Just a Friendly Reminder

I'm not here any more, I've moved.


Make sure you change your bookmarks and your blog readers.

Come Saturday, I won't update at all here anymore.

Stop on by, the coffee's on.

Turn Me On

Remember, I'm not here any more. I've moved to


Come and join me there, making sure you update your bookmarks and re-direct your readers. Also, if you are so inclined, it would be great if you could be my friend!

*********
This is the man that I am married to.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love him, I adore him, and I will stand by my statement: Marrying Mr. Spit was, by far, the smartest thing I ever did.

But, this man.

He likes his consumer electronics. Well, I do too, but he really likes them. As in – ask if he wants to be alone, get nervous – like.

Which means that we have to get new stuff. Especially new AV stuff. A lot. With alarming frequency.

Let me explain my relationship to TV this way: When we were first married, we had cable so that I could watch West Wing. The problem with our cable was that you had to pay them by cheque. I had to write a cheque and mail it every month. And you know how likely that was to happen. (If you manage to write a cheque for something every month, be quiet. You make the rest of us feel bad)

They shut my cable off. They shut my cable off in August. I noticed, just before the season premiere of West Wing, in November. . .

This time last year, the mister announced that we were buying a new, ginormous, whizz-bang TV. It would have Acronyms! and Ports! and Buttons! and Screens! and Sizing Options! It was large and black and shiny, and came in a huge box that I had to help carry, and get this readers, it was $700! For a TV. To replace a TV that already worked! Then we had to buy Cables! and an UpConverter! and a Remote! And West Wing is off the air, so I don’t care!

So, we bought the TV. And a new DVD. And there were boxes! There are 5 boxes, with blinking lights under this TV! It’s like a runway. Frankly, I’ve seen server racks running entire corporations with have fewer lights.

The modem downstairs has something to do with the television. And when my dadgum phone rings, the TV tells me who is calling!

Readers, do any of you remember how you used to know who was calling you? You picked up the phone! And you said Hello! And someone said “It’s your mother”. (Or the Cable Company). And what the heck does your phone and TV have to do with each other anyway?

But all of that matters not, because I couldn’t turn it on. No, I’m not kidding. I paid for the TV. The DVD, the buttons, the cables, the acronyms, and all of those cables back there (I’ve seen better organized spaghetti in a colander). Every month, I watched money leave my account to pay for acronyms, and to have my TV tell me who was calling.

Or rather, that’s would would have happened, but I couldn’t turn the TV on.

I must protest. I have a University Degree. I did some really freaking hard economics. I can talk about hegemonic stability theory. I know from a priori evil, but I can’t turn my TV on. Do you know how to feel stupid? Be unable to turn your TV on, when a 5 year old can.

You pick up the remote and wave it around. It asks you what you want to do. No really, it asks. You tell it “Watch TV”. It goes through screens, while I sit in my chair, yelling. No, not that. No, not that either. I pay how much for static? Not the play station screen with the folding proteins. The play station screen is purgatory. I hit random buttons for random time, and then the gods of videogaming will grudgingly let me out. Maybe.

This process, which takes me 15 minutes, well it works. Oh, not well. But, eventually.

So, what does Mr. Spit do to celebrate this new-found achievement of mine? Ahh, yes.

He gets a new remote.

New Digs

Mrs. Spit is moving. . .

She has her very own domain name.


I'll cross post until January 2, 2010, and then this blog will be completely re-directed to the new domain.

I've already shut off the comments here.

It's been a pleasure knowing you here, and I hope that you'll join me in my new home. Everything is moved in, and I'm unpacked enough to know where the coffee pot is.

If you go. . .

To mrsspit.ca

You will see that it is "parked"

Which is fancy-pants internet talk for:

"Mrs. Spit owns this website, but she only got it yesterday, for Christmas, and she hasn't at all set it up yet."

But, ahh. I am a website owner.

Happy Geek-mas.

(Why yes, if you have information about web hosting that you would like to share, I'd love to hear from you!)

The Wreath

Perhaps I should tell you that I was young, very young. Barely 23? At any rate, I was young and image mattered a great deal, far too much. The very notion that we had so little money for Christmas, and that there would not be days of celebration was not at all in keeping with what I wanted, wished or imagined. A limit of $30 each was not how I imagined our first Christmas together.

Christmas Eve came, and we decided to open our presents. I cannot recall what I bought for Mr. Spit, but he gave me this parcel, wrapped with care, and he was so happy. Love was shinning out of his eyes, he was pleased.

All good stories have a bit of drama. This one too.

It seems to me, that marital gift buying is 2 parts knowing your partner, 2 parts having a wish list, and 1.75 parts sheer dumb luck. We have found that you even the score with the wish list.

And while I'm confessing, I should tell you that Mr. Spit found my love of Christmas bewildering. Christmas is an entire season for me, with boxes of decorations, and 2 trees. A wreath for every door. Every surface that will stand still has garland. Ornaments from my childhood.

For the record, Christmas at Mr. Spit's meant going out to the garage, hauling the tree in, pulling off the sheet that covered it, standing it up, fluffing up the homemade popcorn chains, and shoving the presents under it. On Boxing Day, you covered the tree back up, and took it back out to the garage. Not what you might call a big deal.

We had, you might say, slightly different expectations and slightly divergent experiences on this whole Christmas thing. Which came crashing together that night.

My gift was before the wish list.

I opened my present. It was, well, I took a picture for you.


Yeah. Not what I was expecting either. I guess my face showed it. That look of love and excitement on his face? Oh yeah, it was gone.

And we could all argue, what woman wouldn't be overcome with a crocheted wreath? With crocheted roses! And hangy bits of ribbon!

It probably didn't help when my mum came asked who on earth gave us that ugly wreath. The tacky, tasteless wreath I hung over my couch! Mr. Spit came entered the living room in time to hear me commenting that it was the worst gift I'd ever received.

We had words over the wreath: hard words, mad words, difficult words, sad words, and finally, understanding words.

It turns out, Mr. Spit bought the wreath because he knew how much I loved Christmas. He wanted to give me a decoration, because he knew I liked decorating. A wreath didn't seem to be such a stretch for a woman who already had 5. He bought the gift with me in mind, and he bought it with love, negotiating a lower price from the lady who made it. He didn't buy the first thing he saw, he looked and he thought. He bought it with love and care and delight, thinking he was going to make his brand-new bride so happy.

My mum and I were sitting on the couch the other night, chatting after dinner. She looked at the wreath, hung in it's traditional place behind the Christmas tree, and she smiled and said "It's still ugly."

"Oh, I don't know", I replied. "Almost 10 years later it kind of grows on you."

Wishing you a very Happy Christmas.

Words of My Mother

My mother always taught me to be polite and not make waves. She also taught me to never, ever be rude or crass. These 2 things are warring in my head. I'm fuming. I tried to ignore it, but frankly, I'm mad as hell. I'm not willing to stay silent. Someone needs to speak up.

Someone should be celebrating her second daughter's birthday, and instead she's remembering that her daughter couldn't stay. And another blogger posted, wonderfully about this. Which is a good and kind thing, to remember together.

When your best friend's husband leaves her and the kids for his 19 year old secretary, you don't rave about the lingerie your husband bought you for your birthday.

When your SIL's mother has died, you don't phone on the anniversary of her death and talk about your mother.

And when someone's child has died, you don't comment that you'll kiss your own kids because you are so sad. That's rude. More than rude, it's actually mean. Cruel. Thoughtless.

It's all of those things because you are making the situation about you, and not about the hurting person. It's mean because you are being selfish. It's inappropriate to respond to someone's grief with your joy.

There are appropriate words for this situation. Two of them.

I'm sorry.

You could go a step further. You could add 4 more words.

I'm thinking of you.
And if you can't figure out how to be nice, how to be polite, how not to make a bad situation about you, shut the hell up.
I mean it, muzzle it.

Book Me

Ahem. . .

This has post has been kicking around, for, well awhile. But, I was doing some Christmas baking, and my mum came for coffee, and now it's late and my teeth really hurt and I don't have a post for today. So, consider this a burst of summer memories, in a wintry moment, would you?

*******************
Slate has Obama's summer reading list up. Now, it seems to me, but asking to see someone's reading list, especially a summer one, is like asking: boxers or briefs.

It's a fundamentally personal question that gets given all sorts of meanings that aren't necessarily true, and more than that, no one is going to answer really honestly anyway.

You may have noticed that I'm a book person. Not just a reader, but a book lover. A reader reads, a book lover enjoys everything about books. A book lover goes to books first. A book lover buys books for the sake of having them.

I'm not sure that it matters, but I haven't watched television in at least 6 months. (I think the last show was a Discovery production about King Tut. Egyptology is a secret love of mine). The last television series I watched was the West Wing, which went off the air in 2006 (Oh, how I miss thee Toby).

And about the only thing that might tell you, knowing that I don't watch TV and I read obsessively, is that much like anything else, there are some books I will cop to reading, and there are some that I won't. You can go and look at any book lovers list. They will effectively have 2 piles. The living room pile (Wayson Choy's Not Yet, Julie and Julia, A Prairie Mennonite Woman's history, The Book of Negro's and a re-read of Mansfield Park).

Ahh, by my bed. Yes, well. If you really want to know what a book lover reads, check out beside their bed. Next to the loo. In their home study. Those books are in helter skelter piles. Some books stay in the pile for a long time. You can see what books I've been trying to read for a year (Late Nights on Air, by Elizabeth Hayes) and more. I've been buying book series. Much the same way that people buy television series, but possibly more pulpy. There you'll find Elizabeth Peter's - both her Amelia Peabody and her Vicky Bliss books. You'll find the Aunt Dimity books, and an Ian Rankin Novel. I've got The Girl who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson (and I'm not sure what the heck happened here - I sat up until 1:30 am reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo).

And so I feel for your President. I'd die if my list got publicized. I really would.

Sometimes a book is just a book.

Solstice

I have never celebrated the Solstice in any sort of formal way. I am a Christian, and that means that my meaning for this time of year is different, and the solstice, while forming the impetus for choosing this time of year to celebrate, is very much subsumed in Christmas.

The first year, the year we buried Gabe, I was content to do so in the dark. Last year, I lived in the middle, and this year, I chose to live for tomorrow, and not yesterday.

Part of that living has meaning in finding the parts of life, the parts of the world that we interact with, that balance, precariously. It has meaning in finding the parts on the edge, the parts where the margins are thin. It is almost possible that pragmatic me is becoming more mystical. (But only almost).

I understand that there are parts of the world where the lines between heaven and earth, death and resurrection, birth and sacrifice are thinner. Yesterday was one of those days.

I had hoped to be more cheerful yesterday, to have, using my new word, more equanimity. I didn't do as well as I had hoped, but on a day that for me at least, marks an end to the year, I am content to leave that in the past.

I am content to focus on time with friends, and egg nog latte and an engaging discussion about a book. I'm content to focus on shopping for Christmas dinner, eating dinner with Mr. Spit, and the joy of curling up under a flannel duvet cover, after a hot bath with bubbles.

I am content to recognize the very purpose of margins, of edges. They divide. This from that, past from present, and yes, bitter from sweet.

To gently whisper, alleluia.

Acknowledge We Pray

Gabriel's funeral was 2 years ago today. It is hard to believe that I have come this far, that this much time has passed, that he has been gone for so very long. I remember this day not with sorrow, but rather joy at the promise of the resurrection. I remember tears that last for a moment, and eternity forever. If I struggle with anything, it was a death so close to a birth. It is hard to reconcile the death of your child at a time in the year that we celebrate the birth of the Messiah. It is hard to bury your son on the shortest day of the year, it is strange to recognize that this is the turning point in the year. Darkness before, and light again.

I went to the U of A Chaplain's Festival of Lessons and Carols, which was, as always, spectacular. I have heard the text many times: the prayers and the lessons don't change from year to year. This year, for the first time, I heard, really heard, part of the bidding prayer.

The church, or rather the people who make her, are so often unkind to the grieving, especially those grieving children. We are the forgotten, the left behind, and in a church desperate to increase membership through birth rate, we are the unwelcome and the unworthy. We don't fit in, and so often churches aren't a place of care and concern for us.

There was such comfort, to find in the words of the liturgy, space enough for me.
: :
Lastly let us remember before God all those who rejoice with
us, but upon another shore and in a greater light, that multitude
which no man can number, whose hope was in the
Word made flesh, and with whom, in this Lord Jesus, we for
evermore are one.

Bidding Prayer, Festival of 9 Lessons and Carols.

The Winnah. . .

Ladies and Gentlemen:

By an almost country mile, the winner is:

Gidget!

Saturday Quotes

Contrary to popular notion, truck drivers know nothing about good restaurants. If you want a reliable tip, drive into a town, go to the nearest appliance store and seek out the dishwasher repair man. He spends a lot of time in restaurant kitchens and usually has strong opinions about them.

Bryan Miller

Running

I haven't talked about why I started to run again, not really. I jokingly (and on nights like tonight, not so jokingly) say that my goal for running is not to die.

No, I'm not trying to live longer, I'm trying to not die while running. So far, I have succeeded. But, really, every time is a new adventure. I'm, dare I say it, getting a bit into this. Oh, I don't like it much, and the first 2 intervals are very, very close to hell, but, slowly, I'm getting there. I only sort of hate it.

Every time I finish a run, I post that I didn't die on Facebook. Several friends, including blogger friends, tell me that they are proud of me, and believe you me, I'm thankful. I'm still very slow, very out of shape, and desperately worried I will be the last person to finish the 5K race in March.

But the dying thing.

I quit smoking, for good, 3 weeks after Anna died - that was June 1. I took up running 6 months after - the start of November. I won't lie. I sat in my back yard, a week or so after her death, and I realized:

Anna was 36. Just 36. I am 31. We were not so far apart in age. We shared a medical condition, and we were both obese. I sat in my back yard, and with my breath catching in my throat, I realized that we are very alike.

I quit smoking. I tell people a shortened version of the truth - I tell them that I realized that I was then 30, and if I didn't quit then, I would smoke for the rest of my life, and I didn't want to do that. Mostly, I quit smoking because Anna died.

I started running at the start of November, because I need to lose weight. I need weight bearing exercise that increases my heart rate. I can't pretend, I can ignore, I can't deny. I need to be more healthy.

Part of running the St. Patrick's day race is to give myself a goal. I'm a goal kind of person. I like goals, knowing where I want to end up. I suspect I'll run more in the summer.

But also, as I have been thinking for the last few weeks, Anna's baby was due in 15 days. Anna's baby that she tried to conceive for 3 years. I think for most people, Anna's death overshadowed the death of her child. I understand. But I didn't get to go to a birth, I went to a funeral instead.

So, I am running for me, because I'm older, because I need to make some changes. But March?

March is for my friend, and her child. March is for those who finished their race, before I ever began.

Name Game

Warning. . .

There's a Poll.

Could you click to open the post, so that you can participate in the poll?

Yes, that means you. Even if you just lurk.

The iPhone needs a name.

The name options (in the poll on the side) are:

Gidget
Steve
Estelle
Digit512
Bingley-Beep

Have I mentioned that you really should vote in the poll on your left?

Thanks.

Join the Revolution

I had the start of a long, rambly post about isolation.

Except, umm, I kept picking up my new iPhone, to marvel at it.

I think this is love.

If you'll excuse me, I'll be back tomorrow.

I have to go find more apps.

Surely, there must be some good blogging ones.

(yes, I am completely pathetic. I can live with that.)

Nothing to See Here


These aren't the droids you're looking for. . . .

Homeward Bound

I am sitting with my computer in my lap, typing away in the departures lounge, staring at slot machines. I have told Mr. Spit to go and take the last of our American money and see what he can win us back (I'm not going to participate, and Mr. T, you are buying coffee on Wednesday, I gambled away my coffee money!). I'm going to ramble on a bit about the trip

I managed to get through security without losing my passport, and I bought chocolate, and we had dinner at Chili's. Which raises an interesting point.

The steak fajitas at Chili's in the airport are $12.99. At home, we go to Chili's fairly often, and there, well there, my steak fajitas are $21.99. Does anyone else smell Mrs. Spit getting ripped off?

But, rambling about Vegas.

We had a good time. Especially when the Kelly's arrived, and we ate the most incredible dinner ever. We were at the top of THE Hotel and the view was absolutely incredible.

The fountains of Bellagio were absolutely incredible, and so was the food. Vegas is a food town. The housekeeping and amenities at TI were ok, not great, but the company was good.

Mystere was amazing, and I'm sure Mr. Spit will want to tell you all about the little dam we met. (Best dam tour ever!)

Anyway, our plane has arrived, so it's time to shut down the computer and get on with going home.

All Grown Up Now

Ahem.

I have decided.

I am not going to be a jelly bean saleswoman (selling only the black ones, because any other kinds are revolting)

I am not going to design firework shows. (Although, this was the most tempting career I could think of for a long time.)

I will not become a blast engineer. (Hello, the fact I didn't know you could divide by zero was always going to be a limiting factor)

I am not going to marry for money (Hate to say it, but it didn't work last time anyway)

No.

None of those.

Not at all, at all.

I have a plan.

I.

I am going

I am going to
(run away

and)

join the circus.

Maybe

Maybe I'm cheap, maybe I'm missing the fun gene, maybe I got dropped on the head as a baby (actually, I'm pretty sure that happened)

I decided to try my hand at the slots today. I showed up with my 24 dollars (and remind me to pay Martha back her $2 tomorrow, would you?). And I put $2 in the machine.

I don't "get" this whole gambling thing.

It went something like this. . .

Mrs. S: How do I use this thing, what do I hit?

Martha the Fabulous: Hit the button that says 75 credits.

Mrs. S hits the button. She loses 75 cents. Hits the button again, loses another $75 cents.

Mrs. S: Why won't it let me bet?

M the Fab: You've run out of money. Here's $2.

I put more money in. I lose that. Mr. S shows up with a $20. I put the $20 in. Surely having lost $4, my luck must be about to change.

I press the 250 Credits button (going all in!).

I lose $2.50.

And another $2.50

And another.

And more after that. I start betting 75 cents again. I lose that.

Finally, I am down to 1.33. I win big. Really big.

Which means that when I cashed out of the machine, I had only LOST $6. Yep. . .

I lost $6 in 5 minutes. Playing the Star Wars slot machines.

I took my left over $16, handed part of it over to Mr. Spit, and went shoe shopping with Martha.

Much better that.

But, seriously, how is losing about a dollar a minute fun? I could have walked around the casino, dropping dollar bills, and that would at least have been fun for the person who found them. . .

Recessionary Tactics

I knew that the economy was still bad in the states. Really bad in some places.

But I had no idea how bad it was in Vegas. None. I'm so sorry, if only I had known.

These poor, poor young women. And the cocktail waitresses.

They aren't being paid enough.

There is Dior, Gucci, Armani, Fendi, Prada, D and G, BCBG, Zara, Kenneth Cole, Kate Spade, all of these stores, it must be so painful to walk by.

To walk by, and to not be able to afford . . .

An entire skirt, or an entire shirt, and not just half a shirt or 1/3 of the skirt.

I just didn't know that the recession would be so significant that women couldn't afford to completely clothe themselves.

Perhaps your fine President could put together a stimulus package so that these poor women could cover themselves and stop the other kind of stimulus?

Games

My father always told me that everyone had a game, and that you shouldn't play another man's game until you knew his rules.

Which is, on the whole of it, not bad advice for a woman in Vegas. I have been surprised how much game playing their really is. Oh, there's the Casino, where you expect the games. There's the men (and women!) handing out cards for prostitutes, there's the rodeo ticket sellers, there's the guy's with the the VIP passes for night clubs, the hucksters trying to sell stuff by giving it away for free. (Nothing's free, especially not in Vegas) Everywhere, bombarding me, there's advertising.

And I'm trying to make sense of it all. There's gondoliers on rides through indoor canals, with second rate opera, and a first rate ticket price (64 dollars for a 2 person gondola ride? Your kidding, right?). There's the 15 dollar room service coffee, the $50 of "free" slot machine money. Everyone has a game going on.

Our bit of the game today was to remember and forget. To remember Gabriel, and how much we love and miss him, and to forget that I have been pregnant 4 times and still have nothing to show for it. To forget the gut wrenching and back breaking pain of still not having a child to call our own, in a bed, in the nursery. To forget that we expected another child by the first anniversary, and we were sure of another child by the second. To forget.

Bill Engvald's game was to make us laugh, and we did. On a day like today, you can do worse than listen to a man who loves his wife and kids, loves his life, and is so darn funny. And for those who have seen his show, the other part of his game. PMP, HYS.

We went into the restaurant (ok, this is a Vegas resort, one of the restaurants) and we ordered a meal, and then we asked for a slice of cake and a candle. This is a problem, because obviously what we really don't want is 15 waiters coming out of the kitchen, standing in front of us, singing happy birthday, while we cry. It's going to be anything but game-like to explain - Surprise! You just sang happy birthday to a dead baby.

We asked, well Mr. Spit asked, while I looked mutely, the waiter, trying to explain that we sing our son happy birthday every year, but he's not here, because umm, he died, and it's a long story, and could we have the cake and a candle. We'll take it from there, these are our rules.

I have learned a lot about a bunch of different games. Some I know the rules too, and I'm willing to play, and some I've learned to just stay away from. But anyway, from my father to you, some advice.

Everyone has a game. Don't play until you know the rules.

*****
And a million thank you's for your kind words, comments and thoughts yesterday. We appreciated them.

Gabriel

Gabriel



Life and death are born together
One brother sucking the other's thumb
Neither brother able to relinquish his embrace
For all of this has happened too early, too soon






And you, who have looked at the sky all your life,
Have never understood how distant are the stars
Nor how brilliant their light






And you, who have stood so long upon this cinder,
The earth, have never known how sweet and lush
Her new growth, how deep and fractured her chasms
How delicate the hair upon your beloved's neck





And you, whose body has outlived its finest hope
Did not know how such a tiny child's soul
Could encompass them all
Have never before felt how something so broken
Could be made whole again.
© Joanne Osborne-Paulson

December 29, 2007





******

Dear friends and loved ones,
With great joy and heartbreak, we wish to announce: at 10:26 PM on December 10, 2007, Gabriel Anton was born into the hands of Cathy, his midwife, sang to in the arms of his mother, rocked in the arms of his father, bathed in the arms of his grandmother, and baptized in the arms of Regula, his Parish Priest.

At just after 11 PM, he was carried to Heaven in the arms of the Angels, where we will meet him again one day. At 520 grams (1 pound 2.4 ounces), and 33 cm (13 inches) he was wee, with 10 fingers and toes, and a full head of hair. He was a perfect, but very tiny baby.

Hoovering

So, the Mister and I are on our way Vegas today. . .

One of the things we are going to do is go to the Hoover Dam with Martha and her family. (Tickets are bought. Also, you may have heard, they are building a bridge there. Mr. Spit is vibrating, he's so happy).

Anyway, you know me (well, you don't, not in the real world, but let's move on, shall we?) I like to research stuff. So, I go on to the Hoover Dam Tour website, and I look around, then I click on the link marked "plants". Ok, so they have cactus at the Hoover Dam. Only cactus. That's ok, its the desert, and really cactus can be quite lovely. Also, as a species, they are spectacularly easy to identify. Sooo, cactus.

Then I click on the wildlife. I like to know what I should be expecting to see. Coyotes are the first on the list. Meh, we have those around here. They aren't that exciting, and frankly, ours look pretty flea bitten (actually, it's mange, but never mind). Unless they are stealing chickens from your chicken coop and you have to race after them with a pitch fork (True Story! I can't make this stuff up!), they aren't a big deal. Then we have squirrels. These are antelope squirrels, but I have to tell you, they look pretty squirrelish to me.

The next item is rattle snakes. Oh. Charming. Let's keep looking, shall we? Gila monsters. Well, there's some cool factor there, but ewww. About the grossest thing I've seen in a long time. Next?

Ring tailed cats, now those are cute. Cute, snugly adorable. We'll ignore the bit about the cloud of noxious fumes when startled. I've known some people who can do that, and let's face it, nature is red of tooth and sharp of claw, and it's hard to get by when you are cute.

Then we have, oh crumb. Is that what I think it is? That's what I think it is. Just breathe Mrs. Spit. It's December. All the little scorpions will be in their wee ickly hidey holes, dreaming of sugar plums and santa claws. *Shudder*.

And last. Oh, last. Yes. I'm grimacing. I'm gagging. There are tarantula's? Oh. I do not think I am ok with that. I do not think I am at all ok with that. Not even a little bit. Spider. Ugh. Furry Spider? Ewwwww. I'm waving my hands in front of my face, making *that* sound.

So, we are off to the Hoover Dam. Where we will not be taking ANY nature walks. Just saying.

Cross Polination

It’s true what some people say, that when you lay your eyes on your child for the first time you love them with your entire being. The first glimpse of my son was in the form of double pink lines on a home pregnancy test. Later I heard his amazing heartbeat and viewed his cute, little fetal self via ultrasound. When I held him for the first time a huge wave of calm and wonderment encompassed me; my heart burst open with warmth and pure love for him.

That was the first time I truly felt love. Relationships with parents, spouses, and friends can become so complicated; that short time resting in the hospital bed was an oasis of peace and love existing in a complicated story. During the next several hours he was held, named, and blessed.

After your baby’s body has been taken away to chill in the morgue those feelings of love get rather hard to reproduce, at least in my experience.

…..

I am an expert on anger.

I am an expert on jealousy.

I am an expert on sleepless nights where the dead baby keeps me up.

I’m an expert on despising love because its absence leads to so many ugly emotions.

I know all about gender differences in grieving styles and how a dead baby can strain a marriage. Subsequently, I am an expert on dining alone, maintaining a house alone, and longing for the family that is no longer possible. Soon I will have first hand experience of divorce.

I now know more about the numerous ways that a embryo, fetus, or infant can die than I know about what items parents need to carry in baby bags.

I’m an expert on being stricken speechless in response to thoughtless remarks.

“You’re young, you can have another.”

“That baby just wasn’t meant to be.”

“You named it???!!!”

“I thought you would be over it by now.”

“If my child died I would die as well.”

“Was there really nothing medically that could be done to make him live?”

…..

No one wants to become so familiar those feelings. Since he died two years ago I have been drowning in currents of loss. Having spent two years mastering negative emotions, what next?

…..

I want to be an expert on love. Friend-love… parent-love… stranger-love… ex-spouse love… new lover love… kitty and puppy love… self-love.

I want to someday feel the all-consuming, uncomplicated love I felt while holding my son again. I will learn to miss my son, rage against the randomness of birth defects, sneer when mentioning the ex, tense up around pregnant women, WHILE loving.

Beginning today, everyday I will practice love.

…..

What are you an expert of?

What would you like to be an expert of?

AnnaMarie blogs at A Garden for Butterflies, where she muses beautifully about grief, loss and life after the death of your child.

And a Sword Will Pierce Your Own Soul

When you actually read the text, you carry along, 35 verses into the second chapter of Luke, and you've gotten through the "no room at the Inn" and you're past the Shepherds' arrival, and you get to the presentation at the Temple 8 days after the birth of Christ, and you get to the "Glory to God" that we still say every Sunday morning, in one version or another, and then, well, then time slows and stops.

Simeon, we discover, has been waiting for this child. He is told to come to the temple that day, it being promised to him that he would see the Messiah before he died. Every morning, waking up and wondering. Today, tomorrow, yesterday, running into one long litany of questions and attempts to hold faith.

I understand about waiting your whole life for one thing - a single, glorious moment that defines you. Not for nothing, I will mention we waited for 6 years for Gabriel. And then, when I became pregnant, we waited for 3 months, waiting to see if the pregnancy would stick. Waiting, watching. We waited for 6 days between diagnosis, and this terrible anniversary today.

After Simeon - when his part in the story starts, time stops, at least if you are a dead baby mum.
"Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother . . . And a sword will pierce your own soul too."

Takes your breath away, doesn't it? You hand over your baby to do the right and acceptable thing, to do the thing that is always done at 8 days, you pay your bits and bobs, and you expect a generic bit of praise, a banal bit of blessing, and you get the promise of pain and blood and anguish.

On this day, 2 years ago, an impossibly nice doctor told us that this was the end. She was kind and merciful, but so very final. We made phone calls and plans, and we waited. We made what tiny, piteous choices were available to us. And we waited.

People frequently ask me if the 10 of December, 2007 was the worst day of my life. What if I told you that was my moment of becoming? What if I told you it was my clarion time?

An instant, an entire universe. You can twist and spin all of space: constellations, galaxies, quasars, pulsars and twinkling starlight into the area of your open palm and hold it there. Everything since the dawn of time, can play out in the space between your eyes, in the time it takes to blink. All you would ever need to do and say. It takes no time to affirm all that has virtue and meaning. The shout of Gloria can end before it ever begins.

It is simple to accomplish these feats, far simpler than my once young mind would have expected. It does not take much to focus everything. For everything to stay focused a particular way, for the rest of your life.

A sword. . . piercing your own soul.

Stuart

I went to the Vinyl Cafe Christmas Concert last night. I went, enjoyed myself annnnnnnd. . . . that's not where this story starts.

A few weeks ago I wrote Stuart McLean an email. Well, I went to his website and I filled out a comment email. Which is a strange sort of thing for me, I'm not so much about the fan thing. I have all his books, and several CD's, including the Christmas one, Dave and I cook the turkey together every year, if you know what I mean. But, I'm not so much given to writing to celebrities.

And what did I have to say? 2 years ago, Mr. Spit and I had tickets to the 2007 Concert. And while the concert was going on, we were in a hospital across the river, having Gabe. In the way of those sorts of situations, we found someone to give the tickets too. They went. And enjoyed it.

And so, back to a few weeks ago, as part of actually celebrating this year, I kept wanting to write to Stuart. Perhaps it's just marking time. Perhaps there is an element of victory in it. Where I was 2 years ago, where I was even last year, I am not there now. Grief has not beaten me. I don't know, and in the end that's what I told him. I wrote and told him that I felt a tiny bit compelled to write to him, and I didn't know why, but I had missed his concert 2 years ago, and I would be there last night.

He wrote me back a lovely letter, and he, in his own way understood too. He understood that life stops for a while, and then it picks back up again, and then, eventually, long slow days later, you join in.

I have been thinking about the future of this blog. Not, to close it, not to stop writing, but I have been thinking about who I am, as the Mrs. Spit you know. Because Mrs. Spit is actually a real person, not just Mrs. Spit on the internet, and 2 years later, she has changed. Change is, I have realized at my ripe old age, as often a good thing as it is a bad one.

I have been thinking about how we define ourselves, about what makes us, us. And I have been trying to talk about Gabe a little bit less. For a long time, I needed him to stay with me. And the way I could do this was to talk about the time we had together, when I was pregnant. And I am sure that my stories were odd and awkward and perhaps boring. I pray that I didn't repeat the same things over and over, and I am sure that I did. I suspect that people often forget that dead baby mum's don't have the story of the cute thing our child did last night, so we tell more painful stories: trying to accomplish the same thing, to have our child live in our moments.

So, I have been thinking about who I am, 2 years later. And I have been trying to talk about Gabe less often. I have been trying to be more of Mrs. Spit, and less of Mrs. Spit, Gabe's mother. Gabriel Anton will always be my son. He will never, in any way that matters, leave me. I let him go in a big way 2 years ago, and this is just another moment of change, neither the start or the end.

Almost 2 years later, I can let him go, just a little bit more. I will blog about him a fair bit in the next few days, his anniversary coming, and I will talk about him from time to time, but along with choosing to celebrate Christmas this year, I am choosing to allow him to go, just a bit further from me, and a bit further into the care of God.

I am not a grieving mother: as good as new, I am new. Which seems a good thing to be when you are celebrating a birth.

Because I am a Woman

"That I am a woman. I cannot ignore that fact. I realize that I am fragile. I always thought that I was tough. After, I realized that I was very fragile, emotionally, physically, even psychologically."

Nathalie Provost, Survivor of the Montreal Massacre, December 6, 1989.

I am fortunate: There are many men in my life that like women. My husband, several of my friends. I do not know many men who hate women. I do not live with one, I am not friends with any. I am fortunate, not everyone is.

20 years ago today, Marc Lepine walked into a university, with the express goal of killing women and killing himself. He did both.

Until women aren't fragile anymore, I will remember.

Saturday Quotes

Cat Haiku

In deep sleep hear sound
Cat vomit hairball somewhere.
Will find in morning.
(With your foot. You will find it in the dark, with your foot)

You're always typing
Well, let's see you ignore me
Sitting on your hands.
(as I feed my hands around Coda's body, to reach my mouse)

We're almost equals
I purr to show I love you
Want to smell my butt?
(trying to duck out of the way. . .)

I have to stop now, and pick up the cat and pet him, because he keeps walking on the keyboard.

Excuse me.

Grateful

I've been thinking back to this time last year, more than this time 2 years ago. I was, consumed, last year, with remembering the year before. In that terrible year between Gabe's birth and the first anniversary of his death, I spent a lot of time thinking about what I had done at that time, the year before.Remembering, framing and re framing memories. Trying to come to terms with what happened. I felt like I was being forced to watch a car crash, over and over. I knew how it would end, but I was powerless, all I could do was stand and watch.

Such is the virtue of time, it dims our memory. Things that seemed so unbearably painful last year, are a dull, unresolvable ache this year. Yes Mrs. Spit, there is life after the death of your child. Eventually, you move into something a lot like living your life again.

Christmas, the act of keeping it, has been different this year. Last year I forced myself to "do" Christmas. I forced myself to decorate, to cook Christmas dinner, to buy gifts, put up a tree, sing carols. It was a constant grind. Every moment of it was sandpaper on my skin. I only did it because I figured I had to. I figured that the Christmas right after Gabe's death was the "first" Christmas, and I should be all better. I was only starting to learn the need to advocate for yourself, your sanity, when you are grieving. Last year I was not sure I would ever want Christmas again. I was terrified that my once favourite holiday was gone to me forever, would always be overshadowed by sadness.

It is better this year. We have, paradoxically, stayed away from our church (but, that's the subject of another entry) and we have been kinder to ourselves. Perhaps it is merely that the pressure is off. I don't feel like we are being so closely watched: watched by those around us, but not given much in the way of understanding.

Christmas is different though. I have a better sense of what matters. I watch mindless consumerism, and I think about that verse in Matthew, about who receives what we prepare for ourselves after we die (the original injunction that you can't take it with you.) I find myself more in love with the Christ Child, and more in love with the promise of his Resurrection, that guarantees me mine, and less inclined to buy more crap.

But, at least this year, I am excited about Christmas, I am excited about who is coming for dinner, I'm excited about plans for a Christmas concert, I've already been to a Festival of Lessons and Carols. I'm excited about the tree, I'm excited about the house being decorated. I'm even excited about baking.

I am, grateful. Grateful that Christmas is restored to me, grateful that I understand it differently. Grateful that I remain, and there is still room in my heart to share.

"I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it
all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the
Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I
will not shut out the lessons that they teach. Oh, tell me I
may sponge away the writing on this stone!"
Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Christmas Nibbles

Alright, I'm planning my Christmas baking, and more or less, I realized that all the baking I do is "Canadian".

Butter tarts, Nanaimo Bars, and possibly shortbread (which is Scottish, but whatever).

Which makes me wonder.

Umm, what do you do for Christmas baking, in your part of the world?

C'mon, fess up, are you a fruit cake fanatic?

Remember

I heard the word pre-eclampsia for the first time on this day, 2 years ago. I didn't understand why there was so much activity, I didn't understand why everyone was so concerned, I didn't understand the tests, the ultrasounds, the concern. I didn't know what a perinatologist did, or why they were involved. I didn't understand why that nurse kept saying "in case you need to not be pregnant any more".

  • Pre-eclampsia and associated hypertensive disorders affect between 7-10% of all pregnancies.
  • No one knows what causes pre-eclampsia.
  • If you developed pre-eclampsia in your first pregnancy, you have a 46% chance of developing it in subsequent pregnancy.
  • If you did not have pre-eclampsia in your first pregnancy, you have a 7.6% chance of developing it in any subsequent pregnancies.
  • Pre-eclampsia is a leading cause of prematurity in the US and the UK, about 15% of all births.
  • The only cure for pre-eclampsia is delivery, and many women actually get sicker after the baby is born.
  • The average time from diagnosis to delivery is 2 weeks.
  • Pre-eclampsia affects 4.4% of births all through the world - roughly 4 million a year (that's almost 11,000 women who will be diagnosed today.)
  • Left untreated, pre-eclampsia leads to eclampsia (seizures), kidney failure, stroke, heart and lung failure, aneurysm, and may lead to HELLP.
  • Magnesium Sulfate has limited the deaths as a result of pre-eclampsia through most of Europe and North America. It's not on the list of required drugs in almost all of Africa, South Asia or South America.
  • In the time it took you to read this, a mother or her baby died from pre-eclampsia or eclampsia.

Watching

I have a coworker who is pregnant. Which is not all that remarkable. We have had 5 pregnancies in 18 months, including 2 sets of twins. (And about all that means is that we may be quite clear, pregnancy is not catching, even when you are trying.)

This particular co-worker, with this particular pregnancy has been an interesting experience. Her due date is the same as mine. Until last week, I really didn't think much about this. But, as I approach 2 years, as I look at her swelling stomach, and I am caught in this weird sensation. In 9 days I will remember Gabriel's birth and death, and she will still be pregnant. I will mourn and grieve, remembering fear and pain and sorrow, knowing what it is to be caught up in statistical unlikelihood. I will mark what happens when tragedy overtakes your life, and she will feel her child move. And it does not seem as if the two of us should be able to so easily co-exist in this world, it does not seem as if I should be the person to ask about pregnancy, about child birth, about questions and concerns. It does not seem that I should be the fount of information.

I am not jealous, not angry, just. . . wistful. Mindful. Careful. Aware. I don't need sympathy, but I wonder, am I the only one?

She's coming for Christmas dinner, and I'm ok with that. This year is different.

I don't remember the Christmas 15 days after Gabe died. I don't remember the day, I couldn't tell you what we ate, I don't remember the gifts, I don't remember who was there, what we talked about. I do not remember those days at all. I don't think most memories could penetrate the fog of grief, and what memories could have vanished in the intervening two years, leaving me shrugging my shoulders. I have lost 3 months of my life. Honestly, who would want to remember?

And so, as much out of curiosity as concern, I watch her. From the corner of my eye, I scan the skies for lightening, watching for bolts of blue, holding up my hands, watching the stars. Counting, figuring. I count milestones with her, note when she talks about the baby moving.

I am careful in this watching, careful that she won't know it's happening, careful that my half-held breath in my throat won't show, careful that she doesn't see that I am always watching around corners, looking down the road, watching, hoping, waiting. Careful that she is not aware how anxious I am for her, how aware that the slightest thing could be going wrong in the secret, hidden ways women's bodies grow babies.

But, always waiting. Careful.

Room With a View







Opa!

"Have you ever been to a Greek wedding?" he asked.

And suddenly I was not in a crowded restaurant, on the eve of December, struggling to find my Christmas Spirit.

I was in Wyoming, a family wedding. We were dancing in lines, kicking out our legs, throwing up our hands. Opa!

Standing in circles, and passing opened bottles of ouzo, drinking in swallows, puffing on cigars and cigarettes. Bright and noisy tents, with the music of our teenage years echoing in our ears and pulsing in our bodies, sharing drags of cigarettes and swigging beer from bottles. The cry rose up, we joined in, hoisting our bottles, waving our cigarettes, Opa!

Laughing, shouting, hooting and hollering with delight, our hearts full of joy and the luxury of satisfaction. The gate to Yellowstone, the feet of nature, stars all around, stars above, in our eyes and minds, out of us, unbidden, Opa!

Two families, two clans, coming together and each proud to have the other. We were young and smart and joyful, we all felt cool and we all fitted in and we shouted Opa!

It is years ago, I say, looking back from my early thirties to my later twenties. It is years, decades, eons really. I am not that woman, we are not those people. Carrie, radiant in short hair, grown in from chemo, brilliant as the mother of the bride, is gone and in the ground these last 3 years.

The summer is over, the stars are dim, and I have not tasted ouzo since.

But, yes. I have been to a Greek wedding.

Saturday Quotes

When you are asked if you can do a job, tell 'em, 'Certainly I can!' Then get busy and find out how to do it.
Theodore Roosevelt


Many thanks for your kind words, they have been much appreciated.


Mrs. Spit, Business Analyst. ;-)

A Cup Of Comfort

Yesterday did not start auspiciously. Unless auspicious means that it began with the jangling crash of heck(1) and went down hill from there.

It began in fact, by waking up 35 minutes before my alarm was due to go off, needing to visit the loo. I don't know about you, but at this point, an internal war begins. One side insists that I should simply get up, have a nice shower, drink a leisurely cup off coffee, and start my day off as a civilized person. The other side is equally sensible, but slightly more manipulative, insisting that it is cold in the house, and my flannel duvet cover is warm, and really, I am very tired.

Back to bed always wins, I find myself crawling back into warmth, dislodging cats who have taken over, and trying to fit my legs into the impossibly small space left me. I look at the time on my alarm clock and it is already too late, and I will myself back to sleep. When my alarm goes off, too soon! I insist that I am tired still, and I hit snooze more than I should.

When I finally dragged myself out of bed, Mr. Spit greeted me (back in the loo) with an empty coffee bean jar in his hands. There were, oh, as many as 30 coffee beans in the bottom of the jar, and that was not going to do it. I began my drive into work, satiated by a cup of mostly decaf coffee, with egg nog, the cream having met a similar destiny to the coffee beans.

The drive was chaotic and traffic-filled, and the news on the radio was all bad news, and I arrived to my office 10 minutes late, having been waylaid by construction, and a stalled, abandoned car in the middle of the busiest downtown street.

I was required to navigate the vicissitudes of office politics, with a focus on naming and blaming, and a minor in ridiculous and unreasonable expectations, all before 9:15 am, and with no coffee. Before 9:30 a colleague was earnestly requesting that I silently assassinate another department at my company, indeed a skill I have not been keeping hidden in my back pocket.

It was 9:45, and I was quite ready to consign this day to the rubbish heap, pleading with Phil, the denzien of heck, and also the prince of insufficient light, to make this day end.

But, a miracle did occur.

At 10:35 or so this morning, I was offered a new job. Well, a new title, reporting into a new division, with new responsibilities, for a one year secondment. No extra money, but henceforth, you may refer to me as Mrs. Spit, Business Analyst. (I'm actually quite firm on this, and have been making Mr. Spit call me this all night.)

Finally, I came home today, to a package (and if I have loved anything about blogging, it is the sending and receiving of packages). This one was full of love from Jen and Jamie. Filled with hot chocolate and gourmet marshmallows (who knew there was such a thing) and bubble bath. The spaces filled with love and care and concern, kindness and mercy and grace.

Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better take things as they come along with patience and equanimity.
Carl Jung

(still working on that equanimity thing)
********
(1) I actually do believe in hell. I didn't start my morning there. Not even close.

Still Not Dead

People run because they like the runner's high.

Runners high? It's caused by hyperventilation.

You know what happens when you hyperventilate?

Your brain cells die.

Runners high is caused by brain death.

You must be brain dead to like running.

I must be brain dead to find this a bit fulfilling.

Where You Live

Mr. T is looking for a new house, and occasionally I look over my shoulder at him and he's surfing the MLS website, so I go over and look. I'm sure he totally does not appreciates my comments on the houses he looks at, and I'm sure he totally does not appreciates my comments on townhouses in the suburbs.

And he was raving about this town house in the suburbs, which sounds like a living hell with an awful commute dream house, and I am not so subtly trying to convince him that only pretentious gits perfectly lovely and boring people live in the suburbs.

It's not at all working. Now, I will allow a fair bit of selfishness in my insistence that Mr. T and his very lovely partner should move to where Mr. Spit and I live. (His partner is a journalist, and the Rat Creek could use her. Also, he strikes me as the sort of community minded person I could con persuade into helping out in the new community garden because I think he has a strong back ) But, still.

The very best example of why all the cool people live in my neighbourhood is Tom. Tom owns DawgFather (and totally ignore the mention of Terry in the review. Tom owns the joint, honest. No clue who Terry is. None.)

Anyway, the Dawg Father is a hot dog place, and the first time we went in, I was a tiny bit concerned. Oh, not the location. It's a hot dog place. It's not swanky, it's clean and bright and there are exactly 6 hot dog types on offer. You can have them with Ruby fries, or without.

What freaked me a bit was the price. A hot dog for $7.50? You're kidding right? And then you see the hot dog (a Baltimore with cheese and bacon and onion , if you are at all smart). Plus the Ruby fries. The Ruby fries are named after Tom's favourite departed dog, and they are salty and garlicky and there's a bit of parsley, and oh, sweet heaven, I can hear angel's singing. People who like coleslaw say that Tom's is the best in the city. (I don't, but he always gives me extra potatoes and makes fun of me)

But really, what you are paying for is . . . Tom. Tom is, well, he's a character. You are never sure what he's going to say. But, he's fun and charming (He calls me doll. I like men that give me nice pet names). He's outspoken and very serious about hot dogs, and has the greatest stories. He has a profoundly x-rated tattoo, that takes everyone forever to notice. And then they are too embarrassed to ask if it is what they think it is. He's the kind of guy that I take people to meet. He always makes me smile.

Tom is the sort of person who thrives in my neighbourhood. He's off beat, and we collect those. We have your problems, and then we have your eccentrics. Every house is different. We have artists, we have musicians, we have sculptors, and some journalists. They even let me live here, and I'm not good at anything artsy.

We are not the commonplace. We aren't your average Joe's. We're a bit odd. And we like it when odd people move in. It stops the normal ones from taking over .

And here's my thing. Say what you want about my neighbourhood. You don't get Tom in Terwilligar Town.

By the numbers

Geohede does it much better, but I was looking at the search terms, and since I started tracking:
  • A very large group of people have shown up looking for some sort of information (?) about naked women and spitting. You're gross. Really gross. Go away now.
  • 57 people have shown up at my blog, wondering some variant of whether or not Rob Lowe is bald. First off, I have written one post about Rob Lowe. One. And I do not have a bloody clue about whether or not he is bald. Not one. As near as I can tell, he's not bald. Do you all know something I don't?
  • 15 people have come looking to find out why you can't divide by zero. I don't know either, and in case you haven't noticed, I'm not the math blog. Go and see Mr. Spit.
  • 3 people came by looking for Altar Guild jokes. I promise you, as a life long Anglican, there is absolutely nothing funny about Altar Guild. (and certainly not this.)
And one of the commonest questions? On a Christian response to infertility. That's a hard one.

Monday Miscellany

  • I have a post about men who don't like women that was going to go today, except, well, it's a crappy piece of writing. So, let me see about fixing it from some random bits of prose to something with a point.
  • Mr. Spit went snowboarding. He has not broken anything, and thinks he might go again. He's also hobbling like an old man, but don't tell him I said so.
  • I spent the entire weekend knitting and watching Star Trek: Next Generation. It is just possible that I may be the geekiest person, with no social life, ever.
  • I also did laundry.
  • Except, I do have a social life. I had dinner with Kuri on Friday. And unlike dinner with Gen, last Wednesday, there was not 5 Bellini's and 2 double shots of Jack Daniels.
  • I had something I really, really wanted to ask all of you, and I can't remember what it is. Oh, yes. No, I do. Or at least I remember something, if not what I wanted to ask you, what I should ask you, which is this:
  • I have a lovely university student house sitting for me while I'm in Vegas. (I told you I'm leaving for Vegas in 16 days, right? Martha is coming.) Anyway, said University student will be writing her final exams while at my house, and I thought I would buy "study food" for her.
  • What's study food for you? I lived on Fried Egg Sandwiches and Pizza Pops. Which I am totally fine with. But she might not be? What would you leave in the fridge/cupboard for her?
  • Oh, and finally, SAMUS IS DONE. I've started on Hey, Teach!

Snowy Grace

I woke up this morning to snow. And there's something about snow in November that makes me blue.

Amidst the swirling snow did I leave the hospital that day 2 years ago. In an almost blizzard I left the hospital, and the swirling snow became an atmospheric metaphor for the loss in my soul.

I have long maintained that I can handle a cold Alberta winter. It may be bitter cold, but there is bright blue sky and yellow sun, and miles of space. Alberta is anything but colourless in the Winter. Even the snow reflects the dazzled glory. Alberta is a land of deep colours, blue and grey mountains, green conifers, and brilliant snow.

I am, at my heart, a prairie girl. I always will be. And yet, when the snow closes in, when it swirls around I cannot take refuge or find comfort. I used to look at a blizzard as a wonderful thing, a chance to curl up, light the house, put on a fire, get a blanket. Comfort. Blizzards are soft and tender when you are in the house. The cloud cover keeps the light level low, playing hide and seek with illumination. It is dark and then lighter, in a random sense of play.

And I woke up this morning, looking at the snow all around me, and I remembered that day, the way the snow stung my face, my hands. I felt the scrape and blemish of ice crystals on fragile skin. There is no comfort, the snow, the wind, it is oppressive. There are no wide open space, reflected glory. Trudging to the car, arms and heart empty. Leaving Gabriel behind, looking back at the morgue in the basement, thinking of my son on cold, hard stone.

There's something about snow in Alberta, in November, that takes me back to that terrible place, where I am, once again, small and fragile. Newly born and so very old.

Saturday Quotes

When he shall die
Take him and cut him out in little stars
And he will make the face of heav'n so fine
That all the world will be in love with night
And pay no worship to the garish sun.
William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

My Mother's Rules

I have long maintained that no one needs to know Pythagorean Theorem. I was *that* kid, in the back of the class, who put up her hand, and lazily asked the teacher not why we needed to learn this crap, but asked exactly when he had used it in his own life. Generally speaking, it makes sense to memorize things you are going to use. Thus, I will always remember things like 2.2 KM to a Mile and the books of the bible in order. I will allow a certain amount of slippage, things that you needed to know once, but now don't, and probably make you a more rounded person anyway- the date of publication of the Durham Report, and the names of all the monarch's of England, in order.

And then there's the really dumb stuff, like Pythagorean theorem. Sure, it's a nifty bit of math, and it's dead easy (unlike conics, which may be nifty, but is hell to actually calculate). But really? No one ever uses it, and there A squared + B squared = C squared is nothing but clutter. Keeping me from remembering to pick up my laundry off the floor and making your name slip my mind.

And I get it, I get it. We aren't teaching children to use Pythagorean theorem, we are totally teaching them to think another way. We are stretching their little brains, so that they grow up to be smart, articulate human beings, who can all get jobs, and pay their Canada Pension Plan Premiums, so that I can retire at 65. I get it. I get that learning is at least in part about learning how to think, instead of just facts.

But. . .

I got to thinking a while ago, about the lessons we learn as women. Most of the things, particularly those my mother taught me, were lessons taught "because women need to know this stuff." I know how to curtsy, how to seat people at a dinner party, what wine to serve with what, and how to make a centerpiece.

So, I was talking today about women's stuff. Actually, we were talking about women's humour and if it exsisted, and so forth. But, it made me think about the stuff my mother made me learn. And I have to confess, to you at least, if not my mother, that given the odds, I've seated more people at a dinner party, done more centrepieces, and yes I have curtsied. I still haven't used pythagorean theorum.

The Undiscovered Country

In less than a month, Gabriel will have been dead for 2 years. He will have been gone for 4 times as long as he was ever here. And I am pondering how I feel about this. How I feel about him, about me, about this life I am living.

I met a woman on Saturday, and we were talking about prostitution, and I made a comment about teaching our sons that women were not for sale. I wasn't talking about my son, or even your son, I was talking about boys, as a whole. I was talking about teaching children, most generally, better than we were taught.

And somehow, she missed this. She smiled, and she asked if my sons had "Their mother's red hair?"

I stumbled. There is a little boy at church, of about 4 now, and he sits on the Gospel side, ahead of me in the sanctuary, and I can see him even when I do not look. I can see him, and in him I see shadows of Gabriel. Gabe's hair, at birth was dark, black and oh so fine, but I wonder. His father had flaming red hair as a boy, and I still do. Doesn't matter how I colour my hair, the red comes through.

And I stumbled, and I fell down a bit. Oh, not visibly, I doubt that she noticed, but I fell down a bit.

For the sake of a little boy who would have had his parent's red hair, eyes somewhere between blue and hazel, a whole undiscovered country.

But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?

Hamlet - Act 3, Scene 1, Lines 78-82

Fiona

I find that it is helpful to set very low expectations for myself, when it comes to any sort of physical exercise. I find that I should take my expectations, and then I should reduce them, and reduce them still. When asked what I hoped to get out of this running business, I answered that I wanted not to die. Oh, no, don't misunderstand, I didn't want to live longer, I wanted not to die. While running.

I went to the Running Room tonight. Now, the Running Room, much like Lulu Lemon, is a place, that well, scares the Dickens out of me. It is a foreign land. I do not speak their language. I do not know their customs. Indeed, these places, they are filled with a strange and foreign people, who need to eat more ice cream and cheesecake.

This land is full of clothing that is bright and reflective. In fact, in the absence of any evidence that their fashion designer is a peanut-starved chimp, I must assume that the goal of their clothing is to be, umm, visible. Now, I don't know about you, but I have never, even in the neon 90's, bought a jacket because it was screaming green, and had reflective tape across my butt. I am trying to camouflage the breadth of my butt, and there they go, trying to give passing motorists, if not a target, a heck of a fright.

I braved this foreign land, and I went to the back wall. Well, actually, the first time I went in, I got stopped at the front door and had to ask this pimply-faced young boy where the sports bra's were. Yes, that's right, I asked a 17 year old about women's underwear. (And tragically for him, I don't think he's going home to fantasize about me tonight) He pointed. To the back of the store. At this point I had 2 choices. No one, not even you dear readers, would have faulted me for refusing to push my way through all the runners, sitting on benches (why weren't they out running any way?) to get to the women's underwear section, conveniently located behind the running video that was playing. (And how does watching a video count as exercise anyway?) I did the sensible thing, and went for a cup of coffee.

I came back half an hour later, as the runners were leaving (Is there a polite company sort of expression for that many masochists in one place?). I wandered back in, went to the back, and this very charming woman came to assist me. She asked me what I was looking for. (Oh, how I longed to tell her the microfiber, fully breathable thong). I had 2 criterion (and my male readers are forgiven for bowing out now). Criteria one was containment in one container (holding my assets in one bra. I didn't want to, say, purchase one for each side.) Criteria 2 was constrain (the operative definition was no movement. Of any kind)

I have Fiona. Seriously. I have a sports bra, and her name (I'm not making this stuff up) is on the tag, and that name is Fiona. My assets are contained and constrained. By something named Fiona. I've always thought of Fiona as a name for a tall, slender, lithe Irish girl. But no, Fiona is some sort of industrial German Frau with no dress sense.

About an hour ago, Fiona and I went running. Run 60 seconds, walk 90. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. 8 times. She held up (that's totally a pun) her end of the run, and I held up mine.

And like I said at the top of this, I had low expectations. I wanted not to die. I am pleased to report, that after shelling out $112, (including $60 for my bosom buddy, Fiona) I am not dead.

Seems a promising start, that.

The Things We Left Behind


the hell with the fee for service agreement I should be vetting and
the course notes for a seed starting workshop.


The New Blue Rodeo Album, and a new bottle of Maker's Mark.

To quote the song . . .
Summer makes me restless
And I can’t get by alone
I know that’s you that’s calling
But I don’t pick up the phone
The day you started wandering
I guess I lost my faith
I sit here now to wait and see
What’s coming in its place
(One Light Left in Heaven)

Monday Miscellany

This carefully written blog is not brought to you by Mrs. Spit. Rather, it is brought to you by the delight of the season, the return of Top Gear.

Because BBC is so much more sensibly funded than CBC, and because through the wonders of the internets, and Mr. Spit's delightful skill at stealing television programming off the back of the internet, I get to watch Top Gear, even though I am not actually in the UK, and I don't have to watch it on BBC Canada with the bits cut out. I get to see everything in it's glory.

Ahh, Richard, how I have, ahem [mutter, mutter] missed thee.

I just watch it for the cars. Really. Where else can you see a Ferrari, a Lamborghini and an Aston Martin. Race through Europe. Also, there was plum wine and a Dacia Sandero.

Art Glass

Suddenly, it is thrown to you, and you hold this grief in your own two hands, and you begin to look at it. And at first, you think it is an ornament, frail, tender, fragile, some sort of flower and you wonder what can be done with it. And then you realize it is art glass, this grief.

And you hold glass, and it moves, throbs, ebbs in your hands, and you realize that it is not just life that has it's own force, but death too. It throbs in your hands, and your own heart throbs with it, and the hot, salty tears flow down and are caught in the well.

You, who have walked a path that is different, and yet the same, you are unable to speak, and unlike many it is not because there are too few words, but because there are too many. And you hold this glass thing in your hands, and you don't even begin to know how to fill it - there are not tears enough. You hold it carefully, and even so, it begins to crack. You try and cobble it together, still terrified of that moment that it will shatter at every one's feet, spilling sorrow and gall.

And you look at this woman, her grief so fresh and new, full of sharp edges, discordant form, still warm from the fires of hell. You look at it, astounded by crudeness of shape and the way the colours are thrown together, clashing and jarring.

From that place, this present awkwardness, ugliness you ask the questions, you ask tentative questions, you ask the questions only a once grief struck person can ask. Not about how and when, about essence, about form. You hold up the glass, and with worn fingers you trace colours. You ask about shape, and the way one colour runs into the next. Cradling a newborn turns into university graduation, recent marriage returns to playing dollies in the basement. Your finger tracks the colours, locating them, caressing the way they cross the glass.

"Tell me about her", you say. "Tell me about who she was, and what she was to you?" And when all she can tell you is about the dinner the week before, and she stumbles, you listen still. And when the talk turns food, you ask about her favourite food.

The glass has a deep well, and you understand that it is not about the food, it's screaming a name into the darkness, and getting no answer. And you know that a name is the only gift you can give. Tonight, you will be the place where a name is still said, and stories are still told. You give the gift of remembrance, the solace of regard.

You hold up this art glass, and you wonder about the terrible power of art, the destructive forces of creation. You look at this woman who cradled baby, child and adult, you look at this woman and you form the words daughter and dead, God's grace, and grief, and you look at the fault lines in the glass, and you hold it. In your own two hands, you hold grief and sorrow and anguish, and you look at the enormity of grief and the smallness of your hands. Even now, even miles down the road, you do not know how any mother does this.

Even now, you do not know where God can be found in all of this.

dona nobis pacem

Saturday Quotes

Once again we find ourselves enmeshed in the Holiday Season, that very special time of year when we join with our loved ones in sharing centuries-old traditions such as trying to find a parking space at the mall. We traditionally do this in my family by driving around the parking lot until we see a shopper emerge from the mall, then we follow her, in very much the same spirit as the Three Wise Men, who 2,000 years ago followed a star, week after week, until it led them to a parking space.
- Dave Barry

I woke up from the most horrifying dream that it was Christmas Eve, and I had done no Christmas Shopping. I was tearing through a mall, buying random crap for people I don't even like much. Thankfully, parking was not a feature of my dream.

Risotto and Flannel Sheets

Because life is not like this, and I do not live in a romantic movie, my hair was short, frizzy, out of control, and I had acne. My maternity jeans kept falling down, and I was at that really awful stage, where it not entirely clear if you are pregnant, or merely fat. At any rate, my breasts were huge, so I suppose I had that going for me.

About 2 years ago, I ran into an old flame at a guest lecture. And I, torn between 2 worlds, chose memory, abandoning manners. I saw him and he didn't see me, so I went running after him, and I caught up with him outside the door.

"Mike. Micheal!" I called. And he turned, and if this were a romantic movie of any sort, I would have been silhouetted by the building light. My hair would have been long, curly, and flowing. I would probably have been dressed in white, and I would have been either tall, slender, or beautifully pregnant.

But, I followed him out, and he offered me a cigarette, and that took care of announcing my pregnancy, and by his change in tone, he remembered I married, and was married still. Anyway, he asked what I was doing.

And I'm left a bit short. I had big plans you see. I was going to do big things. I was going to change the world. I was going to make a difference, armed with the Nichomachean Ethics and A Theory of Justice. And this must have been a believable thing, because Mike believed it, and could not understand what I was doing now.

I live, well, let's face it, I live a boring life. It's not meaningless, but it is boring. There are no late night conversations on duty and justice. We don't talk about epistemology much around my house, and certainly we don't talk about mind-body dualism. I haven't sat in the Sugar Bowl in forever, and even if I could be there, I have forgotten much of Descartes' arguments. Philosophy, political thought, seems rarely to intrude on the business of living life.

I sit on a board trying to end prostitution. I champion community journalism. I teach people to grow tomatoes from seed. I make saskatoon jam with friends, in a community league kitchen. I make meals for people who need them. I knit. I weed. I go to work and come home again. I write a blog that mostly talks about every day stuff. I'm a wife, a mother, a volunteer. I'm a friend. I'm really not much of anything.

And on days like today, when my hair is out of control, and I'm just out of sorts, I wonder how my life became this. And then I realize, nothing is forever. That was then, and this is now. So, I live in the now, and talk about a priori evil on the way to get a cup of coffee. And what I'm up to these days, mostly?

Mostly, I'm reading Sense and Sensibility, trying to remember how to make a really good risotto and looking to find a set of flannel sheets that won't pill.

For Funsies

I work with a bunch of fitness freaks. No seriously. We are talking people that come into the office after a work out and can't walk for days. We are talking about people who go mountain biking and come back covered with bruises and slashes and great bloody scabs.

We are talking about people who run 100KM DEATH races. Yes, you read that right, it has the word DEATH in it, and they did if for funsies. These are people who think that Iron man's are a stimulating day (It has the word Iron in it. People are NOT made of iron. I am sure of this.)

I am the only sane person around here.

I do yoga. Sometimes I take the stairs. Some times I even take the stairs to go up floors.

And really, that's about it.

And occasionally, these co-workers of mine, they comment that they hurt after a run, or a work out or a something. I universally tell them the same thing. . .

"Don't whine to me, I told you that exercise was going to kill you".

So, I'm not sure what it means, when I got this urge to start running again. Oh, I used to run in university. I'm not particularly good at it, and I never will be (it's the short, stubby legs), but I did it, and I enjoyed it.

I checked out the Running Room, and their course doesn't start until Jan (I've missed 3 weeks of the other course already, so that won't work). You prepare for the St. Patrick's Day Race.

Which means I'm asking you. I don't want to be the only person who can't manage to run 20 minutes at a stretch at the end of the clinic. Maybe I should start now. . .

Any suggestions on getting started?

Remember

I objected, in the heat of the summer, to a blogger who made fun of Harry Patch's name. Henry John Patch, for those of you who don't know, was one of the last surviving soldiers from World War I, and he died on July 25th. He was 111. He was our last link to trench warfare and trench foot. He was the last link to what we used to call Shell Shock, and now we call hell. He was the link to mustard gas and the Western Front.

I was excoriated by other commentors on the blog. I was called a bitch, and told I had no sense of humour. One of them turned up here and threatened to slap me. And I was bewildered and I am still. All of this for standing up and suggesting honour and respect. It's not that the name isn't strange (although, it's actually not in the UK), it's that when we reduce someone to their name, when we poke fun, we reduce and then we forget. Forgetting is dangerous. Forgetting is frantic years between WWI and WWII, dancing the Charleston while the world fell apart around us. Forgetting is not always a conscious choice, it is the mark of carelessness, a refusal to pause, a refusal to take seriously. Forgetting begins with poking fun.

Harry Patch came home from the trenches, married his sweetheart, and became a plumber. He had 2 sons, and when the next war came, he was too old to go off and fight. Death and war have always been a young man's game.

I took a course in World War II history, and if you know anything about that war, you know that you start with the war to end all wars. You start with the terms of the armistice, signed in a railway car in France, at 5:30 in the morning, before the sun came up on November 11, 1918. Like all wars, World War II was rooted in history, rooted firmly in our mistakes, in not learning the lesson, in forgetting.

I have always known peace. I have never heard air raid sirens and seen ration books and felt fear of a loved one dying far from home. And in that place of solid peace, the history prof played us the sound of an air raid in London. From BBC footage and recordings of Stuka's diving, the sounds of war. The scream of a doodle bug falling, the terrible silence and the blast. More screams. Air raid sirens, fire sirens, shouts and wails. Smashing buildings, smashing crockery, smashing lives.

I was changed that day.

It seems to me that there is not much I can do, to stop the calls that lead us off to war. I cannot rid the world of evil, and I cannot feed and clothe the broken. I cannot sign treaties, and I cannot ensure a voice for everyone. I cannot even understand what it is to live in war, all the books I read, the pictures I see leave me confused, unable to understand. I have stood in London, I have seen the damage still. I have heard the words of those who lived then. And still I know not. All that is left to me is to remember. To hold corporate memory.

Speak softly of this world's Harry Patches. Speak clearly and with care.

Promises

I think what Mr. T was trying to say was that I was entitled to whine. I bet (although Mr. T wouldn't, and that's another story). He's fine at communicating, but I'm perhaps not always good at listening. And he's probably not wrong. But I think I'm too good at whining as it is.

I whined a lot this weekend. About how my back hurt, a headache, how I was doing something for others and no one was doing anything for me. I whined about what we didn't get done, I whined about a meeting, I just whined. Nothing was good.

I whined about everything but what I don't want to whine about.

What's the point? Really. Whining is not going to change anything. It won't make any difference. What is, is. And perhaps more than that, it hurts to poke that area. It hurts that I keep losing what I want so much. It hurts that other women get pregnant and stay pregnant. It hurts that babies are born addicted to drugs. It's hard to find God in this place. He just doesn't seem to be here.

He settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children.

I'll save you the trouble, I've looked it up in about 15 different translations. They all more or less say the same thing. Psalm 113, verse 9 says that God is going to make me the happy mother of children. (I'm the mother of a child, but I'm not exactly happy about how that turned out.)

Now, I know I've read that psalm before. I've read it a lot, I suspect. I've read the psalms a lot in the last 2 or so years. Somehow, I've never seen that verse. I read it, caught my breath, read it again, and marked it. For the next few weeks, I kept finding myself returning to it. For someone as terrible at remembering the chapter and verse of well, anything, I remember it.

And for a little bit, I thought I understood the meaning. And then, all at once, I was back to walking by faith, and not by sight. This is hard. For every woman who waited for her baby, I can find another who waited, and never did get her child. I can hold up women who waited and lost, or waited and never did get a child. For every Sarah, for every Rachel, there is another woman, who 'chose' to live without children. I am not so foolish as to blindly believe that eventually a baby will turn up in the midst of the tomato patch (Mrs. Spit really hates cabbage). I know that some stories don't ever have a happy ending.

I'll read the verse again tonight, tomorrow night, other nights. And I'll hold it up. I want to believe it. I really do. I want to believe that somehow, in all this mess, this blood, this fear and hurt and anger, somehow another baby will find its way not just to my uterus, but home in our arms as well.

And I half-way do. Half of the time I totally believe it, and half of the time I do not believe it at all. And maybe that's ok. There's a verse for that too.
************

And thank you for reaching out. Thanks for telling me that you were with me. In the end, the bleeding has mostly stopped, I am feeling better, if a bit sad and a bit angry and a bit confused. I will manage for a while, and then I will thrive.