Saturday Update

I am back.

I have defeated the dust bunnies. At one point they seized the vacuum and it was a bit tense, but my razor sharp wits managed to suck them up.

I have cleaned slobber that was stuck glued frozen for all time to the walls.

I have cleaned electronics, scraps of paper, wool, knitting needles off my table. I was having a good day.

And then I got a phone call. As I wrote the sentences above.

A friend is expecting a baby. Another had hers on Thursday.

And I'm broken. All out of courage and hope today.

No quotes about courage or hope. All out over here. Try back tomorrow.

I have to go and get my crap together and go teach at John School. Another symptom of the broken world we live in. Which I totally didn't need today. I'm already broken.

Weekends Are For Quotes

Except when you run away and join the circus.


I'm in Edson with Mr. Spit, just for today. I'll be back tonight. (and if you are planning on using the news of my absence to burglarize our house, may the very large dust bunnies attack you.)

You should insert a quote about courage. I got discouraged trying to find one.

Leave good ones in the comments, and I'll talk to you all again on Sunday.

About courage.

My Rob Lowe Story

I made reference to it earlier. . .

All of my girlfriends were twitter-pated about Brad Pitt in Legends of the Fall. I thought it was a stupid movie and Brad had poor personal hygiene.

I like Tom Cruise, but the whole Scientology thing is just weird, and the second Mission Impossible movie was just bad.

I liked Romeo and Juliet - and thought that Leonardo was enchanting. It was a truly spectacular rendition. Then I saw "The Beach", and I didn't so much want my money back, but I sure did want my time back. Ugh, it was "The Lord of the Flies" for stupid people.

So, I've never been that much for actors. Never that much for crushes. Never did the teenage heartthrob thing. In my second year of university I found The West Wing. And. . . .

Well, this guy named Rob Lowe.

And I really liked the television show. Really, not just because of Rob. (Honest, I kept watching even after he left the show in a fit of pique)
But Rob, he was a nice Sunday night companion. Then a Wednesday night companion. Just a nice point to the week. Not the highlight, but, you know, nice.

But I kept silent about this, shall we say, fascination with the Deputy Director of Communications. After all, I did like the President, I liked Josh, Toby reminded me of a friend, and I even liked Donna. And Mr. Spit had come along by this time, so obviously I didn't want to upset the apple cart. Mr. Spit has my entire soul.

Ahh, but Sam Seabourn, you held a place in my heart. Even when you gave your heart to a call girl. I thought it was sweet that you were trying to fix her. You could do no wrong in my eyes. I loved the music in your best episode. I've tried and tried to find it on iTunes. . . Ahh, my heart, it softened.

And then in April 2004, my life had just gone for well, you know the rest of the sentence. I'd been fired from a job that I had absolutely hated (Which meant I failed, and my friends, Mrs. Spit doesn't do failure well). And I had easily gotten a new job, but I wasn't sure I was going to like it. My boss was a bit of a jerk, the managing VP scared the pants off me (and I don't scare easily, but we called her the barracuda). I didn't know anyone at the office, except that universal creepy office lady that you just know, from the moment you meet her, you are going to spend the rest of your life trying to avoid.

And, one day after work I was in the local drugstore buying lipstick to soothe my wounded heart and there was this magazine and it had Rob. And my heart, it soared. I spent at least half an hour looking at the article. Ok, I'm kidding you all. I didn' t read the article, but oh, my the pictures. MMMM. Rob, in a wet shirt. Hallelujah and Glory! Can I hear an Amen? Alas Rob, you have your call girl, and, well, your wife, and I have Mr. Spit(whom I love). I reluctantly put you back on the shelf and got on with this thing called real life.

And it was my first real conversation with Gen, who was destined to become my best friend. It was about actors. And maybe I mentioned the magazine. In fact, maybe I mentioned it a time or two in the following years. Yea, with a wistful smile and a twinkle in my eye, I mentioned the magazine. Maybe once or twice.

And so, imagine my surprise when my best friend arrives with a package, right before Christmas, with a Christmas present she insisted I open. Which was surprising, because we don't usually open gifts in front of each other. And I had heard of this gift. She'd called me, early in October to ask if I'd ever ordered anything off eBay. And I asked what she was ordering - I got told "Your Christmas Present". Which is odd. Gen isn't an early shopping kind of lady. She made me buy lunch the day I bought my Christmas cards in October.
So, you can imagine my surprise, when I opened the wrapping, and there was this looking at me. (Mr. Spit was pretty surprised too.)
Oh Rob, it was worth the wait.

And that My friends, is my Rob Lowe Story.
PS - the Magazine is Details, May 2007 Issue, with Article text by Bill Carter and Photo's by Tom Munroe. Website Link is here.

Rain Drops on Roses

It's time for Julie again. It's been a long week (anyone else finding this, or is it merely grumpy old me?)

And we had Whinge-For-All Thursday 2 weeks ago, so I thought I'd do a Favourite Things Thursday today. (and sorry, but the only prize you get for a favourite things Thursday is feeling better about life. For 30 seconds, at least. But you should see what I'm knitting for the July Whinge-For-All.)

My favourite things, this week:

- Going to a lace knitting class, so I can work on the blogosphere baby shawl. I can knit lace, I'm just in deep trouble if I have to go back and unknit. I think the mother, who still hasn't guessed who she is, will like the fact that I can rip out stitches when my inability to count causes me yet another problem. You know, without having to start the whole thing again. . . .

- Glorious sunshine. My garden is sprouting. I will have spinach soon. (Anyone want spinach? I can't stand the stuff, and Mr. Spit is in Edson from now until the end of time)

- Cuddly cats. I don't actually have one, but I sure do like them.

- The fact I turned my stupid comments verification thing off. I could never read the darn letters, and I would try and try and keep flunking, and let's face it, I suck at enough stuff, I don't want to suck at leaving comments on my own blog. They will stay off until the pests invade. Hopefully they will take a long time to find us.

And what about you? What are your excited about?

How Should a Christian Deal With Infertility (Mrs. Spit tells us all how to be an adult, again)

Hem, Hem, Hem.

I got in a big debate in a seminar, when I was in university. I was in second year, and somehow I wound up debating with 3 grad students. And I lost. It was a sad, debilitating and humiliating loss. As I was packing up my stuff, and leaving the room, the Prof. called out to me. He stopped me and took me into his office. And he offered me 2 bits of advice:
  1. No one had ever defeated John Rawls' Social Contract theory, once they bought into the veil of ignorance. (if you aren't a poli sci geek, you are just going to have trust me. Or, go here and read this.
  2. Never start a debate by accepting the premise of a dumb question.

A nasty, vitriolic person posted on CLC's really very beautiful post about missing Hannah and her grief over seeing pregnant women. The poster was mean and rude. She (or at least I'm assuming she) wrote a couple of things, but the last one was a lovely little response to infertility and how a Christian should deal with infertility.

So, back to Prof. Carmicheal, and his second bit of advice: Never accept the premise of a dumb question. The question: "how should a Chrisitian deal with infertility?" my friends, it is dumb question. Anonymous may not be dumb, but her question about infertility, it's really, really, really dumb.

I had originally planned to go through all of the biblical references and comment on why they were inappropriate, and moreover, I was going to pull out all the verses that emphasize the need and appropriateness of grieving and mourning, and point out how much better they were at grieving. Yep, the old youth pastor in me was going to get right up there and preach herself a little sermon. I'm not going to do that. (I know, you can thank me later) That would be accepting the premise of a dumb question, the wrong question. Instead, here's why anonymous has a dumb question:

Reason Number 1

It is rude to give advice when you aren't asked for it. CLC has lots of people in her life, and if she wanted spiritual guidance, she would ask for it. She wasn't asking for advice, spiritual or otherwise. She was expressing her feelings. In fact, she didn't need to be fixed, she needed to be heard. It is, among other things, just rude to fix someone without their permission. It is cruelty to suggest that CLC needs her feelings fixed. She doesn't. None of us do. We are grieving. Grief is appropriate and normal, and if your spiritual beliefs are bent this way, Godly. We are not broken for mourning, quit trying to fix us.

Reason Number 2

The problem of infertility is part of something called the problem of suffering. And the problem of suffering is an entire technical discourse. People write their dissertations on it. Profound thinkers spend an enormous amount of time examining it. Bright minds examine this problem. It's large, big, hard to understand. And I'll give you a big lesson - cost me 40k to learn this: No one has the only answer. No one. We understand the problem of pain and suffering. Every disaster, natural or man made, every death of a baby, every child left abused, abandoned, neglected, we understand, there is something very wrong with our world. Things aren't fair, they aren't right, they aren't just. And as a Christian I have a particular answer to this and to the notion of original sin and death. And I believe my answers are right. But - the cry of our hearts, the pain of a dead baby, that isn't answered with a formula. The bible offers an answer to the problem of pain that is counter intuitive. It simply reminds us that God loves us. Which actually doesn't answer the question. It just provides comfort for the pain.

The real challenge of the problem of suffering is that there is no answer. At no point in suffering will I reach a point where I say "This, this is the reason that Gabriel died". It just doesn't happen. We may reach our own part answers. God may show me good that has come from Gabriel's death, but surely we can accept that there is no good reason for a baby to die. Finding the good in the tragedy does not make the tragedy ok. More bearable perhaps, easier to accept, but not ok. The problem of suffering is not answered in 428 words with seven bible verses. And if you don't believe in God, Jesus, the bible, the ressurection and christianity, my words and anonymous's seven bible verses, they are totally useless.

Reason Number 3

My third problem with the response of anonymous was this: the trite and shallow responses she gave suggested that she didn't want to engage. She didn't want to abide, she just wanted to make the nastiness out here in Lost Baby Land go away. She wanted apple pie and motherhood and shiny happy people. I have to say, I really hate people like this. Life is painful. It is unfair. It is messy. Pain and sorrow and anguish are human emotions. They are as much a part of the human condition as breathing and sleeping and eating. Part of what makes us human is our ability to feel great pain. We become more human, we grow, we develop stronger families, communities, churches when we feel great pain together. We become more fully human through pain. Anonymous, if you aren't willing to abide with those in pain, I would suggest that it would be prudent to stay away from them. And to live your life in cotton wool, as I can't see how you would prevent tragedy from striking your life.

Reason Number 4

Anonymous was answering the wrong question, solving the wrong problem. If you are going to fix someone who doesn't need fixing, you are going to solve the problem of suffering with a few trite bible stories, you are going to substitute bible verses for your care and concern, could you at least have the decency to attempt to solve the right problem? CLC doesn't have infertility. To the best of my knowledge, she had no problems getting pregnant. CLC lost Hannah. She grieves because she is here, and Hannah is not. That's not infertility, it's death. Quite a different problem, wouldn't you agree?

Here endeth the lesson.


I was sitting in the hairdressers chair on Thursday and we were talking about the myth of closure.

As in:
  • Having a funeral gives you closure
  • Planting a tree gives you closure

  • Having another baby/husband/dog gives you closure. (Not sure what my hairdresser is supposed to do - she lost her mum, can't buy a new one off the shelf.)

And I'm realizing, closure is crap. There is no closure. There is getting on with life, there's the ubiquitous "new normal", there's life after death, but there is no closure. Which has me wondering, why have ritual, why try to grieve collectively, or use words and events to make sense of our grief? Is the funeral, the memorial service, the baby loss page, even my blog redundant? I'm thinking about this as I plan a tree planting ceremony on June 8th, after attending the baby loss ceremony at the hospital on Sunday. If not closure, what are we trying to achieve? If grief is a journey, is there an end point? What is the destination?

The problem is partly in the word. The word itself, closure, implies that there is an end, a threshold, that I cross over, a line, real or imaginary, and say, "That's over now." Closure suggests closing a door - ending a part of my life. Saying, "I was there, but now I'm here". These ideas just doesn't seem to reflect what I've learned about grief. Grief is not a once in a lifetime event, it is not binary in nature, either on or off, black or white. Closure assumes that life is a series of rooms, but with doors on each room, and we can cross the room, and close the door. Once we close the door, we are never back in that room.

Originally, months ago, I told someone that the pain of Gabriel's death was an anguish so deep and so wide that there were no words to describe it. In these words I affirm what our hearts already know: there is no moving on, door closing, we will never again be the same women and men, before and after our babies. We are, as the Bible describes it, changed in the twinkling of an eye.

Returning to the room analogy, maybe the answer of why we have ritual is this: those of us in Lost Baby Land, we understand that there is a room called 'death of a child'. And, having found ourselves in this room together, we can stand with each other, even as the pain we feel is different from those around us. When we gather in these rooms, when we hold funerals and plant trees, and recite names and talk of our loved ones who are gone: this is not closure. It is not intended that we should ever close the door on this room. Rather we help each other be in the room. Sometimes our experience of grieving allows us to give other's words. We allow others, even encourage them to take our sentences, our thoughts strung together, and make them their own. My words to make sense of tragedy become your words, perhaps slightly different. In the experiences of others, I begin to see the room I am in, and it gains shape, and I can comprehend it better.

I am learning that indeed, my pain is an anguish I can describe. It is deep and vast, but I am learning my way through it. I am learning what the boundaries are, how large the room is, and what is in it. I am, slowly, tentatively, painfully, drawing a map. Learning where solid wall meets solid floor, and slowly venturing into the corners.

And perhaps this is why we should grieve as a community - because all of us have to go through these rooms in life. No one escapes - we all bear some sort of pain. For some the path through is more straight. They can spend a day, perhaps a month, and they are changed, just a bit, by their presence in the room.

For Mr. Spit and I, and all of you who were plunged into this room of grief, for what ever reason, we will spend more time here, and we will be more changed. Eventually I think I shall be a guide in this room, and while I will not be able to help others move through the room, because you do that on your own, I shall be able to stand in the pain, to abide, to bear witness to their pain. To hold a light up for others, so that they may see the boundaries of the room for themselves. To tell them they are not alone in this room. To say the names of their babies. To remember with them that what is is not what was supposed to be.

I think this abiding, this witness, is the purpose of community and of ritual - where we speak our own truth, and permit other's to use that truth to illuminate their lives. We do not tell other's how they will feel, rather we describe our pain, and we allow other's to enter into it with us, and be changed and altered by it, and then we allow our pain to give words to the pain of others.

His Name is Gabriel

His Name is Gabriel.

And I like saying his name. I like talking about him. I like it when people acknowledge him. And it hurts me when you look away when I talk about him or his birth. It wounds me when you pretend I wasn't pregnant. When you pretend he didn't die. When you expect me to be ok. I know my memories and stories are tinged with tragedy, but they are the only stories I have. It hurts me when you don't mention that time in my life. When you talk about no babies being born at work in 18 months, I feel a million knives in my heart.

We named him Gabriel for one of two named angels in the Bible. We wanted him to have an angel name when we found out he was going to be an Angel baby. The Anton was for his great grandfather, whom he never met on earth, but was surely there for his arrival in heaven.

His name is Gabriel, and I know that you didn't know him. But for 26 weeks exactly, we were constant companions. He made me sick, but he brought us such joy. He taught us to have hope for the future. He taught us about taking advantage of the moment. In those rare times when I felt well, I took real joy in eating, for the first time in my life. He taught us to take each day as it comes.

I felt him move in me. I felt him kick and stretch and grow. I talked to him constantly. Told him how thankful I was. Introduced him to things. Told him how much we were looking forward to meeting him. We gave him a name - we called him the bun.

We developed a relationship. He would move and kick when Mr. Spit spoke to him. He liked Robert Munch stories and warm baths and when I ate. His Midwife knew his heart beat. I knew when he slept, until about noon. But he was very active in the afternoon. He didn't like being poked to wake up, he would stretch and protest and fall back asleep. He didn't like the doppler or the non stress tests, he would move away. We waved at him during ultrasounds. We told him to hang in there, that he should keep growing.

We know you never met him, but for a glorious 30 minutes we did. We marvelled at his perfection. He had such incredible fingers and toes. And so much hair. We knew that he got his long fingers from his Dad, and all his hair from me. He had the crooked ring finger that everyone in my family has. He didn't open his eyes, but we saw into his soul.

We know that thirty minutes doesn't seem like a real life, but it was long enough for him. Just long enough to say hello and not goodbye, but rather, we'll see you again. Long enough to tell him that we would come, just not right away. Long enough to tell him to be brave and know that we loved him, even if he was going home without us. It was long enough to tell him that there was family in heaven waiting for him. That he wouldn't be alone.

We know that thirty minutes isn't much. But it was long enough to kiss him and sing to him and bathe him. It was long enough for a baptism, and long enough for our families to talk to him on the phone. It was long enough to tell him everything he needed to hear in his short life. That he was loved beyond all comprehension. That he will be loved until the end of time. That there is no place so far away from him that us that he wouldn't still be in our hearts, his memory as close as our breath.

There are a lot of children in our family, in our community, in our workplace, in our church. There are those that are with us, and there is Gabriel. Who is not in sight, but he is the whole of our heart's. As you talk about children being born, about mother's day and father's day and having babies, would you remember, Mr. Spit and I, we are parents. We had a baby boy, and he is still very much alive in our memory. And his name is Gabriel.

NoCoLeaveMo (And Slips!)

Ok, after my full day of slip wearing, I have discovered three things.
1. My skirt sat better on me. It actually seemed to fit better.
2. It got less wrinkled.
3. Nylon doesn't breathe really well. I got a bit sticky.

Moving on to other things, NoCoLeaveMo is an idea I adore. And I have to say, I loved all of your comments. You are all my new best friends! Oh, and if you are reading, and you are wondering what NoCoLeaveMo is, you can go here to find out.

I moved to Google Reader a few days ago, and so when I went to look at all the blogs I read - from the folders called "blogs" and "blogs I read at work" and "blogs to read less often", I realized, there are 64 I read daily. (And there would be more if a certain person from HEARTS would open her blogs up, or at least send me an invitation.)

I have been wondering what to do about mummy blogs. Infertility, check. Labour and Delivery, check. Pregnancy, check. Bringing a living baby home? Yeah, missed out on that part.

It's a struggle to comment on mummy blogs - I don't have a horse in that race, so I'm not quite sure what to say. After you have read and answered the questions about the tree planting ceremony, (pretty please, I'm open to ideas), would you let me know:

How do you feel when a non parent comments on your blog? Does it bother you?

Tree Planting

Mr. Spit and I are throwing a BBQ and tree planting ceremony thing on June 8th, to honour Gabriel. We got the gift certificate for the tree from friends, as a Christmas gift. It was a thoughtful and kind sort of gift. (Especially because they didn't get their Christmas gift from us until the end of Feb.)

And we aren't sure what to do during the event. The plan is to plant the tree, eat and visit. I thought we'd talk a bit, about how much the support of friends meant to us, and how much we missed Gabriel. A bit of a toast, if you will.

What else should we do? Can any of you think of readings or poetry or something?

Miscellany Monday - Updated

Happy Memorial Day to all of you Americans. I'm a bit jealous of your day off (in spite of my long weekend of forced labour last weekend). I'm perplexed too - what are you memorializing?

I have to go and buy a slip today. I bought these very cute linen skirts last week, and they are a tiny bit see through. Actually, they aren't too bad, but I'm a modest sort (at least on the outside), so I have to go and buy a slip. I dug through my drawers and unearthed a full slip, to wear today and that seems to be doing the trick, but I think I actually need that elusive thing called a half slip. I also need 'suck it up, shove it in' underpinnings for a dress I'm wearing on June 20th (my plan is to look fat, but not lumpy!), so I might as well kill two stones.

I was thinking about my old nanny today - she was quite emphatic that a young lady never left the house without a slip. I went digging through the lingerie drawer, and I'm not so sure that she would have been pleased with the contents. I found a full slip, an old camisole, my bustier from my wedding, a few things which are more, ahem, decorative in nature and a pair of tights from boarding school. (I could tell this because they were navy blue wool with cabling, and they had my name and student number sewn in the bum)

I'm not sure if Nanny would have been pleased that I realized the skirt needed a slip, or horrified that I haven't been wearing it all along. So, my question to you: do you all wear slips? Am I the only one out there that doesn't? And where do you buy them?

I'm dipping my ginger snaps into my latte as I drink this. Yeah Second Cup Low Altar of Caffeine. Not quite as good as dipping the fresh ginger snaps into tea, but I'm lazy, and I had the latte. Lesley, have I mentioned how much I adore you and your marketing goodness?

Us Canadians will keep working, and keep holding the fort down, as the sober and sensible frumpy aunt, while the rest of you slackers and dilettante's go to the beach. Pbfft. Our beaches still have ice on them!

Updated: I went to The Bay ( a fine Canadian Tradition) I had the option of white, cream or black. In a length a little above the knee, or a about mid calf. I am the proud owner of a knee length cream slip. Also a trench coat. And a new dress. Umm, and a new pair of underwear. (We don't use the p-word here at Mrs. Spit). Alas, no foundation garments seemed to fit my needs. I'm having a cookie now. I'll see if that helps.

Mr. Spit would like you to know

that his birthday is on October 21, not October 23.
We don't actually know anyone who's birthday is on October 23.

I get it wrong all the time.

I am in the bad wife-y box now.

(creeping away quietly . . .)

Abide With Me

I have been thinking about abiding a lot this week. Part of it was this blog.

Christianity speaks a lot about abiding, the disciple's failure to abide with Christ in the garden of Gethsemane - on the night before his crucifixion. It speaks of the disciples abiding together in a room in a house, a week after Christ's death, while they tried to figure out the eternal question after tragedy and change - 'what's next'? Scripture speaks of the the Holy Spirit as a comforter, who will abide with us.

Mr. Spit and I have reached a place in our own grief, where we have the energy to reach out to our friends again. We have come slightly back to life and a few people who have reached out to us in the last weeks. In the light of personal circumstances, and my erroneous post on Grief and Community, I have been thinking of what it means to abide with someone. What does it mean, and why is it so hard?

Someone told me late last week that she didn't tell me she was pregnant until the end of the first trimester "out of sensitivity". And, on the one hand I understood, obviously she thought their news would hurt me. I was, I have to say, saddended and disturbed, that they had such a simplistic view of life - unable to realize that it is possible to be sad for one's self, and happy for another, but I understood that they were thinking, through their eyes, of how to spare us.

But on the other hand: I was left questioning the logic of the statement. If the news was going to hurt me - or at least, if you thought it was - would it not hurt at 2 weeks, at 12 weeks or at 20 weeks? Would it not hurt at birth? Was their any balm other than presence and kindness and mercy that would spare us some pain? And is it the goal of life to have no pain?

Truly, in hiding the news from those of us who would normally be told, they denied us the ability to take joy in their circumstances, and the need to feel sorrow at own circumstances. They denied us the ability to abide with each other, on either side of a divide, happy for what will be, and still sad for what was.

I am reminded of the story of Moses and the burning bush. There's lots of good stuff in the story, but the part that came to me today was God telling Moses to take his shoes off, he was on holy ground. I've always liked how God made that distinction. He told Moses that while the world around him looked exactly the same, it had, imperceptibly, shifted. Moses was now on Holy Ground. It was in this story that I finally got what true abiding was.

The Aboriginal Cultural Helper from a local hospital spoke at our baby loss ceremony today. And she spoke about what she does, and how she does it. But, perhaps more than that - she spoke about how she was privileged, how she was entering into our space, and it she knew it was a space filled with grief and bewilderment and pain and tragedy and hope and remembrance. Before she came into the space that was ours, she stopped to honour that the space existed. Pausing at its boundary, she acknowledged that we were a group of families who looked normal but were wracked with sorrow. She entered our space gently.

Abiding is this: the recognition that grief is sacred. Literally, the word sacred means set apart. This is a time in my life that is set apart. For those of us who believe in some form of the hereafter, some divinity in the world, it is a time of working out our faith again. For some, it is a time of making sense of their world. For all of us, it is a time of finding that new normal, the painful time of sewing the shredded edges of our lives back together, and grieving that the garment of our lives is not the same shape. It is a space marked by deep sorrow and pain and horror, and it is a place where we are naked and vulnerable, and an ill timed word or demand can rip us asunder. It is a place that requires supporters to be humble and gentle.

And it is good to have company in this place. But, only if the company recognises that they are only holy ground, in a sacred space. My grief is mine. Other's may feel grief from Gabriel's death, but that does not mean they understand what it is to be me. That does not mean that they understand how I feel. It does not mean that they must have been in my shoes, felt my grief. Those with the gift of abiding have the gift of simply walking into scary places, of offering companionship. They spend time with me, help me through the every day world, break bread with us, they ask us how we are doing, they clean our houses, they speak blessings over our children. They sit and hold our hands, offering us the gift of touch. They make themselves small, so that our grief can be full sized.

I think there are many who abide with us, and they have some good mapping information to give us. They warn us about pitfalls and hard places, but they can't go through it for us. They understand that we must bear our grief alone, and we must do our grief work alone, and all they can do is be a reference and a cheerleader. They can abide. I held on to another mum today, who's loss is a bit more recent. And I had no words. Nothing to get in the way of hugging and sharing our sorrow.


Weekend Are For Quotes


It took the sea a thousand years,
A thousand years to trace
The granite features of this cliff,
In crag and scarp and base.
It took the sea an hour one night,
An hour of storm to place
The sculpture of these granite seams
Upon a woman's face.

1882 - 1964
Western Bay, Newfoundland

One Hundred Things About Me

I hear blogger's have to post one hundred things about themselves for their one hundredth post. And we are all about tradition here at Mrs. Spit.

We are also all about Mrs. Spit.

Here goes:

  1. I'm still not quite thirty, but I round up. All my life I wanted to be older than I was. My birthday is on September 27.
  2. Mr. Spit is 6 and a bit years older than me. His birthday is October 23 , erm, no the 21st. Yes, that's it.
  3. I'll always be the much younger wife.
  4. I flunked recess in school. I didn't like playing with the other kids. It may have been explained by numbers 1 and 5.

  5. I participated in my first political campaign when I was 5. It was for this guy.

  6. I might still support him.

  7. I participated in my last political campaign 3 months ago. I wrote a bit about seeing those MLA's being sworn in.

  8. Speaking of politicians, my biggest hero's are the Famous Five.

  9. I also like Hilary Clinton. I'm not sure I'd vote for her, though.

  10. I've had animals all my life. Except for a period where I had fish. They kept dying. We stopped naming them, and only gave them numbers. We stopped with the numbers when 51 and 52 bit the dust.

  11. I've had a lot of cats. Mostly black. And a three legged Sheltie named Mac.

  12. I'm more of a dog person than a cat person. Currently we have Maggie and Delta.

  13. I wanted a cat so that I could have someone to cuddle up to me when I read.

  14. This isn't working. Maximus is not cuddly.

  15. But I do read, a lot.

  16. I mostly read mysteries. I particularly like the old school ones, PD James, Agatha Christie, Patricia Sprinkle. But sometimes I read JD Robb's "In Death" series as a guilty pleasure. I also really adore Ellis Peter's Brother Cadfael series.

  17. And in trying to find more of those, I stumbled upon Elizabeth Peters, who wrote both the Vicky Bliss and the Amelia Peabody series. They are really good.
  18. I also like a bit of Science Fiction.
  19. Speaking of Science Fiction, I didn't see Star Wars, Star Trek, James Boned, Indiana Jones or Monty Python until I was 18.
  20. I was spell bound when I finally did see them.

  21. Every year for my birthday I give myself a gift - I try to teach myself a life skill. This year, I decided to work on saying "enough".

  22. I'm still working on letting go of things that upset me (28) and being kind to myself (27).

  23. I like to knit. All sorts of things. Except anything with interstarsia. I'm not good at that.

  24. I also hate knitting scarves. I just find them so boring. . .

  25. I do a bit of sewing. But mostly baby clothes.
  26. I'm going to sew curtains for the dinning room.

  27. When it's finally done.

  28. I planned to be a powerful executive when I finished university.

  29. I also thought I'd marry the man I was dating at the time.

  30. Strangely, I'm not at all powerful.

  31. And the man I was dating at the time was a small town Saskatchewan boy who thought that I was crazy for wanting to move to Montreal, since McGill gave me a scholarship.

  32. He's teaching in Qatar now.

  33. I never did go to Montreal.

  34. Mr. Spit made me throw out the letter from McGill just a few years ago. I would occasionally take it out and beat myself over the head. This is just one of the reasons I married him.

  35. Mr. Spit and I have been married for 7 years.

  36. But we've known each other all our lives.

  37. I used to call his Dad "uncle".

  38. But it's not what you think, we aren't from Arkansas.

  39. Our parents were best friends, and I wasn't allowed to call adults by their first names. Hence, Uncle Otto.

  40. I call him Dad now.

  41. And I still don't like it when children call me by my first name. I tend to correct them. I'm ok with Mrs. "insert my first name here".

  42. I also think that people should write thank you cards.
  43. I think it's rude not to say thank you.

  44. I think we should all work on being polite to each other. It makes the world a slightly happier place to be.
  45. On the importance of politeness, my mother wore black to my wedding, refused to come in until after I did, and then sat at the back of the church and wailed. She got so loud at one point that I couldn't hear Mr. Spit recite is vows.
  46. We got married a second time, 6 months later. This time we gave my mother every single thing she wanted. She was quiet then.

  47. I think good grammar is important.

  48. And people should be able to tell the difference between it's and its.

  49. You could remember it, by remembering the Bob the Angry Flower cartoon that says: "It's its, dammit."

  50. But I sometimes make apostrophe mistakes.

  51. And I tend to use too many comma's.

  52. I'm half way through this list, and I'm running out of things about me. Yes, I do have a "real name". In fact, legally I have five of them. No, I'm not going to tell you.

  53. Ok, one of them - one of my middle names is Elizabeth. I chose it at my confirmation.

  54. My favourite food is Mexican.

  55. Which you can't get much of in Edmonton.

  56. If you have a really good salsa recipe, with cilantro and lime juice, would you send it to me?
  57. I also like Thai and Indian and Greek and Italian. Not thrilled with french. (Except tourtiere at Christmas).

  58. I also like risotto. I make really good risotto. But I can't cook rice.

  59. And I love it when Mr. Spit BBQ's steak. He's really good at it.

  60. Mr. Spit likes chocolate more than I do.

  61. I am actually a really good cook.

  62. And a not bad baker.

  63. But I suck at math.

  64. I was in my second calculus class before I realized that you actually can't divide by zero.

  65. I still don't quite understand why.

  66. But I'm willing to believe you. You don't have to explain why.

  67. Mr. Spit has tried. Several times.

  68. I'm also not good at depth perception.

  69. But I can still parallel park.

  70. I blame this on being stereoscopically blind.

  71. I can't keep a tune in a bucket.

  72. I discovered this when I went to a boarding school for high school.

  73. I became a Christian at boarding school. I've been an Anglican all my life.
  74. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God, the Bible is the word of God and salvation is the only way to heaven. And I think that you don't have to believe that. We can agree to disagree.

  75. I'm fairly conservative in my own life, but I don't believe that I have the right to compel others to have the same moral standards as I do. I can't fathom why anyone would want to legislate Christian morality. Why don't you just save time, cut to the chase and legislate that everyone be a Christian?

  76. I'm ardently patriotic, in a polite sort of Canadian way.

  77. I also have a Canadian sense of humour, very dry.

  78. I like puns.

  79. Mr. Spit and I have been known to spend an entire evening carrying on a pun.

  80. We also have a lot of inside jokes.

  81. They always make us smile.

  82. And they confuse other people.

  83. I have an irreverent sense of humour, and it used to get me in trouble when I was a child.

  84. I got into trouble a lot as a child.

  85. Mr. Spit was really well behaved, so when we compare childhoods, I think he hopes our kids are like him.

  86. But we are both the kinds of parents to let them get dirty and play outside.

  87. I'm not a naturally neat and tidy person. An ex-boyfriend once told me that I needed to be rich enough to pay someone to follow me around and pick up things I misplaced.

  88. I love gardening - it's a grown up excuse to play in dirt.

  89. And, in spite of the fact I write a column about it, I'm not the world's greatest gardener.

  90. But I try really hard.

  91. I like to sit in my back yard or on my front porch and drink coffee.

  92. Who am I kidding, I like to drink coffee anywhere.

  93. But only good coffee. Freshly ground, made very strong.

  94. I can't stand pop, it makes my mouth feel funny.

  95. But I love lattes. Mr. Spit doesn't drink any caffeine.

  96. I'm not sure why, but he's still standing.

  97. He's even really good at renovating.

  98. We are gutting a 1911 house. As we live in it.

  99. We weren't supposed to have any home reno projects this year.

  100. But I think we will probably find something that needs to be done.

Unlike this list, home reno's never end.

And a bonus:

101. I technically shouldn't be Mrs. Spit, because I didn't take Mr. Spit's last name when we were married. I should be something like Madame Promenade.

Oh Shoot, Oh Shoot, Oh Shoot

replace the shoot with an 18A word please! I can't bring myself to swear in a title on my blog. Mostly it's cause I'm either Canadian or afflicted with guilt or have delusions of being a lady.

But oh shoot, oh shoot, oh shoot.

So, the grief and community post is one I've been playing with, since, well the start of May. . . And I wasn't done with it. And I hit post, and I wasn't finished with the last bit of it, and I think I may have accidentally suggested that miscarriages aren't as painful as later pregnancy loss, and that wasn't my point, my point was that it's just different, and more people are aware of someone who lost a baby through miscarriage, and are better able to support someone in this place.

Hello, I'm a woman who's baby died at 25 weeks, I'm a freak. Who also can't tell the difference between post and save.

And Oh shoot, oh shoot, shoot.

So, I'm sorry, I have no freaking idea about how I hit publish, and actually a good part of the email is some unworked out anger with someone in my real life, and can I just say "oh Shoot". That wasn't for public consumption. And of course I did this sometime this pm, and then I was at the hair dressers all night, and then dinner, so I didn't notice.

Me and my new haircut are going to have a drink and swear and be mad at ourselves. And read your replies. And hope that you are all still talking to me.

I didn't want to remove the post, so I took the last bit out, because honestly, I may say stuff in my head, but I wouldn't say it out loud.

Mrs. Spit Tells Us All How to Be an Adult

Hem, Hem

The Definition of Insanity:
Doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result.

or, to to put it another way:

If it didn't work last time, and it didn't work this time, chances are extraordinarily good it won't work next time.

At some point persistence begins to resemble stupidity, to the rational person. And rational people loose any ability to express sympathy.

Here endeth the lesson.

(I just needed to get that off my chest, thanks)

Confession Time

I can make a souffle. Kick butt risotto, with the homemade chicken broth and hand grated Parmesan and all that stirring.
Made from scratch cakes. A wedding cake.
Curry, pasta by hand.
Bread, buns, strudel.

Yea, all those goodies, and more. But I cannot make rice.

I have tried the rice cookers (three have died horrible deaths on my counter). I have tried the boil in the bag. I have tried the microwave. I have tried the finish cooking it in the oven. I have tried the stove method. With a pot with a glass lid. I have tried minute rice, which turns out mushy or crunchy, and always needs to be strained.

Currently, I buy the Uncle Ben's plastic packages of rice that you microwave in the package. They aren't bad. Or at least better than the alternatives.

Erm, anyone got any help?

Like the New Header?

It's from this lady. . . .

She's a heads up gal, who is heading up an attempt to designing her way to a FET.

You should "header" over there and "head" off all those others of us who are trying to get a new header.

Ok, I'll stop with the puns. (unless you can come up with some good ones in the comments section.)

I like me a good pun.

Heading off to work now.


Thinking of another baby Spit (not mine) who went to join its 3 siblings in heaven on Monday.

For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd;
he will lead them to springs of living water.
And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
Revelation 7:17

The Patience of Unanswered Prayer

I planted my vegetable garden a week ago, and none of the seeds have germinated. Every day, often twice a day, I look at my garden and I am struck by an irrational fear: what if nothing grows? Every year, this fear: what if nothing comes up.

So much of what happens, especially at this stage, is happening in a dark and secret world. I have no knowledge of whether or not things are working as they should. And all I have left is 20 years of gardening experience to tell me: garden's don't entirely fail to germinate barring a catastrophe. Sure, the peas may not grow, but the entire garden? Something will come up. It always does. I must remind myself that history is on my side. And silence the voices in my head that remind me of the catastrophe's of this year.

I am looking at plants in my flower beds, and trying to decide if they are dead, or merely still sleeping. Did my forget-me-not's forget to wake up, or must I accept that they died during this long, cold winter? I have no explanation of why they should have died. They are hardy to Zone 3, they were covered with snow, they were watered in this fall, and given water in early spring to help them wake up. I am strangely angry over their failure to live. I swear I will never buy plants there again. Dumb plants that they didn't grow. I am resentful of wasting a permanent plant marker on them, and I wonder if I should only mark things the second year - after they have lived through the testing of an Alberta Winter. I begrudge them the water and the fertilizer and the weeding they received last year. I am frustrated that I should have spent time on them.

I am frustrated with hopes that remain unanswered. I am aware that I am waiting on things uncertain.

And in the midst of all of this, I am remembering the service on Sunday. I am remembering the line in the hymn- about the patience of unanswered prayer. I am seeing the lines drawn between my garden and Gabriel, between waiting and hoping, frustration and sorrow.

I have been a Christian for 14 years now. And I have prayed millions of prayers. Prayers that were quick, were long, that were agonized. Prayers thrown up to God, hoping He would catch them as I rushed to do something or be somewhere. Prayers for strangers - the woman crying on the phone, "Lord, be with her".

None of those prayers were so desperate, so dire, so frantic, so frenzied as mine for my son. I remember my prayer as I drove home from the Midwife's after my diagnosis: "Lord, I'm so frightened". I remember the prayers in the hospital while they tested me. "Lord, please get this under control". I remembered the prayers as I looked at Mr. Spit in the small diagnosis room. "Something's wrong, the Resident is concerned." I remember the prayers to steel myself as the senior Perinatologist came in the room and admitted me, so that I could give birth to a to a baby that would die. I remember my frantic prayers for a miracle, for an outcome other than death - bartering, begging, pleading. I remember prayers bracketed by the blood pressure machine - the beginning of liturgy as the cuff started inflating "Lord, lettest thou thy servant depart in peace. . ." and I remember the sad and defeated beep-beep of the machine, as it announced that still, my blood pressure was too high.

I remember that one last injunction to push, from deep within my body. A power, stronger than I have ever known - a prayer of my body, perhaps. I did not know that my body could contain such might - such force to make me do that which I did not want to do. I remember the red of Mr. Spit's shirt, I remember the feel of his hands on my shoulders. And I remembered that one last prayer of Christ's - before his death saying "Father if it is possible, take this cup of sorrows from me".

And finally, I remember my prayers a few days after Gabriel's birth. Prayers of thankfulness that my life was spared. Prayers of gratitude that Gabriel was born alive. Prayers that he was able to be baptized, which meant so much to me. Prayers of thanksgiving that my amazing midwife was with us. Prayers thanking God that I had been pregnant at all.

I hear that my faith must be strong. My faith is small and weak. I have no answers for why this tragedy should have struck me. A classic education, discussions on what the philosphers call the problem of pain, means nothing in this most private of pain. Augustine, Aquinas, Anselm, Descartes, Hume, Locke, Kant - what do they know of dead babies? What do they know of agony or terror or emptiness?

The problem of pain is not that God did not answer all of those prayers for Gabriel, it is that He said "no". And this answer? I do not understand it.

It is the small, pallid, agonizing story that was Gabriel's life, and is his death, it is this set of facts that leave me to my true unanswered prayer:

Why Lord? Why?

Just In case you were interested.

I had my last appointment with the internal medicine specialist today. Who, I have to say, is a stand up kind of woman. After realizing that her secretary had made a mistake, she came in from teaching rounds to see me quickly.

So, I'm a chronic hypertensive. So, I'll be on medication for the rest of my life. Interestingly enough, this doesn't change what happens in a next pregnancy. I'll still be closely monitored, and I'll still have all the bells and whistles. I'll just have to take meds during all of the pregnancy, and then they can add to the meds as needed during the pregnancy.

Other than that, I'm good.

yippee. . . .

If you wouldn't mind

So, I had an interesting post today about what my neighbour is doing (it's crazy and cool, and I really want to share it) but I absolutely can't figure out how to make my darn photo editing software turn a picture from landscape to portrait, so Laura (the neighbour) is standing on her head (except, obviously not really, in real life) and she looks just strange, and you can't see the canoe, which is an important part of what she's doing, and her partner is just home from seeing her, so I thought I'd go and see what he's got for me. . .

Anyway, so no post about Laura my neighbour. Maybe Thursday. And if you've got some good suggestions on SIMPLE photo editing software, leave a note in the comments. That's Request Number 1.


On Friday I discovered that the JuliaS, who's blog (and also this one) I thought I had been commenting on is actually this Julia instead (who, I don't think has commented, although I'm sure she's very nice.)

Anyway, it got me to wondering: are there any more of you out there wondering - "Mrs. Spit, I comment and comment on your blog, and you never even look at mine, never mind comment, and this relationship is just not working, and you are a selfish and thoughtless hag". So, would you mind just standing up and saying - "Hey I read" and if you have a blog, would you mind telling me which one? 'Cause I'm kind of stupid and confused that way. That's assignment 2.

That's all for Tuesday.

And I'd like to thank . . . . .

You know, whenever someone starts talking about Award Show thank you speeches, I'm always reminded of a Cheers episode where the waitress Diane Chambers (the ditsy blonde) finally wins an award for something, and she has this hour long thank you speech in which she talks about saving the children and the whales and who only knows what else. Which is a really odd thing for me to remember, as I don't watch a lot of TV.

So, I'm not going to go on and on about who I'd like to thank. But I will send a really heartfelt thank you to LoriBeth at the Road Less Travelled for a really nice pink rose award (especially because my Morden Ruby Rose would appear to have died).

It really made my day!

Ladies (And Gentleman), the Winnah is . . . .

Drum roll please!

Jamie, Mr. Spit and I thought long and hard about what to give you - and we decided to offer you the A, B or C option.

Would you like a $40 Gift Card to:

A for

B for the Body Shop (A Canadian Store, just saying!)


C for Crate and Barrel?

Send an email (in my profile!) and we'll get you hooked up!

A note about word pronunciation:

Mrs. Spit grew up in a family that is more-British-than-the-British. Don't believe me - ask my first roommate at boarding school how she felt when I asked her when she wanted to be knocked up in the morning? (knocked up = woken up, it refers to someone knocking on your door to wake you)

Whinge is actually a different word than whine - whine is pronounced to rhyme with time, whinge rhymes with hinge.

In Mrs. Spit's more-British-than-the-British family, it was always pronounced whinging. As in "Mrs. Spit, are you whinging about eating mushy peas with your steak and kidney pudding?".

Things I like the Smell of (Just for Niobe)

  1. The smell of fresh bread as it wafts down the street from the bakery on the Avenue.
  2. The smell, on a fall evening, of the first fire in some one's fire place.
  3. The smell of snow in the air, in early October, as I walk out to the car, and see that all of the leaves have turned, almost over night.
  4. Earth, just slightly warmed, as I hold it up to my nose, to determine if the garden has warmed up enough.
  5. The smell of freshly ground coffee.
  6. Wet wool (yes, I know, not quite normal)
  7. A house full of cedar and pine at Christmas.
  8. The smell of a Sunday roast cooking in the oven, with guests coming over for dinner.
  9. Mayday trees that first day they bloom, in early summer, when I throw my windows open to inhale.
  10. The smell from sleeping on soft cotton sheets that have dried in the summer sun.

What about you?

Weekends Are For Quotes

I re-discovered this one in a book I was reading this week. I loved it as a teenager. I always wondered who Jenny was. And what age the other character was.

There is something strangely compelling about this bit o' verse.

Anyway, hopefully to make you smile:

Jenny Kissed Me
Jenny kiss'd me when we met,
Jumping from the chair she sat in;
Time, you thief, who love to get
Sweets into your list, put that in!
Say I'm weary, say I'm sad,
Say that health and wealth have miss'd me,
Say I'm growing old, but add,
Jenny kiss'd me.

Hey Mrs. Spit, what are you doing this weekend?

REMINDER: Whiny Thursday - go write your whinge out - Prizes!
Yes, this means you.

So, it's the Victoria day long weekend here in Canada, also known as the May 2-4 weekend, (even though it doesn't fall on a May 24th this Year). It's to celebrate Queen Victoria's birthday, and actually the reigning Monarch's as well. Although HRH Elizabeth II was actually born on April 21 (we Canandian's are much too polite to protest about this flagrant trickery). Additionally the May long weekend represents the 3 days I get to fly the Union Jack from my flag pole, and yes, we toast the Queen on Monday.

Oh, and there's the other thing that every.single.person. in Canada(except for those freaks in Victoria that have been gardening since February) does - plant their garden.

So, this weekend, what am I doing?

Well, on Saturday 3 cubic yards of rock are showing up at my back gate. And those of you better at depth perception and volume perception need not tell me how much rock this is. . .

So, this will be into stone.

Umm yes, there's a lot of ahem, doggy night soil, mixed in with this. We are hoping that the rock shall be more, washable.

And then there's the planting stuff. All of this is for on old laundry sink I'm going to use as a planter. Well, not the column. That's for a sun dial Mr. Spit and I are buying each other for our anniversary.

Ahh, yes. This is from Mrs. Spit's wee old grow op. Where in I grow a bazillon tomato's, and almost all my bedding plants, and herbs and a few other things. Let's see, there's 8 holes in each row, and 4 rows to a tray, and there are 6 trays, so that's . . . (where's that calculator JuliaS?

Umm, that's 192 plants to stick in the ground.

Look, the pansies didn't grow too well this year, and the bergenia (far left) and the speedwell (middle) were on sale! ON SALE!

And the roses, well, they were on sale. For $10 a pop. These are Morden and Explorer roses. In other words, the only kind that actually grow in Alberta!

Oh, and when I finish that, I need to dig the bed to put in Gabriel's tree. And a few of those roses. And some other stuff that I clearly won't have room for in the existing beds.

And then, I'm going to be digging up grass to put down some paving stones for under my chimenea. Very excited about that.

Oh, and I have to be off, to buy some more bedding plants (for the planters, stop looking at me like this!)

So, I may not write too much this weekend, and um, anyone looking for a few good coleus?

The Thursday-Whinge-For-All

Allrighty, at Carol's request: we are having a Whiny Thursday again.

The Rules:
This is your chance to take that tiny little thing, throw it in the comments, fully whine about it. Howl, go on at length, tell us every detail. And you know what?
We will all tell you that it's not fair, we'll sympathize.
We won't tell you to get over it, or be thankful for what you have.
Today, I feel like whinging, and you get to be a part of it.
Tomorrow we'll clean up our act, and we'll go back to the being the grown ups we are.
Tomorrow we'll put on our big girl and deal with it.
Today we whine.

The Contest:
And the best? Based on a highly scientific system, (like letting the cat draw names out of the hat) I will send two people a prize. One of the prizes will go to Carol. They will be something cool like a gift card or something knitted. It'll be something worth your while.
Contest Deadline: Monday May 19th at 12:01 MST.

My Whinge:

It's about apostrophe's, and using them in possessives. Simply put, if you can say that one item belongs to another in a sentence, it's a possessive. So, if we say Mrs. Spit's garden, it is the garden belonging to Mrs. Spit, and we use an apostrophe to indicate the relationship. We also use them for contractions and certain plurals, but really, this is a blog about gardening and grief and knitting and whinging, not grammar.

Now, lots of people struggle with apostrophe's (and I'm happy to give lessons to all who ask), but, but if you are an editor that Mrs. Spit works with on a professional basis, and you are being paid (rather more than Mrs. Spit, I might add), I should not have to explain to you that I put the apostrophe in, when you missed it in the initial edit, and no it shouldn't be taken out!

Now, come and whinge!

Speaking of Sight

I got an e-mail from my aunt. I really like e-mails from my aunt. I really like this aunt. I wish she didn't live so far away.

Anyway, she was looking for help finding this mirror.

I gotta tell ya. If I find it, I ain't sharing. I want my hair to look like that!

Things I don't like the sight of - Updated

a photo of 2 pink lines on a blog post. Because she's pregnant. And she deserves to be, and she's a wonderful mother, and will be a wonderful mother to this next baby.

But I'm now a chronic hypertensive. And my chances of pre-e have escalated yet again. And we won't adopt (it's just not really an option for us) and surrogacy in Canada is problematic. And it's unclear if pregnancy is safe for me any longer, much less wise.

And why does she get to have three children when I have none? Yesterday was a good day too.

Updated: I came home early (yes ma'am, I'm flunking out of adult life 101) and I had a wonderful e-mail from this mom in waiting. Telling me essentially that my congrats on her blog really meant alot to her, considering it was coming from me. Sometimes, sometimes it hurts to be a good person. Really, I am thrilled for her. I just hurt for me.

Things I like the sound of

  1. Stiletto's clicking away on a tile floor.
  2. Espresso grinders.
  3. Rain on the roof on a Saturday morning.
  4. Jazz music.
  5. Dog paws skidding on the stairs as the dogs rush down the stairs to meet me.
  6. The sound of an espresso machine.
  7. The slightly inquisitive, but very cute meow I occasionally get from Max.
  8. Mr. Spit's voice when he calls me sweetness.
  9. Train whistles late at night.
  10. The music on my ipod.
  11. The sound of little girls giggling.
  12. My friend, who tells me she bought bamboo knitting needles so that she could knit silently in the women's washroom, you know, just to take the edge off, when she was having a bad day.

While I was away

I'm going to start this post with a story about my grandmother.

"But, Mrs. Spit", I can hear you gasp, "You hardly ever talk about your family." Trust me, if you had my family, you wouldn't talk about them either. You've already met my mother. I have a SIL who, well, should be left in a warm sunny corner and watered once a week. I spend a lot of time biting my tongue. (Which I'm not good at, but moving on. . .)

So, part of my maternal families' history is a grandmother who went away for awhile. Seriously. She laid down on the couch one morning in September, fell into a coma for 8 months and woke up on Easter morning. My mother was a junior nurse at the time, and she spent most of her time taking care of her mum, when she wasn't working. It is referred to in my family as "when Nana was away".

She did eventually wake up one day - she sat up and told the student nurses who were bathing her at the time that she needed to visit the necessary. The nurses shrieked and hit the floor saying their rosary. My stern-ish Anglican Nana was not amused with such nonsense. So good had her physio been, that she got up and walked to the washroom. (Apparently discovering the catheter once she arrived).

Mr. Spit's bosses wife is from PEI. She talks about people who are from off island, or who have only lived on island for a mere 25 years as "people from away". She'll talk about how when she goes to visit, she comes back home, from away. And I have always been intrigued by the notion of "away".

Away seemed to speak to me of leaving where your roots were, of leaving what you were comfortable with, the ordinary, and moving to a place that was alien. And staying there for a bit. Maybe even making it home-like. Eventually, to satisfy the definition of away, you must return to the ordinary, to home, so that you can see how far you've come.

In some senses, I have been away for awhile. I'm not quite sure when I should date the away from, though. I sometimes feel like I have been away since I found myself to be pregnant. My body began changing in ways that were foreign to me. Suddenly I was less of a head person, and much more at the mercy of my body. Indeed, my head mattered not a whit to what my body thought. It didn't matter that I was past my first trimester, the nausea didn't go away, and no amount of telling my body otherwise was going to change this. It wasn't that I wasn't pleased as punch to be pregnant, but I wasn't entirely comfortable with pregnancy consuming so much of what I thought of as me.

Equally, I could date the "away" to the time of Gabriel's death. Certainly, if I was only physically present while I was pregnant, I was not mentally present after Gabriel was gone. I remember the days of scattered reflections, hyper focus on a particular thing. I remember being unable to eat, not that I couldn't or wouldn't: but that the entire process of determining I was hungry, then determining what there was to eat, and then determining what I might want to eat, of the available selection, and then to actually prepare the food - this process was beyond me. I was unable to organize myself enough to go through those steps. It was, simply, easier to just not eat. We had family that not only insisted that they eat, but expected Mr. Spit and I to cook. I remember thinking, "don't they know I am not present in this world, I am away?".

And so, I can recognize, using either of those times that I went away, I am not away by those standards any longer. I can see how much more I function. But if I am not away anymore, I am certainly not home. The way I have arrived at this present place was not how I left it, how I got away. I did not take the same boat home as I did when I left. Indeed, I am beginning to wonder if I am at home at all.

It seems, perhaps, that my life long definition of "away" is not quite correct. And when I think, really think, I can imagine that my grandmother would tell me that when she went away, she came back to a place that was not home. It was a place that had been living and moving for 8 months. While she was away, grandchildren were born, children married, life happened.

I am beginning to learn that in the time I am away, it is not the momentous things that have changed, it is the fact that life kept happening. And so, now that I am back from away, I am struggling to catch up. It is as if the world is a merry-go-round and it is spinning and the horses are moving up and down, and they are doing all of this to a song that I have not heard. Everyone else has heard this song for months, they having listened to the radio while I was away, and I am just now catching up. I am left mumbling to those not too busy too listen, "I was away".

Perhaps also, I am seeing things differently now. I was really far away, and now I am here, but still away. Maybe I am only on a different beach on the same island. Maybe I am very close to being home, after being away. I'm not sure. Certainly nothing looks really familiar - and it this unfamiliarness is because I have been from away.

I wonder, maybe I was always wrong. Perhaps there is a home point in our life, and we see it at birth, and we move away from it all our lives. I wonder, if in one sense we were home for only moments at our birth, and we will be "from away" all the rest of our lives. Maybe any time spent looking for "home" while we are alive is truly pointless. Or maybe the reverse is true. Maybe we are born "from away" and we are trying to find our "home" point our entire lives.

What do you think?

Also: Just for Carol, who is the archiving Goddess here at White Guys in Blue Ties, Inc., we are interrupting this blog on Thursday to be a Whinge-For-All Thursday. Save up your grievances, petty and preposterous, and air them all out on Thursday.

Nothing to see here

No, really. I'm boring today.

Happy Monday.


Amidst the mess of my kitchen table, we are planning out our day and talking about the only permitted remembrance:
"We've got Rona on that list, right?"
"Why are we picking up peat moss, don't we have enough?", he says.

I toy with joking, - you can never have enough Pete, what's the matter, you don't like Pete? Well, Pete on you. But my heart's not in it.

It's for Karen, she's doing the Mother's day gardening show. There you have it. I've said the word. But, it's less about the word and more about the fact I wasn't asked to speak this year. Did they imagine I would fill the stage and the room with dead baby words? Did they wonder if I would water the pots with my own tears and not a watering can?

How little they know - my tears are so bitter and salty, they would wither all they touch.

He yells down the stairs "Add construction adhesive, and a splitter for the hose." We didn't drain and bleed the taps last fall, preoccupied as we were, and the water expanded and the tap ruptured, just like our lives. I have no idea why he wants construction adhesive.

Another question I will not ask.

We will drive around the city, turning the radio from station to station, trying to stay one step ahead of that word, putting stuff into the back seat. I will only think of the car seat for the truck once. We found it second hand. It was from a friend and we never picked it up, or mentioned it again.

I wonder if she is hanging on to it for us, leaving it in the corner of her basement, as unwilling to get rid of it as we are unwilling to take it?

We will skip the signs at the stores.

(Although, I will wonder - why would a mother want a bundle of insulation for a present? Is there too much heat in her life, or is it just too cold?)

I will think about buying a candle, the one's from the church store, with the replaceable inserts. You know, like we got at Marriage Encounter, back when we were young and naive and had not started down this road. And I will wonder what I would put on it, and I will think about stickers and names and colours, but the entire prospect will overwhelm me, and I will decide that it's fine without.

I won't specify what the it I can cope without, is.

And we will dig and pound and scrape and plant and turn over soil. We will exhaust ourselves, and we will plan the next day, which is only a Sunday, and we will not look at the calendar, and we will not think about the other names on this day.

And I will decide that I should plant the almost dead, sad looking Easter lily from that awful baptism Sunday, although, I'm not sure why, it won't live past the winter. And I will hope to God that no one comes by with flowers from church, because the house is a mess, and I will just cry, again.

And I will buy purple glimmer gloss nail polish for my toes, and I will not think of not being able to paint them last winter, because I could not bend over, and I will not look at my finger nails which are ragged and rough and bitten to the quick.

And I will think of others, who are stuck in this terrible place, and those who are divided between children in each of two worlds, and those who are not in the same world as their children, and I will think:

Somewhere in this city, someone is about to give birth. I hope they have better luck.

And I will think about what still remains to be done tomorrow, and I will paint my toe's and I will weed and plant and cook and knit.

In a cathedral in San Francisco, a priest will light a candle, and he will place it at Mary's feet, and he will recite Our Fathers, and a few decades of a Rosary that I am not theologically comfortable with, and perhaps he will pray for us, and he and He and she, another mother - they all - they will remember.

My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me — holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers.
The Magnificat
Luke 1:46-55

Grief And Community

I've been thinking about friends who were excited to meet Gabriel, and didn't. Many in our family and community were excited to meet Gabriel, anticipated his birth and his presence in their lives. They told us they were devastated that he wouldn't be a part of their lives, they wouldn't see him grow up. A friend of mine recently told me that he keeps Gabriel's birth announcement at his desk, because he is mindful that out of sight is out of mind, and he wants to remember Gabriel. I realize a portion of our grief at Gabriel's death is shared with others, and we miss and grieve for him together.

But I'm not completely sure what that means.

I remember someone close to me, who assumed that as a result of recurrent miscarriages, she knew all about my grief, and could tell me what I felt. And I was (and am) incredibly resentful and offended. It was, quite honestly, the closest I have come to flying at someone and punching them repeatedly. There is a world of difference between a miscarriage at 7 days, and the birth of a baby at 26 weeks. It is not that I think she has nothing to mourn - rather that we mourn entirely different things. The grief I felt at a dog or a cat or a parent's death is not the same as I felt for Gabriel. All grief is not the same.

If grief is not the same, I find myself wondering, to what extent can other's participate in our grief, and to what extent do we grieve only on our own? And how do we share and recognize the grief of others? How do I recognize the sadness of friends, of family, of our church? I am thankful that others miss Gabriel, I am thankful that he was a child of a greater community of friends and believers, not merely an accomplishment of mine and Mr. Spit's. But how does this actually play out in real life. What does it mean to grieve as a community or a family? Is it an act we do seperately, while in the same space, or is it somethign that builds and ties and binds us to one another, and helps us each become more fully human?

How do I respect the grief of others, at their tragedies, and abide with them in their sorrow. To join in the place of grieving and give my physical presence to them, so that I may be with them as they grieve.

I believe the idea that each person's pain is the most painful thing they have ever faced. But there's a bit of a one size doesn't fit all idea in my head. At some point, I want to stand up and acknowledge that loosing a baby is a greater tragedy than loosing a job or a pet. I'm mourning the fact that inexplicable, horrific and rare tragedy struck me. It's harder to relate to the grief of others.

Whatcha doin'?

He was peering around the corner from me. I was trying to choke down this just awful orange glucose drink for my 10 hour Glucose Tolerance Test. I don't like pop, and I really don't like orange crush. (I wound up plugging my nose and tipping it back)

I think he was about 3. Very cute. Very curly air. Very active. Mum sure looked tired.

"I'm knitting" said I.

I'm also trying to figure out what to write on the blog, and noting that by in large my writing style is always the same, and wondering if my readers are getting bored.

So, what am I going to write about. I know, why don't I show you pictures of what I'm knitting. Which some of you will find interesting, and it will bore the pants off you. (Hey, can we get Rob Lowe to read? Pretty Please? Huh, Huh? Ok, moving on. But remind me to tell you the Rob Lowe story. It's a good one.)


Pictures. For knitters, this is, well, yarn pr.on. Honest.

Ok, so these are baby boots (debbie bliss if you are interested.) They are for my niece. I started knitting for her 2 years ago. She has had 3 pregnancies end in very early miscarriages. They rest of the layette set (blanket, sweater, hat) is all done. Boots just need to be sewn up.

Ok, and this one is the first Cara baby sweater. It actually has a deadline. (Baby is due in the middle of June?) It's knit out of cashmere, and I just need to finish the hood and sew it up. I don't like sewing things up.

It's the Yarn Harlot's Snowdrop Shawl - she knit it for a very special baby too. I'm making just a few modifications. Bit of a deadline, but mum's only in the second trimester, so we are ok.
No, I'm not telling who it's for. But if you email me, I might be willing to tell you, unless it's for you, then I'm going to lie.

So, I'm still on with the baby sweaters. This is for a friend that is adopting. She's one year into the process (open adoption) so I have some time.

Yeah, these puppies. At least we are off baby sweaters. These are Mr. Spit's Christmas socks. Yep,Christmas 2007. Let's move on, shall we.

Oh, look, Anna's socks. Let's not talk about them either. Umm, they have a heel now.

Hey, it's a sweater. For a grown up. Yep, this is Mr. Spit's. I told him it might be done by next winter. No big rush. But ladies, I'm telling you, Mr. Spit has broad shoulders. I mean it . . .

Here's a bit more detail

Oh, yeah, there's still more.

Oh, look another baby sweater. This one's in cotton. It's for the other Kara that I work with. She's due in June. (Are you starting to get a sense of the deadlines?)

And this is the last picture. Honest. It's a scarf, for Mr. Spit. It will match to the hat, I completed for him in January. He also has one I finished for him in April. So, I'm not rushing. Even if they did get 12 inches of snow 3 hours west of here. Nope, if I stop knitting winter stuff, winter will go away.

So, now I'm going to do what any sensible person would do at this point. I'm going to have a nap, and then I'm going to the yarn store to buy a few things and register for a lace class. You know, so that I can start more stuff.

(Oh, and the more observant among you will no doubt notice 9 projects, plus the one in the hall closet that I'm still not talking about)

It's all going to end in tears, darn it. . .

I have five, errm, no six,

oh yeah,


actually 7 knitting projects on the go.

(no, I'm not going to talk about that one, it's been banished to the hall closet for "being bad". )

And what am I doing? Well, I'm sitting at my kitchen table amidst piles of debris.

I'm eating cheesecake ice cream. out of the pint size bucket. (why yes, it does taste as good as you are imagining). i just woke up from a nap. i might go look at the garden in a bit.

and some of these knitting projects?

Well, they have due dates attached to them.

it's all going to end in tears I tell you.

At least I'm not drinking on my front porch.

(with many thanks to those of you who offered physical persuasion and alcohol and told me the hiring manager was stupid or silly, or just plain said they were sorry. it's hard to get friends like that, i'm telling you. i'm just really touched. Sniff)

No honestly, I really, really am.

What's next?

Just over a year ago, my watch broke. Now, I am a planner and an organizer. But, I decided that I couldn't find a watch that I liked, and that it was going to be a great opportunity for personal growth to not have a watch. I was going to learn to relax and go with the flow and be patient and not obsess over plans and just take life as it happens. In other words, I was going to become a person entirely unlike myself.

And I discovered some things. The first leap of faith for me was that there would be a time keeping piece around when I needed to know what time it was. There would be a clock on a wall or on a building, or on my palm or on a friends wrist. And you know, I haven't been disappointed in this - I've learned to have some faith that I will be able to figure out what time it is.

Not having a watch and not having Gabriel have taught me a lot about my tendency to plan too much, organize too much, and always be looking to that next big thing. I was always planning the next project, the next challenge, the next day. And so, here I am, not sure what time it is, and I can't really plan beyond an hour from now. And, that's been ok. It's not a particularly bad way to live. You don't need to plan everything, only some things.

But, on days like yesterday, I fall into that old habit of "What's next?". I mean it, too. I didn't get the job. That was frustrating, but mostly it was just a shitty end to a crappy day, what with the friend from hell. And I'm looking around at where I am, and obviously not liking it, and I'm thinking "what's next".

And I just don't have any great answers. All these options, and no idea what to do.

it's not a good day when

You leave work early, and you'd cry, but it's already pissing rain and really, what's the point?

You show up at your neighbour's door, and demand that he sell you a cigarette.

You dump off your purse and pour yourself a large whisky. As an afterthought you put in some ice and some soda. (oddly enough, in spite of all the kids walking home from school, no one looked at me funny)

You sit on your front porch in your suit pants and a shell, with your bra straps showing, drinking and smoking (and now, as I have this awful taste in my mouth, I remember one of the reasons I quit. Ick).

Why no, I didn't get the job.

The Butterfly Theory

I am thinking a lot about how small things can change our lives today. I am thinking about the unthinking, unwitting things that we do, that change the way our lives go from that point on. I am thinking that there are times that it is easier to just lie. I let the truth and depth of my present sorrow show in front of a friend. They were, and are uncomfortable with the sight of such personal pain.

I can see why our friends with children must be uncomfortable around us. We are filled with raw pain, lost, grasping, wishing that Gabriel was here with us and that we could join them in being parents. Grief hangs off us like tattered rags, filling our senses and theirs with the stale, musty and fetid aroma of heartbreak. I can imagine the sorrow and sadness and deep anguish that mark my face. I can imagine that we aren't fun people to be around, that we aren't cheerful or chipper or even organized enough to hold a conversation with. I can imagine that it must totally suck to spend a lot of time with two people who are so consumed by a lost love. I can imagine why you might not want to understand this level of pain, that it would be frightening.

I remember girlfriends I would sit with when they broke up with the love of their lives. I remember I would reach a point where I would want to say "look, at some point you need to stop wearing his shirts and listening to "It must have been love" obsessively, and get on with life. You don't have to enjoy it, but at some point, for the love God, put away the chocolate and go have a shower and go to your anthropology course before you flunk out of school. You will make it through this."

I imagine that people are reaching this point with us. And I imagine when I confess, that still, it hurts to see your children, I imagine that it is hard to not take this as a personal repudiation. I imagine that when you have kids, you take a slight to them as a slight to yourself.

I imagine it's really impossible for you to understand how I would hurt because you got pregnant and stayed pregnant and came home with a real live baby. I imagine that you might think that I am self absorbed and wallowing in my pain. And me trying to explain that it isn't that I hate you, but that you have something that I so desperately want, and you got it with such ease, and that hurts - I imagine that you get stuck on "you don't like my kids". I imagine that any explanation I might make for this pain of mine, any assurance that I might provide you that the pain is very common, I imagine that it rings hollow. And you think that I am being jealous and perhaps wishing that everyone could feel my pain.

I get all of this. I can see how other's might see my feelings. But I am tired. I cannot merely get over my grief, wash the mourning garments and pack them away, and be fine. Getting pregnant did not ease the pain of infertility. Having another baby will not replace Gabriel, will not negate these present days and months of sadness and sorrow. Time does not heal my pain, it merely allows me to become more familiar with it. And the familiar is good, it allows me to continue to function in this life. I can cope with most of the day to day. I hold out hope that eventually I will become so accustomed to this pain that I will only be surprised by it occasionally.

Our friends are not bad people. They aren't very good at this, but they have tried. It's just, I'm tired of seeing all sides of the story. I would like to just be the grieving parents. I would very much like to stop excusing their behaviour and validating their feelings and telling them it's ok. I want to demand that our friends get good at this and have someone explain my feelings to me. I would like to stop seeing their side of the story and start seeing the entire story. I want to participate in the pain olympics, just a bit.

Gabriel's death, it was the butterfly in Peking. It flapped it's wings, and it has changed so much. And I am just worn out from trying to see all sides of this story. Caught in the middle of the typhoon that Gabe's death caused, and I'd like to swim on my own, instead of tossing life preservers to my friends.

I'm tired today.