Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Hawaiin Feast at Bev's

Hawaiin Feast at Bev's
Originally uploaded by Barbara Y.

I somehow managed to capture my whole family in this picture taken at Bev's on the 27th. We were celebrating Gael's 50th birthday. She had just arrived with Larry, Amie, and Mark from the cold wintery city of Toronto. Double Dave catered - a luxury but we were all sick of cooking, especially Bev who has had Mum and Dad in her house for weeks and now has four more.

This last week has been one celebration after another. Every night I have met with family and friends and though I love them all, I need a little time to digest this whirlwind of activity that has left me little time for contemplation and no time for writing. (Thank goodness Gill and I escaped to Seattle for time alone otherwise we would have had no concentrated time together.)

The night after Gael's party, the night of a full moon, I could hardly sleep. I think I had around three hours and so, after seeing that I could not return to dreamland, I rose and went to the store at six in the morning and rearranged all for the big winter sale that began that day. I managed to catch a hour sleep in the afternoon and then did some much needed cleaning and prepared escalloped potatoes for my reading group in the evening.
This evening my sister Gael and her family are coming over. We've decided we will eat out and then watch a movie.

As my whole family are going to Whistler to celebrate the new year (and I've decided not to go), this is the only night that we can get together and I do want to spend some time with this sister. She looks good but smaller, more vulnerable, after her bout with cancer this past year. She says that she is looking forward to 2005, wants this year over with - it's been too difficult. We spoke briefly of changing one's ways, one's life. You would think it would be easy after the scare Gael had this year but she says it isn't, she would have to rid herself of family and as she loves them, she can't.

I do not wholly understand. What would I change if I had suffered as she has, as my friend Clare, as my friend Leslie? I don't know. I shall write about it. (Oh dear, this is the difficult part of this season. I have had little time or inclination to write. I might try to continue with my fairytale today.)

Tomorrow I shall take a little time and think about small ways in which I can change some aspects of my life in this fast approaching new year. On January first, I meet with my Plums to write. We thought it might get us on tract for 2005.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Yet another Christmas Day has come and gone. This year there was six of us - Rob, Bren, Mike, Gill, and me - plus Mackenzie (Mike's love). We spent a quiet Christmas day and evening. The day slipped by, opening presents, preparing breakfast and then turkey and cranberries, phoning family and friends, a short visit from Helen, watching "A Christmas Carol" snuggled up on the couch with Rob.

I thought we were going to be modest in gift-giving but Rob was extravagant. He gave Gill, Bren, and me digital cameras. And me, a note saying that a box of books are on their way. Bren gave me a little electron card that allows me to store 200 photos in my new camera. Mke gave me a box of art postcards. Gill gave me two pairs of slippers, both red, one elegant, one fuzzy; and a wooden jewelery box that she decorated and a booklet of love messages. I do feel loved.

I used to humbug the materialism of Christmas but this year, I think it fine. It's the one day of the year that nearly everyone extends themselves to try and please those closest and dearest to them. Some fly huge distances or make long distant phone calls. We all push ourselves - believers and nonbelievers of the religious content - whether out of duty or not - simply because it's Christmas. Why not?

Today is Boxing Day and my mother's 76th birthday. I have spent some hours designing a card for her and will drive over to my sister Bev's soon to give it to her. Tomorrow my sister Gael and family arrive. I will drive over again to be with them and celebrate Gael's birthday (belatedly - she turned fifty on the 23rd.)

I looked up Boxing Day on the internet and though its origins are vague and may have begun in the Middle Ages, the British, under Queen Victoria, made it a holiday, originally for servants who were required to work Christmas Day. Before the help left the next day to be with their families, their masters and mistresses gave them gifts in boxes. The 26th was also the day that priests opened alms boxes and distributed the offerings to the poor.

Yesterday, Bren noted that Future Shop is opening at 6 am with great bargains for its customers. I imagine that this retail outlet will do extremely well today. LeslieJane is closed and although I am happy that I have another day to do as I please, I'm hoping that there will be enough customers who will venture out tomorrow for the one-day sale (that Walter didn't advertise.)

Ah well, the new year is fast approaching. Another year to make good.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

It's been a week since I've written and I haven't much time now. I'm off to see my mum and dad soon.

I've put my writing aside as there simply isn't time during this festive season. So much activity. Rob and I have feasted with family and friends, Gill and I spent several delicious days in Seattle sightseeing (to be honest, shopping and playing) alone and together and now I've joined the mulititude of crazed shoppers picking up last minute gift items.

My time in my little house is spent wrapping and writing Christmas messages and answering correspondence. I had hoped to have the time to write a Christmasy good cheer blog but it looks like I will be writing an overview after the 25th.

I keep telling myself that I love this tree- poinsetta-light- gift season but I wish it wasn't approaching so quickly. Tomorrow night is Christmas eve and my father's 82nd birthday. I will breathe a little easier when the shops close. Till then, I'm on the run.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

My Gill is home, looking like an exotic tanned princess, towering over me, and I can't stop smiling. Yesterday, we decided to decorate the house for the festive season and went to the florist shop and bought two red poinsettas, a small tree that comes up to my shoulder - Gill wanted it small - and a tiny wreath for the front door. We then went to the craft store and bought a stick wreath and a red feather pheonix, brought it home, interwined ivy around the edge, perched the pheonix on an inner edge beside a gold bow, and hung it over the fireplace, I then downloaded Hans Christian Anderson's story of the pheonix and propted it beside the wreath. On Friday we will go to Ikea and buy dozens of red candles.

In the evening, I drove Gill up to UBC to spend the evening with her best friend, Shirin. I wonder how my young woman feels knowing that she is loved by her parents and brothers. I wonder what a difference it would have made to my life if my parents had been outwardly demonstrative.

After dropping Gill I went round to my sister Bev's and only my father was there. He made me a cup of tea and served me Irish bread (baked by my mother) and we sat and talked. He said he feels fortunate with his daughters and despairs a little over his only son who this year went through a dirty court battle with his estranged wife and is now in the process of buying a house so they can live together again. Before I left, my dad asked me to take the support hose off his legs that helps bring the swelling down and so I kneeled at his feet and following his instructions, slowly pulled the tight elastic down and inside out and off his legs.

This white-haired man who I was often terrified of as a child has grown smaller, appears to me like a lost soul. When I asked him what he would like for Christmas, stating that I did not want to buy "things", he said that he would like to go to Cafe de Paris for good food, wine, and conversation. This I can do.

I love when Christmas-giving is so simple. I don't want to rush around the shops spending too much money on gifts that will be forgotten before the year is out. I remember working with a woman who was against Christmas, hated the idea that most buy a surplus of gifts on this occasion. She proudly said that she refused to do it, said she bought those she loved gifts throughout the year. She criticized me for buying into the season.

I agreed that people, me included, do go a little crazy at this time of year but still there is something nice about having an occasion to think of others and to try to find some token or some way of expressing affection. Christmas is like a string of birthdays tied together - a celebration of lives together. Gill came home because it is Christmas. My children will gather at our table and feast together on the 25th because it is Christmas. We'll probably sit together on Christmas Eve and watch "A Christmas Carol" with Alstair Sim that I never grow tired of. We'll all extend ourselves believers and disbelievers simply because it is "Christmas."

Rob says I'm mellowing. I'm like Scrooge after his transformation. So be it. I intend to rejoice with my family and friends. Who knows what next year will bring.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Did I mention that I was excited that Gill is coming home today? She is now in the air. Her plane left the gate at 13:57 Toronto time (that's 10:57 our time). She arrives a few minutes before four. She's already had one phone call from a

Beautiful Dreamer

Beautiful Dreamer
Originally uploaded by Barbara Y.

This morning butterflies are dancing in my belly 'cause my daughter arrives home this afternoon. I can think of little else. I shall clean and prepare, pick up Brendan and drive to the airport. It's been four long months. I'm wondering if the time will have changed her. It seems more like four years.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

My daughter arrives "home" tomorrow. I am excited. So are her father and brothers. I told her, in an email, that I had thought it was the MW Intensive that has caused me to feel unsettled, alienated, since I arrived home from Europe. I see that life without my daughter nearby could also be a contributing factor.

The last few days I have been thinking about relationship.

Saturday evening, Rob and I went to dinner at a younger couple's house who we've known for twenty-six years. We met them at the beginning of their relationship. Saturday, they barely had a civil word for each other. Their harping on small detail, belittling the other, made me uncomfortable.

They have all the ingredients for a harmonious life - two beautiful sons, a fancy house with spaceage kitchen, more than enough bedrooms for the four of them plus house guest, money for travel, and a good retirement fund - but, on the surface, they didn't seem to like the other much.

Oh I know we all bicker on occasion with or about our partner, wife, husband, friend. I don't expect perfection but I'd like to see that the positives of a relationship show up in more than the furniture and RRSPs.

I am probably being melodramatic but as I sat with this women listening to her speak of her work and plans for the future, I found myself growing more and more desolate.

Also disturbing yet not without interest, Gill chose to compare returning to Vancouver to a marriage: "And it's as if I'm returning to Vancouver, my husband, is returning to a man who just doesn't know how to touch me right. We have too much of a history together. When Vancouver calls my name I just don't get that thrill I used to get. The butterflies flew out of my stomach years ago."

I wonder if Gill's source is her parent's marriage. Still, I do not desire butterflies (although I have them on occasion.) I love the comfort of familiarity. Still, I desire something more, something that makes me feel rich and full.

You see I want a lot
Perhaps I want everything...
You have not grown old, and it is not too late
To dive into your increasing depths
Where life calmly gives out its own secret.

Marlene reminded me of another Rilke quote:
"Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue to exist, a wonderful living side by side can grow up, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible
for each to see the other whole and against a wide sky."

I think Rilke brilliant. D.H. Lawrence too. Way back when I returned to university I wrote an essay on "Love versus Star Equilibrium" in Lawrence's "Women in Love." Birkin, who is the Lawrence-like character in the novel feels that love should be relegated to the level of any emotion that "you feel or don't feel according to circumstance." Specifically, he is against the word "love" itself, feeling that common use has "vulgarized" its true essence: "One must throw away - everything - let everything go, to get the one last thing one wants... freedom together."

There is another wonderful passage, where Lawrence explains that each individual is always a lone, isolated being and that the state of love, of meeting and mingling, is only a delusion:

"... there is a beyond in you, in me, which is further than love, beyond the scope, as stars are beyond the scope of vision... There is... a final me which is stark and impersonal and beyond responsibility. So there is a final you. And it is there I would want to meet you... where there is no speech and no terms of agreement... What I want is a strange conjunction with you... an equilibrium, a pure balance of two single beings: as the stars balance each other."

Marlene also reminded me of James Hollis who asks what do we want from our partners that we can (must?) give ourselves (or some variation.) What do I want from my partner? Support for those things I feel I need - like alone time - and I am fortunate as Rob needs this also and he rarely if ever questions me about the hours I spend in my little house. Besides solitude I would like a searching heart-felt honesty - the kind that digs below the surface and arrives at an individual truth - the kind that does not sugarcoat truth for fear of hurting. (The kind my friend Kate wrote in her very honest personal essay.) Yet, I would also like to maintain some mystery (which should be easier as there are many things in myself that are a mystery to me.) I would also like kindness - the patient sort - not the hurtful kind that I witnessed the other night between my friends (it is so much easier to see this in others though I know I am guilty myself.)

One Christmas I gave Rob the gift of a fantasy. I gave him a pseudonym and wrote him a fictional account of our relationship thus far. He was to meet me at a downtown hotel. We went out for dinner and I told him the small details about my day. I spoke of my relationship to my husband and children. I waited eagerly to hear what he had to say. I did not lose patience with him. I did not know what to expect from him. It was an extraordinary and enlighening evening for me. I wonder how he remembers it.

In one of her biographical texts, Erica Jong, writes that it is no longer safe to seek zipless fucks in today's world, that monogamy is the order of the day, and the imagination will save two from boredom.

I see now - thank goodness for writing - that our evening with our bickering friends was worthwhile - beyond the food and wine which were excellent.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

It's early Saturday morning and I slept poorly last night after going to the airport with my baby sister Bev and my niece Emily to pick up my mum and dad. We had been warned that they were frail and I expected to see my dad in a wheelchair but although he had a cane, he walked well and looked good for a man who will celebrate his 82nd birthday Christmas Eve. My mum complained of arthritis but it was not obvious in her movements. It's been over six months since I've seen them and I will make an extra effort to spend time with them in the holiday season - to relieve Bev who is busy enough with three little ones and to show them that they are dear to me. (Lawrence Durrell wrote that children are barometers of time. I think parents are too. We see ourselves grow older as we watch them creep into old age.)

On Tuesday, I will return to the airport for my daughter who I haven't seen for almost four months. I have missed her so. She wrote in her blog that I am generous and protective of her, that my mum told her that she was "spoiled" as a little girl and she links spoiled with food rotting and doesn't like the comparison. I think my mum is coming from a generation that believed "spare the rod and spoil the child" although I remember only once being humiliated by a beating from my father.

Princeton University's online dictionary gives three definitions for "spoiled." The first is "treated with excessive indulgence." The second, "having the character or disposition harmed by pampering or oversolicitous attention" and last, "(of foodstuffs) not in an edible or usable condition."

I don't think any of my/our children are or have been spoiled according to these definitons. I know Rob and I have been thoughtless at times - too involved in our own lives - but for the most part, we have consciously tried to listen to them, to treat them as individuals, and to give them equal attention. This may sound corny but I'll say it anyway: we are surprised and grateful that our three offsprings are who they are - so different and yet all three are creative caring adults. We adore them.

And if any one of our three need protection from the weather, we will provide it, whatever "it" is. I do not consider this being excessively indulgent.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004


This morning I am thinking of Gill, thinking that she will be in the air flying home at this time next week. Rob said yesterday that Emily has some of Gill's energy - she's lovely - but that she is not Gill. He tells me that he is excited about seeing Gill. He misses his daughter. I miss mine. We are both possessive.

Lately I have been paralleling my relationship with my mother to Gill's relationship with me. I am astonished, not only at the quality of the writing, but at her openness in her blog, and know that I could have never made public at eighteen, what she dares to publish, knowing that her mother, father, brothers, friends, strangers can read whatever if they so wish.

There are other differences. My mother never praised me. She preferred criticism. I wondered why I could do nothing right, why I was never good enough. Why wasn't I my daughter who is beautiful, passionate, open, talented, who is easy to praise?

And yet I see that even praise may create problems for her. What if one day, she drags herself hung-over out of bed, arrives late, or not at all at work, after swearing at someone who doesn't deserve it, has nothing good to say about anyone, feels miserly and mean, especially since she slammed the phone down on her mother because she didn't feel like talking to anyone. Will she think herself unworthy of love or worse, that she doesn't deserve to be loved, that she is not living up to who she thought she was?

I want to plant a seed in her brain that may take years to sprout. Nothing she does or doesn't do will stop me from cherishing her. This is hard to put into words.( I dislike sentimentality.)I don't expect perfection. I know she is human. She is allowed to be human. She doesn't have to be better than she is. I don't want her to despair as I have. Yet, I know I am powerless in this realm. She will despair.

It took me over forty years, six of which were spent writing, rewriting, and rewriting again, a personal essay about my mother. Each time I thought I had finished, I realized my point of view had shifted. Finally I was able to see my mother as human and that I loved her dearly despite her poor parenting skills. In the last few years, she has been able to say aloud - for the first time in my life - that she loves me.

There is a poem by Sharon Olds titled "The Planned Child" that has always appealed to me as I was the only one of six children who was planned. It came to me this morning that all three of my children were planned, that not one of them was not wanted. (This weekend, a woman my age told me that she grew up being told repeatedly that she was not wanted, that her mother wished that she'd never been born. I can't imagine how painful that must have been as a child. The tone of her voice told me that she has still not recovered.)

Sharon Olds' poetry has changed my way of thinking about several important issues. "The Planned Child" was especially potent.

"I hated the fact that they had planned me...

But when a friend was pouring wine
and said that I seem to have been a child who had been wanted,
I took the wine against my lips
as if my mouth were moving along
that valved wall in my mother's body, she was
bearing down, and then breathing from the mask, and then
bearing down, pressing me out into
the world that was not enouigh for her without me in it,
not the moon, the sun, Orion
cartwheeling across the dark, not
the earth, the sea - none of it
was enough for her; without me."

LeslieJane, Inc.

LeslieJane, Inc.
Originally uploaded by Barbara Y.

Last night Lisa and I went wild in the store. I took everything off the walls, including fixtures, and we reassembled all with magnificent results (I say humbly.) I never realized before I began working with Leslie how important display is to the success of a store and the window especially must draw people in. We change the window once a week at LeslieJane.

Last Friday, I dressed two dummies (Les hated mannequins being called this and so I persist. She is forever at my side when I work in the store.) in organza and velvet with sweaters from Skif - funky fun pullovers priced well over three hundred dollars each - and completed their look with sexy velvet scarves. Two sweaters and several scarves sold within hours of doing the window. That's a sign that I did something right.

I'm wondering how people, including the staff, will receive the window that we did last night (I just happened to have Rob's digital camera in my bag.) The wild hat and muff on the right are the creation of the blue-haired young woman who lives in Aladdin's cave that I described in an earlier blog.

I think of her often wondering if time will tame her tastes. I can't imagine wee ones crawling over hot pink carpets and orange flower-shaped faux-fur cushions, nibbling on feather boas and the mouthpieces of brass hookahs.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

I think someone should have to talk to the Young women and tell them how lucky they are. My daughter wants a new nose. I want a new brain.

I was just down at Dunderave Beach reading Helen Luke's chapter on Orual (a discussion of C.S. Lewis' novel "Till We Have Faces" that in turn is a discussion of the Psyche and Eros myth.) The sentence "The complaint was the answer" hits me in the gut. I have no idea if I'm reading it correctly or not but, being dense, I take it literally. I spend so much time trying to be a good person, trying to be sympathetic, empathetic, generous, thoughtful - which is all very well and good - but I don't always feel these "good" emotions. In Marion Woodman's words I spend a lot of time trying "to be better than I am" and chastising myself for complaining, thinking it above me, feeling pathetic when I whine. Fuck it.

Luke writes of the eagle, "savior in man's extremity of need" finding Orual and crying out in joy that "the woman who has a complaint against the gods" has arrived. She is stripped of veil and clothes and must state her complaint.

Here Helen Luke's genius shines: "When the time comes that we are stripped to the bone and suddenly it appears to us how poor and shabby is the work we have done into which we have poured all that we thought best and purest in us, then indeed we may feel an overwhelming temptation to betray our own truth. We cannot stand the exposure of our despicable pride and so we long to deny responsibility for our own story for what we are, good or bad, right or wrong."

How many times have I hidden my small thoughts? If I want to call myself a writer, I must write my truth though I fear they will get me in trouble. (Oh grow up, Yvonne. My complex never lets up.)

Yesterday morning, I played when I should (have to watch that word) have been working. I read poetry. I looked at pictures and one of me, in my late teens, caught my imagination. This is what I wrote:

"At one time, I was a dancing bird, flying around the stage, around my friend the scarecrow, and I was happy for the minutes of the dance. For, being a teen, I was most often filled with angst about my future, longing to leave my mother, fly the coup, try my wings, and a number of cliches.

I had such dreams. Langston Hughes' lines come to mind: "Hold fast to dreams/For if dreams die/ Life is a broken-winged bird/ That cannot fly."

There is so much that can break us in this world. Where did my youth dreams go? The ones of being a famous actress, of travelling the world, of unlimited freedom, of material splendor, of being three inches taller with flowing black tresses?

All gone. (Some not surprisingly.)

The last few days I have felt lonely, unimportant, self-indulgent, and, most of all, pathetic (a favourite word of mine) because I have friends who love me, who tell me that I am worth something and I don't listen. So much easier to wallow than work at my dreams. Ah there it is - the glitch in my thinking. I have to work if I want my dreams to come true.

And as I write this, I see that I am unwittingly doing it - working at writing. Complaining is a great clarifier. (Keep up the good work Gill.)

Crow Dance, 006
Originally uploaded by Barbara Y.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

I feel like a recluse these days. I feel pensive with little joy. I have no desire to dance. Everything seems like an insurmountable chore but still there are small wonders.

I hired a tree company to cut down the laurels that were higher than our roof. It was necessary. Not only have the laurels cut out light, they have given squirrels a route into our attic space. The company did the work Friday in the teaming rain and though the men did an adequate job, they left a mess. I put a cheque in the mailbox, as per the owner's instructions, but included a letter speaking of pride in one's work. I noted that if my words "strike a chord", I'd like them to return and clean up. I expected the owner, money in hand, to laugh at my fancy words. Instead, he sent two of his workers, who worked for two hours and cleared the ground.

I had an email from my daughter who told me that she was not returning on the 15th of December. She would be home on the 14th.

I received an email from my mother who closed her note in capital letters. "HAVE I TOLD YOU LATELY THAT I LOVE YOU."

My friend Kate wrote a novel in one month.

It's not raining.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

It's Sunday morning and I slept in so do not have much time this frosty morning. The weather gets colder and colder
and I'm liking it well enough except for the rain that dampens my spirit and makes it hard for me to work in the yard.
I'm taking a leaf from Helen Luke and doing a little gardening each day when the weather is dry. Our yard, as we were away for three months, has been taken over by prickly blackberry bushes - front and back disasterously. They're enormously long and impossible to touch so I use clippers and slowly cut them down and put the untouchable into garden bags as I go. I like this slow approach. I told Mike the other night that each represents a burden on my soul and as I clear them up, I become lighter and less prickly. (It's worth a try.)

Yesterday, I met with my plums and read and wrote a little more on Shitty. It is hard going at the moment. As it is a blend of fact and fiction, I find myself reliving scenes and emotions that I'd forgotten I'd had. Often I feel it's a huge waste of time but my plums reinforce me, telling me that they want more. Thank the heavens and the earth for these three friends/writers. I think we have something precious. We have all become better writers because of each other. I'm hoping that one night in the new year that we will do a public reading although I haven't mentioned this lately to the group.

I just received an email from my mother who says that my dad may have to have a knee replacement operation before Christmas and so they may not be here for the holidays. My dad has not been able to move well for months, can't drive, can't walk and he loves to walk so has been driving my mother mad. For both their sanity, I hope the operation is soon. He will be 83 on Christmas eve.

Christmas. I want it to be simple, lovely. My daughter returns to me, to us, on the 15th of December. I can hardly wait.

Friday, November 26, 2004

My computer has betrayed me and I am working on Rob's - he's at work and doesn't know - and since I'm tired of being serious and pensive, I thought I'd continue with my fairy tale.

The Dreaming Princess Part VI

Yes, within a year, Barbara married Prince Hairy and, as in all royal marriages, the first year was like a dream come true, a fairy tale. They both worked hard all day and happily returned to each others' arms each evening. Several years passed and then one night they found themselves in the kitchen with a stranger, who was demonstrating a new machine, called a "dishwasher", something so alien to their space that they became sore afraid of their materialistic urges and decided to leave all their possessions behind and move across the country.

They settled into a community nestled between mountains and ocean, worked hard during the daylight hours, and returned to each others' arms in the evening. All would have been rosy and their fairy tale life might have continued but the dishes kept piling up. The laundry too. Barbara started dreaming of dish washers, and clothing washers and dryers.

On the eve of her quarter-of-a-century birthday, Barbara realized she was not happy. She worked all day, slaved all night. She heard herself sounding like Pretencia with her list of complaints and this she couldn't bear so she told Hairy that she must leave their poor castle and go out into the world to seek a different future. Hairy was not happy losing his lovely princess but, being a kind soul, wished her well and bid her farewell.

Vivacia would have been upset if she had seen the small apartment that her daughter now occupied - hardly the size of her dressing room - but she would have rejoiced at Barbara's independent spirit. For the first time in her life, Barbara was alone and had time to think, to read poetry (often by Irish poets), and to walk in the forest. She had so much time that she decided to accept evening work in a dark cave, serving spirits to strangers but before too much time had passed, realized that the creatures inhabiting the underworld were bleak and ornery and it was no place for a princess.

She returned to her pumpkin-size apartment and started writing fairy tales and poetry although she was sore-ashamed of her efforts and told no one. On occasion, she would go to dance and concert halls and one musical evening she met a shining knight who spoke to her in French and invited her to dine with him. The evening was devine. Barbara found herself laughing as she had never laughed and fell a little in love with the knight (though he did not touch her heart as Hairy had.) Still he was good company with his love of fine food and wine, his laughter, and soft voice that had the same cadence as the Irish man who had enjoyed her mother in the royal gardens.

She spent many happy hours in his company until one evening, returning a book to his small sanctuary, Barbara found him, without his armour, abed with a beautiful young man. Not being Greek, she did not understand that it wasn't unusual for some to be charmed by both sexes, and so, then and there, she sadly bid her fair knight farewell and left to seek yet another future.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Gladys Gale Dancing School

Wenda asked me the other day why I never write about dance and I remembered an old piece of writing and dug it out:

Sometimes when I'm happy, I find myself doing a grand jete across the living room carpet or a soft shoe on the kitchen tile floor. Sometimes after a glass of wine, I can't contain myself and dance wherever I am. In my fifties I enjoy dancing in ways I never could in my teens.

"If it doesn't hurt, you are not doing it right." I heard this refrain countless times during my years as a dance and theatre major at university. I spent half my days at a wooden barre that ran the circumference of a huge gymnasium. Head held high, chest forward, bottom tucked under, I followed the classical exercises developed to force my body beyond its natural limits. Often, after several hours of fighting myself, I would sit in the change room and cry, feeling like a circus animal being trained to perform unnatural acts to amuse an audience. But I knew I wasn't. A caged animal doesn't have a choice. I was there willingly.

I'd wanted to be a dancer since I was eight years old. That summer an aunt of the Tilley kids next door came to visit. She was a ballet mistress with the New York City Ballet. Each morning, she organized, on the small plot of grass in front of their brick bungalow, dance lessons for her nieces and me. When she left, she told my mother that I should be sent to ballet school: I was a born dancer. My mother, a frantic young woman of twenty-eight, who was trying her best to raise four daughters, did not have the means to pay for classes.

I was inspired to dance again in my mid-teens when I fell in love with the choreographer of my high school play. His mother owned the town's only dancing academy. Although my mother was still frantic - in the meanwhile she'd had two more children - she didn't object because money was freer and the dance studio was within walking distance.

Within two years, I was competing against other dancers my age. As well as dance classes four times a week, I frequented dance spectacles to observe professionals in action. By the end of each performance, my muscles ached from tensing and releasing in unison with those on stage. This didn't happen however when I saw Martha Graham give one of her last performances. I forgot the mechanics of dance. I forgot the rest of the audience. Nothing registered except the presence of the grand matron of modern dance.

The curtain opened. Graham stood centre stage, her tall figure shrouded in brown cloth, like a mourner in Giotto's "Lamentation." As if painted by the master himself, she confronted the viewer. For two minutes, she did not move a muscle. Suddenly, her head dropped forward, one arm, out of the folds of fabric, shot upwards, and she began to dance. Every movement spoke of despair. Like a sorceress, she bewitched the audience.

I did not aspire to Graham's magic. I simply wanted to master technique and express myself through an art form I love. After two years of university, I knew that I had neither the attitude nor the body to perform professionally.

I left school and found myself in the advertising department of a major newspaper. Years passed. I married, moved across the country, produced three children, and continued my university education. As I had once expressed myself through dance, I now express myself through writing. Sometimes when I am happy, I can't contain myself and words dance onto paper. More often, I despair for I know that writing can never express what Martha Graham could with one simple thrust of her arm.

Gladys Gale Dancing School
Originally uploaded by Barbara Y.

I'm in the front row, first on the left. The long-haired fellow in the back row was my first love.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

My daughter, when I told her that I was having a hard time writing my blog, told me to bring my coffee to my house in the garden and simply write. So here I am.

The orders for the store are complete, or as close to complete as I can do at the moment. I feel such a weight off me. The spring season will be bright and colourful. With the American dollar lower than it's been for years, the prices will be more reasonable and hopefully people will love what I've chosen (with strong help from the saleswomen in the store) and will be able to afford an outfit or two. But retail is difficult. So many factors affect women's buying power and desire for beautiful clothing. Partners. The economy. The weather. Self-image. (One woman who was in yesterday said that her husband has agreed to buy her a new wardrobe if she loses twenty pounds. Still she is finding it difficult. I find it difficult to hear of such bribes.)

Last night I went to hear and see Marion Woodman and Robert Bly tell the Grimm's Brothers tale of "The Singing Soaring Lark." I was glad that I had read the tale beforehand as I found their telling a little disjointed but still I loved listening to these elders play off each other. I love Woodman's voice and how she brings a fairy tale into language and meaning that I can relate to. Bly, who I formerly was not that fond of, has grown on me and I find myself liking him more and more.

He read some of his recent poems following the Muslem "Ghazal" form that, I learned on the internet, consists of five to fifteen couplets. A refrain appears at the end of both lines of the first couplet and then at the end of the second line of the following couplets. In the concluding pair of lines, if the poet wishes, she/he brings her/his name into the verse.

For example, this is the first and last couplet of Hafez' Ghazal 490:

"Bitter is this patience and so fleeting is this life of mine.
How long will I experience this, how long will I remain.

Hafiz, why do you complain if it is Union you desire?
In season and out, griefs cup of blood you must drain."

I started writing this entry this morning but left to play in the garden and help the rubbish man remove all kinds of debris from our back and front garden. It's a beginning.

Today is my lazy day and I'm doing a lot of little things and nothing big. I feel that I deserve a break.

Thursday, November 18, 2004


originally uploaded by Barbara Y.
Happy Birthday dear Maggie, formerly Donna. I remember you as a little girl, starting school. I remember you leaving home and moving into the first real house I had as a married woman. I remember your marriage and your babies. I remember you leaving home again.

I miss you.

In a book titled "Sisters", edited by Drusilla Modjeska, she writes, in the introduction, of the "complicated, uneven tide of lived feeling that passes between girls who share parents: rivalry and resentment, sensitivity to slights and differences, tears and tantrums, dreams and fantasies, and love as abiding as blood."

Monday, November 15, 2004

Daughter and Mother

Daughter and Mother
Daughter and Mother,
originally uploaded by Barbara Y.
"The Universe is worked and guided from within outwards.
As above so it is below, as in heaven so on earth;
and man - the microcosm and miniature copy of the macrocosm
- is the living witness to this Universal Law and to the mode of its action."
-Madame H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, 1888

Who is the mother? Who is the daughter? If I define "mother" as "educator", I'd say that, throughout our eighteen years together, Gill and I keep exchanging roles.

As I write this, another thought comes to mind - that of Adrienne Rich and her idea that truth is complex. I see that sometimes Gill and I are both mothers and, at other times, both daughters.

She sent me an email yesterday, after a discussion with two fellow journalist students the night before. Like me, Gill has no great love of reading about world events, especially politics, in the newspaper or on the internet. She wonders if it's all right to follow her natural bent. "Yes," was my response.

I have felt a lot of guilt over the years about not reading the newspaper that comes to our door each morning. I've tried but, in truth, it bores me. I would never have admitted this a few years ago. I felt stupid because I knew little of what was happening in the world and what I knew came from Rob. "Oh pathetic little housewife," played through my brain.

And then I discovered through writing, through living in France, through extraordinary friends, that I am not stupid, that my passion lies elsewhere, is more personal. I love reading about body and mind. I love fiction and poetry - usually written by women (but not always) - that speaks from the personal, that shows me another way of interpreting the world.

I probably sound like an idiot trying to discuss this topic but what the hell.

It takes all kinds to live in this world. And there is so much to learn. I can't take it all in. There are only so many hours in my day.

So the way I've come to accept my limitations is this. I have divided the people in the world into two types. (This is probably not original but I now own it.) Some look at the world - the macrocosm - and filter what affects them personally. They see from the outside to their inside.

I see the world as a microcosm - the personal - from my inside to the outside world at large. Sometimes or probably often I don't think about the world at all. I just trust that I'm part of it. I start from me and see how the outside world thwarts or encourages me. Others first look at the world and see how it thwarts or encourages them personally.

It's useless feeling deficient. I must listen to my own words. Rob said that the most interesting news stories are those told from a personal point of view. I learn about the world beyond myself through listening to Rob and those of my friends who are passionate about the news, who see the larger picture. I allow myself to sit quietly and not contribute. There is nothing wrong with preferring the oral tradition, there is nothing wrong with being ignorant.

I remember one night in France, a number of years ago, when four intellectuals, four PHDs, sat around discussing philosophers that I'd never heard of and feeling like an idiot. I envied their European educations, their knowledge, their quickness of thought. I introduced a light-hearted topic and one woman present laughed and called me a fool. I ran from the table. Later she told me that it was a compliment.

Since that time, I try not to judge myself or grade myself (Helen Luke's idea). I am not always successful.

Saturday, November 13, 2004


originally uploaded by Barbara Y.
I've been thinking of myself as a little girl lately. Here I am, the one on the far left with my three sisters.

Friday, November 12, 2004

It's been a week since I've posted a blog. I have been consumed by store and self. I've been reading Helen Luke and thinking and cursing a lot. I haven't danced on a table since the beginning of October.

I find myself angry these days and when an Irish woman becomes angry, one best watch out. Since the intensive in England, I have been trying to integrate all that I heard and saw, experienced. I cling to quotes by such as Adrienne Rich and T.S. Eliot. Today - a lovely surprise - I received an email from my English room mate at the intensive. I am reminded of the openness and laughter we shared. The acceptance. It was such a sheltered enviroment where each woman was allowed to withdraw or be social. The only demands were internal ones.

Here, the outside world keeps throwing challenges my way.

I find myself writing deeper and deeper, pushing myself. I keep thinking of my friend Maria, who was with me in France fifteen years ago and how we would whine and complain and say "Life is hell and then you die." I don't know why I'm thinking this because I don't believe it.

Wednesday I met my plum group at the Grind and we wrote for over two hours straight amid interruptions from a loud table across from us and then a more pleasant interlude from the "animal man" who left his pet parrot outside and came in to play the piano. He reminded me of my mother who has a musical ear, unlike me, and plays superbly.

The idea of this mid-week meeting was to get together for support and write about what scares us, what we are afraid to write about. And it worked well. I filled pages and then went down to Jericho Beach where I wrote more. In the evening, I went to Marlene's and wrote again.

I love these "Jungian Circle of Women Writers" evenings at Marlene's. In my self-centred way of looking at the world, it's as if the texts Marlene chooses and discusses each evening, each session, are chosen to answer questions, to show me a way, to what I need to know at this minute in time. For instance, this week we discussed two chapters - "The Sense of Humor" and "The Cat Archetype."

Interesting that I discussed the cat as being more spirit than animal in my last blog and how this feline has represented in corporeal form, at different periods of time, the witch, fairy, spirit, and goddess.

Luke uses the cat to show how we can catch our shadow side or the mice and rats that feed on our souls. She explains so beautifully that when "we feel invaded by vague depressions or tensions... if we will then be very still and allow ourselves to be flooded by whatever emotional reaction is uppermost at that moment - whether of fear, resentment, desire, jealousy, love or hate - plunging right into it without the censorship of guilt or shame, we will very often find that... [w]e have set free our emotion (our cat) to be what it is and immediately we are able to see it in its true perspective, to relate it to all our other conscious values, and our energy will flow out into life again. It should be emphasized that such an experience must be given form - written or painted, exactly as it came to us-so it is contained, and we relate to it and are freed from its domination."

In other words, if I expose my shadow side, my so called negative emotion or reaction, without censorship, in my journal, I can see it clearly and it will stop eating at me, and best, being contained on the page, it will not play itself out unconsciously in my day to day life.

This astonishes me. It's so simple. Instead of trying to be fair and just, kind and understanding, I am given permission to go to the opposite extreme. I can tear all out of proportion so I can gain proportion. When I read over my writing of the day and night, I laughed at my extravagant emotion.

And miracle of miracles, Luke mentions laughter in the former chapter: "For very little consideration will show us clearly that the sense of humor is always born of a sense of proportion."

Friday, November 05, 2004

My daughter was worried about my misery and I told her not to worry, that misery makes me angry. Angry at myself more often than not. And this makes me louder more verbal. It also makes me more honest with myself. It gives me the energy to focus, to move, to do what has to be done.

I'm writing orders for the store for spring. It's time consuming and I can think of little else but I enjoy playing with line-sheets (small black and white outlines of styles), photographs, and colour charts, and deciding what will appear in the store month by month. I'm also putting together an album, a collage of styles and colours, adding to it page by page as I place an order; and find myself quite happy sitting on the floor, cutting and pasting.

I've pushed the American election to the background of my mind. What's there to do or say? Yesterday, I wished I lived in Europe. I do not like my neighbours. I am appalled that so many people considered gay marriage and abortion more deadly than a war where their youth are killing and being killed.

Last night at dinner, Rob, Brendan, and I sat around discussing religion. We were all surprised that formal religions - those that dictate what is moral and immoral to large groups of people, many of which involve religious services and physical structures - have such large followings. We spoke of the Ten Commandments but not one of us could name them so we looked them up on the internet. There are two versions, one in Exodus and one in Deuteronomy but in both the sixth commandment is "Thou shall not kill." I can understand that some consider abortion killing. I do not understand war. I can not bear to hear of the atrocities committed.

This morning when I came out to my little house, a squirrel darted by me, I smelt a skunk and I knew Java the cat was lurking nearby. I'm really beginning to wonder about all the animals that are congregating around my private sancuary. I decided to look up what each symbolized.

The bear is a creature of healing, self-knowledge and patience. The skunk is a bringer of warning and a teacher of self-respect. The squirrel teaches trust and thrift. The raccoon "teaches us merriment, openness, cleansing, wiliness, tenacity and humour.” He is also a symbol of disguise. The cat is a deeply spiritual animal. "It is said that a cat is more spirit than animal. Historically, little distinction has been drawn as to the difference between witches, fairies, spirits, goddesses, and the feline, for at different periods in time the cat was believed to represent them all in corporeal form."

I can still smell the skunk outside.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

I haven't been writing because I'm just plain miserable. I don't know how to live in this fucking world. And I feel quilty feeling this way because I had such an extravagant summer and I have such extraordinary friends and family. Why, given all the riches in my life, so I feel ugly and incapable of doing anything?

I look around me. My house and garden is a disaster. At work, I'm weighed down by turmoil and insincerity. I look in the mirror and look away. I can't wear my fucking denture because when I eat it aches. I can't wear my good eye glasses because one glass keeps falling out. My hair hangs in my eyes - so much for my fancy Parisian haircut. Damn it all anyway, me, my self, and I; plus my house, my yard, my work are out of control.

I tell myself, one step at a time and so my days have been full of baby steps - a little writing, a story mailed, a store order placed, a small section of yard trimmed and cleared, a bathroom floor washed - and it's hardly noticeable. So I play a little - put on music and dance around the living room, design a flyer of my dream house, write a fairy tale, ruminate, and read. Nothing pleases me.

I'm reading three books at once. One is "Stravinksy's Lunch" by Drusilla Modjeska. The sub title is "Two women painters and the claims of life and art." It's brilliant. She's brilliant. (If I could only write like her... add jealousy to my list of complaints.) She discusses how life gets in the way of creating art - especially for women - specifically for Stella Bowen who lived in Paris in the twenties and thirties (or that's as far as I've read), who was the wife/mistress of Ford Madox Ford, who had his child, who catered to his artistic and physical needs, and found it difficult to cater to her own.

Stella Bowen asks "Why are people allowed - and women encouraged - to stake their lives, careers, economic position, and hopes of happiness on love?"

I know my misery will pass. The store orders will be placed. The house and yard will be put in order. I will write something I like. At present, I just have to continue taking those miserable little steps.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Part V

Barbara, at first, was lost in the big bad city and her gay spirit (used here in the old way before homosexuals stole the happy word) was sometimes sore afraid, as she did not know what to do with her new freedom. far from Pretencia and her iron rule.

She loved her anonymity, the energy of the city, the colourful markets, the multiple theatres, the colossal libraries, the intimate cafes, where often she would meet a classmate or two who found her rather quaint and old-fashioned - for Barbara had enrolled in a college to improve her mind. One classmate, male, told her years later that the men in class would talk about her as if she were a princess and hence untouchable and Barbara never told him how close he was to the truth.

After several months, one male dared to ask her to dinner. Alas the man was poor, owned no finery, and could impress Barbara in no pretentious way - much to her delight - and so took her to a humble place for a humble meal. Prince Hairy, true to his name as so many are in this fairy tale, left an impression. He was so much nicer than Fred Astairia who Barbara had been dating for several years. After she left him in her childhood town, she realized that it was only his feet that moved her to tears. The rest of his body, though not static, did not excite her. (The princess would be surprised to hear that Fred Astairia resembled King Monogamy not only in appearance - or as he had looked in his younger days - but also in temperament.)

Prince Hairy, who had no idea he was a prince and called himself simply "Hairy" was kind and gentle and the best listener Barbara had ever met. Before long, she found herself telling him about her childhood dreams and fantasies, and when she told him that her parents weren't really her parents, that she was the daughter of a raven-haired queen and an Irish poet, much to her relief, Hairy didn't laugh. He praised her imagination and Barbara knowing that her story sounded a little far-fetched accepted this interpretation and liked him all the more. Hairy had other virtues but the princess being shy and silenced by her god-fearing pretend parents too long, would not elaborate on Hairy's charms but they must have been considerable because before the year was out, Barbara agreed to marry him.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

I'm prograstinating so thought I'd give you another excerpt of my fairy tale. I ended Part 111 with: "Only in her dreams did she come alive."

Part 1V

This is not quite true. Barbara's spirit did not show itself often and was definitely tucked below the surface when she was in the house of Pretencia and Ridgard, but outside, in the great outdoors she chose males to be her companions for she loved to run, to climb trees, to hit balls with bats. All went well until the princess began to develop small globes on her chest. Pretencia seeing her second daughter (who she now forgot wasn't hers) turning into a young woman, told her that bats and balls were highly suggestive equipment and it was high time that Barbara lend a helping hand in the kitchen and parlour. "What would people think of her, Pretencia, raising such a boyish girl?"

And Barbara, caught in a rare defiant mood, whispered that she didn't give a damn what people thought. Pretencia heard and sent her to her room without dinner.

The princess grew grimmer and grimmer without physical release until her pretend mother, sick of her moping, suggested that she take dance classes. (Pretencia had another reason. A neighbour had bragged to her that her child was well on her way to becoming a prima ballerina and Pretencia wanted to take the smug smile off her face and better her.) Barbara, aware of Pretencia's reasons though beside herself with excitement, pretended reluctance as she was afraid that Pretencia would withdraw her offer if she appeared too eager. Finally when Pretencia yelled "You'll do what I say young lady," Barbara agreed.

And so she began to dance twice a week in an enchanted hall with bars around two walls and a huge mirror at one end. Barbara took to dance as if she'd been born to twirl round rooms on her toes, not knowing that Vivacia had also studied dance and that her great grandmother was a classical Persian dancer of great renown who had performed in royal halls.

When Barbara's dancing teacher told Pretencia that her daughter was a natural dancer, she grinned and ran to tell her neighbour. Much to Pretencia's glee, Barbara danced her way through her teens, winning many prizes, until her high school days were over and it was time to bid her pretend parents farewell and move to the big city to find her future.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

I just returned from San Francisco last night and am feeling a little overwhelmed. The house and garden are still calling for attention - too much. Rob said our lack of care has caught up to us. And I now have to place all the orders for the store for spring in the next two weeks and I need time to think.

And there are still black bears visiting my sanctuary. Rob caught one huge fellow up our apple tree the other night.

The first night in San Francisco, I felt good in my hotel room, playing with the remote on the television and reading but when I turned the light out, I became dark and gloomy, tossed and turned, turned the light back on several times, wrote in my journal but nothing helped.

I have been trying so hard since the workshop to give myself time to sort out my thoughts and find a clear direction but instead of feeling lighter, I feel more confused. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I am studying Helen Luke and her chapter on Suffering won't leave me alone. I have read it at least four times, written notes, and still it nags. And this horrible witchy voice inside me keeps telling me to spill the beans, tell all in this public journal, and I recoil. I'm not ready.

Luke insists that we have to uncover our fear of humiliation because from this fear comes a "dead weight of moods and depression." Guilt is useless. Acceptance of our human condition is the key, otherwise we are saying "I ought to be like God, free of all weaknesses."

The last day in San Francisco I went to a book store and bought "Adrienne Rich's Poetry and Prose" and trust me to turn to a section called: "Women and Honor: Some Notes on Lying(1975)." These notes tie in with Luke's thoughts on suffering. Rich believes that silence is lying and truth is complex and if we don't at least try to voice our truths we hurt others and ourselves:

"In lying to others we end up lying to ourselves. We deny the importance of an event, or a person, and thus deprive ourselves of a part of our lives. Or we use one piece of the past or present to screen out another. Thus we lose faith even with our own lives.
"The unconscious wants truth, as the body does. The complexity and fecundity of dreams come from the complexity and fecundity of the unconscious struggling to fulfill that desire....
"An honorable human relationship - that is, one in which two people have the right to use the word "love" - is a process, delicate, violent, often terrifying to both persons involved, a process of refining the truths that they can tell each other.
"It is important to do this because it breaks down human self-delusion and isolation.
"It is important to do this because in so doing we do justice to our own complexity.
"It is important to do this because we can count on so few people to go that hard way with us."

Rich speaks of the kind of fear that I felt the other night, the fear that keeps me silent, the fear that I expect too much from relationships, the fear that I am not good enough for relationships, the fear of some great dark hole - the void.

She mentions that Virginia Woolf called the void "the dark core" and Rich says that out of darkness and emptiness comes rebirth and, to me, this means change.

"The void is the creatrix, the matrix. It is not mere hollowness and anarchy. But in women it has been identified with lovelessness, barrenness, sterility.... We are not supposed to go down into the darkness of the core.
"Yet, if we can risk it, the something born of that nothing is the beginning of our truth."

I use a lot of quotes here because I have not quite digested all that I must before I can spill my beans and still stand the sight of myself in the mirror. I see also that I have not achieved what Luke calls true "humility."

Truth is complex.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

I forgot to mention yesterday that I'm off to San Francisco early Sunday morning. I return Wednesday evening so unless there's an internet cafe near my hotel, I will not be publishing my blog till later in the week.
Vaughan and I were the sole soul writers today at "The Grind" - strange I never thought about the name of the cafe where we meet. We had some delicious writerly conversation and wrote for one hour straight. I continued with my fairytale.

As a reminder, I ended with the young couple and their two daughters moving to a new land where the fair-haired princess was dreaming of castles, brightly coloured silks and satins, and flying carpets.

Part 111

And so the young princess grew up far from her magical home without her beautiful raven-haired mother who, true to her name, had been vivacious, and loved poetry and soft lilting voices.

There is no denying that her pretend parents were good people but her blond-haired mother, Pretencia was much more rigid, less indulgent to her children than Vivacia would have been, for Pretencia - a true Irish woman - believed in the old maxim that children should be seen and not heard.

Although Barbara on occasion, like her real mother, would be caught by some inexplicable joy and remove her clothes and dance in the garden, Pretencia was so shocked that she slapped her young daughter's wrists - she thought of her now as her own - and told the young princess in no uncertain terms that such behavior was wanton and unacceptable for the child of god-fearing parents, especially now that her husband, Rigidard (much to her pride - and she was prideful) had landed a job with a respected international firm. She had delighted writing home about this success and wrote further about her husband's plan to buy an rectangular box called a bungalow and a chariot called a Chevrolet.)

Before long, Barbara learned to curb her joyous outbursts and by the time she started school, all desire to remove her clothes and dance was gone. She was so docile and well-mannered in fact that her teachers, although they liked her pliability, found her a little too quiet.

Throughout her single digit years, the princess practised obedience because she thought if she was really really good, her real parents would send for her. Only in her dreams did she come alive.

Friday, October 22, 2004

I tumbled out to my little house in the garden this morning, straining to see and hear if a bear had entered my space. I think about Marion Engel's "Bear" who she fictively allowed into her northern home, to join her in front of the fire, and who left claw marks down her back.

What is this passion I have for reading and writing? Where are they leading me? I have spent so many years dreaming, writing, editing and for what reason? I have been told many times by other writers I admire and trust that I am good at this sport, that I must continue to play. So I do. I do (said in the same tone that I used on my wedding day.)

Hells' bells. Am I going to run out of paper and ink, (and more to the point, out of time) before anything comes of this mad scribbling? "Quantity not quality. Write copiously," I tell myself. "Write, write, write, and the quality will magically appear."
"Sure," I whisper, not really believing that anything could be easy for me in this life. "How dare you complain?" another inner voice says. "You are privileged. You follow dreams. You dance on tables. You travel. You are loved."


(So why are inner struggles so difficult to rationalize? Because they are not rational?)

Thursday, October 21, 2004

I feel as if I have moved to the wild west. A bear stopped by my little house in the garden yesterday, breaking the fence between our neighbour's yard and ours. The retired woman next door bakes chocolate cake for the neighbourhood racoons who have taken up residence in the back part of our basement - unusable as it has an earth floor but is linked to the usable part by a wooden door. Some restless animals, probably small, probably squirrels, have moved into our attic space.
Add to the animal activity, a moss-covered roof that leaks in two spots, a back garden that looks like a garbage dump, a front and back garden that have been taken over by laurels and blackberry vines, and you'll understand why I'm overwhelmed to be home. (And I haven't even mentioned all the things that need tending indoors.)

My cold has nearly disappeared and now that I only sniff and cough occasionally I see its wisdom. I have done only what is necessary since the BodySoul intensive - a few days of working in the store, a few chores - indoors and out - to do with daily living, and a lot of thinking about how I want to direct my limited energy. No big revelations so far but I do like this easier pace.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Happy 18th Birthday Gillian Kathleen Young

My daughter is so French,
She adores chocolate in the morning,
Dancing in the evening.
She sways her hips to music
every chance she gets.

She loves language
Hates the stupidity of sensationalist news
describing wars and bloodshed,
Loves Paris cafes and fashion
French kisses (or so I imagine.)


I see her as a little girl, her back to me, trudging up a grassy hill,
in France, searching for wild flowers with Susan and praising this friend, four
times her age, when she discovers one first.
"Oh you are so clever, Susan."

I picture her at the Eiffel Tower, angry at me because I
forbid her to climb to the top with her brothers.

I see her in Verona, sitting across from me at a small cafe,
sharing a tomato salad and spaghetti Bolognese, discussing Romeo and Juliet;
and again in Milan, following me around the Rudolph Nureyev
exhibit, exclaiming when I touch the giant's tights and
points to the sign forbidding such an action.

I see her again on a boat from Greece, where she managed
the language much better than me, sleeping late
in a room with many bunks, barely awake when we
disembark in Italy because she stayed up
most of the night talking with some English bloke.

I see her in Nice, sprawled out on a park bench,
barely able to raise her head, unable to lull beside
the Mediterranean because she went out the
night before and drank too much with several
Americans we met on the train.

I remember her beside me in Northern Ireland,
lugging bags from the grocery store,
swaying to traditional music in Irish Pubs,
and best of all, snuggled beside me in my bed in
our cold, damp flat, reading poetry.

I see her this summer, sitting across from me
in a sleazy restaurant across from the train station,
in Toulouse telling me to catch an early train back to our village,
and not wait for her to catch hers to Paris,
to London, to the airport, to Toronto,
to start her own life. (Was she afraid of my tears?)
That's the last time I saw her.

And she writes to me as if I'm the best mother in the
world and I want to cry and cry again when I read her public journal
when she despairs about eating and drinking, her
passion for beautiful things, her failures in love, and
bemoans the fact that she is human. I am so glad she
is and even happier that she can write about all.
I am astonished at her clarity of thought,
her earnestness, her honesty, her curiosity, and
her playfulness.

(To paraphrase a country and western song)

She's Kathleen's granddaughter
The spitting image of her father
And when the day is done
Her momma's still her biggest fan...

Should her tender heart be broken
She will cry those teardrops knowing
She will be just fine
'Cause nothing changes who she is...

She is Kathleen's granddaughter...
And her momma's still her biggest fan...

She's a saint and she's a sinner
She's a loser, she's a winner
She is steady and unstable
She is young but she is able...

Confessions of a Young Woman
I'm still sick. I can't believe how long this cold is holding on, keeping me from attending meetings, visiting with friends, and working. This morning a friend reminded me of a dream I had last week - a single image of a banner that read "This here carries tears from Marion's workshop" - and told me that colds are said to be unshed tears.

I am feeling weepy and frustrated. I'd say that I am being forced to slow down, to absorb what has happened in my travels, and to come to the realization that I can't do everything that I did before and expect to take my writing seriously.

Is it coincidence that I have begun studying Helen Luke and she speaks of the feminine principle and equates it to the "receptive", the yin of the "I Ching"? Luke describes a woman who "had no time outwardly and no energy inwardly to be still and listen" to the direction she needed to take with her career and so became ill.

As I sit here at my computer, barely able to think a coherent thought, I see the wisdom in slowing down and taking the time to decide what is important to me and what is not. I need to prioritize. I can't do everything.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Oh dear, my body is failing me. I went to Marlene's last night for the third session on Helen Luke's book and my nose started pouring and my head felt as if it were in a vise (I first wrote "vice") so I left half way through the evening. This is not like me.
I went to bed as soon as I arrived home and slept to 8 a.m. This is not like me. I went back to bed after tea this morning and missed an important meeting at work. Again, this is not like me.

I have the quick thought that being unlike myself may not be a bad thing.

Today is Rob's birthday. He's fifty-eight years old and I was surprised to hear him say that it's ominous being so close to the big 6 0. He rarely speaks of aging. I met him over thirty-five years ago at Ryerson. Gill sent him a Ryerson sweatshirt for this birthday. Is it strange that she is where we were when we met?

I was one of two females in a class of 29 and the other female only had eyes for our geography prof so I suppose I could have had my pick of the lot though several were married and a few others had girlfriends. So what attracted me to a herring-choker, a Maritimer, a man two and a half years older? I often tease and say it was the way he rolled his shirt sleeves to expose the hair on his arms. But, I think - it's a long time ago - that I liked his soft voice, the way he listened, his lack of pretension, his gentleness, and his down-to-earth approach to life. We were friends for a fair length of time before we became lovers.

It seems, most of the time, that Rob hasn't changed much over the years although he doesn't roll his shirt sleeves as often. He is still soft-spoken, still listens. He is not pretentious. He is still gentle, never pulls the male or husband power-trip on me. He demands little. We live easily side by side most of the time. He is a sound man (pun intended.) He is also a damn good writer. (He read me several sections of his novel, set in France, in France, and I wanted to hear more.)

There is something very sweet about living with an other for a long period of time. There is no need to impress or pretend. There is comfort in his or her familiar smell, taste, and touch. There is also danger of assuming too much, thinking for the other, talking too little.

I would hate us to become - like the old couple across from me in the restaurant in Paris - bored with nothing to say to the other. But conversation is my wish for us. I will ask Rob what he would like to see happen this new year - for us as a couple and for him alone. Happy Birthday Rob. I hope you are enjoying this lazy hazy day - both of us on our computers. Me sniffling, head stuffed, still in my pjs, (not exactly a beauty queen) trying to find some clever way to tell you, without stating it outright, that I love you and hope this year is fucking fantastic.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

I celebrated thanksgiving yesterday evening with three of my sisters, a niece and a nephew, and their families. My niece's new house was noisy, full of family chatter and lots of good food. Bren, Mike, and I left early to pick up Rob at airport. He arrived full of talk of Paris and the croissant he had for breakfast, the village, and how delicious it was to be there alone. We both thrive on alone time. Do we thrive on together time? I only know how excited I was to see him, how lovely it was to have his warm body next to mine. I slept late. And now I must organize myself for work and there, for a buying trip on the 23rd of this month in San Francisco.

I am having a hard time re-entering North American life. I find myself still at Grimstone Manor or on the moors in my mind, praying that I will not lose what I found there. On Sunday, I slept and slept, returning to bed several times, refusing a dinner invitation at Double Dave's, simply wanting to be with my self. I started reading Helen Luke's "The Way of Woman" in which she discusses Emily Bronte and Dickinson. Both were introverts and seldom left home and, because of their solitude and lack of desire for fame and fortune, were able to create timeless verse. I do not aspire to such greatness but after
Saturday when I attended my Plum meeting (how good to be with my writing allies again and as Wenda said, as soon as she saw me, it seemed as if no time had passed), helped Leslie's daughter ice a cake, and attended Walter's birthday party, I was exhausted and see that I must limit my outside activity. I want to have time to collect my thoughts, and read and write.

I am so happy to have my little house in the garden once again where I can visit and work/play uninterrupted for hours. I don't want to fall into my old habit of running breathless from one place to another, no matter how enticing an event may seem, no matter how much I love the person who wants to get together. I want to withdraw from the world more and have time to absorb, especially what I did this summer. I want to continue with Shitty and my fairytale. I want to have time to write my daughter who I miss like crazy. I want to have time with Rob and my sons. I suppose this is all about me. But time is passing. I think of Mary Oliver's line:"When it's all over, I don't want to wonder if I have made of my life something particular... I don't want to end up having simply visited this world..."

Friday, October 08, 2004

I slept but sporadically. I want to go in a thousand directions and my mind is churning. One step at a time, I tell myself. Make a list. Answer correspondence. Sort out three months accumulation of bills and letters. Update my dream file. Find the few pages I wrote on "Shitty" for tomorrow's Plum meeting. Continue my account of the past week.

I would like to spill my guts on the page, as is my way, but find myself constrained as Marion several times said that what happens during the workshop happens in the safety of the temenos (sacred place) and is not to be discussed. But the brochure for public consumption notes: "In these intensives, the leaders create a supportive space where each participant can access and use her own individual dream imagery to discover her authentic self and speak with a free, open voice. Art and mask-making offer space for the unlived energy (the shadow) to emerge through the body, psyche, and voice." In the release form, they also note that the intensive is educational, not therapeutic but I feel it is both.

There were twenty-seven participants and the majority were psychoanalysts and therapists. One woman said that what you gain in the week would take over a year of psychoanalysis. This is new ground for me but thanks to Marlene's "Circle", I was better versed than I thought in Woodman's and Jung's ideas. I pushed myself as far as I could and though often I fell into my usual despair of not being intelligent enough, tough enough, too self-conscious, too constrained in body and voice, I feel in my gut that I did just fine and left with a clearer idea of what I have to do to be true to my self. Is that too vague?

A little voice inside me says "tough." I still have too much to absorb to speak plainly. And I have yet to go through my copious notes, look up poetry references, and collate dream information from the workshop. I wish there were more hours in the day. I've been up since 4 a.m. It's 10:45 and I'm still in my flannel night-gown and have done nothing practical. (How deliciously decadent. I'm going to savour the next few days while I still can blame my inaction on jet-lag.)

I'm home and oh so tired. I was able to turn my computer on Tuesday evening when I arrived and pick up the fifty emails that were sent during my time in England but then my computer died and I could not find my North American plug so I couldn't respond, couldn't blog, couldn't do anything electronically that evening or yesterday. It was a relief: I wrote my jet-lagged thoughts in my journal. And last night I went to Marlene's for her Jungian Women's Writers Circle to study Helen Luke. I could hardly keep my eyes open and what dribble I wrote. Judy sitting next to me said "You're so funny, Yvonne." Funny that I don't think of myself this way but I've been told this once or twice this summer. Guess it's time to rethink myself. No. This is what I did during the two writing sessions and most intensely during this past week where all I had to think about was my self.

How did my friend Kate put it? "Welcome back from a summer of becoming you." The process started in France and continued in England. I find the lost cause is not so lost. I filled half a thick journal with notes and thoughts, turned inward, chose to be silent most often when "class" was out and yet still had time to become close to my Rumis (room-mates) as we called ourselves. Now that was strange. I have never slept with three strangers in the same room. After one night, several complained of my snoring - all I drank the entire week was water, tea, and coffee Rob will be surprised to hear - but after that and the introduction of chocolate as a before-bed snack to my diet, I apparently snored less and we laughed and talked together, and I found myself - when all were tucked in their beds - reading them my stories.

In my wildest dreams, I have never imagined myself doing what I did that week. I have never worked and pushed myself so hard. I have never eaten so well or so regularly. I have never swum naked in a pool with other naked women. I have never been so self-indulgent for such an extended period of time. My moods swung down and up. I was not alone. After the final dance was danced the last morning, I sat and cried. (And to top it all off when I left, I left my new coat and silk dressing gown behind. This is not like me.)

I called Rob mid-week and he jokingly asked if we were wearing masks and jumping into water. He was not far off.

We met morning, afternoon, and evening. Every morning Marion lectured on some aspect of the conscious feminine followed by dream analysis. In the afternoons, we did voice and body work and then painted or wrote. Every evening was a surprise. Oh I would have liked to have run away and hid at times but I kept telling myself to belief in the process. How could I doubt it when three such extraordinary women, Marion Woodman, Mary Hamilton, and Ann Skinner created it and have been leading BodySoul intensives for thirty years?

Oh dear, I'm fading. I'll continue tomorrow.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Two days in Paris. Now I'm in London. Strange how some people are afraid of travel, others are in awe: "You were in Paris? Now London? Alone? Tough life!" No sympathy that I had to lug a heavy suitcase through the streets of Paris, up and down three, four, five dozen flights of stairs in the metro, find a hotel I've paid for and never seen, catch a bus to Charles de Gaulle, arrive at Heathrow, find London's metro (no, now it's the underground), remember to speak English, find another hotel (booked again on the internet) without a map...I found it.

The hotel is alright, clean, firm bed, disgusting carpet. I can live in it for two days because it's cheap London-standards - £39 but a small attic room with shared toilet and shower, though it is up six flights of stairs ( the young woman at reception helped me carry it up.) I'm not really complaining. Today, I visit Charington Cross Road with a young friend. Books, books, books (must remember the weight of my suitcase.)

I was so tired after finding my room and managing my suitcase that I went to a nearby restaurant that looked decent, called Goya, a Spanish tapas bar enticed by Rob's reports of Spanish tapas bars and the "spicey potatoes" item on the menu. Fooled again. The potatoes were not spicey at all and this made me miss Paris, not that I ate at gourmet restaurants but the food wasn't fried,was flavourful enough, and I could buy a pichet of wine for next to nothing. Not so here.

I woke at what I thought was a respectable hour - 6 a.m. - showered, dressed, went down for my English breakfast only to find that I hadn't switched my watch to English time and was an hour early. I took to the streets, found where my bus leaves tomorrow morning (just around the corner) for what Rob calls my "transformation." "Will you still love me after you're transformed?" he asked. I am not feeling glib. In reality, though Marlene and Ursula reassured me, I am apprehensive. I've even thought - these last few days - that I'm a lost cause, not suited for this workshop, not ethereal enough. But damn it all anyway, I am fifty-five years old with my "course roots in the earth" and I'll not let a little fear stand in my way. I'll do it come what may.

What more can I say? I loved Paris and only had time for a taste. I phoned Rob and asked him to ask Helene if she knows anyone in Paris who would like to trade their home for one in the south of France or even Vancouver. A month would be ideal. And I phoned Gill and asked her if she would like to do some shopping in Paris for her 19th or 20th birthday (you'd think I was made of money) and she said "19th."

Oh I did do a little shopping in this amazingly wonderful sexy city. I bought a coat because I was cold and the thought of a week on the English moors made me think it a smart decision. (Okay, I first asked my financial advisor if I should buy it or not, and Gill said "go for it.") I also bought a cosy pullover, a gift for Gill's birthday, one for Marlene's, and had my hair cut French.

One afternoon, I sat in a small brasserie people watching. An older couple sat across from me. No conversation. And I thought, "dear god, don't let this happen to Rob and me - old and nothing left to say to the other." And then a young, elegant, beautiful young man sat down beside me. He spoke on his cell phone twice. Once in perfect English. The second time in perfect French. Okay, I was mesmorized. I thought of a friend who told me that it's easy to get laid - it's all in the glance that lingers too long. And I thought as I sat there, making sure I didn't look him in the eye, that I have no desire for such sport. It would be more embarrassing than fun. I must be old because I think that good sex doesn't just happen (or at least it hasn't for me the first time new person.) Yes, it's all in the head, I think as I sit there; but then again,it's also in the hand, in the mouth, etc. etc.
(This was me in Paris -lily white, pure in body if not in thought. I smile as I type this.)

So tomorrow I'm off to Plymouth to the Moors and I doubt that I will be blogging again until I'm back in Vancouver a week and a day from now. What can I say? Wish me well.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

I have just been sitting on a bench looking out from my village feeling rather sad that I won't see it again for who knows how long. In an hour, Rob and I leave for Caussade where he will put me on a train for Paris where I will wander the streets for two days before catching a plane for London. I sound like a jet-setter but feel like a small woman who is going to have struggle with a big suitcase on and off trains.

Several years ago Gill and I went to Greece with Helen. When we were in Santorini, our hotel was down twenty, thirty, forty steps and I became so angry at myself for bringing so much - my suitcase was ridiculously heavy - that I threw an enormous temper tantrum in our hotel room and threw every item from my suitcase around our room cursing each one as if it weighed down my soul.

I lay in bed beside Rob this morning rubbing my nose in his back - I am such an animal - telling him that I was drinking in his smell as I wouldn't be sleeping with him for a while and he laughed. (I said that I was trying to be poetic. Why does it never work? I will miss this man who teases me like crazy, who says he's not my father, who has grown more tender towards me over the last few weeks.)

But enough of this soppy stuff. I have written more of my fairytale but no time this morning to type it. If I can, I will continue at an internet cafe in Paris. If not, you will have to wait. (Life is so simple some times.) Au revoir.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

I have so few mornings left in Castelnau de Montmiral. I have just been doing a slew of dishes from a dinner we had last night with James and Rachel Waugh, Lyn, and Susan. It was a good evening, full of wine and conversation but, as usual, I left the table early and Rob entertained our guests (although Susan, as is her habit too, went home before I lay down.) I am in my organizational, tidy-up mood. On Thursday morning I leave for my beloved Paris.

Here, for the lover of fairytales is Part 11 of mine:

When King Monogamy returned, the queen told him, with real tears, that the child was lost to them at birth (which wasn’t far from the truth) and her husband, not a bad man for all his boringness, wept with her.

Meanwhile her trusted servant carried the babe through the dark night, indeed through many dark nights, hiding when the sun rose, until she came to the sea that Vivacia had described, and paid for her passage and that of the child with jewels, not THE crown jewels but with precious stones nonetheless, on a stately ship.

When the captain of said ship, spied the dark beauty, carrying her precious bundle as if it were crystal, and noted how their passage was paid, he ordered the maiden and child be placed in a cabin next to his where he could watch over them; and before long, because of his kindness, was told of the queen’s servant’s mission – to find a safe home for the child until her mother, under some guise, could have her transported back to the castle.

The Captain, who was young and dashing, fell in love with the gentle servant and thus another fairytale began but the tale that needs to be told at present is that of the child. The story of the Irish Sea captain and the Persian maiden will continue at another time.

When the ship landed, the captain and the maiden (who turned woman during the voyage) found a earnest god-fearing young couple who desired a second child so they could rent a house (this was post-war times) and so were given charge of the queen’s lovely daughter and a handful of precious stones, accepting that her real mother might want her back at any moment.

Unfortunately this never came to pass. Vivacia, hiding again in the garden one night, was stung by a number of bees and died.

The baby, quiet by nature, was so different from the couple’s own daughter who was loud and demanding, that the man and woman favoured the child who had come to them at night. They also expected, it must be said, that they would receive more riches when the child’s presence was requested at the royal palace.

When they heard of the queen’s death, they decided the child who had been called simply princess was theirs, named her Barbara, and used the last of their wealth to cross the ocean to the new world.

The couple never told their fair-haired second daughter of her origins but at night Barbara would dream of castles, brightly coloured silks and satins, and flying carpets and knew in her heart that she did not belong to the people she called mum and dad, and, if she was very good and quiet, her real parents would one day reclaim her and take her to live in a palace.

Friday, September 17, 2004

In an hour, I'm off on an overnight adventure with Susan. We have not seen nearly enough of each other. Writers tend to hibernate I think.

I said yesterday that I might tell a fairytale. I don't know if this will bore you to tears but I'll give you the first part. I began this story in the midst of the second writing shop and although I took the exercise seriously, what came from me was downright silly. Saying this I have a feeling that it will take a serious turn. I have not polished this story nor do I intend it. Once in a while a writer has to have fun.

The story grew from an idea that I had as a child (a common one I hear) that my parents were not really my parents. I was a princess from an exotic land where carpets flew and genies lived in bottles. For some reason, my real parents had to give me up but one day they would come for me.

Part One

Once upon a time, the raven-haired Vivacia, who just happened to be queen of Persia, gave birth to a girl child. Under other cirumstances the tiny, fair-haired beauty would have been adored but the queen knew as soon as her husband, King Monogamy (or Monotony as he was called behind his back) saw the child, he would know that two dark skinned, raven haired people could not produce such a child and he would banish mother and babe or worse still, throw them in the rat-infested dungeon where they would die a slow and painful death.

This wasn't all he would do, Vivacia knew. The king had brought from Ireland, the only fair-haired male in the kingdom - a tutor for their son - and would naturally assume the young man was her lover which was, in fact, the case, although their affair had happened innocently enough.

Vivacia slept little during the hours her husband favoured for dreaming and often walked, under the stars, in the walled garden where the Irish man too often wandered, reciting verse by Yeats, Thomas, Joyce, or others from his homeland. She loved hearing his soft lilting voice, watching his long lean body, shoulders slouched with the intensity of his thoughts - so unlike her husband's rotund figure and booming bass - that she would hide behind a favourite oleander bush so as not to distract him.

One evening, the young man, needing to relieve himself, stopped in front of the queen's bush, and pulled from his trousers, a soft tube similar to the crown jewels but much prettier. When Vivacia saw it and his intention, she was so shocked that she jumped up and revealed herself and reveal herself she did more than she realized as she wore a thin night dress that was transparent in the bright moon's light.

They stood staring into each other's eyes and then sighed in unison as if giving into the inevitable, joined hands and found a sheltered spot to explore the other's treasures. And thus this became their habit.

When Vivacia's belly begin to grown, she feared that the child would be his but hoped beyond hope that the few occasions in which her husband had demanded her presence in bed would produce another raven haired child.

Alas as soon as she held the enfant in her arms, she knew that she had to act quickly. Her lord and master, away on a hunt, was due back in two days or, at the most, three so she gave her precious daughter to a trusted servant and bid her take the child across land and sea to the emerald isle, home of the child's father.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

The air is cold. I know I repeat myself but the mornings feel like fall; the afternoons like summer. I dress for middle weather and never feel just right. I'm growing a little tired of telling what I'm up to here in a landscape that continues to appeal even with the sunflowers dropping and brown.

The most exciting thing that has happened lately is that for the past two days, Rob and I have driven down the road to Herve's farm and spoken about the French language. Herve has recently retired from a teaching position. He also, many years ago, taught French in a Scottish university. (He is Helene's first husband.) He lives on a large estate with two gites. One holds four people, the other six. He makes a decent income from the two but needs to supplement it now that he isn't working and is thinking of teaching French to English speakers from around the world and is looking for a way that not only benefits him financially but that pleases him aesthetically. He loves literature and poetry and song and wants to incorporate the three in his teaching. He also told us quite bluntly that he is lonely and would like to share his large house with four bedrooms. (The second Helene left him in November.)

He and Susan are coming for dinner tonight and Rob and I are supposed to have learned by heart "Le Corbeau et Le Renard", a French fable. I'll be lucky if I get the first four lines right but it is a fun way to learn. Speaking of fables, I'm thinking of publishing my fairytale on this blog. Maybe tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

I have not been able to write this public journal for a few days. I’m not sure why although it could be that I see my time is drawing to a close – less than two weeks and I’m on my way to London, then Plymouth to the bodysoul workshop, and I must arrange many practical details.

This morning, I was sitting on my bench at the edge of the village. The moon was just a sliver and there was a streak of red across the horizon. Fall is the air. I had already spent an hour on the Internet trying to find a cheap place to stay in London. (It’s both easy and difficult to make a reservation online: the big problem is that pictures are deceiving. I could be booking and paying for a real dump or I might be lucky.) I am frustrated. I wanted to write so much this summer and feel I’ve accomplished little in this department.

Two nights ago, I finished “Dancing in the Flames” and I keep returning to the last few pages, trying to digest and understand what several passages mean to me. It’s funny that I can hear something, read something, that I know on some level but somehow it doesn’t resonate until, all of a sudden, it hits me in the gut.

For instance, in the Woodman/Dickson text I keep thinking about the idea that “If quantum physics tells us anything, it is that reality is indeed in the eye of the beholder.” Linked to this, I jotted down the passage where the authors noted that Wolfgang Pauli, physicist and Nobel laureate, “recognized… that the unconscious drives – perhaps more than our conscious ego – govern much of our interaction with the world and our interpretation of it.” It follows then that I have to find a way into the unconscious if I am ever to understand the forces that gag and tie me, and those that will direct me in a positive direction.

I am still dwelling with relationship issues. If nothing else (although there is much more) Rob reveals me to me – more in my responses to him than my actions. For instance when we went to Toulouse, I wanted to make a game out of finding a cheap hotel and was prepared to walk for hours until I found exactly what I wanted. He hated this adventure. It wasn’t his idea of a good time, trouping around the city in the heat, with an overnight bag in hand; and although I tried to stay light, I finally gave in, at a hotel where I neither liked the atmosphere or price. And then I was angry at myself for not holding onto my idea and snapped at Rob that I did not want to go for coffee with him. A few minutes later, feeling like a complete imbecile - or perhaps, feeling like a spoiled child is a better comparison - I explained my anger and we went out for coffee.

Interesting that I tell this. Another passage at the end of “Dancing” goes:

“Making a commitment to another is really an illusion, a way of holding. In the end, it is to no avail. Making a commitment to our deepest Self however pulls us into life and opens the door to others. Love carries a great responsibility to go where life leads, to be where life resonates. If we have no passion for our own life, we will constantly seek it vicariously in others. Seeking a greater realization of the Self is the only commitment we can really make.”

After coffee, we separated and went our separate ways. We both found two hotels that fit my description – too late for this visit – but we’ll both be happy next.

Last night we had Sue and Leon Light, Bedding and Susan, and Ruth for dinner. I cleaned the place from attic to ground - having guests is a great motivator: the house needed a good scrub.

Ruth made a leek pie. Bedding a German plum tarte. Sue and Leon brought champagne – the real stuff – I made a ratatouille tomato sauce for pasta, and Rob made the salad. The evening was easy and delicious.