The Lighthouse

the lighthouse

31 October 2009

Windy Saturday

North Americans from coast to coast are putting finishing touches on ghostly tableaux in their front gardens and tweaking their fright-fest costumes. I used to love this time of year as a kid. When we lived in PMQs in Germany, Hallowe'en was something that brought the Canadian community together, and caused the natives to consider us as rather odd creatures. We lived in groups of apartment buildings, so gathering loot was dead easy: we'd go from front door to front door and practically back-hoe candy into our pillow cases. Remember Rockets and those chewy Bat suckers? Yummm. The basements of the apartment buildings were connected by tunnels, and building-dwellers would work cooperatively to turn the tunnels and rooms into haunted houses. We learned which were the really good ones, and year after year we'd wait in line for the privelege of having the s....not scared out of us. People would play scary music from their balconies, and us kids would travel around in groups, totally secure and safe within our little community. Those were the days.

Years later, my focus on this day has turned in the direction of my faith. Today is All Hallows Eve, the eve of the Feast of All Saints, which is followed by All Souls. In the Church, we remember our beloved departed throughout the month of November, but most particularly on these special days. This morning I went to Mass, and discovered that the parish had a Holy Hour prior to the liturgy - so beautiful. I love the bells and smells of being a Catholic; I find them as comforting as they are inspiring. Then I had the opportunity to go to Confession, which was also very beautiful. I mention this because since moving here, I've been trying to find a good parish that feels like home, and I think this might be it.

Spiritual health taken care of, I stopped in to say hello to the Hockey Player Who Makes Coffee, for a cup of liquid gold (being steeped tea), which caused me to reflect on the sheer perfection of the brew. Unfortunately I was given one of those rare cups whose lid malfunctioned. Does it ever happen to you, that the little flappy opening doesn't lock into place properly? It leaves you in the position of having to prop it open with your nose while you drink, causing droplets of beverage to cling to its tip. Or you may choose to hold it open with your finger, in which case you are holding the cup in one hand, with a finger of the other pressed between your face and that cup. Of course, the other option is to remove the lid altogether, but that results in rapid cooling of the liquid, which is not necessarily desirable. What tribulation!

Such are the profound thoughts on my mind today. It is a day in which the region I live has been issued a Wind Warning, which I find very exciting. I enjoy extreme weather, and look forward to seeing entire trees being uprooted. Not likely to happen, but it would be fun. *

*under no circumstances do I relish the idea of people being at risk. "I am not a monster!"

28 October 2009

Question mark

What do you do with question mark days? I've had a few of them lately. A question mark week, in fact. You know the kind of thing I mean: why am I here? What am I doing? Have I made the right choices? Do flats make me look short? I'm very good at talking myself around in circles during times like this, which results in extreme dizziness - both physically and psychologically.

I am taking refuge in books and Julia Roberts. There is a Julia Roberts movie to suit every mood: want a sweet Cinderella story? Pretty woman, of course. Looking for nail-biting suspense? Sleeping with the enemy. A tear jerker? Stepmom, Steel magnolias or Dying young. Feel like solving a mystery? Pelican brief. A nearly unhappy ending story about a floppy-haired travel book shop owner and a movie star? (and these are hard to find, believe me!) Notting Hill. Real life dramas? Charlie Wilson's war, Erin Brockovich. Girl band? Satisfaction. Adultery and deception? Closer. International intrigue in bad shoes? Duplicity.

I call it Escape Therapy. While I watch her romp her way through three abandoned weddings before realizing she truly madly deeply loves Richard Gere (again) my own little question marks are perculating below the surface. The answers will tap me on the shoulder when they're ready, if I don't startle them with sudden movement or a loud voice.

In the meantime - the hot dog has stopped dancing.... shhhhh

27 October 2009


I was up early on Sunday, getting ready for Mass. I heard the boys being boys across the hallway - an outcry about a bug in their room. As I stepped into the hallway, dressed in my Sunday best, Number Three was there waiting for me, and told me rather frantically, "There's a stinkbug in our room! You HAVE to come and get it! We're dying!"
To which I replied, "If it's too stinky for you, a boy, then for sure it's going to be too stinky for me, a girl"
Which was irrefutable logic he couldn't dispute, and got me off the hook.
I like being a girl.

26 October 2009

The streets

Do you like to walk through the neighbourhood at night? It's a wonderful chance to spy on people ... er...admire their decor, I mean.

Technology, oddly enough, has not helped in this pastime. The advance to blinds from sheers and drapes means that very little of the goings-on of a home leaks out into the street. Upscaling from radio to tv means that people sit in the dark, gently bathed in the flickering blue light of the tube, and all I can observe is the preference for reality tv or medical drama. With the tv, came the move to the basement 'family room' - a room in which not much family activity takes place. It is the room where television reigns, leaving the others in darkness, unoccupied.

Of the homes not shuttered behind blinds or permanently fused to the brain drain, a sad number are followers of David Suzuki, making those new curly bulbs their lighting of choice. Not terribly cosy and inviting, those light bulbs.

At this time of year, those who can, light fires, and those of us who take to the streets have the opportunity to enjoy the homey aroma of woodsmoke. That surely is one of my favourite of all smells; it signals warmth and cosiness, security, family, and good books.

There is something about familiar places in the dark. They become flattened when drained of the colour of daylight, but gain atmosphere and the potential character inherent in your own imagination. I see the whole, rather than the details in the dark, and I'm intruiged.


Perhaphs I am becoming nauseatingly repetitive, but I have to tell you at least once more: I live in a beautiful place. I hope someday soon to have a camera so I can post pictures - for a picture is worth a thousand words, right?

This morning I went to early Mass, then stopped by the Hockey Player's Coffee Shoppe for my favourite indulgence: steeped tea (2 milk, 1 sugar) and continued on to one of the many walking trails in my neighbourhood which wanders between the trees.

Apparently early morning is when the robust walkers come out. There was practically a traffic slow-down with all the over-60 folks getting their aerobic exercise as they strode briskly and with purpose. A few had their dog in tow, and I could tell Pooch was well used to the routine, for there was absolutely no wandering to the side of the path to smell the grass or water the trees. I must have been a source of amusement and comment for them, for there was I, strolling gently and idly, stopping frequently to admire the sun glinting through the golden leaves, and observe the farmer's field stretching yellow and bronze to the horizon on one side. With my steaming cardboard cup of liquid gold in hand.

People observe the old ways here. We move to the right when someone approaches, and we look each other in the eye, giving the appropriate greeting for the time of day: good morning! Hello! Good evening! Isn't it a beautiful day? Aren't the birds in good voice today?

I hope wherever you are today, the sun shines it's gold on you. We have so much to be thankful for, in God's green earth.

23 October 2009

Lessons for a Friday

Hold on to your hats: these are going to be profound!

I just washed the kitchen floor - on my hands and knees, if you please - accompanied by the musical legacy of that great Swedish pop group everyone knows and loves, and two wiggly little boys. One of whom is progressing very well in his PT (potty training) and the other still in nappies. I gave them their own little bowl of water and rag and assigned them an out-of-the-way corner to scrub, but soon found myself jostling for space in my own bucket of water, and they were wet from head to foot. Little Five kept slipping and falling on the wet floor, and cruel Auntie that I am (actually, I'm a cruel Tante) I would send him around the kitchen on errands, just so I could watch him skate and do the splits. In my own defence, it was very funny. I eventually stripped them down to their skivvies, leaving myself with two little bandy-legged tadpoles to splash with.
What I learned from this? Even the most mundane of tasks is more fun when shared, and more enjoyable when done with laughter.

A wire in my wire-equipped foundational garment just snapped. How secure are our homes and buildings, if engineers can't manage to construct a reliable piece of essential lady's clothing? I'm just thankful it didn't happen while I was driving or something dangerous like that.
What I learned from this? You take your life in your hands getting dressed each morning. Offer a prayer of gratitude when you have survived to undress at the end of the day.

My sister, whose Lighthouse name is JB, told me of a good customer service experience she had this week: it came while searching for ink refills for her happy-making funky pen. (The pen looks funky, and it makes her happy - it has sparkle, you see; very glam) She went to Schmoffice Depot, where she was waited on by an older gentleman who had very clearly taken the precepts of customer service to heart. Seeing her standing in the aisle, he asked if she needed help. She explained she was "just looking for pen refills" and he walked her over to the display, examined her pen, found the correct size, quizzed her on her preferences in colour and density, assisted her in her other search for batteries, took her to the cash, and processed her order. All the while being respectful, professional, not overly friendly and chatty as if they were brand new best friends, and was efficient and competent. I am going to encourage her to contact the store to let them know it was noticed and appreciated.
What I learned from this: there IS still such a thing as good service, and it can even be found in your generic franchise business. The world is a good place afterall.

I've gone exploring this week, into the woods close to home. There are many paths and trails to discover, and they are so beautiful. Yesterday, those of us not in school full time went to an historic old town near to home well known for it's boutique high street. This time, instead of window shopping, we tramped down side streets and discovered a lovely waterfront park. I still feel full-up inside from the day.
What I learned from this: taking in beauty from the outside makes me feel beautiful inside. Not beautiful in appearance, but in the sense of paring my thoughts and motivations down to what is simple and pleasing and life-affirming. It's important to remember that.

The end for now. Have a lovely day, dear reader. Thanks for checking in.

18 October 2009


I took Four on a walk through the woods today. I asked him if he could smell the trees. He got down on his hands and knees and smelled a tree root. Then he said: yes, he could.

14 October 2009

The Overlooked horse

We found ourselves following a yellow school bus on our route home this afternoon. Our road took us through some nice countryside - farms, stables, that sort of thing.

Stopped in front of a lovely white house with a horse paddock in the side yard, waiting for the resident child to disembark, we saw a beautiful brown horse, running up and down the fence line, prancing in the sun, with mane and tail bouncing with delight as the horse waited for its boy or girl to finally walk up the driveway and be home at last. It reminded me of stories/movies/commercials of a dog waiting at the bus stop for the child to get off the bus.

Soon enough a young girl crossed the road and strode up the driveway, entering the house without even a glance in the direction of the paddock. I felt such sadness for the horse, and hoped the girl was going to hurry into her riding togs, full of impatience herself to get out there to her old friend. We all sighed a disappointed 'awww' and continued on our way home.

Going Carolinian

Oma Peanut came with us today, to a local conservation area. I had never been before myself, and I went with vague expectations of a nice forest and some kind of trail system.

Nice forest indeed! These particular trees belong to what is called a Carolinian Forest - meaning it has to do with certain kinds of trees in this particular climate - which can be found stretching down through the States, but in Canada only here, in Southern Ontario. I could throw more scientific blah blah blah at you, but the most important fact you must absorb is: it is absolutely beautiful. And by that I mean bee-you-tee-full. Breathtaking, splendid, awe-inspiring. And yet peaceful, perfectly perfect, and completely welcoming.

Sounds silly, perhaps, but have you noticed that some beauty is rather icy and distant? What we saw today wasn't brittle at all - it was inviting and natural. I certainly felt at home there, as if I were an elf, toddling along the paths of Rivendell. (The other elves drift or float elegantly; even as an elf, I would toddle)

I can't really convey in words what the experience was like. I've always enjoyed tramping through the woods, and have always loved trees. One of the joys of living here, is that the trees are so full and so tall and so varied. This Carolinian Forest is in another league altogether: tulip, chestnut, oak, maple, hickory, walnut and more. They are well over 100 years old, broad, tall and strong. At this time of year, they are beginning to turn colour, each kind of tree taking its turn to display its own particular fall beauty. Little bushes are brimming with bright red or gleaming white berries, and the sun shines through the canopy, tinged with gold as it highlights this or that little glade or meadow.

The trail going through the conservation area isn't terribly long, but it is definitely an off-road experience with some serious hill climbing to do. Particularly if you are the age of 19 months and barely 3 feet tall. Both Four and Five were with us, and both walked almost the entire distance, hills and all. Fortunately Oma wanted to photograph every tree along the path so we moved fairly slowly, but still, up hill is up hill, and the long way round is the long way round, right? It was delightful to see Five in his splash pants and little black shoes, looking as if his legs were two inches long, trotting along behind his big brother, investigating sticks and mushrooms, or grunting his way up the slope.

It was a truly delightful experience. I am so very grateful to have this place in my backyard. Our God is an awesome God. Got to love the Lord for making things like that!

12 October 2009


Wise words from Number Two Nephew:

I'm glad I don't live in a bucket.

Can I have the pie with whipped cream, but plain?

Number Four Nephew, playing with the Thanksgiving centrepiece - a branch with red berries on it - caused a leaf to fall off. He because concerned that he broke it, and tried to put the leaf back on. He wanted to 'fix it'.

I know...

...I know...enough about potty training already.
I just have to tell you about this morning. Four was...encouraged, shall we say?... to sit on the potty "for a little while" but after a little while with no success, he convinced Mommy to let him get up. Just as he stood to do his 'pull-the-undies-up' wiggle, Hail to the Chief began to play on the computer.(Number One Nephew got an answer right on his spelling game)
It's all in the timing.

09 October 2009


I love laying awake at night with the window open, listening to a soft rain come down. Usually, I lower the blinds and close up the curtains tight, to seal out all possibility of light worming its way into my room. Tonight, though, I'm leaving the window bare and uncovered...wide open to the sound of rain. It's a soothing sound - very restful and peaceful. I'll probably regret this with the sunrise come the morning, but right now, I'm going to let myself be lulled into slumber by the whispering raindrops.

Good night, world. Blessings to one and all.

08 October 2009

Random thoughts on a Thursday

Vile, challenging, writing assignment completed, I have a moment to send some thoughts into the void. These thoughts consist of poop, bouncing bunnies, Canadian click language, and fire trucks. Here we go:

Number Four Nephew is toilet training. He's getting the hang of it, still getting very excited by the potty parade when we process to the bathroom to flush away his efforts. He gets a gummy in reward for good work, and will often come to show me...pointing deep into his mouth as it's halfway chewed. Yesterday he wanted me to help him with a bit that was sticking to his tooth. I had to politely decline.
The funniest thing to see, is when he's gone poop, he "assumes the position" which is hands on the floor and bum in the air so it can be cleaned. Then along comes Little Brother Five to make sure the job is being done correctly! And to score a gummy, of course.
Four loves to bounce around the house like a bunny. I think he has too much life bottled up inside to simply fizzes up inside him until he just has to bounce. I just heard him outside my room, bouncing, as mummy told him to find his socks:
"Go find your socks"
"Find my socks?" Bounce bounce (he also likes to repeat everything) "Find. My. Socks!" Bounce bounce bounce
"Yes please, go get your socks on"
"Awesome!" Bounce bounce "My socks!" Bounce bounce "Awesome!" (a favourite new word)
"Four, I told you to get socks, not a shirt!"
"Socks, not a shirt?" Bounce bounce "Awesome!"

Five is starting to discover language. So far he manages "ducka ducka" quite well, which is used as general commentary on life. When he really has something to say, he employs a sort of click language, peculiar to Canadian infants, which sounds like regular speach that gets stuck up in the nasal cavity somewhere. "Mrqlrkmphchk", he says. And I tend to agree.

Little boys love machines. Big, noisy machines are best, but in a pinch, any machine will do. Fire trucks, in particular, are greatly appreciated. Last night, little beavers Two and Three went to the firehall. Today, Four gets to see a fire truck on display at the public library. Better than Christmas.

04 October 2009

The only thing...

I have to write about today, is football. The beautiful game. Footie. My beloved Manchester United were confronted by a team they should have been able to outplay, but only barely managed to escape from with a tie - because the other team scored on their own goal. And actually, the opposing player who scored on his own net, is the younger brother of a United defender...who has been known to do the same thing! Only big brother United Defender didn't play Saturday. (I"m talking about the Ferdinand boys) Nor did Ryan Giggs play - he wasn't even a substitute for the match. Not completely surprising, as he was on for the full 90 in the mid-week Champions League match against Wolfsburg. He's a tactical weapon Ferguson uses judiciously these days; I only hope Fergie chose wisely in favour of advancing in the Champions League over losing points in the domestic league.

It's no secret I love this sport, and I love this team. But I don't love watching this team play this sport. I'm too emotionally invested, too anxious, too unable to just clap them on the back and say "Good try, fellows. See you next week!" I don't enjoy watching them flounder and struggle. I don't even really enjoy their games when they are a well-oiled machine, my friend! It's too close and personal, and I feel it too keenly for them. I can't imagine the lads down their local pub give them kind words of encouragement after a performance like yesterday.

Particularly when after today, the two teams chasing them in the standings played each other, and now one of them is two points in the lead. Rats. And this is where I struggle, for I like security, surety, safety. I want United to have a good buffer, lots of wiggle room, a clear point advantage. I know the season is still young, and there is lots of football to be played before the final final whistle...but come on! Every goal counts! Every point matters! Every game is important! My footie friends were consoling me, telling me it's no big deal...but I'm telling you: it's huge! The other teams are hungry to wrest the title away from United, so we must be ruthless in holding on to it. Ruthless, I tell you!

I mean to point this fact out to Sir Alex Ferguson, team manager. Let's hope he heeds my words!

Did you catch the movie quote?

02 October 2009

Chicks together

Papa Nut is away for the weekend, being all manly with his man-friends in an estrogen-free zone. While there are Little Boy Peanuts to care for, the estrogen-to-testosterone ratio has been diluted. The house has a subtle pink glow about it, and, it must be said - it is tidier, too!

I noticed some time ago that the male of the species claims his territory by leaving his possessions about the place. Keys on the kitchen counter mean: I live here. Socks on the living room floor say: this is my space. This is true of all ages, regardless how domesticated they may appear to be on the surface.

Surely one of the malest of male claims of territorial possession is the remote. Being in control of channel and volume gives our men comfort or reassurance of a sort that women don't need or understand. Movie selection can fall into this category as well, though usually to a lesser degree.

Because our Grown Boy Nut isn't within even an easy drive of any of the remotes in this house, the girl nuts - the Chicks - get to make the decisions tonight. It's going to be a Chick Flick Fest...a Romantic Romp Revel. Nary an explosion, car chase or countdown clock. There will be laughter, there might be tears, and there will definitely be happily ever after. Calling Julia! Meg! Sandra!

Quiet on the set! Lights...blankies...chocolate!