Tuesday, May 17, 2016


Somewhere in Stoney Creek, ON

Tiffany Falls in the spring
"I guess clothes are just an afterthought", my friend Kathleen said as she scans "my" bedroom, noting the drum, laptop, journals, yoga mat, art and knitting supplies strewn about and computes how everything would all fit into the luggage at hand.

"Yup, that's pretty much right."

I go up to Campbell River numerous times a year and have packing down to a fine art. Unlike my friends, or most civilized people for that matter, I really don't pay much attention to clothes. I'm thinking about what I want to DO with my time. Half of the time I don't really know what I've brought til I dig it out. Unpacking is always a surprise. I'm either smugly proud of my preparedness or deeply disappointed with my lack of foresight.

"I'm not going to be with people long enough this visit for them to notice that I've been alternating tops every other day, washing gotchies and socks every few days, or that I go bra-less as often as possible because washing the one bra that I brought, frankly, is a pain in the butt." I tell her.

After all, this house-sit was going to be RETREAT AND REFLECTION; days spent in seclusion with 2 elderly, toothless, wiener doggies as my sole companions. I imagined myself lost in thought during long walks on the nearby Bruce Trail, dreaming on the beat of the drum, doing ceremony and journaling my inspired insights…

Ya. Nope, hasn't happened.

Sure, I've drummed a bit for it's calming and healing effect. Yoga is almost as essential to me as breathing; a few days away from the mat is all my body will tolerate before complaining and becoming restless. So that really doesn't count. A work of art in progress stares at me as I write this. I've only managed to dab a bit of colour here and there. Journal entries? One, from the day of my arrival stating…"I've arrived", no deep thoughts there.

I thought being without wheels (I don't drive standard and that's all the owners of the house have) would support my RETREAT AND REFLECTION state of mind.


I've been able to persuade friends to come out this way for visits. And, visit they have!

Multicoloured ribbons slash through the days on my calendar marking scheduled reunions.
- Within a few days of my arrival I was welcomed into the arms of my 7 "council sisters", swept off to a craft market and attended, but didn't sleep over, at their sleepover.
- I reunited with dream/yoga sisters Sue and Katie and toured Katie's DE LA SOL yoga studios in Hamilton (renovated since I last took classes there) and Waterdown (which was in the process of being negotiated when I left).
- I've been to dinner with my sister-in-law and brother-in-law and celebrated the latter's birthday with my nephew and his girlfriend (whom I met for the first time) at brunch hosted by Di.
- P and I spent a day Forest Gumping - exploring the Punchbowl Market, Tiffany Falls and chatting over wine at the scenically divine Ancaster Mill.
- Yesterday, fellow SSC (Shiatsu School of Canada) graduate Kathleen and I exchanged Shiatsu treatments in the room where she made her aforementioned observation. We broke for lunch and grocery shopping in between sessions and retired to the salon afterward to catch up on  our attempts to build up businesses in new locales over the last 3 years and offer words of mutual support and encouragement.

A day here and there, portions of days and evenings at home base are balancing out all of this fun, frolicking about. Plenty of time for retreat and reflection…

Ya. Nope, hasn't happened.

Tiffany Falls in winter.
Photo courtesy of Peter Sneller
I've rediscovered the pleasure of sitting down with a morning coffee as I peruse the Globe and Mail, an actual physical newspaper. Reading it online doesn't have the same effect on me; doesn't feel the same.

For some unknown reason, when I'm on a house-sit, putzing around the house, tending to the daily chores of life is particularly relaxing. I can spend hours gardening, of the weeding and mowing variety,…in someone else's garden. My own place? Not so much. I've never figured that one out.

Music, ahh! Other peoples' collections allow me to sample genres I'd probably never otherwise explore. Though I haven't really listened to it for years, I've always been a blues and jazz fan. C&R's music library and sound system is irresistible. I'm discovering new - to me - artists. I've reconnected with a favourite jazz station I once enjoyed. When I want a change from the vocalizations of the songbirds outside, I tune in.

When we don't spend a night cuddled up on the couch while I knit my yoga socks (with or without music in the background) the pups and I sit in the living room and catch up on Netflix offerings.

And for the remaining weeks? My schedule's packed tighter than Queen Elizabeth on a royal tour…Texts, e-mails and phone calls have zipped over the airwaves in my attempts to see all these people, so special to me, that I've missed so much these past 3 years.

There will be a time for retreat and reflection. Even as I enjoy this working vacation, longstanding challenges ARE being processed just in a different way than I expected.

To everything there is a season.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

A Moment for Mom

Here I sit gazing out at the lush gardens from my perch in the kitchen-solarium. Victoria's four month spring is waining but it's new and fresh here in Stoney Creek where I am house-sitting for the next 2 weeks.

Sumptuous red, vibrant yellow, delicate pink and coral tulips, dance before me; mirrored in the reflecting pond, their flower faces turn joyously upwards towards the sun. Chickadees, sparrows, cardinals and blue jays dart in and about. Robins swoop onto the grass and the stone patio, hop, run, pause here and there to dig up fat worms and grubs. Squirrels, and chippies - cheek pouches stuffed full of peanuts in the shell - scamper back and forth from the feeding platform to their secret places.

Beyond the cedar hedge, crisp-white, clouds float in the distance providing a back drop for Birches and Maples; buds bursting. I think of the momma dove nestled deep in the eaves trough on the shady side of the house, only the tip of her tail and a wary eye give away her presence; no peeps have yet been voiced.

A flash of wings causes me to look up from my typing in time for me to witness the eagerly awaited arrival of the duck couple splashing down into the pond. They waste no time; feasting has begun. Bathing, frolicking, preening, then more feeding is the order of the day. He is very handsome with his electric blue head, white necklace and graphic, defined markings of white, and shades of brown and grey. She is a subtle beauty. Both glisten in the sun and bask in the sunlight for a moment before taking flight once more.

Through all of this my little charges, two "puppies"(actually sweet 9 year-old, toothless mini-Dachshunds) snooze, nuzzled together in the sun drenched window-well to my left.

Birdsong breaks through the full spectrum of sound emanating from the sound system. The soundtrack to this precious moment has been provided by Oysterband and now the smoky voice of Emilie-claire Barlow. Ah, I sing off key and chair dance with enthusiastic abandon.

Every time I sing I feel closer to Mom. She would have loved this moment and this spot. I hear her pitch-perfect singing, matching the attitude, nuances and song styling; swaying just a little to the beat as she goes about her chores. Now again she pauses, stands by the sink for a sip of coffee and a piece of Crispy Crunch bar cut into bite sized morsels.

Care of C & R, this one's for you Mom.