Tag Archives: friends

Two Steps Back

Our trip back to our old stomping grounds in Toronto was all at once exciting, fun, sad, exhausting, and surreal.

IMG_3115The surreal part came when we wandered into stores or through our old school and people just smiled and nodded to us as if we’d never left. Very Rip Van Winklish.

The excitement of leaving the city for a great adventure helped us to skim over the sadness of goodbyes last year, but that sadness hit my better half like a Mack truck on this trip. It all came to a head after dinner with her best Toronto friend, when she realized we wouldn’t see her again before we left town. L absolutely lost it, howling with despair and spitting out those fearsome words “Why did we even have to move?!” and “Why didn’t you ask me if we should move?!”


After the tears subsided she rallied somewhat, because she is nothing if not a trooper, but ever since¬† that night she’s been a bit fragile, especially when it comes to her friends here. We just don’t have as many of them as we did in Toronto, I guess.

Plus when she gazes at the city lights she becomes rapturous. She does love the city.


Things to Do in Toronto When You’re Undead

IMG_3189We’ve just had a Fantastic Big City Hallowe’en! Even with the rain it was great to be back in the old neighbourhood for trick or treating.

First we dropped in on our old school and their costume parade… Continue reading

One Year Later

IMG_2704 - Version 2

Two days ago we celebrated the one year anniversary of moving into our little house in the woods. They say it takes the first week of a vacation just to start to relax and enjoy yourself. I’m wondering if it takes the first year of living on Salt Spring to unwind all the inner springs and let the watch finally run down.

Who knows if I’m actually at that point yet. What I do know is this: over the last two weeks I feel like I’ve acheived a perfect balance of work-life-fun-chores. Over the last two weeks I’ve settled into a workday ritual that ends abruptly at 3:00, at which point dilly-dallying and puttering take over. The weekend – and we have three days of it here – is given almost entirely to household chores, but done in a meandering, highly distracted way. And when the sun shines, that supercedes all previous plans and we head outside.

Only over the last two weeks have I started to implement 30 minutes of staring idly into space (while sitting outdoors) into my productive workday. And, most importantly, I regard it as a necessary activity!

Neither of us has acquired a taste for kale yet, but my little yogini consumes vast quantities of seaweed snacks. I, on the other hand, do not. She has set up a “yoga oasis” in her room and invites me in to do relaxation poses, complete with eye pillows. That’s my kind of yoga!

I am extremely fortunate to have a seven-year-old who adapted so effortlessly to such a big change, and who makes friends so readily that within days of starting grade one she had found 4 best friends. (They continue to be giddy, silly buddies into Grade Two.) As a result of this social circle, I get to hang out with a pretty fantastic collection of moms.

Lots of quality Grandpa and Grandma time, mild (soggy foggy) winters, blindingly gorgeous summers, greenery and silence, and wonderful friends.

We’re doin’ all right.

the dizzy dames

the dizzy dames

the moms

the moms

Step 92: Pick the School

This chore came up last spring while we were packing. Making this kind of decision can fill a parent’s heart with dread, particularly when it involves a child entering Grade One in a brand new school/town/province. What if I make the wrong choice? Will my child learn and thrive or become stunted and scarred for life?

Saltspring Island has three public elementary schools and a few private school options. I could have tormented myself over this decision, which would be the usual way I do things, but it was really a no-brainer. We went with the school with built-in friends –¬† the boss already had two excellent friends on the island, both of whom were starting Grade One at Saltspring Elementary, located pretty much in the centre of the island – which is good when you’re not sure where you’re going to end up living.

Done and done!

Our new school, Saltspring Elementary, is the largest school on the island. On the first day one mom informed me, only half-jokingly, that it is locally regarded as the island’s “inner city ghetto school”. This is what it looks like:


the inner city ghetto school

And just for comparison, here is our old school in Toronto – in an upper middle class neighbourhood full of doctors and lawyers and other professionalish types:

the posh neighbourhood school

the semi-posh neighbourhood school

As a further comparison, Saltspring has about 170 students, K-5. The entire school body can go out to sing Christmas carols (in the rain):


In Toronto, Runnymede Public School has about that number of kids… just in kindergarten. (In all, there are 1,100 students K-8.)

So when another island parent actually tut-tutted my school choice on the grounds that Saltspring Elementary was way too big… well it just made me laugh. People are funny, and parents are funnier than most.

One other big difference: at our old school parents were not allowed to enter the school yard until it was time for dismissal. If you entered the school you had to sign in at the office and get a Visitor’s badge. (Or risk being challenged in the hall by the vice principal – which happened to me our first week there.)


In contrast, our new school’s fall newsletter invites parents to join the kids in the schoolyard to play!


I liked our old school, it was a little crazy but it was a busy, BUSY, noisy place, with a million activities going on at any given time, and the teachers and committee-mad parents were terrific.

And I also like our small new easygoing school. Our island-style inner city ghetto school!





Step 68: The Last Night

favourite restaurant – Yumi sushi

Last dinner out, and farewell to other favourite places in Bloor West Village…

Jane-Bloor Diner

Our favourite old-school diner, complete with pictures of hockey players and race horses on the walls, and old-timers sitting at the counter. The first place that Lizzie ever blew bubbles in a glass of milk with a straw.

Lizzie’s favourite smoothie place

Lizzie will miss this place!

fountain at Jane and Bloor

This is the spot where they put a big Christmas tree made of lights every year, and a rather alarming Santa Claus totters around the crowd.

After wandering through the neighbourhood on a gorgeous warm summer evening, we end up at the house of my best friend, ally, support, comedic relief, sympathetic ear, cocktail taster, organizational whirlwind, style counsel, shopping guru, and fount of general good advice. Hard to leave!

ooooh so tired!


last sleep in an empty house

Step 65: Double-book and Over-extend

Wait a minute, back up a bit. I missed a few steps that occurred before the truck arrived…

As a way to keep your spirits up, always underestimate how much work lies ahead. If possible, invite people over for goodbye visits right when you’ve got the most packing to do…

We hosted an open house deck party for two afternoons a mere 2 days before the moving truck arrived. Either the smartest or the dumbest thing I’ve ever done.

On the downside… 2 days before the moving truck arrived. Aieeee!

On the upside… I really needed a break from the packing tape and bubble wrap.

On the downside… the Boss had fun but was definitely becoming irked with constant goodbyes and “smile for the photo”s.

On the upside… some sweet goodbye time with good friends. (And some lovely photos too.)

P.S. On the topic of over-extending myself… did I mention we made special Canada Day cookies too? (Am I insane?)

Step 60: Goodbye Parties

Right into the goodbyes right now, and I’m finding it harder than I expected. Lizzie, too, is acting a little oddly, upset over the smallest things, then manic activity. I think it’s taking us both by surprise.

On Saturday I had to say goodbye to my mom’s group. That was hard. Thrown together by chance and new-motherhood, we have bonded beyond any of our wildest expectations. We just happened to share the most dramatic adventure of our lives with each other, that’s all. And here we are, six years later, still friends and still getting together for wine, conversation and laughs. I don’t have family members living nearby and these ladies have filled in that gap just beautifully.

I hope they don’t mind me posting this photo, but I just want to share with you some of the smartest, funniest, most warm and caring women I know. (And their terrific kids!)