Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Cheese Sauce

This pot is a sign.

A sign of my adaptability.

A sign that even when I don't want to do something, I can do it if I try.

I am the maker of cheese sauce in this house. 

Broccoli does not get eaten without cheese sauce. Duh.

Whenever I make cheese sauce I make too much.

We put the extra sauce in a container in the fridge to grow moldy.  As one does.

This week our family unit is 2.  Plus 1 brown labrador.

Two humans to be fed.

And not just fed but two people figuring out how to be, how to be together, in this quiet house. 

The hilarious jokes about how much time and space we must have without the kids home (wink wink) failed to remember that we long ago figured out how to use the lock on our bedroom door (wink wink). And that even in a quite and spacious house we are still busy and tired most of the time.

It is easy to say I am not ready for this stage of my life - missing my girl for so many weeks now, hoping the boy kept his canoe upright in the white water today - but the truth is I was no more ready the day they wheeled me into the OR and said "we are going to deliver this baby now".  Or the day they waved goodbye to me at the Kindergarten door or when they caught the train downtown alone for the first time.

But here we are .  Me and Allan.  Figuring it out. 

Finding a different rhythm that doesn't have the complications and complexities of kids schedules and sports and youth and school.  

We have only ourselves to consider.  

And therein lies both delightful opportunity and some trepidation.  

We haven't had to bumble along as a couple for almost 20 years.  

And though it has just been for a few days I think we have enjoyed our time to chat and cook together and walk the dog, watch TV and do some gardening.   

We have pottered together and apart and been comfortable.  The usual stuff of studying and working out and cleaning the house goes on.  Just a bit more quietly.

We made lovely meals and set the table and prayed for our kids and friends and ate together.  

Sometimes there was silence.  Not awkward or uncomfortable.  Just quiet. 

And I figured out how to make cheese sauce that was just enough for two! 

Our nest isn't empty - we are right here - and our puppy is snoring on the couch (yes ON the couch) - and we are going to be just fine.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

A fresh coat

We just spent a chunk of change on our house.  

Like a few thousand dollars.

And you wouldn't know it.

YOU wouldn't know it.

But we sure know it.

It was repainted.  

The same colours as before.

Before was 11 years ago. 

When we were young and foolish and painted it ourselves - it took weeks.

This time it was done in 2 days. 2 coats and and the trim.  

I'd like the change to be more obvious for the $$$ we spent. 

What I am excited about is how wonderfully fresh and clean and sealed the house is now - how safe and prepared for the storms of Winter.  How the peeling and faded parts only I noticed are now vibrant and covered and smart.

And all this sent me on a metaphorical meandering.....

Isn't this just how life can be sometimes?

Big things happen, change, shift us - and barely anyone notices. 

Hearts are squeezed, dented, expanded, re-shaped....

Minds grapple and take on new thoughts, open new thought pathways...

Bodies find new ways of being and doing....

Birth, death, love, illness, travel, world news .... we are challenged and changed .... and the world marches on seemingly oblivious.

We can feel so inwardly transformed, challenged, hurt, renewed - sometimes in deep ways, and there is no banner announcement - no WOW moment.  Those closest to us might notice a change, a shift, they may even say something about it.

But it doesn't mean, just because it's barely outwardly noticeable, that it isn't true and real and incredible.

The investment you made in the change, whether by your choice or through a process you chose or whether it was thrown at you, even blindsided you....  it is yours to hold and cherish, to proclaim if you want to and to announce if you need to. 

Your change deserves to be noticed - but it is no less change even if it is not.

I hope if you walk by my house you'll be amazed at how sharp it looks.  

But it's ok if you don't.

I am still delighted with the change.  

(ok please tell me you notice they painted the ugly white gutters the same colour as the house - which is genius  - and makes me way too happy!)

Monday, September 5, 2016


I often sign off cards or letters or emails as "The Byres Clan"... given our Scottish heritage and all. 

And I think it's clear I am happiest when my clan is all together.

After the clan our circle widens for more family and then the friends we see as family and then friends, colleagues etc.  

In the past week I found myself part of a some tribes or circles I hadn't really anticipated.

We loaded up the truck affectionately known as "Rolling Blue Thunder" and we rolled onto a ferry and over to Victoria to move Miss L into her first apartment. It's the ground floor suite of a house a 10 minutes walk from UVic and though it is older and has some "lovely" fixtures, it is perfectly perfect for her. 

We unpacked and started settling in, putting together all the furniture we had to take apart to move, squeezing in ALL the kitchen goods into a tiny kitchen, realising what we had forgotten to bring or purchase, making lists.

And then we headed out to get those things and to do a pantry stocking grocery shop (a more daunting and costly task than you might imagine!).  

And this is when I noticed people in my new tribe.  

As we wandered the aisles of a large store I noticed other grouping just like ours - parents and university student.  We were reaching for the same items and every now and then we caught each others eye and there was a knowing look and a nod.  "I see you, I get you...I also forgot to buy this child a garbage can / mirror / soy sauce..."  

I overheard snippets of conversations that were comfortingly similar to our own chats and we even saw the same families from Home Depot to Canadian Tire to Bed, Bath and Beyond....and Walmart.  Our shopping buggys looked like we were shopping from the same lists.  And we mostly were and the stores seemed to have anticipated our needs so well.  Funny that.

As I teared up in the frozen food section thinking about not cooking for this girl of mine, worrying that she will be well fed, wondering if she has enough of everything...I felt this new tribe of mine all around me and I felt the funny relief one feels when you know so many others are going through exactly what you are, and if they seem to be rocking it then you surely can too. And we all smile bravely.

So we soldiered on and we ended up with a very lovely, comfy and well put together apartment - much nicer than the one Allan and I first shared when we got married - that is for sure!  All our thrifty finds and upcycled goods looked polished and lovely and I think she will be very comfortable and hopefully very happy (and well fed) there. 

So we rolled on back to the ferry - some of our tribe still around us - some sad without that university student of theirs.  We convinced ours to come home for a few days as she had little left to do for the 5 days before classes start.  And 5 days until her internet is hooked up (an eternity!).  It didn't take much persuasion - I think a certain tall, blonde, Vancouver boy had something to do with that too.

And we have had a wonderful 3 days with our clan at home (or as "at home" as 2 teens ever are).

Tomorrow is my last first day as Mom of a school age child.  I'll join the tribe of parents demanding First Day photos and I'll wave from the front door as Mr D heads off to Grade 12.  My heart, like many in this tribe, will be a little achy.  But we got this...we can do this...we can be the village, the tribe, for one another.

So if you see someone in your tribe tomorrow - a smile will go a long way to helping us get through another day on this funny journey of life.