"Someday's gonna be a busy day..."

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Just another night in the barn...

Sunday night, D and I did chores for my brother-in-law. I don't mind spending a night in the barn. But Sunday was just a Jonah night. It went something like this:

6:00 p.m. Walk into office, don sexy black latex gloves. Turn to find squished kitten on floor. Am no longer teary-eyed-horrified-by-dead-kittens; adopt grim-faced-that's-a-pity-let's-get-rid-of-it look, take Mr. Squishie outside to begin peaceful decomposition under pine tree.

6:08 p.m. Inadvertantly scare two cows while husband tries to tie them up in stalls. Oops.

6:10 p.m. Survey assortment of shovels.
D: Are you wearing C's good hat?
Me: Does he have a good hat?
D: He's gonna be wild.
Me: It was in with all the barn clothes! It's got poo stains on it!
D: I'm telling.

6:12 p.m. Begin shovelling crap off the walkway.
D: Is that the shovel we use to push the feed?
Me: I dunno.
D: Well, maybe don't use the shovel we use to push the feed to scrape up shit.
Me: It already has shit on it. Maybe you should label your shovels.

6:13 p.m. Husband flings wet poop at me with aforementioned shovel. Cursing match ensues.

6:18 p.m. Attempt to start milking. Realize cannot bend over in coveralls without risking serious loss to blood circulation. Have coveralls shrunk again???

6:30 p.m. Cow licks entire head. Am covered in clow slobber. Wish had not taken off brother-in-law's hat.

7:15 p.m. Prepare to help D and father-in-law switch cows out of stalls. Attempt to round up rowdy seven-week-old kittens to prevent death by trampling. Kittens do not cooperate. Hit head on barn door trying to wrestle ginger kitten from hiding place.

7:27 p.m. Want desperately to lay down somewhere quiet and cow-free.

7:28 p.m. D walks by. Has squirming ginger kitten in coverall pocket for safekeeping. Immediately forgive earlier manure-slinging incident.

Friday, 20 April 2012

The Cross and the Bunny

Here's a question for you:

Does one attempt to teach an almost-three-year-old about the Bibical origins of Easter, or does one just give her a chocolate bunny and run away?

I grappled with this last year. Thankfully D was there to snap me out of my religious/cocoa conundrum with his patented "Woman, have you lost your marbles?" stare when I broached the subject. He was right. My two year old didn't need to know about the cross just yet.

But this year Jade would be nearly three, Easter was around the corner, and I felt like I should be telling her about Jesus while she ate her chocolate eggs. Or how eggs and bunnies symbolized the rebirth of spring. Or something.

I was raised Lutheran by a father who didn't attend church and a mother who didn't believe in organized religion but made us go to the Lutheran church anyway. So Sunday School, confirmation, all that stuff - chore and bore. My sister and I got taught about the bible, but nothing was ever practised at home. I faithfully taught Sunday school and bible school all through my youth, and got to know the Bible inside and out, but didn't really undertand it on a spiritual or emotional level. It was just stuff I had to do.

Then I met up with a sincere, rowdy, fun, youthfully devoted bunch of born again Christians when I was sixteen and my life changed. I even got baptized - full immersion dunky-dunky style - when I turned 17. My mother watched reproachfully from the very back of the church; she was certain I'd joined a cult.

As I grew into my twenties, I enjoyed a vigourous faith in a church that felt like it was full of long-lost family members I never knew I had. I loved the prayer groups, the adult bible studies, the concerts and the services. I stage managed yearly plays with the church and led a young women's bible study group. I learned, read, debated and felt like I was on pretty solid ground with God.

My church life screeched to a halt during the last tumutous years with my ex, who was raised in a devout Christian home but had begun having crises of faith. Suddenly showing up at church without your husband back then was akin to standing up after a hymn and screaming, "MY HUSBAND IS A BACKSLIDER!" I couldn't handle the curious looks and gently pointed questions like, "So where's your hubby today?" And after the break-up, I gave up my old church all together. I began to attend a United Church down the street, where I could be silent and miserable in the back pew without any pity from the congregation. I loved the giant, beautiful, ornate space, the pastor seemed very kind, and I loved the way the church reached out to the local community. Most of all, I loved being anonymous.

When D and I began dating, I remember how D's mother proudly showed me all his sunday school pins for pefect attendance. He wouldn't be winning any pins these days, but he and I agree there is a God and that we're here to help our fellow humans. We sporadically attend the Pine River United church up here in Kinkytown, but our kids don't go regularly. Personally, I think they're too wild to be penned up inside a sunday school classroom just now. So teaching the finer points of religion is a responsibility that falls directly on our shoulders.

I ended up buying Jade a children's picture book that presented a fairly bloodless, less graphic version of the Easter story without missing any of the important plot points. Her only question was, "Where's heaven, Mummy?" And she still got lots of chocolate eggs and begged Grandpa not to shoot the Easter bunny.

I guess the main thing is that we present the kids with enough information to encourage them to think about God, spirituality and why things happen the way they do. I want them to have enough information to ask questions, even though I shudder to think about having these conversations when I'm no longer as solid with God as I once was. And eating a few chocolate bunnies while we talk won't hurt.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Things I do out of politeness

1) Eat roast beef that looks and tastes like boiled leather.

2) Host: What do you take in your coffee?
Me: Cream and sugar, if you have it.
Host: How about skim and sweetener?
Me: Ummmm....sure...

3) Allow myself to be kissed on the lips by people who aren't family.

4) Share my chapstick/lipbalm/lipstick.

5) Act grateful when someone presents me with a Tim Horton's gift certificate or product.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Red and Purple Stones

A cardinal sang outside my window nearly all day yesterday, on Rose's birthday. I've always thought of cardinals as my mother's spirit bird, and we hardly ever get cardinals at Someday so I smiled, and sighed, and smiled again.

I used to think about grief as something I needed to get over. Now I think of it more in terms of a necessary experience, something we all go through at one point or another in our lives. I've come to realize that it's a process without an ending. And I'm learning to be okay with that.

Although I hate cliches, I believe in the old adage, "time heals all wounds." They can heal cleanly, or they can fester for a while and heal in a slow, painful way. There are always scars in the end, faint though they may be. I don't mind, though. I like a little reminder of my battles.

Here's what I did to embrace my grief yesterday, on the anniversary of Rose's birth, of the day she left us, and became a part of us always:

- made a giant dish of pasta with all my favourite things in the sauce (wine, olives, sundried tomatoes, asparagus, garlic, cream)
- ate an obscenely large piece of the chocolate birthday cake Ruthie brought me
- read two chapters of my book in the stillness of an empty house
- walked the beach for an hour and collected all the red and purple stones I could find
- sat on the pier and watched a loon dive and surface while seagulls wheeled in the sky above us
- collected ingredients for a double batch of granola and mixed them with my hands; savoured the grainy, nutty, maple fragrances as the granola browned in the oven
- bought a very good bottle of wine, dropped blackberries into our glasses and drank deeply with D

But I suppose it's not how long you grieve for, or even how you choose to do it; it's for whom you grieve, and how you plan to keep them alive in your consciousness. I found a small purplish-rose coloured stone for Rose; I heard her cries in the voice of seagulls, felt her breath on the wind, her weight in the bag of stones I carried to the car. I see glimpses of her when I close my eyes.

For now, it is enough.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

To my daughter...

Rose Marie Lowry
April 3rd 2008

Silently a flower blooms
In silence it falls away;
Yet here now, at this moment, at this place,
The world of the flower, the whole of the world is blooming.
This is the talk of the flower, the truth of the blossom:
The glory of eternal life is fully shining here.

- Zenkei Shibayama