Saturday, August 30, 2014

Sun Salutation

I watched the sun rise this morning.  

I almost missed it.  Turning away too soon.

The pressing matters in my head almost pushed out patience.

Having woken at my new favourite time of day 05:00, it was decided that a run down to the beach to watch the sun rise would be the best start to the day.

So after a 20 minute run, I found myself on the Beach boardwalk with night still over the skyline to the west, a couple of stars twinkling through some sparse clouds overhead and to the east a gradual display of yellows and pinks fading up over the lake.  

I walked east towards where I thought the sun might rise.  

There was a concentrated spot of intense almost ruby-red colour hovering on the lower horizon.  For sure I thought, that is where the sun will be coming up.  

So I walked to a place where I was surrounded by waves and rocks and sky.  And I stood there and just stared at the sky.  

The clouds lost their perspective as the sun hit the tops and bottoms, almost like playing with a photoshop filter, instantly transforming a static image. 

And the beauty.  It astonished me.  That I had felt called from my bed so early on a Saturday morning where I was free to sleep in the comfort of my duvet, and to have had a desire to see something powerful and ancient, and that it was actually coming to pass in ways my imagination had failed to capture.  That part of the experience alone was awe-inducing.

And then I started to think maybe that was enough, I should just head home.  There's so much to do, and I've got such an early start I can get it all done.  How long is it going to take for the actual sun to rise?  Maybe I won't actually be able to see it because the clouds are starting to gather, and then I'll have wasted my time standing here, when I could be getting things done.

And then the colours intensified just a little.  And I watched as the sky appeared to catch fire.

I'm glad I stayed.  

And the colours and clouds continued to morph and increase in vibrancy and I realized that the best may be yet to come.  Why turn away and miss something spectacular?

And I remained standing and waiting.  

"Wow, this is so pretty.  I think I can go now.  I can catch the sun rise another time.  I can just start walking and then turn around and check behind me to see if it's coming up. I don't need to stay here any longer.  I've things to do...groceries, laundry..."

No.  Stay.  Finish what you start.  Stop being pulled by things that don't matter.

And so I stayed again.

Resolved now to wait all morning just to see the damn orb so that I could shut up the nagging voices in my head, I stood a while longer.  

And just before the next round of player-piano thoughts entered my head, a berry of light appeared on the horizon.

Like a stained glass jewel of light, a beacon, but more powerful than any man-made source of light.  It appeared.  And grew.

The actual sun, not just the effects of it, appeared.  It rose rather quickly, but as it did it shone a direct line from the horizon, across the lake and to where I was standing.

This most ancient, most powerful, most crucial element for life was shining directly on me, giving birth to a new day and kissing my heart.  

I felt so humbled and grateful and glad that I stayed.  I did not shrink away from the sun, but it elicited tears from my being stunned at the sheer beauty of the experience.

And once it was firmly in the sky, everything seemed normal again.  It was just the beginning, those couple of minutes when the sun first rises that one must make an effort to catch.  So easily missed, and yet utterly transformative when felt.

The sun is still up in the sky now.  Who knows what will transpire today under its watch?  

But its taught me that to know where you're going, you need to know where you've started from.  

To be open and patient and to control distractions are the lessons the sun taught me today.  It seems only natural that by applying what I've learned, I can better navigate my way through the daytime with the expectation of feeling gratitude and happiness by the time the sun sets.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Slowing Down

I'm wallowing in the luxury of time.  Henry and S being away this week, I am able to slow down life, just a little.  And I feel an emptiness where Henry should be.  As Bert from Mary Poppins sings:  "though childhood slips, like sand through a sieve..." 

This recording captures my mood after a few glasses of wine and a midnight session with my piano.  Something not done in far too long.

Chopin Nocturne, Op. 9, No. 2

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Oh the Shark Has, Pretty Teeth Dear

Henry's last day of daycare (ever!) was Friday.  He will be away next week and then will start JK on 2nd Sept.  It is very difficult to process...he's been in daycare since 7 months old, and will be turning 4 yrs. old in just a few short weeks.

My experience with daycare started out very trepidatiously.  I thought for certain that I could damage Henry irrevocably by not staying at home with him through the first few years of his life.  Now I feel the opposite is true!  Henry has flourished at daycare, learned socialization and table manners (didn't get that at home!).  He has had many enhanced experiences and has had to learn to do things he doesn't want to do.  Peer pressure.  Being teased, bit, excluded, included, invited to parties...the list could go on.  

I am grateful for the fact that we were able to get a spot in this daycare.  It may not be French immersion or Montessori, but the staff know Henry and have looked out for him.  He is a part of the school and he has a place where he belongs apart from his parents.  I believe that is very important, and I'm sure Henry will think so more and more as he gets older!


In the middle of his last week of daycare, I took the day off of work to take Henry to the Aquarium.  He has been asking about it as many of the streetcars are wrapped in advertisements of sharks and jellyfish.  

So we went.

And I detested it.

We both had high hopes (and at $50 for entry it's easy to see why...) and we set off in the morning to the GO Station for the 8:27 train to Union Stn.  We had to swing by my office to pick up the tickets I had left on my desk from the day before.  

Then we traipsed back to Union Stn to take the SkyWalk over the train tracks (stopping to watch the trains go underneath), and wound our way over to the CN Tower and Aquarium.  

CN Tower...in Narnia?

We arrived at the Aquarium before the crowds had fully formed, so we had a chance to walk through and view the tanks unhindered for about 45 min.  

Beautiful sea anemone. 
The big draw was the moving walkway that takes you through the tank, so that the sharks and sting-rays swim overhead.  We did that one twice.

The happy face of a saw-fish.

The jellyfish were lit in stunning colours.

But that was about it.  There's only so much fish-watching that captivates me, and that goes for Henry too.  And too be honest, most of the poor sods who were there.  I  mean really, who actually gets excited about watching fish swim around in a tank?  

The aquarium became progressively packed with more people, strollers and over-hyped children.  So Henry & I exited through the gift shop and had a more enjoyable (free) time at the roundhouse train museum across the street.  There was even a park where Henry was able to expel some pent-up energy.

Then, we shook things up and went further west.  (gasp!)   We took a short taxi ride to Trinity Bellwoods Park and did a bit of shopping for clothes, toys, books, treats and then had a good time expelling more energy in the playground and splashpad.

Henry was more interested in the candy stick
than that scrumptious Croissant with Oreo baked inside.  MMMmmm.

Henry sporting his new umbrella on a sunny day.  Good look.

Good thing I had just bought him some dry clothes!

And now that I've got a week to myself (again), I decided to shake things up today and record something in a different kind of vein.  It's Kurt Weill's Mack the Knife and I should try singing it again after a bottle of wine and compare.  

Monday, August 18, 2014

Steering Out in Mid-Sea

I am easily distractible. 

My mind is like a player-piano.   When I sit down to focus on work or reading or what have you, the pre-fab list of thoughts and chores start cranking out and the same sequence repeats like holes punched out on a piano roll.  

And I end up not being productive.  I turn back to the task at hand, make a little progress, and the song strikes up again.  Some might call it stress, others laziness, or perhaps just "normal."  

Whatever the case, it was quite refreshing to get out of the city with Henry on Saturday.  The occasion was sombre, a memorial service for a family friend who knew my parents way back when, and who was also the administrator at the camp where I spent many a summer and still love dearly.   

Henry & I drove up in a Fiat 500, which Henry was so excited about riding in, he was convinced that it wouldn't be waiting in the parking lot for us when we went to pick up the car.  His anticipation was priceless, and we enjoyed the drive up to the camp (despite the torrents of rain).  AND, Henry did not get sick!  Has he finally reached the magical age?  Fingers crossed.

About halfway up Highway 400, we stopped to stretch and have an early lunch.  Amazingly (for Henry), there were both a Model T Ford and a Tin Lizzy just sitting around at the gas station.

After a couple of turns off the highway and a bumpy ride down a gravel road, we made it to camp, just in time.

We met up with old family friends and sat with them during the moving memorial service.  It was good to catch up with people over the afternoon tea and a walk down to the dock.  So many memories.

Henry in front of the lodge.  Got to hear the bell ring--such a comforting sound.

The tree.  Still standing tall.

Me, my childhood best friend and godmother.  

On Sunday, S had Henry for the day and I enjoyed some time to myself.  A long run to the beach, brunch, walking through Cabbagetown...

...and then I decided to cook.

I haven't cooked very much lately.  It is so closely linked to stability for me.  It is something I love to do, want to learn more about and ultimately, I want to serve good food to Henry.  But my heart hasn't been in it lately.  Well, that has got to change, so I forced myself to buy some ingredients, pop on an apron, turn off the player-piano, and get cooking!  It's a start at any rate...

This week I must continue to focus and make preparations for the upcoming fall season.  In doing so, the words I read today from George Eliot's Middlemarch resonate deeply:

"I would not creep along the coast, but steer
Out in mid-sea, by guidance of the stars."

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Tipping Toward Autumn

Summer is tipping toward autumn.  

Henry is just weeks away from junior kindergarten.

The leaves have started to turn, some yellow and some red.

And I am sitting on the fence as to whether to approach this next season with apprehension or with eagerness.

Apprehension for the turn in the weather, for the busier schedules and increased deadlines.  Apprehension for the decisions to make.  

Eagerness for the turn in the weather.  Eager for change.  Eager for harvest.  Eager for actualization.  

There are still a couple of weeks left to eke the last pleasures out of summer.  Despite the lack of heat, summer has been peppered with parks and patios, day trips and night life.  

And so in pictures, this is the last week:

Mummy's big helper.  Making chocolate chip cookies.

We passed this house (located not too far from ours but miles apart in other ways....)
H:   Look mom, a church.  
E:  That's no church, that's someone's house.
H:  No, that's a church.

Market Day at East Lynn park.
Henry finished his sandwich & apple and was duly rewarded.

Friday demanded to get out of the office for a drink.

Saturday - a visit from cousins!  

Luther loves chasing Hotwheels.  Just waiting for prey.

This table is now 2 years old!

On Sunday I sang two duets in church.  I hadn't sung up front since early May.  The pieces sung were chosen by the soprano:  O Bone Jesu by Richard Dering and  Ave Verum Corpus by Gabriel Faure.  I was instructed firmly by the choirmaster to NOT go out and shout in a bar Saturday night and to get some sleep.  Following a beautiful morning run, I gargled salt water, warmed-up the vocal chords and offered it up.  It was a good experience.  Afterwards, I walked towards the beach to meet a fellow chorister for wine and a relaxing afternoon.

August apples seen walking post-duet.

Sunday night streetcar party.  

Walking home through ravine.  Whack that stick.

Throw rocks into the hollow.

Leaves turning out back.

And today I met a friend for lunch and a whirl through the water circuit at Body Blitz, which is happily turning into an annual tradition.  

So at the end of the day, when I look back at the week that was, I see that there is much to be grateful for, thankful for and happy about.  That certainly eases any apprehension I'm feeling.  That, and a little elbow grease, can go a long long way.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Long Weekend Wrap-Up

The August holiday weekend has now come to a close.  A quick wrap-up through pictures.

Heralded the end of the work week with some sparkling wine.
Photo taken from the vantage point of the table..

Saturday Henry spent the day with S.  I cleaned the house, went to the laundromat, read the paper and met a friend for dinner.  Then I walked around the city and met up with my brother for drinks on the trendy Ossington strip.

Sunday morning before church, I drove Henry down to the art deco R.C. Harris Water Filtration Plant. It was perfect for scooting, we'll be back.

He disappears quickly!

Come mom!  Stop taking pictures!

Henry sat through the whole church service as there was no Sunday school.  And he did it like a champ, many people noticed and complemented him.  Then after some refreshments he sat through my singing rehearsal, as next Sunday I'll be singing two duets.  He seems to enjoy listening to the rehearsal...never a bad thing to witness your parent learning, making mistakes and trying again. 

Then after lunch we ventured to Harbourfront via GO Transit. 

Henry took this picture for Pickles & Winston who were left behind at home.

Enchanted by the busy harbour.

Much fun to be had on the WaveDeck

Such a timeless view.

No sinky dingy.

King of the WaveDeck.

Stumbled upon a dog show for 10 min.

More boat watching.

Stumbled upon some glass-blowing...
...and cool giant building blocks.

We then had dinner at a restaurant and then headed home to bed.  I've started reading C.S. Lewis' The Magician's Nephew to Henry before he sleeps.  Despite the paucity of pictures, he's very much into the story and doesn't want me to put it down.  

Monday Civic Holiday:  Henry spent most of the day with S.  A play-date in the park and then movies at home.  I then drove with Henry cross-town to a BBQ hosted by an old friend visiting from out of town.  There were plenty of children and toys to play with, as well as good food.  Henry nevertheless was shy just up until it was time to come home.  Typical.

And look who's still hanging out.