Dinosaur sponges and detachable heads

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Dreaming baby

It was the night after we bought the crib and assembled it that the strange dreams started. My husband put it together—a plain wooden crib—while I sat on our bed, folding baby clothes. We positioned the crib next to my side of the bed and then pretended to pick the baby up, comparing notes on techniques. I was 32 weeks pregnant and despite having three ultrasounds already, the crib and the clothes made our daughter seem suddenly real. 

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From Cumberland with love

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Whose woods are these?

I’m not usually a fan of Valentine’s Day. My husband and I sometimes exchange little gifts, but not always, and we rarely do anything besides that to mark the day. It’s not that I mind Valentine’s Day, though as a teenager I hated it—a reminder of my lack of a boyfriend and, therefore, the inevitability of a life without love. It’s just that it’s never done much for me as a holiday. I’m not into pink or love hearts, and I’ve always found the Valentine’s Day decorations in shops a little sickly.

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What to do with the past?

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My length and width swimming certificates, you never know when you might need to prove you can swim a length! (I can’t, by the way, I’m a terrible swimmer.)

A week and a half ago we moved for what I hope will be the final time. We’ve bought a house and we are finally settling down—for at least ten years, I tell myself, because despite how much I hate the stress of moving, there is still a part of me that equates settling down with stagnation and unhappiness. This was our second move in the past year, the previous move being Toronto to Victoria, and our third since moving from Amsterdam to Toronto two and half years ago. We were still using boxes for this move that we used to ship all our possessions from the UK to Amsterdam, seven years and a lifetime ago. This move was, fortunately, much shorter and simpler than the previous two—we’ve moved a positively short hop away from Victoria to the Comox Valley.

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Notes from a far isle January ’21 – part 2

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My husband and I encountered this “hair ice” the other morning. He insisted it was ice and I insisted it was some kind of fungus. Turns out, it’s a bit of both! It is ice, but the ice is caused by a fungus in dead wood!

This note is slightly late because last week I moved house, so I’ve been buried under piles of boxes and possessions (more on that in this week’s blog post). Somehow between the boxes, my baby, and freelance work, I have found a few quiet moments to read.

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The woman behind the pram

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Me with my almost two-month-old baby in the pram.

In my third year of university my husband, then boyfriend, lived in a house close to a primary school. I practically lived at that house and so I would often walk through the park and along the creek behind the school on my way to and from lectures. On my morning and afternoon walks I would often see mums pushing prams, trailed by one or two children in crisp or dishevelled uniforms, depending on the time of day. I remember on one particular occasion, I passed a mum pushing a pram, with her older child wandering a few metres behind, and she had a tired and vacant look on her face. I remember thinking: I don’t want that. I was in my early twenties and children were far from my mind, but even so the woman behind the pram made child-rearing look soul sucking.

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Notes from a far isle January ’21

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Technically a December 2020 photo, but I apparently haven’t taken any photos in January. This was taken on a dog walk and I liked the composition with the Christmas lights, the power line and the full moon.

In my last blog post, I wrote about not setting goals for the year. But I guess that wasn’t entirely true, because I have set myself the goal of publishing more on my blog. I aim to publish a bi-weekly essay, but I’ve also decided to intersperse those essays with a bi-weekly series of “Notes from a far isle.” This will be a place for me to dump book, essay, film, television, and music recommendations—as well as anything else that crosses my radar. Plus the odd bit of self-promotion for good measure. I can’t claim it will be a treasure trove of resources, but I think one of the things I miss most about social media (see my post about quitting Twitter and Instagram) is getting to share things I love with others.

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A postcard to 2020

First photo of 2020, taken on an afternoon walk with the family. Feels like another lifetime ago.

There’s a song that we often play in the week between Christmas and New Year. It’s called, rather appropriately, “The Week Between” and it’s by John Roderick and Jonathan Coulton. There’s a line that I love and that I keep playing over in my mind:

The week between
New Year’s resolutions and conversations with last year’s dreams

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On not reading

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It’s no secret that I love to read. Being a reader has always been a huge part of my identity; I don’t remember a time when I didn’t love reading and books.

As a kid, I loved going to my local library and getting out a big stack of books. I’d go home, dump the pile on my bed, and settle in. I loved books about vampires, anthropomorphic animals, and children leading double lives as detectives or spies. I loved escaping into fantasy worlds. I read the first Harry Potter book when I was 11 (I literally grew up with HP) and I longed to get an acceptance letter from Hogwarts in the post.

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A few books about pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood

Reading has always been my route into understanding the world. As soon as I get interested in a topic, I immediately start searching Google for lists of books on that topic. So, when I found out I was pregnant I started Googling. I also headed to my local library: the baby and parenting section was mostly comprised of copies of What To Expect When You’re Expecting and baby name books, but I did manage to pick up a copy of Like A Mother: A Feminist Journey Through the Science and Culture of Pregnancy by Angela Garbes. I devoured it in two days; it was exactly the kind of book I was looking for. I wasn’t interested in dry textbooks or manuals that would tell me the how. I wanted to hear from other women who had gone before me—with a smattering of interesting research into the science, history and culture of pregnancy and parenting. In other words, exactly what Garbes was offering.

There are many lists out there of books on pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood. BUT, ho hum, here’s my list of books I enjoyed and/or found particularly enlightening.

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