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Friday, October 26, 2012

Eye of the Storm

So, it's been a crazy week. I've been trying to find the time to stay sane during the tsunami of changes that have occurred since I last posted. I'm absolutely exhausted, but feel the need to vent- and share- what has been pulling me away from finding the time to not only blog, but eat, shower, hell, even just laugh.

We moved here last month on a wing and a prayer- sold most of our stuff, I quit my cushy job in academia, left a country that offers free health care to stay in Vermont and get an education in Sustainable living. Noel planned on going to Yestermorrow Design Build School and I planned on learning by proxy.

Well, you know what They say about "best laid plans" and all...

We landed at a sweet little apartment in Hancock, VT. Tiny, but sufficient for our needs. Then our dog Penelope started limping. She had a little strange limp in Ontario but it went away after the vet gave her some meds and all our plans went back on schedule. We made a 2 day journey with a U-haul, fleabag motel stopover in bumblef%$# nowhere, and got here relatively unscathed. Then the limp came back. We went to a wonderful vet here in VT- Vermont Integrative Veterinary Associates (VIVA) who combine Holistic and Western medicine. They concurred with the previous vet's findings that Penny had a ligament injury that would need a LONG time to heal. They suggested- almost insisted- that we find a place on a first floor since Penny hadn't been able to use her leg to help her up the stairs. So, we started searching for a place.

Do you know how hard it is to rent an apartment or house with 2 dogs, 4 cats, 2 guinea pigs and a snake? Of course you don't, because you're probably not bat shit crazy like we are.

We eventually found a place that seemed like it would work out for us- nothing special, but closer to my job and in a woodsy area. Hands were shaken, promises were made, money and dates were discussed. Notice was given to our current landlords who rented our apartment out immediately to some local folks.

When Noel went to meet our new landlord, he was met with a less-than-lovely surprise. Apparently, he was less than comfortable with the idea of cats and had a change of heart. "Too many cats.." he said as he shook his head. But... we gave notice! We're supposed to be out November 1st! No matter- he didn't care. Noel sent me an IM to let me know the bad news and went off to the vet to have Penny's leg X-ray done.

Three hours later, he came to get me from work and broke the news- she has Osteosarcoma. The hunch I had about her leg not healing right was more than a hunch. She has the C-word. (cancer) I whisper it- this word has impacted my life and taken too many of my loved ones from me in the past 3 years. First my mother, so unexpectedly and heartbreakingly in April of 2009. My dad followed her almost 2 months to the day- in June 2009. Our cat Butter, too. Noel has his own cancer dealings, too- his dad in 2008. Hell, we ALL have someone we know who has either battled, fought and survived or someone who valiantly fell. It's a constant fear for everyone, and a reality for too many people.

This week has been one of the most challenging weeks I've had since my parents passed away. The idea that we have less than a week to find shelter, well, that was enough. When Noel took Penny in for her lung x-ray today (to find out if the cancer had spread to her lungs) the challenge-ometer registered Tidal Wave proportions, at least for what I'm used to. They recommended immediate amputation. Not "let's get this scheduled for sometime next week" or even "we should do this in the next few days"... TODAY. To save her life, this sweet, dopy, gorgeous dog that wakes me up every morning with a kiss, we have to cut off her LEG- TODAY. We only had a few moments to let it sink in. What was I going to do? How can we even come up with the money? The vet was so kind- he is letting us pay over 4 months. It's still an unmanageable debt for us, but at least we have 4 months to come up with a way to raise the money. Freelance work, extra job, selling bath salts, maybe male stripping- it would all be worth saving our sweet grrrl.

So, as I type this a Tripawd doggie lays next to me, sleepily and painfully getting used to the missing leg that once caused her so much pain. A friend suggested I start a crowdfunding campaign, which I've done and shared all over. I have to say, this has made me really appreciate community, and made me so grateful for what I DO have. I have a loving and amazing partner in life, I have loving and amazing family, awesome friends, a job that I appreciate more than I can tell you. But do you know what I really appreciate more than anything right now? That big old tongue waking me up in the morning...

Monday, October 22, 2012

Just a little bit...

This isn't going to be a long blog entry.

I don't feel like I have a lot to say today.  I guess I should be finishing dishes and putting away clothes and entertaining animals and such things.

I am. I will again soon, I am just taking a small break.

Today I feel kind of vulnerable and a little bit lonely.
I don't have a lot of daily routine these days and I know that that's a lot of why I feel this way.
I don't expect anybody to 'make things all better for me' or anything like that. I know I need to find more productive and more fulfilling ways to use my time.

I'm a bit bored and a bit blue feeling today.

I want to be perfectly clear that I'm not writing this to garner sympathy and I'm not feeling sorry for myself per se.

My wife is a busy woman and a very hard worker. I love her dearly. She is a source of comfort for me lately. She is necessarily gone all day and it's a long day.

Our living situation is not yet finalised. It should be soon.

These things make me feel uncertain and lonely sometimes; there's a fair feeling of uncertainty in me lately and I just happened to remember that I'm part of a blog wherein I can record my thoughts and feelings and know I need no approval-I'll not be judged. For that, I am grateful.

Thank you self, for taking the time to record my thoughts and feelings. Thank you reader(s?) for reading my words.

Now back to our regularly scheduled program.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Passing Through the Iris of the World

That's what I'm listening to right now as I sit and type this after a long couple of weeks. "The Iris of the World" by Bruce Cockburn. My husband Noel introduced me to Bruce Cockburn, who I had never really heard of, aside from being the dude from the 80's that made the Bare Naked Ladies famous. Noel has introduced me to more interesting music in the past three years than anyone I've thus far had the pleasure to know. He isn't loyal to any specific genre or era, rather, he sees beauty and skilled craftsmanship in things that, until now, I had only listened to with closed ears. (ie: I've never been a fan of classic rock and had completely written off Pink Floyd until watching the Dark Side of Oz with him.) He hears music for music and he's helped me listen to music like it's something that was just created yesterday.

Music shaped him. It shaped us separately and as a couple. It has worn a meandering and deeply-carved path through our lives as they've continued to entwine over the years. When we lived apart, in 2 different countries, during the hot, passionate, longing, newly-formed-star of our relationship, Noel would send me lyrics. I knew that he was trying to say something that he couldn't articulate any other way. I gratefully received those words and felt this thread in my core pulling me into loving him. To being in love with him.

His musical taste was (and still is) confusing and totally different than what I'm used to. We have some overlap with similar likes and dislikes, but his taste goes far and wide where mine is pretty linear and defined. I have a long-running and deep-seeded relationship with Jazz but also have a complex relationship with the indie hipster world of "new music." We're both percussionists, which connected us at first. When I first met him I totally misjudged him by his eccentric appearance and age and grouped him in with the Hipsters. Now that I know him I know that Slim Gaillard's "Chicken Rhythm" impresses him more than Pavement's "Shady Lane." One day he'd send me the lyrics to some mysterious, deep song and the next day it would be "Venus as a Boy"- such a playful and sexy song! My heart skipped a proverbial and literal beat. My knees went weak. My pulse raced. I would drive and drive and listen to Kurt Elling's homage to John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman, "Dedicated to You", and let the sheer force of new love fill me, leaving no room for the pain and sadness that formed the undercurrent of my life during those first days.
I feel like I wasted a lot of my life trying to keep myself in this confined understanding of what the world is or should be. To listen through my judgement and stay open to an experience, that was something that came with growing up. I once worked with a guy who said that he never listened to music for emotional impetus. It seemed like such a foreign and grown-up thing to say. I never fully understood that. Now that I'm an adult I gather that he was most likely using the mask of postmodern detachment to protect himself from being hurt.

What I love about Noel's love of music is that it has paved the way for my ears to open up to the present. He finds deep joy in music and loves listening to joyous music. It's a liberating feeling to allow one's self to experience joy! I grew up in the jaded Goth/Grunge days when the more demotivated and bored you were, the cooler you were. Joy isn't something I felt comfortable with. It seemed too sappy, too gluttonous, too naive. Siouxsie Sioux wasn't happy, and dammit, neither was I. As I've aged, grown wiser, gotten happier, I've let the joy start to seep into the cracks in my life. Music is a great vehicle for that. EnJOY!!!

Monday, October 8, 2012

What's In A Handshake?

I can't vote here in the United States, although if I could, I'd think about voting for Emily Peyton.

Who is she? She's a gubernatorial candidate in Vermont.  Here is the link to her website:


Take a moment and have a look at it. Especially, notice the sparkles radiating from her right hand.
Pretty fancy, eh?

I met her on the weekend ever so briefly. She must have been out campaigning and showed up to talk to the innkeepers here. I got introduced to her.

Here is a woman who I heard on Vermont Public Radio (VPR). She has notions that I think might be considered radical by some, but by others they might seem like notions that are long overdue.
Particularly, she is very much about causing a resurgence in the use of industrial hemp as an alternative to oil. In fact, fossil oil was once the alternative to hemp and flax seed oils.

Here is a list of links that she has on her site and they include GMO labelling; global warming; Ford's hemp car.


I think that sometimes people propose ideas that others might find scary or think unusual just because these ideas don't conform to what many of us have become used to thinking. Her thoughts on hemp and cannabis probably scare those who are not informed at all about this plant's benefits. I think Vermont would be a place that could truly benefit from such thinking and could bear the torch and lead the way for others.

Well, I got to shake her hand. I extended my right arm and she extended her right arm (you know, the one with the sparkles emanating from it on her website) and our hands came together in a nice, conventional seeming handshake. That's where I thought it would end. The old ONE STAGE clasping of hands and a shake. Imagine my surprise when, as I went to conclude the handshake, she proceeded to  the SECOND AND THIRD stages of the 'cool' kind of handshake.

If you don't know this one, it doesn't necessarily mean you aren't cool. The complete shake goes like this:

1) begins with usual hand shake grip
2) both hands then sort of swing downward so that the fingers are now grasping the back of each others thumbs
3) then as the shake concludes, the fingers sort of slide along each others hands toward the fingertips as if to say, 'Yeah, you're cool man! I can dig it!'

Like I say, if you know this handshake, you'll recognise it immediately and appreciate it like I did.

I told Stephanie about our introduction and handshake and then actually did the handshake with her and Stephanie grinned and said she thought that was really cool.

I showed my neighbour and he said he wished that had happened to him.

I'm not really that political but I can see when someone wants to affect a change and has progressive ideas and I think this woman is someone like that. I can't vote here in the United States, although if I could, I'd think about voting for Emily Peyton.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Journey

Autumn in the Mad River Valley, Vermont.
This is my first post, the first of many posts, on this new blog. It's a work in progress I share with my husband Noel, a wonderful Canadian man, whose astute vibrancy and gentle spirit can't be contained by mere mortals (nor should it be)!!! We decided to put together something that could serve as a document of our lives and experiences as two people who are constantly surrendering, learning, growing, loving and, yes, eating! Come here if you want to read all about our lives, what we love, what fills our souls, what we're afraid of, what makes us happy, what brings tears of love and confusion to our eyes, our hopes, our dreams, our pasts and what we learned from them, all sorts of lists of what fills our minds, hearts and hands. There's no formula for this process, no concept or deliverable we need to fulfill. It's a creative outlet, a way to share a bit of our life.

I put a lot of my own time and effort into designing this, as I did with my other, now-defunct, blog. I take such pleasure in the design process, from the planning and visualization to the collaboration of my aesthetic with Noel's, to the final curseword-filled coding process. Anyone who reads this for more than a season will notice the constant shifts and changes of the visual structure of this site. It's a mirror for our lives, an amalgamation of both Noel's as well as my own visual "branding", so I want it to look like it! Never the same, never static, always changing, but with integrity and wholeness.

Sharing a blog with someone is a new experience. Noel has his voice and I have my voice. I'm sure it will take some time to get into the groove of writing for a public ear again, but we both thought it would be a great way to share all these amazing experiences we've been having with our friends, families and like-hearted people out there who might appreciate the journey we've been on and continue to walk together, hand in hand.

The name of the blog, "Deeper Into the World", comes from a poem by Mary Oliver (a poet introduced to me by my dear friend Kateri) entitled "The Journey." It speaks to the sometimes-uncomfortable catalyst from which growth and change occur, and that final ripping-off-of-the-bandaid of life, when you start living for the sake of living versus living for the sake of what others might think of or need from you. There was a moment for both of us when we finally knew that we needed to stop listening to everyone else and start listening within. We needed to stop treading water. I have craved to live a fully-authentic life (as much of a catch-phrase as that has become, it's still a valid need!) for most of my existence. I kept this poem in and around me for years, wondering who these people were who could fully live their lives, never dreaming that it could be me! Enjoy the poem, and enjoy sharing in our journey- delving deeper and deeper into the world.

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice --
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do --
determined to save
the only life you could save. 

- Mary Oliver

So, here I am-over here now.

For any readers who have never lived somewhere else other than where they were born and raised, these musings might seem odd to you or kind of abstract to understand.

Here I find myself in the US-of-A as of late and I'm discovering that being here is more of a change than I thought it would be. Let me explain. In so many ways, the USA and Canada are quite similar (both are primarily yet not exclusively anglophone nations; both drive on the right-hand side of the road). In other ways they are quite different (health care seems to jump quite often to the top of this list; proliferation of firearms-that sort of thing).

These things are quite easy to notice and are certainly valid, but aren't the sorts of things I'm talking about right now. I'm speaking of the feeling I get if I go for a short walk to the post office to mail something and find myself walking down a roadway that I only barely know and since only recently. I pass by houses that just seem to give off a different feeling than houses I am more used to seeing. I speak with people who sometimes just want to say hello to me and that's such a refreshing thing.

Verily, I could travel to other provinces in Canada and visit those places, and while there would still be a similar feeling of novelty in my surroundings, I'd still be in a place that was by and large, like many to most of the kinds of folks I've grown up knowing. What I love about being in this environment is that this is a subtle feeling. Let's see a show of hands for all of you who like and appreciate subtlety?

I firmly believe that on some great and fundamental level, that all humans are more or less the same-it's in our genetic diversity (which recent studies seem to suggest isn't actually all  that diverse anyhow). Culturally, we start to see the differences. These could be shocking and maybe difficult to accept in some case, or as in my case, very subtle.

Sometimes I think of myself with the label 'Canadian abroad' and that turns up the volume on the pleasure I get savoUring all these differences. Other times, it never even occurs to me to do this.

Every day is a joy and every day is filled with new things to appreciate and sometimes new hurdles over which to leap.


Did I say leap or leaf? Speaking of which, the leaves around here are just gorgeous right now and I'm so glad to be alive!!

Thanks for reading. I'll talk to you again.