4 pm – Kids home from school. Carrie starts supper. Children snacking.
5 pm – Kev home from work. Supper just barely ready. Complaints about the just barely ready supper. Albus and Kev putting on soccer gear, gobbling food.
5:15 – Kev and Albus leave in truck for soccer practice.
5:30 – Carrie and other children eat supper. Leave on table.
5:45 – Daughters put on soccer gear, Carrie packs picnic supper and snack and water bottles, puts on running gear.
6 pm – Carrie runs with dogs to pick up carshare car, approximately 1km away. Seven-year-old volunteers to take clothes off the line.
6:20 – Carrie home with dogs and car, other children ready to go.
6:30 – Carrie and other children drive, park, and walk to eldest daughter’s school to see the science fair.
6:45 – Carrie and other children return to car, drive to eldest daughter’s soccer practice.
6:55 – Carrie realizes that she has driven to the wrong soccer field.
[Apparently, to the child behind the camera, this evening’s outing is being overseen by a deranged nun. This photo is too unflatteringly amusing not to include.]
6:57 – “Why are you always so stressed out, Mommy?”
6:58 – Consult phone, sift emails, find actual field location. More driving.
7:01 – “That looks like your team! Go! Run! You’re not that late!”
7:13 – Arrive at field for younger daughter’s soccer game. Meet Kevin, also just arriving, hand over a large bag of soccer balls. Everyone heads to the bathroom.
7:20 – Kev and younger daughter on soccer field. Eldest son eating picnic supper nearby. Youngest child playing ball with a friend.
7:25 – Carrie: “I’m going for a run. I’ll be back in half an hour.” Eldest son, and professional babysitter: “No problem.”
8:10 – Carrie: “I’m back! I went 7km in 35 minutes flat! In the woods!” Son: “Hey.”
8:11 – Younger daughter scores. Carrie looks up from texting a fraction of a second too late. Debates with eldest son the ethics of saying, “Great goal!” to younger daughter after game, when actual goal not actually witnessed.
8:14 – “Did you see my goal, Mommy?” “Er …” Glances at eldest son who is ready to pounce on any obvious “lie.” “It was an awesome goal!” Carrie hugs daughter, shoots daggers at son.
8:15 – Carrie leaves three children in care of Kevin, drives carshare car to other soccer field.
8:32 – Two minutes late! And the field is empty. What on earth? What if daughter got dropped at the wrong field an hour and a half ago??? Moderately frantic running.
8:33 – “Hey, there’s my mom!” “What happened? What time does practice end? I’m not that late, am I?” Kind other mother: “Don’t worry, I stayed with the girls. And really, everyone just left a minute ago.”
8:40 – Drop off teammate with whom we do a lot of carpooling.
8:47 – Cell phone rings. Cell phone appears broken. Cannot answer cell phone. Driving anyway, and so should not.
8:49 – Pull into driveway, get cell phone working, daughter dials home phone number. “But it was Dad who was calling! From his cell phone! He’s not at home! We are!”
8:50 – Cell phone ceases responding to button pushing. Home phone receives endless message of Carrie unlocking door, racing into house, dumping bags from carshare car, using home phone to call Kev. Kev: “We don’t have keys. We’re waiting for you at the carshare car parking spot.”
8:55 – Drop carshare car off with minutes to spare. Catch ride home with keyless husband and children.
9 pm – “What’s for bedtime snack?” “Does anyone want any more supper?” “Brush your teeth!” “Stop playing the piano!” “It’s bedtime!” “Oh, for bleep’s sake, there’s still the dishes.” “At least Fooey took the clothes off the line!” “Has anyone walked these dogs?” “Just go to bed! Everyone! Just go to bed!”
Quiet in the house. Construction noises loud outside.
Outside, 20 degrees C, sunny, windy. Clothes on the line whipping in the breeze. Small dog settling into dead leaves in raised garden bed, beside newly greening rosemary and thyme.
Thinking of the books I will write.
Seeing their spines in my mind’s eye. Sweet imagination.
Even while pressing down anxiety, clothespin in hand: What’s happening after school? Where do I have to be, when? Which carshare car have I booked? How early does supper need to be on the table?
I think, pasta with the last of the tomatoes.
Small dog stands, alert, to warn me of approaching pedestrians, big diesel trucks, other dogs, a squirrel.
Locating myself in time, to this moment.
Thinking of all the books I will write.
Everyone will get to where they need to be, even if they are a little bit late. Even if we are always, perpetually, just a little bit late. Rush, rush. “Mom, we’re fast-pokes, you and me.” (Fooey, age 7, and always organized and ready to go.)
Thinking a run in the woods. Touring the science fair. Soccer under this swept sky. What good kids I have. I will write them a book.
Clothes flapping to dry under a promising sky.
All the books I will write. All the books I will write.
* and not the good kind of exclamation point, sorry–these are clearly of the holy-heck-this-is-absurd! variety
Writing a book can be a funny thing. Occasionally it feels like control has been unintentionally ceded to some other power: the original vision just doesn’t fit on the page. The character refuses to do what the writer has planned. This doesn’t happen all that often, but it can.
“Mom, you have to come and take a picture!”
“No, really, Carrie, you should come right now!”
“Maybe you can write a blog post that says ‘Look, we have new neighbours!'”
The house next door. What can I say? If you live in our neighbourhood, you have probably expressed curiosity about it at one time or another. If your curiosity got the better of you, you might even have called to ask me if the house next door is for sale (this happens), or knocked on my door sheepishly, as if you might be the first person ever to think of doing it: “Sorry, I know this is weird, but I walk by here every day and I’m just wondering ….”
It has been exactly a decade since we bought our house and moved in. The mysterious house next door has been unoccupied for at least that long. It is a beautiful structure — good bones — and the property is maintained, but it is empty. Except for the wildlife. Living next door to a beautiful empty house is a worry, of course, for a number of reasons, and I keep a sharp eye on the place.
To lighten the worry, a few years back, I began riffing with the kids about the animal families who live next door. We didn’t make up whole stories, but it was funny to think about the characters who might populate stories in the house next door. Our neighbours, so to speak.
This is the first I’ve actually gotten photos.
I’ve spent the last hour reading a book. For pleasure. While sipping a cup of coffee, curled in my great-aunt Alice’s rocking chair, the sound of spring birds and morning traffic out my office window. That sounds indulgent, and it is. I’m a bit under the weather, in fact, and skipped out on soccer last night to crash early.
To qualify, however, the early crash was preceded by five hours of domestic labour that included preparing supper (tacos: fresh-cooked beans and rice, hamburger, avocado and tomato salad, sauteed spinach with garlic, grated cheese, etc.), driving a kid to swimming, hanging two loads of laundry and folding two more, feeding children supper, discussing with younger daughter why she can’t get a kitten right now, cleaning up from supper, supervising bathtime, supervising piano practice, brushing children’s cavity-laden teeth, bedtime rituals, and two extra trips upstairs post-lights-out to fetch water bottles and debate with youngest whether or not his stuffed tiger needed emergency surgery (no, the doctor, aka mama, ruled). If you are wondering where Kevin was in all of this, he arrived home with supplies for supper, we said hello, I left with the swim kid, and he was waiting on the porch when I returned, ready to race off to the U12C boys’ soccer practice with Albus. He arrived home with the two eldest children around 8pm, just in time to put on his own soccer gear and sprint to his own soccer practice. To which I was invited. And simply had not the energy or health to go.
Instead, I took a bath, read a book, crashed early.
I haven’t got a handle on balance, these days. Don’t come to me for advice. I’m tired of waiting for news, but I’ve decided to look on these quiet days — quiet, anyway, while the children are at school — as fortunate. Why waste the quiet with interior storm? I am in need of rest and comfort.
Chicken stock. Tea. A rocking chair. A good book.
It’s in my head, always, like a current pulling out to sea, that I need to get out and run. But maybe I need to curl up sometimes, too. One can’t be constantly pouring oneself out without replenishment.
I worry about being this poem, “First Fig,” by Edna St. Vincent Millay:
My candle burns at both ends
It will not last the night;
But, ah, my foes, and, oh, my friends —
It gives a lovely light.
Speaking of poems, a friend from poetry book club sent me this one, “Glory, in the dictionary,” by Erin Bow, in response to Friday’s “How are you?” post.
Glory, in the dictionary: the open mouth
of the glass furnace. A radiant shadow
cast onto mist. Think of Icarus:
his shadow huge and haloed
on the backs of the clouds.
The higher he went, the larger
it loomed. To go into glory, then,
is to walk into fire.
And the angels begin as they always do:
Don’t be afraid.
I’m not sure what I think about this. Glory. Exaltation; or do I mean exultation? The shadow cast. But I love the angels, who begin as they always do: Don’t be afraid. I want those angels to be my angels.
Exaltation, in the dictionary: a feeling of intense, often excessive exhileration; a flight of larks
Exultation, in the dictionary: the act or condition of rejoicing greatly
A few links:
My updated reading list, 2013, now including April. Having not, prior to this year, strictly kept track of books read, a few trends surprise me: I’m reading more male authors than I expected, also less Canadian content, and more non-fiction. Hm. But there is quite a variety. I think of myself as a democratic or catholic reader: I like almost everything. Unless it’s boring. I do, however, have an inner critic that edits for content and structure as I read, and that can be really annoying and next to impossible to turn off.
I wrote a piece for Today’s Parent on Mother’s Day, which happens to be one of my least favourite holidays. I didn’t write about that, however. I aimed for moderately sappy truth. The piece appears in the latest issue of the magazine, but it’s also online. (To put in a plug for the hard copy, the layout in the magazine is inspired.)
One more thing. That kitten that Fooey really wants? Why do I secretly want it, too? Don’t tell her. It’s worse than impractical. But I got the image this morning of a messy open house, where it’s mostly chaos, and all creatures great and small are welcome. Not sure where I am in that picture. Doing the dishes and hanging the laundry and getting a kick out of forever and impossibly trying to maintain order? Or could I be curled in the rocking chair reading a book, covered in cat hair? Or racing in the door from a run? But who’s cooking supper? Who’s making sure the soccer socks are clean? Who’s cleaning the kitty litter box?