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Saturday, January 31, 2009

More D-man pics

I ran into a woman I know through the community of workers in housing rights and advocacy at a coffee shop this week. She has three grown kids and seeing Dylan, was completely smitten. "This time is so, so precious," she said. "Looking back, I wish I had more. Really, they grow so fast and soon they are sitting at the table talking with you, telling you about their lives." Then she added with a grin, "Miia, have many. Bam, bam, bam, bam. Fast. And many. The hardest part is only 12 years." 12 years. Funny lady.
I like these chances to get out of the house and meet with friends. I especially like the sweet and delicate combination of baby world but also life outside baby universe- cycling advocacy, ethics in human resources, the courage of those who seek help.
This week was also the annual homeless memorial. Dylan was with me, sleeping against my chest the whole way through but the last minutes. When he started crying at the end, I stood up to sway at the back of the church. I didn't want to disturb the others. After, when the service was over and I was chatting with colleagues and friends, they commented on how the sound of a baby was just the right way to end the service - a note of innocence and hope. Funny how I worried about bothering people and yet he was so easily welcomed.
Off to bed. Peace out, Miia

Friday, January 30, 2009


Here are 15 books I loved reading in 2008, with my favourite 5 in bold:

1. Leaf Storm and Other Stories, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez - incredible prose and imagery, bountiful imagination.

2. A Short History of Nearly Everything, by Bill Bryson - a science textbook for laypeople full of the history of discovery, and all the unsung geniuses who had the glory snatched from them by future generations finally ready for their work.

3. Skinny Legs and All, Tom Robbins - very imaginative, unusual, bubbling stacatto prose of the spiritual adventure of inanimate objects and brain-dead people.

4. A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Housseini - very simply written, all about the story, and the people of Afghanistan.

5. A Language Older Than Words, by Derrick Jensen - it rambles over a lot of ground, but stays true to its viscious, though heavily provoked, attack on our culture.

6. Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison - crazy, crazy journey into the dark heart of the racial majority's prejudices, and a man of the racialized minority struggling to be seen for what he is.

7. Civilization and Its Part in My Downfall, by Paul Quarrington - hilarious story of a movie stuntman.

8. We Were Not the Savages, by Daniel Paul - important re-telling of Nova Scotia history by a descendant of the 'losers', the ones we tried to assimilate and/or annihilate.

9. The Birth Partner: A Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Doulas and All Other Labour Companions, by Penny Simkin - highly recommended to anyone who knows anyone who will be giving birth soon. Practical, balanced, by far the best of several books I read on the subject.

10. Ramblin' Man: the Life and Times of Woody Guthrie, by Ed Cray - Not just the story of a man, but of a movement, a time in history, a country.

11. The Shock Doctrine: the Rise of Disaster Capitalism, by Naomi Klein - Only read this because I was interviewing her for an article. Read in one mind-bending weekend. It's a brilliant theory, brilliantly argued, that brings together many strands we already know.

12. 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, by Charles C. Mann - Archeology and anthropology have come a long way, and what we thought was history is new again. This book shows why.

13. Cibou, by Susan Young de Biagi - Great story by a Nova Scotian writer of worlds, and worldviews, colliding with calamitous results. Simply but powerfully told.

14. Grimus, by Salman Rushdie - Magic realism at its best; Rushdie just piles on layers of imagery until your mind is high as a kite and ready to dream.

15. Down to the Dirt, by Joel Thomas Hynes - Gritty story of a young man's fascinating and disturbing, all too realistic, self-destruction.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

9 Movies

9 Movies I Greatly Enjoyed in 2008:

1. Homicide: Life on the Streets, Seasons 1-7 + made-for-tv movie: Technically not a movie but probably the best cop show ever - a lot of the people involved went on to make The Wire which I hear is even better.

2. Adaptation: Charlie Kaufman is just so brilliant for the layers of dramatic irony, the stories within the stories, and the pathetic insecure writer as character. One of my favourite movies.

3. On the Waterfront: Classic Hollywood Brando union story. "I coulda been somebody...Instead of a bum, which is what I am."

4. Instinct: In which white man learns from silverback gorillas, goes to the loony bin, teaches young black man what he learned. When I put it that way, it sounds terrible doesn't it? But it's a surprisingly good adaptation of Ishmael, considering that book (as much as I loved it) had almost no plot to work with. They did a great job getting the basic idea across and creating their own plot.

5. The Dark Knight: Some have called it over-rated, over-hyped. I disagree. Ledger was freaky and engrossing; the high-flying Chinese cityscapes gave me vertigo, I was on the edge of my seat through the whole thing.

6. Whale Rider: Beautiful magic-realist tale of a Maori girl-chief.

7. Inner Strength: All it is, is shots of six different couples giving birth at different times, but all in a Dutch birth centre. Almost no dialogue other than moaning and screaming and crying. It is absolutely beautiful.

8. The Man Without a Past: Stoic Finnish skid row bums playing funk music for the salvation army. It doesn't get much better.

9. The Battle of Algiers: Incredible realism, unblinking look at both the French and Algerian atrocities of war. Has a documentary feel but isn't a documentary. Gripping stuff.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

14.7 pounds-ish of love, cuddles and hope

We don't have a reliable scale at our place so last night when at a friend's, we weighed D-man on their scale. 14.7 pounds. That's a lot of breastmilk!
Highlights of the past week:

1- I'm going to take D to a seniors' centre with me to "volunteer" i.e. hang out with seniors so that they can enjoy his baby self and I can enjoy their senior selves. On my tour of the building, I introduced D to the 100-year-old woman there. 100 years of difference between them. Somehow staggering. I said to Dylan, "I hope you too get a long and good life."
2- Library baby's first books this Friday. A good crew of parents who are really letting me know that the journey is hard but totally worth it.
3- Some awesome cooking this week. Thanks to Chris' cousin Jacob's friend Sonny who last year gave us an Indian cookbook and opened this world of good food.
4- Watching Dylan as Chris and I read to him a picture book. His face reveals his sense of marvel at the pictures and follow Chris' hand as he points out pictures. Each new page brings out a laugh and giggle.
5- Working it all out with Chris as we become parents together. Both of us have our good and bad days but I have this feeling we're going to come out so much stronger together at the end of it all. Let not our love waiver even when we feel we falter ourselves.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Enviro Shakeup

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Mom wanted more pictures

Winter here with icey roads and schools cancelled. Dylan's napping but after we'll go for a walk.
It's been up and down in D world. He's growing like crazy and able to do new things all the time. Last night I read him a bedtime story and I swear he was following the pictures with his eyes, laughing when I turned the page. It's incredible watching someone grow so much so fast.
I have my good and bad days, sometimes exhausted and frustrated that I can't seem to get anything done. Other days are just amazing, both because D amazes but also because I get a chance to do something I love. Yesterday was both.
Two quick thoughts here:
1- On food and, in particular, dairy products. As I pump breastmilk each morning and freeze the little baggies, I watch the reserve supply grow. Still, they're meager amounts really and nothing compared to the 2 litres of milk I can just pick up at the grocery store. When I think of what our bodies go through to make milk and how precious it is, it makes me appreciate cow's milk all the more. What the cow's body goes through and how valuable that milk is... Although I'm never one to really waste food, I have a deeper reverence and appreciation for it now. Community of life stuff, as Daniel Quinn would put it.
2- On post-baby emotional health. It's not been easy and suddenly I find myself feeling overwhelmed, sometimes alone, sometimes completely lost in baby world. Chris, poor man, gets to listen to me and comfort me when I try to figure out what on earth I'm doing with myself aside from feeding, changing diapers, cooking, trying to stay fed and clean myself. When I think about this and all of the moms I know, there is a kind of silence about how hard it really is. Babies are wonderful, it's true, and D is just so precious I could gobble him up. Still, that doesn't mean it's easy by any means. And because it's hard doesn't mean I'm a bad mom or a weak person. It would be easier to believe this, though, if our struggles were normalized and shared. Caring for a newborn isn't bliss. At least hasn't been for me. Good times, for sure. Lovely and beautiful moments, yes. But bliss, nope.
Anyway, just a couple of thoughts from here.
Peace out, M

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

11 Albums

Here are 11 albums I picked up this year that I really think you should hear. Especially the 5 that I put in bold:

1. Juno Soundtrack: Fun movie and equally fun soundtrack highlighted by Kimya Dawson.

2. Melissa Maclellan - Thumbelina's One-Night Stand: This Toronto singer-songwriter opened for Blue Rodeo (after Cuff the Duke got caught in a snowstorm) and stole the show with an incredible sultry-strong voice and great songwriting chops. And she's married to Luke Doucet.

3. Danny Michel - Feather, Fur & Fin: Danny Michell, the little known songster from Kitchener-Waterloo, delivers again and again and again. This is one of his best.

4. Justin Rutledge - Man Descending: This kid continues to impress with his poetic sensibilities and pretty pretty voice.

5. David Myles - Things Have Changed: Originally from New Brunswick, now a Haligonian, his music has a folky jazzy bluesy old-school vibe. Another great songwriter telling stories about how he learned to live.

6. Martin Sexton - Seeds: He is best experienced live (he paid is dues selling tens of thousands of self-made cd's as a Boston busker), but Sexton's incredible vocal range, gorgeous energy, and his ability to exhale complex music like carbon dioxide, make his recorded work well worth the investment.

7. Country & Western: This is a 10-disc compilation of old-time American country circa 1929-1951, talking Jimmie Rodgers, Gene Autry, Jack Guthrie, the Carters, that kinda thing. It was a time and an era and a feel. It's nostalgia on disc and I love it.

8. Kathleen Edwards - Asking for Flowers: There's a strong streak of punk in Canada's new queen of alt-country (make room Neko Case). Her songs are gritty and real, her voice is powerful and true.

9. Bob Dylan - Tell Tale Signs (Bootleg Series Volume 8): These songs are so good it's hard to believe they were the ones that didn't make the cut on the original discs. Some of these songs I like a lot more than what was originally released. The man's talent just falls off him.

10. Buffy St. Marie - Running for the Drum: Amazing that you can go decades without releasing an album and then come out with something this good. It's really got it all: political songs, love songs, songs of the reservation and home, Canada and America; blues, old time rock-and-roll, hip-hop sampling. When I saw her live this summer she talked about how she got labelled as a folk singer back in the 60s and started writing 'traditional' Irish-style folk diddies to please the masses. You can see with this album just how much she was holding back.

11. Old Man Luekecke - Notes From the Banjo Underground: Somehow I forgot to include this in my original list, even though this is an absolutely fabulous album! It's a few years old now and I don't have his new one yet, but his songwriting is this strange Mark Twainish folk philosophy that is pure genius, all accompanied by gorgeous banjo pickin. Now one of my very favourite albums.

Monday, January 12, 2009

On the House

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009


I love him either way. Miia

Monday, January 05, 2009