Lately I’ve been working on this little nugget of a dream and it’s germinating and I’m so excited and it’s precious to me.
I’m moving beyond the exciting feeling of overwhelming love.
I’m moving into exploring the depths of the emotion.
What is it to love deeply?
What is it to love someone who may not return that love?
Does love breed more love?
How has my focus shifting from “looking for love” to “exploring love” changed the way I perceive the love that exists around me?
Does love for people, places, things, and non-human beings have different characteristics from one another?
What is tangible about love?
On this day:
In 2009 – juice is not a meal replacement (but I still enjoy it)
In 2008 – meeting the amazing Julie Keon for the first time
In 2006 – if I had to re-do this today, calling the police would not have happened
In 2005 – back when kindness was a thing we shared
I went to Toronto this weekend.
I lived in the suburbs of Toronto until I was 16. Up until then, I imagined that when I grew up, I would move to the city, or perhaps go to Montreal or a different country.
It’s weird, all my ideas for the future had nothing to do with concrete things like a job or a school program and everything to do with fostering certain feelings and connections.
Part of my trip was just such a perfect time of soul-bonding and sharing.
Part of my trip was incredibly frustrating.
Part of my trip was full of potential.
Part of my trip was really finally feeling like I’m an adult in control of my life and if I want to drive to Toronto with the sole reason of hanging out with a particular person for 3 minutes shy of 5 hours, I can do that. I can do anything I fucking want.
For the first time, I’ve started considering what my life would be like if I had not moved away at 16. There’s a certain personal confidence I feel when being in that city. I don’t feel it here in Ottawa and I think it has to do with population. I need to remember what it feels like and hold on to the parts that benefit me here.
Thinking this stuff over has illuminated the history of the anxieties I have, how I’ve worked toward overcoming them, what is within the realm of the possible, (and what is not) and how geography and culture is a bigger factor than I thought it was.
On this day:
I’m looking for a word that describes the peace and joy of being in nature.
I’m looking for a word that encompasses the cozy feeling of being wrapped in a warm blanket and drinking hot cocoa with a cold nose and fingers from being outdoors.
I’m looking for a word that encapsulates the energetic feeling of being inspired and motivated to create because of being in a new situation.
I’m looking for a word that identifies the yearning to go out into the world to explore and learn.
I’m looking for a word that communicates the sensation of fingers running over perfectly textured paper.
I’m looking for a way to describe the complicity between people and their surroundings and the plants and the animals.
On this day:
She brushed her hand down my neck, pushing down my scarf to reveal as much skin as possible. Then, she quickly and with minimal pain, pulled the finest filament of hair from my newly exposed flesh.
This is the story of a couple of wild women on a road trip except we are not Thelma and Louise. We wanted to experience the peace of pastures, and the beauty of the beasts! We wanted to cook and eat simple foods, and hear rain dinging off a tin roof, and flex our creative muscles and commune over sharing our intimate stories. We could save fucking-up the patriarchy and driving to our glorious freedom for another day.
We found everything we wanted at Mariposa Farm. We parked and unloaded our car, met the manager, and loaded all our supplies in a wagon to wheel with us on a twenty minute hike to the secluded cabin. We got there right at the golden hour and it was so wonderfully perfect.
Once we got to the cabin, we knew we were just settling in for the night and getting ready for the next day to come. We laid out all our supplies and arranged them in the Best Spots. We brought the fire to life in the wood stove and did our best to light the space, and sat down for a relaxing shared meal of olives and spreads and cheeses and wine.
Once our bellies were full, we stepped out to look at the stars in the partly-overcast night sky. There is a big clearning close to the cabin, and the treeline turned the edge of the sky into a big circle. Some stars shone through the shedding branches and others danced above them, beyond, the clouds hid them from us. We heard an owl and saw a shooting star.
Once we realized the camera wasn’t capturing the beautiful scene set before us, we started playing around with exposure times and movement and turning our bodies to smoke.
The next morning was quiet. Terri resurrected the fire while I woke, and she went back to sleep as I made coffee. I wanted to sit outside and enjoy the sound of geese, hunters’ rifles, and leaves falling into their already-landed companions. I brought out some blankets, and my notebook, and my carving tools, then made myself a little cocoon in the hand-crafted Adirondack chair. I wrote and wrote until my fingers were too cold and my heart was too exhausted to carry on. Carving would have to wait until later. These are the things that set my soul at ease. These are the things that move me forward in growth.
Before our trek out to the cabin, we had planned all our meals and divided up responsibilities for the supplies. When we were unpacking the night before, I learned that instead of packing the hollondaise sauce mix as I had intended, I packed a packet of cumin. Even with all the meticulous planning, things don’t always go as expected. This is such a minor gaffe though, the breakfast was still quite good.
Our kitchen set-up was simple. A coleman stove, a pot, a pan, a kettle, and dishes for two. They provided non-potable water and we brought some drinking water, and lots of wine.
We finished our breakfast, washed up and got dressed. Our host had stopped by earlier to drop off a few things and told us that he was working on fixing up and older cabin just down the way and invited us to check it out. He told us it was a bit hidden, and it really was. The track seemed to lead to nowhere and we had to search a bit to find the cabin hidden below a little incline.
It was a bit smaller than the cabin we were in, but it was easy for me to imagine just how comfortable it would be to stay there. There is something so beautiful about a hand-built shelter that contains just what one needs; heat, water, a bed, a view. Below the cabin was the tree line where the woods became a big open space. I was worried about crossing that threshold, as we had been hearing the sounds of hunting all day and I am a dear but I don’t want to be confused for a deer. Terri was the braver one this time. She had the wonderful idea of collecting various items to make a bouquet representing our walking adventure. I examined the marks left by other creatures and collected fallen birch bark.
We then decided to go back up the hill and explore some of the groomed paths we saw. They are all named, so it was easy to feel safe in knowing we would not get lost. Left on Suzanne, stop to snuggle some moss and have a leaf-fight, continue along, right on Philippa then back to our cabin to drop off the treasures we collected along the way.
The clouds were darkening, yet we decided to go back down to the farm and spend some time with the animals before settling back in to our cabin. Just as we made it to the pavilion, it began to drizzle. Around the side was a pond where we noticed a swan. As we approached, it let us know we were in its territory by puffing up its wings and thrusting its chest toward us. As we walked about, the rain started to fall harder and I took cover beneath some trees and we met a cow that thought it was a cat. She kept rubbing up against us and trying to snuggle. I was into it but also worried about the power in the beast. Just a little gentle rub easily pushed me back a step. When the other cow joined us, Terri got in there and some romantic magic happened.
When we got back, we were both a little damp. It was still lightly raining but I was feeling so inspired to paint the scene from our perch. I bundled up in my cozies and hid from the rain as best I could while I started sketching in watercolour pencils. It didn’t take long for the wind to change and blow too much water on my page for me to continue. I came in to find that Terri had just finished preparing lunch.
She set out our bouquet on the table and we sat to eat and talk. It was at this time that I felt a real loosening in my chest. We travel well together. There is the perfect balance of interaction and quiet, of action and repose, of sharing our vulnerabilities and just being a couple of silly-headed ding-dongs.
Darkness began to fall and I set out all the carving tools. I showed Terri some basic things. There was blood, and we cracked open the first aid kit. Terri pulled up a stool and warmed her feet by the fire while I continued to carve by candle light. I don’t rush. I’ve been working on the same little piece of wood for months. I care more about the meditative process of shaping the wood into my vision than I do for getting it done quickly.
Did I mention we brought wine? Oh yes we did and on this night we made sure we wouldn’t need to carry any of it back with us. We roasted marshmallows in the wood stove. We painted in the dark, which is less dangerous than carving in the dark but just as difficult. We talked about the ways we like to be creative, our strengths and weaknesses, our processes and our goals. When we found our commonalities and complimentary skills, we became quite excited and developed some shared goals. This breathes life into my soul! Shared projects are great for me because it necessitates complicity and trust and mutual motivation. This is what I seek to have with the people who are close to me.
As darkness brought us into sleep, rain was making music on the tin roof. I felt so cozy and insulated in this hide-out.
The next morning, we knew our time was up. As we ate our last shared meal, we coordinated tasks and planned our exit from this dream. Terri had a heavy heart already, while I was feeling excitement over how full my heart became over these days and about the process of bringing all that I had gained from this experience into my day-to-day life. I also felt pressured and motivated to finish my painting before leaving! I went outside and worked on finishing it up. I was very happy with the results.
During our time in the cabin, I looked at wine stains, and a forgotten chain necklace and thought about how each person who had stayed there had left some kind of mark, even if I was not aware of it. I thought about what we might leave there, wax drippings from our candles, a box of matches, a roll of purple duct tape we brought along in case our water jug continued to leak. A place like this evolves and grows because of the people who breathe life into it. I hope that we made it just a tiny bit better for the next one(s) there.
Just before leaving, we went in to check out the restaurant and the farm store. We weren’t able to stay for lunch this time (but are planning to go back for it soon) but the way they displayed their menu had us salivating. I also picked up a variety of fowl to enjoy in the near future and have greatly enjoyed what I’ve eaten so far.
This experience will be tough to beat. The whole place is charming, and cozy. The people we encountered were nothing short of wonderful. We created magical moments for ourselves and filled our hearts with the warmth of a thousand wood-stove fires.
*the vast majority of these photos are by Terri Figueiredo
On this day:
Not so many administrations ago, “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” and “Dirty Dancing” and a handful of other films dared to deal with abortion, off-camera and usually a little off the main plotline, as a medical option chosen by a sympathetic young woman dictated by the machinations of the screenplay, usually with the help of sperm donated by a dislikable supporting character.
Then, gradually and then almost entirely, nobody on screen had them anymore. “Juno,” “Knocked Up” and so many others took a pregnancy to term without many second thoughts, ushering in a narrower set of options. Few, if any, films of any size risked losing half or more of its collective audience (the divides falling along political rather than gender lines) by treating a woman’s right to choose as an acceptable storytelling decision.
In the last couple of decades, we’ve seen more portrayals of audience-friendly serial killers on TV and in the movies than we have of major female characters who terminate an unwanted pregnancy without being overtly punished or covertly marginalized (the gynecological history of Sandra Oh’s character on “Grey’s Anatomy” notwithstanding).
When I saw that this was playing at an independent theatre I could get to without driving, on a day that I didn’t have the kids and no other plans I shouted LET ME GIVE YOU ALL MY MONEY because really now. Abortions are a fact of life for many women/people with ovaries and a uterus and goodness I love a film that makes one reflect upon the human experience and you know, I guess most movies just forget that women are humans.
ANYWAY… Robyn and I went to see the movie and some things I read about it is that it is a comedy but it’s not really all that funny (but I am not the hugest comedy fan since I find so much of it to be oppressive – oh how I love accidental injury comedy though) and it even isn’t THAT compelling of a story. It’s basically just a regular life story of a woman who has an abortion for reasons. Her reasons. And that was great. Oh can I give that movie all my money again? Ok, ok I will!
The part that I liked the most was the scene where the lead character has just had an abortion and is chilling in the recovery room with all these other women who are there for the same thing. I had both of my abortions in a hospital setting and it’s done on a specific day of the week so all the abortions for that week happen on that day and everyone is there for the same thing but everyone is just kind of quiet.
It’s a kind of silent solidarity. A reverent moment. A safe space.
On this day:
In 2009 – the games bus drivers play
In 2007 – 6 years of no dentist = lots of work on my teeth
In 2006 – My recap and thoughts on my marriage preparation class as provided by The Roman Catholic Church
In 2005 – A photo of me eating a hotdog