home beach (with red sand still between my toes)

 
Have spent much of the last month on beautiful beaches that aren’t mine.

Mountain ringed BC lakes like mirrors and, most recently, those endless and magnificent PEI ones made of solitude, red sand, stone cliffs, cormorants and washed up lobster traps.

Now I’m back home.

And where I live the beach has no red sand and the cliffs are more cute than seriously cliffy. Sometimes there’s solitude, sometimes dogs chasing sticks in the surf, families and picnics and the smacking lips of lovers, people who have happily found another who likes ‘long walks on the beach at sunset’. The cormorants are sea gulls and hang around the chip truck. Beach litter runs more to Timmy cups than lobster traps.

Do I look like I care?

#homebeachlove #colourblind

dsc07516dsc07517dsc07519dsc07518dsc07521dsc07520 dsc07535dsc07523Saw a monarch that was caught in the splash of a wave, one wing pinned under a tiny pebble. I saw it as I walked past looking for beach glass, assumed it was dead but reached down anyway and moved the pebble… and the wings fluttered. I let it climb onto my hand and it stayed there drying in the sun until a group of young girls noticed and squealed about a butterfly on that lady’s hand!!  and came running over to touch it. Better not to, I told them. It’s already had enough excitement and has to fly to Mexico when it catches its breath. They were that age where their eyes go all bright when you tell them about insects and Mexico and as their hands went down to their sides I saw that they suddenly wanted less to touch it then than to hope for its safe journey.

The winged thing climbed up my arm as I continued along the beach and I worried it would fall off and be trampled on the sand before it dried, so decided to introduce it to a stand of milkweed where it happily fluttered off my sleeve and onto a nearby shrub to check its GPS.

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fave pictures taken this weekend, with not a care in the world (nor a chip in my camera)

 
Me on George the tawny horse with a butterscotch mane at the trail ride stables.  I say to the trail guide, “Take one of just me and George… I want to put it in my office to look at every day.” George is magnificent and uninspired to moving too quickly. His whole raison d’etre being to follow the lead horse at a reasonable pace and sneak the occasional bit of greenery, which is often as I have no ability to use the reins and George knows this. We are happy together.

Kayla the trail  guide.  All blonde hair and freckles, a country lass unaware of her sweetness and the charm of her stories about being home-schooled and how she lives for horses, has five part-time jobs to keep one horse and how a horse will tell you what’s wrong with you, emotionally or physically, because if you spend enough time with it the horse takes on your problems and you can see yourself in them like a mirror.

Children in my house eating watermelon and jumping on a mini trampoline. Occasionally at the same time. To which I say: “No choking please…  because
I am not in the mood today for children choking in my house.”

Tiny hands shoveling spoonfuls of peaches and ice cream.

Tiny hands picking fat blackberries. Also argument over how there isn’t an equal number of ripe ones for all three sets of hands.

Three orders of poutine at the beach. Most of which is eaten. None of which is mine. Mine is an order of fries.

Seagulls awaiting poutine.

Flip-flops flopping in the water.  Until they’re nearly stolen by the lake and the better idea by the wearer of the flip-flops is that I carry them.

Skinny legged beach cartwheels.  Dozens it seems, one sweeter than the next. Not mine, by the way. I have neither skinny legs nor ever been able to master the sweet cartwheel… only the kind that goes by a different description. After that, some other gymnastic moves that need only ribbons to make them an Olympic event. (Now there we have something I’m good at: ribbon dancing.)

Lad skipping stones. Correction. Lad trying  to skip stones. Lads, I discover, aren’t especially amused when aunties come along and say Want me to show you how it’s done?   And then do.

And other stones. Especially those as described in the wonderful Pinny in Summer, which is read aloud to the soundtrack of Lake Ontario waves. (Smiles all around when we find JUST THE PERFECT ONE.)

Cloud shaped like the skeleton of a rabbit.  Sad but true.

A radiant palm holding five colours of beach glass:  white, green, dark blue, brown and possibly yellow, or just pale pale brown. Either way, ridiculously exciting haul.

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peace. and love. pass it on.

DSC06001You who are on the road
Must have a code that you can live by

And so, become yourself
Because the past is just a goodbye
DSC06002Teach your children well
Their father’s hell did slowly go by
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picked, the one you’ll know by
DSC06004Don’t you ever ask them why
If they told you, you would cry
So just look at them and sigh
And know they love you
DSC06008Teach your parents well
Their children’s hell will slowly go by
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picked, the one you’ll know by
DSC06007Don’t you ever ask them why
If they told you, you would cry

So just look at them and sigh
And know they love you

 

here, and there

 
Walking in the woods isn’t quite the same as it was last week.
DSC05570DSC05553It’s hard to tromp about today and only marvel at the beauty and stillness and fresh earthy smells.
DSC05558The early flowers and birdsong. Tra la, tra la.
DSC05543DSC05586I heard a story on the radio this morning about a woman from Fort McMurray who lost her wedding dress in the fire.
DSC05559I thought how trite. A dress?  Why is this a story?

I made my breakfast as I listened. Eggs, toast, tea.
DSC05562The woman explained how friends had posted about the dress and people from all across the country offered her a replacement. How she chose one from Toronto, where she’s getting married tomorrow on the island.

There was nothing trite about her tone. She was a woman who’d left her home at a moment’s notice with cats and dog and rabbit and who somehow made her way to Toronto where she was now on the radio, stunned at the turn of events.
DSC05577And all she wants is what anyone would want… for things to be normal.

And that, I thought, is where the dress comes in.

Because our normals may be different things and we may not immediately recognize each other’s version, but I suspect the dress is hers and how brilliant that, in the face of everything else that is such madness, she’ll be able to get married in something that makes her feel that maybe not all is lost.

Even though she said she could just as easily wear a tee shirt and jeans.
DSC05563And so my walking is different these days because of how I’m thinking about those forests over there and these here, the same, yet not, and I’m thinking about nature, generally, how we’re nothing against it, and the nature of people too, the kindness of strangers and the need for anchors in our lives and how they’re so often what we least expect or even imagine.
DSC05571 DSC05572And I’m thinking about the woman and the thousands like her…

…here, and there. So many ‘theres’.

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So.

Happy wedding on Toronto’s Centre Island, stranger from Fort McMurray…

And welcome.

We’ll be raising a glass to you.

 

♥♥♥

Information on how to help residents of Fort McMurray (or receive help).

Donations made through the Red Cross are being matched dollar for dollar by the Federal Gov’t.

 

 

so the other day i had canada’s justice system explained to me

 

Still slightly gobsmacked after a conversation about our justice system with someone who knows how these things work, who is part of the system at a very high level (let’s call them Hank), during which conversation I was informed that the system is, in fact, designed to protect the accused… the onus being on the accuser to prove that a certain ‘thing’ occurred as alleged.

Okay…

I was also informed by Hank that, depending on which court the case is tried in (in this province that would be either the Superior Court of Justice or the Ontario Court of Justice), it’s up to the accused  as to whether or not they would *like* a jury. It’s also up to the accused as to whether or not they would *like* to take the stand. Or, I’m assuming, whether or not they’d like extra frothy froth on their latte.

The accuser (aka the alleged victim) has no such choice. Hmmm. So while they are repeatedly interrogated and grilled, dirty laundry hung out for all to see, the accused (aka the person who allegedly choked and punched them) is not asked a single question…. Have I got this right?

Hank nods. Yes indeedy, he says, repeating that it’s in order to protect the accused.  He goes on to say what a grand system it is too and if I’m ever accused of anything I’ll be darned pleased about it.

I’m sure I would be, I say, but something just doesn’t sit right. For example, it seems a tad unfair to the accuser (so often women it’s worth noting). Especially if the grilling gets into whacking territory.

Hank doesn’t comment on whacking. He winces instead. Then he explains (rather haughtily I think) that if we didn’t assume innocence for the accused until proven guilty, we’d be like Russia.

Or France, I add.

More wincing. (I’m pretty sure Hank is partial to French wine, croissants and the light in Provence.)

Or France, I say again…

Yes, yes. Or France. He admits that France (along with a number of other countries) subscribe to what is known as an Inquisitorial System, unlike Canada, which takes its model from the British Adversarial System, a system that allows the alleged aggressor to have frothy froth if they choose while the alleged choking victim who did some childish and stupid things in her past can just please sit there and explain why she can’t remember every detail of every day for the past fifteen years.

It’s called lying!  Hank says. He believes accusers whose can remember the choking but not the bikini are nothing but liars!!  He seems to enjoy the word,  insinuating the lying happens a lot. After all, he says, what’s to stop a woman saying whatever she wants?

Yeah, women get all the breaks, I say.

He doesn’t respond. And when I want to talk about the way trauma plays with memory Hank does not welcome this line of chat.

The worst thing he can think of happening, he tells me suddenly, is that an innocent person be found guilty. He says this with tremendous passion.

What about a guilty person who is found innocent? I ask. The question hangs in the air.

Finally, I mention the quite dandy idea of “a subset of judges with special training in the psychological dynamics of sexual assault” and while Hank agrees that it may not be an entirely bad thing he also says that it’s not entirely necessary. He also says Heather Mallick is crazy.

I disagree. Her piece last week is right on the money.

I ask Hank if it were his daughter that was in the accuser’s position, that is, a daughter who claims she was beaten and choked by a ‘date’, would he advise her to take the case to court?

He says he would not advise any such thing.

I regret not thinking at the time to ask him if it were his son who was in the accuser’s position, at the hands of, say a superior at work, a son who had been choked, threatened, punched. Would he advise his son to speak up or just put his tail between his legs and let it pass, keep going to work like a good boy. And if, after a dozen years when his son couldn’t keep it to himself any longer and spoke up for justice… but couldn’t remember every detail… couldn’t remember that, oh yeah, eleven years ago he accepted that invite to the boss’s backyard BBQ and even sent a thank you note…AFTER the (alleged) choking/punching incident… would you call your son a liar, Hank?

Would you??

And if you’d advise your son differently than your daughter… would you mind telling me why?

I’m curious. Plus, it’s not a small point. But even if the advice you were to give both your son and your daughter was the same, i.e. to let the accused (aka possibly known abusive person) go free and possibly do it again, and again… and again…  then would you mind telling me again about justice?

Because I think I missed something.

And you, Hank, you know about these things.

Oh, and, if anyone’s asking, I’ll have a little extra froth.

No one’s asking? Fine. Never mind….

scales

 

simon says

 
A boy in his driveway the other day shouts hello as I pass. He says his name is Simon, what’s mine? I say Carin and he tells me he has a Batman tee shirt. He opens his coat. I say that’s some great tee shirt and he says yeah, then tells me he’s seven. Not that I asked. He continues talking, about being seven maybe, or the tee shirt, just chattering away… all of this in only seconds; I’ve barely slowed my stride. His mum is raking leaves, smiling. And in all the chattering somewhere the boy asks… in a way he might ask a chum at school, or anyone… “How old are you?”  His mother’s smile immediately turns into a nervous laugh, she puts down her rake, edges Simon toward the house and tells him that isn’t the sort of question he’s supposed to ask. Meanwhile I’ve answered by saying “Well, I’m not seven!”, as I continue on my way. Also laughing nervously.

And for the rest of my walk all I can think about is why.

Why is that not the sort of question Simon should ask? And is it only not the sort of question Simon should not ask people of certain ages? And how should Simon know which ages those are? And who decides that anyway? And doesn’t the whole way his mother reacted give off a vibe that suggests to Simon, if only subliminally, that there’s something *wrong* about certain ages and THAT’S why we don’t ask.

And if there’s something wrong with certain ages… what, exactly  is that wrongness? I mean if Simon were to ask his mother Why can’t I ask?  what would she say? Something about politeness probably. But why is it polite NOT to ask someone their age when you are seven and you ask everyone ? (And everyone asks you.)

Of course I was taught the same lesson as a kid. (But we’re back to the why… Is it to spare people the embarrassment of admitting they aren’t seven, or twenty-seven or thirty-seven or whatever decade + seven it suddenly becomes an embarrassment to *be*?)

North America’s twisted version of age aside, what really bothered me was my own response, that weird bit of laughter I threw out in order to make Simon’s mother feel okay about the whole thing. By laughing it off, by saying “Well, I’m not seven,” I condoned her discomfort and was party to the stupid lesson Simon was being taught.

Why didn’t I just answer the question?

Conditioning, that’s why. (And, mostly, conditioning almost always sucks.)

The thing is I happen to be a non-ageist kind of person. Even as a kid (just like Simon) I barely noticed someone’s vintage. I still can’t see how it matters. It’s their energy that registers with me. One of my favourite people to hang out with lived to be 101 and it never struck me as an unusual match.

I also have friendships where *I’m* the 101 year old.

And a few in between.

The thing is this: dullness and negativity, ego and bullshit appear at every mile marker. So do joie de vivre, curiosity, kindness, engagement with life, humour, a creative spark and the balls to be yourself. A tedious schmuck at sixty was probably a tedious schmuck at thirty.

Only with better abs.

My walk takes me on a loop and eventually I’m heading back toward Simon’s house. I resolve to tell him my age as I pass. I’ll throw it out, casually, maybe mention that I have a fondness for the colours green and orange and yellow and that I do not  know how to tap dance. Not that anyone asked.

But the leaves in front of Simon’s house are raked and no one’s there.

Too bad. Because I think Simon would have found that particular line of chat quite normal. And that would have been so much better a lesson than the last.

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every party needs a pooper, that’s why you invited *me*…

 
Here’s the thing.

The Blue Jays.

Winning.

How great. I mean, it’s really great. I get that. Even though, in the spirit of full disclosure, I don’t give much of a rat’s back-end about sports.

I do, however, like happy people, I like the excitement, the joie de vivre all over the place (on game days), the way revellers make room for traffic. I love us. We deserve this, the winning, the mad happiness. Who wouldn’t love it?

They say this kind of thing brings people together. On game days. And the economy gets a boost. Liquor and beer stores, junk food purveyors. Hotels, TV networks, airlines. You know, the people who need a boost.

Oh, and Rogers Communications. Owners of the Blue Jays dynasty. Apparently their shares have gone up rather noticeably during this period of frenzied winning/not winning/winning. The TSX, on the other hand, went down during the same period. But let us not concern ourselves with negatives.

The Jays are winning!

And we are being brought together as a community.

On game days.

However, in between and especially after the game days are over … it is, sadly, business as usual. That’s to say the homeless (‘boosted’ too by all the Blue Jay excitement) will still be homeless. Children will go to school hungry. If they go at all. Women will be beaten by spouses, some of them sports *stars* high-on-winning  adrenaline, some just assholes, others on welfare, most somewhere in the middle. Old people will still die alone and prisons will continue to fill and the rest of us will still hate and judge and hate some more. No matter how big, how grand or how much money is thrown at sporting events, no matter how exciting or how often we are told these things bring people together… there are no games that have brought the world, or even a city, or even a community, together in a way that sticks beyond the game days. As far as I know, no Olympics or World Series has erased persecution, corruption or any manner of ‘isms’. After the winning, a handful of men will wander off into the horizon with truckloads of gold while the rest of us are scraping cold pizza off our couches. Nothing will be any different. Aboriginal communities will still have undrinkable water and mould on their paper thin walls and the oceans will still be clogged with the debris of our need to turn away, to be distracted by something more pleasant than reality, like the easy god of sports and winning. (Remind me…winning for the sake of what again?)

Oh yeah. Because winning is fun.

Right.

I get that. I do.

It just seems so trivial. The players and owners, I understand why they want to win. (And it’s not for the joie de vivre.) But what do we get?

(I know that certain players and individuals contribute privately to various organizations with their time and money… it’s not about individuals. This really is about the owners, the corporate aspect of sports.)

So I was thinking, what if we got something too… what if the corporate aspect, the people that make the ten trillion dollars from our love of the game celebrated each win by donating some of their gold to the community. To feed those kids or build some housing or offer opportunities to people who’d otherwise have none. There are agencies in every city that would gratefully accept a few thousand bucks. A few hundred  thousand, for every game won during playoffs… well, that could change  a city.

Now that would be worth cheering for, winning  for, no?

“Big Sports” (and it’s always ‘male sporting events’) are a powerful vehicle. By adding this element we lose none of the fun. All we do is add ‘goodness’. It stuns me that we don’t demand it.

800px-Enfant_sans_abri

Just an idea.

From your neighbourhood party pooper.

xo

(p.s. go jays.)

roadside attractions (aka: perspective)

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DSC03369

“There are always flowers for those that want to see them.”

—Henri Matisse. DSC03364DSC03365

“Some people see the glass half full, some see it half empty; I see a glass twice as big as it needs to be.”

—George Carlin DSC03366DSC03367“While there is perhaps a province in which the photograph can tell us nothing more than what we see with our own eyes, there is another in which it proves to us how little our eyes permit us to see.”

–Dorothea Lange

DSC03383DSC03384

“Nobody sees a flower really; it is so small. We haven’t time, and to see takes time…”

— Georgia O’Keeffe DSC03389DSC03390

“Reality simply consists of different points of view.”

Margaret Atwood DSC03392DSC03393“There is a kind of beauty in imperfection.”

—Conrad Hall DSC03394DSC03395“What we do see depends mainly on what we look for… In the same field the farmer will notice the crop, the geologists the fossils, botanists the flowers, artists the colouring, hunters the cover for the game. Though we may all look at the same things, it does not all follow that we should see them.”

–John Lubbock DSC03396DSC03397

“If you look the right way you will see that the world is a garden.”

—Frances Hodgson Burnett

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“Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?”

Groucho Marx

earth to sanity, come in, sanity…

I read an article this weekend, a piece on something called ‘earthing’. You’ll be forgiven if you don’t know this means walking in your bare feet. Outside.

It talked about how earthing makes us feel connected to the earth and how we instinctively know this is A Good Thing. Researchers (yes, researchers in walking barefoot) have named this knowledge “Unconscious Evolutionary Intelligence”. Because (I’m guessing) researchers like naming things. And if this isn’t exciting enough, it seems that science is now discovering what is happening to us, biochemically, when we earth. Early findings confirm what instinct has long instincted: walking about in nature feels nice.

The article goes on to say more research is needed (naturally!), to more fully understand how earthing works… but what they DO KNOW at this early stage is that, generally, it’s a good thing. (They used bigger words but that’s the gist.)

They cite health benefits and say that being in nature is becoming the new Vitamin N. (N for nature).

Health benefits. From nature.  Imagine.

Also… it appears that walking in nature is more relaxing  than the same amount of walking on concrete in a crowded city. Significant results in improved mood, for example. Apparently even just looking  at nature has some effect (as through a window with a view of trees vs a brick wall; studies show the tree people felt less stress).

Is your mind blown yet?

Or are you thinking: yeah, sure, it sounds good, but how do I do it??

Fortunately, the article ends with an instructional, telling us that if you want to “get grounded with our planet’s surface” all you need to do is (are you ready for this?)… simply sit, walk or play outdoors.

Am I going too fast?

Okay, more slowly this time.

Earthing 101:

Sit.

Walk.

Or play.

Outdoors.

In your bare feet.

But, FYI, if you’d rather not do it in bare feet, you can buy Earthing Shoes with conductive powers. Or if you’d rather not do it outside at all, there are Universal Earthing Pads to put under floor mats. Or Earthing Sheets and Mattresses. Or Earthing Auto Seat Pads if you’d prefer to connect with the earth from the comfort of your Chevy.

Otherwise, this weekend found me swimming in the rain to Brahms. I’m not sure what that’s called.

Also reading on the living room couch in a house with open windows while afore-mentioned rain continued most of the day and a door somewhere, slightly ajar, kept tap tapping against the frame, which made me remember the house I grew up in where windows were always open and doors often tapped like this. I associate the sound with fresh air. I have no idea if this activity has been named, or even discovered for that matter.

I planted pots of scented things on the patio… valerian and helitrope and meadow sweet and my favourite: apple geranium. All purchased from a grower who does not use neonic’d seeds.

Was I aromatizing?  Scentographing?  Maxi-fragrancing?

I cut chicory and arugula and kale for a salad lunch, and ate outside. We do have a name for this one; we call it “having lunch outside”.

And when the sun came out I hung laundry in the backyard (sheeting?).

Despite soggy conditions, I earthed while I did it.

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