R3 says

24 Jan

January. What a month, eh?

Take a moment out of this ridiculous month to laugh at my youngest child!

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I have a cookie? Let’s just have all the cookies! Yay!! Oh! Let’s eat all the snakes too! Because snakes are evil and I hate them.

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Napalm tastes healthy.

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(Turns out light)

Aaahhh! I can’t see my eyes!!

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It was a freakin’ nice house. But it was creepy.

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Mom, sit here on the edge of the bed. This spot right here. It’s beautiful.

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Here mom, I made a sandwich for you!

Pretend to eat it! But it’s actually not for mommies!

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Whoa mom, don’t laugh so loud. Makes me want to run away! Hey, can I show you a magic trick?

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Look at my butt-crack mom, it’s beautiful!

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(While looking out the window)

I just want some peace and quiet!

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In the Graveyard

17 Jan

I’ve always loved graveyards.

I suppose cemetery is the proper term?

I have no idea.

Either or. I love them.

As a child, every trip to rural Manitoba wasn’t complete without a visit to the tiny Deloraine cemetery.

There, I guess they’re called cemeteries.

My grandmother wanted to put flowers on the graves of her parents and older brother.

When I was younger, I asked my Gramma how they all died. My wonderful Gramma, ever the pragmatist, always answered such questions succinctly and without avoidance.

Gramma, how did your older brother die?

He shot himself.

Oh! Wow. How to respond?

That sucks, Gramma!

No, dancing around the issue, just very matter of fact. And then we’d put flowers all over the headstones.

As much as she felt bound by tradition, respect, and decorum, to visit these graves every time we were in the area, Gramma really had no patience for nonsense.

It’s a bit nonsensical to place so much importance on a piece of granite. The person isn’t even there; it’s just bones and dust. But tradition is important sometimes, as are symbols of grief and loss.

As kids, my brother and I grew up thinking of cemeteries as peaceful park-like green spaces. Nobody really lives in a cemetery, but they serve a purpose in society.

My paternal grandparents are in the big Thunder Bay cemetery somewhere. Other relatives too I’m sure. I’ve never bothered to look.

Both my maternal grandparents didn’t want a gravestone. Or a grave for that matter. They’re scattered in the wilds of Northwestern Ontario. It’s a lot of money to spend on a rock.

Having said all that, I still love cemeteries.

I find them beautiful and peaceful. I love walking through and feeling the quiet. I also love running through with my kids and disturbing the quiet.

If nobody’s around I let them climb on the big gravestones. Why not? It’s fun! I think it’s a great way to normalize death. Death is inevitable and it’s a bad idea to keep it hidden from children.

So, in light of all these scattered ramblings, I can return to my original point: I love graveyards.

And I love death imagery. Crows, ravens, hellhounds, skulls, graves, and a myriad of other things that would fall into the category of “Halloween decor.”

In the fall I wanted to explore some of the “darkness” in a photography project.

Big surprise, right? There goes Leah, off and running with another photo shoot idea.

This time, I recruited my friend Shelley and a photographer named Matt and we drove out to a tiny cemetery in an outlying farming community.

The idea was simple enough: two friends enjoying a picnic. The twist, of course, is that the two friends are witches and their idea of a perfect picnic spot is beside a gravestone. And their idea of picnic fare is slightly unconventional.

All in all, it’s a deliciously macabre event on a beautiful sunny day!

As usual, we had some makeup help from our dear Scotia of Sweet Cherry Spa.

Then we went for a nice country drive. We were hoping for cloudy skies but it was very sunny so we just embraced it.

This was such a fun way to spend an afternoon.

I loved the dark subject matter paired with the bright sunny day.

But I wasn’t done.

I still wanted something dark paired with dark.

This time Matt and I aimed for an evening photo shoot and we recruited another Eating Dirt favourite. We set the scene in a friend’s backyard: forest surroundings and handmade art.

And more Scotia!

We had planned for Lady Death to meet up with Lady Darkness in a deserted (but beautiful) graveyard. We had many ideas of what Death and Darkness could do together, such as play a game of cards, smoke a cigar, and have a drink.

It was to be old friends (old as time) who get together every few centuries for some innocent fun.

But it was cold! Which made for a lovely photography back drop, but impeded any long stretches of outdoor creativity!

Death still met Darkness, as planned, but no card games or drinks. Rather, it was a shorter visit with some sparring and smiling.

My hands and feet were cold for six hours after I got home.

Worth it.

These two photography projects centre on darkness, but the big idea we should take away here is that things aren’t always what they seem.

A bright and beautiful day full of clear skies and sunshine is the setting for a gruesome picnic. Look closer, these aren’t the girls next door popping out for sandwiches and cookies.

A dark night where all appears frozen and eerie is the setting for a possibly sinister meeting. Is it going to be an evening of conflict? Nope! It’s just friends having fun.

A graveyard, or a cemetery, doesn’t have to be scary or uncomfortable. A cemetery can be a place of calm and contentment or even a place of silly irreverence.

Things aren’t always what they seem.

Thank you to Matt, my photographer friend.

Thank you Shelley.

Thank you to Jay (he helped with the driving out to the country cemetery).

Thank you to Diane.

Thank you to Luc.

Thank you to Scotia.

How lovely it is to be surrounded by friends and artists who want to jump on board when the desire to create takes hold.

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Reflections and Pictures

31 Dec

The end of a year always brings reflection.

I’m looking back even further than 2017.

If I look back a decade, this date ten years ago, I was pregnant with my first child but didn’t know it yet.

I was in love with my amazing husband and really loving my life. My Gramma came for Christmas. 2007 ended perfectly.

2008 brought a difficult pregnancy and a difficult job. The job ended when the baby came. Life was exhausting but lovely. 2008 ended at a New Year’s Eve party with my husband.

2009 began with loss, my husband’s grandmother and mother. Overall, it was a good year for me, though.

2010 saw the purchase of our first home: a home to accommodate another child. Then came the pregnancy.

2011 brought us our second son and began the incredibly difficult task of balancing a toddler and a baby. I knew it would be difficult, but never imagined how overwhelmed I’d be.

2012 was just being a mom. Just trying to survive.

2013 was better.

2014 was even better. I felt like I was becoming myself again. I derailed the “becoming me” project by getting pregnant again. I lost myself. It was a terrible and soul-sucking pregnancy.

2015 continued with more of the awful pregnancy which had become all consuming and life threatening. Relief came with the birth of our third son. Followed quickly by the loss of my grandmother. It was scary and exhausting, but somehow lovely at the same time. My family was definitely complete. Despite the problems, I was very content and at peace with my boys.

2016 came and I started trying to rebuild myself again. Who am I? What’s my purpose aside from mother? Can I try liking myself and maybe even loving myself? Nope. Complete derailment and depression brought on by the end of a marriage. A spring of self loathing, followed, thankfully, by a summer and fall of learning on friends and learning to love myself.

2017.

Here we are.

It’s been a year of so much growth. Beautiful family moments and so many wonderful times shared with friends, some old and some new.

I’ve grown with my blogging and my art business and I’ve been having so much fun expressing myself creatively.

The majority of the year was spent anticipating a future and making plans with a new partner.

Alas, that too has now ended. Amicably.

2018 is full of the unknown.

I’ll continue making art, of course. I have a lot of fun ideas brewing in my brain. I’ll continue seeing my friends and family. I’ll likely be looking for a new home for me and my boys. Maybe I’ll get a job outside the home for the first time in a decade. The only constant is change.

Many changes to come as the new year begins.

Thank you sticking with me for the journey thus far. I hope to see you all again in the coming months!

Leave now if you don’t want to see a whole crap-load of pictures.

Soooooo many pictures!

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Starting to find myself in 2014, getting out of my comfort zone. But alas, here I am pregnant for a third time and feeling bloated and ill. Still smiling:

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Feeling awful and hating myself in 2015:

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Feeling better physically:

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Posing with my friend Sarah in 2016. This is significant to me because I remember feeling comfortable in my own skin again, for the first time in a couple years. I felt good and I was just extremely happy in this picture:

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After my marriage ending, I decided to take a picture of myself every time I felt good and comfortable in my own skin.

These pictures, while seemingly self indulgent and narcissistic, represent a journey from feeling lost and disassociated to feeling happy and content:

Every time you feel cute and comfortable, you should snap a picture.

I can look back at these pictures and say, I remember that day and I felt amazing! And capable! And strong!

There’s no such thing as too many pictures

Amazing 2017 moments with my children:

Amazing 2017 moments with my friends; my people:

I don’t have pictures of everyone who has helped me in 2017, but I think got a pretty good representation of those who made a big difference in my life over the past year.

When in doubt take the picture; when in doubt, take the selfie.

Be gentle, 2018.

R1 Says

27 Dec

Let’s finish up the year here with a bit of ridiculousness from my oldest son.

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I guess we’re always drunk because we often act like idiots. Minus any alcohol drinking.

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FINALLY! It’s so nice to see ligers getting some appreciation

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I used to think raccoons were cute until Gramma told me they carry disease. So…thanks a lot gramma for spoiling my fun.

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He’s going to tenderize my meat!

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I like cookies but I don’t like teabagging.

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Mr Potato head is not sentient. He’s not even a potato, he’s a plastic being.

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R3 Says

14 Dec

Long awaited by the masses?

The littlest R has started talking and that means the silliness has begun!

I’m pleased to present the first edition of R3 says!

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R: Mommy bug!!!

M: Was there a bug?

R: Yep!

M: Where did it go?

R: Eat.

M: You ate the bug?

R: Yep.

M: Why?

R: Cuz! Bug scare me!!

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Me: Don’t eat sand!

R: It’s yummy!

M: It’s not yummy!

R: It’s good!

M: It’s not good!

R: You funny, mommy!

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R: (holding the iPad) Mommy face!!!

Siri: I’m sorry, I don’t know your mother. I don’t know you either!

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(At naptime) I have a big peee-naaas!

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(In the middle of the night, screaming from his room) OPEN DA DOOR!!!

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R: Do the piggies, Mommy!!

M: Ok. This little piggie….etc

R: Mommy, the piggies hate you?

M: What??

R: No, I’m just kidding, mommy. It’s only a joke. Don’t worry. The piggie is an evil zombie. I get you a sword.

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Me: What’s big brother doing?

R: He’s being a rectangle.

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In this hand I have a baby crab. This hand I have a baby octopus.

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I’m going downstairs and I’m going to get food. I need hiccups in my tummy.

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(Walking to the grocery store in the snow) This is where the moose play!

R2 Says

13 Nov

A collection of the weird and funny things my middle son said over the summer.

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Out of all my sisters, Elvis is the dumbest.

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We’re supposed to meet Tarzan but I just don’t think he cares about the jungle anymore.

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Mom do you have freckles?

Yeah, some.

Gross. That freaks me out.

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Mom, I’m so proud of you for making new friends.

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Sometimes in the middle of the night, I go under the bed, grab my sister, and then we go outside to look for rainbows.

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It’s raining out. Freezing rain. Also known as, death daggers.

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Pigs are cuter than humans.

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I hate Gaston (from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast)! He’s a stupid F word. I’d use the real word if it was allowed in Canada.

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She’s a teenager who has a drivers licence. You know, THAT kind of teenager!

Imprinting

4 Nov

Will I ever learn from past mistakes?

Does anyone?

Ten years ago I knew my friend Jim was sick.  Jim was more than a friend.  He was a kind hearted, sarcastic, and hilarious father figure who was always checking up on me; he wanted to know what I was up to and what I was interested in.  

Jim started getting sick shortly after his retirement. I think it took quite awhile to get a diagnosis, but when a diagnosis was given, it was not good.  The prognosis was poor: it was just a matter of time.  

Jim kept the seriousness to himself and hid the reality from those he loved and who loved him back.  When I finally learned about the severity of his condition, he forbade me from coming to see him.  

If I could go back in time, I would just go knock on his door.  I would just go sit with him.

Five years ago, I knew my friend Lydia’s kidneys had failed.  She moved back to her home town to be closer to family and wait for a new kidney.  She was very sick but her humour and positive outlook were steadfast.  

We texted back and forth pretty regularly and made future plans to get together.  It was never the right time though.  I had little kids, she was too tired to even stand up a lot of the time.

I knew in my heart that Lydia would get her kidney.  After all, her dad got a kidney and it just makes sense that a younger person would get a kidney too!  But then one day I got a message telling me she was gone.  So suddenly.  Why did I put off seeing her?  Because I thought I had more time.

Two and a half years ago, a few days after my youngest was born, we learned that my gramma had three days to live.  I wanted desperately to go and see her but I had just given birth and I was so worn out, so body-weary and in so much pain.  

In July of this year, I was told about a friend named Kurt who received a terrible cancer diagnosis.  It looked bad but he was going to fight it.  

I waited a bit, as to not bother him or his family, then sent him a message to let him know I was thinking about him and wishing him strength and stamina and all that nice stuff you’re supposed to say to someone who is very very sick.  

We messaged back and forth about what I could draw for him (and his family).  He told me he needed to talk to the kids about it but maybe, in the meantime, I could make something “Han and Leia” for him and his partner Sara.

I ordered a print of a picture I had drawn of Han and Leia gazing at each other.  I told Kurt I’d bring it over to his house when the final product was delivered.  

It was delivered and I told him I’d bring it over very soon.  He told me to put some words on the print.  

I love you.  I know.

Classic Han and Leia.


Classic Kurt and Sara.

Then all of a sudden, he was gone.  

For over a year we (Kurt and Sara and myself and my boyfriend) continually made tentative plans to get together for dinner.  Then he was sick.  Then he was gone.  Why did we wait?  Why did I wait?

Because I’m busy.  

Because I’m tired.  

Because I’m always worried about bothering people.  

Because all of the above.

After I found out that Kurt died, I re-read seven years worth of Facebook messages.  It was awesome and heartbreaking: a story book of our friendship.

Kurt was (is) so funny and so kind; so silly and so helpful.  Our conversations over the years spanned the topics: babies, his graphic novel, babies, zombies, his family, my family, needing time away from babies, and more. 
Kurt and I were not especially close, but we were friends. We had good conversations, right up until two weeks before his death. Never a cross word was exchanged between us; he never had an unkind word to say about anyone.

When we spoke (in person and online) he really listened.

I’m going to miss him a lot.  I’m going to miss running into him, out and about, in our shared neighbourhood.

I’m grieving him and grieving for his family and closest friends.  My heart hurts for his wife Sara, his children, his sisters, and his parents.  And for so many more.


Of course he’s not gone though.  

Not really.  

He doesn’t have a body anymore, but when I see his kids smile, I’ll see Kurt smiling too.  When I look at my bookshelf, I’ll see his graphic novel and say, Hey Kurt, I see you there.  

He left his imprint on so many people; it won’t be leaving any time soon.

Will I ever learn though?

Will we ever learn?

Tell your loved ones how you feel.  

Go and see them if you can. 

Do it today and don’t delay.


Much love and light to a beautiful person: a lover and fighter in equal parts.