Tintagel

Tintagel

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Without a Car


Now that the temperature is more often at or below the freezing point, the absence of a car is growing more acute.

Having to bundle Henry up in his snow pants, coat, hat and gloves every time we go out, especially those daily trips to and from daycare, can become really tiresome. Most parents just throw their bundles of joy in the minivan and do not have to spend 5 minutes on the daycare floor struggling with zips and snaps and sweaters.

In addition, having to make several small trips a week to the grocery store and lugging heavy bags of food in all kinds of weather, all this extra time spent can become wearing.

That said, Henry loves the act of travel. He loves most vehicles and the bigger the better. Henry is a regular rider of public transport, and today's journey to the Christmas Market at the Distillery proved that not having a car in the city certainly has some bright spots.


video

Monday, December 5, 2011

Passing Time

Time passes. It is both a friend and a foe. Flexible and fixed. The measure is constant, the direction unchanging. Yet the feel of a minute, a day, a year changes.

Henry is growing each day. Only a few more months in the Infant Room at daycare. Soon, gone will be the days of high chairs and diapers (a bit of wishful thinking on my part), and the new joys of potty training and talking and fighting will begin.

Emotions are powerful. Starting out in this world, they are so big we don't know how to manage them. Hence the tantrums, tears, fits of giggles, indiscriminate affection and jaw-dropping wonder that babies and toddlers display. Somehow, they must learn to live with these strong unsolicited reactions. How do we learn to cope with emotions that take over, make us lose control? Setting boundaries will help Henry contain himself. And once contained, he can hopefully redirect these feelings into some kind of constructive expression.

We can become emotional factories, taking raw emotions and converting them into value-added products such as a delicious meal, a drawing, competitive sport, music, writing, fashion...an expression that is shared and interacts with others is one that is productive.

And in other news, at long last here's some Henry videos!


video


video

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Remembrance

Remembrance is:
a. the state of bearing in mind
b. the ability to remember
c. the period over which ones memory extends
d. a greeting or gift recalling or expressing friendship or affection

I am only 30 and I have trouble remembering what I did 2 birthdays ago, or what the daycare notes were today or those few years of my life when I was horribly awkward and vulnerable that I have blocked out. (Just a few years?)

As last week was Remembrance Day and Remembrance Sunday, and at the beginning of November was All Soul's Day and Day of the Dead, there has been a lot of pause lately given to honour those who have died.

If I take the time to think about fallen soldiers or members of my family who have died, there comes a realization that I do forget them the majority of my waking hours.

But when remembered, it puts into perspective what it means to be alive. The responsibility we have to honour and understand those who have gone before, and to refresh awareness of mortality.

Answers start to become clear to questions such as:

What really matters in life?

and

Should I really eat that donut?

Mainly though, I was affected this year by the slow descent into winter and witnessing the death of summer and how historically this time of year fits perfectly into rituals of remembering the dead. Also, singing in the choir for the church services brought out more meaning and colour.

When we are not personally affected by a fallen soldier, or enough time has passed since the departure of a loved one, it is easy to forget and downplay the pain as well as the joy of living.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Back Online

Things have settled down. I want to blog again.

It has been a difficult past couple of months, mainly because I'm being challenged.

Having self-esteem is important for everyone, and becomes crucial when dealing with life's challenges.

If you don't love and take care of yourself, then everything you do suffers.

This is what I've found out a very hard way.

And with that vaguery, I'll finish this post with a recent picture of Henry.




Friday, September 23, 2011

A Bientot?


So.

Blogging?

Hmmm.

This might be my last entry for quite some time, if not for ever.

Yes, it's that dramatic.

Blogging was fun when I had the energy and time.

Now, I've got a more demanding job and very little free time.

And Henry is now 1 year old.

Life is good and perhaps if it ever settles down a bit, I'll be back online.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Henry vs. the Summertime

After the trip to Manitoulin, Henry has enjoyed being back at daycare with his friends, but sadly with the "heat dome" they were confined indoors for a couple weeks. In that time they painted t-shirts, made rice-krispy treats, pizzas, strawberry sundaes (yes Henry likes ice cream!), did finger-painting, splashed around the water table, had wacky hair day, made pizzas, painted with feathers, made musical instruments and last week with the heat lifted they had an outing in a local park which Henry particularly enjoyed.

We had a visit from my brother, his wife and Henry's cousin. They splashed around outside in the turtle pool and Henry was confronted with having to share his toys, not just the neutral ones at daycare. A much different prospect altogether.

Henry and his cousin Emily.

Henry has taken to dogs like a hungry tick. S bought him an interactive dog book with movable flaps and fuzzy pictures to touch. Every time we pass a dog his arm goes out and he usually just says "itzzzzz" but then "dog" or "doggie" will come out of his mouth soon thereafter.

The words Hanky-Doodle has uttered so far are: dada, mama, dog/doggie, book, tree (sounds more like ghee), pickles (a recent development) and just yesterday he said "Ho Fredo" when he saw the Italian book that his grandma/nona gave him called "Ho Caldo, Ho Fredo." He babbles an awful lot with more and more complex sounds developing. Most popular lately has been the repetition of what sounds like "bagel bites."

Speaking of food, he is off the purees. He won't eat them anymore now that he's discovered feeding himself messily with his hands. And hummus. He loves hummus.

Henry and the Indicident with Black Beans.

video

It's been fun taking him out and about on the weekends and Toronto in the summer is full of festivals. Happily, many have been near to our house. In the past few weeks he's attended the Little India Festival, Beaches Jazz Festival and Taste of the Danforth.

Henry enjoying kulfi at the Little India Street Festival

video
Dancing at Taste of the Danforth, and yes Henry, they're clapping for you.

We also enjoy being close to lots of parks, some with wading pools, others with splash-pads. Last week on the way home from daycare we stopped by East Lynn park where they have the weekly farmers market and Henry was able to splash around with the older kids. A nice way to end the day.

And Henry loves the sand, so jaunting down the street (25 min. walk) to the beach is a great boon to our quality of life living in the east side Toronto.

Henry vs. Beach

When all's said and done, Henry is much more fun as he's growing older. We can take pleasure in his joys of discovery and delight in showing him to places, tastes, words, people and objects. His days are full and busy and he appears to be enjoying himself considerably. And with all of this heat, hustle and bustle, sometimes it's just all too much for the little guy...


Monday, August 1, 2011

My Return to Church: A Case Study

I am offering to reduce the mammoth complexity of religious disagreements into one word: misunderstanding.

A misunderstanding of religion to be spirituality. (According to me,) religion is a man-made creation, like the tower of babel, that is trying to reach "heaven" or the divine.

But surely, the closest we can come to heaven on earth is by basing our actions on Truth, Love, Joy and Compassion? That can be done through religion or without it, but it sure helps to have some sort of guide.

Within the last year S & I have been attending an Anglican church regularly, which for me is after a 10 year absence. The reason? Henry. We agreed that exposing him to religion, tradition and spirituality is good for his development as well as being a part of a community. We both appreciate the influences the church has had on our lives in those respects.

And so I see tremendous importance and value in religion and in many ways I am a defender.

But I find it very difficult to defend religion when it promotes exclusion, violence and oppression.

I am deeply disappointed when the any religious/spiritual institution offers immunity to sexual offenders, especially pedophiles. And I am even more outraged when it promotes discrimination and exclusion towards anybody.

And what is to be gained from the campaign waged against homosexuality? It always has been, is now, and ever shall be. And for those who do view homosexuality as cased-closed 100% evil, why does it top the list of priorities? Why not address rape, torture, the institutional poverty of millions, climate change, water and food shortages, human rights abuses, the greed and materialism that is eradicating any notion of holy and sacred?

I won't say that I don't understand why not. Because I do.

The answer is fear and ignorance. But mostly fear.

I used to believe in the supremacy of Christianity, of God's word, of being a "good person" washed clean of sin and blame every Sunday. I used to believe non-Christians were going to hell and it was my duty to lead by example. To help save them. I used to pray for my non-Christian friends. I thought saving myself until marriage was imperative and that homosexuality was perverse and scary. The devil clearly has his wicked way with secular culture and it was to be mistrusted. The unsaved lacked strength, strength that can only come from a personal saviour.

And then I realized that people and life are much more complex. Life as I experienced it didn't match with the beliefs I had been zipped up in. But to make that leap of faith, so to speak, and move on from my childhood beliefs, was not easy. It was not a linear progression. I had to face a lot of fear and trust God. I followed my god-given instincts. And it has taken about 15 years. I am back at church now, with a more mature and inclusive approach.

But many people don't make the return back to church, leaving the pious confused and scratching their heads.

My experience is not your experience.

Ding, ding ding! People are all different, all 6-7 billion of us. The statistics support the idea that most, if not all humans have spiritual needs and experiences.

And why should 6-7 billion people all believe the same thing?

I don't think it's possible.

But with our without religion, spirituality will continue to find us all.






Thursday, July 28, 2011

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Loving Manitoulin Island, Turning 30 and Not Owning a Car


Manitoulin Island

We have just returned from a week's vacation in Manitoulin Island. This is our second year running and we were wooed anew. S's friend from CEGEP in Montreal had moved out there 7 years ago and has not looked back (check our her blog). We are finding ourselves with the same "problem."

Manitoulin Island is the largest island in a freshwater lake in the world. And that translates into: very special. Being an island, there are 2 ways of getting on and off: the Chi-Cheemun Ferry ("big canoe") or the swing bridge at Little Current.

Its culture and communities are sharply shaped by its geography. The island is virtually ringed with clean beaches and there are many lakes, and even islands within the island. There is excellent fishing, camping, hiking, cycling, horse-back riding, boating...and on and on.

Ever heard of "island time?" Well they have that too.

It is also home to the only Unceded Indian Reserve in Canada, so while it is part of Canada, it has never been officially owned by anyone other than the native tribes. There are two major pow-wows every summer which we landed smack in-between so we'll have to plan better next year.

Dividing Lake Huron from the Georgian Bay and North Channel, Manitoulin Island may seem remote and disconnected from the globalized, urbanized, technologically driven culture that is radically shaking up the world. And it is and it isn't. This is a place of contradictions and surprises.

Collectively, the Haweaters (an endearing name for Manitoulin residents as the Hawberry is their own special berry), have officially banned any franchises or Big Business from setting-up shop on the island, with the only exceptions of the LCBO, gas stations and a couple grocery store chains. All the rest of the business are locally owned and operated. It's much like walking back in time.

There are a great number of artists and crafts-people living on the island. In addition, many successful writers, editors, publishers, businessmen and others who are in a position to work from home, have moved to Manitoulin, or at least just spend their summer months there.

So the message is: this is not just a quaint, rural back-water farming island. There is a lot going on. It is connected.

If you've read this far (thank you) and you are wondering where in the name of our Great Jehovah are the pictures? You can find them on Picassa:

PICTURES


Turning 30

On July 13th, I entered a new decade: my 30s. Relieving you of any suspense, there is not much to report in the way of celebrating.

Being on the island was a great gift.

It was more of an inward than an outward kind of day.

Living Without a Car

Returning to the city after such a lifestyle contrast can be revealing. What I first noticed coming back into the city was how automatic everything seemed. Thousands of people choosing to spend their time parked on the highways trying to get out of the city for a weekend. So much traffic going nowhere.

The pace of the city, while Toronto is not comparatively very fast, it is mechanical and industrial. Not natural. Many people looking haggard, stressed, boxed-in.

Buildings are tall, people making their nests in the sky. Quite normalized in the city.

So little green. So that when there are some trees, the eye greedily focuses in and drinks in the colour before it disappears.

All this said, I find that living without a car is like a breath of fresh air. It removes you from the mechanical grind. There is more freedom, more possibility and a slower pace as small walks from point A to B allow time for the body to move and the mind to reflect.

We chose to buy our house because we can walk to the beach in 25 minutes (5-10 minutes by bus). There are many parks close by where Henry can meet children and dogs and can splash about in little wading pools and water parks. We can do all this without a car, whereas in Manitoulin, unless you're a hard-core farmer or are willing to ride horse-back to get your groceries, we would be completely dependent on the automobile.

So as in most aspects of life, there are trade-offs.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2010

This blog continues my quest to learn about the 2010 Nobel Prize winners. Having looked at Physics and Chemistry already, it is time to focus on the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

Robert Edwards was awarded the 2010 prize for the development of in vitro fertilization (IVF) therapy. Basically, he found a way to treat infertility.

His efforts first garnered global attention in 1978 when his efforts resulted in the first "test tube baby."

And now, approximately four million individuals have been born as a result of IVF.

My take on IVF in a nutshell:

I don't like it. Despite that being infertile can cause trauma.

The world is currently overpopulated. Babies grow up to be adults who are no longer sacred and desirable.

And really, that's as far as I'm going to explore this topic. Your comments are welcome though!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Happy Canada Day and First Word?

Surprise surprise I am exhausted. So many 1st world problems I have. With happiness, a house, husband, child, good job, health and living in this wonderful country, what might be so taxing? To put it simply, maintaining all of the above. And I dare to dream of having more.

But for now, I will praise Canada for being a country where a turbaned child in tighty-whiteys gleefully swam in the clean but frigid waters of Ashbridge's Bay amongst a crowd of bikini-clad teenagers, large extended picnicking families, twenty-something buff volleyball players, break-dancers, elderly strollers, babies in strollers (Henry), couples drinking illegal beer on the beach, rollerbladers, cyclists, skateboarders, joggers, sandcastle-enthusiasts and on and on. Canada is a wonderfully diverse country both in its geography, people and cultures. It is not any one thing. It is difficult to define, but wonderful to be a part of such a fluid, malleable society.

This morning Henry and I went to the park while S cleared out the weeds and dead plants from our back garden. At the park, we ran into a mother, her 11 month old daughter and their dog "Parker." All morning I had been pointing out the "doggies" to Henry and now as we introduced ourselves, Henry was able to get up close and personal to the dog. As we were talking, Henry said "doggie" as clear as a bell. The other mother and I snapped our heads towards each other in disbelief.

"Did he really just say his first word?"

And so, it remains to be seen whether or not this sticks. If it does, the answer is yes. If the answer is no, then Henry is just an odd duck!

Later, we had a BBQ with Henry's aunt and uncles, followed by a walk to the beaches. Below are a couple of pictures.




Tuesday, June 14, 2011

8 Years Ago


'Twas 8 years ago today that Stephen & I were married. A DIY wedding for sure. A rented tent in S's mother's back yard created the venue for both the ceremony and the reception. It also sheltered us from the rain, alas many a shoe were ruined with mud.

We rented the tux and the dress, made our own wine and food, had no photographer or decorations. I bought my bouquet from the Atwater Market the morning of the wedding.

Many people pitched in with baking desserts, making food, lending cars, hosting guests, playing bartender. Many of these people are still part of our lives and support network. I am grateful to have that.

The reception was karaoke/dancing, which to many people's surprise was fun.

I was 21.

If I had to do it again, I would get married older and have a more traditional wedding.

But as the circumstances were, we were young, had no money and less life experience. I'm proud that we were true to what we knew and the values that we shared. Our expectations for the wedding day were not high.

That should bear some reflection on the relationship no?

We are still laid back, good at living on a budget and still enjoy firing up a karaoke machine.

But unlike the wedding day, our expectations for our relationship continue to be high.

I see 8 years as just the beginning.




Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Thought for the Day

"At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas which it is assumed that all right-thinking people will accept without question. It is not exactly forbidden to say this, that or the other, but it is "not done" to say it, just as in mid-Victorian times it was "not done" to mention trousers in the presence of a lady. Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with surprising effectiveness. A genuinely unfashionable opinion is almost never given a fair hearing, either in the popular press or in the highbrow periodicals."

-George Orwell, "Freedom of the Press"


Alternative News Sources:



Saturday, June 4, 2011

Basement: Before and After

It's done! The basement is finished! There are a few small imperfections, but judge for yourself if the basement has improved...

THE LAUNDRY ROOM

before

after



THE STAIRS
before
after


STEPHEN'S OFFICE...THE PROGRESSION
notice the uneven floor, which then had to be re-levelled.

eh...voila!


THE MAIN ROOM




Finito!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Transition

Deep breath. Look around. Silence.

I feel like I just got off the longest roller coaster of my life.

It has been two months since the transition to daycare started.

It started out dark, scary, but gentle. And then each day was like going up side down in the dark for a little bit longer each time.

Especially at the beginning it was utterly exhausting emotionally and physically to untie myself from the minutia of Henry's life, our routines. To wonder if I was really hurting him and causing irreparable damage.

I have rarely ever felt so alone. Having been his primary caregiver, my experience was different from S's.

When I returned to work and S and I shared the responsibilities, I no longer felt alone. I am so grateful for a loving husband and doting father to Henry.

Going back to work meant revisiting an identity I had put on hold for 7 months. All of a sudden people wanted answers to questions I had forgotten existed. And in a new role, in a new office, I am still adjusting and catching up.

Add to this the on-going work in the basement (which should be completed this Thursday), the subsequent deletion of our savings, the consequent dust distributed all over the house and the basement furniture that is crowding every room of the house preventing the full enjoyment of any room...and well, that's all a bit stressful.

Add on a 3-week cold that I just can't shake, Henry also having been sick and waking up a lot at night (thankfully now seems to be better...after weeks of rain the sun has finally come out. In many ways.

The roller coaster is slowing down and I can see the end of the ride.

Henry is a very happy boy and loves daycare. I have a job that allows me to have flexible hours. Our basement is about to be finished and be much improved. Our house will be re-arranged, cleaned and once again a joy to live in. My cold will go away soon.

We have wonderful friends and family who have supported us through all of this and for that I am grateful.

It is once again time to wrap up and prepare for the next day.