest,
but ours pushed on

to see a wonder of the world
in our own back yard.

Before setting sights on home
and bed
for it has been a long,
long day.

Friday, March 5, 2010


   I woke up to a sun-filled day in a new part of the world. I had briefly touched down in Johannesburg for a short layover before continuing on to Cape Town upon my arrival in South Africa. I had been awed by the purple landscape that grew in front of me, as jacaranda trees in full bloom seemed to cover the city. It was beautiful from the bird’s eye view of my little airplane window. I would only be in the city for a few nights now, before heading out for my overland tour though, so whatever images I could retain were fleeting.

   The plan for the day was to go pick up Naude’s wife at the airport, before heading out to Sun City. She had been in Italy on a business trip and was returning early this fine morning. I received a perfunctory bowl of cereal and then we were out to the car. It was not exactly a glamorous start to the riches that Jo’burg offered, but more kin would be added to the growing list of relatives. I soaked in all that the speeding vehicle’s window offered before we pulled into the parking lot at the airport. We headed inside and stood milling about with a large group awaiting their own arrivals. Naude chatted away about his wife and step-children, Johannesburg and his version on the politics of the country. I too added stories from home, but then paused.

   Naude saw me staring into the crowd and said, “ what are you looking at?”

“There is a person over there that looks like someone I went to highschool with,” I commented.

“Go and talk to her,” he exclaimed peering into the crowd.

   The odds of standing in the middle of the Johannesburg airport and spotting a familiar face from a home thousands of miles away were very slim.

   I shook my head and said, “It can’t be her. What would she be doing in South Africa?”, but I did continue to peer in her direction. I could not get over how familiar this woman looked. It couldn’t be her though. I turned back to my uncle and we continued our conversation.

“Katherine?” I heard called out.

   Oh my God! Familiarity was true.

“Miki?!” I shouted with excitement and surprise.

   We rushed over to each other and hugged each other with disbelief.

“What are you doing here?” I asked.

“My brother is flying in to meet me,” she explained. “He has been in England, but we made a plan for him to come here and travel around South Africa together.”

   I was floored. She was waiting for her brother. He was flying in from England. I was waiting for my cousin’s wife. She was flying in from Italy. They were on two separate flights, but yet coincidence had both flights arriving at around the same time. I bumped into a high school acquaintance on the other side of the world by the sheer luck of timing. The coincidence did not stop there though. Miki introduced me to her travelling companion. It was a young Africaaner she had met while touring around Europe.

“Where are you going?” he inquired of me.

   I explained that I was headed to Botswana for an Overland tour in the morning. Then it was my turn to ask of their destinations. They were headed down the coast and planning to arrive back in Cape Town closer to Christmas.

“I will be back in Cape Town at Christmas as well,” I said.

“Whereabouts?” he inquired.

“My Aunt and Uncle live in Brackenfell,” I replied.

“Oh ja, whereabouts?” he inquired again.

   I was impressed. He knew the suburbs of Cape Town.

“They live in Protea Heights”, I said.

“Oh ja, whereabouts?” he asked.

   Ok, now I was getting freaked out. He knew the town, subdivision and now was asking for their street! And you know what? He knew exactly their street was as well. It had gone past coincidence in my mind. Now it was fate, kismet, destiny even! I was flabbergasted.

   As Miki’s brother had arrived, followed shortly thereafter by my cousin’s wife, we quickly hurried up our conversation. We exchanged phone numbers and addresses amongst the throng of people now jostling towards luggage carousels and gave a final hug goodbye. It was incredible to have met Miki so far from home and I knew that our destinies were to mesh again. For now though, other excursions were planned. A smile followed me out the door as we headed back out into the Johannesburg air once more.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

of course!

"you turn me into somebody loved..."

   The lyrics fade away (hear below: The Weepies) and I smile. A tender smile that sneaks into my heart. I believe that. Today sunshine's rays have crept behind my eyes. I see the world through Spring's hinted arrival. It may be a literal arrival, but I am arriving too; a little. Somehow today I feel loved. Anyone in particular, you ask. Not really. A tender friend that called last night just to say I haven't seen you in a while and I miss you. Silly Facebook games that let me know that people think I am worthy of two seconds of their time. Sometimes more. I cross people's minds and I see that. It may just be a random thought for many, but it takes on bigger status in my world today. For so long, I have only been able to see through my eyes and I only see me, my pain, my struggles. I go through periods and epiphanies, but knowing that people care means I matter.

   Shhh, shhh, shh, let me talk! I can  hear the "of course!"s from here. The point is that I have not seen through other people's eyes, only my own. This of course is not solely today's epiphany. I have been travelling the road of my redemption for a while. It is a big task to save myself from me and I have struggled with it. You may not understand, but I have been my own worst enemy. Not today though. You want to know why? As the lyrics faded in my ears, the smile was for me. As I sat with someone who has listened to many of my turmoils over the last two years, she looked me in the eye and said I was fixed, better, normal. She likes me and respects me and it means more because I believe her, this woman who I met in a professional setting. She called me strong, but not in the patronizing way that comes across from those who don't really know the meaning of strong. I met her eyes and smiled. For me a huge feat, as eye contact has been excruciating at times; windows to the soul and all. And why did I smile? Because I agreed and because the person who turned me into somebody loved...

was me

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Jo'Burg Jaunt

   Despite suggestions by Weppie of flying to Johannesburg, I loaded up my backpack and headed to the bus stop. He made promises of cheap flights with the connections from his job at the airport, but I wanted to see the countryside, if only from the flight of an Intercape Mainliner. I waved goodbye to Uncle Jock and Aunt Elsa and settled into the posh seats of the double decker luxury bus. We were offered beverages shortly after we left and I was introduced to coffee the African way; sweet and white. No questions of how you took it (I was used to black at that point, so almost choked on first sips). The chicory blend had nothing on Tim Hortons, Canada’s national coffee emporium. If I wanted a coffee, I had to suck it up though and learn to get over it. It was a 15-hour bus ride and Timmies was nowhere in sight. The South African landscape was what was on offer and I had no choice but to sit back and enjoy the ride.

   While I did thrill in the adventure of finally being single, mobile and free, the bus ride quickly lost its appeal. The red soil of the surrounding countryside fascinated me, as I could not mesh the idea of crops growing in it, versus the rich brown humus of home. Soon enough my mind’s eye was focused on the future though. I shifted my weight from butt check to butt check and imagined what Botswana would hold. Flyers of Victoria falls in Zimbabwe lay across my lap, as I gazed into the pictured possibilities in my head. Eventually my tortured posterior gave up caring about tomorrow and the adventures that would unfold and screamed at me to get over the adventure of today. With Johannesburg finally coming into sight, I breathed a sigh of relief for cramped muscles. The bus ground out a final goodbye and with the applying of brakes gave blissful release into my cousin Naude’s waiting care. I would spend the next few days with him toodling around and even getting a chance to explore Sun City. Sadly, I  found even more barbed wire in Johannesburg and many heavily gated communities. I did discover their savoury pies though. They came in a multitude of flavours, like our chicken pies back home, but also spinach and feta, cheese, pork pasties and a delicious assortment of others. The most important event of my time with him though was a trip to the airport to pick up his wife. A surprise that I never would have anticipated was to greet me with unforeseen consequences.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

I'll just have a water please

   As the burbles slowed, I looked out into my new world again. My eyes finally adjusted to the strength of the sun. I opened them onto adventure. I was ready. Just one more glass of water. Sip.

   “Now I can stand. Now I can run!” I thought to myself.

   Reality answered, “ Well, maybe jog a little”.

   I still felt weak as a newly hatched bird, but a smile returned to my pasty face. What adventures could I conjure up?

   My first adventure was with food again. I hear you groan, but this time I was gentle with myself. I was about to meet my father’s eldest sister’s side of the family now and they wanted to take me to brunch at the “club”. There were golfers aplenty on this branch of the family tree, so a lovely posh brunch buffet was my fair. Normally I am one of those people with no sense of the true size of my stomach and heap a plate three times over, just to sample all the goodies spread before me. Today, my stomach had shrunk to the size of a dried up cumquat. I took a humble plate with a scant few items, nothing too racy and nothing with a hint of acidity. Good natured teasing and concerned eyes accompanied me as I nibbled away at my offerings. I am happy to report that I kept it together though. No raced trips to the WC (water closet or bathroom for my Canadian readers) to say goodbye to brunch. A crooked smile wavered across my cheeks as I wove tales of home, family and Canada for my aunt, uncle, cousins and second cousins. I was treated to a tour around the golf course with Greg and Richard, second cousins that were the first people I had met close to my own age. My delicate constitution held back the reveries of hanging out with a younger sub-set too terribly much, but we did discuss possibilities of outings. An errant bubble curtailed thoughts of it happening immediately, but I yearned for it in the future. As much as I loved getting to know all the relatives, I was only 22 years old. I craved conversation that held less purpose and more spunk. It was time to gather the backpack and hit the dusty road.

Monday, March 1, 2010


I challenge myself today.

cold winds in a loosely flapping blouse
my hat blown away,
   thrown away
to leave a muddled head chilly
   with winter's last gusts
eyes blinking back tears
   from icy winds teasing and torturing
you want spring? Rebirth? renewal...

you are not ready

tender shoots of life
 can come from frozen heart
imposed darkness, will ebb
with sun's light and life
yesterday will always be there

Damn you for making me smile.
tears are falling
on a cold heart
afraid to look to the future
for love and life

my struggles with body
   wanting  and needing
all I want to do is cave
   give in to wintry embrace
all I want to do is love
  laughter and sunshine are there
I can almost see them

 turn my back on me
turn my back on you

how can I warm this poor soul
that can generate no heat from within
how can I rub energy into numb fingers
  curled over a former lover's cold caricature
Do I test tepid toes in the icy waters of lust...

Stop, please stop

just kiss me and lie to me
tell me that you will be there tomorrow
when all I want is dead flowers today


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