glad I came: a poem

Belly laughs until the tears are falling

Splashing in rolling frothy waves

Board games in the waning light

Floating in tubes along the glistening sunset waters

Lunch in the shade of elms and oaks, talking

Movies in pyjamas

Sharing space companionably

Dares and stories and memories…

Sleepovers are not only for children,

And vacations are not couples-only.

When two friends meet for days of R&R

Even Nature smiles.

 

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Bermuda Crybaby

Okay, fair warning: I’m pooped, so this story has been started but it doesn’t seem to want to finish itself tonight. I’m not entirely certain where it wants to go, just yet — I’m thinking scary, but it could also be a gentle sort of romance. I see both possibilities happening here. And it was meant to be much shorter than it’s turning into. Anyway, read it if you like and tell me: do you think it should become scary and ominous, or be more about self-discovery and love? I can do either!

———————————————–

Lindsay wasn’t really scared of the dark, nor had she been since she was a little kid. And she wasn’t afraid of the water. But she didn’t like the idea of seaweed touching her legs deep under the surface, where she couldn’t see the stuff wiggling and waving around in the currents, and her stomach turned over at the thought of a fish ever bumping into her leg.

Shudder.

Still, she hadn’t expected to be so afraid of snorkelling around a wrecked ship not twenty feet from the pink beach of the resort in Bermuda where she and her friends were staying. Not when the sun was roasting her shoulders and the waves were lapping coolly around her ankles, the turquoise waters sparkling into the distance while children laughed just down the way and rock music was playing from someone’s boombox. This was her vacation. She was supposed to be trying new things on this adventure, not standing frozen, half-in and half-out of the Atlantic ocean like some sort of washed-up Greek statue. And not when the equipment in her hands was costing her $20 an hour for the rental. She’d worked hard at her part-time Mcjob to fund this trip, and she hadn’t even needed to bring her English homework along — she’d prepared for a good time by wrapping up all her loose ends at school days before the plane had taken off.

She’d vowed, once she turned eighteen, to stop being so nervous about new experiences and to take more chances. Lindsay had never broken a bone in her life, or sprained an ankle, or even gotten a gash deeper than a scrape, because she was cautious to the point of paranoia, or so her girlfriend Eva told her. Eva — now, there was someone to envy. Eva had jumped (literally, her feet actually leaving the ground when the announcement was made) at the opportunity to go parasailing, taken a scuba-diving class to check out a nearby reef, and climbed to the top mast of a sailboat. Lindsay was familiar, too, with the pictures and videos of Eva bungee-jumping and zip-lining, horseback riding and skiing downhill at breakneck speeds. Eva was so much the opposite of herself . . . sometimes Lindsay wondered what the woman saw in her.

It was just a sunken boat, for crying out loud. The resort people had put it there, on purpose, for tourists like herself to paddle around and peer at. She could see it from where she was standing, a long white, black, and red shape seemingly just beneath the waves. Other guests she’d spoken to while renting the flippers, mask, and snorkel had gushed about the colourful sea life they’d observed in and around the wreck, an experience that was not to be missed.

So what’s wrong with me? It’s a perfect day — just get in the freaking water!

But Lindsay couldn’t make her legs push forward, no matter how she berated herself. She stood there until her feet were buried in the drifting pale sand, letting the soft sea breeze caress the burning skin on her upper back and neck and enjoying the way it teased her hair. Seagulls cried overhead. If one of them pooped on her, she’d have to dive in to wash it off, or else go back to her room to take a shower.

Finally, she turned around and trudged back onto the hot sand to return the gear, dry and unused (by her anyway), because her time was nearly up and she really wanted something to drink. The brackish odours of brine and kelp and God knew what else were making her mouth and throat feel dry and scratchy. Glumly making her way back across the beach, she smiled in relief at the sight of Eva loping toward her.

“Lindsay! You’ve got to come and see this!” The tall brunette was shouting as she approached, uncaring of who might be watching. “They’ve got a grotto!”

Bemused, Lindsay shaded her eyes. “One of those underwater cave thingies?”

“Yeah! Well, sort of,” Eva told her, skidding to a halt. She leaned over to rest her hands on her knees, grinning breathlessly. “It’s a cave and it’s got a pool, and it’s absolutely gorgeous. Come take a look!”

Lindsay let her girlfriend take her by the hand and lead her down the length of the beach, toward a cliff at the opposite end. She suppressed an urge to climb up the wooden stairs leading back to the resort’s main building and her safe, air-conditioned room, following Eva instead along a crushed-shell path around a prettily-landscaped abutment.

On the other side was a small dock within a charming lagoon. A few rowboats tied neatly on either side of the dock bobbed gently in the swells. To the left, the path ended at another set of stairs rising toward a dark hole in the cliff, beside which was a neatly letter sign reading, “Grotto”.

“See?” Eva chortled, clapping her hands. “Isn’t it awesome? You have to see inside, it gets even better.”

The gaping blackness raised goosebumps on Lindsay’s arms and scalp, but Eva was already dragging her forward and up the steps. A rush of cold air made her shiver, and she started to protest, too late; in another moment, she was inside the darkness of the cave, smelling wet earth and salt water.

Oh, my God, there’s going to be a cave-in and we’re going to be trapped . . .

“Just let your eyes adjust,” Eva told her quietly. Lindsay felt Eva’s arms wrapping around her and relaxed a little. “See, Lin? There are lights on the walls, and just under the waterline.”

It was true. As her vision changed, Lindsay saw two perforated lines of muted yellow orbs, one at just over head-level — well, for Eva anyway — and the second distorted by the waters lapping around it. The pool itself was an inky black, but the striations of the rock glistened around each lamp’s glow.

“Have you been in the water?” Lindsay murmured. She moved forward, shuffling her feet cautiously, and discovered a railing placed conveniently to prevent guests from falling over the ledge of rock.

“Yeah, and it’s beautiful. You’d think it would be cold, but it’s comfortable.”

“Are there any fish?” She knelt to touch the stone, expecting to feel disgusting slime under her fingers. “There wouldn’t be any seaweed in here, would there?”

“No, you goose,” Eva laughed. “I promise you, there’s nothing else like swimming in a grotto. You’ve already got your swimsuit on, let’s go in!”

Coping with Snowbird Parents

The folks are off again, on another adventure down in sunny Florida. It’s not the first time they’ve gone walk-about — or, rather, drive-about — but for some reason it seems to get a little more stressful every time. For starters, my mother will call right before they go with a message of love and the location of their vital information, just in case. And occasionally, they’ve gone away while I’ve been in the throes of pregnancy hormones. But I’ve decided, I need to compile a list of things to do when the retirees are gone to play on holiday.

1) Itinerary — it’s lovely for the ‘rents to provide a detailed list of places and dates. Not only is it helpful for explaining to their grandchildren why Poppa and Gramma can’t call them over a lost tooth, it’s a bit of a comfort for the adult child, too. I like knowing where my mom and dad are, and what route they’re taking, especially when there’s bad weather on the news.

2) Wine. Or tea. Your comfort beverage of choice. Coupled with chocolate and deep breaths. They’re adults, they’ve looked after themselves for this long. Just because there seem to be more stories in the news of people going missing on cruises, faces being eaten off in the Panhandle, horrible traffic accidents in unseasonably snowy conditions . . . *gulps comforting beverage*

3) Engage them on social media. My mom is on the cusp of becoming comfortable with Facebook, and Dad uses it occasionally. I like being able to keep in touch with them via updates and photographs. It goes back to wanting to know they’re on track and everything is fine. Did I mention, they’re grown adults who can look after themselves?

4) Distractions in the form of favourite movies, books, little day trips, whatever takes the image of the parents travelling far from their safety zone and dumps it into a little holding tank. For me, it’s alternating between Doctor Who, How I Met Your MotherCastleLost Girl, and most recently, Sherlock (BBC). 

For all of you whose dear pre-spring (get it? ‘Cause I’m their off-spring? Or should it be on-spring? Progenitors?) are on a travel binge, I’m there with you. 

I’m not Super-Mom.

LogoColorNoTextTwo days left. Well, a day and a half, really. Time to take stock of my to-do list for March Break (https://torilridgewood.wordpress.com/2013/03/08/will-she-or-wont-she-darn-those-march-break-resolutions/):

1) Laundry isn’t put away yet, though it’s all clean. I made a bit of a dent, did a little ironing, but I’m actually a bit concerned that the pile will fall on me if I start taking things from it to fold…nothing worse than clean clothes and sheets hitting the floor. Particularly as the floor is covered in dog hair. (The clean laundry sits on our dog’s cage, conveniently located next to the washer and dryer.)

2) My daughter’s room is still a complete and utter mess. I’ve asked for my hubby to tackle it this weekend.

3) I have been given a reprieve on picking up dog poop in the yard by virtue of the fact that it’s been snowing almost every day this week. I think we’ve had five hours of sunshine, total.

4) Haven’t gotten to the floors, windows, or curtains. But they have been swept and picked up, so that’s something.

5) Haven’t gotten to the bathroom, either. :-/

6) I got the typo-checking done! That felt good, accomplishing those edits.

7) I managed to read one novel — the one I was helping with typos.

8) I’m up to Chapter 6 on my edits for Wind and Shadow. Getting there, little by little… But I got a first look at cover designs! That’s exciting! I shall do a cover reveal post soon!

9) Haven’t gotten to my candle-making yet, though I keep looking wistfully at the box… I kind of want to do it when my children are out of the house or in bed. Maybe later tonight…

10) Course outlines haven’t been looked at.

11) Marking hasn’t made it out of the bag yet.

12) A few walks have been had, but between the freezing rain earlier this week, lots of snowfall, and not feeling well off and on, we haven’t gotten out of the house as often as I’d hoped.

13) I ended up going back to brunette. The hairdresser gave me a dark brown that is fairly close to my natural colour. It’s taking me a little time to get used to it, though. I really miss my blonde look with the purple/pink streak. My children are happier, but I’m not. Plus, I’m not thrilled with the cut. Oh, well, it will grow and I will fix it.

14) Tea tree oil for my dry scalp — yeah, gotta get to that…

15) 1 km a day — what was I thinking? It doesn’t help that the event I wanted to join isn’t going to happen. The Run For Your Lives zombie obstacle course race isn’t coming to Canada this year. Sadness…

16) Reducing wheat consumption — yes, I’ve been doing that. And I’m noticing improvement, though I’m still not feeling great due to some other things. I gave in yesterday, though, after an uncomfortable doctor’s appointment, and ate three muffins and two pastries over the course of the afternoon. But I’ve stopped eating peanut butter and jam on toast every morning, improved my in-take of raw veggies and protein, and cleaned out my fridge. All positive!

17) I completed my blog post for the March Madness Giveaway — my contribution is a fab Swag Bag for March 25 on Unwritten (http://mystiparker.blogspot.ca), promoting my latest publishing: “Tabitha’s Solution” in Having My Baby (Melange Books, 2012). The only thing I’m waiting for is the swag stuff to actually arrive, and then I will take pics and post them for the giveaway, too. Something to look forward to!

18) Bad road conditions, appointments, other things coming up, including hubby’s busy work hours — we didn’t go to laser tag or to a movie. Sadness…

19) Car is still sitting in the driveway. Hubby’s made arrangements to drop it off on Monday.

20) The driveway’s been okay, with the wind helping to keep it clear. But we need to pick up some ice-melter stuff. According to the local forecast, we’re not going to see a significant change in the weather until like, mid-April.

21) Nails aren’t done. But I ground up egg shells and fed my plants, cleaned up my mini rose bush…and tried to save some of my baby flowers from dying slowly because it’s just not the right time yet. Or I’m just really bad at plants.

22) Haven’t called a shelter yet about a companion dog. But I did clear my voicemail…

23) Arts and crafts — did do a little. Taught myself and my daughter how to do French Knitting from a kit she got for Christmas!

24) Short stories — jotted down some ideas.

25) Boardgames — nope.

26) Playing in the snow — nope.

So, I’m not Super-Mom. I didn’t make it through all of my list, although I did manage to keep up with the dishes (for the most part), clean our clothes, feed the children, and read to my daughter. I helped a friend, got some rest, took care of myself. I still feel badly that I didn’t get through more of the things I wanted to do, even though I was reminded that I need give myself permission to relax. I have a hard time with that. I feel incredibly guilty about wanting to relax — like there’s always something I should be doing.

I know that a lot of people worked their regular jobs this week. My husband was one of them — and he was doing two paid jobs. I focused on my unpaid labour: parenting and housework. Those tasks took priority over everything else. As much as I would have loved to have traveled, at least I had some nice days with my children, spending time together.

I have a day and a half left to get my marking done. Finish my course outlines. Edit my book. Help my son with his homework. Sort and put the laundry away (or encourage the kids to do their own). They did help with some of the cleaning, too — sweeping, putting away, dishes…

But I wish I had more time. I feel like I’ve just started on all the things I want to complete, but when I go back to work on Monday, home things will lose their priority status, and that’s not right. I wish sometimes I could put my home tasks first, or at least, more often.

Post-Script:
Good things I did achieve during my March Break: Started working on my passport application, wrote three poems, had excellent conversations with good friends… And took care of me.

Will she or won’t she? Darn those March Break Resolutions!

Every year, it’s the same. I start my spring break filled with goals and aspirations for accomplishing a multitude of tasks, some of which need doing (e.g., spring cleaning) and some of which I just really want to do (e.g., read a good book). However…I am a consummate procrastinator. Without fail, my good intentions burn away as quickly as I make them. How many of us are lulled into complacency by the prospect of a whole week before the routine returns?

I am determined, though, to make it happen, Cap’n. This time, procrastination will not win out. I will be victorious over my nemesis, with your support. Here, dear readers / fellow bloggers / friends, is my to-do list for the next seven days:

In no particular order:
1) Put away the clean laundry so I don’t have to fish through the pile every day for socks. (Sometimes, I call it Laundry Diving.)
2) Help my daughter to clean and organize her room so we can find that Dora the Explorer library book she lost two months ago.
3) Pick up the first layer of dog poop being revealed by the spring melt.

Hubby has once again promised to help with cleaning up her winter poop this spring! Erm -- all of it this time, right, honey?

Hubby has once again promised to help with cleaning up her winter poop this spring! Erm — all of it this time, right, honey?


4) Wash the floors, curtains, and windows. May not be able to open them yet, but by gosh, they will be clean!
5) Clean the bathroom. Thoroughly. Like, on the verge of gutting it.
6) Check my friend’s novel for typos.
7) Read three books.
8) Edit and revise my own novel, because Wind and Shadow: Book One of the Talbot Trilogy is coming out this April! (Yeah, had to put a little plug in there!)
9) Make some candles out of the sheets of beeswax I ordered two months ago and have not looked at since.
10) Finish my course outlines for school.
11) Do the marking I brought home from school. (Maybe I should do this first, so it doesn’t get left until the night before we go back to class? o.O)
12) Go for a walk with the dog and children every day. A nice long jaunt. Preferably ending with a nice snack that is non-fattening but will likely be donuts.
Our wonderful family dog -- she is an enormous suck, loves garbage parties, sticks food in the corners of the couch, and is fat and happy.

Our wonderful family dog — she is an enormous suck, loves garbage parties, sticks food in the corners of the couch, and is fat and happy.


13) Decide whether to keep the blonde and purple (which has, btw, faded to a lovely pink) or go back to brunette, and head to the hairdresser for some pampering and a trim. Scalp’s been suffering a bit from my experiment with colour.
14) Pick up some tea tree oil and dose scalp a few times.
15) Attempt to run/walk 1 km every day. Or every other day. Maybe I could combine that with going on jaunts with the kiddies?
16) Reduce how much bread I eat — I am learning that I feel better when I don’t eat bread during the day. Something about that Wheat Belly thing I’ve been hearing about from friends.
17) Write my blog post for the March Madness Giveaway I’m doing March 25 on Mysti Parker’s blog Unwritten (SWAG! SWAG!! FREE BOOK AND SWAG!!! Another shameless plug, evil that I am…)
Visit for a Giveaway!

Visit for a Giveaway!


18) Take the children to a movie and/or a round of laser tag in Timmins.
19) Get the car fixed.
20) In the event that we get another 13 cm of snow, clear the driveway that we just had ploughed.
21) Paint my nails. Maybe have my daughter do them, like last time! And do something about my cuticles so I stop picking at them. Pedicure by 7-yr-old!
22) Call a local animal shelter about any small/tiny dogs up for adoption.
23) Write some short stories for coming anthologies.
24) Write some poetry for coming contests.
25) Finish (?) reading The Secret Garden with my daughter.
26) Do arts and crafts projects (at least 1?) with the kids (they got some great kits for Christmas/Yule!)
27) Play boardgames with the kids (especially the new ones they got for Christmas that they haven’t…even…opened… :/)
28) Enjoy what might be the last week of snow by sliding, building a snowman…Horribly enjoyable watching said snowman melting away…

Wow. I think that’s it! It’s a doable list, I think, if I can stay on top of it. So far, I’ve managed to keep up some of my New Year’s resolutions: I’ve made a loan through Kiva in January, February, and done it for this month (my plan is to help someone somewhere through Kiva with a $25 loan, once a month for the whole year — 3/12 loans complete!); I’ve been exercising / working out fairly regularly (well, until my gym shut down, that is. Back to the drawing board on that one…if I can get my house cleaned up, I can use the living room to lift my little weights for toning. Not sure I want to join the other gym in town, as it’s so crowded. My, this is a long parenthetical comment!)

So, for those of you who are staying home or continuing to work through Spring Break (whether it’s this week coming up, or a different time altogether), what do you hope to accomplish and what are the chances of actually getting your to-do list done? Do you think I’ll get mine done? I’m already stressing about it, to be perfectly honest… Last year, I virtually slept through the whole week, but I was anemic and depressed. This year, I am healthy and strong like bull! But am I setting myself up for failure with my mondo-list of things to do while I’m supposed to be resting and recharging for the rest of the semester?

I’ve made myself accountable, now, by posting this for all to see, commiserate, possibly mock… I will update as the week goes on. I must remember, in order to be successful at these things, to breathe. Take each thing one at a time, a step at a time. Maybe work in chunks of time — an hour at this, twenty minutes at that. Assign jobs to the children (HAH! Well, the twelve-year-old will probably want to help, but the seven-year-old can make a bigger mess while cleaning than the original clutter…but I must cultivate patience and remember to breathe.), and the spouse.

One thing at a time.