Writing Day

This writing day is feeling a tad useless … or perhaps a better descriptive would be non-cathartic. It was interrupted by an appointment mid-morning, and I’ve spent the better part of what was left filling out grant applications. Not exactly exhilerating.

I had a revelation (apologies for navel-gazing; it could be a writing day theme) a couple of evenings ago when I was feeling quite low, just kind of sitting with this sadness inside of me, and realizing how many other people also sit with a sadness or a loss, and, wondering how to answer that feeling–and it came to me: often, the answer is in the healing power of song or a book or a movie. In other words, ART. Listening to, watching, reading, experiencing. It made this continuing effort to write feel more valuable. I have a hard time justifying my writing to myself, or thinking of it as anything other than purely decadent and self-indulgent, partly because it feels so good to do it (anything that feels this good must be bad!), and partly because it earns our family next to nothing. 
But imagine a world stripped of art’s beauty and honesty, without stories outside ourselves that remind us who we are or were or want to be. So that revelation was enough to keep me going–at least for now! Till I forget again and need reminding.
Here’s what I found in my journal, written a few days after baby CJ was born this spring. I read it over this morning, thinking about my friend Katie, who is waiting for the birth of her third child, and wanted to share it.
“Feeling immense sadness at this being my last time to experience this. It’s been a hard and long pregnancy, yet such a gift, a real gift, the kind we don’t deserve and accept knowing we are blessed. I wish you could see this round, perfect, smooth face, open mouth, asleep lying across my chest, skin perfectly coloured, hair indeterminate, his own unique self so new in the world. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I’m so extremely happy, and simultaneously nostalgic for this passing/fleeting moment, that I just want to weep for the temporality of everything. We can pretend for a little while, here and there, that we can make something that will last; but all of life is temporal, fleeting, every stage, the good ones and the bad ones, and there is something about holding this brand-new perfect baby that makes me know for sure how true this is. How I can’t hold on. How I can only enjoy, enjoy, take in, love, exist; but not hold on. This doesn’t have to be terrible, does it? Just a mortal truth. Can I accept? And if I can, won’t I be a happier person? I could have another baby, but at some point it would be my last baby; and it could never again be my first. Life makes us move on, whether we like it or not.
Damned hormones!”
Yes, that was written about the same time my milk came in, which my midwife said usually comes along with tears, too. A general leaking, if you will. I was really struggling with that being my last birth experience. But right now, feel very much at peace with our decision. Four is enough, woman!
I had a difficult recovery after the birth, and found a list I’d made about two weeks on.
“Things I will do when well: Hang laundry. Go for evening walks with baby CJ. Walk the kids to school. Cook from scratch. Bake cookies. Walk uptown and to the library. Maybe even jog, with the kids on their bikes. Write. Fold laundry. Pick up toys. Do storytime for my kids. Play the piano. Go out dancing. Have a drink. Host a party. Go camping. Visit friends. Host friends. Buy new clothes. Clean the bathrooms. Go to book club. Sit outside in the sun. Yoga. Relish health.”
I loved coming across that list and realizing how many of those very ordinary things I do regularly now, and in fact, how routine life has become in the six months post-birth. Still haven’t gone out dancing, I’m sad to report. But so many of those activities are ones I take for granted–even complain about. (Okay, bathroom cleaning = hard to get excited about). But it’s good to be reminded otherwise.

Election Hangover

Oye, yoi, yoi, today I’ve got election hangover. Our “safe” Liberal seat was lost by 72 votes, and the “safe” Kitchener Centre Liberal seat also went down in flames, both to Conservatives; though in the country overall it’s hard to pick any real winners. Conservatives are back with yet another minority (apparently we don’t like them quite enough). Liberal support tanked, but is obviously still out there–they finished second overall in seat-strength. The Bloc was strong again in Quebec, proving that the Conservative ploy to buy Quebec votes failed sorely. Dippers made some gains, including taking a seat from a prominent Conservative in Alberta. Greens won nothing. Gloomiest of all, voter turn-out was at an all-time low. Conclusion: Real change ain’t a comin’ to Canada any time soon.

I think it’s time for our government to move to proportional representation, or at the bare minimum to some model of governing that favours real cooperation between parties. The minority parliamentary model we’re working with now, with its confidence votes and playing chicken, is really just a big pissing contest. It seems invented to create failure, not success; in other words, we the people are supposed to recognize this “natural” dysfunction and, shaking our collective heads in disgust, vote in a majority next time. Except that’s virtually impossible with five legitimate parties scrabbling for our votes. Majority parliaments work because they’re based on a two-party system. Canada no longer has a two-party system. I’m tired of people having to worry about splitting the vote if they vote with their hearts.

Can someone give me some good reasons for not going to proportional representation as a governing model? It can’t just be because the big parties have too much to lose. I wonder whether there are some ideological uncertainties about it too: does it make the country more fractured, does it entrench regionalism?

I’m writing this in a rare moment of quiet this morning. Woke with supper dishes still unwashed and cluttering the countertop, with supper needing to be made in advance due to Beckett lesson this eve, with diapers in the washer, a pile of dirty clothes on the basement floor, two laundry baskets overflowing with clean, unfolded clothes in the living-room, F with a playdate here this morning to supervise, and baby CJ with a hankering to crawl everywhere, eat everything, then get frustrated and demand to be carried about in a sling. Plus we walked out the door thinking we were late for school (we weren’t). I’ve only conquered a few of these problems so far, but things are temporarily looking up. Laundry’s hanging on the line. The girls have played beautifully together all morning. Baby CJ went down for a nap. Dishes got washed. I’m cooking up a black bean and grain stew. Is there any way to fry quesadillas in advance? The 6pm music class is proving hairy to get to, and we’re dashing out the door still chewing our food, despite what seems like pretty good advance organizing.

Oh, my squash refused to soften last night. I roasted it for ages, but in the end gave up and discarded it. I’ve never had this happen before. And our CSA sent us gobs of chard and kale yesterday, and yet more beets, so I need to get organized and cook something out of this stuff before our fridge turns from jungle to swamp.

While the Dishes Wait

Dilemma: to blog or to finish making supper and start the dishes? Hmm.

Kevin’s off fetching our CSA box, almost the last of the season, and the girls are playing “Little House,” and just came into the kitchen dressed in aprons and bonnets and mittens, wondering how they could help. Taking them seriously, I suggested cleaning up the living-room. The sounds of things being dumped currently accompany this task, but here’s hoping things are being dumped into appropriate containers. Boy, with baby CJ on the move, danger lurks in every wretched Playmobil flower abandoned on the carpet. I came out to the living-room today to discover him under the art table, grabbing up fistfuls of broken crayons with evident delight. Oh, F just returned to the kitchen and I see her Little House outfit includes a baseball cap, and beneath the apron a mermaid costume.

We are having leftover surprise tonight (thanks, Janis, for bestowing that name on a supper made from whatever’s discovered in the fridge; makes it sound so cheerful). I put whatever’s in the fridge into a big bowl, added a gravy-ish white sauce, and sprinkled cheese on top, then baked it in the oven. We’ll see if they eat it; after all, everything is mixed together, and my kids, like many kids, prefer some separation upon the plate.

Also roasting a squash and prepping a salad.

Baby CJ is so incredibly on the move that I simply marvel at his mobility. He crawled from living-room through dining-room to kitchen this afternoon, ending near the fridge. Then he suggested I pick him up and carry him around in the sling; he’s spent about three hours in that sling today and my back doth protest. But, really, baby CJ wants to walk. Whenever possible he gets a taller person to help him stand. He can hang on and stand quite ably, and as soon as he masters the getting up part, there will be no stopping him. Apparently, by six months, babies feel big. They don’t care to be identified with those blobby infant-types any more.

Brief

Because I blogged about my dad remarrying this weekend, I feel obliged to provide some public follow-up. But the truth is that I can think of nothing to say on the subject that wouldn’t hurt someone. That’s been one of the most interesting, troubling, revelatory discoveries of this whole experience–I mean, the experience of my parents’ marriage breaking up–that sometimes there is no “right.” I think I’d always believed that a problem, any problem, if only given enough creative thought and attention, would eventually yield to a solution.

Well, maybe not.

I had great difficulty sleeping last night (of course, Murphy’s Law, baby CJ slept like a, well, baby, while I tossed and turned, then woke like a real baby the instant sleep arrived for me).

Will sign off for now.

What We Ate

Yesterday we had a feast. It was all about timing, and I did spend the better part of the day preparing food. Luckily, I realized, in the nick of time, that the pies would need to be baked before the chickens. Kevin’s sister helped whenever she passed through the kitchen–mashing potatoes, extracting cooked pumpkin from its shell, et cetera. But as evening approached, I began to panic that the children would, in their hunger and impatience, literally climb the living-room walls, waiting for the chickens to reach optimum cooking temperature. Chickens surpassed expectation, thermometer rose, and we had dinner on the table at six o’clock sharp. Baby CJ got to try mashed pumpkin (a so-so review, I’d say). The chicken was succulent; the stuffing delicious; the brussel sprouts edible (Kevin’s mom loved them, but I must say they could have been better–perhaps parboiled or roasted a tad longer); the salad of local bitter greens with honey-balsamic dressing and chopped apples and seeds stunning (am I allowed to say this about food I’ve prepared myself?), and the smashed potatoes with garlic very yummy indeed. Yams snuck onto the menu all by themselves–they were in amongst the potatoes from our CSA box, and were pale in colour, white when uncooked and a delicate yellow cooked, and I assumed them to be odd-shaped potatoes, overgrown fingerlings, and only upon chopping them realized they must be something else. Good old yams. At the last minute, I scrounged up a bag of frozen cranberries and cooked that down into a quick sauce with sugar and water. So easy, but it added the finishing touch–tang and colour. 

Sitting down before this feast, I realized that my cooking is best described as “rustic” or “plain.” The sauces are never smooth. Nothing is perfectly whipped. Food tastes like the simple ingredients from which it is made. The pumpkin pie, for example, was made with pumpkin scraped out of the shell (roasting it whole worked wonderfully), mixed as was with the other ingredients, and poured into the crust to bake. The resulting pies were not pudding-like or pureed in texture, but you could taste pumpkin. You knew you were eating pumpkin. This is also the food I like to eat.
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About me

My name is Carrie Snyder. I'm mother of four, writer of fiction and non-, dreamer, contemplative, mid-life runner, coach, forever curious. I'm interested in the intersection between art and spirituality. What if the purpose of life is to seek beauty? What if everyone could make art?

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