Category: Family Life

Autumn is here and so am I

Fish Creek Park: September 19th

October, baptize me with leaves! Swaddle me in corduroy and nurse me with split pea soup. October, tuck tiny candy bars in my pockets and carve my smile into a thousand pumpkins. O autumn! O teakettle! O grace!

Rainbow Rowell from the novel Attachments

Autumn is – by far – my favourite season. I love the cooler temperatures, the fresher air, the changing colours. Even though I haven’t been to school in years I still want my planners to start in September. I still buy myself new pens and other school-like supplies. September always seems like the start of all things good and the end of October feels like the real time to celebrate the new year.

Autumn is short where I live. I often joke that it starts in the middle of August here in Alberta but it’s a joke based in reality. The days can still be really hot but the air coming over the mountains is changing enough that the nights are getting cooler and the grass and leaves also start to get that first hint of yellow. People can complain all they want (and they do, is there anything people like to complain about more than the weather?) but I’ve found the only sane way to live in this world is to accept the seasons as they are for where you live. Just because the calendar says that a season changes on a certain date doesn’t mean anything. I mean, by December 21st we have usually had a month and a half of cold and snow so thinking that winter “starts” on that date is absurd.

This year we are having a long and glorious autumn. It may seem weird to you but it is really something that we haven’t had one snow storm yet – they don’t last but usually by this time the jokes about Snowtember or Snowtober have been made. Facebook memories recently showed me photos of the girls playing in the snow around this time last year.

Fish Creek Park: September 26th.

Autumn in the time of Covid is a new experience. I think we are trying to hold on to it tighter than ever this year for fear of when the cold weather pushes us all indoors. It is still easy to get out and go for long walks and we have been traveling to the other edge of the city to take walks in Fish Creek Park. This is something I look forward to all week long. We walk, we look for deer, we spend time watching bees have afternoon naps in the warm autumn sun, we hang out near the river and stay off the main paths with the crazy cyclists who seem determined to run people down. The girls put their feet in the river and let the minnows nibble on their toes.

Fish Creek Park: October 3rd.

Fish Creek is a massive park that is still in the city so it feels like getting out of the city without actually having to drive for a couple hours. This time last year the only time I could go to a park is if someone would push me in my wheelchair. These days I can do a good 2 to 3 km walk (with stops to sit and enjoy just being outside). My feet hurt at the end of it and I’m often paying for it the next day (this is a symptom of my current chemotherapy) but it is a small price that I am very willing to pay. These days I want to experience as many parks as I can. We encourage the girls to spend as much time outside as possible with their friends because once the cold hits we will be inside and isolated again (unless we toughen ourselves up some more).

Canmore Park.

To be honest I barely remember autumn last year. I was so sick (had started IV chemo in August and it failed but I still had to endure many weeks of it and lost my hair again) and in a lot of pain. I’ve discovered something over the course of this past year though – another year of chemotherapy and multiple surgeries. Of many rounds of radiation and playing around with pain medications and going from being handicap to being active again knowing that this is all temporary. I’ve learned that I really need to take these good moments and celebrate them when I can. Really celebrate them.

I’ve learned that even though my disease is by definition “terminal” – until my oncologist tells me I am out of options and to go home and get my affairs in order then I am not dying. I’m still here. I’m the same woman I’ve always been – even if not every one can see that. I’m still here – which is exactly where I want to be.

On a walk last weekend with my friend Lisa at River Park.

Leave a comment and let me know what your favourite part of autumn is? It’s Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend and we are hoping to be able to do an outdoors version with our family where everyone brings their own food and then a small at-home celebration for the five of us. I feel like two celebrations makes good sense because we have a lot to be thankful for this year.

Is there anything more exciting than meeting some deer in the woods?

Sometimes good things end and you are both happy and sad.

Something rather amazing happened this week. Well, both sad and amazing. I think I mentioned many posts (and months) back that I wrote an article for THIS Magazine called: Leaving A Literary Legacy about reading to my daughters. I have talked about this many times on numerous platforms since my diagnosis – that the thought of not being around to share certain things with my daughters leaves me feeling anxious and panicky. I remember when I was first diagnosed thinking: “But now I’m never going to get to read all of the Harry Potter books to my girls.” And while that may seem weird to some people (uh, what about how you won’t be able to stick around for THE REST OF THEIR LIVES??) it became kind of the pinnacle thing I wanted to do with them. I mean, sure, there are a million things I want to do with them and I’m still here so I’m always adding to the list which grows and changes as they grow and change – but the one thing that never changed was wanting to share these books with them. Also, physically, it was an easier thing to do than, say, anything that involved being physically healthy.

On Wednesday night I read the final chapter in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows to my youngest daughter – thus closing the chapter on one of the major post-diagnosis goals I had set for myself.

I know so much has been going on with the author of these books lately and I’ve read them enough times to see the flaws in them, but I’m not here to talk about that. The Harry Potter series got me through a really rough depression in my 20s. It gave me a hopeful narrative to get lost in. It gave me something to look forward to waiting for a new book to be released. I can’t count how many times I have read this series – both to myself and aloud to my girls. And the other night when finished reading the final book to my youngest daughter it felt like a major milestone was achieved.

I’m still here! I did it!

And then I thought: So what’s next?

I know it’s weird that my goals aren’t things like: be here for their high school graduation or their wedding. But I’m trying to be realistic. This past year was so hard physically and emotionally that being able to complete this small goal feels massive. I hope, years from now, that the girls will look back and realize has amazingly special it was to share this together. And how awesome their mom is at reading aloud. I mean, seriously, I even do (very subtle) voices. Someone should hire me to narrate audio books. All those years of going to Fine Arts schools and studying theatre was obviously good for something.

So now what?

100 Day Project – Days 52 & 53

The sun is shining, the rest of the garden is in, I’ve been out walking with my cane but leaving it behind as I walk around the house. Spring feels like it is here to stay in Calgary and hopefully I will continue to have less pain and be able to be more active. My favourite yoga place is having a 30 Days of yoga (at home) right now and I wish so badly that I could join in. It is so weird and frustrating to not be physically active when you have labelled yourself a relatively physically active person. I mean, I was never super ripped or anything but I’ve always tried to incorporate physical activity into my day-to-day life and now I know walking around the block is a victory but my mind hasn’t made the change yet. I suspect it never will. I used to do squats while brushing my teeth and push ups every day. Not to impress anyone but because I have small bones and small muscles and not terribly strong already and felt I needed to keep active to keep what little strength I did possess.

Being able to put the garden in myself helps though. Being able to nurture my plants and move the pots around to follow the sun feels like something. It feels like a real accomplishment. And this week I was determined to learn how to use my overlocker and after a few frustrating failures I have finally got it working. Now I just need to make something. I have some old jersey I bought centuries ago (for babies) that is really quite thin (which I didn’t know when I ordered it but made me not want to use it for babies) but it would make a cute t-shirt for Oonagh who probably won’t mind a see-thru shirt. I would love to make Moira a really nice skirt but she is so cold all the time that even though the rest of us are in dresses or shorts she is still covered head to toe and wearing her fleece or a sweater daily. It’s also the age. I was pretty dedicated to wearing my brother’s clothing when I was her age and my brother and I aren’t anywhere near the same size. (Especially not then as we are almost 7 years apart).

What else have we been up to… Well, Mister & I finished our Humphrey Bogart box set although Treasure of the Sierra Madre wasn’t actually on it (in its place was a documentary about John Huston) and African Queen wasn’t even listed. We have got our hands on those movies and will probably watch them this weekend. Sabrina also isn’t in the box set but we already have a copy of it. Every afternoon the whole family has sat down to watch Digging for the Truth which is a History Channel docu-series from about 15 years ago. It leads to a lot of good family discussions.

I also really need to get back to that sock.

100 Day Project – Days 31 & 32

This week has been hard. In addition to side effects from the chemo medication making me really tired and not being able to eat much, one of my children developed a health issue that has resulted in a lot of work for me physically. (Laundry, laundry, and more laundry.) Plus it feels like this has been a highly emotional week for everyone. School work has taken longer, music practices have fallen by the wayside, and the weather wasn’t as nice as last week so I didn’t even get to spend as much time as I would like outside.

One wonderful thing I have been doing though is dedicating time to become a better sock knitter. If you’ve been reading through recent blog entries you know I was working on a ridiculous colour work sock. I’ve finished the pattern part of that sock but I’m still not sure if I feel the need to finish the actual sock except for fun – and it doesn’t feel like fun right now. What I want to do is get good at knitting socks for my family. My girls all like ankle socks and for the past couple years they have been getting socks from the Sketchers store and they barely last a season and it drives me nuts! Moira wears through her toes almost immediately and Fionnuala wears through the underside of her socks. It is such a waste to be buying those crap polyester socks that don’t even keep their feet warm and stink after a couple wears. Wool, even thin wool, is much warmer and is naturally deodorizing so it doesn’t stink like cheap polyester socks. Today I finished episode two of Earthtone Girl‘s No Fear Sock Knitting class and I’m really enjoying it. I’m looking forward to class three tomorrow – or maybe I’m just looking forward to going to bed right now because I am DONE with this week.

(These current blog posts are part of my #100dayproject and are written quickly and posted without significant editing. They are what they are, mistakes and all. Much like me.)

100 Day Project, Day 27 – Our weekend in photos

Moira watering the newly planted garden bed. We’ve only planted one so far because the rule is don’t plant until the May Long weekend – but we planted the heartiest things (kale, beets, more kale etc) with the hope that they will survive anything. The other garden plot will be for the more sensitive seeds.
Fionnuala returning from a visit (at a safe distance) with her friends. Baby and guitar included.
Tea and treats with mummy on the patio.
Mister made really delicious (rosemary chickpea walnut) burgers Saturday night and I made a this scrumptious salad on Friday so combining them together was a tasty decision. Already have plans to use the burgers as “meat balls” for the spaghetti Fionnuala is planning on making Tuesday night.
Every year I say I am going to do this and every year I don’t – until this year! These are mostly flower seeds right now for the girls’ garden bins and the seeds are really old so who knows if they will work. I also started snow peas in here. I have more to plant this week.
The less control I have over some parts of my life the harder I try to control other aspects. If you see at the bottom it says “Food Dreams” because I’m obsessed with cooking these days and going through our very full pantry and using up old things that have been sitting there is a challenge I am happy to take on. This week I’ve devoted a page a day to my Bullet Journal spread so that I can spread out my thoughts and really dig deep into the things I want to accomplish.

(These current blog posts are part of my #100dayproject and are written quickly and posted without significant editing. They are what they are, mistakes and all. Much like me.)