It seemed like such a great idea at the time… A quick toilet scrub while running out the door to my full-time job. In pursuit of maximum efficiency, I squirted some cleaner in the bowl and went at it with a vengeance (quite literally). I attacked the chore with such violence, I must have looked like I was plunging some horrible clog. Until…
Exploring the delicious, pine-scented back woods of Quebec, one quickly learns to walk a few paces behind a partner. No, our dear French Canadians do not subscribe to some antiquated religious diktat – although the prevalence of front yard Virgin Mary ceramics do make one wonder. The gap is simply to prevent one of those prickly, dew laden, boughs from clocking you in the nose when it whips back across the path.
We lose so much in the time-clogged rush of being a modern woman; so many of life’s most beautiful lessons are forgotten in the mania of “having to do it all.” As the brush caught on the rim, and a heavy spray of yellowish, mucky, bleachy, ‘water’ splashed up into my face, I grabbed hold of the gentle quiet of those pine-lined trails to stop from screaming. No, life is not fair (especially before 7am), but it’s nice to know there’s still enough justice, somewhere out there, to make sure I was wearing my glasses!
Remember Puff The Magic Dragon? Remember how little Jackie Paper abandoned his best friend for “other toys,” and how heartbroken Puff “sadly slipped into his cave?” What a horrible lesson to teach kids! The idea that one outgrows one’s imagination is not only absurd, but cruel, and can even be crippling for certain personalities. Next time you’re in a long lineup, watch what happens… The children immediately evaluate their environment in terms of story possibilities and novel sensations, while the adults generally shuffle around getting bored and/or irritated. Which sounds like more fun to you?
What if we could protect our imaginations the same way we now wear sunscreen to prevent (or at least stave off) wrinkles? I, for one, refuse to compromise what continues to be my most powerful tool in how I interpret and interact with the world. Globalization has exposed us to so many differing cultural worldviews; why not explore the possibility of your own unique construct? Why not make life a little more fun?
Sure, I felt a bit silly cleaning in costume, but only at first. It was incredible how much more bearable (let’s not get carried away here) my chore became after I added the story. Try it for yourself! Your imagination is a whole lot closer to the surface than you’ve been led to believe…
What happens to a marriage after it ends? My parents fought to stay together for almost 20 years, before finally giving in to the inevitable – that two people coming from such opposite poles should never cohabit (except for the purposes of popping out two fab offspring). But what happens to that love – and by Golly there was no shortage of that – once the papers have been signed?
I had my Mom on the line the other day, and I was laying on the advice pretty thick. All kinds of solutions and suggestions were streaming across the country – Calgary to Ottawa direct. When I hung up the phone, I was startled to see what I’d been doodling – or rather, who. Right there on the paper, staring up at me with scribbly eyes and flippant hair, was my father. I had unconsciously invited the man into our conversation… him or some archetypal god figure (kindly leave Freud out of this – thank you very much). It’s comforting, I suppose, to know that a marriage doesn’t just dissolve out into the universe… at least not without sneaking back from time to time to do a bit of haunting.
Elbow deep in dirty dishwater, I threw back my head and cried out her name…
Someday, somehow, somewhere, we’ll be together. I just have to hang in here long enough for fate to connect us out of billions. Her gentle green eyes haunt my every chore, promising relief, freedom… joy of the purest kind.
I know my fantasy is horribly politically incorrect, especially after this, but I really don’t care. I dream of my Marta the way soldiers dream of peace, the way golfers pine for the snow to melt. She is the light at the end of my tunnel, a constant, almost physical, presence giving hope to my housework addled self.
I would know her if I saw her on the street – the vision has become so tangible. Over the years, I’ve modeled every feature of my model maid. But I doubt there really is a Marta. And if, by some miracle of justice, she does exist, somewhere out there, I’m sure she’d have better things to do than our dishes!
After the summer tragedy of 2008, this past season’s return to paradise was truly… sublime. I ran down to the beach in my jeans and sneakers and collapsed at the shear majesty of the landscape – every shimmering blue bay and wooded point having its own private history of Felsian adventure. I lay on my back with my arms spread wide, scooping up handfuls of ground quartz and granite and letting their weight pin me to the hot sand. For the first time in my life, I recognized, and was overwhelmed by, the true ‘power of place’. I wept, as honestly as I ever have, as the grains trickled through my outstretched fingers.
Upstairs, in the cottage my grandparents built with their own hands, I indulged in one of my most ancient and sacred rituals: Agatha Christie and Habitat Pea Soup on the porch. I’m tearing up again looking at this photograph – even though, to the untrained eye, it’s just a paperback and some soup! Treasure your rituals, treasure your places, but most of all, treasure the homes they create.
There’s still time to send off a couple of handwritten letters before the Christmas rush. Not that you don’t have enough on your plate already, especially with that green and red Godzilla of holidays looming dark on the horizon (*), but the effect of a few heartfelt words and some pencil crayons can be just as magical for the sender as for the recipient. Of course, it’s also handy that leaves are a whole lot easier to draw (not to mention show up a lot better) than snowflakes.
(*)Note: Do I sound a little jaded? You try staying festive (or even fully conscious!) after stocking hundreds of toxic, rubbery plastic ornaments at a Michaels Arts & Craft Store – one fateful October! And don’t even get me started on the Cinnamon scented pinecones that will haunt me till, till… oh the humanity!