Friday, April 30, 2010

Ant Stomping

~Ant stomping~

Not an activity to be undertaken lightly.
Only for the strong willed
and stomach sure
amongst you.

Graphic images 
found in these pages
do not represent the feelings
of the the management.
Proceed with caution.
These images may disturb some.

You can run,
 but you cannot hide.
The power of the young
with an aversion to spring visitors

Leaves no room for negotiation.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Alone in a Fish Bowl

In my world
I am swimming still
drifting, dreaming
I can't get my fill.

The whole earth surrounds me
with oceans far and wide.
I smile in constant wonder
at the spaces I can glide.

Just waft around the corner
and whistle round the bend
as I take a step to you my friend
it seems it will never end.

The beauty, it surrounds me
in colours orange, green and gold
my only wish is for you my love
to be here with a hand to hold.

This poem  is inspired by Magpie Tales and I think I might throw in a link to Thursday Poet Rally as well. Happy Thursday.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Someone Will Be With You Shortly

"Someone Will Be With You Shortly", by Lisa Kogan (© 2010, Harper Studio)

Today, you are lucky enough to not only get a second book review from me in a week, but also get a party to go along with it! Wow! Yes, I finished another book this week, and this one is getting its own special launch party via Twitter.

To join the gathering click the link for the Twitter Party.
It is Wednesday, April 28th, 2010 from 9:00pm - 11:00pm (est)
  -Twitter party is open format  to meet the author
  -Guests can ask Lisa about her life, her column with O magazine, or her new book  

The lovely hosts of the party are Julie Morgenstern and Melissa Lierman. Feel free to visit them with any questions or comments you may have. I am a virgin to the whole twitter thing so Don't ask me. I do not know. My friend Melissa is a guru about all things social media related, so ask her. She is awe-inspiring in her multi-tasking, go-getting keenness. She makes me tired just listening to her for two minutes. I blog. Hence why you are here. Feel free to enjoy the party though. I am going to do what I do best here and that is write a little blurp about what I think about the book. Enjoy!

   I received this book from my friend Melissa. She swore up and down it was an easy read and noted she guffawed through much of it, often raising an eyebrow from her hubby lying beside her in bed. I am always up for a good read, so collected the book from her with high hopes. While not familiar with Lisa Kogan's work, I was told she was a columnist for O Magazine. I figured that she probably had some kind of handle on the English language and looked forward to all the laughs that would follow. My last brush with Oprah came from my recent book review and while mostly well written, it certainly did not elicit any laughs from me. I do not know about you, but I do not get enough giggles in my day. So what would Kogan exactly do for me?

   Well, upon opening the book I noted the subheading of "Notes from a perfectly imperfect life". Sounded humble enough, I thought. The Contents noted that there were 35 chapters, but I pushed on undaunted. The tome is slender and maxes out at 200 pages. No biggie! So I began. And I giggled. Kogan gives a brief synopsis of herself and her life with deadpan sarcasm. In the first chapter she describes giving birth to her daughter. She notes,

    "The rest of the story is pretty standard stuff; Johannes and the nurses ordered yang chow lo mein from the noodle shop on Second Ave, my friend Meg dropped by, shifts changed, I threw up, day turned to night, my friend Francesca dropped by, I begged her to grab a chopstick and stab me through the heart, and then a little after 3A.M., out came the pink velvet bunny nose, soft butter pecan ice cream cone, floppy, peony petal, juggle bug baby girl I thought I would never have."

   It makes you kind of tear up, doesn't it? I have been there, done that. Knowing the agony of the preceding hours, I loved her instant love upon arrival of her little girl; Drama with reward. The rest of the book is saturated with  Kogan's sarcastic wit and dramatics, and yes indeed I chortled my way through much of it. The spectre of multiple chapters, was softened by the fact that many of them were no more than five pages. I could breeze through several chapters while watching my daughter macerate a bite of dinner. One bite might last two chapters! That was my dramatics on another day though. I suspect Kogan could turn that into another chapter and have her readers rolling in the aisles. I digress.

   So what kinds of things did I find so amusing in the pages of the book, you ask? Here is a little taste; Kogan  bemoans her inability to throw a party ("flambe anyone? Oops, oh. Your eyebrows!") that seems to slip into several chapters, but more specifically chapters 2 and 30. She sulks over her mood swings in Bed, Bacon and Beyond ("To Whom It May Concern: Lisa Kogan is currently closed for repairs. She has been ridiculously wonderful for the last sixteen days in a row, and now she needs to eat bacon in her underwear. Please do not phone, e-mail, or make eye contact with her under any circumstances."). She waxes nostalgic about her grandmother in the chapter One Night Only as she notes that she should have sat back down and listened to her tales versus running off to a party. And of course I just could not stop grinning and snorting in Was it Good for You? as she discusses sex toys, going gray down under, and those awkward moments in young teen lust and hour long make-out sessions. She alternates between loving and wanting to smother with a pillow her long-time partner and father of her child. Her friends are alternately praised and picked on, but all with her witty banter that just begs you to forgive her sins. Between her lists and rules for living, I snickered through the pages with my children wondering what was so funny. At the end of the day, you know what? I can say that it was a pretty good book. Very light and fluffy, but with so much that anyone can relate to (well maybe more of the female set, but who's counting?). If your brain needs a break from the other neo-classical literature that litters your bed-side table, than I would suggest taking a wander through Lisa Kogan's brain. I appreciated the workout for my laugh lines.

Breaking News:

   I would like to announce that due to my extreme happiness with the book, and an extra copy being sent my way, I am going to have my very first contest here in the blogosphere. That's right! For all of you lovely people out there that come by to visit and post a comment, I will throw your name into a hat for the chance at winning a copy of the book. Indeed! So just go over there to the comment link and leave me your two cents worth and an email address so that I can find you later, and you too can pester your family, pets or dust mites with the sounds of your mirth  as you flip the pages of Kogan's book. Come one, come all...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

time is no waste

A book calls.
My mind stews.
The bath heats.
Ice cubes clinking.
   Also good.

I am angry at the injustices
   that are pushed upon the world
Me, friends, family and foes
   We are all pushed by the should be, should do,
should have been, could have done...

All we have is today.
This moment in time,
   that we have
that we offer to share with the world.
Those pure moments of us that we share with another,
   is that not the most precious thing to give,
      to be?

Am I wrong? What else can we offer another,
    but ourselves?
There is nothing more.
Everything else is mine
for me

I offer me with love.
If I do not want to give me I will not.
I am precious and not worth wasting.
I am not worth wasting
Neither are YOU!
neither are you...

time is no waste
life is gifts given wrapped in the paper of experience

Monday, April 26, 2010

Baboons, beer drinkers, bee-eaters, bunji jumpers

I reclined with a weary smile plastered to my face. I was headed “home”; that is back to my aunt and uncle’s house in Cape Town.  I had survived my first true taste of the wilds of Africa, the last adventure being our white water rafting experience. I had rafted 17 of the most challenging rapids in the world, only having to portage around one of them. Despite a brief solo trip  into the water while out on the river, I had fallen in love with the experience. All but the 750 foot incline that we had to scale to walk out of the gorge. They say it takes an able-bodied person 20 minutes to walk up out of the gorge. It felt more like hours as my knocking knees threatened to give out on me. As I struggled up the vicious hill,  I watched the rafters run up the hill with all of our gear laden on them. I wanted to puke. I stopped to catch my breath and was chided and cajoled by Karel until I begrudgingly started back up the hill. I would have gladly lain down and given up in contempt of myself, were it not for his pushing and prodding.
“There is cold beer in the truck,” he stated as he walked up the hill away from me.
Motivation noted. I hated every step I took, but found the superhuman strength to carry on. Beer and shame were great motivators that day.
Now I grinned remembering the shakes that racked my body that afternoon and the many days that I had survived before that. I had seen baboons, beer drinkers, bee-eaters, bunji jumpers, crocodiles, Castle castles,  elephants, eagle-eyed guides, lechwe, lecherous men, lions, mongoose, mokoros, puku, pojte pots, rondavels, rapids, sable, samils, and of course vultures and Victoria Falls. The memories were strong in mind and would take a lot of elbow grease to remove from body. My liver begged for mercy and I thought that returning to the familial lair would placate its pleas. I wondered what the future would hold and longed for the bounce of the samil back. Perhaps I would reconnect with my high school chum over the upcoming holidays, I thought to myself. Images of myself exploring wineries, wandering down to Cape Point and scaling Table Mountain were all possibilities to be pondered. I had a month of my six-month adventure tucked proudly under my belt and anticipated all the potential moments to be. The hugs I had offered to my fellow drifters were warm around me, as I sailed into the future dreams of my African tale.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Say You're One of Them

"Say You're One of Them", by Uwem Akpan (© 2008, Little, Brown and Company)

Welcome friends to my book club pick for the month of April. This is the first published book by Uwem Akpan. It is a collection of short stories set in several countries within Africa. It has the distinction of being a 2009 Selection for Oprah's Book Club, as noted by the sticker on its front cover. It also won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book, African Region, as well as being nominated for several other awards. Should mean it is good, right? Well, let's take a look...

"Say You're One of Them" is a compilation of short stories, as noted above. There are five stories in the pages of the book and the length of the stories range widely from the 12-pages of "What Language is That?" to 136 pages apiece for "Fattening for Gabon" and "Luxurious Hearses". While there are no hard and fast rules as to what constitutes length for a short story, Akpan stretches the definition to fit his niche. I personally would almost define the 136-page mark more a novella, but perhaps the 32-pages of "My Parent's Bedroom" and 34-pages of "An Ex-mas Feast" balance out the book as a whole. Why do I quibble on page count anyway, you may ask. Well, for myself and some others I have talked to about the book, unfortunately mid-way through the longer tales there were checks to see how much longer the stories were going to go on. I do not mind the short story genre, but there is something to be said about keeping a story moving that maintains the reader's focus on the action at hand versus page count.

As to the actual stories within the pages of Akpan's book, there is much to be said. Akpan was born in Nigeria and has lived in several places within the continent, including Zimbabwe and Nairobi, Kenya (where "An Ex-mas Feast" is set). All of the stories are narrated by children and the plights of these children are all fraught with grief. The first story "An Ex-mas Feast" opens with an eight-year old boy watching his family disintegrate before his very eyes. They live in a ramshackle shanty with his two parents who are unravelling due to alcoholism and substance abuse. His eldest sister at 12-years of age is a prostitute, with his 10-year old sister hot on the heels of her big sister's career path. Various other younger siblings illustrate the plight of a lack of birth control and the ravages of poverty. The baby is used as a pawn to build up coffers while begging. Their life is bleak and the twinge of hope that the 8-year old narrator brings to the story with the prospect of school, spins into the Ex-mas Night. The tale is poignant with its sorrows highlighting a big portion of suburban African life.

 No happiness is gleaned, as the book moves on. Inter-racial tensions are illustrated in their violent worst in the last three stories, often even skipping between family lines, as in "My Parent's Bedroom". Here a family is torn apart by the violence of ethnic tensions that pit Hutu and Tutsi peoples against each other. A mixed race family is at the center of the tale and the whirlwind that surrounds them. "What Language is That?" similarly separates along religious lines, this time dividing two little girls who are best friends, despite their difference of Muslim and Christian backgrounds. "Luxurious Hearses" follows a 16-year old Muslim youth with the distinction of being baptised at birth a Catholic, but living most of his life Muslim. When his country's unrest flairs along religious lines in bloody massacres, he is caught in the middle, with nowhere to turn. 

Akpan does not let the reader hope for a glowing ending for any of his characters. He has seen much of the underbelly of humanity in his years on the continent. The starkness of his tales and dramatics that he uses to illustrate the ills of the children in central Africa leave one nothing, but despair. Even in "Fattening For Gabon", where violence is not the mainstay of the story, the children's plights are no better. This 136-page tale introduces a small measure of wealth to a 10-year old boy living with his 5-year old sister and uncle. The children's parents had died of AIDS and were being taken care of by Fofo Kpee, their uncle. The wealth that seeps into their world in the form of a new nanfang (motorcycle), stereo and more food is slowly seen to be nothing more than bribery. Dreams of wealth entice the children, as their uncle's arrangements are anything, but sincere. Another sad tale that the reader must stumble through, especially as much of the narrative is written with local dialogue. I understand that this gives authenticity to the story and more simple innocence to the children, but I have to say that this is where pages were counted by myself. Where Akpan wants to portray the children with child-like wisdom, I felt perhaps he could have edited the story down some to keep the story flowing better. That being said, I have not been nominated for a Guardian First Book Award, Hurston/Wright Legacy Award or Los Angeles Times Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction. And Oprah hasn't knocked on my door recently either.

So if you are interested in African literature and can steal your heart to the trials and tribulations that ensnare so many of the young from that Continent, then this book is worth a read. I found it difficult to get through the language at times, but applaud Akpan at highlighting the fact that more needs to be done in so many of the ravaged corners of our world. In our fear, anger and ignorance we light the torch. The little ones get lost along the way...

Saturday, April 24, 2010


To have and to hold;
  -you were always mine and true

For better or for worse;
   -lovers spats seemed never to reach "I've had enough". That's got to be better...

For richer or for poorer;
   -never rich, but never poor. You lived life with an eye to our future wealth

In sickness and in health;
   -keeping my end of the bargain cost me much,
         but I would do it again in a heartbeat despite sickness

To love and to cherish from this day forward;
   -so many memories that I hold fast that the word love does not give justice to

Till death do us part.
   -That's where they got it wrong. 
       Death does not part us, aside from in body. 
          Your soul watches over me; I feel its presence eternal.
             Your gifts keep on giving with little hands that grow daily
                 Long, long after we both are no more than dust in the wind 
                    the glow that we formed will still fill the ethers with loving grace

Happy Anniversary to you my dear sweet man. My road it wavers, and yet carries on. Your footprints hover inches above mine and I am blessed. Love eternal to you~

Friday, April 23, 2010

Garden Guise

She wandered through the garden checking for new growth and dreaded weeds. Growth gave her heart a leap. Weeds gave her drive and purpose. When she was in a garden she existed. She was confident and sure. Never afraid of choice; to divide and conquer. It was when she stopped that she lost her path.


OK,  I am jumping onto the bandwagon that you are all  pulling along. So Mr. G-Man, here is my first attempt at a Friday Flash 55.  And in case anyone was wondering, yes I spent the day puttering in the garden :)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Greek styles

   Oh I am feeling fine today! It being Thursday, I have my regular dinner party this evening with N,D & E. It is always a great evening for a bottle of wine with friends and a play date for the kids. Tonight, dinner is at my house. So "hmm, what to cook?", I asked myself early in the week. Requests for french toast went out for the kid"s table. Duly noted and I will oblige. For the adults though, we try to pick foods that we figure the little ones will not appreciate as much as ourselves. Sometimes we serve up the easy fair of burgers to please everyone, but this week I am trying something different. 

It started with parsley. 
Then an onion got chopped. 

Out to the garden for some oregano. 

   Rummage through the cupboards for the olive oil, salt and pepper. Sorry, no freshly squeezed lemons today. The lemon juice comes from a bottle from the fridge. And the recipe calls for Worcestershire, so in it goes (yeah, I am using a recipe. I never do, but am making an exception today). What else? Oh, don't forget the garlic. Lots of garlic. Now that is freshly pressed and I even grew the garlic myself. I am down to the end of last year's crop though, so maybe not as much garlic as would otherwise go in. We are amongst friends though, so no need to make enemies with over-powering breath. 

  Now where are we? Yes, the meat. Can you guess what the menu is yet? The ingredients are all mixed together in one container and the meat cubed and thrown into a bowl. Oh, this is going to be good. The critter of choice today is pork, despite suggestions of lamb from the recipe. I just do not appreciate the fluffy little baa-baas. My house, my decision. 

   So, pull the sleeves up and prepare to get dirty. Let's mix 'er up! Oh, doesn't that look good! Well, maybe not to you vegetarian folk out there, so perhaps I will throw some tofu on the grill for you. I play that way too and there is some handy, so why not. Well now, we have to let all that goodness soak in. Marinate, if you will.

Beginning to salivate.
Perhaps I should go do something while I wait.
Cut the grass?
Spread grass seed?
Mop the floor?
Ah, I have waited long enough!
Let's get these bad boys on skewers!

And voila!
We have souvlaki. 
Accompaniments will be greek salad a la Nancy, rice, tzatziki and  pita bread.
And of course some wine.
There is lots, so don't be shy about wandering by.
The grill should be fired up by around 6:45.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Wednesday Vibes

   Today is my busy day. I worked this morning. I had yoga for body and soul in the afternoon, now am off to drumming for soul and sanity this evening. Slowly, slowly the rhythm is slipping into my fat fingers. I do not mind the off-notes though. Somehow I seem to catch the next beat when I can. My fellow musicians are far from professional, so we are all blissful in our wanderings through an evening of sonic meditation. We are perfect in our  peaceful letting go. We glide on the realm of tones we create. I always finish in a dream-like haze, saturated in the profusion of vibrations. And now I must go. Smiles to me and all of you. I hope your day holds a special something for you.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Fairy Child

I was peeking in my garden,
looking for them there.
Were they behind the mushrooms three?
Could I catch them unaware?

I inhaled the 
breath of springtime.
Gazed on daffodils 
joyous in season's prime

but my heart's desire
was to catch a sight
of the secretive garden fairies 
in full fanciful flight.

Anon, I doth ne'er fear
that tomorrow's morn
I will seek in the clear
and hope that mine quest 
is not clothed all forlorn
to spy my childhood 
wing'ed friends;
the fairy child
in my garden beds.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Not Back Till Lunch

We drifted lazily along in the river listening to Max’s instructions.
“Dig in!” he shouted and we would paddle like mad men (and women).
“Back paddle!” he screamed and flailing like drunken windmills, we would desperately try to keep up to his pace and reverse our paddling order.
“Hard left” and “Hard right” had my reeling head pounding, but the adrenalin was beginning to kick in. Max’s big beautiful smile and hearty laugh made it seem like we would be alright. Until he looked us in the eye and told us what to do when we fell out of the raft. That was when and not if. The quaky feeling in my stomach returned as he spoke.
If someone falls out of the boat right beside it, try to grab them and pull them back in. The best way is to push the person down, so that they will  pop back up and into the boat. If you fall out of the boat, but are still close we will throw you a line. Try to catch it the first time. There won’t be time for a second. If you miss it, one of the kayakers will try to get over to you to guide you through the rapid. Don’t try to climb onto their kayak. There is no point in both of you subsequently needing to be rescued. Just hold on for the ride. If no one is close enough, keep your head up. It might seem like a long time, but you will pop back up in the water. Just ride the rapid and we will pick you up at the end of it.”
He laughed, but was deadly serious. My nervous laugh was squashed by the announcement that we were nearing the first rapid of the day. Max quickly explained what direction we would try to maneuver through this rapid, detailing holes, chutes and eddies that we would try to skirt. Before actually seeing the rapid, it meant nothing to me. Our little raft full of eight people seemed to speed up and suddenly we were wet and going wild. Max’s screamed directions fell on mute ears as the wall of water crashed into us. We hit the water like it was a bucking bronco and Marjorie disappeared over the side from where she had sat beside me. I desperately tried to push my paddle into the onslaught of water that threatened to flip our craft and caught site of Max quickly throwing a line out to our escaped paddler, to no avail. We smashed right, left then straight through  a sheet curved like glass, before being swallowed by waves again. Spluttering and bracing into the boat we shot out the far end of the rapid and slowed. We made it! Well, all minus one. My heart was pounding out of my chest and I felt more alive than I had ever been. It had been a crazy onslaught, but we did it. I was instantly addicted and needed more. It was so wicked cool that I could not contain the energy that flew out of me. How far to the next rapid?  How many rapids were there? Were they all that intense, or was that just a tester and they would get bigger from there? Oh, but first, to find our missing companion.
As we back pedaled towards another boat  with a kayak nearby, we heard tell that poor Marjorie had not been saved until travelling much of the rapid solo. Our line was shot out in vain and the kayaker only reached her in time to travel the last chute with her. She had been picked up by another raft, before we could get to her. When we finally paddled over to where she was, I felt badly for my new friend. Marjorie sat lifeless and glassy. She could not speak for several minutes. She was physically fine, but gone for all intents and purposes. When she finally spoke, she stammered out the details of rushing waves sucking her under, popping up only to be sucked under again. Not knowing where she was or where to turn for safety. She was terrified and it was very plain to see. I felt for her, but it was not quite enough to quell my new-found excitement. Marjorie was given options of coming back into our boat or getting into another boat where all you had to do was hold on as a central guide steered the raft through the rapids with large oars. She stared glassily at us and our raft. She could not speak. Slowly, she shook her head. Poor Marjorie was not back until lunchtime. 

Sunday, April 18, 2010


   I am going to go way back here. Long, long ago in a lifetime mostly forgotten I was a young girl out with friends for an evening of music and fun. I was in Richmond Hill at the Mill Pond and a new local band was playing at the weekly free concerts that regularly played adult contemporary, blues, classical or whatever else they thought might interest the masses. I did not attend any of those other concerts, but this particular one featured a band by the name of Bare Naked Ladies. They would gain fame, fortune and even questionable notoriety for their band's title from local levels of government in the years to come. On this particular night, I reveled in their whimsy, energy and overall spunky fun that they exhibited on stage. That was almost twenty years ago, if I recollect, as I remember spying a girl from high school that I recognized, but had not befriended just yet. We have since had many adventures together, including a trip across the continent last summer and most recently our trip to Toronto. We have even seen BNL together  at other concerts (Molson Amphitheater God knows when - my 20s?). Always lots of fun and energy. Always a good night out.

   So anyways, last night I had the pleasure of seeing the Ladies again. I have had many transformations of me since seeing them the first time so many years ago, but to be fair, so have they. I was interested to see how they would sound and look with the recent departure of Steven Page from the band. I have had a chance to listen to their recent album All in Good Time and have enjoyed it. "You Run Away" is the first single as their reincarnation  of a four-piece band and it is heartfelt. I am touched. It seems to be the catharsis for some of the growing pains they have gone through. They have had a very difficult period of time thrown at them on many levels, but you get the feel that they will survive, altered, but still moving forward. 

   For myself, the concert was enjoyable. I got to go out for that rare evening away from children. A good friend and I set the mood with dinner  and drinks, then scurried down the street to collect our tickets. We slid into our seats with Joel Plaskett singing away on stage accompanied by Peter Elkas. He won a Juno last night, so was in fine spirit. He left the stage to applause and after a brief intermission the Ladies emerged. They played songs old and new with a style that seems to be emerging to find its new face. While I pined for the old-familiar bounce that used to be a mainstay of their sets, I realized that the days of Steven Page were done. His vocals were missed, as some notes were just not on, but the crowd seemed to enjoy the show none-the-less. During "Pinch Me" underwear littered the stage to the joy of many. Laughter filled the JLC and smiles reigned supreme. As we left, we reflected that they were still a great and fun-loving band, but that the years to come would probably see a transformation of their music and energy. Keep on rocking Ladies! You do yourself proud.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Saturday Segment

   I am off to the Studio Tour, but thought I would post a quick hello. I have heard tell that there were visitors yesterday and a few pieces were even sold! Yippee! Way to go Acme. I kind of feel like I might show up there and just be in the way or background art, but I must show my solidarity. I may not be a huge part of Acme Animal, but I do give them some of my hours. It is all good. The girls get to play with their girlfriend up at Kidscape too, so I cannot deny them an afternoon of fun (Thank you David!). That will be topped off by a special treat for me. This evening I get to go out for dinner, then continue on to a concert. Babysitter is arranged and I am excited already. Bare Naked Ladies here I come!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Artist Hour

   I have been busy in the kitchen this morning. Cookies were the objective, so a'rolling we did go. Shortbread is the result and they are yummy (Some broke! I had to try them!). And how do you keep two little kids away from such deliciousness that they had a hand in? Exactly. And yes, there are still some to share with visitors. 

   "Visitors?", you ask.

   Yup, visitors. For these cookies are not exclusively for us to enjoy. Oh no, they are for the studio tour this weekend. My part in the preparation for this weekend's London Artists Studio Tour is small, but I  lend my hand where I can. I am quite excited and happy to do so as well. If all goes well, perhaps Acme Animal will make a few dollars. I am going to plug away here, for this is where I work. Lucky me, I get to spend what days the ladies let me painting, listening to CBC and joining in the running commentary about life in general. It really is a dream job (well, minus the pay that is - just bugging ladies!). So perhaps if you are in the London area this weekend, you can come check out the tour. I will be playing artiste on Saturday, but the tour runs Fri-Sun. We create whimsical metallic animal pieces, but there are several artists on the tour and painting, sculpture, woodworking, printmaking and  stained glass are among the beautiful creations to be found. So come on out and  see what London has to offer amongst its creative set. If you haven't guessed already, the links here go to the tours home page and their Facebook page. From either of the links, you can get a listing of where all the artists are located. It is a self-guided tour, so buckle up and enjoy. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Revisited Memories

I was on Facebook yesterday and noted a status update from an old friend of mine. She was "looking to the sky", which I immediately knew meant that she was remembering the passing of her aunt. Her aunt died from cancer a year ago; the third in a string of cancer deaths in her family. It reminded me of a post I had written around that time regarding cancer and how to deal with its ramifications. My history makes me an expert of sorts in the field. I thought I would repost this in Joy's memory and also in Brad's.

Saying Goodbye

I talked to a friend this morning to catch up on things. She recently had a double mastectomy, due to a disconcertingly high risk factor for developing breast and/or ovarian cancer. Her Grandmother and Mother both died from Ovarian cancer and her Aunt (her Mother's sister) sounds like she is finally losing the battle to cancer herself. With her Aunt slowly winding out her last few days/weeks at home the family is preparing for her death. My friend has two young daughters, the oldest one being very close to her Great-Aunt. My conversation touched on what to say and how to explain death to young children. She wanted to know how I explained Brad's final illness and death to my girls.

T was 2 1/2 years old when her father died from cancer. She knew her father was sick and may have understood he was getting sicker. In his last month of life he suffered from extreme headaches that were extremely debilitating. I often had to tell her to play quietly because Daddy wasn't feeling well and his head hurt. She drew into herself in her Daddy's last month, I am sure not really knowing exactly what was going on, but knowing that it was something serious. Where television had never held any interest for her, it suddenly drew her in. No surprise when Daddy napped often and Mommy withdrew and cried a lot more. TV was a happy place where everyone was having fun. At our house everyone was serious. Even with doctors trying to be nice, I suspect she sensed how much angst the doctors caused for her adults. She did not have a lot of warmth for them, despite the smiles they offered her.

Brad was hospitalized in his last few days. He essentially had a stroke, and seizures at the end left him in a coma. I was terrified and desperate, and not sure what to do. We had been seeing a social worker at the hospital and she helped to give me ideas of how to handle this final turn of events with the girls. R was only 10 months old at the time, so was intellectually beyond being able to comprehend what was going on. I tried to have familiar caregivers surround her and tend to her needs. When Brad was stabilized, I took T to the hospital so that she could see her Daddy. I explained that Daddy was very, very sick and that the tubes coming out of him were to help him breathe and give him medicine. Essentially I described Daddy as alive and sleeping, but very sick. I told her that if she wanted to touch him or hug him she could. It was a bit much for her and she was not comfortable with that. She did not want to touch him and did not really say anything. We had brought her favourite bunny on the suggestion of the social worker and I gave it to Daddy. I told T it was so that Daddy would know that she had been there and would have a piece of her to hold onto. She was okay with that, but we left fairly quickly.

The next morning Brad died before anyone could come and visit him. I believe that he decided it was time and did not want anyone to uncomfortably hover over him fretting, worrying and not knowing what to say. His parents were there moments after he died and I arrived shortly thereafter. My Mother and Father got the girls fed and dressed, then brought them to the hospital. The social worker and Brad's palliative doctor took me aside and counselled me on what to say to T. The tubes were removed from Brad before we brought the girls in, so as to lessen fears and stresses. R was brought in and shown Daddy and told he had died. T came in and I held her as I explained that Daddy had died. That meant that he couldn't breathe anymore or eat. He could not drink, walk or move his body. The medicine that the doctor's had given him had stopped working and Daddy's body couldn't fight off his sickness any more. Daddy loved us all, but he was gone and not coming back. It was some of the hardest words that I have ever had to wrench from my lips and I wanted to vomit for saying them. The truth was as hard for me to understand, as for her to hear and comprehend. Reality is not pretty or kind in situations such as this. The mixed blessing of it all was that grief does not touch children the same way that it affects adults. That being said they are affected by the grief process and even R felt the vast changes that were going on in her world. Children may not be able to understand all of the complicated emotions that adults grapple with, but they see the people in their world being affected by it and feel sadness in their own way. Time brings the reality of their loss into a reality that they can absorb slowly. It can take many years for children to fully understand and come to grips with such a significant loss. My own experience of losing my Father at the age of five has taught me this.

My conversation this morning brought me back to my not distant loss. While sad to delve into, it is my reality and will always form a part of my world. The glimmer that made the conversation more dear was the recognition from my friend that my words may help her when it comes time to tell her daughter about a loved one's loss. My story is painful, but my story can help others. I am not alone in my pain and neither should anyone else be.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


    This week I feel the well is dry. Words are parched from my less than creative brain. I have exciting things coming up in my life. New opportunities that might spring up with a dollar or two attached to them. Spring has sprung, which means that I will be outside tending to the garden and looking for fairies behind new shoots and leaves. That is always a good meditation for my soul. Alas, I have been feeling hollow though when I look for more depth. I saw a couple of old acquaintances this morning and invariably the conversation got around to "So are you working?". My part-time work is wonderful, but elicits a crooked smile from others. It also elicits a groan from my bank account. My Spring renewal feels more like a returning to my roots of angst. I wonder if I will ever be good enough for me? I keep on judging me against the past and society's norms and am finding a hard sell to measure up. Perhaps a round of ohms on the yoga mat this afternoon will give me the boost I crave. Thanks for visiting. 


Tuesday, April 13, 2010


I am not 
who I used to be
So many years ago,
full and free.

With ne'er a care
 I wandered the land.
Sought life and experience,
twas all unplanned.

Now, I am lost
seeking a compass point true
excitement of old
now brings something new.

I want to be.
I want to hold
the security of thee
let me unfold.

I am

the journey 
and excitement
that I never sought

found me unawares
and sits and stares
as now I just want to stop
and be 

Monday, April 12, 2010

still waiting

I am sitting at my kitchen table. It is 7:07 PM. My youngest daughter has a plate of food in front of her that I am sure is icy cold. Dinner started closer to the 6:00 mark. My eldest  child left the table about 15 minutes ago. She inquired about dessert, but I reminded her that her sister was still eating. With a shrug she left, saying "call me when it is time for dessert!" We shall see. I think I need another drink...

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Shattered by faith

I drive by your lonely eyes
staring into nothing,
trying desperately to look 
at nowhere;

Is that me?
Driving by,
or looking into 
a vacant tomorrow
on flickering screen.

You refuse to see
me standing here
tentative hands
wanting to hold
your anything.

Your safety 
in yesterday's failed promise.
Shattered by faith
that life will 
go on.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Spring Plantings

Signs of Spring and cool sunshine

Brought me outside
To turn the earth
and feel dirt
with fingers 
Pale from winter's ways.

Insistent breezes
blew sweet remembrances
and promises of 
a bountiful tomorrow.

DNA dug in.
Yesterdays rains,
Aided by a watering can's drops
Finished morning's work.

Hope lives
in tomorrow's turn.

Friday, April 9, 2010


   The game parks of Botswana were a thing to behold. We were no more than a breath away from animals that could make a snack out of us in a heartbeat at any given moment. Over the fire, we discussed the origin of species and argued religion in good-natured tones. It seemed appropriate, as we were so far from any reminders of the civilized world and all that we associated with. Always we were mindful of our surroundings and the stark beauty they possessed. We knew we were very privileged to place our footprints there and tried to respect the world around us as best we could.
   The tail end of our trip was an adventure of another sort though. We would again be faced with nature in all her wrath, but this time with a twist. We would not be idly sitting back and watching the world go by. Our last stop before looping back to South Africa was Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. Mosi-oa-Tunya or “the smoke that thunders”, as the locals call it, was magnificent to behold. While it may not be the highest waterfall in the world, the curtain of water that falls over its edge gives it the distinction of being considered the largest due to the sheer volume that flows over its side. The landscape  immediately surrounding the falls has become a lush rain forest due to the constant mist that shrouds the area. Graceful ferns and other flora thrive where a few miles yonder the earth is scrubby and dry. The vegetation was not what brought us to Victoria Falls though. While our little troupe did wander through the Park admiring its beauty, the next day we were headed downstream.
   After watching a video that scared the bejesus out of me, I was pale and unconvinced. Barb and Sue laughed and Karel refused to accept my shaking head and pleads of “no!”. Everyone was doing it. Finally, it was my turn to step up to the counter. With huge misgivings and a last look back at the pictures on the wall, I agreed. I was coerced into signing up for a white water rafting adventure. With names like “Overland Truck Eater”, “Oblivion” and “Devil’s Toilet Bowl” and the claims that over half of the rapids were class 5 (class 6 is considered un-runnable), it was no wonder my knees were wobbly. No amount of drinks the night before could muster up the courage I sought, but rising before daylight to descend into the gorge I found myself pushed along by my new best friends. My dry mouth and shaking hands were laughed off by tour guides and we descended the 400 feet down to our entry point. There was no turning back now. Life jackets were donned. We were handed a paddle with which we would maneuver the raft. We entered the water and were given instructions on how to paddle the raft that would be our mode of transport for the day. Jugs of orange liquid equipped all the rafts for our refreshment, if desired. The water  in the river was perfectly safe to ingest though. Something told me that I would find that out for myself sooner than I wanted. 

Thursday, April 8, 2010

In those eyes

Your voice comes to me from afar
   floating away
through the cotton of my mind.
Black vibrations that I drift from.

"Are you alright?" I hear muffled
  over and over again.

Where am I?
With floor cool to the cheek
I want to embrace the darkness
just lie here forever.


The voice becomes clear.
"Are you alright?"
Now I can see you,
  touch you
You are so close.

   Those eyes?
Have I seen them before?
   I am in them
(how can that be?)
Fear wilts in the corners
I smell concern
Confused, I am lost.

Eyes down
What does this mean?
Slowly, slowly.

"Stay there."

Clear as the night sky
as the wind whisks away
yesterday's clouds
You take care of me.

I can not.
I must not.
Find love in tender touches
They will not be there tomorrow
(will they?)

"How are you?"
Did I hear that?
What? No.
Where am I now...

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Home again, home again, jiggety, jig

Ahhhh, I am home. I love road trips, truly I do, but I so love coming home. I will be able to crawl into my own bed tonight and my children their's. No more little feet kicking me in the middle of the night. No more fears of waking up to a puddle at 2AM from my little girlie whose bladder is still growing and learning the art of control. We will eat what we are used to eating (whatever that might be!) and know where everything belongs. I know I will miss the adults in my world at that point, as it is wonderful to have others around to help prepare meals, clean up meals and converse over meals. I love them beyond measure, but my little ones conversations are not always as stimulating as they could be. And they also usually serve to extend dinner towards the hour mark and beyond, if I let it. Which tends to drive me mental at the best of times. Of course I know some adults who are not at the top of the stimulation chain either I guess. Oh well. Without friends and family at the ready, I will have to go back to my other love; my laptop. I return to you my virtual friends and am happy to do so. I bid adieu to the friends and family that stimulated me this past week though. 
   I am grateful for all the sunshine we were offered. The miles that I put on my aching legs appreciate it, as does the reduced glare off my pastie person. Tonight, I will smile with the glow of a week spent in activity and love, as I reflect from the warmth of home and my tub. Cheers, welcome home to me.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Go wild







All for us to come 
and hang out with the animals of the world

(Gone) to the zoo, zoo, zoo...
How about you?
(and Me and She)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Where Am I?

Where am I?
   I have left the confines of my home in South-Western Ontario. For a hint on where, we are two hours from our doorstep.  I am wandering with the kids in tow. Oh where, oh where did we go?

Do you think that we are here? Anybody guess where this is?

Now where am I? Is this scenic location two hours from my home?

I have been here before, but not today. Honeymoon capital of the world, it is nick-named. Can you guess this watery location?

One more place I have seen up close. Magnificent to be sure, but can you guess where?

Now this is where I was hanging today,
staring at the world below us with awe at the tiny pieces of our world.

The claim of tallest freestanding structure is what it says on the advertisements.
Can you guess,
Where I am?

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Survival of the Fittest

While the Okavengo Delta was all about being one with nature, our next stop held a different feel. While our guides stocked up on supplies again, I wished the Delta goodbye with a splurge on a flight over it in a 6-seater plane. Flying over massive herds of zebras mixed with wildebeest and chasing after gangly giraffes took my breath away. It also took lunch away from a couple of the ladies that I flew with, but yellow was a colour that suited them and gave me a laugh. We spent the night in town to partake in food prepared by others.  Also to partake in a bevy or two. After the first month of sobriety at my aunt and uncle’s house, my poor liver was getting a proper workout. The beers flowed fast and free, and I was belly up to the bar. I was often a little worse for wear in the morning, but somehow seemed to survive the shakes and thrive on the adventure at hand.
 Chobe was next up for game parks and it was a treat that I will never forget. This time the Samil brought us into the park and stayed with us. Its presence was a comfort on our game viewing. Not that walking through the wilds of Africa wasn’t exhilarating, but I did appreciate the security that the truck seemed to offer, despite its open sides. Staring agape at a herd of wild dogs as they ran down and subsequently devoured a baby impala was phenomenal. A little gruesome, but this was life in its finest survival imagery. Spying lions, elephants and even a leopard eating an impala in a tree were experiences that one just did not come across every day in urban Ontario. Life and death were directly linked. The survival of one being was dependent on the sacrifice of another. 


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