Sunday, 31 January 2016


This weekend my daughter decided, after visiting a friend's, that she should redecorate her room. Her friend's room had inspired her and for the first time ever she had her own vision for how her room should be organized.  I was not allowed in for my semi-annual clean and I realized that I won't be so readily invited in to re-organize things in my own way from now on.

I came across a stack of sealed envelopes that were addressed to various relatives by my son.

They had been written and stacked there at some point and I resisted opening them. I decided I would stick a stamp on them and fill in the address and send them on their way.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Umbrella light

Winter exposes what the foilage covers up the rest of the year.

Trash blows around and gets frozen into snow banks.

The temperature at times forces us to seek shelter, it curtails roaming.

We dress in layers.

Layers give us options to regulate our temperature.

I put on the warmer shirt, the sweater, the scarf and the coat. More if I am going to be standing around, less if I am going to be carrying it all.

I enter the restaurant.
I take off one layer, and then another.

I sit in a pool of noon day sunlight behind glass and forget that layers will be necessary again in one short hour.

I stand up and ready myself to go back out. On goes the sweater, the scarf, the coat.

I step onto the street, bundled up until I need to delayer again.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

The walk back

I went back to my old childhood home town on the weekend.

Early the next morning I woke up and walked from the place we had rented and took a walk around the old neighbourhood.

True to form, everything was closer together, older, smaller than I remember.

I brought my camera but the pictures I took could not sum up well enough how my memories merged with the real live houses and trees I walked past.  The landmarks of my walk from home to school are already mapped out indelibly in my mind, they form grooves along which I walked, I don't need pictures of them.

It was the morning before a snowstorm swept in.  The sky was white, and the day was just beginning.

There were no people walking around but it was so loud.

All the people I remembered living in that house or that one, chatting and talking and clamouring to be heard.  The curtains rustled as I imagined them peeking out.

The snow that covered everything brought to mind all the times we slid down that hill. The shrieks of joy muffled by the new houses that were built on that hill .  The kids hiding in the back yards along the way, waiting to be found, were scarcely heard over me trudging through the snowy streets.

I could almost not believe the time that had passed.

However, it has.  By the time I made a full loop around the old neighbourhood, the voices had died down.  A car passed, the day was beginning after a quiet night.   I returned to my friends at the rental to look at the photos I had taken on my phone.

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Mini version

Christmas culture is full of miniatures.  Mini villages lit from within, mini skates hanging from the tree, mini tree cookies, gigantic snowflakes, but mini Jesus and his family and all his visitors, mini booze bottles made of chocolate and a mini town under glass that fills with snow when you shake it.

While these things are shrunken, the feelings are exaggerated, the memories over sized, the rifts magnified, the love enormous, the shopping is excessive and we eat bigger plates full of bigger portions, and we drink more out of  fuller glasses.

It is sometimes hard to feel like the right size at this time of year.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Shopping by window

I went window shopping with various groupings of my family this weekend. When I go shopping in the mall, I buy what I have to get, or am swindled into getting, and get out as fast as possible.
Window shopping is different. It is meant to be enjoyed leisurely. There is no personal cost to staying a minute longer in front of a beautiful display. No burden is levied like there is when I brave a mall.
Window shopping with a family member or friend helps you figure out what your loved ones find wonderful.

It is window shopping, and stoop shopping and sidewalk shopping all at the same time.
I noticed all kinds of buildings and doorways along the way that I normally march past.
Window shopping is a slowing down activity.  It is a window of time that helps us see each other and the city in new ways.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Ready to be soil

Dr. Vandana Shiva came to visit our city a couple of years ago. I remembered her visit when I heard her speak about the Paris climate talks on the radio the other day.

It goes without saying that she was incredibly inspiring.
She opened her speech by saying something like, (I am paraphrasing):
"The sign up there says I am going to talk about all kinds of thing under the security, poverty, sustainability...(meaningful pause, I was waiting for her to self-deprecate and say something like, "that's a tall order"...but, no, she said)
 "good thing everything is connected".

Her full-hearted belief in her own message inspired in me a confidence that even I could do something to improve the world.

One thing she talked about was, her book Soil Builders.  She talked about farming with reverence, that making soil a nourishing place for food and plants  and diversity to flouirsh is noble and is a vital role that cannot be diminished or dismissed.

Even here, on this street, in the middle of the city, soil can be built.  Just like soil can be built to nourish strong and diverse crops, so too can the soil be enriched to grow kids and adults who can withstand stress and strain.

Change is possible. Are you ready to be soil?

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Question and Answer Years

 There are years that ask questions and years that answer.
                                     - Zora Neale Hurston