Sunday, November 21, 2010


Photo: voyage of self-discovery, 1989, Capacocia, Turkey
Last weekend we had new friends over for Mexican soup.  Midway, between spoonfuls, he had a faint recollection of being here 30 years ago.  It was the sauna more than the house, that brought back this long ago moment.  "It must've been during our partying years," she said blankly, having no such memory.

For Rob and I the sauna has a special heart warming appeal too.  It was where Rob declared confidently, away from the Realtor, that this was the place he'd waited a long time for.  The classic log cabin on a quiet lake was the perfect antidote for our upcoming last stint overseas, in Columbia, where we knew it would be rough.  The proverbial carrot to await us.  This was a snapshot I still have of pure love for Rob; there he was making his wishes known to the Realtor (why is this word capitalized?), no negotiations, no inquiries into the water and septic systems.  This is fine, thank you very much, we'll take it.  He wore an old down coat with feathers leaking out of it and duct tape on the elbows, three weeks before Christmas.  The Realtor did not take him seriously, it seems nobody buys a house before Christmas.  But there was a rush on, we were leaving soon, the deal was made in a hurry and the rest is history.

But the partying comment stuck with me last weekend.  I pondered this at length with my friend Elke a few days later.  I blurted out "I think I didn't party enough in my youth!!"  Imagine this bizarre statement from a middle aged woman.  I was never much of a drinker, especially combining the fine art of mingling and small talk and driving home in one piece.  "Maybe you could start partying now - I'm sure it's never too late," Elke eagerly offered.  But no, that wasn't it either.  I was climbing cliffs with homes carved out of the sides toting my journal and an apple for lunch in the Turkish countryside of Capadocia.  That was my idea of a party.  Searching out Freud's bust in Vienna,  soaking my feet in fountains eating a baguette for lunch in Paris, picking the grapes off the vines in the Beaujolais region, that was deliriously fun to me.

In conclusion, fun is the intended target these days.  It's cheap, long overdue and I can't beleive I have to be reminded of this.  Today's fun was out on the freshly frozen lake, on skates with a bundle of beaver chewed sticks wanting to scurry home and not play tag with the neighbours.  But one tried to grab my precious beauties, taunting me, and I wouldn't let go.  So laughing hysterically, I was yanked around by my cargo, on wobbly legs and sent sailing on smooth ice.  It was a good belly laugh with tears, catching my breath.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Honouring Bobby

Don't you hate when you make promises to yourself, like a blog a week, and then distractions and procrastinations creep in completely unexpectedly?  Setting a goal should be enough, right?  Then it all unfolds magically and triumphantly...tada!  You'd think by now at my age that self delusions and reality would have met and had tea to sort out these gaps and patched up their differences.

The thought and image that I can't get past is of Bobby, lingering in my 1977 high school year book.  I know, I know, I said I'd torch these things 2 weeks ago, but I still can't let go.  Then Remembrance day happened and brought me right back to these three volumes; at least now they are dust free.  In my grade 11 class photo, my eyes are averting the camera and I'm looking over at the person in question; Bobby Girouard.  It probably was not him catching my attention at the time, we were cordial but not friends.  In our younger years, we lived on the same street, but there are no huge recollections of him.  He was quiet, like me, and struck me as a gentle being.  Still all those years later, it is unmistakable, I am looking over to him.

Fast forward a few decades, Chief Warrent Officer Robert Girouard is the 44th casualty in Afghanistan.  He was 46.  I've been trying to make sense of this ever since we watched the riveting CBC documentary profiling the soldiers lost in this latest war.  It occurs to me that Bobby was one of those kids that stood up to bullies and dedicated his life to it on a global scale.  As a pacifist I could never fully appreciate that until just now.  The kind of bravery he and many others like him demonstrate makes me marvel and appreciate the peaceful life I am fortunate to have.

This proves it once again, you never know how the past will influence your future.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Festering at Fifty

Photo: once a single pronged thing, this cactus is developing a character all its own on my kitchen window sill.

As part of my 50th birthday gifts to myself, I went far beyond the norm and the mundane.  First it was the Mongolian yurt, then it was the astrological readings; yes, I went really "out there".  The natal astrological chart was quite fascinating, even with my limited knowledge of such things.  Two points were noteworthy; first the planet Chiron was prominent in the skies at the moment of my birth.  Discovered in 1977, this little known planet represents the "wounded healer" and orbits only every 50 years.  This explains so much; what's at play here is not merely a garden variety menopausal episode but the very stars are contributing to my ongoing festerings and awakenings.  I've decided to take comfort in this sense of powerlessness and see what will reveal itself.  Apparently, this is what I've been feeling for a year and I'll continue to feel it for a year to come.  Hormone replacement therapy can't touch this.

Secondly, my astrologer told me that I was a nun in a past life.  Strangely, this resonates especially with Rob who said I was very nun-like when we first met.  I reminded him that at that moment, I was reading his Rune cards at his bachelor pad cabin during a fund raiser for Canadian Crossroads International and I had gotten there in my car painted like a Holstein cow.  But the point was that I had carried over some of these nun characteristics with me to this present life.  In the past I was obedient to the scriptures, but now, I guide my life according to my heart.  Not exactly a giant leap of logic for anyone who knows me but there is further proof.

A few days ago I was flashing my tatoo in my favorite coffee shop.  The story of the old thing goes back 20 years when I got a divorce from my first husband.  This was long before tatoos became fashionable and common.  I needed something powerful to mark the moment, to solidify my decision to choose growth and mystery instead of what I had; stale stability and predictability.  What I needed was to travel extensively, to roam around aimlessly, to explore wildly whatever opportunity afforded.  First it was the train across Canada and by the time I got to Halifax I had the tatoo well thought out; an anchor with a heart in the middle on my ankle.  My brother Pierre was in the navy then so he knew the place to take me on the shaddy side of town.  I reasoned I needed something strong to anchor me into a new life, with new outlooks and philosophies.  How easily it would have been to slip back into the comfort and ease of my marriage that no longer fit properly, like a sloppy old shoe.  The heart was obvious, to give me tender guidance to my soul.  Remarkably, all that remains of the tatoo today is the heart; no more need for that cold hard anchor. I am firmly on my path now, only parts of me wishes I knew where it was going.