Friday, October 28, 2005

I promise a long blog after market. I returned on Tuesday evening; on Wednesday, had lunch with friends from a fish and chip shack - the best I've tasted, in a long time, on Granville Island; had a sleep on a comfy couch; and attended Marlene's last of this session Jungian meeting in the evening. On Thursday morning I did orders and then worked all afternoon in store and then back home to work all evening. No peace for the wicked - not that I've been particularly wicked unfortunately. And today, I stole a hour to have my hair cut and pack for the late afternoon train to Seattle.

Meanwhile, as I dart here and there, Rob rests as he has a slight bout of pneumonia and has to be well to start a film on Tuesday. Keep your fingers crossed that he is well. Timing couldn't be worse. We just had our rotten roof and deck done to the tune of 20 grand.

Meanwhile, Bren prepares to leave on Tuesday for a three month sabbatical in Europe.

Mike called to tell me about his new position - the site of Mike's new job

All is well, simply short on time. Will return to my correspondence next week.

Monday, October 24, 2005


Sexy Maybe
Early morning, I sit in the lobby of our moorish hotel, the Figueroa, and look at photos from the past few days.
This lacey little number drew our attention and so I whipped my top off in the middle of a showroom and tried
it on. No modesty. Still no one winked an eye.

And here is Helen, full of dignity.
Helen in LA

I am tired. We are beginning our last full day of appointments and I'm sick of looking at clothes although there
have been times with Helen that we became teenagers and giggled and joked and rolled our eyes... sometimes
life is gracious and generous.

Last night was a treat. We went to dinner at the apartment of my niece Sarah and her love where she fed us well
on halibut, potatoes, spinach, followed by strawberries and whipped cream. (The desert eminded me of her mother, Kathy
when we, in the olden days, would eat strawberry shortcake for breakfast.) Sarah and Rene are so lovely, so quick, intelligent, that the conversation flowed more copiously than the wine. (Can you believe it? My body is too tired.)

Early mornings here at the hotel are so peaceful. I have been rising early, coming down to the lobby, and reading about dreams, writing a little, and am transported to another world. My time. But soon back to market. Tomorrow we are going to visit LA, search out stores - for research, of course - and then fly home in the evening. Tempus fuit.

Monday, October 17, 2005


Gill, October 1986
From the moment you were born, I loved you. This is the first picture taken after we brought you home from the hospital. The "we" was Anita and Sonia, you and me. We stopped in at Lesliejane and Leslie gave me a pile of new clothes to try on at home before you even saw your house. Is this where your love of beautiful clothes comes from?

Baby Gill & !You were my baby doll. I loved dressing you in little coats and bonnets. With your arrival, the dynamics in the house changed. Before, it was me and three males. With another female in the house, the ambiance softened. Or was it your softness, your joie de vivre that softened your father and brothers? How they loved to play with you, make you laugh - which you did often.

BandolHow beautifully you grew. This picture was taken when we were on holiday in Toulon - you, your father, me. We have been traveling together since you were little, and often it was just you and me. What patience you had with me. I seldom reserved a hotel. We would hop on a train and then hop off, and with your little suitcase on wheels, you would trudge behind me, from one hotel to another till we found one we liked and could afford. We complemented one another. When I couldn't decide where to go, I'd ask you. I doubt I'd ever have visited Pisa or Verona without your input.

High School GradWhere did the years go? You looked so beautiful in your cap and gown but then, when did you ever not look beautiful? But I also knew with this milestone in your life passed, our time living side by side, at home and on the road, was coming to an end. Several months after this photo was taken, you would leave me to attend college in Toronto. You were ready. It was me who took longer to adjust.

Beautiful DreamerI called this picture "Beautiful Dreamer." It was taken not this past summer but the summer before when you went to Spain. Your love of travel grew each summer.

Gill and her dadThis picture was taken on "Reefer Madness" when you worked with your dad. I love the love you share. You are so much alike.

Cheeky Gill and ShirinI love this picture of you and your best friend, so cheeky and so you, when your heart is light.

This summerI was so proud of you this summer - how you cooked feasts for the writing workshop, and Marlene, Ursula, and me; how you listened, translated during a difficult time, how you bought chocolate gifts for all the women in our French home; how you entertained a friend's younger daughter, how you adored a young French man, how you were so wondrously you.

Paris has changed youParis is changing you. But not the good, generous, loving core of you. I know to do you justice, I should say that you aren't perfect, that you can be moody, and that there are awkward moments between us. But surprisingly, they are rare. I can't help but adore you. I am also in awe of your courage and fortitude. When we were in Northern Ireland, it was you who insisted we stay. Although not all has been rosy in Paris, you persevere. I love you, dear Gigi, Gilly, Gillian. Happy Birthday.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Happy Birthday Rob,
59 Years Young

Rob with oysters
His lips bestow kisses that send me to heaven.

Comfortable together
His arms comfort me.

The man I married
This is the man
I swore to love and honour,
not obey.

Our children
These are our progenies and prodigies.

This morning I gave Rob a card that included
a quote by Sharon Olds:

"By knowing him, I get to know
the purity of the animal
which mates for life"

And even though it is Rob's birthday, I will not paint an ideal picture of him or us. We do not always see eye to eye. We don't always give the other what he or she needs. But what I love about him (and sometimes hate about him) is his independence because, in many ways, it forced me, then helped me to to do what I had to do to be independent. For the most part, we both do what we damn well please and sometimes it includes the other though often it doesn't.

A few days ago I was reading Woodman and I was reminded of Rob: In Conscious Feminity, she says "I think they[women] are valuing their men more. They are seeing their men as human beings and saying, 'I love you enough to say this is who I am and I will no longer pretend to be someone I'm not. I will no longer try to live up to your image of me.'" But, in my mind, it is not Rob's image of me that I have tried to live up to but more what I project is his image of me.

So I have fought myself for my independence and he, though he hasn't always been happy about my comings and goings, hasn't tried to stop me nor has he tried to make me feel guilty. This is a big deal for me and I love him for it.

" I don't know where he got
his kindness without self-regard,
almost without self, and yet
he chose one woman, instead of the others."

(Happy Birthday, dear Rob. Next year the big 60 in France.)
I have just returned from doing a fashion show for the store at the "Salmon House on the Hill". The restaurant wasn't full but one woman, who saw the show, came to store after and bought a thousand dollars worth of clothes. But what really made my heart sing were the models. They weren't anorexic professionals but beautiful, lively women, aged twenty to forty years who loved the clothes, commented on texture, colour, style, and will buy when they can afford to. Besides the shows - two more next week at the Hyatt Regency - the store is pretty demanding of my time as it always is at change-of-season.

I am still enjoying my vacation from writing though I am editing a story for Helen's cousin. It's taken me hours as it's long, over 11,000 words, and as this is his first attempt at a short story, I have to explain each comment.

And okay I do write in my journal and at Marlene's on Wednesday evening but I don't know if I want to talk about it. Sometimes I would like to forget all this Jungian stuff and be a dumb blond, accepting everything, smiling endlessly; but I can't... though often I feel as if I'm visiting hell.

I don't really understand the turbulent emotion that erupts from some dark place in me. Last night, for instance. I cringe when I think about what I read, my stomach churning, my heart beating too fast, the sweat pouring off me. But the ridiculous part is that what I wrote is no big deal to anyone but myself. And I would have cringed more if I hadn't read. "This is who you are," I tell myself. "If you don't like it, do something about it. Change."

"Are you willing to be sponged out, erased, canceled, made nothing... dipped in oblivion?" Woodman quotes D.H. Lawrence and adds: "If not, you will never really change."

And oh, I so want to be in control of myself. I feel doomed at the moment. Don't know if I'm tough enough for this world. Ever feel that way?

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Thursday again. My mind is cluttered. I woke late because stupidly, I stopped after Marlene's Jungian group last night and had a cup of tea (because my mind was uneasy about my reading) and the caffene kept me awake for hours. So I slept in and woke with Rob - practically unheard of - and lay in bed with him talking, cuddled into his warmth (so there is a bonus.) I feel as if I am getting to know him again. When he's working, the hours demanded of him, leave little time for conversation. He is always tired. But now that he hasn't had a job since August and is relaxed and nearly always at home, we talk more, go out for casual dinners, and have even caught a movie and play over the last few weeks. And yesterday, we started (he mostly) going through old boxes of memories in the storage part of the basement, hoping to eliminate the junk and keep only those things that are too precious or too difficult to throw away - like the children's teeth, all in white envelopes with a message and sometimes a picture for the tooth fairy - and I was reminded of the "us" in the old days, before and during our children's childhoods.

And speaking of childhood, when I finally crawled out of bed, made coffee and came out to my house in the garden, I found an email from my friend, Nita, telling me that my heart would warm if I read her daughter's blog. ("Jenn's journal") and it did. Jenn tells of her impression of me when she was eleven or twelve (over eighteen years ago.) Strange how all those years of raising children become a jumble and I thought I had lost myself amid the diapers, playing tooth fairy, school concerts, and parent/teacher meetings, and Jenn tells how she felt like an adult in my company, how I would "genuinely listen to the things [she] said" and how it meant much to her, still does.

I, who have great admiration for people who truly listen, am more than pleased that I had the wherewithal to listen to her. Jenn is an extraordinary young woman who received her doctorate in science from M.I.T. several years ago (whose professor was just awarded a Nobel prize) and yet I remember her best as a lanky teenager, awkward with her tall self, but always sweet, quiet more often than not, studious though playful especially with "Gigi" and how she came to me for reading advice and books.

I am a little surprised, I hate to admit, that I listened. I was so frantic during those years. And I struggle still to listen - sometimes it is easy but more often than not, it isn't. My mind likes to wander. I have to remind myself to drop all thought and concentrate on the person speaking. (Marlene has it down to a fine art. I remember the first course I took with her - journal writing at UBC - and I would watch her, fully focused on the person who was reading - I probably should have been listening - and how her attention never swayed. Several years ago, she told me how she once had to dig her fingernails into her hand to stay alert as she had had very little sleep the night before.)

Marlene, if you haven't guessed, is a mentor as well as friend whom I love dearly. Sometimes my head starts spinning around her. One moment, she is an imp, a daredevil, a dancer, a confidant; and the next, she is sitting in front of a group of women teaching, elaborating, reciting poetry, containing, listening. I can't even begin to describe how much I have learned from her and continue to learn, how much "permission" she had given me to be myself. And it was her birthday on Monday and I forgot. The next morning I woke with a start and thought "oh no", ran downstairs to the calendar, and saw that the 3rd was indeed Monday. Talk about complexes: I beat myself up, thought I wasn't much of a friend if I forgot a birthday. And I regret too that I didn't do a blog in her honour, but I think she knows that I love her.

Now, I would like to speak briefly about what I learned, thought, and read last night (an edited version) but there is no time, I must dress for work. (Thank goodness. I need more time to think about what was revealed to me last night.)

Monday, October 03, 2005

Every Sunday at noon Gill, Karyna, and I choose a sweet, eat and write about it. As Gill is in Paris, Karyna in Montreal, and me in Vancouver, we're not really writing at the same time. This was yesterday's entry:

Alas, I couldn't eat a lemon tart this morning as I was painting the office at home an icy white - a colour Bren chose months ago for the hallway and there was...

(Just a minute: my lemon tart, sitting in front of me, is calling. I had cut it into four pieces, made myself a cup of English Breakfast tea, and carried it out to my house in the garden at 6 p.m.. Can't wait another minute. A quarter of a quarter fills my mouth. Oh my god, it's good. Another mouthful finishes the quarter. I lick my fingers, sip some tea.)

just too much paint - over two tins - though I had wanted colour in the office, I am too parsimonious to waste what is already in the house; and besides, I collected a number of colour charts and couldn't decide what I wanted so took the easy route. I'm happy. The room looks like an ice castle though not at all chilly. The grey of the deck's new cover reflects through the double glass sliding door onto the walls.

(Another bite of lemon. I'm in heaven. Why do I like lemon tarts so much? Finished last of second quarter.)

When I was little, my mama said that when she left home (after a shotgun wedding), she made herself a lemon pie and ate every bit of it herself. I was not the child in her womb so I haven't come be my love of lemon honestly. She told me, at this time, I was just a twinkle in my father's eye.

(Here goes another bite. A small drop nearly escapes my mouth but I use my baby finger to shove it in. I finish the quarter and take another sip of tea. I am being bad on two counts. First, I am not writing at the prearranged time and second, I am eating my dessert before dinner.)

After I finished rolling on the first coat of paint, I ran, showered, and left for work muttering "I'm late. I'm late..." had to open store and worked till 5:30, grabbed a bus to Capers, ravenous as I had not eaten lunch though Rob had made me breakfast but after stomping up hill from the store, lemon tart in hand, he said that he wasn't hungry yet and could I wait: he would prepare dinner later (do I have it good?) and so I had to pretend my tart was an appetizer or die of hunger.

(Am just about to devour last quarter. Instead of biting into it, I lick the surface slowly, coating my tongue, then lick my lips. I feel like a child. Repeat the action, thinking that if anyone were to touch my lips with theirs, they'd receive a sweet-and-sour kiss. I pop the last of my tart in my mouth, then with the back of my hand wipe away the crumbs.)

I am exhausted.

Gill just sent me permission to publish her lemon tart episode:

The lemon tart sits beside Aimee's strawberry tart in a piece of paper, wrapped into the shape of a triangular dome. The dome sits triumphantly on top of two ham sandwiches and drinks for our lunch. As we wait for our train to arrive, I can't wait. I unwrap the two fat tarts and give into sweet temptation. I don't know what to expect from it. It's small and thick, unlike the flat round ones from Capers I'm familiar with. I'm afraid it won't compare. Citron is scrolled in black icing on the top, along with two almond flakes that fell off another dessert. I dig my teeth in. The lemon insides are thick and sweet, like a lemon cream cheese. It is rich, but not sickly sweet, and I groan with pleasure. Aimee asks if I want to trade a bite for a bite. I say no. Soon after I feel selfish, and pass her my tart so she can have a taste. I'm happy to have it back in my hands afterwards. I try to enjoy it as much as we can while keeping up conversation. The train arrives, and we climb on, tarts still making their way into our mouths. I feel like apologizing to my lemon tart, because it deserves more of my attention than this. It is good. I know it is good. My smile widens every time it enters my mouth. When I finish my last bite, I'm truly satisfied. But next time I'll eat it alone.

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