Friday, December 24, 2010


My folks are not coming into town for Christmas. Mom had to go in for some tests, and they have made her very tired and ill. I decided not to go down, I don't want my mom trying to clean her house or prepare a meal - if I tell her not to, she will do it anyway and it will be too much. So, it's disappointing, but we'll celebrate when she's feeling better. But what to do? There's no point in me doing a Christmas dinner because I'm the only one that will really eat any of it, so I decided retool Christmas. Thursday night we went to see Cirque Mecanics, a fun show at TOHU (great space!).


Today we hung out, played outside briefly, did a few groceries, then headed downtown for Chinese food. The kids were thrilled to be eating noodles in a restaurant and were pretty well behaved. Then we popped in the car and headed down to the Quartier des Spectacles to wander around the gorgeous snow globes. Along the way we also took in all the other Christmas lights downtown (not to be confused with the ones on SuperSexe).


We came home, got on pjs, watched Charlie Brown Christmas, put out Santa's treat and made sure he had enough room to get out of the fireplace, then read Night Before Christmas and to bed. New traditions are good.....
What a great day.


On Wednesday I was driving to work and realised how calm and happy I felt. Cards would not go out on time, things would not be cooked, the house would not be spotless before the holiday and that was ok. That bit of the holidays that I missed for so many years because I was always so rushed and stressed, arrived for the second year in a row. I call it the Grinch epiphany, the time when I remember that the people who love me are my gifts and they don't care if their cards are late or my house is a mess or the food is simple. Those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind. It's a shame that I only enter this calm pocket after stressing out for weeks.
Throughout the day my mood continued to lift, and by the end of the day I was floating with happy, vibrating from within with this indescribable giddiness. Last year I had to make myself stop and let it happen, but this year it came all on its own - remembering what is really important, that I love and am loved in this world. That is all that matters.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Things I meant to say

One of my friends stopped by today and over a cup of tea while we were getting caught up, told me that his sister had called to say that she had some bad news. He told me that his 15-year-old nephew had just been diagnosed with Aspergers. He indicated that the diagnosis was no surprise to him, and we talked about that. I automatically corrected about the term "bad", "Well, that not really bad news, just news", and we discussed the lack of resources briefly and his educational plans, and then moved on to another topic. He left, I took the kids out sledding, and then we came in and started some baking.

So I'm taking some cookies out of the oven, thinking about getting supper ready, and I look over at Ben, who is helping shell pistachio nuts with his sister. That's when it hit me.
If I'd been in a movie, there would have been that whooshing noise and some kind of blur special effect and then a flashback to me, almost five years ago, sitting in a metal chair in a small room at the Children's autism clinic. We'd just gone through days of tests with an array of doctors and PhD students. We'd been referred to the hospital by our pediatrician, and after an exam with audiology, we'd been sent to the clinic because they told us that even though they were sure it wasn't autism, it was the fastest place to get all the testing at once. I now believe that they tell parents that because they don't want you to bolt and not go ahead with the diagnosis.

So, sitting in the metal chair, watching Ben with the final assessor - the head psychologist - expecting that she was going to tell us that he wasn't autistic, just like the audiologist and our pediatrician and everyone else who had chimed in for months. But while Ben sat there creating a block tower, she turned to us and said, "So, Ben's autistic". There were words after that, sentences, paragraphs, but I don't remember any of that because at that moment the bottom fell out of my world.

That was the feeling that I relived in my kitchen tonight, that awful, stomach-twisting confirmation of what I didn't want to hear.

I know that on the grand scale of things it is not the tragedy of being told that your child is dying, or will suffer with a life of pain. I kept telling myself that over and over while what I was really thinking about was how he'd never have a neurotypical life. We all expect our kids to have at least our choices in life, if not more. We take for granted that they will have as much of a shot at education, relationships, careers, happiness, and fulfillment as we have. It is unbearably sad to suddenly think that their lives may be severely restricted. I used to stay awake at night thinking about the fact that Ben may never get married and have kids and a mortgage and a steady job. Honestly, sometimes I still do. But it doesn't terrify me like it used to.

Flash forward to me holding a sheet of cookies in my oven-mitted hand looking at Ben and I really did feel like the most insensitive person on the planet. Time, experience, education, and work have made me a person who no longer fears the spectrum and Ben's future. Part of me is so proud that I no longer see autism as a bad thing, just a difference, but there's no way I would have understood that five years ago. I understand the denial and the wishful thinking and the fears that we beat down and the lies we let ourselves believe because we so desperately want our kids to be "normal". The nephew's Aspergers may have seemed obvious to some, but to my friend's sister I'm sure it wasn't and I'm fairly certain that the bottom has just dropped out of her world.

I wish I'd been a bit more present today so I could have offered a kinder word and a warmer heart.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Moments of the morning

  • Watching my son, bleary and pyjama-ed, walk into the pantry, grab the jar of peanut butter and a spoon, and head to the dining room.
  • Listening to an improvised version of "All I Want for Christmas" substituting "cookies" for "teeth".
  • Passing by my daughter's room and seeing her laying upside-down on the bed putting on her tights.
  • My son's hat hair.
  • The dance my daughter did for me in the window of the daycare.

Yeah, I was late for work, no, I don't really care.....

Thursday, December 09, 2010

I am so in love with music right now....

Just finished listening to all six of Bach's Cello Suites performed by Jean-Guihen Queyras. His playing was marvelous - lively and crisp, playing that tore at my soul and then lifted it into the sky. I sat there in awe that anyone could store this much beauty in his head and bring it out from his fingertips. At the first break, Adriana turned to me and asked how anyone who is able to play something like that can get on with their day like a normal person. How many hundreds of hours of practise did it take to create so much wonderfulness that sang in my ears and thrilled me? I got out floating, wanting to hug the world and take it all into my heart.
It has been quite a week.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010


Admittedly, the snow is far less fun when I have to shovel out my car.
We just had our first storm yesterday - 15cm and gusting winds that created snow drifts over my knees in my front walk.

After work I headed down to Place des Arts and got a great last minute for the MSO. Bach, Brahms, and Bruckner. I almost didn't go, preferring to hibernate at home, but I parked underground to avoid any more car cleaning for the evening. The first half was lovely- but depressing if you knew what the contralto was singing, "O Tod, wie bitter bist du". Cheery. It ended with one of those Bach pieces that I hum a lot, Sleepers Awake. I rarely remember what it is, but it's catchy. The lady two seats over had on way too much perfume. The second half was Bruckner's ninth, unfinished. The second movement is very intense, emotional outbursts that then pivot into passages of calm. Nagano is so different from YNS, more controlling (but nothing like Dutoit was) and sometimes leaves the audience unsure of when it's ended.
Last Saturday I went to hear Bach's violin concertos and the Thursday before was a night of Bach and Ravel (with my lovely Yannick Nezet-Seguin). Tomorrow night is cello suites, I feel spoiled to have access to so much wonderful sound - it fills my ears and heart and gives me those moments of stillness and peace and awe that we all need to clear our psyches.

As usual, there are a few things on my mind. A few people in my life that I hold very close to my heart have given me some things to think about. I thought that I knew what makes me happy, but as events unfold, it seems that I do not know myself very well at all. I am surprised by where I find happiness and what that means about me and what I need. Perhaps what I am searching for is more of a state of grace within myself than a manifestation of it in another, and the patience, forgiveness, and understanding that I am slowly adopting (Rome wasn't built in a day people) is making it easier to love it all.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Last night while we were sleeping, the snow came.
It wasn't a lot, a bit more than a dusting, enough to have to brush off the car, and wear boots, and even enough in some places to make snow angels. The kids woke up late (I woke up early, why can't sleep ever coordinate?) and came in for a snuggle and we talked for a bit about our dreams and the plans for the day. Then, I told them to go and look out the window. There was much excited jumping up and down and pleas for snowman making. The sun came out, making the new white cover sparkle as we got outside and cleaned the car to go to N's dance class. Neighbours were out, and the kids and the dogs were ecstatic, the kids eagerly pointing their heads to the sky to catch a drop on the tongue, the dogs running along with heads down pushing snow and inhaling a smell long missing. My thoughts turned to the holidays and I closed my eyes to take in that fresh, crisp snow smell as well.
The first snow is magical.

first snow of the season

Saturday, November 20, 2010

I did it!

(This post is way overdue, just finding some time now.)

At this moment I am so proud of myself. At the beginning of the year when I came up with the crazy idea of running a half marathon (originally for the end of April, which was postponed) I do not think that I really believed it could happen.

Running half that distance was a challenge for me, and my knees were not super thrilled, plus, let's face it, I'm not a young lady anymore and I'm athletically challenged at the best of times.

I pushed myself January-March. I had a training schedule to keep, but with my kids and work I was constantly out of time and trying to squeeze my workouts into impossible times when I should have been sleeping or doing something else that was important. I got stressed out and felt guilty about not keeping my goals, not spending enough time with kids and slipping behind at work. When I decided I wasn't ready in April and I gave myself permission to pass, two things happened: I regained my love of running, which had turned into a chore that I was starting to dread, and I became even more determined to do the 21k. I decided that I would train and run the distance late in the year. I saw the Oka run advertised and I knew it was meant to be and signed up right away.

I increased my distance gradually and didn't freak out when I had setbacks. I tried to stay as disciplined as possible, and I talked to everyone I know who runs for guidance and encouragement. I also let everyone know what I was doing so that I had a bit of guilt-support built into my routine. Sometimes your motivation on those bad days is knowing that your co-worker is going to ask you how that training is going. Some of my runs got longer, but when I could only squeeze in time for a 5k, I just did that because it was better than nothing.

In September I started running to the mountain, up the mountain, around the mountain, and back, 19k. I love this run. My favorite part is stopping at the lookout to admire the view, I feel so strong and accomplished. On Thanksgiving weekend I ran along the lake in Hamilton and when I got back and plotted my route, I realised that I had run 21k! Wow! After that weekend I took a week off in Maine and ran the 21 twice, as well as other shorter runs and hiking. I felt ready for Oka, nothing was gonna stop me, I had actually managed to plan and prepare for this, I was thrilled!
On Monday, the week before the race, I realised that I was getting a cold.
I tried running it out of my system, but that didn't work. I worked from home most of the week and tried to rest and take vitamin c and all the stuff you should do. On Friday I went over to Adriana's and she worked her yoga magic on me with chest openers which cleared a lot of the junk in my lungs out.

That night I didn't sleep a lot, and at 5am I was up and getting ready. I packed everything just in case the weather changed. At 7 I was at the race site, the chalet was still relatively quiet. Within a half hour it was chaotic and crowded, so I was glad for my early arrival, even if it did mean some waiting around. I watched the sunrise over the water while I stretched and relaxed. A half an hour before the start time I went out to the start area and waited with all the other crazies. I found my friend Joanne and we jumped up and down trying to stay warm. It was freezing. By the time it started, the bottoms of my feet were frozen. It was good to finally start and the sun came out to warm us and melt the ice off the pavement.

I was at the back and stayed there for pretty much the entire way. I learned a few things. Runners are messy with the cups of water and throwing protein bar wrappers and tissues on the ground, they spit a lot, running clubs are way too cliquey - they move in little snobby packs, couples who run seem to stop a lot at the port-o-potties, and the really fast guys start late and run past you like you are standing still. The route was a go and double back sort of affair. The first guy passed me on his way back when I was at the 7k mark! That wasn't discouraging at all......

Most everyone else passed me around 9 or 10k which was fine. At some points I felt like I was running alone. There were a couple of people behind me, but not too many. The last couple of kilometers where I would normally feel a bit of extra energy I realised that I had nothing, probably because of being sick. All the way, the volunteers cheered us all on, it was so sweet. When I reached the finish, many cars were pulling out of the parking lot. My final time was 2:25, about 25 minutes after most people, but very respectable for me. I had my banana and bagel at the finish line and warmed up a bit at the chalet before heading home.

It was kind of anticlimactic. I'd been training for so long, now I'd done it and I was walking around feeling elated, but very alone at the same time.

I stopped at a friend's daughter's birthday party on the way home. My kids were there and many of my friends, and they all made a huge fuss over me and it was exactly what I needed, especially hugs from my two favorite people in the world. I ate like a pig and afterwards went home and got comfy on the sofa and iced my knees and tried not to move for the rest of the day. Sunday I went to yoga and once again Adriana fixed my body. On Monday I was perfectly fine.

So, the latest total (money is still coming in) is $1657 for the Children's Hospital and another $190 for the WIAHA. Thanks to everyone who donated :-)

I can't wait to do it again.

Sunday, October 31, 2010



Holy cow! Five! This morning I woke up and you were all curled up in my bed because you snuck in last night. I looked at the clock and realised that five years ago you had just told me that it was time to get to the hospital, which, as per the doctor's instructions from the last quick birth, we did as quickly as we could. You arrived about two hours later, wrinkled and mad and screaming at the indignity of it all. Sometimes you still scream like that.
You are the most beautiful girl on the planet, perhaps the universe. You continue to astound me with your joy, your passion, your expression, and your presence. You hug with abandon, sharing your love of the world and your exuberance with everyone around you. You are a rascal, you tease your brother, your daddy, and me, and laugh with your whole body when you think something's funny. Despite your teasing, you are a good sister, a bit bossy, but full of cuddles and good intentions and a million games that you invent for the two of you to play. Ben is your favorite person in the whole world and that never fails to warm me.
You have opinions on your clothes, you already have better taste than me, you can't wait to learn to read and you sleep with at least six books in your bed every night. You are strong and mighty and quick. You will take on the world and win it with your will. You shine in this world of so many ordinary things.
And when you tell me that you are going to grow up to be like me someday, I am the proudest person in the universe.
I love you so my little Noo,

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

words you want to hear before you close your eyes at night

Goodnight my beautiful....

I will be back to finish my vacation write up soon. Right now I'm up to my neck in work explosions...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

she's not from here - day 4


Yesterday was a slower day. I spent the morning drinking coffee on the dock while the mist rolled across the smooth, still water. The hammock chair in the living room has become my favorite place for reading and writing. I have book stations around the house, a different book at every one so that no matter where I sit I can pick one up.

I decided on a shorter run yesterday, about 8k. I drove to a road that snakes behind the pond (I'm through running on the two-lane, it's treacherous!), parked, and ran all the way behind and back. almost all of it was dirt road which was a nice change from pavement.


After, I drove into town and picked up a few things (can you believe I left Montreal without lip balm?) and came home where I read and did some writing and ate, listened to music, went out to the dock with a cup of tea. There was an upsetting episode during the evening, but I'm determined not to dwell.
Reading in the hammock chair listening to Haydn, wishing I could stay here forever, or at least one more week.

my chair

Today I am planning a run up in the White Mountains, which are just across the road. I drove up part of it yesterday, dirt road, winding up, pretty challenging for me. Then there's a turnoff to Crocker Pond which goes up another 3k to a pond obviously. During the summer there must be a lot of people around, but now it's deserted aside from the hunters. You can hunt in national parks in Maine, did you know that? So that's the plan. It looks beautiful. Trying to stifle the bear fear.....I need cymbals.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

she's not from here - day 3

Grafton Notch

Decided on a hike up Table Rock in Grafton Notch.
Drove there, parked, looked at the sign pointing out the trails, and crossed the road. Heading off I passed a guy coming out. That was the last person I saw on my hike. There were signs for a number of trails, I took the Table Rock trail and followed it up. Once again, it seemed harmless.

Grafton Notch

It got steep rather quickly and turned into an antediluvian riverbed, boulders instead of a path, winding up 900 feet. I followed the markers of red spray paint, a bit incredulous, at times completely winded. A couple of times I thought the top was near, I was so wrong, the trail deked me out, ran me through some woods, then up up up again. At one point I got to this huge boulder under a cliff and stood there flummoxed until I realised there was a spray painted arrow on one side indicating a narrow space to squeeze yourself between the rock and a cave under the cliff. I suppose if you had managed to make it up that far, they assumed you were thin enough to fit. Finally clambered up a muddy last hill and reached the Table, a flat bit of rock with an enormous view of the surrounding mountains. The sun came out, but it was quite cool and windy. Still, nothing was going to deter me from sitting and enjoying the view for a while and drinking some water and eating a granola bar while I was doing it.

Grafton Notch

I wasn't looking forward to the descent very much, but realised as I was climbing down that the markers were blue now, then realised that the trail was quite a bit easier. The significance of the red and blue suddenly sank in.
I was so happy about the fact I didn't have to climb down through boulders that I started singing selections from Carmen at the top of my lungs. I was hoping I really was alone because a) I'm not an opera singer and b) I don't know the words. Still, happy as can be tripping down the trail, torturing the wildlife, passing streams, slipping occasionally on moss and muddy areas from all the rain we've had lately. The markers turned white, but I was still heading down, and eventually got to the point where the trails separated and I was indeed coming down the opposite fork from where I started. Got to the car, now kind of frozen and enjoyed the heater immensely.
Stopped on my way out of the park at a place called Screw Auger Falls, where the water has eaten round pools out of the rock, it's marvelous.
Screw Auger Falls
On the way home also stopped at a covered bridge and then at the local grocery store. No tahini (what was I thinking?), but found hummus, which was just as good when combined with lemon juice for the sauce for the chickpea/squash thingie.
covered bridge
Skyped my kids, miss 'em.....then read, wrote, drank, and slept.

Monday, October 18, 2010

she's not from here - day 2

Slept in until 8! Woke to the sun on the leaves, making them glow bright red and yellow and orange against the deep blue sky.
And I believe to the sound of a passing logging truck.
Have been reading and writing and lounging all morning, but must get out at some point and wander about. Trying to determine if my knees will accept a hike up Grafton Notch, or whether they'd prefer a 10k run. I'm fairly certain they'd prefer to stay in bed.
So yesterday, I had my route, which started with a dreary run along the two-lane which the locals treat like the autobahn. No real shoulder to speak of, so pretty terrible. Finally get to the turn off, Vernon Street, which goes back, way back behind the pond and loops around to town. Paved, but very quiet. Too quiet in fact. Realised that there really wasn't much out there in terms of anything. My thoughts turned to city-girl fears - bears, serial killers, you know. On the other hand, I'm enjoying the peace and the woods all around and being the only thing on the road. To combat my fear of startling a bear (my brain is a truly stupid place), I started to sing whatever my ipod was playing, of course terribly because I'm running, I'm wearing headphones, and who can sing the Beegees and Abba? Was fully expecting to come upon a bunch of locals BBQing in their backyard and staring at me. Luckily, that didn't happen.
Passed the occasional house and bit of civilization. After about 12.5k I came to the next turnoff that I'd seen on the map. Paradise Road cuts directly into town instead of going further around and then back. This seemed more efficient to me as I'd sat at the house planning. It looked harmless, as all truly bad things do. There were quite a few houses along the route, although the road was narrow. I took it. It had started to rain, a light drizzle, it was a bit cool, windy.
I now have a new rule about checking elevations when I plan a running route.
Paradise Road got its name because its purpose seems to be to bring you to the kingdom of heaven. The grade started slowly for the first .5k, then turned into the equivalent of running up Peel Street ten times, in a now harder and cooler rain. At a few points I actually felt like I was moving backwards. I was rewarded at the top with a vantage of the mountains and surrounding colourful countryside and a cemetery with one headstone. There are a couple of houses up there and I was mighty jealous. The way down was much less steep and I made it into town in time for the sun to come out. I wandered a bit and then ran, stumbled, occasionally walked, the last 7k back to the house, iced my knees, went and found some food, had a hot bath, and read until I couldn't stay awake.
Out and about again!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

she's not from here - day 1


Woke up this morning to see a pink sunrise and water rippling and everything was so quiet and lovely. Threw some clothes on, made some coffee and went out to the dock outside the back door to enjoy it.
Sipping hot coffee, world so peaceful, beautiful Fall colours, birds, chill in the air, sound of the water lapping against the dock. Bliss. Noticed one of the metal chairs had fallen into the water. Bent to retrieve it.
Fell in, obviously.....
If I ever warm up again, have a run mapped for today - about 23k as far as I can tell. I will be stopping halfway for a walk around the town.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A little time off....

I'm here!
When I looked up the directions on Google maps and printed them out, I must have inadvertently chosen the "scenic but deadly" route option. I must have also mentioned "meandery" because the first thing it did was take me off the 10E, send me through Chambly, then back onto the 10E. Just a reminder that you must always read all of the directions FIRST. Whoops. Lesson learned. Perhaps Chambly is giving Google a cut, lots of new developments in that area.
So back on the 10, off at Coaticook and through to a small customs on two-lane highways, then across into Vermont. This is where any semblance between reality and the directions ended. How this could have been the shortest option boggles my mind, the ascents up several notches and hairpin turns certainly did not encourage a lot of speed. It was pretty, until nightfall and the rain started, combined with the warnings of MOOSE! posted every half mile. I was becoming immune to the exclamation points and pictures of large antlers, until I saw a moose (MOOSE!) just off the road, yet barely visible until you were right up to it. My speed dropped even more dramatically after that. Also saw two foxes and a bunch of deer.
One numbered highway turned into another, suddenly I was in NH - finally! Closer! Drove past this beautifully lit resort of some sort next to a lake. It was a surprising site. I kept going up notches, around curves, dark roads made darker by the rain. Thankfully, US drivers dim their lights when you pass, shame they all drive trucks and SUVs and blind me anyway. Finally saw a sign: [My location] (ME) 28. Whoop!
After 30 minutes of driving I entered Maine and saw another sign: [My location] 28. Ummmmm...... is there a difference between NH miles and Maine miles?
Keep driving, and....... [My location]!
Stopped at an ancient Shop and Save and picked up some basics. A million cookie varieties, one choice for plain yogurt.
Got to the cash and asked how to get to the pond and got the full Maine accent from the bag boy and was enchanted and amused. The cashier drew me a map to get out of the village, which was sweet of her. Found the place without too much backtracking. It's right off the road, but right on the pond. It is the headquarters for the Maine kitsch and knick-knack society, but completely expected and very cozy and warm, and wireless internet. I'm sitting in this rope swingy chair, like a hammock for one.
Can't wait to see how everything looks in the morning. I went out on the dock and looked up and the half-ish moon was out and the stars bright and twinkly.
I'm here.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

When to hold, when to let go

I woke up in the middle of the night in a sweat. I had a nightmare, my heart was pounding, brain racing, that sick feeling of fear that stays with you as you lie there in the dark. My phone went off, a text: "heart attack".
I thought it was a joke.

I found out it was no joke. Someone who means an awful lot to me had just finished being rushed to emergency, then to a second emergency to relieve a major blockage that was stopping his heart, a heart that feels an awful lot for me, one that I was not ready to have stopped. I scrambled to the hospital and found my way to the ICU. On the way I remembered how we had chatted the evening before and how he'd been fine, telling me that he missed me, complaining about some meeting, making plans for the weekend and some vacation time we were planning together.

There were wires everywhere, and a machine beeping and scrolling four rows of small, jagged mountains across a screen, close to what my daughter would draw for a landscape before adding a sun and some birds in the sky. Disks of paper were still attached to him, reminders of the machines earlier in the evening that were monitoring him, showing erratic lines and flat spaces, reflecting the chaos and terrifying pain going on in his chest.

I was amazed at how good he looked despite what had just happened.
He was treated in record time and exactly the way he was supposed to be. Every medical person who walked through that sliding glass door into his room told him how lucky he was. They also told him that he has to quit smoking.
He is 45, you would think that this is a no-brainer.
It is the one sticking point between us, the thing that I cannot tolerate, will not accept. I cannot turn a blind eye to it and shrug it off. Perhaps it's because I've been down that road, not as far, and understand the way back. I cannot understand holding on to something that will kill you. But I cannot make him let go.
I spent the day with him, watching him sleeping, watching the monitor lines, holding his hand, stroking his head and trying to hide how scared I'd been. Here he was, fixed, blood flowing, pumping like it should, a new day. The opportunity to start all over again.
And tonight he snuck out of the hospital and had a smoke.

I don't understand that saying, "If you love something, let it go, comes's yours, blah blah". When you love something, you hold on to it with everything you've got, you don't let it go because the thought of being without it isn't fathomable. The time you let go is when you don't care or have no choice.
We make our own choices, but how do you respect choices and let go when all you want to do is hold on?

Incidentally, my nightmare was not a premonition, it was just about zombies.....

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Benny's Run

Hi Everybody!

This is the first year of the (I hope) annual Benny Run.
As you all know, I started running a few years ago. This year, I decided that I was ready to attempt a half marathon, and I have been training most of the year. It will take place November 6 at Oka.

I am raising money for the Autism Clinic at the Montreal Children's Hospital. I am hoping that you will sponsor me and help support the people and services that have helped my son Ben and so many other children reach their potential.

Ben is now in Grade 2 at a mainstream school. He's reading and writing, doing math, telling jokes, building amazing lego contraptions, and socializing with his peers. We are thankful for every bit of help we have received to get Ben where he is today, and so proud of Ben, he's a superstar and one of my heroes.

There are two ways to donate:

1. Go directly to the MCH Donations page at
Select Community Events or Group from the list. Type “Bennett Wark Tribute Fund” in the Please Specify box under GENERAL INFORMATION. This directs your donation to the Autism Clinic. Then fill out the rest of the form. Under Additional Comments, write "Benny Run". They will send you a tax-deductable receipt in the mail.

2. Give the donation to me and I will send it to the Children's for you.

Thank you all for your support!



The profits from the race entries will go towards the West Island Association for the Intellectually Handicapped (WIAIH), which is a great organization. If you would prefer to donate to them instead, the link is provided below:

Friday, September 17, 2010

Mahler's 2nd, Resurrection - Orchestre Montreal, Yannick Nezet-Seguin

It was beautiful. My crush conducted marvelously ;-)
I set off through town, 30 minutes before the show (friend got stuck in traffic), only to find myself stuck in even more traffic. I finally managed to find a spot on Rene Levesque and ran up the street in the rain, in heels, umbrella being blown inside out, dodging puddles and feeling the damp chill on my legs. Worked through the maze of construction to get to the ticket counter and waited my turn. Mezzanine, G, but centre.
Ran upstairs, sat, waited. Speech about 30th anniversary of OM, short video, speech from YNS, what a sweetie. Then, MUSIC!
You know that you can expect good noise when there are six percussionists, two sets of kettle drums, that HUGE drum, and three other sets of clangy things, eight bass (basses?), two harps, obviously the rest of the instruments, and a choir behind it all.
Close my eyes, it starts, beautiful noise, then a part with strings where I started crying because it was so lovely. Dry my tears, flowing along with the big music, the quiet areas, the gentle, soft plucking, tinging, light, then heavy and dramatic.
The horns kept leaving then coming back, at some point I realised that they were playing in the wings. Three quarters through, three of the percussionists left, and the guy leading the way was trying to push open the wrong door without success before being redirected by the guy behind him.
The man sitting next to me had his elbow well into my side and possessed a muscle tic and kept jabbing me in the ribs. This grew worse once he fell asleep.
The mezzo soprano was rich and I could understand what she was singing, the soprano, as with most sopranos, I can rarely make out every word, but I actually made out even fewer, sounded nice though. She was on the "stick side" of Yannick and I swear he was close to poking her eye out a few times. Must have been farther away though because she didn't flinch.

The percussion was incredible, in a few places it came out like shimmering waves over the rest of the music and I was delighted at the joy I felt. The end was big and dramatic and clashy banging strings sawing, my crush in a frenzy of arms.

Back out into the cold and rain and home. Overjoyed that I went.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010


Some days all you want is for someone to show up at your door with flowers, and it happens....

Monday, August 23, 2010

I have had a couple of incredibly sad days. Not sure if it's the weather, hormones, or the fact that I haven't had a hug from my kids in over a week, but I've got that curl-up-into-a-ball-and-cry feeling and it needs to go away....

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Hmmmmmmm, I think I drank too much......

Thursday, August 19, 2010


I know, long time, no blog. Here are a few things I've been up to and I hope to elaborate soon:
Music - Mahler, Les Miz, Jazz Fest, Chopin, Beethoven, and Schumann
Other - comedy fest and fireworks, my birthday, Ben's birthday, a few other good BBQs, some vacation time, some hikes
Food - Some good brunches with my ladies, cake, a kiss-ass picnic, lunches, too much cheese, all clothes officially tight.....
Fitness - Running, cross training and my experience so far with the dreaded P90X series...

Coming up - Training for first running event, more running, trying to fit back into my Fall skirts (stupid cheese!), more concerts, more dinners, back to school, kid time, a wedding (not mine), more hiking, and much, much more!


I seem to have two states of being: the one where I'm writing on paper/computer, and the one where I'm writing in my head. Lately I sit and jot down a few ideas and stare at the screen and lose all interest in continuing my thoughts. But they are there and numerous - a veritable jungle of thoughts, overgrown, one tangling into another forming this mass of confused, yet interconnected ideas and feelings. Thoughts about me, love, my family, my relationships, my career, music, science, food, silence, movement. Where am I going? Who am I doing it with? Am I happy? All of this stuff whirling around in my head, coming out in sentence after sentence I formulate in my mind and that disappear by the time I sit down to put them on paper. When I'm driving, running, picking up milk at the supermarket, I am writing, writing, writing, only the words never become concrete.
Are those moments meant to be captured? Are they merely a warm up for my brain as it gets ready to send my fingers scribbling with a pen over paper or tapping on a keyboard? Is scripting imaginary conversations between characters and lovers or creating paragraphs on ideas as I read the newspaper or listen to the radio just a form of therapy for me or is it exercise that I do because writing is all that I really ever do and have done even when I cannot put one letter on a page?

Sunday, July 18, 2010


It's your birthday again Ben and this year you are seven and you are still the most amazing little boy in the world. You continue to surprise me with your imagination - you make up games, build all manner of lego spaceships, and tell me stories about super heroes and monsters and bad guys who go to jail. You hum the Indiana Jones theme constantly. You walk up to strangers with your hand out ready to shake and say, "Hi, my name is Benny".
You are growing up, and we want you to grow up, and we are doing our best not to baby you, but it's hard. Grade 1 was hard too, there was so much to learn, and you struggled to adapt to the changes, and the homework, and having to sit and concentrate for so long. You got frustrated, sometimes I got frustrated, but you made it through and I am so proud of you. You continue to make friends where ever you go and charm people with your smile and your open nature. You are always in motion, running, swimming, biking, dancing, singing, and jumping up and down.
The way that you play with your sister puts a smile on my face. You are everything a big brother should be, you look out for her, make her laugh, give her hugs and kisses, play along with all her suggestions and hardly ever complain when she takes your stuff or wrecks your latest lego. When something breaks, you say, "that's ok, we can fix it", something that we should all try to remember everyday.
It is that gracious heart that makes you special, makes you stand out, and I am so glad that you are mine, that I made such a lovely little boy. A little boy who is not too old yet to crawl into bed in the morning for a cuddle, or too old to give me big hugs and kisses at night.
You are my favorite boy in the entire universe, I love you to the moon (the sun, the next galaxy) and back.
All my love,

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Death by princess

I'm in the kitchen, my daughter comes in.

Naomi: "Mom! An ant!" (We still have a bad ant problem in my house).
Me: "Oh yeah."
N: Maybe I'll pet it."
M: Um, ok.
N: "Or maybe I'll kill it."
Naomi leaves the kitchen and returns with a small princess figurine. She crouches down on the floor and proceeds to pound the ant to shreds with the princess.
N: "I killed it! It's dead! Benny, come look at the ant, I killed it!"

Never a prouder moment.......

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Amsterdam to Montreal

Lazy Sunday morning and I should be doing a million other things, my house is tonrnadoed, my stuff needs organizing, breakfast. But the kids are watching a movie and I should catch everyone up. I've been doing a lot of writing, but not of the blog variety, there's a lot of stuff flying around my brain right now.

I arrived in Amsterdam and got to Jane's place early afternoon. Within a few hours, I'd already managed to be drunk, have a nice meal at a cafe, and learn how to ride on the back of a bike. It helps to have an experienced person telling you what to do. They start peddling, then you hop on to the back rack sideways and scootch around until you get your balance, and cross your ankles! That's important. Then, you hop off at intersections and hills and repeat to get back on. I didn't knock Jane off, and she told me when to hop off so I looked reasonably coordinated. I rented a bike, it was not Walter, but it was an ok bike and it served me well for a couple of days. Amsterdam is this amazing unwinding place for me. I know that it's a party town, but if you stay out of the grotty downtown area, it can be very serene and chill.

The first evening I passed out early, and the Saturday was spent running some errands, groceries, a nice lunch in a hip area of town, and a trip to the Noodermarkt where I picked up cheese and perused the antiques and flea market treasures.

I also had a scrumptious nap on her sofa. Jane made a nice dinner and we got through a couple bottles of wine. Sunday she made pancakes and I went to return my bike. I didn't realise that it was raining quite so hard and I should have borrowed an umbrella for the walk back through Vodelpark. I got back to Jane's drenched to the bone and without much extra time to dry off. I changed my jeans, put my wet clothes in a plastic bag and Jane walked me to the bus stop with a brellie. It's always nice to drop in on her for a couple of days and catch up. I got to the airport, picked checked in, picked up stroopwaffels and a few requests from duty-free, and had a decent flight home. When I arrived it was hot and sunny and I came home, picked up my car, grabbed stuff for the kids and went over to see them. Naomi ran halfway down the stairs and jumped into my arms. I'm not sure that I want to be gone for that long again without the kids, at least not when it's not completely necessary.

I love travelling, I love experiencing new things and meeting people and eating new food and just 'being' elsewhere. I get excited and engaged and my brain lights up when I walk around a new city and I see how much is different and how much is the same. It's a connection that's so important to me. So I'm caught between my desire to be elsewhere and my need to be with my kids. It was very obvious that the kids were effected by my long absence this time around. I was too. Naomi seemed so much bigger when I saw her. The best part of this week has been waking up and cuddling with the kids first thing in the morning. Ben has told me many times how happy he is that I am back from Sweden, which melts my heart every time I hear it.
The jetlag is finally fading. It was pretty bad, for the first couple of days I had dizzy spells and my brain was fuzzy. It's taking a while to get back into the right mindset, and frankly I'm feeling a bit ambivalent. I've been reminded again of what I want, what I really want to make me happy. Now that I'm home I feel restless and too overwhelmed and tired to get anything done.
I need to have a good long look and let go of some things that are weighing me down and start making other things more of a priority. I'm not getting to a point where I feel empty all the time ever again.

Friday, May 28, 2010

You blink and a week goes by

This week was a tornado. I worked and spent some time trying to enjoy my last bit of time in Stockholm and see my friends.
I've left things as good as they are going to get under the circumstances, so I'm not unhappy. I got everything back into my suitcase, changed hotels twice, had the worst pedicure in history, and laughed a lot through most of it.
I miss my kids so much, I'm looking forward to my two days visiting in Amsterdam and then heading home to see them. It has been too long.
I'll miss Stockholm too, and running along the lake every morning, in the quiet.
See ya next time Stockholm! Hej da!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

What a week

It's Saturday morning and I woke up at 5, sigh...
It's been a nutty week, full of work problems and personal crap. At the end of the day, there was a big problem to deal with, but I think it will be resolved one way or the other by Monday. Last night I was a few metro stops from the hotel when I started to feel sick. By the time I got to the hotel, all I could think about was lying down in bed, which I did. Then, I ran to the bathroom and emptied the entire contents of my stomach. I have no idea what happened, fatigue, tummy bug, heat, but once everything was out I felt better and I stayed in for the rest of the evening and slept and watched tv. I'm not sure how I will handle food today, I had a couple crackers last night and that was fine. I decided to forgo the morning run just in case, I need a rest day anyway. I starting to recognize a few people running in the morning, only one of them smiles though. It's so peaceful to run along the water so early in the morning. I often see little brown bunnies, and lots of ducks and swans.
I have work to do this weekend, and I'm supposed to help Jess and Geert move today, their friends bailed on them and they don't know a lot of people yet. I'm happy to help as long as I'm not puking.
Steve is ignoring that I am not happy and treating me like there's nothing wrong. I want to hear about the kids and get videos because I miss them. There's nothing I can do at this point, the damage has been done. I'll have to resolve this when I get back home.
Until then, work, running, and more beautiful Stockholm....

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Running twice a day

I'm not quite sure how to describe what happened today. I haven't been able to talk to my kids every night since I left for a variety of reasons. Lately, I've been too tired to stay awake until midnight or later to talk to them, and Steve has mentioned that Naomi has been acting up. The kids miss me. I feel terrible.
So today I brought the web cam to work and snuck a meeting room so I could talk to them in the morning. I was talking to the kids, they could hear me but I couldn't hear them for some reason, when I saw Steve's girlfriend walk out from the kitchen and back again in a nightie.
We had agreed a while back that when we were ready to introduce the kids to someone that we would tell the other. Steve told me, actually I had to ask, the day he introduced her to the kids, less than a month ago. I met her a few days later at the park for a few minutes, then I left on this long trip, Steve has moved house, and now she's sleeping over with the kids in the house. I also found out from the kids that they have met her children, Steve apologized for not telling me about meeting the kids (this was last week that I found out about it)and said it wouldn't happen again, and then a week later, this....he isn't taking this seriously.
Of course, if I had done this to him, it would have been the worst thing ever, but because it's him getting on with his life it's ok. So I have to smile and pretend that every thing is ok in front of the kids so I don't let on that their father can't be bothered to respect their mom.
I have no idea what I should do. When do you choose standing up for yourself over your kids, and why would anyone force you to do it?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Return to Stockholm!

The rest of the week got away from me. I'm back in Sweden and about to start work again tomorrow. The rest of my trip in Finland was full of family and more meet ups and food and trying to piece together the mysteries of the family history. I have returned fat and overwhelmed and happy and full of so much love.
This morning I had my first run in over a week along the seawall and it felt so good even though I was still hacking stuff up. I hope I can get up early enough to go again tomorrow.
I miss my kids, this trip feels too long. I know I don't have to worry but they miss me more this time too and it's making me so sad.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

More to love

Yesterday was a busy and an emotional day. We started with some sightseeing late in the afternoon. We went to the Russian Cathedral, the national library, the Helsinki Cathedral, the railway station, a bit of shopping, then the rock church.

After we met up with Rita and one of her daughters and we went to a old restaurant with traditional food. We were joined by many other relatives - twelve or thirteen in total- for a meal and good wine. I had asparagus and smoked salmon and new potatoes.

There was lively talk around the table as I met my second cousins and their children, some in school, some in business, all animated and interesting and funny. We compared ourselves, looking for similarities. One of the women looks a lot like a picture we have of my grandmother when she was 15 or 16. After the meal we all walked to my grandmother youngest half-sister's apartment in Helsinki. She is 83, very lively and warm. She reminded me almost instantly of my grandmother, especially the eyes.

She played the piano for us - she plays by ear. Old songs, war songs, popular songs, at one point we were all singing along to Elvis. I was overwhelmed emotionally, to be sitting there with so many wonderful, talented women, all related to me, all coming together to see me. I've never felt so special and so undeserving of such an honour, it was truly remarkable and humbling.

I cried several times during the evening, and laughed, and sang, and shared stories about my grandmother. On the way home I tried to explain to Richard in a text what the evening had been to me and I couldn't come close in words. It was just so much to take in, unreal and overwhelming and marvelous. I slept soundly and woke up this morning to sunshine on the water and birds singing - the first sunny day I've had in Finland.
Today, my grandmother's other half-sister, Meri, came for a visit with her husband, Esko. Joining us for lunch were two more of my mother's cousins, Vaikho and Torsti. We had a good lunch and tried to unravel some of the mysteries of my grandmother's family. There are so many stories that it's hard to tell what is true. Maybe some day we will be closer to figuring out all the real history.

Monday, May 10, 2010

It's Monday, this must be Finland

I spent the week working in the office and then we found out that there was going to be a delay in the project. I was planning on taking some time to visit family in Finland near the end of my stay, but because of the hold up, I contacted my relatives and they were more than happy to receive me a little early, so I booked a flight and off I went!

Like Sweden, it is unusually cold here for this time of year. I packed for a normal Swedish May and was surprised to discover that I should have packed more sweaters and fewer sandals....whoops! Jess loaned me a sweater and I bought a pair of pants, so I'm not so bad off now.
So yes, I arrived in Finland on a cold, grey day and found Mariella, my mom's cousin, waiting for me in a gorgeous red coat, a nice contrast with the weather.

We hugged and then ran to her car and drove to the cemetery to plant some roses on my great-grandfather's grave. Mariella's mom is also buried there. It was mother's day, I missed talking to my kids which was upsetting, but I did get a video.
After the cemetery, we went back to Mariella's home in Espoo and had some tea and talked and she brought out pictures and before you know it it was dinner time so we had a nice meal and then I had a shower and a sauna in hopes of clearing out the cold I've been fighting off. I felt much better by the time I returned upstairs, and we watched the very end of Der Rosencavalier being broadcast on tv. Mariella's a big opera fan which I was very excited to hear. The next time I visit we will try to go to the opera together :-)

So I am perfectly at home and this morning I have been lolling around and had another sauna and had some coffee and tried to walk the dog but he wasn't keen to go out or he doesn't understand because he only speaks Finnish. Later we will go out and see a bit of Helsinki and then go to another cousin's house for a meal and meet more family. How wonderful to realise that you have more people to love in this world.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Here I am again

Flight was full of turbulence and crying babies, getting here was a bit blurry, but right now I'm staying at a swishy hotel for a couple of days right downtown and had a great bath and a nap and dinner and a walk around town. now it's time for bed so I can get up super early to get to the office and get on with it. Woop!

Here I go again