"Change, when it comes, cracks everything open."
Dorothy Allen

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Let's try this, shall we?

I am a big believer in the universe and the powers of attraction and positivity, and all that jazz.  Hippy dippy bullshit, as people I know are prone to say.  Anyway, within the last couple of weeks, I have had the universe essentially slap me in the face with the fact that :
a) I am not blogging
b) I want to be blogging
c) (miracle of miracles) OTHER people want me to be blogging too

So, thank you Universe, I am going to try and listen.

Let's start with a bit of a recap and some ground rules.

It's been the better part of 2 years since I blogged regularly.  There have been some changes in that time.  The biggest is that G and I are separated.  He has an apartment and a girlfriend.  We are trying very very hard to be friends (some days are infinitely more easy than others :P) and we share the kids.
This is a huge change.  Very impactful to everyone in my life, sometimes in ways I didn't expect.  I struggle somedays with the structure of my new life, being on my own in the house, with the kids and the animals and the bills.  Geoff struggles with the simple fact that it happened and being in a new place and out of his house and with having the kids only part of the time.  I am finding my happiness in all of this.  He is trying to do the same.

As it should be, right?  After all, that is the point in all of this.  The reason behind the tears and the anger and the fear and the disappointment- I am supposed to be happier.  Or at least on that path.  Right?  Right?!?!?

And I am.   It is difficult to admit to sometimes.  Sadness and depression are a badge of honour in a twisted way. See how well I persevere and survive when I am so sad?  Admire me for getting out of bed and functioning on the days when I can barely lift my head.  There is an attraction to living that kind of life.  And for a while, actually a long while, that was just how I was.  Legitimately, without pretense.  But now, when those days are getting to be the exception and not the norm, it's just not in me to do.  I want to be happy.  I want to smile and laugh and find the good in my day. Unfortunately there is a tremendous amount of guilt that comes along with that.  I am working through it.

See, if there is a bad guy in this, it's me.  I am the one that chose this path for the both of us.  I am the one that said the words.  Once.  Twice.  A dozen times.  Every time he asks why, and when and if.  I say the words and break hearts, mine and his.

That brings us to some of the ground rules.  These are mainly for me, but I am sure at some point, I am going to skirt the edge of these and hopefully pull myself back and I want you to understand why.

When Geoff and I were separating, really and for true, I made him some promises.  One of them was that I would never bash him in my blog.  That I would keep what is private, private.  I would respect his secrets as I expect him to respect mine.  And in a marriage, there are a whole host of secrets, aren't there?  We have both slipped in that, a couple of times, and that has been forgiven as a part of the healing process.  But the promise I will keep- this is a no bash zone.  So, if you are looking for the "Geoff is a fucking asshole" posts, you are going to be disappointed.  :)

I am sure over the coming weeks and months, I will fill in some of the blanks in regards to what the separation looked and felt like.  But for right now, it's enough that it happened.

I am still homeschooling Sebastian.  We are hit or miss in the scheduling department, and a little loosey-goosey in the topics to be covered, but we are doing it.  We have an online program that we are using and it seems to work really well.  It is animated and fun and he likes to use it. I don't know that we are making progress in terms of reading and writing and math, etc. But he is happy and content.  He is calm and sociable.  That is worth it for me.

Sebastian is still riding horses and now, surprisingly, so am I.  We ride together and he is starting to last a longer time in the ring.  Part of the problem is his fatigue when he has a bad night's sleep, but we will work on that.  So far I have fallen off the horse once and had my horse almost smush Bastian.  This causes me a bit of anxiety and I am trying to work through that and still be excited about learning and helping my boy.

Sawyer is still highland dancing, and doing wonderfully.  And it looks like I will be doing that too.  Yeesh!  Actually, I am very excited to start learning with the other moms and to have the year end Mother/Daughter dance.

I asked her first, to make sure she wanted it.  If she was embarrassed of her old, funny haired, tattooed mother taking dancing with her, then I would respect that.  But her eyes lit up, and she clapped and jumped and I took that as sign that she wanted it.  So, horses with Bastian, dancing with Sawyer.  And all is right with the world.

So, those are some of the bigger changes that have happened/are happening.  There are more, I'm sure, but my writing muscles are rusty and flabby and I need to build up to that.

So, I want to say thank you.  For any of you that stuck around and checked the blog every once in a while looking for something new.  For those of you that asked me when it was coming back.  For those of you that wanted this, so you would be able to keep up on my life and loves and hurts.  For those of you that said you missed this, because sometimes my crazy makes yours seem more normal.
It's for you guys, and myself that I'm back.

Rosie N. Grey
The N stands for "new post in, like, forever!"

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Time for a change

So, Geoff and I have made a decision.  We sat down together and talked it out like adults.  We are learning to communicate better and we are learning to hold each other accountable for being honest and forthright and to stand by our convictions.  Luckily, in this case, we were on the same side.

We have decided to homeschool Sebastian.

Yay!  I know!!!  yeah, it's really not a big deal. 

But it is, it really really is.  If you have read my blog at all over the last couple of years, you know how important my son is to me.  He and Sawyer are my whole world.  There is nothing more important to me, than they are.  I want to do right by them, whenever humanely possible.  For a while, right for Sebastian was Julien School.  They were there when we needed them.  They got us set on the right path.  They showed us what Sebastian was capable of, and the inherent dangers of underestimating his abilities.

However, this comes at a cost.  A high cost.  I was able to pay that cost, for a while (4 years to be exact, 2 of therapy and 2 of school). 

This year, when we were prepping to send Sebastian back, I started asking how much the tuition was.  I had been told, unofficially, that the tuition was going to drop this year.  Thank God, I thought.  I'm on my edge.  I'm stretched to my limit.  I was looking forward to the break.  I couldn't wait to find out how much it was going to be.  I was holding off on my budgeting until I got the information.  And then they told me.  It wasn't reducing by one single cent.  Same as last year.  And hints of increases down the road.  Other financial surprises. 

I was camping when I got the email.  I am ashamed to say I cried.  I was shocked.  Almost instantly, I knew what this meant. 

For the past 2 years, I have been doing the best I can to make sure Sebastian could go to school.  I worked crazy amounts of overtime.  I made and sold crafts.  I have run garage sales.  I have sold furniture and cars.  I have cut out the "nice to haves" to make room in the budget.  We lived with one car for 3 years, to save on gas and insurance.  I took what others were willing to offer, even though I recoil from the thought of being a charity case.  I made it through.  It was tough.  It was tight.  There were months when we scraped by, by the skin of our teeth.  All in the hopes that it would get better.  It wasn't going to stay this way.

People wonder how I did it. Blind faith.  Dumb luck.  Credit cards, a little. 

But now, in light of the fact that it's not changing, it's still so so much money, Geoff and I had a choice.  We could keep him in school, and start looking at bigger, more permanent money solutions (i.e. loans, mortgages, that kind of fun stuff) or we could look at changing his educational options.  After lots and lots of heart to hearts, we decided to pick the latter.  The choice, for me, was no choice.  Homeschooling.  Be still my heart.

I have wanted to homeschool for years now.  I envision a tiny farm somewhere, with a wood burning stove in the kitchen.  I picture a big farmhouse table covered in school work, with 2 little heads bent studiously over their latest lessons.  Yes, it's idyllic.  A little na├»ve.  But it's my dream.  Shut up, I can think what I want.

And now, that it's going to be a reality, I have altered my vision a little.  I have solicited help, from Geoff and my mom and dad.  Baking with my mom will become a lesson in measurement, math, sequencing.  Working in the store with Geoff gives practical lessons on currency, addition and subtraction.  Unpacking the order can reinforce reading skills, effective grouping and sequencing skills.  My dad's nature hikes are lessons in science and biology.  Changing the oil in the lawn mower is a lesson in mechanics, cause and effect and technology.

I am excited to have the chance to find the lessons to be learned in every day activities.  I can't wait to have field trips to reinforce the learning of the week.  I want to plan lessons and themes around the seasonality of our year, and to help him explore the world around in him a new and interesting way.  I want to discover ways to take the things he already loves, like his iPad, his pictures and TV, and turn them into effective teaching tools. 

In the end, I want to do right by him.  I want to be a part of shaping the man he is going to become.  I want to spend my mornings helping him learn something new.  I want to look back in June and be stunned at his progress.  I want to be a part of the miracle that is my Sebastian learning. 

Oh yeah.  I'm scared shitless.  I am so worried I am going to fuck this up.  Am I smart enough to do this?  Am I dedicated enough?  Do I have the patience, the know-how and the fortitude to weather the inevitable storms?  Jesus, I hope so. 

Please.  Universe, if you are listen, don't let me mess this up.  Please, help me do well.  It's not for me.  It's for him.  Help me do good work for him. 

Rosie N. Grey
The N stands for "new world now".

Sunday, May 25, 2014

For Barb

This is it, folks.  It's happening.  Just like I said it would and hoped it wouldn't. 


So, if you recall, back in December, I wrote a post for a good friend of mine, Bill.  He got a kick ass job in Ottawa and moved his stupid jerk face 5 hours away.  It was so sad and awful and I was fully convinced that it was the end of the friendship.  I have been (gladly) proven wrong, and we still chat, and even occasionally see each other, although not as often as I would like.  I saw him in April.  I will see him again in June. 

See?  Stupid jerk face.

My one consolation in Bill's move was that Barb, Bill's wife and my good friend was still here.  She was present and accounted for.  We hung out and texted.  We went for lunches and dinners.  We saw movies, and had occasional drinks.  We were close, and, in my opinion anyway, we got closer.  We've been friends for about 16 or 17 years.  We will be friends for many more. 

Except now, that friendship will be long distance.  Sigh. 

Barb is moving.  Has moved.  Damn it.  She's there.  Today.  In Ottawa. 

I knew it was coming.  She had a fricking countdown, for Christ sake.  Doesn't mean I acknowledged it or thought about it or prepared myself for it.  When I texted her today, to tell her that I missed her and that I hoped her drive was good (all the while showing off my pretty blue nails and rubbing it in), she reminded me that we had literally seen each other 16 hours before. 

She was right.  We spent much of yesterday together.  I have seen her at least once or twice a week for months and months.    And that is why I hate so much that she is gone. 

Barb and I met originally because she was the cool girl, the ONLY girl working in the comic shop with Geoff.  She and Geoff were friends first.  I remember the first couple of times we met.  We had very little in common.  She was going to a thing to play magic.  I was going because I had nothing better to do.  She could talk comics and games with the best of them.  I was looking for a bar.  But despite of that, I liked her.  Very much.  I wasn't intimidated by her.  I wanted to be friends.  Very badly, I wanted to get to know her.  To hang out, and gossip and mock everyone around us. 

Barb was in my wedding party, on Geoff's side.  She did my hair on my wedding day. 

I was more nervous to tell Barb that I was pregnant with Sebastian than I was to tell my own parents.  When she welled up and hugged me and was genuinely happy for me, I was thrilled.  I knew she wasn't going anywhere.

When she got married, I threw her what was probably the lamest shower ever.  It was me and her and 2 other friends.  Instead of being horrible, it was fantastic.  We drank and talked dirty and honest and laughed for hours and hours. 

Over the years, we would fall out of touch.  Temporarily.  But it happened.  And then suddenly I would realize I hadn't talked to her or seen her for months.  So, I would call or text and tell her to get her ass out to where ever it was that I was.  Very literally sometimes, that was the message.  Most times, she did.  She got her ass there.

We've seen concerts together.  Danced together.  Laughed hysterically together.  We have travelled.  Did you know that Barb makes the best ass-butter in the world?  It's true.  But only if you are special enough for her to go through the effort.  Apparently, I am worth it.  To her, anyway.

Our most recent trip together was Cuba, last November.  I remember the one afternoon.  Bill went back to their room for a nap.  Everyone else had something going on, it seemed like- shopping, eating, whatever.  So for a couple of hours, it was me and my Barbie girl, chilling under the burning sun.  We did the swim up bar more than once.  We talked.  And talked and talked.  I cried, a little.  Tough as nails Barb did a little bit too. (FYI, she is very seriously one of the toughest ladies I know.  I have seen her break, a couple of times.  I consider it a testament to what she thinks of me, that she let me see that. )  But what I remember most from that afternoon was that feeling of connection.  It had been there since the days of Magic and Gametronics, and fuck me, it's still there today. 

The other day, when she needed a hiding place for a few minutes, she came to me.  I'm sure part of it was because I am home all day, I was close by and she knows my door is always open.  But that's it right there.  She knows my door is always open.  She picked me, and she walked though.  I am forever grateful. 

She had incredibly soft hair.  Did you know that?  And beautiful nails.  The best laugh.  Eyes that just get you, right in the feels. 

She calls me Sister Wife (or SW for short).  I feel like one of the cool kids, because I got a nickname. 

She loves opera.  On Race Car Day, as I was cooking and prepping, she played her favourite pieces for me.   She told me about what they are about.  What it's like at an opera.  She didn't make me feel stupid because I didn't know.  She shared a passion of her life with me, because she believed my life would be better knowing about it.  She was right. 

If I am wearing a necklace that looks different and amazing, ask me about it.  There is a 90% chance that Barb made it for me.  And then gave it to me.   For free.  FREE.  Just cause. 

Barb steals all my friends.  I make a new friend.  I love them.  I introduce them to Barb.  Next thng I know, Barb is friends with them now, OUTSIDE of me!  Jeez!!  Honestly, it's because she's awesome.  Everyone fricking loves her.  Drives me bananacakes.

Every year, I try and pick a new craft or something to do to make money for Sebastian's tuition fund.  What all you don't know, is that Barb does it too.  The first year she showed up at my house with an envelope stuffed full of bills, I was flabbergasted.  I had no words.  I remember, after she left, sitting on my kitchen floor.  I counted the money.  It was a full month of tuition.  I put my head on my knees and sobbed.   I couldn't believe it.  Quietly.  Unassumingly.  $5 or $10 at a time, she had put my son through a month of school.  No one asked her too.  She just did it.

So, now.  Now, she's with Bill and she is 5 hours away.  I miss her, like I am going to miss her tomorrow and next week and next month and next year.  I almost texted her today, asking if she wanted to go to a movie next week.   Silly me. 

How do you go on?  When parts of you pick up and leave?  How do you smile and laugh and joke with them, happy for their success and their happiness (because I truly am) when all you want to do is say-

Hey Barb.  I miss your stupid face.  Get your ass over here. 

I love you, SW.  I am so happy for you.  Good luck.  Come back.  All the fucking time, come back.

Love, Anita

Friday, February 28, 2014

Missing You

This week, I say good bye to another friend.  We were just starting to connect, after years of being work acquaintances.  Just as I start counting her as a friend, she gets a super opportunity and BOOM.  Another friend moves out of my life.

Don't get me wrong.  I am crazy happy for her.  And maybe a teeny tiny bit jealous.   She is getting a new opportunity, a fresh start.  A new home, a new city, a new job.  Sweet ride.  And she deserves it.  She's a hard worker, and smart.  Sarcastic, and funny, in a biting, endearing way. 

She and I met about 4 years ago.  We were both involved with the charity committee, and had similar interests in the types of charities- autism, animals, stuff like that.  I helped her out with some donations that she needed for a personal friend, when I was cleaning out some  of Sawyer's nursery stuff.  She got me tickets to a couple shows that I wanted to see.  We would chat about our mutual love of Deadliest Catch and we both mourned when Captain Phil passed away. 

So, we were friendly, but not really friends.  We chatted, but didn't really talk.  You know what that's like.  You probably have 5 or 10 or more people in your life like that right now.  We all do.  And they are great. 

But sometimes, there is something about a person that makes you want more.  It makes you try a little harder and go a little further and move you from the acquaintance to the friend idea.

With me, it happened at a wedding.  It was a mutual friend getting married, there were lots of us there.  After dinner, we all moved around and sat at each other's tables.  She came over  we started chatting.  Of course we had had a couple of drinks, which just lubricated he conversation.  We started shooting the shit, and soon, the conversation turned to heavier topics- family, kids, health, happiness.

She  told me that she read my blog.  She started talking to me about my writing.  What it meant to her, what she liked.  What she wanted to read.  Over and over through the years, every once in a while, we have this conversation.  She once told me that if she ever wins the lottery, one of the first things she wants to do is buy me a little farm, and set me up to write.  She has flat out told me that she thinks that my writing should be shared with the world.  She has done more to encourage me that she will ever know. 

This year, we have started working together.  We joined the same dart league.  We started hanging out together outside of work.  And the talking was really talking.  I decided that we were friends.  And just like that- we were. 

So, now she's leaving.  Another friend, moving on.  Sigh.  Is it me?  Do I smell?  Or do I just inspire others to greatness?  I prefer to think the latter, although the truth is that this has absolutely nothing to do with me.  

Today was her last day of work with us.  And today, magically, I got something in the mail.  She made me a gift.  She gave me one last message, one designed to keep me writing.

It's a glass mug. 
One side says "Write like a motherfucker" in the shape of a heart.
The other side says "Cracks in the Armour" and it has my tag line :
"Change, when it comes, cracks everything open".
I cried when I opened it.  As soon as I saw it, one side then the other, I cried.  The thought, the effort, the care that went into this- it overwhelmed me.  It broke my heart.  I am crying now as I type this.  The mug, of course, is right beside me, full of Earl Grey. 

I chatted with her through the day.  We played out first ever game of "Battle of the Jams".  It started with me posting a screenshot of my iPhone playing Sweet Child of Mine to Instagram.  She matched it with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, "Fishing in he Dark" (a personal favourite of mine). 

I texted her, and raised her "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald".  She landed a vicious blow with "The Gambler".  I countered with "Total Eclipse of the Heart".  On and on the battle went, each song flying back and forth with screen shots from our personal playlists.  Finally, after I had thrown out "Devil Went Down to Georgia", "Bat out of Hell" and "New Girl Now" all in one round, I did concede defeat to her outstanding "Magic Carpet Ride" and "Low Rider".  I can't beat the 'Wolf.  :)

She even gloated with a victory shot on Instagram. 

I highly recommend this.  It's a great way to fill in those lonely spots in an afternoon. 

It was a great way to say goodbye.

So, I wanted to write this little note, to say thank you. 

- Thank you for being one of the most hilarious and sarcastic people I know. 
- Thank you for hanging out with me and making fun of pretty much everything in oh so many meetings.
- Thanks for the drinks.  All of them.  And there was quite a few.
- Thanks for the laughs.  Even when I wanted to cry, we always seemed to laugh.
- Thank you for the texts.  When Sebastian was sick, when I was sad, when things were good, and when things were bad.  You sent me messages and I knew that someone was thinking about me.
- Thank you for buying about 40 scarves off me.  :)
- Thank you for being you.  For being so wickedly smart, open and welcoming.
- But mostly, thank you for believing in me.  And for telling me.  Again and again and again.  When I didn't believe myself, when I would quit, you always told me to go back.

I wrote to you sometimes.  I knew you would read.  So sometimes, when I wrote, it was for you. 

Good luck Nicole. 

Rosie N. Grey
The N stands for "Nicole, come back and see us, whenever you can".

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Update- My Year of Living Fiercely

As I posted in January, I have decided that my word for this year is fierce.  No more procrastinating, no more timid.  Time to be bold and wonderful and a little bit crazy.  To take chances and leaps of faith.  To believe, beyond reason and common sense that amazing things are coming my way, and then make them happen. 

So, yeah, that's the idea.  It might be a bit milder than that, but still, when I dream, I like to dream big.

It was one of the biggest compliments of my life when a friend of mine related a conversation they had had with their significant other.  She was talking about me, and the idea of having a word to define and direct your intentions for the year.  She told him that my word was fierce.  She started talking about some of the things that I am doing and have done- the polar bear dip, the zombie run a couple of years ago.  Tattoos, and autism, and travel and hair and fun.  And he said to her "She sounds pretty fierce already.  What else can she do?"

I have decided to take that as my motto- what else can I do?

  • I started the year off right with a kick ass New Year's party and a polar bear dip.  Crazy super fun. 
  • I have blogged already, but I have started my Sebastian sleeve.  Two down, a bunch more to go. 
  • We had a spontaneous road trip to go and visit Bill.  He and I were chatting one Saturday afternoon as I was cleaning as it slowly began to sink in that he was lonely.  And I felt like having some beers with a friend.  Geoff got home at 530, we were on the road by 630 and were there by 1130.  We had some laughs and fun, and came home the next day.  As always, we hit a snowstorm, and the drive was hell.  But it was worth it.  It always is.  Spontaneous is fierce.  As fierce as my friendship. 
Visiting Bill
at Bill's after a 5 hour late night drive
  • I got my hair did.  Sherry pulled it out and had it done a beautiful purple and red.  It is starting to wash out now, but the blonde underneath is giving it a really nice texture and pattern.  I am digging on it hard right now.  And anyway, it gets redone next Saturday. 
purple, just after it was done

before and after hair- but you can see it is lightning up

  • I shot a bow and arrow.  My good friend and I went to the Toronto Sportsman Show.  They had an archery range.  I rocked that shit.  It was super fun and I would definitely do it again.  I also rocked out the skins quiz the taxidermy booth had.  Nailed 11 out of the 12 skins.  I think I impressed the lady and even Shannon looked at me and said "Well done". 

sweet ass truck at the sportsman show that I wanted.  It had skeleton fish on it.
  • I have cleaned like a mother fucker.  I purged Sawyer's room, Sebastian's room, the living room, the bathroom and the rec room.  I have made 5 big trips to Value Village, and sold about 4 things on Kijijji.  I am still working on my room.  Coming up next is the linen closet, the kitchen and the storage in the basement.  Still the work of months, but it is incredibly cathartic.  It makes me happy to be in my space.  I haven't been able to say that for a long time. 
Sawyer's before and after

Sebastian's before and after
  • I have been trying to reconnect with friends.  Not even necessarily old friends, but friends that I have right now, that I have just started to drift from.  People that I have talked to for months and years, but haven't really talked to.  I have had cups of tea, and vodka and sodas, and snacks and shared hugs and tears, but more laughs and inappropriate jokes.  It's been amazing to share my stories, to be heard and to hear them in return.  To learn about the amazing people in my life.  One of the best choices I have made to date. 
  • I have gone keto.  I am dedicated and immersed.  I have researched and read and experiment and failed and succeed.  My biggest accomplishment was a 100% keto dinner for my family, including Barb and Bill last Wednesday. It was Race Car Day ( a holiday Sawyer created to justify getting presents and having turkey) and it was perfect.  I've lost some weight, and I feel better than I have in a while.  It has given me some focus and some direction.  I have 2 resident experts in Barb and Bill, and I reach out to them often.  Bill and I flip pictures of our meals back and forth on a regular basis.  Even Geoff is liking the keto food, although he still enjoys the carbs on the sly. 

  • I did the 24 hour challenge.  I jumped in a snow covered trampoline in my Wonder Woman underwear and posted it on Facebook.  Yep.  Did that. 
  • Sang karaoke.  Horribly, wonderfully well.  Posted that on Facebook too.  Of course I did.
I decided that I needed to help this girl sing Hotel California.  She didn't ask for help.
 I just decided to do it out of the goodness of my heart.

So, what's next?  What else can I do?

I am looking to rededicate myself with work.  I have been working and being focused, but I need to find my passion again.  I am thinking of ways to do that. 

I want to write more.  That's always there.

I want to clean up my finances.  Take some pressure off, and make sure I am stable for the near future.

I want to keep cleaning.  I want to start changing.  I am gonna paint like a crazy person. 

I want to talk to more friends.  I want more road trips.  I want to start exercising. 

I am getting Sebastian back into clean eating.  It's a bit overwhelming, so this will be a slow process.  Sawyer too.  God help me.

But mainly, I am keeping my eyes open.  Trying to find those opportunities for fierceness that the universe is just going to present to me.  The ones that if I blink, or look the other way, I might miss.  Those are the opportunities for greatness.  I want to pursue bliss.  Happiness.  To smile every day.  To laugh. 

Fierce, motherfuckers.  Fierce.

Rosie N. Grey
The N stands for "not stopping now". 

Sebastian's sleeve

You all know about my year of living fiercely (yes, I will blog an update for you soon).  I am trying to grab life by the balls, and do the shit that I have been putting off, or delaying or plain avoiding.  I have been cleaning my house, working on my diet, making plans for the kids, working on my finances and finally, tattooing.

Well, not tattooing, getting tattooed. 

For years and years, I have wanted a sleeve.  I decided a while ago that I would dedicate each arm to my kids.  Sebastian is my left, Sawyer is my right.  I have their names tattooed down the inside of my arm, wrapped in ivy (Sebastian has dragon flies and Sawyer has lady bugs). I put them there so that my kids would always be inside my hugs.  I have my nicknames for the kids tattooed on my upper arm- Halloween Boy for Bastian and Roller Coaster Girl for Sawyer. 

So, I have known that I was going to do this, and I have thought and thought and thought about it.  I knew I wanted a combination of things that make them happy, that remind me of them, that are inherently representative of them to me.  Sawyer, being only 5, is still developing.  I am slowly figuring out what makes me think of her (chances are, there will be a bottle of ketchup on my arm for her) but we have years for that to develop.  Sebastian however, is going to be 13 this year.  And some of the loves of his life haven't changed yet.  There are images so iconic for me of him, that I cannot look at them without him popping into my head and heart.  So, I knew, I was good to go. 

In December I started talking to my tattoo guy, Justin about a sleeve.  I had always struggled with what this was going to look like.  The images I am picturing literally have no association to each other, other than Sebastian and his love of them.  How do you link a hippo and a remote control?  How are Wonder Woman and an octopus similar?  How do you fit a puzzle piece, an anatomical heart and Sally from Nightmare Before Christmas together?  The mish mosh I was picturing in my head was bordering on horrifying. 

Justin then had a very simple, but profoundly calming conversation with me.  He told me that was what a good artist was for.  He said with a sleeve, you can do one of 2 things- either pick a theme, with images similar and related, or you can pick a style.  With something like mine, the fact that Justin is drawing and designing the images, means that a similar style would be applied to them.  And it is that style that will unify the image. 

It was so simple.  But it made complete sense.  I signed on immediately and made my first appointment. 
Sally from the Nightmare Before Christmas- done January 30, 2014.  Sebastian has loved Sally since he was about 2 years old  He has a stuffed Sally doll that he takes with him everywhere (or at least he used to).  Sally still has the tag on her from SickKids hospital, when she went into the operating room with him for his open heart surgery.  The sleeve wouldn't be complete without Sally.

The count from the Castle Dracula sign on Clifton Hill in Niagara Falls- done Feb 22, 2014.  The count is one of Sebastian's favourite images.  We literally have dozens of printed pictures of the count around our house.  We typically drive down Clifton Hill at least once a week, so that Sebastian can see the count. 

My tattoo (super fresh, still oozy and wrapped) and the sign that inspired it all.
So, for each month of this new year, I have gone back to visit Justin and we have started building this work of art on my left arm.  Justin knows Sebastian, his step daughter babysits for us, and he has heard Sebastian stories for years.  I don't know why, but that makes a huge difference.  It makes it personal, not just for me, but for him.  When he finishes a piece, he asks me if I think Sebastian will like it.  When we changed Sally a little bit, and left her hair dark instead of red, he thought about and wondered about the impact to Sebastian and if he would be ok with it (fyi, he was.)  I don't know if he knows how important it is to me that he keeps Sebastian in his thoughts when we do this together, but it really is.  I know it's not a requirement, but the fact that it happens....well, that's why I go to Justin.  That's why I pick him, again and again.

So, as I fiercely charge further into 2014, I am bringing a bit more colour and decoration into it with me.  And when Sebastian sits beside me on the couch and quietly traces his fingertip along Sally's face, I remember why I am doing this.  When he saw the Count yesterday, and his eyes got big, and his mouth dropped open when he realized who it was on my skin- I realize that this is a good thing to do. 

It doesn't hurt that I like the look of that much ink in my skin.  It's kinda badass. 

Rosie N. Grey
The N stands for "next up- who knows??"

The Ugly Things that I Love

Part of my drive and directive for this year is to purge and organize my home and my life.  I thought I would be able to do it in one month, but here we are, almost 2 months into the new year and I am still going.  I have slowed down a bit, and it maybe slipped a bit in my priorities, but I am still at it.  There is a constant donation pile in my living room, and as I run across things that need to go, I add to it religiously.

The rooms I have worked are still looking pretty good.  I know it still drives some of my friends crazy, since there is still a lot of stuff, but it is a significant improvement for me.  Gone are the piles of "things" in the corners.  Everything has a place to go, and if it doesn't have a place, than it goes.  Clean up is so much easier, and even the kids are helping (a bit) to maintain it.  I have a bit of peace of mind, and I feel as though I am accomplishing something useful with my time.  I am feeling better and lighter in my burden.  My year of living fiercely is paying off. 

The driving force in my purge, my over-riding mentality, I guess you could call it, is how I classify the objects in my home.  If it isn't beautiful, or useful, out it goes.  Beautiful things, while they may not serve a practical purpose, are inherently important to my well being.  Sometimes, I just want to see something lovely.   Something funny.  Something sweet and full of memories. 

And what I am realizing is that in my world, my beautiful things are sometimes ugly. 

I am running across things that I want to keep.  Things that if someone else viewed them, would be pitched out on the first go-round.  But for me, these are invaluable and will remain with me for as long as I am able.  They are the ugly things that I love.

I got this angel figurine from my Aunt Barb when I was very young.  I was born in April, so of course it says "April" in her little sign and has a fake diamond around her neck.  It was always in my bedroom as a kid and it has stuck with me through all my moves as an adult.  It is prominently displayed in my living room, on top of my china cabinet.  I don't know what it is about it that appeals to me.  It's orange, so it matches my living room.  But I think it is more the rampant familiarity of it.  I know her little face, I have seen it for probably 35 years.  I am unaware of her most of the time, but when it came time to purge the area, there was no question at all that she was staying.  She got cleaned up and dusted and put right back where she belongs.
This happy little ghoul is a favourite of mine.  Back in the early 80's, my mom, and every other mom on the planet, was into pottery and ceramics.  I don't think my mom actually did this one, I think it was a gift from the guy that ran the ceramics studio.  I remember it being out at home, and my brother was terrified of it.  I would torment him relentlessly with it, until I would start to freak myself out with it, and then we would both be scared and have to call our mom downstairs to turn on the light and walk us up, since we were both too afraid to move. 
My mom was doing a purge of her house a couple of years ago, and gave this too me as a potential Halloween decoration.  He is way too special and amazing to come out just once a year, so instead, he lives by my fireplace permanently.   

When my grandma Rosie died, we all got some things of hers that we wanted to keep.  There were a few little knick knacks I wanted, and I got them.  I also got her farm house dining room table, that will never go anywhere, but it is beautiful, so it doesn't belong on this list.   But the one thing I did get, and treasure to this day is her turkey platter.  Yep, giant turkey on it.  Horrible paint job that doesn't stay in the lines (check out the tail feathers). 

It is huge and awkward and doesn't fit on any shelf.  It can't be put in the dishwasher and the nooks and crannies are a bitch to clean.  But EVERY SINGLE TIME I cook a turkey, I serve it on this platter.  And I always, always will. 

Ok, this one perplexes people the most.  Yes, it is a giant walnut with a little squirrel on top.  Yes, it is horrible and ugly.  I heart it soooooo much.  Last year, when we were doing our Scholarship for Sebastian garage sale, my mother unpacked this little gem and put it out for sale.  I was a brave girl, and I let it sit all day.  I gave the rest of the world a solid chance to own it.  When no one bought it (I was shocked to the core!  Who wouldn't want this??)  I quietly and casually scooped it up and brought it into my home.  I have been mocked more about this, than any other piece.  I don't care.  I love it. 
I remember how my dad, at Christmas, would eat walnuts out of this.  There was always a silver metal nutcracker in there, and he would just sit and crack them, one after another.  Sometimes I got some too. 
It's been dropped and cracked and repaired.  The squirrel has come off and been glued back on.  It is still wonderful and beautiful to me.  He's not going anywhere.  

 I am honestly not too sure where these dishes came from.  My mom, I think, but maybe my grandma.  The pattern reminds be of a turtle's shell.  Geoff used to complain about them and how ugly they were, but I think he has just accepted that they aren't going anywhere anytime soon.  When I am dead, he can donate them.  Or bury them with me.  I don't care.  I think they are gorgeous.  I will serve on them for years to come.
I have been in lots of houses that are much more beautiful than mine.  Homes that are full of beautiful things, beautiful in the classic sense.  But some of those homes leave me wanting.  I don't feel the personality of the people in that home pulsing through the items that they have chosen to surround themselves with.  They have picked things arbitrarily, or so it seems, because they were on a page in a magazine, or a pretty display in a store.  And that's fine.  It's just not me. 
I love walking into a house with hidden treasures to find.  If someone has a curio cabinet, or a display rack, I am instantly enamoured.  I will look and find the hidden treasures.  The dried rose tucked in the corner.  The silly mug that doesn't match the rest of the china.  The handmade picture frame surrounded by crystal.  All things that don't belong, and yet, are likely the most important things there.  They matter.   They are the ugly things we all love.
Rosie N. Grey
The N stands for "not ugly to me".