Monthly Archives: March 2014

Where will I be after the smoke all clears?

I sit here on the edge of reason about to make a giant leap of faith and I feel as ready as I ever could be.  There is such possibility before me and I cannot wait to begin this new chapter of my life.  I am afraid to tell you my loyal and beautiful readers that “Where Winter Sits” Part 2 will not be out until much later on.  It has turned into something bigger than me at the moment and I must put it to bed until I can find the right time to dedicate to it.  I promise that my story has life and I will share it with you when it is ready.  The reason why I must wait is because I am about to move my life and family across this great country of ours and plant my roots in the west coast earth.  Thinking about it makes my breath bubble up my chest.  I am ready for this even though it is going to be very hectic for the next while.

I am also in the midst of planning my cross Newfoundland launch of my first novel, Sisters of Avalon and I can feel every hair on my body stand up when I say it out loud.  This is the moment where a dream comes true for me.  I get to put something out there that is very personal to me and I get to do it with my family.  And not just my husband and two kids but my family from all across Canada starting from Newfoundland then right on through to BC, “the arse end of her” as some would say in my world.

I will get to hug, squeeze and smile at faces I have not seen a in very long time.  What a blessing that will be for me.  After so much loss in my family these past few years I cannot wait to feel the love.    Like many in my family, I am missing those that held my heart for almost all my life as they have passed on to that great other side.  My heart has been marked in such a special way by their departure from this earth that I feel I must love as much as I can and while I can.  Every day is a gift for me and I cannot wait to share it with those in my life that I have not seen for a long time.

Right now I am packing up, well mostly giving away everything we own.  I am donating my worldly goods to a local charity called Beacon house as I have seen first hand the great work they do for my community.  There will be pieces of me all over the HRM and in a way I think that is pretty cool.  Enjoy my Just Fab shoes someone.  I hope those black stiletto’s serve you well.  I only ever had them to look at, there is no way so much women could stand on those tiny things and survive.  I was meant to be a buxom babe and not a skinny bitch or so I am told.  Well some might say I have worn the bitch badge a couple of times, right Jolene (a private joke between friends).   I have been given many labels in this lifetime some of them I ignore while others I smile at while sticking my tongue firmly inside my cheek.   I see nothing wrong with being a full figured women, I own my curves and they serve me well.  But let’s be honest even if I were a skinny bitch I still couldn’t wear stiletto’s without falling flat on my face.  I don’t know how you ladies and some gentlemen walk around in those things.  But I digress.

Our house will go on the market within days of this blog going live and we are confident it will sell.  Once it does we will be heading west stopping in a select few places along the way where we know friends and family await.  I am blown away by all the great support and feedback I have been getting to help out with readings and such.  I am in the planning stages right now and once everything is in order I will announce the dates. There is still editing to be done and a house to sell but it looks like I will be in Newfoundland in early June and stopping in key locations along the way.  I will most likely be starting in Corner Brook first then heading east from there. I will post more details as they become set in stone.

Well there you have it, my free fall for the day.  My apologies for promising the second part to my short story and not delivering.  I will publish it one day.  For the next while my blogs will be chronicling my life from this point on.  My good-bye to Nova Scotia will be bitter-sweet as this province has a piece of my heart that will forever stay with me.  Many great things have happened here for me and I will share some of those events in the coming blogs before we officially move our wagons west.

Good bye for now.

R.H. Downs

 

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Where Winter Sits

Part 1

She could feel winter sitting on her back, resting it’s weight between her shoulder blades and reminding her of the burden she was carrying.  It was hard to stay motivated after spending the last 3 months hunching her back while pumping gas for her uncle’s petro station.  No one wanted self-serve, it was too cold to get out of their trucks.

The thick wool scarf that her Aunt Daisy knit to help keep Kate warm did it’s best to ease the burn of the minus forty degree weather but the days on end of wrapping it around her face wore away at its thick mane of protection.

Kate pushed her shoulders towards her ears one more time in hopes that the scarf would cover her nose and rescue it from completely falling off.  The winter had made her look like a circus performer in full makeup, red in the spots that stood out and white on the parts that got covered.  Her beautiful west coast skin was burning from the east coast winter that just would not quit.

“Fill her up buddy.”

If she heard one more person call her buddy she thought she might explode.  Inside the big blue down stuffed jacket her feminine parts got lost.  In a way she enjoyed the anonymity, but deep down losing herself inside her winter coat was becoming far too comfortable and she was beginning to fear its soul clenching arms.

Before she made the move to Labrador her only knowledge of its existence was from a picture on a map at her school.  It was not until her mother passed away and social services told her she would be moving east with her only living relative that she got to know the rocky province almost by heart.

Kate’s first day on the Labrador was one of the few balmy days that the north won.  To a first timer there could be no better place on earth.  Its lush colours from the evergreens made Kate feel like she was someplace foreign but it’s beauty spoke to her in a way that made her feel like she was part of the earth herself.  Like she belonged even if she “came from away,” as the others would say about Kate.

Her mother’s great aunt, Daisy Pike, was a women who never had any children of her own and saw Kate’s arrival as God’s blessing.  Her husband Roland always wanted a boy and Kate would have to do even if he shrugged his shoulders at the thought of having another female around.  Daisy was the master of the house while Roland was the master of his garage.  What Daisy said while she was inside her four walls would have to be even if her husband didn’t like it.  As long as he had his petro station he was content to let her rule the roost.

The rules around the Pike house were indeed not that hard to follow but they were different from most around the coast.  Daisy was a deeply religious women, no scissors on Sunday and no booze or cigarettes ever.  Kate had never even known what rules were until she moved in with the Pike’s but she welcomed Daisy’s deep devotion to God and the stability of having a home that never changed.  She missed her mother and the west coast weather but she loved not having to watch her mom binge on the drug of the day or the man the hour for that matter.

Kate had no idea what a home cooked meal looked or tasted like until she showed up on Daisy’s doorstep. Kate was nine when her mother died from an overdose but Kate only looked about half her age as her tiny frame spoke volumes about her life up until finding the Pike’s.

“Well mother of God what have you brought to me today?”

Daisy asked for guidance as Kate’s big brown eyes looked up at her for hope on that first day.  After Daisy took a deep breath and held back the tears that were mixed with several emotions she brought Kate to her room and showed her where she could keep her things.  When Kate looked back up at her holding only a 7-11 grocery bag Daisy knew she had a lot of catching up to do with her little niece.  Daisy had no idea that the child’s life had been like something from a Dickens novel.

“Well then my girl, we are just going to have to go the Sally Ann and find you some decent things to wear.  Maybe we could even find you a book or two as well.  I use to be a school teacher you know.”

Daisy’s pride in her profession sparked something inside of Kate that first day on the Labrador.  Daisy had an air of calm about her that transferred itself onto Kate almost in an instant.  With her troubled brown eyes and her crumpled grocery bag Kate instinctively knew her life would be changing for the better.

Kate never spoke much in the beginning, her emotions were still locked up inside her leaving Daisy to guess at what her needs were.  At first Daisy thought that Kate was mute and left her alone until she was ready to break from her shell.  Hearing the sound of her own voice all day long made Daisy tired but she would not give up on God’s blessing, how could she, it was His will.  Daisy couldn’t wait for each and every Sunday to come so that she could take Kate with her hoping for a miracle to occur at her little church in the cove.

Roland always tinkered in his garage on Sunday, he had no time for church going but he didn’t dispute the matter with his wife as long as she didn’t in turn urge him on to accompany her.  He promised to keep the shop closed as long as she was ok with him working there on his own.  It was their funny way of reaching a compromise.  It was also the day of the week that he felt most alone in the world with only the comfort of the pit to make him feel whole again.

The pit, as Roland called it was the big hole in the middle of his garage where the magic happened.  At least a dozen cars and or trucks drove over that pit a week to be worked on by the great hands of Mr. Pike.  God blessed Roland with the ability to navigate an engine like a brain surgeon would a patient.  The thing about Roland’s hands that boggled the mind of most of his customers was the fact that they were the size of large bolder’s and as tough as flint.  No one dared to cross Mr. Pike when he had a point to be made, they feared his hands like they would God’s wrath-never knowing what they were capable of.

When Kate came to the house she didn’t fear Robert like most did upon meeting him.  When she saw the size of his big hands she was intrigued by them, longing to have them pick her up.  Her big brown eyes had a way of pulling him in even when he didn’t want them to.  On that first day, standing in her oversized clothes Robert found it hard to turn her away.  Her hair was cut short and in a lot of ways she resembled the features of a small boy and that to Robert made her  more endearing to him.

Kate held up her crumpled grocery bag and handed it to Roland and without saying a word he knew that she wanted him to look inside.  As Mr. Pike fumbled with the handles trying to open it, the weight of the bag took him off guard.  Inside, was a dirty stuffed puppy that had for sure seen better days and in under the puppy a metal object peered out that put a half-smile on Robert’s face causing Daisy to inquire about the contents.  It must have been something good to put a smile on her husbands rugged face she thought, “What is it Rol?”

End of Part One

 

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The Man in the Leather Hat

As he lowered himself into the seat beside me I smiled at the familiar scent of old spice mixed with tobacco.  It is not a scent most would find terribly pleasing but it reminded me of my father and with that memory comes comfort, a peace that only a daughter could feel after having lost a dad that meant the world to me.

The man in the leather hat and brown winter jacket said hello as I felt my smile catch his eye.

“Good morning,” I said.

Then off he went, bending my ear until it ached for a moment of reprieve.  He started out talking about the weather and how hard it is to shovel now that his knees were cursed.  From there he went on about having to take the bus downtown to see a decent doctor because every single one of them were crooks except for old Dr. Miller who was about as old as he was but still managed to practice.  I didn’t dare tell him that I worked for the university medical school.  I just let him go, breathing in his musk while closing my eyes so I could pretend that my dad was sitting next to me.  It’s the little things that cheer me up as I give myself permission to retreat into an imaginary place where my dad still lives and breathes.  I know I cannot bring him back but I can still allow him to wash over me, as a person’s spirit will always and forever stay intact as long as you let it.  I allow my father to stay close as I venture into a world where I do not want to be without him.

“The best place to get a cheap breakfast is on the Bedford Highway.  What’s the name of that place now,” he half asks the question to help break me from the trance I am in.

“Esquire?”

“No that’s not the place but they serve a great pork shop dinner, can’t think of the name now,” he says.

I start paying attention again as he rambles on about how much he loves a good meal of fish and bruise but hasn’t had a meal of it since his wife passed.  I ask if he is from Newfoundland and he tells me he grew up there but moved to Nova Scotia after falling in love with Maggie, his deceased wife.  “We use to go back all the time before she got sick.”

His story takes on a sad tone as he reminisces about Maggie, his one true love.  I don’t ask him any questions, I just let him talk about her in the loving way that he does.  I smile again after being reassured that love can last a lifetime.

“You remind me of her, your smile, it made me glad that I sat with you.”

“Funny that,” I said, “you remind me of someone special too.”

The universe has a sneaky way of bringing those together that need a little pick me up sometimes I guess.

See you next Tuesday.

R.H. Downs

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My Mental Health Day

Needless to say that the winter of 2013-2014 has been beyond wicked.  For all you snow bums out there I know you are enjoying yourselves and I applaud you for embracing your inner winter spirit.  When I was a kid winter meant sliding down the big hill, riding in on the pond on ski-doo and trying not to fall in the salt water while traipsing from ‘copy pan’ to ‘copy pan’.

As an adult winter means going outside in my jammies to start the car, making sure my boys are wearing more than a t-shirt to school and trying not to let the winter blahs turn me into the beast that Belle fell in love with.

It is the last day of February and I never thought I would ever see it come and go.  But it is finally here and I mark it by taking a Mental Health Day to help burn away my winter slump.  I had to, it was that or find the nearest snow bank to jump off.  The beast had been rearing its ugly head and I needed to find a way to tame him.  Getting away somewhere nice and hot is not a realistic option for me right now so the next best thing would be taking a Mental Health Day.

I am blessed to have an employer and a husband who supports my mental health as well as the rest of my well-being.  By Friday, which was the last day of February, I needed a Mental Health Day badly.  There are too many details to go into as to why things are all a flutter in my life right now but that is a story for another time.  For now I want to share how I did my best to pick myself back up and kept on grooving.

Speaking of getting into the groove, my morning started with some classic 80’s Madonna, the stuff I loved before I actually fell in love with great music.  Don’t get me wrong I love Madonna, always will but she is a performer, and not a musical genius.  But I always turn to Madonna when I need her the most. Lucky Star and Holiday will always get my party started.  I danced in my kitchen by myself while I made myself breakfast.  Coffee, fresh from my press was for sure involved and after I got my grove on and filled my belly I decided to de-clutter, that’s right I cleaned, well sort of.

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Cleaning doesn’t always appeal to me as a way of trying to make myself feel better but purging is different, it ignites me.  I removed items from my closet that I had not worn in the last month or so.  If I had not some how held it against my body in some fashion in the last few weeks or so then it went into the bin bag to be graciously handed over to someone else who needed it more.

When I clean out my closet it always makes me feel lighter, like I am making room for bigger and better things.  3 bags full and then off to the shower I went to continue on with my day of self-love, and not in the way any of you dirty minds might be thinking.  I just took an extra few minutes to enjoy the hot water as it washed away my somber thoughts.

For lunch I decided to take myself on a date to a place where everybody knew my name.  Tom’s Family Restaurant.  I have worked there on 3 separate occasions as a hostess and I somehow cannot stop going back.  The food and the people who work there always make me feel like I am at home.  I had a few of my favorite foods, greek salad, calamari and for dessert the ultimate coconut cream pie.  The waitress tried to take my last bite of creamy goodness thinking I was done and I almost wrestled her to the ground.  “I am just waiting for there to be room, don’t take it, noooooooooo.”

Good thing she knows me well as we laughed at my threat to tackle her.   The ladies and gents at Tom’s really know how to make working hard look easy even though being on your feet day in and day out can really do a number on your body.  They take it in stride and do their very best to make your experience memorable.  I will forever feel connected to that place no matter where my life takes me.

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After my delicious and very satisfying lunch I picked up my kids from school and took them on a play date with some good friends that we had been too busy to see for a while.  A kettle got filled as my boys used their imaginations and my friend and I got caught up on the comings and goings of our lives as the hot tea warmed our chilled bones.  There is nothing like the smile of a friend to make you feel better about everything.  Good friends get you inside and out that is for sure.  There was also a couple of blocks of british chocolate involved with our little rendezvous.  But we were careful not to let the kids see, they just do not appreciate it the same.  You have to let it melt in your mouth, and my kids “don’t got any time for dat.”

As supper approached we made our way home where I cooked lasagna from scratch for my family.  We celebrated our family fun night by watching Treehouse Masters, and Toy Hunter while we ate dinner together in front of the TV.  We don’t allow that throughout the week and it only happens on family fun night so it is always enjoyable when we get to chill and dream about building a treehouse one day.

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The night came and went as we all settled in and slept in our warm beds.  After a day of doing wonderful things to cheer myself up I rested knowing I am blessed.  Good food, family and friends are the 3 F words I love most.  Without that love that holds me up I would be nothing but a spec floating lonely from moment to moment.  I use my Mental Health Day as a tool to remind myself that each and every day is a gift and what I do with that gift is what is most important.

See you next Tuesday.

R.H. Downs

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