The Girl and Glasses

The Girl wears glasses now, as of yesterday. It was the old school blackboard at the back of the class test that did it. Her mum took her into the optomitrist on Saturday, and got the specs the same day. The Girl wears glasses   She needs them to see things far away, like me, and she’ll need to wear them all the time, unless she’s reading. She seems pretty cool with them. They’re still a bit alien to her I think. She keeps asking if it’s OK to take them off to do things, and is also aware of not taking them off and doing the things she normally does. That’s a pretty natural adjustment. I got my own glasses when I was 22.  But, the adjustment is the same; when do I wear them? When do I take them off? Pretty soon, they just become a part of your appearance, and even your identity. I suppose this is why they’re looked upon as kind of a big deal still. There was some talk between her mum and I about whether or not she’ll take any heat for her glasses from the kids at school. My impression is that glasses aren’t a cause to worry about being targeted for teasing anymore. I don’t get the impression that “four-eyes” is a thing. But, you never know; it’s been a while since I was in grade four. We’ll deal with it as it comes. I think they look great on her. And I’ve told her about the “nerd clash”, when those with glasses attempt close-quarters affection and their respective pairs of glasses make that *clackclackclack* sound. It remains to be seen whether this is a pro or a con. I say it’s a pro. We’ll see what she thinks.

The Girl And The Last Of The Single Digits

It was the Girl’s birthday yesterday – her 9th. It’s the last year in her life that will have a single digit, a single syllable. I know that’s not a thing for most people.  Anyway, it’s in the week, so this is kind of a fast and furious celebration on the day itself. Because of our situation, her birthday will probably be celebrated over a series of gatherings and parties. It will spill into October, which is a win for her.

Anyway, I took this not-very-well-rendered picture that is completely redeemed by her smile. Just look.

The Girl and the Birthday Sundae

I gave her a graphic novel, a journal, and a pen that is meant to last for seven years. Says so on the package! I’ll have to replace it when she hits “sweet” sixteen.

After dinner, I took her by the old house, the place her mother and I took her when we all came home from the hospital. It seemed like a birthday sort of thing to do. And it reinforces a mandate of mine about helping her connect to her origins, and her own history.

She’s older now, and in many senses of the word. During dinner, she saw a friend of hers, and yet another friend, at the restaurant. I think she would rather have had dinner with her buds while we parents chilled out somewhere else. That’s fair. Parenting, it seems to me, is a slow process of hanging on, loosening your grip over time, letting go, and having some idea on the timing that affects all of that.

Anyway, ppttttphttt. It was a good day. I taught her how to play checkers, too.

Let’s see her little friends do that.

The Girl and Salt Spring Island, 3

Well, today it rained on Salt Spring Island in earnest. But, instead of complaining about it, The Girl and I decided that we’d just adapt. Instead of heading to the beach, we decided that a car tour of the north end of the island was in order. 

So, after a breakfast made up of the groceries we bought in Ganges yesterday, and a trip back into town to do a bit of shopping for picnic items, gifts and for more books, we set off. We went up Robinson street to Walker’s Hook, which is the general region that I took the last time I was here. The rain really cooled things down, so our walk out to the pier was fun but very brief. We retired to the Fernwood Cafe, a little corner place in that fairly remote area of the island, kind of like a little caffeine oasis. Then, we hit the road again. Being wanderers was fun, rain and all.

The rest of the time that morning and into the afternoon, we just drove. I aimed my car in interesting directions. We listened to our homemade mix of pop songs on repeat that serves as our soundtrack to this particular adventure, and we just took in the sights, after pausing to eat lunch. This was just after a walk along the northern tip of the island, where we saw a compelling rock formation, thanks to being right up against the sea. We ate our somosas with the radio on.

The Girl in a Cave

The island hasn’t had a lot of rain lately as mentioned. And that deep golden hue of the grasses, now darkened by the rains, made everything look like a painting. The rolling blanket of cloud and the patter of rain accentuated the beauty of the landscape. There has been no reason to complain about the weather.

The rest of the afternoon, we spent back at our rooms, reading our books in bed, chatting, and snacking. The Girl hummed Madonna’s “Beautiful Stranger” to herself, as she switched to the iPod. I knew that mix would come in handy.

“Let’s buy a frisbee!” The Girl suggested, So, we went to Mouat’s in Ganges and got one, throwing the frisbee back and forth on the school grounds near the main drag. Then, it was dinner – fish and chips, along with a jazz duo which had followed a succession of ’80s pop hits, including “We Built This City On Rock ‘n’ Roll”.

“I know this one!”

“From WHERE?”

“I think I heard it in your car!”

“Impossible. If this song came on in my car, I would scream and change the channel.”

“Oh, Dad …”

It’s night now, the last night we’ll spend here this time around. Like all last nights, it’s kind of melancholic. We’ve had such fun.

The Girl and Salt Spring Island, 2

The Girl at Ruckle Park August 2014

Today when we woke up it was raining in a Biblical fashion. Weirdly, my heart didn’t sink. I found the rain to be kind of soothing after so much glaring sun. And it reminded me that I would use my instincts when it came to this trip with The Girl to Salt Spring Island.

We got into Ganges at about 9AM for a light breakfast at The Tree House Cafe again, kind of a go-to spot, as mentioned. The rain had stopped and the sky was a melancholic blue-grey, a colour it would retain for the rest of the day. I love days like that. Today, it occurred to me that this is in fact my favourite kind of day; not to “glarey”, not too hot. It was, in fact, the perfect day for a stroll.

Our waitperson mentioned that one cool thing to do would be to check out the cheese-making farm to the south of the island. So, off we went to see the chickens, and the goats at Stowell Lake Farm, where Salt Spring Island cheese is made from those animals, pasteurized, cultured, packaged, and sold internationally.

But it was still a walking day.

So we beat it to Fulford Harbour, grabbed some picnicky things, and headed off to Ruckle Park. The drive itself is magnificent, my favourite part being the heritage farm that precedes the entrance to the park itself. It’s been very dry lately, with “extreme dryness” conditions for those who are thinking of lighting camp fires. So the expanse of the farm is golden, accented by wooden fences, and a skirt of trees.

When we got to the park we had lunch and took our walk along the craggy shoreline, watching the boats and ferries, and avoiding the paths and the voices of other sojourners. The Girl wanted to play a game about a deer called Emily, and her new friend Frederick the Raccoon, an itinerant person with a love for eggs, and no home. She, as Emily, told me that she was an orphan, her parents killed by mountain lions. But she, as Emily, had made the best of it, inviting old Frederick to come and live with her, seeing as they were both lonely souls in the woods. The Girl is only now beginning to write down her thoughts, and to take up regular reading (we bought one of the Redwall novels in Ganges before setting off …). But, I find that her sense of play is her primary storytelling medium. When she’s inhabiting a role, the stories just roll out of her.

We headed back for groceries, then a little bit of quiet time back at where we’re staying. We both need downtime in order to get the most out of a day, which in this case after a meal, an ice-cream cone, a walk, and a trip home for a quiet evening lying next to each other, reading books, and playing with the iPod (I had my phone, reading articles about the loss of Robin Williams and Lauren Bacall, who both have died since we arrived here).

What we’ve had here is a lot of close quarters time, enjoying each other’s company.

The Girl and Salt Spring Island, 1

The Girl and I have embarked on our first vacation away together, just us.

She’s been excited for months about going to Salt Spring Island with me, an excursion that she herself suggested. Usually in the summer, we’ve taken a week out to take little local trips in a staycation. But, she argued that she is old enough now to manage a full-on holiday away, free from her usual routine. I have agreed. And so far, things are going very well.

Traveling with The Girl is easy. On the ferry, which she was very good about keeping to the schedule for as we bustled about this morning getting out the door, her presence beside me consisted of her mysterious rituals with her iPod, and a quiet singing voice repeating subtle refrains. These last elements are mostly from a mix disc that she and I collaborated on before we left, so that we could have our own soundtrack to remember the trip by.

On the trip, we made stops at Galliano Island, Mayne Island, and Pender Island – the Big Three – before arriving at our destination. I’ve been to Salt Spring once before, and have the advantage of knowing the roads, and some of the off the path places to park. So, we tooled around a bit in Ganges before heading to our B&B just out of the downtown core, if a designation like that can be applied to Ganges.

Girl in a hanging chair

Out in front the place is an apple tree. Under it is a hanging chair and a bench. “Dad,” said the Girl as we sat in the hang chair and bench respectively. “Tonight, I want to journal by myself in this chair without chatting with anyone.” Huh. OK, I said.

After dinner at the Tree House Cafe in Ganges, an ice cream, and a walk back, she found some writing paper in the writing desk in my room, went out and did just that.

The Girl is a creature of habit, which I can hardly fault her for. But, one thing that she also is is adaptable.

More to come!

The Girl and Her First Song

The Girl loves to sing of course. But, lately she’s been wondering about how songs are actually made. So, on the weekend she asked me if I wanted to write a song with her. I told her I’m more of a fan of songs and songwriters, and that I’m familiar some of the moving parts of the average pop song, because I’m an avid listener. But, I’m not much of a songwriter myself. Her response was: “Don’t worry, Dad. I’ll help you”.

So, we wrote a song, which we recorded on video. Here it is.

I put some chords on it and tweaked some things here and there. I also added the middle-eight section. Amazingly, most of the words are hers, and so is the basic melody.

Every day/Every night/Coming home and sleeping tight

Broken heart/On the mend/I sure do miss my friend

I’ll be alright without you

Waking up/Missing you/Feeling lonely without you

Going out/Of my head/tears are flowing – sadness, fed

I’ll be alright without you

Coming into my head every day/I remember your face the same way/Everybody looks like you/I really miss you

Every day/Every night/Coming home and sleeping tight

Broken heart/On the mend/I sure do miss my friend

I’ll be alright without you

My favourite line is probably “everybody looks like you”, which hooks into that  phenomenon of missing someone and seeing them in the faces of everyone you meet. That’s a pretty sophisticated idea, and I’m not sure where she got it. She wanted this to be a “happy/sad” song, which I was able to get behind pretty easily, since I love happy/sad songs best. And it ends up being one of those songs where you don’t know where one emotion ends and another begins. Not bad for an eight year old.

I don’t know if she’ll want to write any other songs. But, my goal is to encourage her to write anything that occurs to her to write and in whatever form it takes to express herself. I think everyone should have an outlet for that. I believe it’s a necessity for a happy life, basically. I was very happy to join her in this project, which (amazingly again!) only took about an hour. But for that hour, she was totally focused, which is another thing I want to help encourage.

Without any prompting, she dedicated this song to “future Maya, and future Dad”. I still haven’t worked out what that connection is in her head. But, I wonder if its about taking part in an act to getting thoughts and ideas down so it’s possible to remember who one was when one had them. That’s another pretty sophisticated idea –  that we are beings in time, and things never stay the way they are, including how we see the world, and perhaps how we see ourselves in it. Maybe she’s hit on a reason that anyone makes art; that it’s our defence against feeling that we have no control over our destinations, our identities.

Either way, I hope she keeps writing, whether it’s songs, or poetry, or stories, or a journal. Making art to wrest control of one’s life away from the forces of chaos, or mindless rule-following order for that matter, is a pretty good approach to living one’s life.

The Girl and The New Wave Do

Well, maybe not exactly new wave.

She’s growing out her bangs so that when she gets her hair cut, she can wear it off of her forehead. More on that later (or sooner).

In the meantime, I’ve got a lot of feedback on this picture I took in May at the Blenz at 6th and 6th here in New West. After this shot was taken, The Girl and I took a long walk around the neighbourhood and talked about houses. She wants me to move into one. I just like looking at them.

Girl in the Blenz May 2014