Category Archives: Nostalgic

Giddy at the dawn

It’s the second day of winter, and I’m at home, doing laundry and making food in preparation for a feast with friends tomorrow night.  Oats and I celebrated Solstice a couple nights ago, and as our chosen family who live upstairs and across the yard will all be out of town, we’ll be spending most of the holiday weekend cat-sitting and hermiting instead of your typical merry-making.  I’m looking forward to this:  A single big dinner party, at the house of another person so that we don’t have to fuss with our own tiny home, and otherwise simply days of no obligations or distractions.  I plan on reading a lot, and sewing.

For a couple years, Oats and I volunteered for the Christmas Eve shift at the community radio station, then went out for noodles.  It was such an excellent alternative to the Christmas focus of everything… I wish I still had my membership at the station, so that we could have done it again.  At least we can still enjoy Chinese food, though… Hopefully on Christmas day, when so many other folks will be digging into their roast turkey.

Growing up, a lot of my friends didn’t do Christmas, or they did it very differently from my family, which celebrated a sort of cynical Anglicanism that erred on the socio-cultural side as opposed to the religious end of things.  Some of my friends followed religions other than Christianity, or different types of Christianity, and some simply didn’t celebrate any holidays.  I didn’t know any pagans, though, or at least that I remember:  No one ever got excited about Solstice, or even talked about the return of the light after the longest night of the year.  Now, it’s so important to me that I can’t imagine not counting down the days or feeling giddy at the dawn.  It’s such a welcome new beginning.

Walking with Mo among the garry oaks and hawthorns this morning, I was completely content, and I realized that I can’t remember the last time I felt so overall optimistic.  While things aren’t perfect, and I’m still struggling with occasional bouts of intense anxiety, my heart is lighter than it has been in ages, and I don’t feel hemmed in by fog like I have in most winters past.  The news of the world is dreary and terrifying, and I’m waking up to the fact that I’m okay.

It’s strange, and wonderful.

A happy Solstice to you, from all of us at FG HQ… May your new season be similarly filled with hope and joy!

 

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seemingly unexciting, but then terrifically beautiful once you really look

I spent most of today, and part of yesterday, on the roof of a small office building in an industrial park outside the city. It was a sometimes interesting, often boring, and generally uncomfortable due to combinations of frost, wind, hail, and rain. The fan unit my crew was rewiring was the first of several we’ll be working on over the next while, and so required much figuring-out. As the person with the lowest-status and least amount of relevant knowledge, I pretty much just hung around and tried to keep warm.

Also, I took photos with my camera phone.

Dawn… Over the ventilation system.

Frost bloomed all over the pebbles and small growing things that cover the roof.

I was wear just a t-shirt under my down vest, and my arm hairs felt like bristles. Especially when the hail began. When the hail turned to rain, I finally gave in, and made the long trip down the ladder to get a hoodie.

This the bottom of a clump of moss, but reminds me so much of a coral.

The occasional white granite shines among the more monotone black and grey rocks.

What is this plant? I don’t know, but it’s trying hard to make it.

Likewise, this little tree: A pic that shows how desolate an ecosystem the roof is.  Exposed to all weather, including constant wind, with no real soil to hold on to.

Taking these photos, I kept thinking about the tundra.  Not that I’ve yet been to the Arctic or the Antarctic, but I’ve read a lot about them and have an idea that there might be a similar type of life there… Hard to see at first, seemingly unexciting, but then terrifically beautiful once you really look.

I’m afraid this little sprout is too tender to last much longer, with the harder and harder frosts we’ve been having each night.  Still, so green!  So hopeful.

I’m still so green and so hopeful too.  Working lots, and feeling very full.  Have little interest in sitting down at the computer when I get home, and am barely checking email.  Sometimes this bothers me, because there was a time when I really depended on all the connections I made over the internet.  I remind myself: Those were those times, and this is now.

I turned 30 years old last week

I turned 30 years old last week!

Oats woke me at 7 am with breakfast in bed, and in the interest of full disclosure, I feel I should tell you that I did not react well. I wanted to sleep, and told her so rather meanly, then realized that I was being completely horrible.

Which made me cry.

Then it occurred to me that starting off my thirties by wallowing in self-hatred was the kind of thing one might eventually regret… So I mustered some hidden reserves of happy energy, and insisted on driving Oats to work, which she initially declined but then finally accepted, no doubt because I was threatening more tears if she didn’t let me at least try to make amends.  Somehow, it all worked out: Oats forgave my earlier meanness, I felt better about myself, she got to work on time, and I eventually reheated my lovingly-prepared breakfast and enjoyed every bite.  Yay for being an adult!  Or at least trying to change up the script of the little emotional traps that sometimes suck me under.

After I dropped Oats off, I went to a nearby beach.  It was pouring rain, but I didn’t mind.  Summers here are generally very sunny and dry, which makes the odd rainy day into a bit of a treat.  I wore gumboots and my raincoat, threw the ball for Mo, and took in deep breaths of salty sea air.  The tide was way out, and the seaweed was quietly rotting on the sand, stinking in a way that I now realize signifies home to me.  How would I cope with life on the prairies?  I take it for granted, the ocean at my feet and the mountains on the horizon… Which isn’t reason enough to stay here, just a useful thing to realize.

Mo is at times a rather goat-like animal, especially when he climbs things.

One of the reasons I was so tired on the morning of my birthday was that I’d been out at the bar the night before, drinking whiskey with a couple good folks to commemorate the year that had gone by since our mutual friend’s death.  As I’ve written before, I was no longer close with this person at the time of her sudden passing, but she was a big part of my early life in this city.  I think about her a lot, and about all that’s changed since she’s been gone.  Not to be terribly morbid, but it was really good to spend some quality time reminiscing, on the eve of turning 30.

For the past several years, I’ve hosted big parties for my birthdays.  Not this year, though… It just sort of snuck up on me, and I found myself more in the mood for being alone.  Most of the day itself, I spent at home, sewing a dress, which was pretty great.  The day after my birthday was a Friday, when I usually host pizza dinner for my housemates plus a rotating cast of regulars, and so that became my birthday event.  All I had to do was make the pizza ingredients: Oats and Sum and Captain Pestou and Jag did all the cooking, and Oats made an amazing cake!  That’s Mo, sculpted from crispy rice treats and covered in chocolate. In case you can’t tell, he’s sitting in a boat.

Timtams + chopsticks = Oars!

Speaking of Mo, he’ll be having his own birthday this Saturday… Two years, which seems so amazing.  Forget me still feeling like I’m 20:  I feel like Mo’s still a tiny puppy.

Mo at 8 weeks old

As I Hiked One Early Spring Afternoon

Oh, the flowers! Blooming everywhere...

Typical Sunday night insomnia.  It’s not anxiety-driven this time, which is a relief… I’m simply thinking too much to go to sleep.  Usually I take some melatonin, then lie in bed until it kicks in.  Sometimes, nights like these will see me applying for jobs, or schools, or once, an international work visa (Australia, as you may recall).  Tonight, though, I’m passing the time with some internet-related tasks from my to-do list, which’ll reduce the number of things I have to think about when lying in the dark.

I joined a group of friends for a long hike on Saturday, a strenuous adventure that was both invigorating and exhausting.  We started on a trail that I’d visited several times in the past, but then followed it for another hour or so beyond the section I knew.  All up and down, the path well-maintained but kinda intense, with amazing views high over the surrounding hills and inlet:  It was just what I wanted, really.  By the end of it, my throat was sore and the glands in my neck were swollen… Apparently, all that sweating was pushing some sickness out of my body.  So I went home and crashed, sleeping in late this morning.

I’ve been hiking a little every week recently, finding that time in the woods or on rocky peaks or next to the ocean are the perfect antidote to school.  Even gardening, which has also been a preoccupation lately, isn’t quite as appealing as a ramble down a trail.  Springtime is when I rediscover all the reasons for which I live on the west coast.

Mo loves a good ramble too.

Did you ever read Laurie Lee’s As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning? Our recent sunny spring weather has been reminding of it, and of how that book had an impact on my life.  I was too young when I first picked it up, maybe ten years old or so, and even then I was taken by the romantic notion of walking to London, and to Spain.  Later, rereading it as teenage punk, I was surprised to realize that it was my beloved anti-fascist International Brigades that Lee went on to fight for, in the Spanish Civil War.  In a weird way, Lee was a traveller punk before traveller punks existed, busking on the streets and sleeping in vacant buildings… Though in his case, said buildings were collateral from World War I as opposed to modern industrial capitalism.  At any rate, Lee made it seem right, to walk out the door and experience life.  I like to think that’s how I ended up here.

Bleeding-heart tree-hugging queer.

The old furniture shop on the corner shut down this past winter, and at our weekly household dinners we all speculated as to what would next fill the store front. Instead of the hipster/yuppie cafe we were hoping for (as an alternative to the bucky’s in the plaza!), the New Democratic Party rented it and set up their candidacy office for this riding.

After walking and riding past the office a couple times a day, I finally went in and asked for a lawn sign. I’d never done that before, having generally snubbed federal politics as being too far removed from my daily existence to be worth the energy. I’d vote, and rant, but that’s about it. This time, though, I’ve been seeing far too many Conservative lawn signs during my commute out to the trade school, and it’s been making me feel ill. Besides which, I was raised by rather fervent NDP supporters, and have a nostalgic affection for neon orange.

“I grew up in Toronto,” I told the staffer at the desk as she wrote down my address for their records. “When he was still a local city councillor, Jack Layton rollerbladed to my high school to give a presentation on civic responsibility.”

“Did he bring his guitar and play you some songs, too?” She asked. I couldn’t tell if she was mocking Jack for his folkiness or me for my misty-eyed reminiscence, but it was pretty funny either way.

“He might as well have,” I told her. “But all the other politicians who spoke to us were stiff suits, so he got a surprisingly friendly reception, considering we were a bunch of bored teenagers.”

How do you decide how to vote? Do you go for personality, or party? Or is it more complicated than that? I haven’t actually committed to throwing my lot in with the NDP. My other leanings are with the Greens, because I’m a bleeding-heart tree-hugging queer*. I’ve requested a lawn sign from them too, which should arrive this afternoon. There’s an all-candidates forum next week that I’m hoping to attend, but really I’ll probably make my decision based on the party platforms. As I see it, the individual candidates are a hell of a lot less important than the larger institutions they represent: This country is just too huge and diverse. Having said that, my friend Jag is encouraging everyone to vote NDP simply because of all the options, Layton would be the sexiest prime minister. Personally, I’m not really into mustaches, but I’d be glad for a reprieve from Harper’s creepy fake smile.

*A dude I worked with many, many years ago called me this… Well, actually he called me a “fucking bleeding-heart tree-hugging bitch”, but close enough. Luckily he was pretty easy to write off as an odd duck, with larger issues than I’d ever understand: Despite coming from an extremely wealthy family, he took to stealing from the cafe’s cash register in order to impress the brothers at a fraternity he’d joined, and he actually did this in full view of the other staff. I’m fairly certain drugs were involved… It’s hard to be offended when someone is that out of it, so I’ve enjoyed holding onto that little nickname he bestowed upon me.

Donkey-work

It’s the last couple days at my job, and I’m working harder than I ever did in the past 4 months that I’ve held this position. That’s a particular thing about taking on a coordinating sort of role: The work is never cut and dry, and the projects rarely have a definitive start and end… Or at least none that fits into the relatively short span that I’ve been here. So in leaving, I’ve got to summarize the projects I’ve been working on, and try to convey some of the knowledge I’ve gleaned, and basically do what I can to make it so that someone else can take over.

It’s making me nostalgic for when I’ve left cafe jobs: I’d simple pull one last latte at the espresso bar, look at the clock, shuck my apron, and say goodbye. I’m even looking back with great fondness on the afternoon last June when I was surprised to find myself laid off from the construction site: One minute I was installing nurse call switches, and less than an hour later I was drinking beer in the sunshine on my patio with another (ex)coworker. It sucked in some ways, but it was also pretty relaxing.

Today, I spent 7 hours teaching my boss and my coworker how to use client management database software. My boss kept asking why we’d do it this way, instead of simply using spreadsheets, and kept suggesting that we needn’t bother with documenting *all* of our client communications in the database, just some of them. Look, I told him, you certainly could do it that way, and you might even do well at it… But then why did you invest in this software, and why did I just spend 4 months mastering it?

The entire debate was a pretty good indicator of the primary struggles that the company is facing, with few established protocols for doing anything. The other person I was teaching was my coworker who’d driven in from another city up-island, and she was similarly frustrated. In fact, when the boss was out of the room, I learned that she’d also suggested that she no longer work for the company, on the same day that I did. My boss told her that I was already leaving, and she felt bad, so agreed to stay, though with many reservations.

“They just don’t get it,” she said, “How much donkey-work goes into all the stuff they want us to do.”

Poor donkeys.

It wasn’t until the end of our day together that I learned that she didn’t know how to use the software for custom mail-merges, which is one of its primary time-saving functions. I was livid. How could they have had this woman on staff for longer than me, and never even taught her this most important of skills? She’s a great learner, far better than my boss is at understanding the applications of the technology, but has been given little to no support in developing this… Even though it would be infinitely beneficial for the company to have more competent staff.

So we’re getting together again tomorrow, for more teaching. Fuck, I’m so glad I’m getting out of here.

I’m still a little nervous about starting trade school next week, because I’m hardly expecting the atmosphere to have changed much from last time… But at least it’ll be a completely different sort of frustrations.

Snow day!

I woke up this morning to Oats muttering about inches, as she got back into bed after letting the dog out at dawn.  Each of our alarms went off, and I went into the kitchen and put the kettle on.  I had the oatmeal made and the bodum brewing before it really sunk it:  Inches and inches and inches.  Feet, even.

Snow!

Oats tried to take Mo to the park, but lost his ball in the yard and only got as far as the gas station on the corner, where she observed that traffic was backed up in all directions because cars were sliding down the hill.  So, she came home again, and we drank coffee in bed, and decided not to go to work.  There are very few plows around here, the buses are notorious for being unable to ascend slushy slopes, and even if people have snow tires on their cars, they’ve got no practice with driving under these conditions:  Staying home is pretty easy to validate as an intelligent choice.

Besides which, as we’ve established, I don’t like my job, and apparently I’m childish enough to act out by playing hooky as opposed to being a responsible adult and simply resigning.

Anyway… Snow!

K is unimpressed by the snow. Oats gave her and her sisters a lot of kitchen scraps early in the morning, Sum added extra hay to their coop, and I put in a bucket of hot water for them to drink and/or hug, so I’m sure they’ll get over it.

This is the first time Mo has ever seen this much snow, and it’s safe to say that he really likes it. He especially likes it when we kick snow up in the air, and he gets to try to catch it in his mouth, or pounce on it as it hits the ground.

We went for a walk: It was quiet, and cold, and fun.

Happy dog, with snowy whiskers.

Just a few days ago, I was looking at the snow pics Amak posted and getting all nostalgic about winter (or rather, a winter that’s not all about rain), so this weather is making me feel pretty cheerful. That attitude might change, because it’s not due to stop snowing anytime soon, and I suppose I’ll have to deal with getting back to my job and other practical concerns. At the moment, however, I’ve got some defrosted puff pastry that I’m going to go make into an apple tart, and plans to meet friends at the pub down the street for an early dinner, and Sum’s going to give me a massage later this evening… I feel like I’m on a sudden holiday, and it’s awesome.