One Hour, No Power, and That’s O.K.

Tonight I am cooking a romantic dinner for two that has absolutely nothing to do with my dog.

It’s not just dinner. It’s a romantic dinner. For two.

It has been approximately one year and two months since I last did that. In the meanwhile, I’ve cooked romantic dinners for friends, romantic dinners for families, and just plain dinners for two sans romance.

Tonight is romantic. And I’m cooking.

For those of you who don’t understand the significance of this, you must note that I was born with an over-developed nurturing bone. The easiest and clearest way I know how to demonstrate my affections is to care for someone. My favourite way to care for someone is to make sure they are well-fed.

This is not to say I haven’t cared for anyone in the last year and two months. I have. A few people, in fact. Something prevented me from laying it on. I cooked one or two intimate meals during that time, and realized almost as dinner hit the table that it was perhaps a bit hasty of me. In one instance, it was a simple “thank you”. I realized what cooking means. What it can represent, and so I’ve held on to that one, mostly. Until tonight.

From this you can conclude that I am lowering the drawbridge a little. Just a little. It feels like the thing to do, in a simple, easy way.

Dinner will be served at this so-called “Earth Hour” when we are asked to kill all the hydro. This will force us to eat by candle-light. I’ve always thought that the most important things are easier to see by candlelight.

So there it is. Dinner for two. At the Fortress of Solitude.


A Little Bit of Brownie for the Soul

I tend to write more when I’m angsty or blue or distressed. That is most certainly not the case this last week. It might have a lot to do with the seasonal shift. It might have a lot to do with something else. It might have a lot to do with my fabulous job. At any rate, I don’t want to be a one-note blogger, so I’m making an effort to write from this currently very happy place…

Today I happened upon this while eating some fiercely delicious leftover pizza concocted by my dear friend Joshua Hind. It made me smile, and it made my heart sing a little, and I wanted to share it with you:

From the Globe and Mail ‘Lives Lived’ section


Wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, friend, nurse, inspiration. Born March 20, 1909, in Winnipeg. Died Oct. 20, 2008, in Winnipeg after a fall, aged 99.

At 75, Brownie was tap dancing. At 80, she was playing tennis. At 991/2, she was planning her 100th birthday party. Nobody loved a party like Brownie – especially if it was for her.

She wore bright colours and wouldn’t leave the house without lipstick. No Winnipeg winter day was too cold for her regular walk, and she was into healthy eating long before it was trendy. She overcame breast cancer at 54 and again at 71 without slowing down.

Until a month before her death she read two newspapers a day, watched CNN and read fiction voraciously.

Her real name was Claris but she was born with dark hair so she was called Brownie. It stuck.

Brownie graduated from the Winnipeg General Hospital as a registered nurse. She nursed there and also did private nursing. In 1927, the quiet, studious Sam Freedman asked her out. She was his first and only date. They married in 1934, although he hadn’t saved the $25 he felt he needed to get married.

Their marriage was fabulous until Sam died in 1993 from Parkinson’s disease. Brownie and Sam adored each other. They had three children – Martin, Susan and Phyllis. Their spouses, plus 10 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, expanded Brownie’s inner circle of love. She was always on their side, no questions asked.

Brownie hosted parties with great style. As Sam’s star rose – he became chief justice of Manitoba and chancellor of the University of Manitoba – Brownie was always the power behind him. He knew that. We were never sure she did.

Brownie and Sam had a great life together. They travelled annually to Israel for Hebrew University meetings, were involved in their beloved Winnipeg and spent summers at Clear Lake, northwest of the city.

This past year, Brownie reread the love letters Sam wrote during their courtship and went over the countless scrapbooks she’d made, reliving more than 60 years of life with him.

Brownie outlived most of her contemporaries but had many friends, some younger than her children. Her devoted friend Veronica Mensforth took her to appointments, shopped for her and eased her later years.

A month before her death, small strokes left Brownie sometimes confused. Then she broke her ankle – she chose a hot-pink cast – and faced a future in a wheelchair. “This is beyond a joke,” she said. One afternoon she refused nourishment, and within 12 hours died peacefully. She left life as she lived it, on her own terms.

Brownie had a long and terrific run, inspiring family and friends with her positive attitude, her intelligence and her amazing zest for life.

Susan Freedman is Brownie’s daughter.

Sire of Nations

When the light is pure and clear, and the sky an unmatched blue,
I walk in silent woods, I squish softly over the gently yielding earth,
The newly-supple earth made wet and heady from the thaw.

I breathe, slowly, tentatively. That ever-present hand rests gently against my chest,
(to steady me? to ready me? to still me in my tracks?)
I breathe deeper, and this hand, this halter slips through me.

My eyes crinkle against the return of the sun, but I cannot, I will not shield them.
The winter has been so long, and so dark, that the crisp, golden glow is welcome
A friend who has gone on a journey, and has so long been away
That their homecoming is like discovering them all over again.

I am discovering all over again…

The thaw brings the exuberant song of returning birds,
Brings mysterious green stirrings under the bed of long-dead leaves,
Brings the perfume of the cleansing rain,
the rushing of the streams and rising of creek waters
and the hope that was never very far away at all.

Digging in My Heels

I am a bloated, anxious, pre-menstrual mess right now, and as luck would have it, I have a date tonight.

So what’s a girl to do?

After three outfit changes, I found something that’s cute, in a flattering colour, that doesn’t make me feel like a street vendor sausage ready to burst out of it’s casing. It’s fairly shapeless, and has a plunging neckline, so I can at least work my swollen boobs in my favour.

This does nothing to change the fact that I will spend a good chunk of the evening feeling like Jabba the Hut.

Do men get to experience anything like this? I don’t think I know a single guy who once a month looks in the mirror and wants to cry. Actually, it’s not just looking in the mirror that’s inspiring tears today. It’s songs on the radio, subway ads, notes from friends. The wind.

I’m starving too. Like no amount of food can fill me up. I know in these moments to try to avoid sugar, because then I really spiral out of control. I get hyper, and babble like crazy. Then I crash in a heap, and need to be in bed, stat. This happened after brunch today. I couldn’t stay awake on the subway, and then I slept for two hours with my cat on my head when I got home.

The plan is to have three top choices for dinner. All I can think about is a GIANT bowl of spaghetti with meatballs as big as my aforementioned swollen boobs. There is a PERFECT place on the way to the movie theatre too, but I know eating that many carbs will make me very sorry indeed.

Moments like this make me miss those blissful, domestic moments where I don’t care about being seen in track pants, and I can just lay on the couch watching movies with someone, with the dog sprawled out unconscious. There are likely peanut M&Ms in this utopia too.

I have half an hour to figure out how NOT to appear like a total spazz this evening.

What I usually do in these scenarios is meditate on the ancient, pagan power of menses. (No, I’m not joking) I think of tribal women with flowing hair performing magical fertility rites by the light of the full moon. I think of Amazonian warriors, and how a little bloating and insanity would be welcome and celebrated with a roaring bonfire and the strapping young lads from the next island over. I try to find the power in something that has become so powerless and embarrassing in our culture, and I try to be grateful and easier on myself.

Oh, and I usually have a BIG glass of red wine.

On Hawkeyes and Butterflies

Arthur and I went walking in the park. This activity is my one of my favourite things, and it is best done just Arthur and I. We notice things together; smells, sounds, new stirrings in the forest. The weather was extraordinary on this particular romp. Crisp, but clear. Not a cloud in the sky. Everywhere smelled like Spring.

Arthur loves me the most when he is free to roam, and to sniff things.

My heart felt happy, and hopeful, and fairly certain that this last year has been one of the most important.

On the way out of the park, I heard strange bird-sounds. Nothing I could identify. I looked up and saw high in the tree above two small hawks. They were perched on opposite branches, peeping away at each other. I looked for a nest, but there wasn’t one. Yet. They were clearly courting; I could tell by the way the she-hawk tilted her head and listened to the male. I fell still and watched, unnoticed, feeling very lucky to witness these two very powerful creatures during such a tender moment.

I wonder what they say to each other?

I’ll bet he isn’t telling her he wants to fix her, or complete her. I’ll bet he’s not trying to rustle her feathers just to say he did. I’ll bet he’s not interested in getting in her head and breaking her down until she has no idea who she is anymore. (A she-hawk would claw the eyes out of anyone who tried such an audacious thing.)

I would bet, if I had to, that his courting sounds a bit like this:

“Hey there strong, free and fierce she-bird; capable of tearing the heads off of small woodland creatures and eating their still-beating hearts from their steaming cavities…I know that you can have your pick of any of the other hawks in this hood, but I think you’re beautiful, and I think you possess an ancient wisdom that really moves me. I also think I’d hunt really well alongside you. I’d bring bits of shit to your nest that you would find really delightful and amusing, and I know I’d be fairly decent partner. Whaddya say we get it on for a while?”

Do you think, knowing that their talons could strike out eyes, and knowing that they can spot both predator and prey from miles away, that she-hawks get nervous when they like someone?


Remember when this term had nothing to do with social media?

I love the idea that spring time is when everyone starts to tingle again. That there is something in the air that makes us want to shave our legs on a regular basis “just in case”.

I spontaneously got a manicure and pedicure tonight after work. I feel pretty, and girly, and like I have a bit more bounce than usual. I feel like sweeping off the patio, and buying tulips for my living room. I feel like I’m done with the snow, the gray, the cold, and the feeling like I don’t want to leave my house.

Bring on the sturdy rubber boots, beautiful ivory trench coat, delicate vintage umbrella and a fresh new hair cut.

I saw green mossy things poking up out of the ground this morning, and I feel like the world is filled with possibilities.

Emoticons Mean Something is Wrong

What have we become when we must take the time to draw little faces using punctuation marks instead of searching for the correct words to convey our meaning and intent? What does it say about us when we must use abbreviations to describe a response, instead of telling someone that we are delighted or amused by what they have just said to us?

I am thinking about the way we communicate today.

This weekend, I was reminded of how lovely it is to just discover someone while looking into their eyes, watching how the planes of their face change as they smile, and hearing their intonations and inflections as they reveal themselves through anecdotes and factual information. People only truly reveal themselves when they are face-to-face.

Email has replaced putting our hands to paper, and has replaced receiving actual letters that we can hold on to and cherish, or reflect upon later. Text messages have replaced phone calls. Facebook allows us to post as much or as little about ourselves as we like in the public domain. This blog has mostly replaced my journal, which I write in much less frequently.

Where is the romance in communication in our modern age?

You can flirt with email. You can send songs, and lyrics, and poetry. It is a new serenade I suppose. You can take photos of the world as you see it with your iphone, and instantly email these to whomever you are trying to woo. You can lay your heart out in Yahoo, and click send, offering up slices of your soul that may just find their way into someone’s junk mail. You can create a profile of yourself on internet dating sites with carefully selected words, and photos, hoping that someone might fall just a little bit in love with you this way. Text messaging can become the new love note in your lunch box, or a prelude to a romantic liason.

Since just before December, I had been emailing someone I have never met in real life. He discovered me on an online dating site. (I have since deleted my profile, but that’s another story for another time.) Our exchange has been fascinating, as we are both writers, and are both very comfortable expressing ourselves through our words. I’m now fairly certain that we will never meet in person, and part of me is very sad about that. Rather than dwell on the negative, I’m choosing to be grateful for what I consider to be an incredible kick-start to my writing. My letters were a direct link from my heart to paper, which brought my writing to a deeper level than what exists even here, in Schnooville. Because of this, I think I had developed some unrealistic expectations, but I’m mostly at peace with this now. Sometimes people just want to dip their toes into your soul. Getting their heads wet is not for everyone.

What is important here is the knowledge that real, true connection must happen in the physical world to be complete. This is what I need. My world has changed in this last year. I used to be able to speak about feelings and ideas. Now I am more comfortable to write about them. This is mostly true in a romantic context. Fortunately, I am still able to verbally communicate with my friends.

What would be wonderful, I think, would be to be able to look into a new set of eyes and say out loud some of the things in my heart. What would be wonderful, I think, would be for them to continue to look at me as they ask me to elabourate, and then tell me what is in their own heart. What would be wonderful, most wonderful, would be understanding and appreciation.

Low Rise Genes

This stopped me in my tracks today, and I had to share it. It was posted on a hydro pole outside of my office. Here’s a close up, which I hope you can read:

Imagine being so frustrated with the opposite sex, you had to post a public notice? If you had to write a PSA about your dating frustrations, what would that look like? I’m sure anyone who is reading this blog regularly would be able to draft mine, but here it is, just for the record.

Stop treating women like they are sub-human

An observation about the way women are often treated:

Men seem to really like to work their way into two things; a woman’s pants, or a woman’s head. Sometimes they try to get inside both. Very rarely are they concerned with getting inside a woman’s heart or her soul.

Once inside either pants or head, they root around a little, pick up the odd personal effect and sniff it or shake it. They will usually leave a pair of dirty socks in a ball somewhere to find later, and the second the woman gets confused and tries to show them into the heart or soul, they vacate the premises immediately and then pretend they were never there in the first place.

If 85% of men are only interested in heartless, soulless connections with women that are only based on pants-less mambos, and cerebral canasta, and 95% of women are looking for a loving committed partner who will share their life with them, this will result in a lot of lonely, angry women. These women will probably never let you in their pants, and will act stupid and boring on purpose so you don’t try to stick your fingers in their gray matter.

Most men make no effort whatsoever to ensure that women are being treated like they are more than novelty items or that women have opportunities to have their faith in the opposite sex restored.

In other news, in our country you can stab, hack up, decapitate, and eat chunks of another human being and never, ever have to serve jail time if you tell people that god asked you to do it. They’re absolutely right, that IS criminally insane!

Seems to me like it’s bed time. I think I sound a little cranky in this post.

(insert maniacal laughter here.)

On Dodging

Here is what I am learning about myself; my intuition is never, ever wrong.

If there is something about a person that is making me uneasy, all I need to do is close my eyes and I can hear things. I can hear little snippets of the truth, their truth. Their emotional truth. It’s hard to describe, because it comes in impressions. They are quick flashes. Thoughts that occur to me suddenly, but on a deep resonant level I know they are truth.

So how do I get into trouble?

Reflecting on the last eleven months of my life, I can see how my eyes and ears and gut have guided me away from bad situations over, and over. After that last one, that really bad one, we’ll never be asleep that way again. The challenge remains the same, however.

Sometimes we just can’t believe it is true.

It’s common to ask questions when a deep, secret voice in your heart says things like:

“He feels like this was a big mistake, and now he’s trapped and will resent you for this if you stay.”

“She has kissed him and is currently trying to sleep with him behind your back. This will happen, and you will never really know.”

“She is intimidated by you, and afraid of your vibrancy, so she needs you to be out of her environment.”

“He will always love her, and will forever keep her in the picture, as well as try to keep you under his thumb because he likes this feeling of power.”

“He was lying, and this lie has resulted in the same tragedy before.”

“You are one of many who he has played this game with, and it’s most certainly a game to him.”

“He genuinely likes you, but will always be looking at the greener grass, and will never be content.”

“He believes he could love you, but he knows that most of the appeal is in the distance and the mystery.”

“He knows you’re not really his type, but he still really wants to sleep with you, so he can speak of you as a novelty to friends and future lovers.”

Of course, this intuition is a two-way street. Fortunately I can feel all of the love and good intention too. I’m very grateful for this, and perhaps I need to tune my ear to listen more carefully for these signals.

Right now, with no filter, it can be overwhelming.

What has happened? I’d like to offer an opinion or two:

a.) I behaved exactly as I was supposed to. I was like a ball of loosely wound yarn in the paws of a tired and battle-scarred alley cat. I unraveled fairly easily, (because that is the nature of yarn) and when the unavoidable knots occurred, the cat got bored; yawned and stretched, pawed again once or twice to test for signs of life, and then found a sweet, plump bird with a fractured wing. (likely on the other side of a chain-link fence with a perfectly cat-shaped hole.)

b.) I fell into my familiar guilty pattern of romanticizing situations and individuals. I attached feelings to surfaces with no adhesive, that really did not want any adornment, so fueled was I by my own agenda, overflowing with expectation. I completely and totally misinterpreted the context, and came away utterly dissatisfied with the ending of the story.

c.) All of thee above.

In other news, I have a friend who lives far away. This friend visits every now and again. We laugh a lot and it is lovely. Each visit makes me wonder why we are friends. There must be some explanation, right?