snapshots of this life

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i think i’ve mentioned this already, but i bike to work every day. generally when i get on my bike i get a little giddy. i love the morning ride at 7am before there is much traffic yet and the sun is low over the water to the east and, further down the road, streaming into the forest sideways. the other morning i came upon a bus shack with an ad for a fast food restaurant on the side. this ad consisted solely of a photo of a burger, the perfect burger, but with a slice of dill pickle ON TOP of the bun. what?! is this a thing? i started giggling because i was imagining that they lined up everything perfectly, but got the timing off and set the top of the bun down with the pickle landing on top, and then they snapped the photo and for whatever reason couldn’t take another, so this is the ad they were stuck with. my laugh then developed into a full-on chortle as my fantasy continued on. and so, of course, it never fails that the only time other cyclists come up behind me is when i am engaged in conversation with myself (no joke, this happens EVERY TIME). this man rides up beside me, all cool and fast, and, avoiding eye contact, says good morning as he passes me by. well, what could i do after that but giggle harder? the laughter turning into more of the snort variety as i try, to no avail, to hold it in.

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somehow, of all the strange things to happen in may, i got some weird sort of flu last sunday night, shortly before leaving the wee island. i was slightly nauseous at band practice and had to sit out the last song, but i was in denial as to anything being wrong, so off i went to the ferry. i was a little queasy and tired, but other than that, all was fine. i lay down on the ferry, then when we got into the harbour on the other side, i roused myself to get all my stuff in order. we were pretty close to docked, the water was absolutely flat, but a wave of nausea hit me and i couldn’t stand up anymore. i left my stuff and went to drape myself over the nearest available low surface. a kind islander wheeled my dolly off the ferry for me, but vertigo was taking hold and i barely made it off the boat without vomiting. i despise vertigo. i can’t imagine anyone actually likes it, but i spent about a year of my life as teenager, living with irregular bouts of it. ever since then i’ve had a sort of fear of it, because when i am dizzy i am completely incapable of taking care of myself. luckily for me, both jennie and a bunch of her nurse friends were on the boat, and my niece was getting on the next ferry. i got as far out of the way as i could and sat down in a patch of shade. the dizziness subsided, but i worried that if i got up again it would come right back. jennies friend gave me an anti-nausea pill, and tian called gordon, who lives near the ferry, to come pick me up until i could get ahold of some friends. i don’t know if the pill worked or it was just a super mild flu, but i made it to gordons fine, and corrie was incredible and able to come pick me up and convoy my car and i to d & k’s for the night. there they kindly took me in while i convalesced for the next two nights. i wasn’t sure i would make it back to nanaimo, but also, i’d prefer to be around family when i am not well. thankfully that was the end of the nausea. that night i had a light fever that broke in the early morning hours, and then it was just weakness. it was nice to have extra time in the country with the mountains and the trees and friends. i went walking at dusk on monday night with finnelli, and the air and light were divine. i love going out walking at this time of night, but rarely do because i work so early in the morning that i am usually in bed by this time. so, i got back to nanaimo tuesday night for work wednesday, which is two days later than i was expecting. i had planned to make cupcakes tuesday to be able to stick in the mail wednesday for S’s birthday. her birthday was the following sunday, and the cupcakes needed to get to winnipeg by friday. i thought i could still manage to make the cupcakes weds night and get them to the RPO (retail postal outlet) in time for the last pick-up. when i worked the night shift at work, i remembered trucks coming in til 8:30, so i thought for sure if i got them to the RPO that evening they’d get back to the depot and onto the truck headed to vancouver that night. in i went, completely confident in my plan. the first thing the clerk said to me was: looks like cookies! i laughed and said no, cupcakes for an 11 year olds birthday, and asked when they’d get there by express post. when she said monday, i said, what? won’t they get picked up tonight? and she said no, not until tomorrow afternoon. then i went on to say they needed to get there by friday for her birthday, and i worked at the depot and remembered trucks coming in until 8:30, and could i just pay for it here and then take it to the depot myself? she said she wasn’t allowed to let packages leave the store once they’d been barcoded, but then said: you really work there? and i said YES! i can tell you everyones names! so she said, ok, but don’t tell anyone… off i zipped with the package to catch the vancouver-bound truck. revelling all the while in the community we have even within cities, even when we don’t know each other. the true connections with other humans.

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*the cupcakes got there on time.

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i am sitting in a hotel room in duncan, it’s 9pm and A is sleeping in the bed next to me. he tosses and turns and sometimes i think he is not sleeping, but he is. he is five, carrie and don’s wee one. we read geronimo stilton before bed for half an hour, after we came home from a walk to the river where we attempted to skip stones that were in no way meant to be skipped. on the way home he found sticks from unidentifiable trees that he used to whack against said trees until i suggested that maybe the trees might not like that very much. then he took the sticks to the concrete blocks of a wall we were walking by. i think this is part of being a little boy. he is a sweet and gentle kid, not one to harm living creatures, but when you are a little boy maybe sometimes there is just the urge to whack incessantly at things with sticks. c & d came down from the interior to duncan for a wedding, and i came to spend both time with them and the evening with A while they are partying it up at the reception tonight. being here with A reminds me of being a sort-of mama to S for a little while back in winnipeg. her dad and i were together for about 4 years, but we didn’t live together until the last four months before i moved away, after i sold my house. i remember the first night i put S to bed without her dad around, i think she was about five at the time, too. her routine was to be read two stories and then sung to sleep. i think it was ok to stop singing before she went to sleep, but i didn’t want to. she had the most endearing way of unconsciously reaching her hand up to your hair while you were reading to her, and twisting it around her fist. for this reason it was best to let loose your hair before putting her to bed, so she had something to grab ahold of. like many things that happen with our children growing up, eventually some habits change or disappear and we don’t recall when, maybe not noticing it has happened until weeks or months later. then there is a tiny grief at this thing we loved, gone. but also a pride and marvel at this one we love, growing and changing. being here reminds me of reading her thea stilton and ramona and one of my faves when i was young – the wayside stories – which i had the pleasure of introducing her to (she loved the absurdity just as much as i did). later as she got older, we moved onto harry potter and other larger books, but by this point she was old enough to read to me too. on the last canoe trip i took with her and K and jere, we hauled along Scrap City – an impressive tome, for a kids book and canoe trips both – and one of my favourite memories is of lying on the sun-warmed rocks late in the day, dinner done, the lakeshore steps away, no one else on the lake but us, as S read to K and i. these dear moments that are granted to us. these snapshots of our lives. the more we remember, does the more grace appear?

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c, d & i have the same travel cases. whose is whose?

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this wee road trip to duncan has mildly satisfied both my travelling and road trip urge. it’s fun being with c&d&a on the road, we have a long history of this together, so every time we go, old memories come up and feel good.

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