This last post is dedicated to my mom, who is the bravest person I know.
On Friday, she started chemotherapy for a mass on her spleen; she’d been in remission for eight years. You’d think she’d be pissed off at the world, the universe, all the Gods, the next-door neighbour, the postman, everything and everyone. You’d think she’d be depressed and feeling sorry for herself (I know I would). But she wasn’t angry and she wasn’t sad. Instead, she went in there like a boss, prepared with a bag of yarn for crocheting and a Sudoku book, some lunch and little snacks as if she were going on a trip abroad and needed something to occupy her time on the plane.
And even though she had several bad reactions to the serum and her first treatment lasted 9 hours, even though the yarn and Sudoku book never made it out of the bag, even though her lunch went untouched and she was in complete agony all night, my sisters and I received this little ray of sunshine in our inboxes on Sunday morning:
“This morning I got dressed nice and warm and fed my little birds. They were pretty happy. And then I went for a marvelous walk out back and up the hill. Not the hill to the house but the one to the right which leads to the fields. Oh it was so wonderful to be out in the fresh dry air. I wandered around the field noting all the new growth from whenever it was I last walked up there and it always gives me such hope to see that life really does find a way.'”
When I became a mother, I realised just how many sacrifices my own mom had to make over the years for my sisters and I. There isn’t a mother’s day card on the planet that fully encompasses the selflessness, the unconditional love, the lengths mothers will go to keep their children safe and happy, even if that means blowing sunshine out of their arses while having chemotherapy, just so that their kids don’t have to worry.
Thank you, mom, for inspiring me to be a better mother (and person) every day. I only hope I can be as strong a role model for Wren someday.
Also, here’s to kicking that cancer’s ass!
Well, that’s it folks. I survived 30 days (minus 2? 3? posts) of blogging.
And now, it’s time to switch gears, slow down, catch up on some sleep, decorate the Christmas tree, bake a pumpkin pie, light a fire, read my brother-in-law’s manuscript, turn the damned computer off. I might be back in December, I might not. But one thing is for certain, I won’t wait for another Nablopomo to roll around before putting pen to paper again. No matter how challenging it was, it still felt great to write again and reconnect with long-lost friends.
So grateful to Xanthe, Andrea, Karen, Pen and Elizabeth for lighting a fire under my ass this past month. I couldn’t have done it without them. And thanks to each and every one of you for stopping by and commenting. Really means the world to me.
Sundays are made for endless cups of tea and hours spent lounging on the sofa with a good book. Or, at the very least, hiding in the nearest French bakery for a few hours while your husband looks after the baby.
I’ve been so busy writing for Nablopomo that I’ve hardly read any of my fellow bloggers’ posts — the very friends that inspired me to take part in the first place. Shame on me.
So today, in those stolen hours, I finally caught up and am here to share some of my favourites posts. These five awe-inspiring women had me feeling all the emotions.
- Loved Xanthe’s posts about hoovering being her zen and the days of analogue.
- I might have to copy Karen’s Thanksgiving tradition next year and this post about her naughty dog had me laughing out loud.
- Andrea’s nostalgic post struck a chord and how she finds inspiration in the homes of her friends makes me want to be friends with her friends.
- Pen’s post about her mother made me cry, as did this letter to Frank.
- Pretty much everything Elizabeth writes is pure gold but I especially enjoyed taking this trip down memory lane with her. And this epic post, especially the part about her mother, well… just read it.
Hope you all had a lovely weekend. See you tomorrow for the last Nablopomo post. Well done, ladies, for making it this far!
I feel like we’ve been stuck in the car for 15 hours and we’ve driven hundreds of miles and there are empty coffee cups rolling around in the footwell and dirty sandwich wrappers on the passenger seat and we’ve heard the same hit on the radio at least a dozen times and we are stuck in traffic again and we will NEVER make it to the Kingdom of Far Far Away. That’s what Nablopomo feels like today. 28 days down, two to go.
*This post was written on my phone while nursing Wren from the back seat of a car parked at Heathrow’s departures because it was the only bloody place we could find to stop and feed her after she had a monumental meltdown on the highway, which only happened because we got a freaking puncture in the countryside and were stuck driving 50 miles an hour on the spare tyre, pushing us waaaaay past her bedtime. Oh! The joys of parenthood.
When Wren was eight weeks old, I discovered 1 Second Everyday. As the name implies, this app allows you to shoot one second of video every day and then stitches it all up into one continuous film — a compilation of the beautiful, ordinary, funny (August 21st gets me every time), playful and tiny magical moments that make up a life.
So I decided to take a video of Wren every day from then on, to start collecting memories, not only for myself, but for her. Luckily, we had tons of footage leading up to the 8-week mark so we were able to back-track a bit.
These are the little seconds I want to remember about this time with her. If I had to use two words to describe Wren, they would be “strong-willed” and “happy”. I think I’ve managed to capture the latter quite easily over the past five months. I hope this little film makes you happy too.
Happy “birthday” Wren. And happy Friday everyone.
FYI – THIS POST IS A FIRST DRAFT, COMPLETELY UNEDITED DUE TO MONUMENTAL BABY MELTDOWN
Seeing as most of my readers are American and that I was born in Detroit, seems fitting that I should not only acknowledge Thanksgiving (Happy Day of Thanks, y’all) but also take a moment to give thanks.
Remember this post, when I vowed to make a point of pointing out the nice things in life? I’m happy to say that I kept my promise. From the day following that post onwards, here are some of the things I’ve been grateful for:
- The British Museum
- Thank you Elizabeth Gilbert for writing this book.
- Having a husband that gets up in the middle of the night to help settle our girl (sounds like a given but there are so many husbands that don’t).
- That I’m going to be in Canada with my family for Christmas. Also, family.
- My first night out with good friends since giving birth, and unexpected poutine joy!
- Full. Body. Massages.
- Colourful doors make me happy. Lucky for me, colourful doors abound in London.
- Wren, Wren, Wren. That face! That smile! That laugh.
- Mahonia. Just as the last leaves fall to the ground and everything starts to look a little bleak, this fragrant shrub, which smells like lily of the valley, blooms.
- Flower deliveries with notes thanking me for being such a good mother.
- Two words: Indian takeaway.
- Melt-in-your-mouth salmon, smoked for hours by my husband.
- The girl sleeps for three consecutive hours. It’s a bloody miracle.
- Having a couple of hours to myself.
- There’s something in the air today that felt like the first time I landed in London. I’m not sure what it was, but I spent a good hour walking around in that giddy state as if I were seeing the city for the first time.
It’s so easy to forget how lucky we are and it’s so important to remember. What are you grateful for today?
My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird—equal seekers of sweetness. Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.
Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect?
Let me keep my mind on what matters, which is my work,
which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished.
The phoebe, the delphinium. The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture. Which is mostly rejoicing, since all ingredients are here,
which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes, a mouth with which to give shouts of joy to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam, telling them all,
over and over, how it is that we live forever.
— Mary Oliver
A few years ago, as we were driving down to Salem, Massachusetts, my sister and brother-in-law popped Neil Young’s Harvest album in the CD player. It was the perfect soundtrack to the day — the dawn of an autumn morning, the start of a new season, New England’s forest ablaze with crimson and gold. Harvest, according to them, is meant to be listened to in the fall, and only in the fall. These folk take their music (and their movies) seriously — each album unto its own season.
I can’t say that I consciously play certain albums at only specific times of the year (except for Christmas music), although I do tend to play different genres, depending on the season.
November is a tough month. It’s cold, dark, temperamental, melancholic. November is about little deaths and the beginning of a long stretch, which is generally met with resistance. It is a limbo month — no longer the glorious colours of October, not yet the festive season that is December.
I usually listen to indie folk in November or sad music the likes of Elliott Smith, Sufjan Stevens, Gillian Welch and, lately, Marika Hackman.
Case in point. Here are the most played songs on my iTunes this month:
- Wasting My Young Years by London Grammar
- Pink Rabbits by The National
- Tomorrow by Daughter
- Wash. by Bon Iver
- Hunger of the Pine by alt-J
That, and Scandinavian music, which is often quite moody. Although, I’ve recently discovered that those Scandis can drop a mean beat. So I thought I’d make a playlist for y’all – a Danish, Norwegian, Finnish, Icelandic and Swedish mash-up of mostly infectious pop music to help get you through these dark pre-winter days… noir pop, electro pop, synth pop, atmospheric lo-fi pop, all sorts of pop, and ending on an emotional and hypnotic note, bien sûr, in compliance with Rob Gordon’s rules for making a good mix tape.
“Now, the making of a good compilation tape is a very subtle art. You gotta kick off with a killer, to grab attention. Then you got to take it up a notch, but you don’t wanna blow your wad, so then you got to cool it off a notch. There are a lot of rules.” — Rob Gordon, High Fidelity
I hope you enjoy it.
Today, I’m taking a leaf out of Xanthe’s book and sharing some of my all-time favourite frames, except that I can’t limit myself to five frames because I’m far too indecisive. I first narrowed it down to film photos taken before the year 2013 (because I’ve hardly shot any film photos since moving to London), then chose 25 pictures, then nixed half of them, then struggled to delete three more to make it an even 10, then added five back again for good measure. I told you I was indecisive.
Here they are in no particular order:
Because it’s one of the first pictures I ever took with my Pentax K1000, on a terrace, in Montreal, at the height of summer. I love how blurry it is. So much trial and error in those first weeks.
Do you remember the 2010 eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull and the massive ash cloud that covered a huge chunk of Europe? That was back when the British boy and I were in a long-distance relationship and we decided to meet up in Iceland (little did we know that a volcano was about to erupt — you can read about the whole saga here). It remains, to this day, one of my favourite trips and these Reykjavik rooftops are one of my all-time favourite shots.
After Iceland, we flew to NYC and stayed at an amazing airbnb apartment in Williamsburg. There’s nothing quite like the excitement of a long-distance relationship. All the longing that’s been building up for months and 10 days to unleash it. It’s intoxicating.
When I lived in Montreal, I spent a lot of time by the train tracks (top photo) or on rooftops (bottom photo) or in abandoned buildings with my friend Roma. It always felt like we were on a little adventure. I love the unexpected diptych of that second shot.
I take pictures of my feet all the time. This isn’t a particularly striking photo but it was back when I first moved to Montreal, hanging out at the Osheaga festival on my own. It was after ending a 12-year relationship and before embarking on a new one… the years when I really got to know myself. Those years helped to shape who I am today.
Things that make me happy: making pancakes, drinking coffee, spending time with my husband.
Camping: fresh air, soft mornings, breakfast cooked on the campfire, lying down under the stars.
We had the most amazing honeymoon in 2013. I’ve never been anywhere as chaotic as India. Imagine your senses being set on fire and then add the smell of incense and urine and roses and chai tea brewing over a fire on the side of the road. And imagine a dust that never settles and how it puts a golden filter over everything. And imagine a thousand cars and tuk tuks and mopeds honking all at once. And children with babies on their hips walking barefoot through rubbish, women working in the fields in colourful sari with long scarves trailing behind them and a big metal bowl on their heads, “evil eye” talismans made of lime and chili peppers hanging over every door and garlands of marigold wrapped around Hindu Gods on the dashboard of most taxis, the smiling eyes of old women sitting on their doorsteps, the rose-petal dawn, children waving and dancing as trains go by…
Back when I used to shoot with expired film. Montreal by night. Dark, grainy, moody, nostalgic and perfectly imperfect.
And I couldn’t resist three bonus shots because Scotland holds such a special place in my heart.
For more favourites, see my portfolio.