"Spin" in aviation training: a "stall" or loss of lift, a subsequent nose-down spin, the specific actions required for recovery, and the feeling, after recovery, that you could tackle absolutely anything!

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Honda Odyssey, Odyssey

I am cleaning my van, loading it, and Connor, my younger son, and I, are leaving for the west coast. I'm not leaving for good, although anything could happen, and frankly, I would be thrilled if it did, but for the first part of the journey, I am deliverer of this fine young man and his double-bass to his summer gig; cooking in the Lake O'Hara Lodge, just north of Lake Louise, and also continuing his ever growing/changing relationship with the notes that sing out of that bass of his. His real father and I are spit-happy to have Connor out of the city and into God's country. I am happier to be able to drive him.

This will be a unique journey. We're not heading for his summer address first-thing.  No, my friends, Connor and I have been invited to spend a few days on Quadra Island, off the northern end of Vancouver Island. I was not familiar with Quadra, but upon a little bit of research, leapt up and vigorously accepted the kind offer. I am not a fool.

We've got time before Connor starts work, so we're going to voyage into the rich, Canadian landscapes off of the main routes and see what there is, and, if the rumours of there being excellent pie are true.  Once I slow down, after Quadra, and kick Connor out of the van to begin his chopping, simmering, and reducing, I plan to blow around a little. They say that the best way to find yourself is to get lost. Personally, I have gotten lost through most of southern, and central Ontario, to the point where I expect it, but lately, my soul has been demanding more. An eight-thousand kilometre meander through the country that I love dearly might be just the thing. 

Saturday, 12 May 2018


I believe in the universe. You would too if, in an inspired moment, you decided to jettison the zany idea of cutting out coffee, after which, your shiny, silver, java delivery system, with the glorious womb-pot of liquid mana, that you lovingly prepared, chimed to your climactic anticipation at the exact same moment that you finished binge-watching Grace & Frankie. You may consider that odd, but I'm getting used to it. I've been experiencing synchronicity, and realize that the universe is trying to teach me to be more in-the-moment; thus, my coffee. I've had some interactions that have twigged me. For example:

I got dressed up and went to the city to watch one of my sons play double-bass for a production of Cosi Fan Tutte. Though formal attire is no longer required while attending the opera, or the symphony, when I consider that the performers have dedicated their lives to their art, and more often than not, blow my mind, I feel that showering and then throwing on something that doesn't have avocado, or some mysterious gravy mark on it, the least I can do to show a little love. In a lapse of sense however, for this night, I wore heels, and a dress that is nice, but snug. Okay, in order to do-up the zipper, I had to snake a piece of dental floss through the zipper's floppy-thing, hold the free end of the floss line up over my head, and drag the grating YKK unit to the top of its' path like a knowing dog to the vet's front door. This should have been a sign.

The dress and shoes were fine for standing, nothing else. The dress was certainly not designed as the go-to frock for those driving a 2008, Honda Odyssey van. I could not step up and scoot in like a normal person. Instead, I had to lay across the driver's seat on my right shoulder, swing my feet in and then right myself into position like a mermaid, or a child in a sleeping bag, pretending to be a Twizzler.

I'm not proud of this, but I'm telling you anyway.

I drove to the train, rode it into the city, then took the subway to my destination. This involved a fair bit of walking on platforms, through hallways, and up and down stairs, but I concentrated on breathing and focusing on exuding poise, instead of betraying what was essentially, the torture I was experiencing. 

It was raining when I came up onto the street. I was early, and though sporting a trench coat against the weather, considered ducking in for a cup of tea (still on coffee lock-down at this point), but then discovered a book store. I went in, willed myself back to the fiction stacks and began perusing. Moments later, a young man approached me and said, 

                 "Where can I find Orwell?"  

I took my alphabetic bearings, and directed him to the aisle where the O-authors would be. He seemed to understand, but then oddly walked past where I had directed him. I called to him, and staggered out so that I could point clearly at the section. He came back and stood looking at the titles, sort of. I watched him and sensed something was wrong. He spoke clearly, but I felt there was a good chance that English was not his first language. I posited that he was a university student, likely in science or engineering, and was forced to take an English literature course to fill a program requirement.

He noted that we were "in the M's," so I knew that he could read. I pointed to the beginning of the O's. He stepped in front of them, and said, out of the mouth on his own head, 

   "Well, why don't you just find it for me."

I was shocked. My body separated from my brain with said shock. I began to bend down, in the damn heels and dress from hell, but came-too just short of pulling the Orwell volumes out and handing them to him.  My dress, thankfully, inhibited the full effort at the same time as my self-respect leapt up and throttled my I'm a sucker reflex. I pointed instead. "There he is," I said, and fully expected him to say, with words, out of his face, "Thank you," at least. Perhaps even, "You've been very kind to help!" Instead, he said nothing. 

                            NO THING. 

Since I could not breathe properly in the dress, and therefore had stilted brain function, my biting reply of, "AND, if you happen to be looking for a book on MANNERS, you could find that in the Society-and-Not-Being-a-Dick section," was ten minutes too late, and I was pissed.

"Come ON Suzanne. THINK! THINK FASTER, damn it!" I vowed that this would never happen again. I would be ready and in-the-moment for the rest of my life. 

The next morning, while my van was having an oil change and general check-over, I went for a walk on a trail that backs onto my mechanic's garage. It was a cool, clear spring morning, early still, with the sun not that far away from the eastern horizon. I found myself on a part of the trail that borders the local golf course, and, though preoccupied with the previous night's lesson, I did note the first scatterings of hideously-outfitted golfers busy struggling with their balls, like puzzled, man-toddlers. I figured that this must have been opening day, as I had not seen any of their ilk on previous walks this spring. I must have been walking quietly as I pondered, because it wasn't until I was directly beside of the the tee's that I noticed one, rather hefty golfer, standing on the near side of the perfectly sculpted sod carpet with his pants undone and his ilk hanging out as he relieved himself into the rough. 

He was as startled as I was, having been hidden by the forest, until he wasn't. And there we were. I averted my eyes. "I'm coming along here," I said, which were the least impressive words that I could have said. "Well, good morning to you, too, and I'm sorry for your shortcomings," would have been respectable, or, "I'm sorry, fella. I don't have my reading glasses on so I can't help you find whatever you're searching for." How about, "Well, I'm sure you have other strengths?" 

It's just as well. The man with the dangling putter apologized. He wasn't being a jerk like the bookstore asshole, but a well-crafted quip still would have given me a satisfying feather-in-my-cap, or at least a sticker of some sort. 

"OKAY. SUZANNE. ENOUGH. No more missed opportunities."

Days later, I had the pleasure of heading to a lab for a chest X-ray, you know, just for fun, or, possibly because of my misbehaving lungs. I was second in-line in the lab's reception area. The door opened and I heard someone shuffle and groan their way to the third cue position behind me.  My spidey-senses lit up. "Christmas has come," I thought. There was more groaning. "I'm not letting this opportunity pass me by. I am ready-as-hell." 

The lady ahead of me finished her business with the receptionist. Instead of moving ahead, I turned around and looked at the woman standing behind me making the remarkable sounds of woe, and without hesitating, I said–I said, 

           "You should go ahead of me," 

and I stepped out of her way. She breathed a laboured sigh and said a weak, "Thank you." She moved ahead, offered up her health card, then leaned her head on her forearms on the counter like a relative on a coffin. The receptionist zipped the woman's card through the data-reader and handed it back. The woman took a seat, head bowed, arms cradling her abdomen. I handed over my data to the receptionist and sat down to wait. I pretended to read, but was too overwhelmed by the obvious pain this woman was in, to grok any of the words on the page.

In minutes, the woman was called to have her X-ray. I was relieved for her. Shortly afterward, I was called as well, shown to a change stall where I switched out my street clothes for  a snappy, blue cotton shroud. I pulled my curtain back, and sat on the bench to wait for my turn at the machine. Again, I pretended to read. The woman came out of the X-ray room, and headed into the stall next to mine to change back into her clothes. I heard the curtain draw back. She emerged, began walking and almost passed by me, but stopped. "Thank you very much," she said. I was deeply moved. 

"Hey, no problem. Feel better soon," I said. 

Finally. Sigh...

Thursday, 22 March 2018

You CAN'T be Serious

I keep wanting to write lighter fare, but apparently, being a sentient human means that there is a good chance that I may discover hard bits now and then.

Damn it.

Recently, I watched a Netflix doc called, 10 Questions for the Dalai Llama. I was keen on it because I've been changing off parts of my pacing/writhing practice for meditation. I'm an Olympic level pacer/writher, confident enough to take on any challengers, but in the effort to not disengage completely from my fragile, crumbling mind, I have discovered that shutting up, settling down and being still–meditating, is neato, and also, more neato. I am curious about anything to do with meditation and the accompanying striving to not be a jerk, so was excited to find this short glimpse into Tibet and the ideals of the Dalai Llama. The lead-up to the actual interview was supported with impressive visuals and a taste of the troubled and complex Tibetan history. I found the Dalai himself to be compelling. I personally don't know anyone walking upright who would say otherwise. What upset me very much, more than I was ready for, was the story of the Panchen Llama.

In 1995, the Dalai Llama chose a six-year old boy to be the next Panchen Llama, the most important position in Tibetan Buddhism next to the Dalai. This Panchen Llama would be raised and trained so that, eventually, he would be able to take on the honourable and difficult task of discovering the next Dalai Llama, a successor to the present one. You can imagine how big a deal this is for the Tibetan people and Buddhists around the world. Cue the Chinese government, already well along into ruining everything. The government kid-knapped the boy and put him and his family under house arrest. Then, as if nobody in the world would notice, they chose their own Panchen, in an effort to, of course, make it easier for them to brutally control the peaceful Tibetans and complete the takeover of Tibet for China.

The night after watching the 10 Questions, I woke up several times with this terrible, panicked feeling in my stomach. It was beyond me how grown men could undertake such a juvenile, reprehensible act like kid-knapping the Dalai's choice for Panchen as well as continually behaving heinously towards people of the most peaceful religion, and still face the rest of the world like nothing was wrong. 

That partly explained my waking up, but I think there was more to it. I think there was/is a load-bearing problem.

I feel as if every cell in my body is tired of this kind of power-hungry fuckery. There seems to be meanness seeping up through the very ground, floating through the breeze. All of the major countries are full of it, lead by it. Governments everywhere seem to have percentages of their members having it for breakfast; Men with Guns taking and threatening.

Yes, I guess this kind of thuggery has been going on ever since one Neanderthal had a stick that the other one coveted. I know, I know, it's complicated  you say. "It's based on economics." Yes, I know you're going to lecture me on socio-economic-haberdashery theory as it pertains to the number to dickweeds per capita if the rainy season comes soon enough. You can always explain that it's inevitable and there's nothing we can do. Well, damn it, damn it, damn it, because I really like this planet. I'm fond of it like you wouldn't believe, haberdashery theory or NO haberdashery theory. I just can't bear all of this meanness. I feel it. Yes, I'm one of those sensitive types who picks it up on her radar. I do, and it hurts. It would be nice if, somehow, the universe got it to stop, I mean to be having to have this discussion about the NRA is unbelievable! 

I really would rather compose the lighter fare I mentioned earlier, but I don't see that happening unless I find a unique ability to ignore the world. But then I would be complicit. I guess I'll keep meditating and working at it. Let me know if you have an answer. 

Monday, 1 January 2018


At the time of writing this, the late day light is beautiful. The sun appears fire-hot, as if some great god is burning a hole in the sky with his cigarette from the space side. There is a line of pink clouds that resembles some kind of meteorological toupĂ©e set carelessly above the burn. I could have taken a picture of this with my phone, posted it, and that would have been that. I wouldn't have had to describe it at all, but frankly, I take terrible pictures, so would have likely fallen short of my honest intent to share the thrill: My picture would have failed to convey the sacred feeling sparked by the ethereal cigarette. You would have been bored and compelled to scroll past the shot with barely a pause. The only benefit of the process would have been the meagre amount of your time I wasted. 

Why bother at all?

This phone business was getting stupid. I would find myself, in whatever scenario I was in, let's say I met Mr. Tumnus, the faun from Narnia, focused, not so much on his attention, but on how I could take his picture and post it on Instagram. Then, I would be trying to compose a clever line to support the post. In all of this planning, I would miss Tumnus's words; his invitation for me to join him for dinner. Yes, I might get some acknowledgement from the internet world, but I would eat dinner alone. My chance of having some fantastic faun sex ruined by my blinkered, misplaced energy spent on a picture that, despite the phone's ding, doesn't really exist.

I realize, here on the door sill of 2018, that much of this, the ways that I want my interactions to go, –my time spent, is up to me. I would like nothing more than a string of holy moments this year; meaningful connections, one after another. It's time, but how can I have a holy moment with Mr. Tumnus if I look away from him because I'm fussing with my phone? I can't. It's that simple. For me, to try to take a picture of him, or the sunset, or the super moon, actually degrades the intimacy of the moment, and everybody loses. I am much better off bathing in the moment, then, later on, describing the view with words if I feel moved to share.  Sure, I can take a quick shot of Tumnus for proof, but there would be little about the work that would move you. I could take a quick shot of you for proof too, but I'd much rather see you, gaze at you, fully take you in. And Mr. Tumnus, well –

I've decided to leave the art photography to the photographers. I may still take quick shots of oddities: an elevator full of snails, a scale cole-slaw sculpture of a giraffe, a shaggy-headed faun the morning after, but no more attempts at pictures of natural beauty. I'm going to be selfish and enjoy the thrill, whatever it is, with rapt attention. Luxury. For me, I think a description with words is miles better than any picture that I could take with my phone. Plus, I might get lucky!

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Hilarity in 2018?

I don't know how this coming year will play out. I don't have the stamina for another 2017. The man across the hall is dying of brain cancer, yet the new KFC is almost ready for business here in town.

Do you see the problem?

In my own life, I am subject to soul-crushing loneliness, perfectly fuelled by the busyness of others and my own robust inwardness. I don't fully exist, so every morning, I am charged with devising a clever phrase – an existential carrot, poised to lure me into participating with the day.

–I'm writing this because I know that I'm not the only one draped with this problem. I'm just not sure where you are, and if your facade is as strong as mine, I probably can't see through it. Nice job though! 

High-fives all around!

Don't assume that I'm not fighting this; I am. At least I was. Sorry to rain on your day. You have my permission to stop reading here and go complain about the cold. The KFC will be open shortly and you can go sit in the drive-thru, because we still have those. 

I have no idea how this is still possible considering the state of the world.

Why in hell should I fight? What is going to be so different about 2018? Is there something that you know and I don't? Are you, for once, going to take me seriously? Of course, you could simply donate to the cause, and there, you're all done. You'll get a t-shirt and a dope medal for your valiance. How glorious! That way, you don't have to risk engagement, and you can still refer to me as "sweet," in passing. (The best one was someone who thought of me as, the happy girl. I almost laughed out loud.)

Pick up a flat of Nestle, bottled water on the way, because you're that skilled at avoiding any involvement at all. 

Truly, this is a miraculous time!

I have done work; lots of it. I know that I am worthy. I know that I am enough. It's just the planet that's wrong. I can hardly stand it. Everything is in passing, which starves the days of punctuation.

Yes, I will try to come to your event/opening/performance, because there is a part of me that hopes that this freak perspective/affliction passes.  That part is growing smaller though, and yet it demands twice as much energy from me. 

I'm ready for that one tumbler to click and release that perfect idea down into my head; you know, the one that changes everything? It had better come soon. –no reason in particular. I just don't want you to have to roll your eyes so much. The strain must be unbearable.

Hey, so, sorry there was nothing funny in this post. Of course, that's all perspective, right? If you clock things a little, maybe to the left, and pull back, the whole charade is mind-blowingly hilarious! So – there; I guess I have nothing to apologize for.


Friday, 22 December 2017

The Trail

Today, a fox and I shared the trail; both of us respectfully avoiding each other. I was glad not to be in a mall or anywhere near a store. The fox, I imagine, was glad not to be part of a coat, for sale in the same mall/store. 

For that brief few hours on the trail, we loved each other, and the snow, and the quiet.

Monday, 18 December 2017

Winter Solstice Again

Feel her.

Feel her roll, and sigh,
Gently, gently feel her under the stars,
Shifting, turning, sighing in the dark;
Deep, deep in well-earned slumber.

A shame not to look on her, to not
Be there and watch as she dreams,
Remembers the summer's work,
Autumn's glory, and
Delights in themes of spring's surprise.

Hold her close, our earth, in all her beauty,
As we nod tonight to the sun and its return.


This moment of change, tipping toward
The blink of dawn;
A flicker, now charged to beat the last,
Marking the coming of puffed days,
Fuller and fuller of trumpet's call;
Duty, adventure and the hunt for love's blush.

The night gives way, with each of her turns,
Until, once again, she finds the longest day
Adorned in sun's tender shadows.

But now, tonight, we are a half from that,
And though eager to pass right to spring,
Slow here at winter's door.

Take stock of yourselves.

Soften your edge, and rest.
You too have turned;
Weathered the seasons, some easily,
Others with great effort.


All of us.

Be grateful for these, and look to them relentlessly
Summoning the very best that is in you:
Your strength, your brilliance, and the 
Realization of just how powerful you are.

And you really are.

Those triumphs you had, those successes;
Bring them forth again to revisit;
Sharpen their images and reinforce how
Important they are, each and every one.

Through all of this adventure comes opportunity,
The gift at just the right time to
Tap into something bigger than all of us;
A wellspring of love, rooted deep within the earth.
It's always been there, turning with her, but now,
Tonight, we can feel it tugging at us,
Offering its embrace and guidance as this 
Dark gives way to light.

Take it.

Shake free of the past.

Brush off the old dust and tedium and
Emerge to the new light with all of the
Love, and grace, and beauty;

Fill your lungs.

You are remarkable.

Stand and raise your glass. 
Welcome the sun, the lengthening day, and the
Fresh chance to move ahead with clarity,
A fierce, reenergized heart, each, and the
Fondness, and respect we have for each other Here, and those dear to us presently elsewhere–

To the sun!