November 29, 2010

even morleans


so, pixie is house/dog-sitting for a couple she knows. their dog is a beautiful akita, and their house is an eco-sustainable mansion. seriously. on the one hand, you have solar panels and water cisterns. on the other hand, you have a private, heated pool in the backyard, antique furniture and incredible paintings, most of which are painted by pixie's friend (almost each one i look at becomes my favourite). don't even get me started on the bathtub. we all know that would descend into drooling.

so we're feeling a little spoiled. of course, being loyal hankists, we go sleep in hank every night. but we come back here for showers and cooking in the large, handy kitchen. the nicest thing about the place is that it manages to be comfortable. how they manage to make me, little me, comfortable in this house where each item is more expensive than all my items put together, is amazing. it isn't a museum, it's a home.

speaking of making me comfortable, the gnostic mass did that too! normally ritualized spaces trigger me (i don't belong to any, i fear doing the wrong thing, i get flustered and feel like i don't belong, and i don't generally get anything out of the rituals). for example, the vodou ritual triggered me, even though it was really casual (there was a kid of about ten going around trying to actively disrupt things because he was bored and his mom was leading the choir. anything i could have accidentally done wouldn't do as much to mess up the vibe as this kid accomplished. i was glad to have him there). but the gnostic mass we went to the next night felt really warm and inviting, even though we came in the wrong way and there were participatory things we messed up on, and i usually hate participatory things anyway. but i felt really good about being there. my impression was perhaps it was this particular chapter that created the inviting, accepting feeling. still, i wish there was gnostic mass in edmonton i could go to. vancouver or toronto are currently my canadian options.

the mass was gorgeous. i enjoyed participating, i enjoyed saying "there is no part of me that is not of the gods" and "love is the law. love under will."i appreciated how they spoke of it as a mythology, and how there was an info bit in the missal that explained you didn't have to renounce or participate in any belief system to be a part of the mass. the symbolism used in the mass resonated nicely for the most part (still a bit heavy on the white man, but hey, aleister crowley was white and male; what are you gonna do).

today pixie was modeling, so the queen and i went to a park nearby, so he could do some running and i could lazily wander around and photograph the many birds. later, we made stuffed peppers, and tonight we're going for sushi, after which i might swim in the pool. it's a rough life, as a friend of mine likes to say.

have i mentioned how nice it is not to be driving?

two things about new orleans: there's an offence called "driving while black" in which you are pulled over because you are black, even if there is no visible infraction you are performing; also, i noticed today at the "whole foods" grocery store that most of the shoppers are white, and most of the staff is black. that's not cultural integration, folks. a brown friend of mine in edmonton says she is tired of having to explain to "nice white people" how they should work on their racism. they come to her, wanting to be re-educated. but it is not her responsability to educate white people out of our racism. that is our own responsability. we do not get a bone for simply wanting to try.

November 27, 2010

more orleans

so much liveliness here! so much i want to record, but so tired... this morning i hung out on the porch (because it was nice out, pixie's house was colder than the outdoors - they don't have furnaces here, which blows my canadian mind), while pixie ran an errand and the queen went to a gun show in baton rouge (he came back reporting it was actually a pow-wow. he also picked up cowboy boots and a hat on his way home. i am jealous of the boots, they're really awesome). everyone says hi to each other on this street. it was lovely. pixie knows the name of everyone on the block. they're filming a movie in the area, and a low-flying helicopter was touring over our heads for a few hours, following a muscle car and a guy on a scooter. pixie remembers the name of the movie as "power of few" and she says it's about clones and terrorism. how original. if i can stomach it, i will watch it to see her street, which they were filming last week.

this afternoon, we went to the french quarter to be tourists. have to do it once. got our requisite cheesy magnet, which is a spinning drink wheel. the queen got a take-out drink from a really, really old bar. we watched the tourists buy gaudy things and take pictures of each other buying gaudy things. when we got tired of that, we went to an irish bar where pixie and i got ID'd, bringing me up to age thirty-one and still get ID'd (they told me some day i would be happy about this and they were right). later, i went to the washroom and there was a flipping attendant who handed me my paper towels. wtf. i am a hick - that both shocked me and made my day.

there was a square with many buskers, painters and tarot card readers hawking their wares and services. among them were: a guy who would tell you pirate jokes for cash; an entire jazz band; one of those ubiquitous frozen silver guys; a better frozen man who was posed as a construction worker on a ladder (that is awesome); a clown; and a duo playing banjo and fiddle on a lonely street.

tonight we're going to a vodou ritual; tomorrow a gnostic mass. right now i'm taking a nap.

November 26, 2010

couches! running water! cat!

new orleans. wow.

we burned figurative rubber from north carolina to louisiana, getting here in two days instead of five. tired of trying to figure out where to park for the night, not knowing when our next shower will be; ah, life on the road. so now we're parked outside my friend pixie's house in the ninth ward, sitting on her bed drinking tea and hogging the internet while she crochets and her mimecat looks insatiably cute. this is very, very lovely. later, i will have a bath.

we showed up last night, in time to catch thanksgiving. there were several gluten-free guests, so i even got to eat more than two items! speaking of eating, the night we left the outer banks of nc, we first ate at the lone cedar café. fresh seafood, where the daily specials feature the name of the fisherman that brought the catch in. very tasty. also, the restaurant works really hard to only use local, pesticide-free and hormone-free foods. yay. and oh god, the food was so good. i had collard greens! long live the south!

well, sort of long live the south. i am also tired of feeling like a freak. yes, i am a pregnant canadian travelling on a school bus. and no, i don't dress like you. is that okay? yeah, happy thanksgiving to you too. in canada, it's called 'thursday'. there were so many people driving on the interstate on wednesday, it was actually shocking. the rest areas were swarmed with screaming children and harried parents and RVs. here in new orleans, in the ninth ward, i'm only a freak because i'm white. and i am okay with that.

holy crap - the ninth ward. there are still so many houses boarded up with spray-paint indicating the rescue attempts after hurricane katrina (date, team, number of bodies found in the house). while we were driving back from the thrift store (i outgrew more shirts) pixie and her roommate were commenting on how much nicer the neighbourhood has become; her roommate has been living in this house for two years. the piles of trash are gone, more houses have been reclaimed and cleaned up. the queen went for a walk this morning and told me "it's like baltimore out there" (context found in this post). i was all "really?" and he described the kids working the corners and guarding the drug stashes. wild. pixie told me that baltimore is apparently the most dangerous city in america. also wild, when you consider new orleans, new york, los angeles, detroit...

i am looking forward to spending some time here; not driving, not looking for rest areas, not having to strap everything down, not having to get up early every morning to maximize daylight driving. this is a well-needed rest. i need to slow down. spend a few days being less regimented. and it is SO NICE to see pixie. she is a special kind of wondrous being.

November 23, 2010

sand, everywhere.

still in north carolina - feeling way better. a night on a deserted beach was really, really helpful. the queen went out and slept on the actual beach, and i shared a fire with him until sleep called, then returned to the environs of hank the bus. we both fell asleep earlier than usual, which was handy when wakened by the park wardens and kicked out at five-thirty this morning. so we drove further down highway 12 through the national park, made some breakfast, took a nap, and went to an even more deserted beach for a few more hours. now we're back in civilization (coffee shop) and have a plan for where to sleep tonight that will hopefully prevent interruption. less deserted, but that's okay. now.

the relative solitude was priceless for my well-being. i forget i need it; i don't know exactly how, since it's a very prevalent part of my personality. the same way we all forget to breathe sometimes, i guess. this trip has reminded me of a few things i have been forgetting. pregnancy can really shake up the routine of plate-juggling, and sometimes a few important dishes are put down and not picked up again for a while. i feel relief at remembering myself - i like to sing; i am an emotional sponge; i have the most fun in random moments, as opposed to 'activities'. banter with the queen fills me with great joy. i wish i could remember and report some of the banter, but it floats away on the wind with our laughter. still, i know it's something we both get a lot of enjoyment out of, and it will probably help us survive the first couple of sleep-deprived years of child-rearing.

when the queen came back to the bus this morning at five-thirty, he brought with him about 3.4 tonnes of sand. it is now everywhere on the bus. i can't blame him; i would have done the same thing if roused by the authorities in the middle of a dream. who remembers to shake things off when you've just handed your ID over to a badge? of course, i gave him all kinds of trouble about it anyway, because it was fun to do so. my favourite was sand in the travel mug mouthpiece. my least favourite, sand in the bed. ah well. sand everywhere is a good cross to bear when there is 20cm of snow at home, with a windchill of -35.

beaches. digging a hole in the sand and laying on my belly. watching cranes fly by. lulled by the waves. picking up cool shells because i live on the prairies. a windy day, the shapes the wind draws in the sand...

my belly is growing nervously large. tomorrow i will be 29 weeks, which means there is way too much time in which the belly will continue to grow. i will then expel its contents through an opening in my vagina. does this scare anyone else? i repeat the mantra: "i'm going to get huge. my body was made to do this." please, goddess, send me all the right hormones, and lots of 'em.

November 21, 2010

blue, moon.

blogging from north carolina, with the ocean outside. the only thing separating me from the ocean is the balcony of the hotel room, a smallish sand dune and the beach. a few hours ago, the full moon was shining a gorgeous path on the ocean, and it reflected into our room.

oddly enough, i've felt a little depressed. warm weather is not a cure-all. mostly i think it's just the ongoing driving. since nova scotia, we've been driving every day, for most of the day. this means i haven't been walking, yet i haven't been still. we've been eating pretty well, and it's nice not to have to turn the heater on at night, but i miss being still. i miss being in the same place tomorrow as i was yesterday. i miss my cat (yes, i know this bit is getting repetitive. too bad).

today we booked into this lousy hotel room - the view and location are great, but the occasionally non-functioning elevator, closed-for-the-season pool and "wireless" internet (upon request, the lobby furnished us with an ethernet cable, which means we take turns using our computers to thirstily connect with the rest of the world and its resources) are crappy, and this place isn't much cheaper than the wonderful b&b we stayed at in newfoundland. the queen rented a bike and went off to some sand dunes. i wanted time to myself, but when i got it, i just moped. yesterday was tough physically; it felt like hosting a chicken-fighting contest in my belly. today has been rough emotionally; tears twice before two in the afternoon, and feeling depressed and overwhelmed until sundown. i turned to m&ms and crappy television to feel better. like most bandaids, it sort of worked. reading sort of worked. journalling sort of worked. a hot shower sort of worked. eventually, i was able to talk myself into a place of sort of working.

one of the troubles i have with feeling depressed is that i want to figure out "why now". it's never a good time. there are always great things happening i could be focusing on instead. i usually feel added guilt that i am not appreciating those elements of my life, whether they be wonderful surroundings, one-of-a-kind events, great people or beautiful weather. conversely, there are so many times and situations and combinations of things that could easily add up to depression, but i don't get depressed, and i'm curious why not.

i know that trying to find a reason is my effort to exert control over the depression. i know i want to solve it. i don't think this is actually helpful; it's a kind of dwelling that fools itself into looking like constructive action. it is not meaningful reflection i am doing here, but a ruthless perusal, looking for cracks, for faults. this is not healthy. it is a coping mechanism.

i think the best thing i can do for myself (see, i typed "to myself" and then realised that the doing "to myself" instead of "for myself" is the same example of unhealthy behaviour) is just keep on keeping on; mix up my acts with acts of health that i find difficult and weighty (having a shower, making a meal) with acts of nurturing (curling up with a book in the sun, having one glass of wine). so i did that. shower, laundry, m&ms, crappy tv. tomorrow i can say i did good, but also rewarded myself in decadent ways. i will have something to show for today, and i will not feel so emotionally poor.

November 18, 2010

it's sunny in conneticut

ah, conneticut. home of a good brewhouse, a good weekly and this boring starbucks with free internet.

actually, i was more fond of maine. who wouldn't be fond of maine? all the cheerful-looking conifers interspersed with the kinds of rocks that feature in cartoons (good size, nice rocky colour, round; good for dropping on wile E coyote) and slate grey streams. we didn't see the moose or the lumberjack, but i know they were out there, whistling. we found a total gem of a truckstop, dysart's. i wish there was a picture on the website of betty, our waitress who called me honey, or the front of the semi they had dismantled, shined and put up on the wall. i have found that truckstops are our friend; overnight parking, showers and laundry, a store full of things thoughtfully provided for long-distance travellers... it's lovely. i never thought i would use that adjective for a truckstop, but really, it is. home away from home. of course, i got 'truckin' by the grateful dead in my head immediately, and kept telling the queen i would meet him at the truck.

yesterday we drove through maine, new hampshire for ten minutes and massachusetts. we were both a bit cranky at the end of the day, but a good night's sleep in a parking lot and this bright sunny day has restored our lovers' moods.

i read the alice walker novel, 'now is the time to open your heart'. have i raved about this woman recently? when i was younger, i poured through her novels 'the colour purple', 'possessing the secret of joy' and 'the temple of my familiar'. walker reminds one that we are the same as the earth, the creatures, the water and sky. really, these aren't things we should protect, but reconnect with and rejoice in. this particular novel remembers me to the Grand Mother. which is nice timing, i must say. seriously, treat yourself to one of the flowers in her garden.

and on that note, i have found myself drawn more and more to women writers as my pregnancy progresses. as i wrote in a letter to a friend recently, male authors are starting to feel like a war in a foreign country; i know i should care more, i should relate more, but it just seems so far away. other than the queen, i don't feel connected to any man. my male friends seem to be waving from the sidelines, while my female friends are running out into the filed and high-fiving me (with hot-water bottles in their sympathetic hands, and tales of pregnancy). it's not that i feel these men-friends are pulling back. nor do i feel that i am. it's more like a gulf of experience is widening between us. the queen can always bridge the gulf; he just puts his hand on my belly and immediately, we're in this boat together. but he's the only one. i wonder how my relationship with my dad would feel if he were still alive.

November 13, 2010


so pretty. we parked hank at a public park; within walking distance to the waterfront, many bookstores, quaint public houses for the queen and a "restaurant with a conscience" that has the best gluten-free pizza i have found so far in the world. meat-lovers ... yum.

so far, we have spent too much money on books (the trend continues). this great book store had a lovely section of women authors, and i found an alice walker novel AND a jeanette winterson collection of short fiction i haven't yet read. so lovely. another bookstore down the road was overstuffed and incredibly daunting. though it had many more books, we didn't end up buying very much because it was exhausting simply to move through the melee of print. stacks upon boxes blocking the bottoms of all the shelves you wanted to look at. huge shelves that towered above your head no matter how tall you are. dark corners stuffed with books you might want, if you could see them. we wandered around, slack of jaw and wild of eye, then left slayed by fiction.

getting to halifax from north sydney where the ferry docked took us half a day, even when we stopped at a cute little market where the queen got some kind of pizza in a bun he claimed was awful. he often claims these things are awful, as i often watch him eat them with a glum look of gluten-free resignation in my eyes. it must have been terrible; he wolfed it down with quiet sighs and moans. such a stoic man.

the ferry itself, having taken eight hours to get to newfoundland, took thirty-two hours to get back. most of this time was spent fifteen minutes from north sydney, where it was too windy to dock. i went out to see how windy was too windy, and it was very, very windy. i had to hold on to the railing to grope my way forward. the captain said it was gusting to 45 knots, which translates to almost 84 km/h. yup, windy. so we got free lousy meals and an extra day off and some more lousy sleep. also, i finished the louise erdrich novel and pretended to start the john irving book i have been avoiding for several months. fortunately, i still haven't touched it, barring the fifty or so pages i read initially, before i gave up. oh john, who changed? you or me? perhaps both of us. maybe it just isn't the right time. ah well.

got my 26-week checkup started at a local walk-in clinic; still need to go to a lab to get some blood taken for something-or-other as well as an oral glucose test to make sure i don't have gestational diabetes. i have gained a bit more weight (i don't seem to be gaining very much, even though i feel like i'm eating with amazing frequency), don't have swelling around my ankles and still have low blood pressure, which is why i get dizzy occasionally. the solution, says walk-in doc, is to drink more water. more fucking water? eight to eleven cups a day is not enough? kiss my watery ass! but it makes sense, because usually the dizzies come in the morning. so i will make sure to drink marathon cups first thing, mom. (pretty sure mom doesn't read the blog, as i can't even convince her to log on to fbook to see the pictures the queen puts up of our journey).

next week, ameeeerickaaaa. noticing i can do less and less things like climbing hills and braving crowds, so my posts may descend into more book reviews and tales of hank naps. be warned. at least i am doing more writing than i ws at the beginning of the pregnancy. it's all balancing out somehow.

November 9, 2010

still missing my cat.

sitting in a ferry terminal. this is the east coast. i have sat in several ferry terminals and will sit in more before we're done. they are a good place to catch up on internetting and eat suspicious fries that will probably make my stomach hurt.

i just re-read my previous entry and was amused by how materialistic travelling while pregnant has made me. who knew all it took was a jacuzzi tub in a giant bathroom to reduce me to blathering? ah well. i have no regrets about that b&b. in fact, after they made me gluten-free french toast in a separate pan, accompanied by elegant fruit salad (no melon filler for these guys, oh no) i tried to plead with the queen to move here. to the b&b, i mean. he looked amused with a touch of panic.

after i reluctantly packed my things and signed the guest book, we took off to be tourists for a day. we visited signal hill (the view is amazing, plus the tower is open to be climbed, which i always love) and nerded out at the geo centre. we then went to an archeological dig an hour out of st john's, but of course it was closed for the season. still, we parked for the night on a big hill and fell asleep to the sound of waves crashing beneath us. pretty great.

since then, we have been driving back across this island, back to port aux basques where we now sit. the next five days or so are nova scotia, then a day in new brunswick and off to the states. my friend in new orleans, the little pixie, is getting excited and so am i. hey, tomorrow i am 27 weeks pregnant! wild, i know. and i am actually having some "happy to be pregnant" days. i realise i spend a lot of time writing about the crappy parts. but there are hormones at work that make me think this is a good idea, and if i don't overeat and i do pee every ten minutes, they keep me somewhat satisfied. also, i have recently become enamoured with crackers, peanut butter and pickles. i have them as a snack every day. it is pleasing to my belly.

we will be back in alberta at the 33-week-of-pregnancy mark. we are almost halfway done, time-wise (i am slowly reading this great book about time, and i must say it is awesome. i am currently learning about entropy, which i have always wanted to do). i have begun to have pangs of longing for home, but they have not eclipsed how great it is to be out here. last night, for example, we parked just outside of a closed-for-the-season golf course and had a romantic night in, consisting of pasta-by-LED-light, then cribbage and hot chocolate and sarah vaughan. afterward, we each did our own thing. hank is separated by curtains into two rooms, so i napped and read (the time book and a fantastic novel by louise erdrich, which i am totally hooked on and trying not to read too fast because the writing is good enough to read it slowly) and the queen practiced classical guitar. these are the kind of nights i think i will miss when we have a baby. so i did my best to really enjoy this one.

i just got distracted by the queen's photos on fbook of our trip. i'm sleeping on the bus through about half of them, so they're new to me even as they look familiar. i had deep thoughts to share (i do still have them, when i'm not napping or thinking about food) but they have floated away on a sleepy ether. i think they were about - oh yeah! (thanks brain) - commitment and phobias. see, being in my early thirties, i have relationship phobias, and had basically come to peace with the idea of not really having one of those LTRs. short liaisons, as shallow as their reputation may be (no judgment here, i learned a lot), were serving me just fine. i have been reading on some people's fbook profiles links to interesting articles about the psychology of relationships. i provide a link even as i hesitate, probably because i fear being judged flaky for getting something out of this. but i did get something out of it, so i bare this link to my own psyche, sigh. it hit the nail on the head for me in regards to several points.

one, compromise. i resisted compromise for a long time because i felt it to be disempowering. so many of the relationships in my life (not the romantic ones, i mean my childhood and family relationships) robbed me of my autonomy that i really needed to spend some time not compromising with anyone. but eventually, that leads to a stubborn attitude of "my way or the highway" when frankly, my way isn't that much better than anyone else's. still, if it feels gross, don't do it, so i didn't. stevens makes a point that allows me to separate the disempowering choices with the simple compromises that come with any close relationship. his examples are perhaps a bit too simple, but i get it.

another interesting point the article brought up for me is how the inner gender balance of each of us affects our choice in relationships. it sheds a little light on some of the patterns i have seen in myself and others. as i have become more comfortable with my feminine side (realising it does not eclipse my masculine side) i have found men who respect and appreciate my femininity more. this has, in fact, been very recent. perhaps men in the past have appreciated my femininity, but since i didn't, i probably either didn't notice or judged them for it.

anyway, the article disintegrates into a discussion about "why there are so few good men out there", which i don't really buy into, so read it at your own discretion. i got something out of it so i share.

November 5, 2010

i could live here

i just had the most amazing bath. words cannot do it justice.

we came in overnight on the ferry from cape breton and slept a bit in port aux basques before heading up to gros morne national park (this pic captures what i like best about the park; fog and valleys). we parked by a dock for the night and stepped out to watch the little fishing boats bobbing up and down in the dark (going for crabs or lobster, i think the queen said. not actual fish, anyway. that's morning fishing) and the lighthouse swooping around.

the next day we took a brief hike before heading back onto the trans-canada and east to st john's. given the size of this rock, we made it to clarenville and parked for the night (not finding a decent pub, to the disappointment of the queen). today we got into st john's (pronounced st jahn's, apparently) and nearly went crazy trying to find a b&b. lesson: google and newfoundland are not friends. everything on google has been closed for three years. just park the damn bus and walk around. once we did that, we found this. oh! yeth pleeze.

let me tell you about the bathroom. it is large. very large. spacious is definitely a word you could use. there is a bidet. and a chandelier. and stained glass windows. there is a shower separate from the tub. let me sigh about the tub. long enough to stretch out in with my head underwater and my legs straight. wide enough to sit sideways comfortably, which i did to get the jets to pulsate directly onto the perfect spot in my lower back. the queen kept coming in and giggling at how perfectly happy i looked. then he went out in search of a pub. which he has found, on the street rumoured to have the most pubs per square foot in all of north america. i don't expect him for hours.

so i sit naked in a room with central heating and running water and electricity, all of which i have grown to appreciate recently. not that i am dissing the ever-steady hank. hank rocks. but this is nice too. i'm sure hank understands i have a little romance going on with B&Bs and bathtubs. i feel very lucky to be here, both newfoundland and this gorgeous place. i have wanted to come to this rock for years. and it is gorgeous. desolate, rocky, rugged; this is a place i love very much already. i feel sorrow that we are barely touching it before we leave. it would take a month to rush through. we have four or five days. bittersweet vacation, bring it on.

November 1, 2010

bump picture!

welcome to nova scotia; we found an irish pub. the queen is pleased. it's like both of us are home (i was born in nova scotia, but moved away as a toddler and haven't been back since i was twelve). the sand dunes in pei were fantastic. they are actually dune-like. who knew?

we're stopping here quickly (took the ferry over from pei) and then off to newfoundland, where i am not counting on finding a lot of internet. after newfoundland, we'll spend more time wandering around nova scotia before heading back to new brunswick and into america. it sort of seems like we're rushing, but we talked about how much we have left to do and i am amazed. i didn't realise how much road lies ahead of us. i think we'll probably not make it to the west coast. another time, pacific friends.

we left our pei friends; they are such a sweet couple. it was really warming to hear them talk about how they don't know what they're doing in terms of parenting (when they're clearly doing quite well). also, she gave me a body pillow, for which i love her forever and ever. it's so joyous to be able to lie on my side and keep my hips open.

i am losing bodily functions one by one. i can barely cross my legs. my body has been hijacked by a hungry, fussy gymnast. the queen looked at my breakfast this morning and said "that looks neat. complicated and tasty, like you." i was eating whole-grain cereal flakes with yogurt and blueberries, a vain attempt to stimulate my stagnant, brick-laying bowels. i looked at his loaf of tuscan bread with butter and merely scowled. more poignant breakfast conversation:

me: anyone who calls menstruation a curse has never been pregnant. yeast infections, bladder infections, constipation, backache...

the queen: well, that's not every woman's pregnancy.

me, with bitter cheer: no! some women get hemorrhoids and heartburn!

the queen says nothing at this point. wise man.