Second Time Around


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My daughter is moving out this weekend.  When she moved out a couple of years ago, there was degree on tension between us.  Neither of us were in a really solid frame of mind.

I was reacquainting myself with my sexuality which had remained dormant for close to thirty years. I was grappling with a host of emotions that were racing to the surface now that the dam had burst.

In all fairness, I can certainly appreciate my daughter’s confusion in the change that was occurring in me at that time.  Hell,  I didn’t understand what was going on with me.

She had her own issues that she was struggling with.  Still, we’ve always valued our relationship beyond all else and in our typical fashion we dealt with the issues as they arose and worked out our differences.

This has been an emotional week for me.  In an odd way I feel like I’ve come full circle yet I have been elevated.  I’m raising the bar on this thing called life and what I want to gain from the notion of living.

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Last night I was running with my group and we did the same route from a year ago.  The last run before everyone does the BMO 1/2 or full Marathon this weekend.

It was a beautiful spring day yesterday just as it was a year ago.

I sustained an injury in my calf muscle on the final run with my group last year right before the race.

This year I will be at the finish line handing out medals.  I’m looking forward to it.

As I was driving home I thought about when we first moved out to New Westminster four years ago.  Seemed to be a bit of ghost town at the time but in the last few years a renaissance has been taking place and I’ve really fallen in love with the place.  It is a friendly river community that likely has the smallest Santa Clause Parade ever (4 blocks in length).

New Westminster celebrates everything which I love!

And where else can you walk into a restaurant to find everyone playing a ukulele?

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When I got home my daughter had just arrived and on the spur of the moment I asked her if she’d like to go to dinner at the first restaurant we went to upon moving here. It was the Heritage Grill down on Columbia Street.

The Heritage is known for its live music.  They’ve now thrown in musical clubs such as the Uke Club.

We walked in and were serenaded with the likes of ‘King of the Road’, ‘Harvest Moon’, ‘Your Cheatin’ Heart’, ‘Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?’ just to name a few.

A woman named Danielle got up and sang a beautiful song in French. I tell ya, you haven’t lived until you’ve watched every patron of a restaurant excluding yourself play the ukulele!

After dinner we walked along the river for a while then made our way home.

It is a very different mood now as my daughter heads out on her own once more.  Eleven months have passed since she moved back in and occupied the futon that I’d set up after she moved out the first time.

The three words that I uttered almost a year ago were from the patio of the Heritage Grill as well.

“I’ve got Cancer.”

That evening she told me she was moving back in, that she’d take care of me.

At the beginning of this life chapter I was hesitant, I didn’t want to impose.  I am forever grateful for her love, care and support.

Now we are both ready to carry on with our lives.  I will be setting up a publishing company and will redo the room over the next few weeks.  Along with this I’ll be finishing up the last few legal issues then launch my book in June 2014.

I’m excited about this vision that I have.

My daughter has a host of creative endeavours she will be pursuing along with taking classes in September to build upon her education and further develop her skill set.

And yes, she is very excited as well.

The second time around we both have a vision for our respective futures.  And make no mistake, we’ll see each other often enough.

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Leo looking for his comfort zone on a Sunday morning!

But I will miss her and all her goofy little antics.  Her sleepy ‘Good Mornings’ and the air kiss ‘Goodnights’.  I’ll miss her and the cat curled up on my lap at night while we watch a bit of TV.  I’ll miss her funny faces.

We are moving forward.  Memories are the fabric of our life in many ways and we have so many more to write into history.

The future never looked brighter.

 

 

 

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Bad Hair Day?!


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You know you’re having a bad hair day when it’s not even your hair.

It was windy tonight, gusting up a storm for sure.  The rains came and with umbrella at the ready I braved the sidewalks of downtown Vancouver seeking the perfect gift for an up coming birthday.

My daughter will turn 31 years of age this Sunday.

Where does the time go?

I know what I want to get for her and part one is in the bag.  Now it’s on to part two.

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The rain now became torrential.  Sewers were backing up  rapidly and the streets began to transform into lakes.

I pushed on though.  Diligent in my pursuit of the task at hand.

Saw the item of interest at the first store.  Great price!  Still I had a couple of more stores to check out so back out into the wilds of Vancouver I went.

The street band that had been playing were now on a weather induced intermission.

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The lakes that had been forming when I entered the store now resembled raging rivers.

Rafting anyone?

The winds came up and tossed the umbrella unexpectedly which bounced against my head catching the wig.  Immediately I grabbed my wig holding it in place albeit rather awkwardly.

My real hair at the moment is about 1 1/2 inches in length.  And it’s doing some weird ass shit, let me tell you.

All my life I wanted curly or wavy hair.  Careful what you wish for.  I just may get it and I’m terrified.

This thick mass of dark ash blond with, according to a  member of my gym, red highlights in there as well is all curly cue on top.

The area where my bangs would be is curling straight up, as are a few other areas.  I’ll have to have a sit down with my hair and explain the laws of gravity.

Another gust of wind came up threatening to dismantle the wig from my head.  by the time I entered the second store I was looking a little disheveled.

I tried, without the benefit of a mirror, to smooth out the wig.

Jamie Dornan gets soaking wet jogging through the rain on 'Fifty Shades of Grey' set

Wigs, when blown all to hell, don’t fall back into place as would normal hair.  It will just remain sticking up in the most unnatural and unusual of positions.  The world will now know that this is not your real hair.

And in truth, I really don’t mind anyone knowing this.  I’ve gone without the wig on several occasions.

And if I had the bag with me that I use when I hit the gym I’d gladly have simply removed it and popped it into my purse.

I was appalled at the prices at the second store and debated going back then and there but the book store called.

I purchased two books. One is a favorite of mine.  ‘Who Has See the Wind?’ by W.O. Mitchell and the second ‘Traitor’s Blade’ by Sebastien de Castell.

Sebastien is a member of one of my writing groups and this is his first publication.  He’s a really good writer and I really want to support everyone on every level and enjoy some cool books in the process. I’ll have him sign it next time I see him.

Then I searched for a cover for my Kobo.

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It was back out into the deluge.  I wandered down Granville St. admiring the skies above me.  The clouds were churning furiously trying to make the falling rain pound down ever harder.

I was observing the re-construction of the old Eaton’s Centre.

Nordstrom’s is moving to Vancouver and the development is a little intimidating.  It looks expensive and it will most definitely be expensive.

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Photo of Granville Street back in the late 1950’s, early 1960’s

I’m feeling a little saddened at the Americanization of Granville Street.

Robson Street is fast becoming a vacancy lot as no one can afford the ridiculous rents.  ‘For Lease’ signs grace the vacant store fronts far too commonly these days.

And the stores that remain hint at elitism. If you don’t have the cash, then don’t come in.

I made may way to the third store and trekked up to the 6th floor.  I really wasn’t surprised that the costs were higher here.  Still, the item of interested was priced the same as at the second store and this did really did cause the eyebrows to raise speculatively.

I headed down to the 3rd floor to check out the new spring fashions.  Even tried a few things on.

Unfortunately my mid-section is still very much inflated.  I’ll have to work a little harder to get back into shape.  And I’m feeling a little angry at the cancer for inducing this weight gain.

Clothing looks awkward on me these days.  I look awkward on me these days.

Yes, I’m starting over with the running, with the gym.  I’m re-building.

Leaving the store I debated heading back down to the first store to pick up the item and decided to pick it up on the morrow.  It was 7:00 PM and my parking meter would be expiring.

I had also worked up an appetite so it was time for dinner. I plugged the meter then headed over to The Kingston for a nibble.

It looks quite forlorn these days.  Two condo / mixed-use towers are going up on either side of this quaint boutique hotel that houses a fabulous tap house and grill.

A memory flashed as I sat down.

A few years back my daughter and I come down to do some shopping.  We stopped at the White Spot that used to be around the corner from here for breakfast.  Then we shopped.  By 2:00 PM  we’d done some serious damage and had a blast in the process.

We came to The Kingston for a late lunch.  A lovely woman of Irish decent was our server.  The place was pretty quiet that day.  We laughed ourselves silly during our meal along with Megan, our server.

I slipped off to bathroom to clean up a bit.  The wig looked rather ragged as do I.

It’s okay though. I straightened myself out a bit and headed back to the table to order my meal and jot down a few thoughts.

Heading home I looked at this city of mine.  Vancouver is not wearing the mantel of this face lift she’s been given very well.  We have politicians that want to rip her apart and re-build her in their image.

I hope we can hold onto a few of the old familiars such as The Kingston, Denman Street, Davie Street, etc.

The rains have stopped for the time being.  Time to call it a day.

Have a great evening everyone.  Peace.

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It’s the Music in Me….


I’ve put in a twelve-hour work day.  Numbers and their problems that have been plaguing me are dismissed.  I crank up the radio and put my foot to the pedal. I’m cruising on the highway at 110 km/per hour.  A  little over the speed limit.

Singing off-key, I try to keep the myriad of thoughts bombarding me at bay.

Pink Floyd comes on the radio…

“Black, black, black & blue, blue, blue….”

I am transported….

The song takes me to a time, a place, a space…did I want to be there?

Each note delivers a punch as memories that have been ignited play out with the swift re-occurrence of a replay of a goal scored in a hockey game.

Highlights of times long forgotten…their relevance more abstract now than at the time, I am certain.

What is it about a song?  When I hear “Best of Love ” by the Eagles I think of Jim.  Oddly, that was our song.  Did I really listen to the words when we declared this to be so?  I can’t speak for him, however, at 16 years of age the relationship burnt out after just 8 months.

No, it wasn’t love and a million other things were tearing me apart while I tried valiantly to keep it together.

How many times did I want to scream then I would hear a song…Billy Joel pounded out, “You may be right….I may be crazy….but you just may need a lunatic..”

At times I wonder…was it insanity or clarity that I was experiencing?

Youth has its innocence.  In all forms.

Liking sex is not a bad thing.  Appreciating the art of it and the gift of its blessing quite another.

Certain songs come on and take me back…way back…

Yvonne Elliman singing “I Don’t know How to Love Him” from the Jesus Christ Superstar sound track just shuts me down.

I have watched that movie more than 20 times.  I have seen it in the theatre. What I took from that movie and its songs runs very deep.

Then you have the legends.

John Lennon…

Well, what can I say?  He was falling apart when I was.  When I was in New York back in 2011, my first stop was the Dakota.  We landed early due to a jet stream…some odd wind that pushes the plane a little faster apparently.  Crying babies prevented the majority of us from sleeping  That was fine.

At 6:00 AM  we managed to at least get our bags to the hotel, though we couldn’t check in just yet.  Walking up toward Central Park, our necks turning in a million directions to marvel at the architecture that opened before us.

And I was there. This city that had captured my imagination so many times in my life stood before me welcoming and I drank it in.

At the mouth of Central Park my friend, Cathy and I purchased a coffee and biscotti.   It was now a little past 8:00 AM. I called my daughter to let her know I had made it safely.

In Vancouver it was just 5:00 AM.  “Hello?”  a sleepy voice answered.

“Hi…I’m at Central Park…in New York City…I am here, baby!”

“Oh good, you made it.”

The conversation was brief.  Just to let the girl know I’d made it safely.  Once the coffee and biscotti had been consumed we proceeded up the street.

As soon as I saw the Dakota’s entrance the memories began to flash through my mind’s eye. The bronze security booth….the gate…the…

An air  of sorrow still hangs around the place.

John was prolific in his songs….you felt his pain…lived it…knew it as your own.  He just gave it voice.   And he was fighting to take his life back, to find  his bliss, his happy.

We’ve lost so many in music to drugs.  Others we lost due to accidents such as Jim Croche, Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and the Big Bopper.

Music is and always has been a balm. Words that just reach inside and tug the old heart strings.

The work will continue.  I’ll keep on hitting the highway and turning up the dial to a favorite song and sing along.

‘I’ve got a peaceful, easy feeling….’

 

 

A Christmas Story…The Napkin’s Odyssey – Part 1


I thought I would re-post my Christmas story from last year.  Enjoy1 

Part One – Remembrances

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I set out on my annual Christmas shopping trek seeking those items that would just scream someone’s name at me.  There was quite a bit of foot traffic on this Saturday afternoon along Granville Street.   It’s always good to see the hustle and bustle this time of year as I made my way slowly along the corridor plotting my course and plan of action.

This is one the main shopping drags in downtown Vancouver.  Today, as is typical this time of year, the sky is overcast and a wet snow has begun to fall.  I had been checking to see if any interesting little shops had materialized over the last year.  Unfortunately there were none at this juncture of my quest.

With all the health issues I had faced recently I found myself feeling a little fatigued and decided to find a bench to call home for a few moments.

I sat down across from the old Eaton’s store.  Next year Granville will look very different no doubt.  An American store, Nordstrom’s had purchased the property that was opposite me and it was now being renovated and slated to open sometime next year.

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The old Eaton’s store, considered one of the ugliest stores. 

It was once described as an unending urinal wall.

So much has changed over all the years from frequenting this area of the city.  I gazed up the street.  The Bay looked very much the same on the outside, however, the interior has undergone many renovations over the years and continues to do so.

There used to be an old man that had built this weird conglomerate of instruments and he would sit outside The Bay, right on the corner of Granville and Georgia St. and play a variety of melodies.  From the time I was a young girl to somewhere in my mid 20’s he was there every Christmas.

I would go down to shop and always looked for him.  The contraption he played was drums, keyboard, accordion, spoons, symbols, a horn, tambourine, etc.  All were rigged and connected somehow, and with each note played they combined to make a hauntingly beautiful sound.

I would hear it when I got off the bus drifting down the Granville Street corridor.

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The Bay Downtown Vancouver…Then & Now

The old guy wore a beat up Santa hat.  He was whiskered and a little rough around the edges but the smile and light that danced in his eyes could melt the bitterest of colds.

I always gave him a five dollar bill.  Might not sound like much but in those days it was.

He was still there for the first year of my daughter’s birth but the year after he was gone and I never did see him again.

I sat smiling thinking back to times past.  Looking down toward the south end of Granville I could still recall the neon signs that used to grace the corridor.  Vancouver was a relatively gritty city in appearance back in the day.  Even so, she’s always had a charm and beauty that cannot be beat and still does.

The White Lunch Café was located a few blocks down.  I would go there for breakfast from time to time.  Coffee was ten cents a cup with as many refills as you wanted.  Cinemas, theatres and stores peppered the street back then. There was quite an outrage when the price of coffee was boosted to a quarter for a cup.

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Robson Street was a kitschy place at the time inhabited by artists, fortunetellers, belly dancers and cool little shops and restaurants.

I had my tea leaves read by a woman, who in hind sight, was a little scary.  She would stare into the cup, then stare at me, stare into the cup then stare back at me.  Her eyes fluttered closed and she moaned plaintively whilst rolling her head about.  Then the eyes popped open and she unloaded a host of information that made absolutely no sense but she assured me in time, it would.  Whatever was disclosed to me that day was soon forgotten.

Closing my eyes for a moment I just let the memories dance to the surface.

I always went down to Woodward’s.  They had the best Santa Land and the best Christmas displays in their windows by far!  It was the 6th floor that was transformed into a magical place for children each year.

The last Woodward’s Santa Land I attended was in 1987 when my daughter was four years old.  Woodward’s would later close down forever in 1993 . Eaton’s suffered the same fate unfortunately.

And as I sat watching the busy shoppers, I wasn’t saddened, not really.  Change occurs all the time.  It never ceases.  That I have been afforded so many rich memories is what matters most.  And you know, it never is about the gifts that I have received that springs to mind. It never has been.  Always it is a sound, a place, a smell, a touch, a smile, etc.  Some sensation arrests my attention and I find myself propelled into this beautiful, magical spirit we all share.

Of course, as adults, we all know that a man in red suit cannot possibly circumnavigate the globe in a huge red sleigh distributing toys to every child on this planet, yet we propagate the myth.

Why?

Perhaps because it makes us feel good.  There is a certain innocence and magic to it I suppose.  That desire to just believe.

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My eye caught an elderly woman shuffling up the street with her walker leading the way.  Little clips had been attached to hold her shopping bags.  I admired her ingenuity. She wore a brown and white woolen weave coat that fell to mid-calf.  A brown felt beret with a broach of a penguin pinned to it adorned her perfectly coiffed grey hair.

She had the kind of eyes that were like liquid honey and a mischievous smile that graced her lips.   I watched as she made her way up the street.  A stately little gal and I pondered the stories she could tell.  She was close to me now and she caught my gaze.  The smile deepened as did mine.

“Merry Christmas” I offered with a nod.

“And to you, child!” she replied softly.  There was a hint of an accent to her voice from a lifetime ago.  I couldn’t say from where.

A few more glances and I stood.  Time to get back to the task at hand of finding the elusive perfect gift.

A snowflake landed on my nose as I stood and I laughed.  Looking up, I watched as the wet snow transitioned into the big fat flakes.  I was delighted that I’d left the car at home.

As I headed south along Granville St., the lonely refrain of a saxophone rang out.  The first few chords of ‘White Christmas’ echoed on the buildings and for whatever reason, I came close to tears.

Over the course of my 54 years there have been a lot of bad Christmas’ in the mix, along with some very lonely ones as well.  Now I simply focused on letting those that I love know how I feel and try to help a few of those in need as well.

I quickened my step now as the snow was really starting to come down.

Rites of Passage


I woke this morning with these thoughts running through my head and bathed in the now familiar sweat (a.k.a. a hot flash).  Our rites of passage as we move through this life. Each moment and event culminating to build a story that will relay the living of it.  Depending on who you ask, it may be viewed differently to others than the person writing the pages of it.

I have had a fabulous weekend thus far.  It is a long weekend here in Canada as yesterday we paid homage to those who have died in war in defense of our country and to those who have served and continue to do so and survived.  I always wonder what my father was like before the war.  I wonder if the horrors that he witnessed forever changed him.  Is this the reason he was so abusive toward his family?  That died with him.

He never spoke of his time in the war.  The only time really that he did speak of it was when he was completely inebriated and so far into his cups that he couldn’t see straight.  Then sometimes the utterances, while they may have sounded non-sensical in their delivery, came out something like this.

“Fuck Dave I don’t mind telling you I’m looking forward to a home cooked meal and a warm body.”

“Yeah, I am with ya on that one Jackie boy.  I am with ya on that.”  He would then make the sound of gunfire.

“Fuck I hate this, fuck I hate this.  You okay Dave?”

Nothing.

“Dave? Holy fuck…”

“You stupid bastard!  Why the hell didn’t you get down?  Look at you?  What woman is gonna want you with your head blown off.  You stupid bastard.”

At times he would then cry.

When first I heard this drunken monologue, I was about 13 years old.  It gave me some insight into this man.  The following day he was working on the car and I was watching him.  I decided to ask him about this.

“Hey dad, last night you were talking about a guy named Dave from the war.  Did you see him get killed?” I asked this in a rather tentative and nervous manner.  He looked at me and his eyes hardened immediately.

“Shut the fuck up about it.” he instructed.

“But I just thought….”

“SHUT THE FUCK UP AND GET THE FUCK OUT!”

There would be no discussion on this.  If he was sober, it was not an area that could or should be mentioned.  I did find at times though I could have brief conversations on these matters while he was in a drunken stupor, but then you walked a fine line with that one too.  You never really wanted to awaken the beast in that state as things could get ugly.

And has life continued to unfold in its somewhat strange fashion at times, during Remembrance Day I would always ask myself the question, ‘What was he like before the war?’

In my father’s youth I believe that war was romanticized to some degree.   I think those young men and women who left to defend all that we hold dear might well have been a little idealistic at first.  I don’t know.  I am only speculating at this point.  I can’t imagine what it would have been like to kill someone for the first time.

But in war this is what happens.

Yesterday I was down at Sunset Beach with my daughter during the moment of silence.  I gazed across the water with the familiar questions now playing through my head once more.  Always the questions about this stranger who was my father.  I never really got to know the man.  That was never open to us. Just every once in a while we caught a glimpse inside.

When I had my daughter, I promised to do all the things for her that were not afforded to me in my youth.  So as the moment passed and I offered a salute to all those who have passed in wartime, my daughter and I set out on a hike.  The day was overcast and it rained in the end, but we went on a good 6 KM hike through Stanley Park then found a restaurant and had breakfast.

My daughter knows me very well, and as she has grown from child to woman, we have developed a very deep bond.  There is also a friendship that both of us hold in the highest regards.

It’s sad that my father was not able to open himself to love and that he could not find it in his heart to accept forgiveness.  But he gave me the gift of life and for that I will always be grateful.  I hope that in death he has found some measure of peace and all that haunted him during his lifetime has been laid to rest.

The legacy I want to leave when I pass from this world can be summed up simply.  I want to leave a mark of gentle kindness, hope and love.  If I can do this, then I will have lived my life to the highest expectations that I can think of.

I pray that there will come a time when wars are no longer necessary.  And on that note I will close this commentary.  Enjoy your day everyone.

Peace out.

 

Walk this way


Upon waking this morning I could feel the hum of the day.  I rolled from my bed and slipped out into the sunshine to go for my long run.  There was a part of me that wanted to think that this has gotten easier but as I was running uphill my muscles were screaming at me at times.  And you know, they used to win and I would stop and walk.  Now I hardly listen to them other than giving them a quick pep talk.  Then they quiet down and get to the business at hand. 

What has occurred is that I have become a better runner.  The route is familiar of course, but ultimately the body has responded to the weekly challenges put forth and become increasingly more efficient in this task.  I got into my zone and just focused on the breath and really liked the feel of how the hips roll.  Movement seems so fluid at this point. 

This morning was a reflective mood for me during the run.  Images of the past slipping in and out consciousness.  Sometimes a smile plays around my lips.  It is still a bit cool in the mornings, though I warm up quickly.  As I was running through Queens Park I was reminded of taking my daughter sledding at another Vancouver park about 15 years ago.  We would pile onto the sled and barrel down the side of the hill until the sled came to a stop.  Now it wasn’t sled in the sense that you could steer the thing.  It was just a piece of  hard red plastic moulded into a rectangular shape that two people can sit on with a litte rope handle on the sides. 

We had gone down the hill several times and we were getting tired but figured we had a few more runs in us.  We were soaked and laughing and cold.  The two us had hiked back up the hill and got seated on the sled…my daughter in front of me and I have my arms and legs wrapped around her and am holding onto this silly little handle.  We fly down the hillside laughing in delight when a tree jumped out in front of us.  The sled had hit a little mogul and changed direction just enough to put a tree smack dab in the middle of our freefall.  I threw my daughter off the sled into the snow but wasn’t able to get myself off in time. 

Smack!  The sled hit the tree and I kind of just crumpled into the snow.  I was laying there looking up at the tree feeling a wee bit dazed.  The sled had flipped over and was somewhere to my left.

“Mom…mom.  Are you okay?”  That small voice so full of concern and I turned my head and looked at her.  Her hair was sticking up on one side and she just looked so  adorable.   I smiled. “I will be fine'”. I told her.  After a few moments we decided that would be our last run for the day.  We made our way back to the car then found a cafe and had a nice big cup of hot chocolate. 

I guess it has all gone by so quickly and continues to do so.  We write the chapters of our lives each day with so many different flavours and colours.  Funny how some memories are so vivid in their telling while others are varying shades of grey.

Is it a life well lived?  I don’t know that yet.  I haven’t finished living it.  Time for me to head back out into the sun and do a few more tasks. 

Enjoy your day.