Saturday, September 13, 2014

Three Years Ago Today

Dear Marlowe;

Today you are three; it's hard to believe that time is flying at this pace.

This means of course that 'You are a big girl' now.  I asked you if you could consider staying three forever and you insisted that you couldn't stop.

It is 'what you do'.  You do so much more now than even two weeks ago!

Wild with determination and will to do it all...right...now makes you unstoppable. I can relate on so many levels that it takes my breath away.

In the last month though, you've been really trying to take a minute before hurling yourself into your feelings or frustration or off of a cliff. It is a wonder to watch you learning how to cope with the instinct to go wild.
I can feel you getting ready to stretch your wings and direct your attention away from me in search of a wider world and it foreshadows my last hatchling leaving babyhood behind.

You are a wonder and a force to behold. It is humbling to witness.

Happy Birthday Pork Chop.

Love,

Your Mama.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Failed Nuclear Family

We have a rule around here about September. We go nuclear.  That is to say; we re-focus our energy and attention to the home and to each other. This is always in response to the new schedule that Fall brings. Fenner starts a new grade; we have to shake off the summer's ferality and all of a sudden our home's cracks and dust and clutter starts to become apparent.

So we buckle down and prepare for the fall work ahead. It feels good to get back to normal...it's also no coincidence that the costs from any summer adventures also come to bear on our spending. So home is where we make our happiness. Being Canadian, the weather starts to cool down so I hanker for some bread and cooking.

We are feeling broke so we do things that make our dollars go further - we make more and buy local. Investing in each other and time together, reading, knitting, arguing and visiting. Our only goal is to get as much social, filial, productive bang for our buck.



This particular September is made even more intense because I paid tuition for the first time in more than 10 years. How can something I've wanted for almost 7 years be so incredibly nauseating and yet here we go, just beating the storm by minutes, only because we're running this game together.

Going nuclear as much as we can....it's what saves us every fall. Hopefully, you'll see me hear a little more not because it's so original, the story of a working mom, goes to school and balances selling out day by day - but so I can track the memories as the days get filled up by all of our adventures.
Stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Saddle up Ladies; Let's ride



The Bike Rally was a whole lot of everything - trying to do it justice is rendering me immobile so I'm going to do what hack writers do and publish snippets of my journal throughout the week, it was a week of extremes so buckle up.

Day One:Small hiccup
Today we started our bike ride to Montreal. My bike broke down 3 blocks in on Parliament street next to the graveyard causing us to be the last riders out of the core. I fixed it myself pretty fast and so feel pretty hardcore. The graveyard was a bit ominous.

The coup was a personal bike police escort to stop traffic until we caught up - in fact, they refused to leave us.
I was super lucky to have Steph as a riding partner and co-lead. Not many people can keep me from making stupid decisions so definitely (ehrm race the train...ehrm)

Day Two - After the Flood

Hey Mother Nature, what the actual fuck kind of storm was that last night? Nice try on drenching our tent too bad Steph and I are super uptight about prevention - jokes on you!
Also, nice attempt at intimidation - you forgot how mulish we both are in the face of a challenge. What's that?  No Coffee? No Problem. We brought our own kit!  NICE TRY FATES - also, coffee is the fastest way to make friends on the Rally.
10 degree weather though, that was a low blow - I can't believe that thoughts of hypothermia crossed my mind MULTIPLE TIMES IN JULY. Also, that 50 km headwind blowing rain into our faces for 4 hours? Nice touch but we weren't caving.

The voice of my spirit breaking at 40+ kms when we found out lunch was at 90 km as demonstrated by my youngest child. Thank the Fates we have the best team ever - our tent was set up when we arrived and Josh stocked the cooler WITH WINE AND BEER.

PS: Also, that small flask of Lagavulin in the pain bag? No regrets.

Day Three - Kingston or Red Dress Day

I had no idea that cycling could strain my armpits. I had no idea there were muscles there to strain. My legs feel nothing. Literally, I'm numb from my armpits down. At least I'm a smokin' hot broken babe in sequins because I'm pretty sure I am not going to make it to Montreal.

J and the girls met me in Kingston where Marlowe immediately got down to business. I can't lie. It was exhausting and life draining business but boy she evened out fast after a 15 minute snuggle.

When business was done I was ready to eat everything. I considered it preparation for Auntie Yvonne's 'Feed the Team' event; lunch(re: all the food), a bath (re: deep clawfoot tub soak) and a nap (re: food coma knockout)

Day 4: Chasing the Dragon

The sweet sweet release of a warm gentle sun and delicious tailwind with Advil every two hours - THIS IS WHAT CYCLING IS ABOUT. I'm totally signing up for 2015 TONIGHT. I love everything about the Bike Rally, it's the best! 

This is the best day ever. Tomorrow is going to be amazing - how could it not be?

Cherry on top of today? Best campsite and swim spot of the week after which our amazing team taught the whole rally a round for the talent show. Glampy Victory!
 Day 5 - In which the rains return

Fuck you Mother Nature. Honestly, this ends right after Steph, Sam, David, David, Pato are finished sweeping this bloody morning.

I think that Steph is contemplating cutting me. I wish she would, the sweet release of death might be warm. How did Matt and Matt handle Day 2? They must be dead inside it was so cold.
 
I wish it was warmer so we could enjoy the prettiest ride of the week without risking death by hypothermia or electrocution. Thank goodness there was a fire at break.
At least the weather cleared for the candle light vigil of the rally. This event is a really enormous undertaking, in every way and this is the night that we are reminded of the incredible work that the Toronto People With AIDS Foundation does to help folks every day - how all the fundraising and volunteering really changes lives in the long game. 

It is humbling to behold but it was also dry and almost warm too which was kind of the Fates.

Day 6: Ou est la poutine?

Oh my god we made it and there was not a single tornado. Our team is amazing - taking care of each other when they were injured, closing bins and tents when the rains came back, pitching tents and delivering gear, cheering, sticking together and helping out in any way possible - including providing beer, advil, voltaren, back rubs and comedy. So much comedy.
The best beer was this beer.
This year was a tough one and I am not sure I would have survived the cold long dark tea times of the soul with out my co-lead and fellow difficult Lady. As a co-lead I could not have asked for anyone better.  Whenever I needed to tag out she tagged in and vice versa - often without exchanging the tag. I don't think I've ever met anyone who can shake off a bad spell as quickly as Steph - it is amazing to behold and impossible to resist.

That lady's got game.

With Steph on my wing and the rest of the riders by my side this trip was exactly as I wanted - full of significant challenges conquered, fears faced and friends made. I am beginning to think I like a hard game for good cause.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

My summer off the saddle

It has been a stretch of time during which much has happened. My focus is my life on the saddle and fundraising for an amazing local organization and in spite of that there has been an exceptional amount of life occurring when I was not on my bike or thinking of my bike.

We had dear friends come and visit us for a day. There was play, a picnic and some neighbourhood wandering, and mostly, it was as though we still live up the street from each other.


After six years of applying and being mostly waitlisted, I got accepted to the Ryerson Midwifery Education Program. I didn't think I was that stubborn until I got accepted. I was so thrilled that I screamed out loud in a coffee shop and after calling Jason and my Mom. I called my normally non-reactive friend Steph and made her scream like a little school girl on a roller coaster which was almost worth the wait.

Now my fear of being a bad midwife can keep me up at night. #impostersyndrome

My amazing, brilliant, charming and witty cousin Emma got married and gave us an excuse to clean up and get together.

It took some doing but we managed to herd ourselves like cats into a picture, now that I'm looking at this I notice that my Dad is missing....



Between work and my training, there hasn't been much cottage time.  Enough that I could celebrate turning magical 40 with my urban family and for Fenner to collect all the new dragonflies on the property to let them dry their wings on her finger.

I can take that kind of magic.


It has been an intense and amazing summer and the next 3 months have some amazing adventures in store so I look forward to cooling it off in August to prepare. Get some time with my family both urban and biological.

I'm stoked. Life is unbelievable.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Summary of a few pre-day rides

It was one of those crazy busy days last Friday. The kind of day that I try and avoid with all the might of a 5' tall woman with a crippling Napoleonic complex.  The day when I had client meetings in the late afternoon, Bike Rally errands to run in the pre-afternoon, work meetings in the late morning and a garden obligation first thing in the morning.

It was also the last day I was going to do a morning ride in more than 10 days...so, I wrote my plan for the day down and Steph kindly offered to have our morning date 30 min earlier - at 6:00 am, that 30 minutes at that point in the day is a true friendship gift.

This is what that ride looked like using pictures from the last 2 rides.

4:50 am: Wake up. Curse life choices but enjoy current alarm ring tone choice.

5:35 am: Drink half a pot of coffee and contemplate eating...reject the idea, even the sun is to tired to feel hungry that early in the morning.

6:00 am: Ride through The Meatgrinder and enjoy view of the waterfront. Maybe life is rich...



6:15 am: Connect with Steph at bottom of High Park.

6:30 am: Get lapped by cycling club on Ellis. Contemplate competing with them...realize that it was the hanger talking

6:45 am: Gget lapped again. Curse them.

7:00 am: Start back to the deep east. Take selfie next to giant Inukshuk.


7:15 am: Go through a significantly changed Meatgrinder.  Contemplate the impact of this construction on my netherregions. Make a mental note to never think of this again...also to eat before doing this again.
  

7:45 am: Arrive at my house say hello to my family gettng ready for their days. Drink ALL the coffee.
 
 

I think the real victims of our choices might be Jason and Joe here.

If you feel the urge PWA Toronto is a great organization to sponsor and we have a whole team of hard working cyclists on our team looking for support on this crazy ride. Check it out - we ride and post terrible pictures for coffee money.



Thursday, May 22, 2014

Seven Day Whiplash

I have been traveling pretty extensively for my work and I have to confess. I love it, all of it.  I love that I can work without feeling like I'm compromising the immediate needs of my family and my relationship. I can put in a 14 hour day without even looking up and no one will feel rejected, hungry or lonely (that I can see.)

I love that I can drink a cup of coffee in complete silence in the morning, that I don't have to have any fruit, granola or whole foods as an example of healthy living. I can just sit there, drinking my coffee in silence. I love sleeping alone, surrounded by pillows as though to fool myself that there are three people in the bed with me but still alone.

All of this fills me with deep unrelenting guilt, don't get me wrong, but there it is. I love it.

Of course, the only reason I love any of this is because it is only for five days before I come home and get engulfed by my people. Anchored again. Since I don't believe in the myth of work/life balance, I work really hard at being in the moment no matter where I am.

The part I hate is the whiplash. Nothing demonstrates the extreme difference between my work and my local life like work travel.

Here is a 7 day photo journal that will accurately portray this difference:

Day 1: Arrive in Fort Lauderdale, go kayaking with a friend in the Everglades directly from the airport. It's so easy to get into a car with just another adult and drive off to adventure. We ate shitty road food. Stopped when we wanted to. Didn't have to amuse small terrorists in the back seat. Guys, I didn't even have diapers, water or snacks when we started this trip. Nothing but my own small carry on, bug dope, sports sandals and a camera.

It felt....light and almost obscene in it's easiness.

We went through Mangrove Tunnels and saw alligators, hatching storks/snowy egrets/white ibis/tri-coloured herons. After a four hour paddle we went to a little restaurant called the Camellia Street Grill in Everglade City. Sat on the deck next to the East River, ate fresh clams, crab and fish paired with the best Corona I've ever had.

It was perfection.




 Day 2-4: Partner Conference at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood. This location was exactly why I spent the previous day engaged. It was fun, social work but it is a Casino and that shit ain't real.

In my line of  work it is so nice to get solid face time with colleagues and partners, we work geographically apart and I miss the face time. This will be a surprise to no one but I love social work time with coworkers. It was so much fun to go feral in a place designed for just that and by the end of it all I wanted was a raw vegetarian menu, 17 litres of water and a nap.

This casino is just about as far away from my community activist, gardening, Mothering world as you can get. Like candy, so much fun but too much of it can make you really ill.
 

Photo of me showing the guys how to light sambuca.Photo credit: Tim V

Days 5-7: Come back to my people and go North to open my cottage.  Freezing cold evenings. Mothers Day, an 80 km training ride (9 more weeks!) and some physical labour.  Here is where I am Mother, Sister, Daughter, Wife, Friend and ass kicking fire starter. Turned off laptop, muted the phone and lit the fire helped settle the sense of self.

The whiplash hits when I realized that I'd forgotten how much fun it is to take care of people and be taken care of them in the same breath.

How goddamned lucky am I?