Thursday, June 14, 2007

To Iain on his first Birthday

(Well, his birthday was yesterday, and I wrote this post yesterday morning...)

Dear Iain, who has me in tears before I've even had my coffee...

A year of you has taught me just how quickly a year passes. Time continually speeds up as we get older, and the realization that it has been an entire year since I was in labour and then gave birth to you is shocking to me. If a year goes by as fast as this past one did, and we only have so many years, that makes life awfully damn short, doesn’t it? Oh, God. But for you, for now, a year will feel like forever. This is the sweet time, the carefree time. I don’t envy you this time – I’m just delighted to know you’re living in it.

To think of the other babies we could have conceived. Thousands of possibilities! And you, wonderful you, were what they were handing out that day two Septembers ago when I informed my husband that I was feeling lucky. How could we have a better baby? What a happy accident, a miracle, a perfect idontevenknowwhat that it was you, wonderful you. Whatever I choose to say about you or write about you – I doubt it could ever be enough.

When I was pregnant, I can’t say I felt very connected to you. I wrote about that sadly. Now that you’re here, I get it. If there’s another baby for us, I’ll feel much more connected to the life inside me. Oh, I do get it now.

You are pure love. How could the world have been blessed with you for only a year? How could something so precious have not been here all along? You are so very you, luminous, with a strong personality and all the sweet charm in the world. I have spent hours just staring at you, adoring your face. I want you to live forever, and can’t bear the other thought.

Happy birthday, my precious, precious boy. It is my great, terrifying honour to love you, nourish you, protect you, and fall asleep next to you every night.



Friday, March 30, 2007

The garden of spark plugs.


Now that we can see the yard of our new house, I'm trying to clean up the back garden. The end of our yard slopes up to the fence; the bottom of the slope floods every spring, and is right where the last owners tried to have a garden...of something. Yesterday was the first day that it wasn't underwater since the snow melted. I mucked around in there for the first time, and found that the last owner used it to chuck detritus. He died about fifteen years ago, and I can't imagine his timid widow chucking what I found out there, so I know this stuff is quite old. I found squished lengths of heavy pipes, a rotted tarpaulin, a shower curtain liner that disintegrated on contact, spark plugs in plastic wrappers, a rusted metal canister, a golf ball, a carpet, a gear belt, Indian arrowheads, Jimmy Hoffa, Atlantis, and Waldo.

How the hell will I plant vegetables there? Of course we'll clean it, but the water! The pipe lengths speak to a previous attempt to drain the garden, but they were all full of muck. The tarp was probably another relic of an attempt to keep the water away. It's sodden and brown now. The neighbours have a sump pump to deal with the water, and a beautiful garden. I'll ask them for advice.

B's stepmother came yesterday to help me organize the main level of the house. She also brought two clumps of chives from her garden for me to plant in my own. They're idiot-proof, apparently, and grow like crazy. Perfect, because I have no idea what I am doing. I planted them yesterday while Iain looked on in the stroller, babbling happily.

Earthworms! I've only planted balcony containers before, so it was a new challenge to avoid bisecting any worms. Poor little guys.

Towards the end of her life, my mother abandoned gardening. And when I was a child, she didn't garden with me. I think an incident involving my throat and a tomato stake when I was a toddler convinced Mom that a garden was no place for children, so she never shared her efforts with me. I now know zilch. Sigh. But I'm happy to take my time and learn, and this is a wait-and-see year for the garden anyway. The beds surrounding the house itself are fine - no lost aircraft in sight, and I can't wait to see what pops up in them!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Closing day.


We're homeowners. I feel like throwing up.

Our house is part of a suburban subdivision that was built in 1958. We are just its second owners. Just as many young families are buying new houses in developments further afield these days in Durham, York and Peel Regions, just outside Toronto, that's Scarborough was all about in the '50s and '60s.

My parents hated development, and twenty years of driving to Parry Sound every month showed us clearly how development was chewing up farmland. I hated it because they did, but less so now. There are few choices for young families who want to own an affordable home in an area they feel safe in. I grew up in an area where I could walk in the evening and feel safe. We knew our neighbours - they were ordinary folks with kids, and not obsessed with the curb appeal of their houses. That's what I want, and you just can't get that in most parts of the city for our price. Two years ago, it was a possibility, but house prices have just gotten so damn silly that we can't even afford a semi in East York now. So a fair handful of our friends and their families have headed out to these new developments, and we're heading into the 1958 version of the same dream.

It's a cookie-cutter, typical '50s house, just the kind my mother taught me to make fun of. (You can see it two posts down.) But it's ours, and it was loved by the original owners. They didn't do much with it - no renos, additions, patio or anything. The kitchen is small and dated, with avocado-coloured appliances, and the plate on the light switch says "Kay's Kitchen". We learned yesterday that Kay and her husband had passed away. Their son was selling the house on behalf of Kay's estate, but he has the same name as his father, and so we had bought the house thinking that the father, not an estate, was the vendor. All they left behind, besides the light plate, was a wall clock with a picture of a little dog (it will go into Iain's room) and a fridge magnet with a reading about grace. I will keep it.

I'm sad that they have both passed on - I wanted to ask the original owners about their home and the neighbourhood, and maybe send them a friendly note. I'll pick the next-door neighbour's brain instead. I met him on Tuesday. He was on his roof, shovelling it. That was surreal. He's about 70, and he and his wife have been there for 35 years. He was lovely and pollte, and told me that the street was pretty stable, a mix of old-timers and young families with kids. Perfect. I want to feel like we're in a community, not a question mark. They have a backsplit like ours, only they've added a sunroom to the back, without taking away much of their yard at all, and put a carport over the driveway. If we stay there, it looks like a great kind of addition to consider for our own house.

Anyway, we'll move two weekends from now, if I can get my mover on board. He's been a bit flaky and difficult to reach. He moved my mother and me into this apartment, and says he remembers my mother as a hero for treating him and his guys like royalty, even though she was terminally ill and moving under unhappy circumstances. I spoke to him about two weeks ago - he agreed to do it and said he'd visit me last week to give me an estimate. Haven't heard from him since. Eeek.

Well, pray for us.

Friday, February 09, 2007

blush

Apologies to those who read this blog through the LJ feed, which has seen fit to plaster my last 20 or so entries onto your friends page. I didn't do it.

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Scarborough, ho.


I've been remiss in blathering on about my hobbies, Great Thoughts and wonderful baby because we did something. Something either really great or wildly dumb. We bought a house. And it's in Scarberia.

After we tromped through about fifteen of the finest houses in our weeny price range that Scarborough had to offer, this house won because it's on a quiet street, the yard backs onto a park with a perfect little hill for tobogganing, and the neighbourhood is full of families, kids, trees and will be pretty four seasons of the year. The cons? It's a bit small, despite having four bedrooms. The kitchen is "eat-in", and does have room for a small table and chairs, but there is little cupboard space and no dishwasher. I WANT A DISHWASHER, but we'll have to wipe out some of the already-scarce cupboards to install one, or put a portable in the eat-in space. Oh well, at least it's mine. With a window over the sink. It has a small, unfinished basement, too, but at least provides the storage space we have been desperate for, could be finished partially one day, and can host a perfectly good dart board in the meantime. There is nothing preventing us from putting down a brutal shag rug on the cement floor right now!

And it is close to NOTHING. We're total car-bound suburbanites now. The closest bus runs only during rush hour and goes nowhere. Well, it goes to Kennedy station. Read: nowhere.

But it's so quiet and peaceful. We were very close to bidding on another, larger house with a wonderful finished basement and gorgeous storage shed, but the area was less treed, the parks weren't that hot, our kid would have to cross a busy street to go to school, and the school sucks. We were checking out the neighbourhood of that house, certain that we would make an offer the next day, and my husband said, "Let's go look at that other street with the house by the park one last time." So we did, and as we turned up what would become our street, it felt like being in a small town. So pretty and peaceful. And not in the heart of gangland! We knew we couldn't pass it up.

Now our kid will just have to skip across the park to school, and this school still sucks but not as much. Woo! My aunt has taught there and says it's fine. A number of her own aunts lived on our new street at one time, and liked it.

By mid-March we will be living there. I can't wait to have our yard. I will garden and have a bird feeder. Spring will come and show us what already grows in the garden. And, like a good Scarberian, I will wear blue eyeshadow like I mean it.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Oh, Mom, how did you do it?


I am absolutely not ready for Christmas this year. We have nothing resembling a Christmas tree, I have done very little shopping, failed to send out a single Christmas card, and haven't even decided where we'll have Christmas dinner yet. There are three possibilities, and we'll have to take my father wherever we go. We haven't done the same thing on Christmas Day two years in a row for ages. I miss that.

Between now and Christmas, I have three concerts, three rehearsals, one evensong, a doctor's appointment, a day of teaching, a shopping date, a tentative baking date (Gill's cement shortbread! Yay!) and a bunch of cards to write. This is all well within the realm of normalcy, and I love it all, really I do. It's just that now we have this baby who slows me way, way down. I used to just hop in the car whenever I needed, and now I can't! He's so worth it, but I confess to pining a little bit for the freedom to do whatever, whenever.

I wonder how my mother managed when I was little and she had no car. She must have done a lot of weekend shopping, when Dad could mind me and she could use the car, in a day when the population of Toronto was about a quarter what it is today, and a trip to the mall three Saturdays before Christmas wasn't necessarily life-threatening. Oh, how I wish I could ask her about those times! But there would be no point. Toronto's changed too much; her Christmas Shopping When You Have A Baby Battle Plan circa 1973 would be useless to me now.

I remember going to the mall with mom on the bus when I was a little older. We traveled by bus all the time. No problem. The idea of taking Iain on the bus seems daunting to me now because all our public transit routes are so much more crowded than they were 25 years ago. I took the streetcar to a concert last night and was nearly crushed.

Hooray for online shopping! Mind you, it feels like cheating. And next week my sister-in-law and I will drive ourselves and our babies up to Vaughan Mills for a beautiful morning of weekday morning shopping in what my folks would have called "desecrated farmland". Living in Willowdale, we were suburbanites of sorts, but they still took every opportunity to criticize urban sprawl.

Iain is six months old today. Half a year has flown by, and I will write something suitably mushy in my Baby Livejournal later today. Or maybe I'll post it here. After all, his life is part most of my life, not a sidenote. I think I may begin reserving my baby journal for tales of sleep, poop, weight percentiles and so on. Sweet potato seems to have powerful laxative qualities, but y'all might not be too keen on the details, and I am sensitive to that fact. You're welcome.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Hooray for Standard Time!

is one of my favouritest bloggers ever, and here she makes me laugh about one of my snarliest beefs about time changes: folks forget how to drive when it's suddenly dark at rush hour. I notice it every year. Nonetheless, I am thrilled to see Standard Time again. When I was little, Daylight Saving Time ran from the last Sunday in April to the first Sunday in October. And boy, did I think time changes were cool! Then it was changed to the first and last Sunday of those months respectively. I could deal because it was always Standard Time again by Halloween.

But mercy, now that I'm an old fart and the thrill of DST is waning, I must say: are mornings ever dark at the beginning and end of DST. How depressing, to get up in the dark and go to work in the dark for weeks and weeks! And next year DST will last even longer - from the second Sunday in March to the first one in November - essentially four weeks longer than now, and two and a half months longer than when I was a child. That's a damn long time to be packing an already-stressed, depressed workforce off to commute in the dark. Can the economic benefits possibly be worth it?

And I've said it before, but trick-or-treating in daylight is lame, lame, lame. Any law that makes kids trick-or-treat in daylight and grownups go to work in the dark must have been made by someone who doesn't like people very much.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Wine or breathing?


It's early to be posting about wine, but I'm afraid I'll never get around to posting ever again if I keep waiting for perfect posting conditions.

Since I quit drinking in pregnancy, I have ascertained with no doubt that mould from alcohol is indeed my worst allergen. Abstaining has made my sneezing fits and chronic congestion just about disappear. Too bad, because I love alcohol! But hey, I love breathing too. Who knew. So I won't quit drinking altogether, but I certainly drink less now that I'm nursing. I'll take time to savour my wine more, and think about it. With less congestion, presumably I'll pick up more of the complexities of what I do drink.

At the local LCBO a few weeks ago, I sampled Mad Fish 2005 Sauvignon Blanc Semillon and liked it a lot. It's got this great, pleasing balance and practically invisible aftertaste - normally not a desirable trait in a wine, but I was amazed at how clean it was. I bought a bottle, loved it, and have bought another since. I think it's $14.95. Not too shabby.

***

I'm watching the Food Network, and Everyday Italian featured some incredible-looking seafood dishes. I am drooling. Is it me, or is that show one of the few "traditional" cooking shows on the air? The rest are gimmicky or reality-based (making me cringe. I love food but hate tension and conflict) or assigned a storyline. Poor Ina Garten - Barefoot Contessa and its recipes are fine, but each show revolves around some limp premise, like her friend's had a bad day and needs a great meal to keep her from jumping off a bridge.

It seems I'm not alone in feeling annoyed by this. I'm also not alone in granting an exception to Licence to Grill. Slurp.