Thursday, December 31, 2020

Word of the Year – 2021

This is my only blog post in 2020. 

I was beyond words for most of this year. 

I didn't know what to say or how to say it. 

I still don't. 

Something drew me here this evening, though. 

A call, to write, to say something


Word of the Year? 

For the first time in 5 years, I didn't post a Word of the Year for 2020. I remember picking one, but I can't remember what it was. Most likely it would have been meaningless by March anyway. 

I've picked a word for 2021. 

The word is:


2021, this is me, betting myself that I can find some way to wrap my arms around you. 

I don't know how yet. I don't even know if I want to. 

I just know I'm going to do it. 


Tuesday, December 24, 2019

The missing piece

I've been doing December for a while now. We're past the half-way mark, past the solstice and really in the home stretch now. Just a few days left to go. Of course, it's been feeling interminable. Over the weekend, I got out a jigsaw puzzle and started putting it together. There is something very calming about jigsaw puzzles.

I'm sure someone has written their master's thesis about their neurologic effect. To me it seems obvious enough why they are satisfying: the visual skills that we honed through generations of gathering food, (seeking out shapes and colours that we recognized as "mushroom", "berry", "plant with tuber below", etc.), still enjoy hunting through the pieces for the shapes and colours that create a recognizable image.

A little 500-piece puzzle; one of many that I won at a penny auction
at the West Dublin Hall (several years ago now). 
I find jigsawing meditative. I can get into a Zen state where all I am thinking about are the colours and shapes. It's all about the edges – the shifts in colour within the design and the shapes of the pieces themselves. 

However, I don't always get synced up and become one with the puzzle. Jigsawing can also lead to rumination. And rumination is a double-edged deal. It can be dark and it can be light. I can think about things that take me to a place of grief or anger or disappointment; I can think about things that take me to a place of joy and uplift and excitement. And, as my therapist spent many hours trying to teach me back in the day, at its best, it's not either/or, it's AND. 

Thinking about gladsome tidings does not wipe out pain. And thinking about grief doesn't have to erase joy. Of course, holding both at the same time is not easy. Although human beings are capable of believing many contradictory things at the same time, we also have a tendency to pick one side of a dichotomy and stay there. 

I was on the dark side of December for a good few days this month. And I'm afraid that jaunty little jigsaw puzzle sent me spiralling further down. 

Until I remembered that the antidote for disconnection is gratitude. I sat down and wrote a list of all of the people I feel thankful for. People who taught me things (even hard things), people who helped or guided me, people who gave me gifts this year – gifts of connection and belonging, gifts of being seen, heard and accepted, moments, presence. 

There were 75 people on my list. And although I am still feeling sad and I am still wishing December was over, I am also holding that I am a very fortunate person to have so many people and moments to be grateful for — and to know it. 

It's both.

It's all. 

(And December is almost over. THANKS BE!) 

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Long December

Every year, I wish the same wish – that I could go to sleep on December 1 and wake up on December 31, just in time to welcome in the new year.

Sometimes, December feels easier and sometimes it feels more difficult.

I know there are things that I can do to make December better for myself. One of them is blogging, something that I have not been doing for quite a while.

So, I'm going to try to post at least a few times this month. I've been thinking about a lot of things (as usual) and maybe it is time to start trying to put some of those thoughts into words.

In the meantime, here is a link to my ever-growing, end-of-year, YouTube playlist. These are the songs that comfort, console and keep me company through this dark, dark month. Perhaps they will improve December for you, too:

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Thursday, June 6, 2019

#Banjoy – The Avett Brothers

I have been continuing my streak of really not blogging. It's getting to the point that I have been wondering if this blog is just – over.

I don't know yet; I haven't decided.

But while I continue to mull it over, I came across this song today and wanted to send its beautiful banjoy-o-rama out to those of you who visit this blog for a dose of #banjoy:

Thursday, January 17, 2019

2019 Word of the Year

Time for the 2019 Word of the Year. A time to reflect and look forward.

I think my 2018 Word of the Year: Hermitage, was right on the money. I spent as much time as I could last year holed up in the woods in my new cabin. And it seems that my desire to be a hermit applied to my online presence as well as to my daily life. Last year saw the lowest number of posts on this blog, by far, in any year since it began.

Which feels "not like me".

Indeed, I have been feeling kind of funny lately in general. And I don't mean funny-haha, I mean funny-strange.

Not in a terrible way. My mood is decent most of the time. I think I just have a lot on my mind. I am processing many things and trying to figure them out. I feel uncertain of my path.

It's easiest for me to hide out when I'm feeling that way. And so, I am particularly grateful this year for this tradition of setting a word as a theme and inspiration for 2019. Wanting to maintain this 6-year streak is pulling me out of hiding for a few minutes and giving me an opportunity to think about and share where I'm at and how I'm feeling.

For 2019, I have selected the word: Attune.

I was all set to pick something more dramatic, like transformation or metamorphosis. But then I looked at the definitions for those words and they spoke of changing one thing completely or dramatically into something else. And that is not what I want this year to be about.

Things are shifting, for sure, and I am changing, but not radically. Carefully, gently, deliberately, with hope and compassion.

And just look at the definition for attune:

Courtesy of the Google Dictionary. To see this larger and live-r,

Dictionary definitions turn me on at the best of times, but I can feel this one put its arms around me and look deep into my eyes, if you know what I mean.

Welcome, 2019. Let's attune to one another.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Adulting – with bleach

There is a task that I have been putting off for a long time. Months, in fact.

When my plumbing fixtures were first installed, I was supposed to shock my well and all of the components of my water system with bleach.

I have been incredibly resistant to doing this. I mean, I shoulda done it back at the beginning of February, and it's now heading into the middle of October.

I have some empathy for myself in my resistance. I have some good reasons:

  1. I love my well and I long ago learned that you shouldn't pour bleach down the throat of something you love. 
  2. I have never done this (or anything like it) before. It feels new and unknown and therefore complicated and scary. 
  3. It requires planning, equipment and supplies.
  4. It requires time and effort. 
  5. Did I mention that it involves bleach? I very rarely use bleach for ANYTHING. It is not my go-to for ANY task or purpose. I rarely even have bleach in my house. I don't like the way it smells. I don't like what it does, I just: ugh, yuck, icky, guh, blech.
And, I've decided it needs to get done. Just once. Just for the sake of doing it and having it done.

A note about my water quality

My water is great. I've had it tested. It doesn't contain any nasty chemicals and it doesn't contain any e. coli. It does contain choliforms, the benign bacteria that are just, you know, in the world.

A while back, it was deemed acceptable to have a certain number in choliforms in your well water in Nova Scotia. That number was dropped and dropped again, and currently there is a zero tolerance policy for choliforms.

Which is probably why most people have problems keeping a healthy population of friendly bacteria in their gut biome. But that's a rant for another day.

I've had my water tested for chemical impurities too and it is aces. Basically, I won the lottery of dug wells – I have lots of water and it's good water.

But, the presence of choliforms is deemed to be a red flag that my well is at risk of being contaminated by e. coli. And because my water tested positive for them, I have been living under my own personal boil water advisory since I moved into my cabin in February.

I have decided to accept that my water system should be cleaned out, at least once, to ascertain that my well is not compromised or at risk of further contamination, and to get rid of anything that might have gotten introduced when the pump and other plumbing was installed. And I would also like to be able to serve my water to guests without long explanations about why I'm giving them lukewarm, previously-boiled or bottled water.

The process

There is a whole publication about wells for Nova Scotian residents which can be found here, for anyone who is interested. Essentially, the process of "cleaning" a well is called shock chlorination and it involves putting bleach in the well, circulating it through all of the components of the water system, and then discharging it, trying to get as little as possible into the septic system, which really doesn't want to have all of its bacteria killed.

I have decided on one additional step, which involves patting myself on the back and eating cake.

Here are some photos:

Portrait of the blogger as a reluctant adult complying with provincial water quality guidelines. 

It took approximately FOREVER to try to clear the smell of bleach from my very low-flow bathroom tap.  
At least it was a gorgeous fall day. 

And my hose reached far enough to follow the instructions to circulate the bleached water for an hour in a loop between my cabin and the well. 

Looking down.

Securing the well cap. 
Salinger and I had one of our very rare arguments that day. He thought he should be allowed to lap up the bleach water that I was pouring on the driveway (to divert it from the septic system) while I thought that was a terrible idea. We worked out a compromise that included a combination of imprisoning him in the house, yelling at him each time he escaped and approached the puddles on the driveway and hosing away the bleach water with fresh water. Salinger was displeased with the whole process, and I don't blame him. It was no fun for anyone.

I should have gotten them to decorate it: "Happy shock chlorination" is probably not something that gets written on cakes very often. If ever. 

I do have a thing for badass, cheap, white bakery cake with icing that doesn't even pretend to have butter in it. And doesn't it look nice (is that the word I'm looking for?) on my beloved Fish's Eddy Manhattan skyline plate? 
I'm not going to lie to you. I hated every minute of this entire process. Even the cake didn't really help. I felt so anxious while I was doing this that I felt somewhat unhinged. I had every irrational fear (and maybe a few rational ones): that I was doing it all wrong, that I was poisoning myself and my beloved cat, that I was damaging my pump, my hot water heater, my pipes and every single element of my water system, that it was a mistake to do it in the first place.

It's been a week and while I've relaxed a great deal, I'm still not feeling settled about it. I still get mild whiffs of chlorine some of the time, at some of my taps and keep fighting off "always/never" thinking (I will always smell bleach in my water. I will never feel comfortable drinking it). I have taken a couple of showers without feeling like I've gotten chemical burns. I'm still not drinking my water, though, even boiled. It just feels too gross.

And that's funny because I lived in cities for so many years and drank chlorinated water without even batting an eye.

I am owning that this process made me feel completely not rational. And that was hard.

It reminds me that I put a lot of effort into organizing my life in ways that allow me to feel rational most of the time. I've been thinking this week especially about how that is a luxury afforded to me by privilege. And how incredibly grateful I feel that I have that luxury. Feeling that anxious all of the time would be agonizing. I guess I would get through it if I absolutely had to, but I am very, very thankful that I do not.

I took a water sample into the hospital on Thursday and should get results next week. Let's hope, after all that, that this at least accomplished what it was supposed to accomplish.

Update (October 17): Got my first water test results back and my water is zero for both choliforms and e. coli. Sweet.