Scent of a Woman

 

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They say scent is the most powerful memory trigger. Today I was faced with this very trigger, seemingly randomly. While taking a stroll with my dog, I walked by this old building turned antique auction house. Somebody from inside called to me and said ‘Hey, I have something for you’. I said ‘Oh?’ and followed him (maybe against my better judgement, but I live in a small town). The man had some dog treats for my dog, which basically meant he was my dogs best friend now.

Still, as I entered this old building, I was hit by this peculiar scent. I immediately thought of my Mamagan (my maternal grandmother). How to describe this scent? Thinking of it logically, it was the smell of cigarettes and dated furniture. Maybe an old wood drenched in the scent of cigarettes, really. But actually, when I smelled this scent, I didn’t think of it as wood/cigarette smell. I thought of My Mamagan and her house. My Mamagan’s house was this little cottage-like home wrapped in wooden shingles and, from what I remember, a lot of wooden furniture and accents. Plus, as the other scent would suggest, she smoked. A lot. Of course this antique auction building is filled with all such furniture. Old furniture and a man who likes to smoke and give treats to the neighbourhood dogs.

I left this encounter thinking of the correlation between scent and memory. I was taken back to that home my Mamagan lived in that seemed to be a castle to me as a child. I’m sure, though, that it was not much bigger than a few rooms. I always found that place to be so magical, with it’s nooks and crannies. The kicker to all of this is that, not only is that house long gone (burned down in a fire years after we moved away), but my Mamagan has also been gone for over 18 years.

That such a specific scent (despite sounding so unpleasant) can bring back these vivid memories of a period of time. Stuck in time with this scent that cannot be bottled or easily recreated, but every once in a while appears out of nowhere, just as quickly fading away as if it never was.

New Christmas Traditions

20161127_122742 I have a confession to make.

I LOVE Christmas.

I love most everything about it, from decorating, to baking, and most especially christmas music. One of the great things about having a young child in the house is the ability to enjoy christmas with the new, exciting fervour that makes the season so magical.

So yesterday we started a new christmas tradition. We went to a local farm and picked our own christmas tree. It is a wonderful tradition because, not only is cutting your own tree more environmentally-friendly than a plastic one (especially from a local, no pesticide tree farm!), but the entire experience is special. PLUS, we get to pick a tree in the middle of a field and make my husband saw it down and carry it for over 2 km. So, it’s a family affair 😉20161127_122813

Nothing beats that fresh pine smell and the endless pine needles lingering around the house until you have to drag the dead tree out of your house to be burned in the firepit next summer.

Here’s to a happy, healthy and tradition filled holiday season spent with family and the many  happy shrieks from delighted children.

 

 

 

Dandelion

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My favourite flower is the dandelion
With its bright orange leaves and green, green stem
The dandelion that I would grasp in my hands as a child
And carefully deliver to my mother, with love

My favourite flower is the dandelion
As a first sign of spring
Sprouting above the thick, green grass
Growing tall before the lawn mower crops it away

My favourite flower is the dandelion
When my mother would braid crowns for me out of flowers of sunshine
That I would wear proudly and feel like a princess

My favourite flower is the dandelion
That my daughter hunts in the yard
Like treasures she finds, squealing with delight
As she clasps the buds in her little yellow fingers

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY, MUM!

One year later

My baby just turned 1 year old.
However, this post is not really about her. She’s amazing, and I am so proud of her every day.  With her birthday floating by, I find myself looking inwards to what I have overcome with this pregnancy, birth, and the first year.
It’s probably evident by now that I am not one of those mom’s who spent her life wishing to have a baby, and then rushing to have another. I have no desire to re-live the pain, exhaustion, and borderline depression that came with pregnancy and caring for a baby. It didn’t really make me happy. While I didn’t have a preconceived notion of what child rearing would be, it wasn’t that. Maybe I shouldn’t say child rearing, but child carrying. It was, quite literally, the pregnancy and carrying the child that made me miserable with back pain. Pain that started at 12 weeks pregnant, and that continued until now. A whole year and a half later. I feel weak. Weakened by this experience that is motherhood. Something I thought I could pull-off effortlessly. It simply wasn’t the case. So here I am, on my child’s first birthday, checking in with myself. I know that I love my baby to death and wouldn’t trade her for anything in the world, but I also have no desire to do it again. I don’t romanticize the experience, seeing it through Rose coloured glasses. Nope, not this girl. I feel humbled by it. Weakened. Vulnerable. It’s not the empowering 1 year birthday story one might expect to read. I’m just being honest. I survived this year. I survived a traumatic birth and, lack of sleep, and excruciating back pain when my baby didn’t want to be put down. I’m sore. I’m tender. Perhaps one day I’ll look back on this time and forget all the pain I’ve felt, but this 1 year birthday is not it.

Things I Didn’t Do Before Having A Baby

Parenthood has been interesting. As this human grew inside of me and then proceeded to grow outside of me, I began to take on new characteristics myself. Some of them mundane, some hilarious, and some down right disgusting!
Here are a few things I’ve noticed (perhaps you can relate?!):

– Leaving the house with baby is a production. It’s no longer throwing on some shoes and running out the door. It’s also Murphy’s law that an impromptu diaper change will need to happen once everyone is dressed and ready to head out.

– Every time I leave the house without baby (read: rarely), I’ve developed a rocking motion while standing still. Oh, also, I sing and talk to myself now. Every. Time.

– I pee with the door open. I never did this before, but it became necessary with baby crawling around. The other day, however, she was at daycare and I realized I left the door open anyway. My dog just stared at me. I swear he was judging me.

– When I go to the mall (read: rarely), I find myself shopping for baby things more than myself. I think I’m just procrastinating, because, let’s be honest, my child doesn’t need any more clothes!

– I dance, jiggle, crawl on my hands and knees, and make more faces than ever before.

– I’ll just put this out there: diaper sniff test…

– I’m always distracted and often repeat myself

– When I go into cupboards or fridge doors, I shut them really quickly so little wandering hands don’t start unpacking everything. Even when she’s not around.

– That being said, everything needs to be on a higher shelf. Think it’s high enough? She’ll grow and stretch and inevitably reach it.

– I’m always distracted and often repeat myself…Oh, wait…

Rainbows and Rainstorms

We walked along a dirt path next to the beach. The tide was low. Longtail and speed boats alike moored close to the shore. Landlocked after a warm day at sea. There were people far out in the muddied water, taking advantage of the low tide to search out crabs and other sea treasures. Young children back from school were digging in the sand, their uniforms getting wet from the sea water.
We pass several fishermen repairing their boats. The smell of paint wafts over us as a boat receives a coat after being refinished.
Some men toil away at fishing nets while others sit nearby eating dinner.
As we approach a row of small restaurants,  we notice one where a young child is crouched down in the dirt. Her mother is holding her pants down while she pees into the dirt next to the restaurant.  We smile politely as we pass. When the girl is finished, she and her mother wave to our daughter in the stroller.
We walk past several restaurants with meager store fronts, and priceless seating. Every seat is sea view, just steps from a row of fishing boats. We pass restaurant owners waving and making faces at our daughter.  We stop to chat with some. One has a 5 month old son, who drools and smiles at us.
As we make our way to a dead end, we turn right onto a paved road, then left. Up a road with no sidewalk,  the cars and motorcycles swerve to give us room. Maybe 25 meters and we arrive at a building advertising Massages: Massages ‘by blind people’. We are intrigued, but the shop seems to have gone out of business.
We arrive at a restaurant called ‘Rawai view Café and Bar’. This restaurant, perched on a hill overlooking the sea at low tide, has incredible views of the entire town and surrounding islands. We can even spot a Navy ship in the far distance. We share the view with only one other table of guests.
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As we order our meals, we see the skies darken and thunder sound. When ur meals come, the waitress asks us to move from the uncovered patio to under the thatched roof. We oblige and then watch as the staff hurriedly tie down all the furniture with heavy plastic sheets and clips. This isn’t their first rainstorm.
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From our covered viewpoint, we watch as the storm rolls in, moment by moment.
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The Navy ship and islands that were once visible disappear behind sheets of rain.
As we are enjoying some of the best curry we’ve ever had, the rain hits the Café in a thunderous way. We are asked to move tables inwards again, as the wind blows inwards.
The waitresses are apologetic, like there is anything they could do to help the weather. We are thrilled, and order another drink. Here we are, in paradise, watching mothr nature from a warm, dry, viewing gallery with delicious food and a whole bar to ourselves.
As the storm passed, a rainbow formed over an island. This rainbow probably only visible to the select few of us lucky enough to have this view point from the hill.
After about an hour, the storm receeded and we decided to walk back to our hotel. It was cooler than when we came, the rain moistening our skin as we walked.
We couldn’t have planned a better last night in Rawai.

These Moments

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In the end, what we’ll remember are these moments.
Moments marked in time, yet unremarkable.
Together, endless days, aimless wanderings.
Enjoying the world through each other’s eyes.
Feeling our way through a world wholly new.
Slowing our pace for each other.
Deciding to do nothing at all
Still ends up creating a moment.
A moment in time we’ll never get back
But we’ll hold with us forever.

We didn’t go on an Island adventure today

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We had planned to go on an island adventure today.
We were going to hire one of the longtail boatmen on the beach across from our hotel. We would pay 1000 baht for a morning trip to James Bond Island, where the 1974 film ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’ was filmed.
Formerly known as Kho Phing Kan, the island is about 30 minutes by longtail boat from Rawai beach, where we are staying. We would have left in the morning and come home around lunch. The island has a restaurant and a beach. We bought Evey a lifejacket for this type of occasion.
I was going to have fodder for this blog. Fantastic photos of the limestone deposits, gorgeous beach, and glorious views of the sea.

Except, I woke up this morning and decided this particular adventure was not for us. I couldn’t help thinking about why we needed that lifejacket. The water is choppy. The waves get big. And sometimes, I’m sure, boats capsize or sink. It’s rare, I’m also sure. But that’s why they have the lifejackets. So I couldn’t help imagining what it would be like if this rare thing happened with my baby on board. We would survive the wait for an alternate boat, but she would surely drown under the waves. She is just simply too little. I would never forgive myself. It may sound overly dramatic, but I just couldn’t put this thought aside.
My mommy brain working in overdrive. But it’s the ‘what if’ with an outcme I can’t live with.

So today we stayed inland and we didn’t have an island adventure. And I’m ok with that.

Phuket Botanical Gardens

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We tracked down a taxi at 9 am (a small feat in this up late, late to rise town). Everyone but the fishermen seem to sleep-in in Rawai, where we are staying. We wanted to head to the Phuket Botanical Gardens before it got too hot to walk around.
After speaking to the taxi driver’s friend on the phone to help translate the location, then negotiating the price, we were on our way.
We were greeted by a staff member from the park the moment we got there. We then asked the taxi driver if he would wait 1 hr for us to come out. We’ve been finding that the drivers prefer to wait, so they can be guaranteed the fare back (as they have to go back, anyway).
The gardens were spectacular. 

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It was gorgeous garden after gorgeous garden, all under a canopy of greenery which kept the temperature down and allowed us to walk the huge park. We were there early enough to be the only tourists there, aside from one woman who was having University grad photos done.
The gardeners were toiling away, also taking advantage of the mild weather.
The park had educational sections all over, such as a garden with dried native herbs, samples of juices from native fruits, and a coconut station. I haven’t seen this at other botanical gardens I’ve visited in Canada.

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We all had a great time visiting a giant pond filled with koy fish. For 20 baht (less than $1 CA), we had fun purchasing a bag of fish food. Evey squealed each time we fed them. I’ll have to upload some videos from our other camera.

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By 1030 am it was already getting hot, so we admittedly skipped a few sections. We also had to stop in a garden for an emergency diaper change (travelling with baby, am I right?!).

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We made it home in time for afternoon naps and pool time 🙂
Our quiet time in Phuket.