Absence and return

Looking out over the Rocky Mountains in 2016

Canada has been on my mind a lot recently. Partially because of international media coverage after the discovery of the remains of 215 children on the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, BC. Partially because Prime Minister Trudeau got weird amounts of attention for his poufy hair and fancy socks at the G7 in Cornwall. But mostly because I haven’t been on Canadian soil for a year and a half.

That’s a long absence for me.

As more people are fully vaccinated (in Switzerland and Canada) and COVID-19 infection rates are going down in both countries, travel is starting to re-open. But plotting a trip ‘home’ has been complicated by quarantine requirements, lack of flights, previous commitments, and, above all, so much uncertainty.

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Selected short-story reading (vol. 1)

Woman reading a paperback book by a body of water

Since I wrote about boycotting written works by straight white men (or avoiding them as much as possible) I’ve made very deliberate choices about what to read for my creative writing course. This term is all about short fiction and contains some unavoidable SWM-authored works (notably Raymond Carver thus far), but we’ve also had a lot of latitude in picking what we want to read, present, and pick apart.

Instead of keeping the women-authored pieces I’ve found within the bounds of the course, I’m sharing some of my favourite discoveries. These are quick to read, readily available, and a no-commitment-necessary kinda way of broadening reading horizons. Lots of people don’t love reading short stories… maybe these picks will help change that!

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Why I’m done with straight white men

Or at least avoiding books written by them

A woman's arm lifting a paperback book off a bookshelf

It’s a straight white man’s world and there’s no shortage of content produced by and for that demographic. Despite not being how the majority of people identify (at least in my home country, Canada, where about a third of respondents identified as racialised minorities in the most recent census and men make up slightly less than half of the total population), it would be pretty easy to watch, read, listen to nothing but straight white men!

My biggest motivator for seeking out non-white, non-straight, non-male authors (that’s a lot of nons!) is the continued dominance of media and artistic spaces by this group of bros. A disproportionate number of authors, journalists, actors, directors, writers, artists, and musicians come from the same dominant hegemony: heterosexual, caucasian, male and mostly unaware of their privilege. 

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Classic Canadian comfort food

… and an outdoor twist

Foil-wrapped macaroni and cheese on an outdoor grill along with sausages

Canadians love Kraft Dinner. I’ve yet to meet a fellow Canadian who doesn’t have strong opinions about the best variety, a not-so-secret tweak (mine is less milk, more butter, and added broccoli), or a deep certainly that homemade mac and cheese (or at least Annie’s) is better.

But does macaroni and cheese belong at a barbeque?

Yup! And it’s a delicious meat-free alternative to the standard Swiss sausages—although as evidenced by the photo, there were plenty of sausages, too.

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How we knew

Almost exactly three years ago, a friend posted on social media about the trauma of saying goodbye to Roxy, his faithful companion of 12 years. He and his wife candidly outlined their struggles and Roxy’s, demonstrating their compassion and caring, and providing a window into the hardship of choosing to euthanise a beloved family member. 

I benefited so much from their insight; it made me want to share our experience with letting Sofie go. I’ve written another post about not being ready to let her go that deals with more of the emotional stuff; this one is all about the decision.

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We weren’t ready to let her go

Taking Sofie to the vet just over two weeks ago, we knew there was a possibility that we wouldn’t be bringing her home again. Intellectually we could tell that this world was becoming too much for her old bones, but our minds and our hearts weren’t syncing. 

Emotionally, we weren’t prepared to not have Sofie in our lives. We still aren’t.

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‘Flat’ is good… and restorative!

My yoga practice has been much flatter since having knee surgery in December. Reclined. Prone. Horizontal. Or maybe up a wall.

The swelling has yet to abate, making more active sessions out of reach. Down dog is a no-go. Butterfly makes me shudder in horror. Even my favourite yin-yoga-style practice with its many very-bent-knee poses (squats, sleeping swan, and happy baby, to name a few) is beyond my current capabilities. And child’s pose, well, that’s inconceivable.

But flatter hasn’t meant unfulfilling.

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