Friday, February 9, 2018

The Symbol of a Generation

Recently I went to visit my sister in Toronto - the sister who is ill. We had a nice visit - we brought her a bed - she had been sleeping on a mattress on the floor. They lost a lot of belongings when they battled bedbugs a few years ago.

We had an old single bed-frame in the garage - one of those turn of the century metals, it has been passed around - it came from my grandmother to my eldest sister. It followed her son - and then came to us - Husband's sister used it for awhile - and then it came back to us, and our daughter used it until a year or so ago.

Apparently it was my Great-grandmother's bed - and she probably died in it - at age 103 - so I never felt creeped out by it, but I decided not to share this with Marilyn.

I took a craft for us to do together - from Michael's. Age 6+ - was supposed to take 45 min to do - 2 hours later and a lot of laughter - we almost finished before she became too tired.  I also brought food to make some soup - our Winter 2017/18 favourite we have been making weekly since November.

Her oxygen levels were hovering around 67 - which is not good - but she was excited and talking a lot. We had a nice visit - and I'll head back towards the end of the month - I have some beads and we will make bracelets. I might leave them there and let her play - she is really bored and has terrible cabin fever.

Husband and Middle son carried the bed and frame into the apartment and set it up for her - and then she gave  him 2 old sewing machines to take home - because she is beginning to think of these things. One was my mother's and the other one my grandmother's, both portable but heavy as shit.

Last night I was talking to Husband - and saying how we had to get the sewing machines out of the truck and into the house - and what the HECK am I going to do with them?

Then I realized I have 4 generations of sewing machines that document - something - I know I could create some bizarre generational art installation - if I had time. I have in my possession: My Great Grandmother's treadle, my grandmother's portable - my mother's Featherlight - and my eldest sister's Singer machine she gave me when my children were small. And I have my own easy-peasy light and lovely machine I bought when we moved 2 years ago.

I think this is pretty bizarre, but I feel I am in a kind of bizarre head-space lately, so it suits me.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Thoughts on Stuff - Stuff to pack

Recently I was at Sail or MEC pricing out trekking gear and I found myself saying : I'm traveling to Portugal and Spain next year, as I had been saying, repeatedly - and then it dawned on me that in fact I am traveling to Portugal and Spain in 2 months! January - with all her challenges and snow and cold - is nearly finished. We will end with a Super-moon and more snow, most likely, and then my trip will loom.

I've been buying and planning what gear to take. I have purchased my tickets to Lisbon, leaving Toronto April 4 around 11pm and landing in Portugal at 10am...

This week I have been purchasing items on line because the specialty outdoor gear shops can be very overwhelming, and usually I'm on the way home from work, and tired, and husband is trying to steer me to flashier gear and I need to shop carefully because every ounce counts, every penny too.

Putting my [temporary] life into a sac appeals to me in a primal hunter-gatherer sort of way. I watch videos and see what other people choose to lug around and see that we all need that personal luxury item/items to take with us. For one woman it was her acupuncture needles, for another it was knitting. For many it is electronic gear to vlog about the journey. I will be taking sketchbook and pencils, with a tiny paint box,. My brushes hold water, and are perfect for traveling. Also I will be taking a book to read, very thin and boring. Walden - I've tried to get through it before - maybe this time?

I need real pages to turn. Tactile - paper.

Electronics - to the minimum. As much as I have appreciated watching videos of the Camino treks of others - I want this to be me living the journey, rather than me starring in it. I see my trip - my pilgrimage - as a tiny piece of a bigger object. I want to join the energy - like fibres on a rope - and walk the path with simplicity. I will take photos - and will probably post to Instagram when I hit wifi, so I will be taking my phone - but that's it.

April is a tumultuous time of year in Portugal and Spain, as it is here - just warmer. I have to pack the same layers that I would wear here, so I have most of what I need - and have purchased what I don't have, and some things that I have, but could be more efficient. One lady I met with who is a part of the Hamilton Camino group - she said I must purchase Merino wool leggings - and as much as I would love to have a pair for my journey - at $50 - $100 - I cannot afford them - they would be an extra cost.

It would be so easy to fall into a 'want' versus 'need' focus. I've been watching packing videos this week, and more than once the pilgrim will say 'no cotton allowed on the camino', and that catches my attention. Certainly cotton dries slowly and does not wick - but who is out there saying that this and that is not allowed? I guess it is the mentality of the pack sort of thing.

My gear is important - and some cotton will be coming with me, but most of what I am taking I already own - with a few things coming from Mountain Equipment this week - tops and rain pants and a light sleeping bag.

Thursday, December 28, 2017


My sister Marilyn is suffering from Pulmonary Fibrosis - a lung disease. I spoke to her on Christmas Eve, and sadly her disease is progressing now, the early easy stages finished. At 65 Marilyn is on 100% oxygen, and now is resigned to needing it even when showering. So she has been on my mind~ of course.

Yule is a wonderful and magical time of year - we have adopted the Hygge Winter Ways - embracing simplicity and warmth. Fires and candles - stews and soups. We had a wonderful Yule - and there was sadness, because sadness does not go away because of Christmas. The cost of living I guess.

I wrote a poem for Marilyn - who is not returning my calls - and causing me more worry - because when I go on my Caminho in April I will be pondering and sending out energy - praying in my lapsed Pagan way.


I will walk for you
Every step a prayer
Because you cannot walk

I will fly for you
Spread my wings and take off
Because you cannot fly

I will breathe for you
Inhaling deeply, filling my lungs with air - 
Because you cannot breathe

When I think of you
I see movement and mischief
Because I cannot see you

I will walk for you
Every step a prayer 
Because you cannot walk

And I walk towards the new year with humility. I do not take for granted my own health and will embrace all my moments.

Monday, September 18, 2017

A Worthy Walk

This trip - it is a selfish act - something I have never allowed myself. To take that much money - and take that much time - and go to Portugal, alone - to simply walk - for days and days - that is monumental. It is a worthy act - and I am worthy.

Drinking kept my dreams reigned in tight. The plan - to take this Caminha [Portuguese for walk] is to acknowledge the past I have been holding in. The loss of my parents - I need time to finally mourn them. I didn't have time in 1995 to lament - to tear at my hair - to rip my clothes and give in to grief. I had 3 young children, and it was all pushed deeply down somewhere deep in my guts.

There is also the cancer that I somehow dodged - the death that certainly I would have faced before now had my physical cues not been noted - not been addressed. I have bought myself 6 more years, and I will never become complacent about that. Every day is a gift - every year a celebration. Every year is one I grasped back from death, though, and I don't have a fantasy vision of old age.

I have noticed in myself a fixation of life and death - my own mortality - and I need to walk on this as well - to ponder my existence.

For 3 weeks I will be my myself. What a thought that is - I will shed myself - layer by layer until I unearth myself.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The Sober Pilgrim

First off - I am sober one year today. A life-altering year it has been. The direction of this blog is changing - again - and will follow my preparation and meanderings as I plan for A Great Adventure.

Next April. I will be walking a Camino - and I plan on walking the Portuguese Camino, from Porto to Santiago, and if all works out, will continue to Finnistere to the End of the Earth.

What made me decide to do this?

I have a lifetime love of walking and have used it to escape my house when I was a child, often walking the shores of the Humber River or taking refuge at the library. When I was 13 I walked 28 miles for a charity event in Toronto called Miles for Millions. It was my first experience with communal walking - the long line of walkers carrying transistor radios all tuned to the same station. I felt part of something bigger than myself, heady stuff for 13.

At age 16, National Geographic had an article about a young woman who walked across the Australian Outback with some camels and her dog. That captured my yearning for both travel and exploration - by foot.

In 2015 I had a year of paths, where I walked and hiked many trails. I brought Husband along, he is a good walker but we don't pace the same and he becomes achy due to a metal rod & screws and bits in his right leg from a bad break a few years ago. That year I walked too far in Montreal and hurt my feet wearing footwear without enough proper support and that was a harsh lesson. It took months to heal, and my feet have never returned to a pre-Montreal condition.

Now to talk about age.

My most-fit sister Kathy is suffering arthritis - she is 65 and she has taken wicked good care of herself - forever. But arthritis is getting her. My sister Marilyn - the only one of us not to have battled cancer - has a debilitating lung disease - and is on 100% oxygen. Her world has shrunk to the size of her quite dingy apartment. She is 65. Janice is 72 and a total mess of sciatic and back issues.

I feel an urgency that my time to walk a Camino is now. I will be making this journey alone and I am both excited and terrified.

Today I am off for a training walk of 10km. That is to the lake and back, and I will build up to the 25km days I will be walking in April.