Category: Soccer

A wild writer’s weekend

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On Saturday, the Wild Writers Festival launched here in Waterloo. I’ve now been to a few festivals across this country, and each has its own unique personality and flavour. The Wild Writers ran as smoothly as if it had been chugging along for years. It was the most academic, I think, with master class sessions for writers and those interested in becoming writers, as well as panels and readings, but it was not stuffy. It was comfortable. The Balsillie Institute is full of light. It’s a beautiful building, and I’m lucky enough to live about three minutes away, which really cut down on travel expenses.

I didn’t take my camera, however. And this post will suffer for that lack. I’ve got these striking scenes in my head that I can’t show you at a glance. Instead, I offer you random nature photos from my backyard.

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I started the morning being interviewed along with Alison Pick (Far to Go) and Miranda Hill (Sleeping Funny), right there in the light-filled lobby, by Dan Evans who has a show called Books for Breakfast on a local radion station called CFRU. I can’t find the Saturday show archived on the website, but it was live to air, although it didn’t feel like that. It felt like we were having a chat with Dan, who hosts an effortless-feeling interview. I know he’s a bookseller (The Bookshelf in Guelph), but someone should poach him for the CBC. Seriously.

After that, I sat in on Kerry Clare’s blogging workshop (she blogged about it too!). I took notes. Put me at a desk in a room with a lectern and I just can’t help myself. I flash back to the happy student days; plus jotting notes helps me think through what’s being said. I don’t listen well unless I’m busy with something else.

Sometimes people write and ask me for advice about starting a blog, but I’ve never analyzed why my blog works (and by “works,” I simply mean why I keep doing it, and regularly). The only piece of advice I generally offer is: know your boundaries — how comfortable are you with scrutiny, and do you know where your own personal line is between private and public? No one else can tell you that, and it’s different for everyone. But I connected with many of Kerry’s very practical points, number one being: Blog like nobody’s reading. I blog for the pure joy of writing. I blog to make sense of my life, and to record its passing moments. And although I didn’t set out with this purpose, I’ve found community and real life connections through my blog.

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I jotted down notes later in the day, too, at the men’s “wild writers panel.” Alexander MacLeod said that reading a short story is harder work than reading a novel because the reader can’t be passive. The story has to resonate. It begins doing its work when it’s done. It has to create resonances within the reader, so that the end of the story becomes its beginning.

I did rather want to stand up and shout YES!, but it wasn’t quite the atmosphere for gospel-style responses.

That essentially sums up why I wrote The Juliet Stories as stories rather than chapters. Although I do apologize to my agent and to everyone trying to sell the foreign rights to the damn thing, because the plain truth is that stories don’t sell (it would be nice if we could prove that truism wrong). Next book I’ll write chapters as stories, but I won’t tell anyone, and maybe everyone will just assume it’s a novel. Sneaky. Don’t tell, okay. This is just between you and me.

I haven’t said a word, yet, about my panel, all women, all deemed wild writers; but maybe that’s because I wasn’t taking notes and don’t feel qualified to comment. All I’ll say is that I expected it to be fun and engaging, and it really was. Thank you, Kerry-Lee Powell, Miranda Hill, Alison Pick, and our very fine moderator Amanda Jernigan.

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In other news …

I baked bread this weekend.

I managed a frantic speed clean of our neglected chaotic house on Friday after school.

And I stunk it up on the indoor soccer field yesterday afternoon, where my team was schooled (or owned, as Albus put it — he was the only unfortunate family member who came along to watch) by a team of very young women with superior foot skills, who usually play a few divisions above us. Thankfully we won’t meet them again this season. With all the sprinting and turning and stopping and starting, I didn’t even feel fit! (The scotch I had imbibed the previous night was not helping.)

Meanwhile, on another indoor field in Mississaugua, my eldest girl was having quite the opposite experience, for which I’m truly grateful. Someone in the family needed to be earning the soccer honour, and it wasn’t going to be me.

Good morning, good Monday

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this is what the sky and leaves look like today

Oh boy. It’s scheduling crunch time at our house. Indoor soccer season starts this week. Rep tryouts for next summer’s soccer season are ongoing, and now include two children and one dad. I’m off to the Vancouver International Writers Festival on Thursday. And I think I need a hair cut too!

This was one of those weekends that does not replenish, to revisit last week’s word.

(Although my poetry book club on Friday evening falls into the category of replenishing the interior resources while possibly depleting, ever so slightly, the bodily ones, due to surprise champagne and scotch to toast The Juliet Stories. We’ve chosen Lorna Crozier’s Book of Marvels for our next read.)

Here’s how our weekend progressed, in soul-sucking fashion. Kevin was at a conference in Niagara Falls on Saturday, while I went to AppleApple’s first swim meet in Etobicoke (ie. not nearby), with two children in tow. The meet was well-organized, but there were hundreds of swimmers and seemingly endless heats for each race. For four hours, I entertained two small children in the crowded pool gallery, in order to watch their big sister swim two races that amounted to less than two minutes in the water, total.

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big smiles for the camera!

The little kids were very very good, but I can’t say it was fun for the three of us. I had to ration our food supplies, not wanting to lose our coveted spot by making a long trek back to the truck for more. And I couldn’t even read to them because of the noise. I’m not actually sure how we made it through those four hours. But that evening, both played “swim races” with toys in the bathtub.

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she’s the blur in the green suit

AppleApple is new to competitive swimming, and had only learned to do her turn on Tuesday, and her start dive during the warmup at the meet. Neither served her very well, shall we say. She was in tears when we met her in the changeroom after the second event. Turned out her expectations had been rather high, and she was terribly disappointed in her times.

Given that dives and turns in short races make a huge difference, I assured her she’d done her best, and could only improve. But here’s the thing: she’s not one to be discouraged. After she’d cried it out, she cheered right up and said she’d just work harder and do better next time.

Kevin and I improved on the day by driving safely home from our respective locations, despite the rain and the distance. And by ordering take-out Viet-Thai food, including a fiery soup that soothed my scratchy throat. And by snuggling with the doggies and the kids, watching bad tv. A snuggle with those doggies would improve any day.

Sunday’s non-replenishing activities included more swimming (a practice for AppleApple), during which I ran 15.5km, and decided to shelve my plan to do a marathon in a few weeks’ time. I haven’t put on the mileage required, and I’ll be busy with the Wild Writers’ Festival the day before. Instead, I’d like to aim for some winter/spring races, and keep doing these longish runs on Sundays to stay prepared. There is only so much a person can do. You know that fashion advice to look in the mirror before leaving the house and remove one accessory? I feel that applies to my life, sometimes. I look at the day’s schedule and I think, one of these things needs to go. Sadly, it’s usually something fun.

We also took everyone shopping for indoor soccer shoes, including me and CJ. And then I took Albus shopping for a new winter coat, which was not something either of us wanted to do. So …. I baked bread when we got home. It made me feel like I’d done something other than be a consumer.

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more sky, more leaves, today

Uh oh. I’m beginning to suspect this a grumpy post. Maybe it just matches this weather. Wet, dull, windy, colours draining away.

Urban garden patch: green tomato relish

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This green tomato relish came from …
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this early-fall urban garden patch.

Strictly speaking, most of the tomatoes came from the front yard, but lots of peppers and herbs were gathered from the back yard too. When I sent AppleApple out to pick whatever she could find, before the first frost, I never imagined she’d come in with pounds of produce — but she did! Now, what to do with pounds and pounds of green tomatoes? Sure hope our family likes green tomato relish, because we made a ton. I can’t say that another late-night canning session was how Kevin and I envisioned spending our Sunday night, but it seems that canning always happens late at night — or is still going on late at night, no matter how early one begins.

Kevin is also experimenting with dehydrating hot peppers.

Our house smelled fabulous yesterday.

:::

Some other exciting* things happened this weekend. (*applicable to item # 1 only if “exciting” = “organizing”)

1. The kids and I went through all their drawers, plus the bins in the attic, resulting in three bags of purged too-small clothing, and a whole new wardrobe for the younger ones (hand-me-downs, but new to them.) Such a lot of work! Any six-year-old girls in the ‘hood looking for clothes? I’m passing CJ’s outgrown clothing on to his cousins, but Fooey’s will simply be donated.

2. Our family accepted some big challenges this weekend. I ran a tough race on Saturday morning. And both of my eldest kids went to rep soccer tryouts, Saturday and Sunday. This is not big news for our soccer girl, who loves these situations, but it is big news for our eldest boy, who tends to shy away from challenges. And I’ll admit we pushed him a bit to get him out there. But once he was out there, I think he realized that he belonged as much as anyone, that his skills were solid, and that he knew what he was doing. He tried to hide his smile of pride afterward, but he couldn’t, quite.

3. On the parenting front, Kevin and I both felt like we’d added a piece to the puzzle, just observing our son’s confidence after we’d pushed him to try something at which we did know he could fail. That’s a scary thing to ask of a kid. It was rewarding to see him working hard — but I think it was even more rewarding for him to see himself differently, as someone who is willing to take a risk and try his best, no matter the results. I don’t really like pushing my kids, as a general rule — I want them to explore and discover their own passions, and support them as they develop and grow as individuals. But what about a kid who doesn’t seem to know his own passions? How passive/active should a parent be? All I can observe is that our eldest has thrived with a push now and again — he would have given up the piano very early on, if I hadn’t believed in his musicality and insisted he continue, and found a piano teacher who was a good fit; he was recently overheard advising his youngest sister, who is a beginner, that playing the piano is really fun, you just have to learn the basics. I know there are no guarantees of success, and parenting experiments can and do back-fire, but I’m proud of our boy for accepting this new challenge and running with it. I’m curious to see where it leads.

{This captioned moment}

I like Soule Mama’s {this moment} photo-only Friday post, marking out a special moment from the previous week. I like it, but I’m too damn chatty. So here is my narrated version of {this moment}: photo plus caption.
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Soccer girl lies amongst the shoes in the front hall, preparing for her last tournament of the season, to be played on what amounts to a rolling farmer’s field, on a cold, rainy, windy Saturday.

(Confession: special moment chosen largely because I took so few photos this week; not to diminish its specialness.)

Tryouts for next season start in, oh, a week.

What?! We went to another soccer tournament this weekend? Why, yes, yes, we did.

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The team made it to the final. They’d lost to the other team in the first round.

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Then their goalie got a nosebleed partway through and had to be subbed off until it had completely stopped. Yeah, that’s my kid. The coach says that his team loves to give him a heart attack. It seems to motivate them.

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Not to worry! She’s back.

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“Mom, I heard the trophies are HUGE!”

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Well, you get take one home. Somehow you kept the ball out of the net during those last panicked moments. You won!

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Why is winning so sweet? But it is.

Dogs in the house

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Yes, we now have two dogs in the house.

And we watched another heartbreaking soccer game yesterday (see above photo), as the Canadian women lost to the US team following some questionable calls by the ref. It kind of echoed our experiences on Saturday at the tournament. A good ref lets the players play the game. A bad ref gets in the way. We experienced both kinds of refs at the tournament, and I can tell you that losing due to a bad call feels rotten in a way that losing to a better team does not. (I’m not sure whether that applies to winning, however; I suspect winning feels good regardless; you tell yourself your team would have won anyway, and that’s just the way the luck landed.)

In any case … it was a memorable long weekend. Yesterday we got up early (again!) to drive two and a half hours to pick up the girls. We wondered how they’d fit in the truck, but it turns out that they love driving, and found places on laps, or in Suzi’s case standing balanced on the armrest between me and Kevin–like a little doggy surfer.

We’re in a period of adjustment, of course, and we’re learning about their quirks and habits and triggers and behavior, and they’re learning about us too.

They seem to like my office. Both are in here with me now, napping.

One small thing: I’d reconciled myself to the dog hair. But I’d forgotten about the dog smell. Dog owners out there, can you tell me, are there ways to minimize the smell? I kissed my little boy last night and all I could smell was dog. AppleApple told me we’d just get used to it, and not notice it after awhile, and that may in fact be what happens. But I was born with a sensitive nose, and smells do bother me. Here’s hoping I adjust!

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