Monday, November 17, 2008

home from school

I knew it was coming, but I just didn't expect it so soon. I knew it was coming because it's just one of those things you do when you're a kid with boundaries to test and push. But at 4 years old? I really didn't think kids figured it out that young.

This morning you could have called me a witch doctor. A magic man. A true healer. Praise the Lord, you are well! Well I didn't say that. All I said was 'you don't have to go to preschool' and miraculously Owen was healed. That is until I changed my mind. Then the spell was broken and he was horribly sick, unable to stand at all. Bound to his bed. He did it all except moan. The bottom lip hung limp, his eyes moistened and looked as sad as a basset hound. His shoulders sagged and he looked down right pathetic. If I hadn't been paying attention he may have got away with it. But I didn't become a mom yesterday.

All weekend, quite out of the blue, I earn my stripes again. (Not that I'm lacking any) While sitting cosy on the couch together Saturday evening, Owen suddenly gets up and decides he doesn't want supper anymore, and it all comes back up. All over the floor. It wouldn't be as much of a panic if it weren't for Shady. Skills of an acrobat are needed to get from my seat, over the mess to the paper towel on the other side of the room. All the while keeping the dog and my toes, out of the mess.

By Sunday evening, the battle between going down and coming up was won. A bagel successfully stayed put. But since that was all he ate all weekend, I thought Owen would be as exciting as a blob of goo today, stuck to the couch. I snuck into his room this morning to find him curled up, eyes fluttering somewhere between awake and asleep, sucking his fingers. The way he has since he was a baby, reminding me that he's still a little boy. 'How are you feeling?' I asked when his eyes finally met mine. A shrug of the shoulders was all I got. So I said the magic words.

That's when he showed me that he's not so little. In fact he's a sneaking little fart, trying to pull a Ferris Buelers Day Off. I'm sure now, that in seconds he had a list of toys he would sneak out of his brothers room while he was stuck in school. In minutes he was out of bed, dressed, breakfast in the toaster and sitting cosy on the couch watching the beginning of what he hoped was a day full of cartoons.

I have to give him credit though. I didn't know he had it in him. Too bad he hadn't studied his brother a bit longer, planned a bit better. Reiley knows that you have to fake it until at least lunch time to get away with it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I was hiding behind my mothers leg when we met. She was hiding behind hers. The game of shyness lasted the whole of our mothers chat that day. Neither of us brave enough to come out from behind our protective posts. We were 3. She is now my oldest friend.

Like friends do, she moved, I moved. We grew up. University took her into the military. Then around the world on a boat. Then a few short years in Halifax only to move again to Ontario. When we left high school I gave her half of a heart. The kind of charm you break in half and each keeps a piece. One day she showed me her dog tags, and to my surprise there was my half heart. It had been close to 10 years.

She is Reiley's god mother, she witnessed my marriage and she stills comes to play with me when we have the chance. The years dissolve when I see her, like no time has passed. I think of her often, and today especially. On this remembrance day she is in Afghanistan.

I don't understand all the politics behind any of the wars really. Especially today's. They seem more complicated. Less about ideals and more about greed. Schoolyard bullies on a global scale. Despite any ones belief of whether Canada should or shouldn't be in Afghanistan politically, there is one truth that can't be denied. The people who are there, are there to help and they are giving themselves completely to do that. I admire their selflessness.

Today I remember to give thanks. For the freedom our soldiers fought for in the past. So I could grow up with my friend and not know death. For the soldiers who fight today, so a family can wake up and Dad can go to work and his daughter can go find her friend and play.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


The once lush beautiful trees, now grey, brittle and bare rattle in the wind. Cold. Regardless of the temperature, they look cold. It's dark, and my playground outside that I know so well, suddenly seems spooky. Behind me, the house is glowing with light and warmth. The smell of supper wafts out through the door to my nose. Making it all the more tempting to run back inside where it's safe.

If I can just make it to the barn. It's not that far. Around the house, past the scary woods full of shadows and noises. The bare tree branches reach out for me like skeleton fingers. But everyone is waiting for me, I have to go.

The barn is warm and glowing with light. It smells not of my supper, but of theirs. My company inside is waiting for me. The old horse with less patience than the others. He lets me know I'm late. I clean the beds, feed them supper and make sure all the animals are tucked in cosy for the night. I like it in the barn. If only my supper were in here I wouldn't have to run back into the dark, past those scary trees.

Some 20 years later, as I get home from work, our house glows warmly in the dark. Spooky shadows fill the yard. The bare brittle trees rattle in the wind. My adult mind knows nothing lurks in the woods, but I run anyway.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Smell in the air

The wind blew all day today wiggling the last remaining leaves free from the branches. Bare and grey the land they once hid is now visible to anyone who passes by. I catch myself weaving this way and that as I drive to work, the scenery all new again. I spy fields tucked away on the river banks, trails and homes I never knew were there, that I have passed twice a day for the last 6 months.

The tree tops are bare, but the forest floor is covered in the most beautiful patchwork of colour. It's winter blanket of leaves. Just as the last spider, grim reaper and princess visit our door, and the clock falls back, I can smell it in the air. The change in season that comes with the wind. Winter is just around the bend.

The horse went to Yarmouth yesterday to hold off the winters cold in a barn with lots of feed and the company of cows. I'll miss him, but his absence makes my internal, instinctive clock ring all the louder as I'm suddenly capable of sleeping the day away.

Even our menu changes from salads to root crops and we hunker down readying ourselves subconsciously for the winter. Hope you like roast, potatoes and carrots with apple pie. A winter feast and company inside keeps the cold outside at bay and brings me comfort.

I've always been a spring and fall kind of girl. I used to base that on the temperature. As a redhead, God didn't design me for hot temperatures. But I think really I love those seasons because I love change they bring.

Friday, October 24, 2008

just an ordinary day

I sit back in front of the screen, keyboard at my fingertips with the craving to tell an extraordinary story about my day, about my life. On the tip of my tongue, creative genius is waiting to spill out.

I'm delusional. Not only am I not a creative genius, I have no extraordinary story to tell. But the craving is still there. More times than not, I ignore it for lack of something to say. Who wants to hear about my ordinary day?

I'm not in turmoil, I do not grieve, I am not a victim or lost trying to find my way. There is no delicious story full of drama, with edge of your seat excitement hidden in my past. I am no heroine. I have skeletons and regrets and scars hidden away in my closet, but they're just teeny compared. A scene of 'nothing to see here'. I'm not suffering or want for anything. I can't share stories of how I survived a tremendous ordeal.

But, if not being any of those things causes a lack of things to say, lets hope I never write another word. I guess my ordinary day is saying something all by itself. Something along the lines of 'you lucky girl' perhaps.

So today I sit here grateful and I appreciate how the ordinary can be extraordinary. This morning Owen got dressed by himself and my coffee was brewed and prepared to perfection. If I could have purred I would have, it was soooo good.

I'll keep rolling that creative genius around on my tongue until my kids do something funny.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Chink in the armour

Everyday I put on my armour and get out of bed. It's what keeps me from being nothing more than a blob of mush on the floor composed of contradictions that can hardly co-exist. My raw self that I don't understand anymore than the next guy.

This armour of mine, it isn't perfect but I've tried to form it into the person I want to be. Sometimes it cracks and my raw self comes pooling out. Exposing me to the world for who I really am. Raw emotion is hardly ever pretty. Self preservation hardly stops to consider others feelings. Insecurity feeds off of others strengths to the ultimate damage of its own host, as does jealousy. A crack in the helmet and I'm over come by the drone of constant argument between the angel and devil which have perched on my shoulders, in an infinite debate. Leading me in circles. Like most debates, there is no conclusion or agreement.

The saint with all the patience surely wasn't named Misty. I'm not sure if my rope is shortened by the outside world or what lives inside my head. I am more often than not, my own worst enemy.

All I can do is shove on my armour, hope it doesn't crack, lead with my heart and try to keep it from slipping out from under my sleeve.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A smile on the apple pie

Today I prepared our thanksgiving feast. No feast would be complete without apple pie. Not just any apple pie, one like my mother used to make. You see, no apple pie is complete without a smiling face.

I never thought of myself as a traditional person until I reached adulthood. Basically, I think it's because I didn't realize I was. Not until I read a book in University about rural history and the role of women in it. Through the chapters I recognized stories told by my grandmother, mother and some I could tell myself. Weird I thought, that I can relate to these women from a century ago and the ripe ol age of 21. It's somehow comforting.

My goal as a farmer, which is shared through history, is to feed my family. Not to become rich, not so someone can call me successful. Just so I can be a little more self reliant, and simple and pure. So I can teach that to my kids, like my parents taught me. Maybe tradition is as much thought as it is action.

Most of the ways my grandparents used are long gone, but some remain. The more I look the more I find. With our new home, new land and the beginning of our farm, I have noticed it more. Especially lacking a tractor. I'm thankful for being shown how parents and grandparents did things. How they made do with what they had. I'm proud of the fence I built, with Grampy's home made fence tightner.

I know I will appreciate a tractor a whole lot more when we finally have the luxury. But I think I'll get a harness for the horse first. I'm sure my Dad can teach me, after all Grampy taught him.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Life in the service of a cat.

Our house, like most others is full of unwritten rules. I buy groceries, Mart mows the lawn. We even have some unusual ones, like no feathered pets. I love ducks and chickens, but I guess I can't win all the time.

There is one rule that rules above all else. It can trump any chore and gives reason for others to do things for you, without argument. I don't know how the rule was created. Hobbes must be way smarter than we ever gave a cat credit for, because of course, the rule benefits him the most. Heaven forbid, he ever be disturbed.

If the cat is sitting on my lap, I can't, just can't get up to answer the phone or get myself an evening snack. I can't. The cats on me, I am immobile. Out of service until he decides to move. Of course, because of the under lying laziness of our species, this rule is often taken advantage of. If it weren't for the cunning mastermind of Hobbes, it would be down right abused. But he is not one to be placed on a lap. He is wise and all knowing. The only way he will lay upon your lap is if he chooses. (Or you have the brown cosy blanket on you.) We still try though, to stretch this rule, while we lay like mush on the couch. Hooray for me, if so much as my pinkie hides under his plush, soft, extra cushiony coat.

Hobbes does not allow cheaters. Don't try to slip in under him, when the ring of "can you..." is heard in the house. Hobbes will be gone, and you'll be stuck, sitting there alone, doing nothing. No way out of this chore. Better luck next time.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sick day

I find it quite amusing to watch how my house changes when Mom gets sick. It's more wonderful than mothers day. Come to think of it, I'm not sure why I don't pretend now and then.

On any given day, I can guaranty, that you will hear Owen whine, and Reiley scream Owen's name for some monstrosity that he committed. Boys will be boys but mostly, brothers will be brothers. They don't get along all the time, that's for sure. Even when they do the house is filled with their foot stomping, dinky car dropping, lets line the stairs with pillows and roll down them, noise. No matter what I say, short of get out of the house, the result is the same. Quiet long enough to for a new game to develop, and then be ruined when someone gets hurt. It's been happening for generations between brothers, and will likely continue for many more. Well at least it will for my two boys.

So when I come home and plunk myself down on the bed to wish the sick away, I am amused, because the house goes completely quiet. A librarian would be impressed. Bickering - gone. Whining - done. Suddenly the years of Tree House and Sesame Street sink in and they're actually cooperating. I know! Amazing!

I don't do sick very well. I'm always a mess with puffy red eyes, hair a matted into a single giant dreadlock Bob Marley would be proud of, and if you're real lucky I'll even have a Kleenex stuffed up one nostril to try to tapper the flow. I'm never lonely though. No matter the vision of beauty I am (or not) the bed is always full. Reiley, Owen, Shady and even Hobbes join me on the bed. Quietly. Very quietly, asking if they can watch their shows on my TV.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


I can easily remember where I was when my life was forever, irreversibly changed. It's not a pleasant memory. Alone at the mall, feeling as though I was falling into a dark abyss to which I would never be saved. Fear and desperation consumed me. But the worst was being alone. Everything I had planned, hoped for and dreamed were gone. I felt I was forever lost with them.

I don't recognize that girl now. I'm glad I don't. When I go visit my childhood town I'm often surprised when others recognize me. I have changed so much on the inside, it seems impossible that my outer appearance has remained intact.

Merely 7 months after I forced myself to acknowledge the truth, alone in the ladies room at the mall, I had my first child and became a mother at 18. By the time he was born I was no longer swirling, lost in the abyss. Turns out I was not as alone as I feared, and my family reached down and pulled me from the darkness. They rescued both of us.

Still, I sometimes wonder, like in a choose your own adventure book, if I could go back and make a different choice, where would I be. Who would I be? Would the following chapters bring me joy or would I still be the same girl I was in high school? Would life have been easier? Would I like the person I would become?

The struggles and sacrifices made are too numerous to count. I am still haunted by the girl I once was. Society doesn't look kindly on young mothers. Neither do most guys, regardless of being young and single. The baggage for most is too heavy.

I don't know if everything happens for a reason. If a path is set for us to follow. But I know, with the clarity of hindsight, that I am lucky I ended up on the path I did. There are too many things I would not give up. The struggles I learned from, and the sacrifices made, make what I have all the more sweet on my tongue. The guys, who weren't strong enough for the son I carried cleared the way for the one who was. Would I have found him on another path? I wouldn't risk finding out.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

One last box

In a 6 month period, we have lived in 3 different houses, in 3 different counties. In December, I carefully started packing up all those things that people own, but don't need on a daily basis. Or at all really. But we like them, and keep them, and apparently are willing to lug them to different houses in different counties if need be. In the beginning, box 1 of 2ooo that is, I was careful in labeling what was in each box, and to what room it belonged. By box 1,894 I wasn't so careful.

The first move went along like a well oiled clock. In fact, we even left on time. The next house was so small though, that we had to take the beds apart just to get them in the rooms. Needless to say not all the boxes were emptied. About 8 got the honours. (well probably more than that if you count digging through the ones I didn't label looking for stuff) The idea in my mind, which I now see was a total fantasy, was to only open the boxes we needed and very easily pack them back as they were when it was time to move again. (I think my fantasy may have even included elves to come during the night and do all this for me.)

For some reason, we couldn't get our stuff to fit back in during round two. Like trying to get toothpaste back in the tube. It all got here in those boxes, but it wasn't leaving that way. So we end up in our new spacious house, with truck loads of what looks like crap, because we just hate even the site of those damn boxes at this point. Our huge empty basement was quickly filled with them. The labels I took such care in writing, didn't mean jack, because of course there were no elves to come pack for me. Apparently, someone had decided the boxes that were rummaged through, did count, and every last thing we owned was mixed up.

Two months later, and not 2 months of I'm too lazy to sort this out, 2 months of I'm sick of sorting this out later, I dig out a very special box. This particular special box was packed 6 years ago and it has moved with us to 5 different houses. And had never been unpacked.
This afternoon, I carefully open this box. I pull out the most uncomfortable shoes I have ever, in my whole life, ever put on my feet. But they still make me smile, and I squish my toes into them just because. I walked down the isle in these shoes, and chose the jagged edges of gravel over them at the end of the night. In one hand hung these shoes, in the other, was the hand of my new husband.
Next out of the box is the little head piece I made from little flowers I bought at the dollar store. I still like it more than any I could buy. On my head it goes, on my face a smile and a giggle. Wrapped up in a blue bag, and blue tissue, to keep it from yellowing, is my veil. Just long enough to touch my finger tips. Simple little white flowers spaced out along the bottom. Just how I had wanted. Still perfect. Butterflies greeted me when I put it on my head. They did the last time too. Martin is still cleaning, but watching. A smile lights his face when he sees it. The same smile. The smile that makes me laugh and cry all at the same time.
Then all that's left is the dress. I hadn't even peeked at this box in 6 years for fear it would never fit again. But out it comes. My aunt made me this dress. Lace decorates the top with the same little white flowers. Empire waist, and the softest satin. Matching lace borders the bottom of the chapel train.
I put it on. Don't be foolish, of course I can't zip it all the way up. But most of the way, and Martin is here this time to help so its ok. Memories flood back that I didn't realize I'd forgotten. Running my hands down the front feeling how soft it was, my disbelief I was getting married, and giggling when I thought of who would be waiting for me at the other end of the isle.
I look at Martin with my wedding dress half zipped, standing on our bed so not to get it dirty, looking less like a bride and more like Cinderella after a day of baking and cleaning, and he's standing there, smiling. Just like he was that day.

We pack it all back into it's protective blue cocoon. Close up the box and put it out of the way. We have no daughters, and even if we did, I doubt they'd wear it, but in that box my dress will stay. And even if we move 5 more times it will come too. Even if its just to giggle, and make Martin smile when we take it out again.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

my most favorite seat

Hi, want to hang out? Go somewhere fun?
Sure comes the response, not in words, but in actions. He walks over to me and puts his head down for his greeting scratch on the forehead, and allows me to put on his halter. We mosey out of the field and up to the house, he grabs the sweetest blades of grass on the way by.

We judge each others mood while I brush him off. He can tell mine by the speed and hardness of my actions, the expression on my face, tenseness of my muscles. I can tell his in much the same way. Today, I'm soft, so is he.
I rest my face on his neck. I can hear the murmur of heart beat, swallowing, breathing and I inhale his smell, horse smell. Unique to them and as familiar and comforting to me as a childhood blanket.
First the saddle blanket, then the saddle. The leather, another familiar, pleasing smell. Placed with care, it fits like a glove, cinched in place.
I climb on and rest in my most favorite seat. A place I've sat since I was a child. Control is an illusion. There is no control here. Just trust and a friendship so pure. I go for a ride by myself, but I'm never alone.

We wander down the old dirt road that winds through the cut over trees behind our property. Off it, are paths down to the river. We don't venture down those today, the sun is too low in the sky.
From my seat I spy the footprints of those who wandered this way before us. Raccoon, rabbit, deer and birds I can't be sure of. A raven watches from a low branch of an old dead tree.
In a heartbeat, his legs lock, muscles tense along his neck, down his back. Ears forward. What's that?! Nothing Bud, a pheasant. My muscles remain relaxed, his follow suit, I urge him on. Communication, neither seen nor heard, a language in itself.
At his feet, the ground slopes down to the river, then rises again on the other side. We'll have to come back again in a few weeks with a camera, and take pictures of the trees dressed in their autumn colors.

Tack removed, I return him to his pasture. I say thanks for the ride with an affectionate scratch on the shoulder like his mother used to give. Coated in his smell and dirt (horse dirt isn't real dirt though) I say goodbye to my friend until next time. He says goodbye too, with a flutter of the nostrils, like the purr of a cat.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

path in the grass

Mart, can you do me a favour? Mow me a path in the grass?

The grass 5 feet tall stood ragged like hair in bad need of a cut. Through the grass if you could see, there is a gate. But the grass is just too long. A path is needed indeed.
So off he goes, to please his wife. He was looking for a chore to do anyway. An excuse to be outside. The little red mower that could, small next to the stand of grass, chopped away. Soon to my delight a path was formed.

The clear blue sky and air that perfectly matched the heat of my skin called me outside. I love the evening sun. And watching him out there working away, only his head visible to me, well I just had to go see.

The little red mower, with her task complete sat quiet at his feet. "There you go" he said with a smile. Then the butterflies started tickling my insides and giggles spilled out of my cheeks and I couldn't stand it anymore. I skipped, I danced, I ran down that path, then turned and did it back again. The silliest thing a for mother, but I wasn't a mother just then.

Then the kids, a yard away, seeing the top of their mothers head bobbing through the grass, gave in to curiosity. The butterflies and giggles must have found them too, because soon I was joined by the two. Dogs sense fear, and sadness, but most of all joy. They bounded down the path, barks of excitement they couldn't hold back, came pouring out. Our fun echoed over the field while we ran.

The trees became silhouettes, the air cool on my skin, and soon it was time to go back inside. The smile still spread across our faces for a silly path in the grass.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Upside down leaves

So it begins, on a day the leaves turn upside down, awaiting the watering they're about to get. Even though the day started out fine I really didn't hold much hope. The feel of the warm sun was nice, but I knew it wouldn't last. And sure enough, on my way home from work, I see the leaves. All upside down.

Mannnnn I wish it would stop raining. I'm usually one for puddles. (I believe I've inherited my grandfathers irresistible attraction to them.) But I think I got stuck in the muck and its just not fun anymore.

One parched summer, I stood in the barn doorway with the farmer I worked for. Not to avoid rain, but to find cooling shade. We were worried the corn wouldn't grow, just too damn dry. Then it happened. First a small pitter patter, and as it grew more steady I laughed harder and harder. There in the barnyard I watched a grown man dance in the rain. Right about now I'd dance for a few solid days of sun.

Every where is mud. Aussie dog does ok, but Shady Lady, boy she's always covered and never comes in until she's satisfied her fur has soaked up enough to cover the entire house.
The hay is rotting in the field, good thing the horse has a winter home or he'd have nothing to eat. I think he's onto something in that area. Warmer climate for the winter, away from the snow belt he's currently grazing on. At least a snow belt from what we're told. We haven't actually experience it yet. Come to think of it, the only season we've experienced since moving here, is what must have been spring, despite the calendar saying August. Yippy us.

This is my first letter to nowhere. My virtual existence in the world. And all I'm doing today is trying to stay dry and cleaning up mud, again. still. forever it seems.