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: