March 15, 2010

Superwoman Reclaims her Solitude

My daughter and her friend at Robson Square and Canada Place on the harbour:

It is Monday morning, the kids are back in school after March break, and the house is very, very quiet. Ahhhhhhh. I was a bit of a Superwoman last week. I spent several days preparing for an event I co-organized with my partner-in-crime The Librarian. For five years now we have put on an International Women's Day event called Women's Words; we invite a writer to put on a workshop in the afternoon and then we host a party of sorts in the evening where women gather at the library to read their writing to a supportive audience (men are invited to come, too but not to read their writing - after all it is called Women's Words). This year The Librarian decided that she and I should give a beginners' workshop, something she has done before but I have not. Needless to say, I put a lot of work into my part of the workshop which was on 'Writing Memories', so I wouldn't look like a fool, and I am happy to report it was a success. The women who participated all enjoyed themselves, said they learned some valuable tools for their 'writer's toolbox', and gained confidence in their own 'voices'. We couldn't have asked for more.

Women's Words was on Wednesday, and on Thursday I spent the entire day spring cleaning my kitchen. I had commandeered my children for a couple of hours to help me. We did this before Christmas, too and it saved me a lot of work. I was able to clean the entire kitchen inside and out in one day instead of two or three (it's a big kitchen with a total of 35 drawers and cupboards). Everyone chose one set of cupboards to clean and I did everything else.

On Friday, my friend Emee and I took nine teenagers (four of them our own) from our church to Vancouver for a day of Paralympic sightseeing. We drove to Burnaby where we parked at a mall and then rode the skytrain into downtown. We toured the Vancouver Art Gallery where we viewed Twentieth Century paintings by Emily Carr, E.J. Hughes and other wonderful British Columbia artists, a sculpture of a bow whale skeleton made entirely of white plastic lawnchairs, and anatomical drawings by Leonardo daVinci. We visited various pavillions and the amazing Public Library with its Romanesque architecture, saw the Olympic cauldron in its beautiful harbour setting, and some of us skated at Robson Square while others went shopping at a giant music store. The city was full of paralympians in wheelchairs, on crutches, etc., enjoying the accessability of everything. Vancouver was in a celebratory mood but not super-crowded like it was a few weeks ago when the main streets were a crush of people in red and white. Finally, we watched the lights come up as dusk fell on the city and then we went home, pale faced and puffy eyed, with tired legs and sore feet, but fully satisfied after our wonderful day.

Perhaps my schedule of events of last week doesn't sound like much to some people, or all in a few day's work for others, but the truth is, I live a fairly quiet life, in a quiet town, centered around my home and the activities of my family. While I do enjoy the occasional burst of excitement, I am always glad when things return to 'normal' once again. I wrote the following poem last year after a similar time of having many demands on my energy and attention. I gave it to a friend for her 40th birthday, but I have recently rewritten it.


While the laundry does itself, wiping out its own stains,
the bathrooms clean themselves,
the breakfast dishes stack themselves like in an old Disney cartoon,
the counter wiped by an enchanted cloth in soapy, circular motions,

She sits and looks out the window at the hump-backed bear shaped mountain.

While the after-school snack bakes itself, scattered papers tidy up
and fall neatly into files,
groceries appear in the cupboards and fridge,
supper prepares itself, simmering savoury flavours on the stovetop,

She re-reads a favourite novel and sips tea from a thin china cup.

While the children answer their own questions and solve their own story problems, mediate
their own arguments and nag themselves to clean their rooms,
She turns the music up and dances around the livingroom, singing at the top of her voice.

While her husband keeps his thoughts about his day to himself and offers himself one or two wise, comforting remarks, knows he needs to go for a walk and suggests they both go...

She puts on her shoes and heads out the door
Where day has put itself away and the dusk doesn't need to talk.


  1. Congratulations on the success of your workshop! As much as I love having the chidren home during holidays I also love the return to normality and serenity when they return to school. I love your poem .... wish I could have a day just like that once in a while!

  2. Womens' Words sounds great. I would have loved to have been there. A shame we live on different continents! I enjoyed your poem very much.

  3. Your workshop sounds great. Congrats on its success. Congrats as well on your solitude. Enjoy it!

  4. DianeSS: Thanks! Me too.

    Kate: Wish you could have been there too! Glad you enjoyed the poem. I don't write a lot of poetry, but sometimes I am just seized by an idea for one - this was one of those times.

    Dive Girl: I do enjoy it, thanks!

  5. Are the kids with their backs to a huge window ?. Or is it photoshoped.
    Is the catch so good writer-wise that you can throw back half the catch.

  6. It is not photoshopped at all,Vince. The kids are on the art gallery steps and the skating rink is in the bottom of the square. and I'm sorry to be dense, but I'm not sure what you mean about 'the catch'.

  7. Sorry, catch as in fishing with a net.

  8. Ah. That's what I thought, but I'm still mystified. Do you mean there are so many good female writers here that we can afford to throw back the male writers, or what? You Irish and your cryptic statements!!! or maybe it's just you ;)

  9. Yeah well, when we are not being cryptic we're accused of being blunt. And yes, have you that many writers in total.

  10. Well, while you and Vince sort this out...

    I am glad you had a lovely time. I really like Vancouver. For one thing, I speak the language. And it is clean. Unlike America which is uniformly dirty, but garishly lit.

    I want a day like that poem. Just one or maybe two, because I, like you, really prefer my little life, no matter what I say to the contrary. (I just like to be contrary.)

  11. Have a happy St Patrick's day to all.

  12. Tracey: Vancouver has some dirty parts, too. I used to live in a rougher area, funky, but very different than the downtown!

    Vince: I was just going to head over to your blog to wish you the same! How did you celebrate? (I put on a Chieftains album.)

  13. Well, you sound busy to me. And I have to sort TWO(yes, just two)of the cupboards in our little kitchen and I'm putting it off and putting it off...

    I loved reading about your Women writers, your day at the Paralympics and also your poem. Happy St Patrick's Day - my husband has phoned to tell me he's drinking stout in a pub in Copenhagen, so the world is celebrating...

  14. Your Women's Words workshop is a great idea! It sounds like it was a success.
    I really like your poem. If only things could take care of themselves somedays : )

  15. Yes, Floss, Spring is my busiest time - so many projects to look after. I used to have a tiny, tiny kitchen with only two cupboards as well, crammed full so almost more of a challenge to clean than this one!

    Thanks, LadyCat. Glad you like the poem - I think we all would like a day like that.


I'd love to hear your thoughts. Thanks!