Days and days

It’s been 531 days since I last worked in the career I love. 411 days since the event that to me marks the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Its raining hard right now, with thunder and lightning, as I’m mentally preparing to head to work. Bracing myself. Giving myself a pep talk. I don’t love this work, not the way I loved the last one. But it’s work, it pays ok, and the people are mostly good to work with. I’m appreciated.

I’ve been a mood the last few days where the pep talk was necessary. I had a chance at getting back into the work I love, but it didn’t happen. Did I fuck up the interview? Is the other just more qualified? Move on.

the disappointment has been crushing. I’ve found myself wondering if the sacrifice of my brewing career in order to stay up here was warranted. I felt ripped off, denied, disappointed, disheartened, depressed.

Snap out of it, I tell myself.

This is not how I want to spend my days, moping and letting my mood suck the sunshine from my life.

Make the sacrifice worth it. Learn to play the ukulele. Work on the garden. Write in the green room. Go for long walks on the trails nearby. Take the long way home and see something new. Reconnect with your friends, who are also struggling.

Be present, here here rather than there. Yes, I could have found a job in my career if we were still in the city. But we’d have to be in the city.

It feels so final, one of the four or five breweries up here hiring someone else. It leaves me two or three places left. People keep saying it will happen, and everything happens for a reason. I have to resist the urge to throat punch them and have faith that they may be right.

And now, i will go put on my shoes and raincoat, and head to work. I will have a few laughs with my coworkers, and take enough Tylenol to stop my hands from hurting so much.

Here

Firefly Creative Writing asked the question, “what is your ideal writing space.

There were already some comments when I sat the post. A villa in Tuscany, a pristine empty desk (I’m not sure what that is either), a special room.

I didn’t want to sound like that person when I said that my ideal space is the one I have, but it’s true. I mean, look at this:

A space for writing by hand or by keyboard. A mason jar full of pens, another with a beeswax candle from Janine, a bigger one filled with seashells. A cupboard for the journals, prompts and talismans. An antique tin gifted to me by Amy, just the right size for all of the Hello Writer prompts and self care cards.

And that view waiting for me when I look up from the page.

Putting this here so I don’t forget

My first thought when Chris said what poem she was reading for the first Morning Coffee Session write was, “oh no that one.” Wild Geese is not my favourite Mary Oliver poem. But as with all things Firefly, I seem to get what I need at the right moment.

Meanwhile the world goes on. Those five words turned into these words.


The forsythia taking root is ready to bloom, long skinny buds ready to burst into joyous yellow. It doesn’t care that humanity is losing its shit.

The red-winged blackbirds and sparrows and robins and grackles trill and swoop around, finding food and building nests, completely unaware that there is a shortage of toilet paper and all purpose flour.

A small brown rabbit eases across the yard, nosing aside the greening grass to get at any seeds scattered by the chickadees at the feeder. He has no knowledge of mass graves in New York City.

But I know these things, and more. And each thing pricks with a small pang of anxiety and steals a little more calm until I can’t get off the couch. Again.

But. But but but.

Not everything has to be seen, to be witnessed. No one is forcing me to be immersed in the collective grief and uncertainty. I can turn away from that which is so anxiety-inducing, and should not feel guilty for it. I can turn off the TV, the radio, the internet, and go sit in the green room taking delight in the sunshine, birdsong, the little purple flowers on the lawn and the look of words written in cherry-blossom pink ink. I can be grateful, so grateful, for the good fortune that led us to this place, acknowledge our privilege, and help those I can how I can when I can.

We are such a blip, an eye blink sized slice of time in the history of the world, this last month even less so. It’s good for me to remember this. Meanwhile, the world moves on.

This morning

our shapes are blurring under miracles of snow.
~ Faded Flowers, Shriekback

I want to write this scene, but I’m suddenly overcome by a fear that I can’t do justice to it. (May as well just not rather than do a shit job, the voice says). I follow the thread of it and find a link to the many instances lately where my confidence has deserted me. The thought, I can’t do anything right is in my head a lot it seems. A one-two punch of the Side Launch “restructuring” (it’s me, no matter what they say, it’s me, I wasn’t enough, the evil voice says) and all that goes on at the ski club (you are utterly useless, says the voice).

I fucking hate that voice. Why am I listening to it? It will never help me do anything with my one wild and precious life. In fact, it will do the opposite.

so fuck it. Here goes.

The morning is glorious, as only bright winter mornings can be. I can tell by Keith’s tire tracks on the driveway that another few centimetres of snow fell last night, adding to the many centimetres that had fallen in the last few days, enough snow to smooth over the footprints to the bird feeder. Our shapes are blurring under miracles of snow, a line from a Shirekback song I love springs unbidden to mind. I whisper it to the birds. They continue fluttering and cheeping around the bird feeder, paying me no mind as I stand at the living room picture window.

The snow looks smooth, but there are blue shadows that soften along the curves of the earth showing small imperfections, dimples and ridges. The crisp angular shadows cast by the trees is a sharp contrast to the contouring.

The trees, oh the trees. They are truly stunning right now. They still have a coating of ice left from the ice storm a week ago, and the sun is turning every twig, every branch into a crystal that reflects and refracts the sunshine. The pines, boughs sweeping low, seem like dark serene sentinels against this brilliance.

A slight breeze, not enough to make the pine branches move but enough to start the ice-covered birch saplings to sway ponderously, picks up light snow of the branches so that it slowly sifts to the ground.

The sky is cloudless, and is the cool pale blue only found in mid-winter, a gradient from an almost white to a soft loveliness of robin’s egg.

It is beautiful; we live in a place where winter is winter.

Neither words nor photo do it justice.

Day 14

It’s Saturday, one without Keith. I kind of like those days. Not that I don’t love days with him, we both also love our separate days.

I did laundry. Thats about the only thing I’ve crossed off my to-do list so far. Unfortunately, knitting in front of Netflix and picnicking by the Beaver River was not on the to-do list. I did them anyway. When you are given a sunny and warm-ish day off, you take advantage of it. The rest can wait until later.

I was really hoping for a warmer spell as I would love to go for one final swim in the river. That does not look like it’s going to happen. The first swim next summer is going to feel really good.

But for now I’m sitting in the sunshine, holding down the hammock in the wind and writing. The air is filed with the sound of the wind in the trees, and a cricket chirping to me from the fire pit. It’s punctuated by tractors filled with rolls of hay and the odd motorcycle out for a ride.

I feel bad that I don’t feel worse about not riding much this summer. I spent a lot of money on insurance for the BMW to just sit in the garage most of the time. Finally talked to Keith about selling it and getting something that is more me, more fun. Something lower to the ground that won’t make me so anxious about falling over. I was surprised by how much I wanted that bike that our neighbour sold for Don’s wife. Or maybe I should’t be.

Day 13

It’s Friday the 13th. And a full moon. Once upon a long time ago those facts would have meant something to me. Now it’s just a Friday.

It was a CIP day, and I felt on top of things for the first time all week. Thing got cleaned, things got put away, malt got milled. SS DD.

Highlight of the night was the poser going out during a long thunderstorm. It gets really fucking dark out where when that happens. Got the flashlight, lit the candles, and had just realized that it was too dark to read or knit when it came back on.

Jesus, my Friday nights are super thrilling.

Day 11

Hey, thanks Google Photos for reminding that I had the worst (IMHO) interview in my life two years ago today. (Yes, I know bigger things happened on September 11, but not to me and not in my country. Forgive me if I’ve moved on.)

I’d had other offers, but this was the one I wanted, the job that would be best for both Keith and I. I was so sure I had blown it, that I drove to the Collingwood Terminals, stared at the bay and cried for a half hour.

I got home and sent the thank-you-for-your-time email, and proceeded to wait. I’m not sure exactly what happened between then and getting an offer other than getting an update from Robin, but I remember it being long and rollercoaster-ish…just looked back at Google and it was a month+.

It feels odd that it’s been only two years; it feels like it should be longer. The changes in our lives have been huge: urban to rural; renter to homeowner; getting by to happy. there were crappy moments like Keith feeling that this was never going to be home, my anxiety ramping up, the lack of friends, the speed at which I feel off the radar. But the joys are frequent, from small ones like watching birds at the feeder and eating a tomato out of our garden to having the pleasure of watching our relationship grow stronger.

It’s a good life.

Day 9

The signs are all here. Leaves are beginning to change colour, some outliers already scarlet and gold. Crickets are louder. The breeze is cooler. Fields are harvested. Daisies are long gone, the Queen Anne’s lace is curling back over its centre and turning brown, the virginia creeper covering the telephone pole and around Mike’s barn is turning a red the colour of an apple in sunshine. The air smells different. The hummingbirds are gone.

I had thought that putting in a garden might help to slow the passage of days a bit, mark them in such a way that they would be like the long slow summers on Highland Road, telling time by what is ripe when.

It didn’t work very well. We missed strawberries, cherries, raspberries completely. It felt like we looked away for a weekend, and the tomatoes fell and sprawled over the ground, competing for space with the cucumbers. Time marched on as fast as always.

But I can still get in some hammock time. I’ve rolled it out from under the magnolia and the sun is hot on my legs and feet. There’s a cicadas in the ash and pine trees, drowning out the crickets, and an enormous honey bee just buzzed past.

It’s all a very perfect reminder to be in the present.

Day 6

I am on the 6th and final day of my staycation.  I am left feeling like I did’t cross off enough To Do items, didn’t accomplish anything I should have.

And that’s the problem with staying home for a vacation. You’re continually torn. You’re constantly in a position where you see the stuff you should be doing/fixing when you’re trying to unwind and relax and do SFA, and feel resentful of the stuff you do/fix when you’re on your vacation dammit.

But it appears I am an equal opportunity slacker…I neglected both the things on the To Do list thatI should have done AND the relaxing things I wanted to do.

My novel is just as unwritten as before. Pages of letter paper are still blank. The half-finished embroidery project is still half-finished.  The sewing is still unsewn.

But.

I went swimming in the river every day, spending time braced against the submerged rock in the deep spot, luxuriating in the feeling of the cool water sliding over my skin.

I spent an afternoon reading and napping in my hammock, listening to the crickets and birds.

I went for walks, for drives. I finished a knitting project and started another. I bought a crokinole board from the old gentleman at the farmers market who makes them by hand. I drove us out to Thornbury for ice cream and a walk along the water. I sat solo by the water towers and watched the sun go down. I felt sorry for myself at one point but managed to stop the mood before it could slide any further from alone to lonely.

I spent most of the time in or around the house. I love our house.

Keith asked yesterday while we were walking by the river, if it was fate or luck that landed us here. I said something flippant in answer, but it’s been on my mind. The better answer would be, it feels like fate, because I’ve never really been this lucky.

It feels…right. Right to be in our yellow house out in the boonies where most of our sparse-by-our-standards traffic is pickup trucks and farm vehicles. I love my commute through farms and fields and pastures, along rivers and the escarpment, where every view is lovely.

And I am grateful: to Keith’s mother who saved and invested so diligently to give us this nest egg, to Keith for so so much more than just embracing the move to this new lifestyle, to Side Launch for hiring me so I can live in this heaven, to whatever Fates or gods have landed me right here at this now.