Monthly Archives: March 2012

Flying Home To Canada

Flying from Washington DC to Toronto Ontario,  I crossed the border somewhere in the air.  It was dark outside of my porthole. I wanted to look out and see when I crossed over. See a bold black line delineating the border.

When the wheels touched the ground in Canada I thought I would feel something. Maybe start to cry, feel some loss, some gain. I looked out the window to see if I saw anything that looked Canadian. There was a Canadian Red Maple Leaf on the tail of the Air Canada plane. I didn’t feel anything. I didn’t cry.  Maybe I will become a United States citizen this year. I  will get a United States passport. I will take the oath of allegiance.


“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen.

  I don’t think  I will cry when I am pass through customs.

I am handed a customs form by the airline stewardess. Name, address. When did you leave Canada? I am confused by the question.  Was it three years ago when I was in Canada last to visit my mother. I write down that date. No,wait. I was only visiting. I last lived in Canada in 1983. I left on November 2, of that year. Silly me.

I didn’t  know I was leaving. I just haven’t moved back. I don’t think  I will cry. 

We are the only airplane going through customs at eleven at night in Toronto Ontario. There are a half-dozen people in front of me. The rest of the fast walkers from our meandering group on the United flight from The United States Of America.  The country that I am a permanent resident of. The people in front of me are all directed to the agents to the right. Serious looking balding men. I am directed to the pleasant-looking agent to my left with a full head of dark curly hair. The person who could keep me out. He reads my customs form and asks me. “So you are home for four days?’

home

The word floats in the air. The letters fall apart.

h

o

m

e

I nod my head.  I can not talk.  My chin quivers and tears spill out of my eyes. He hands me back my Canadian passport, and I breathe,  “It has been a long time.”

And then I know.

I will not absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance to Canada.

I will renew my Canadian Passport.

This is my country.

I am breathing Canadian Air.

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My First Pair of Glasses

My first pair of glasses

My first pair of glasses were brown plastic. My name was melted into the right temple. I didn’t know I couldn’t see, until I could. The walk from the optometrist to the bus with my mother. My head felt farther away from my feet. I remember my first tree after my glasses on Second Avenue in downtown Saskatoon. Did you know there are individual leaves on trees?

The first television show I saw was a Western Skit on Red Skeleton. It was in black and white on our console TV. There was a fight, and people kept getting thrown through the swinging wooden doors.  I could sit on the Chesterfield now and watch. I did not have to sit right in front of the television pressing my nose to the screen.

Memories stand out in the filing cabinet in my mind when something unusual happened. I can still remember when my brother washed the lettuce from our garden for our camping trip to Dore Lake in northern Saskatchewan. I thought he had washed each piece individually. After eating salads for three days, I cut a long fat green caterpillar in half as I sliced the lettuce for another salad. I can still see the half of it on the cutting board. Lime green and the size of a broken fat crayon. He had only swished the lettuce. I still wonder how many caterpillars I ate without realizing it.  I might have thought it was a ripe tomato.

My days with my children often blend together. One day into the next. I want to remember these days. The days that don’t stand out.  When I read to my youngest daughter, I take off my glasses and hold her face in my hands so I can remember the details of her face. Each little freckle.  With my son, we have a room in the house which is officially the tickle room. I try to lure him in there. “The fireplace is broken, will you come here please?”  He enters and I tickle him. If he sings, I fall asleep, relax my grip and he can escape.  My older daughter I drive to school and work.  I listen, and drive.  Her life is full, I fit in where there is still room.

I wear glasses. I see leaves on trees.  My glasses help me to see detail.  But, I have to look to notice.  I have to open my eyes to really see.

A Glass Of Water to Drink

I know how to encourage other people. ” Believe in yourself. Don’t compare. You only have to draw what you see.”  I even quote Van Gogh to them. “If you hear a voice within you say „you cannot paint“, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”
― Vincent Willem van Gogh

But, I compare. I don’t draw like her, or him. My water glass does not look photo realistic. In my first year at art school, the foundation year. I took a drawing class. The teacher was half bald, walking down the other side of the hill, slightly stooped, with his head coming out of his shoulders at a 45 degree angle. His belly sort of hung over tan polyester pants. I don’t remember his name. I do remember what he said.  “You can not draw Pamela.”

The assignment was to draw a glass with water in it.  I walked over to Laura Fernandez’s desk and picked her glass of water off of her paper and had a drink. Her drawing was so realistic, I drank from it. Okay, I didn’t really do that.  But I wanted you to know that was how real it looked.

The teacher told me that I couldn’t draw. He gave my water glass drawing a C, and a C in the class. He suggested I not apply for the Graphic Arts Program at  the end of my first year. He would not recommend me for the program. That was the day I stopped believing.  I applied to the Weaving Program, and was accepted. And then the last day of class, I switched to the Photography Program.  I did not want to be isolated in a studio all day. I wanted to travel.

I found Laura on facebook last year and we are now facebook friends. She was a successful illustrator, one of the top in Canada. She is now a singer songwriter in Toronto, and a host of Radio Latino JAZZ FM 91 on Saturdays from 2-4. My cousin Byron  lives in Toronto. I suggested to him that he  go and see her sing.  He told me they were already friends.

This past weekend I was in Toronto visiting my cousin Byron.  Saturday morning, while we were getting ready to go out, someone knocked on the door. Byron was playing one of his original compositions on his piano, and couldn’t get to the door. “Pamela would you get the door for me please?”

And there was Laura.  The last time I saw her was 30 years ago. She looked the same. The same smile.  I told her the story of the water glass. We both couldn’t remember the name of the teacher.  She remembered that I was beautiful. I never thought of myself that way. I thought she was.  She has the same style of eye glasses, but wore contacts that day. My Spanish sister. We dressed alike in black long sleeved shirts. Byron gave me a wonderful surprise, and the gift of a renewed friendship.

No, I don’t have to paint like Laura. I have to paint like me.  I don’t seek the praise, or the rewards. I can live without an “A” from a teacher.  I won’t let someone else stop me from painting what is inside me.  And for good measure I will add one more quote by Van Gogh.

“I try more and more to be myself, caring relatively little whether people approve or disapprove.”
― Vincent Willem van Gogh

I locked my Keys in the car (again)

Yesterday when I was out doing errands with my older daughter I locked my keys in the car. But, ha, I was prepared. I had set up a safety procedure for those times when I am forgetful.  I have a spare key in my purse.

I know one day I will probably leave my keys in the van and lock the door. I locked my keys in the van  last year. Once when I was in a hurry to get home to drive my oldest daughter to work. I had ten minutes to spare so I ran into a big box store. I had just picked up my car from the repair shop and had not reattached the key to the lanyard. I jumped out of the van remembering the lanyard, but not the key. She had to call a friend to bring her to work.  I called triple A and waited.

Yesterday at my daughter’s swim lesson a woman sat beside me on the bench with her son. They were waiting for his lesson to begin. She looked at me like she knew me.  She asked, “Have we met before? You look familiar. . ” I stared at her. I didn’t say anything because I couldn’t remember her, and she looked like she recognized me.  Then she said,”Oh yes, you were at the homeschool meeting last month. Do you remember?”

“Oh yes” , I smile and nod.  I remember going to the meeting.  I  vaguely remember her face.  Was she so unremarkable, or was I staring at my cell phone too much and not paying attention to the people I met that night. Did she get new glasses? A new hair cut? Was it because she sat on the side of me and not in front of me, so I only saw her arm?

I have stopped saying when I meet someone, “Oh, nice to meet you, as they may say, “Oh, we have met before.” So I try to be vague but pleasant, like ” Oh how nice to see you”; or” What nice teeth you have.”

I looked on-line for suggestions on how to improve my memory and came across an article in Forbes.  Majid Fotuhi, M.D., chairman of the Neurology Institute for Brain Health and Fitness and an assistant professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins University,  says that the reason people may be forgetful as they age is,”Because there is typically a 0.5% per year shrinkage of the  brain’s hippocampus as you age.”

I feel so much better now. My hippocampus is shrinking. I will listen to   Dr Fotuhi’ suggestions and reduce stress, exercise my brain, and eat better.  However, the next time I meet someone who remembers me, and I haven’t a clue who they are. I will smile and say, ” My hippocampus is getting smaller. What is your name again please.”

The Notes Hidden in My Sock Drawer

I was not afraid of the slight turbulance when I was in the airplane flying, a small dot between your fingers as you looked into the sky. If the plane had suddenly rushed towards the ground, or a wing had fallen off, I would have kept writing in my journal, or perhaps told the person across the aisle that Jesus loves them.

The comfortable and relaxed manner I imagined I would have did not come just from the knowledge that I would soon be with Jesus.  I was not anxious because I had left notes for my children and husband in my sock drawer.  I did tell my friend Jessica about the notes. I wrote them during the last hour of our shared Comic Book Writing and Drawing class. “How will I know if your plane crashed and I have to tell them about the notes?” she asked.

“Oh, you will hear about it at church. ” I said.  I was flying home to Canada, and I wanted to make sure my family knew I loved them. A last little note from their Mama for my children, and a note to my husband about what I loved about him, and what I wanted him to do.

I flew to Canada and am now safely back home. The notes are still hidden in my sock drawer.

I will read the notes to my children, and make sure they know how much I love them each day, and not just when I think my plane is going down.

The Frogs Have Laid Eggs

Today my youngest daughter and I walked  to the pond to count frogs and to see if we could find Todd.  We found one that looked like Todd, the frog she had caught and released the day before.  Todd was puffing out the loose skin under his chin and crying out for a girlfriend. Timber said, “Come on Todd, you can do it.  I want to be a grandmother.”

We found three pairs of mating frogs. The female frogs were brown and the males on top were green. They sat like that for the whole time we were there. Timber said, ” They have been sitting like that for hours. They sure do take along time to make babies. How long did it take you and Papa to make me?”

“Hmm, not that long.”

We found a long gel like string of black dots close to where Todd was sitting.  Maybe Todd already had a wife, and the string of eggs were his children.  My daughters grandchildren.

walking the wrong way

yelling in my head

you are walking the wrong way

going with the crowd