The Space Between Us

Into roughly the 8th week(??) of isolation (time has become incredibly fluid for me), and as the days pass, I think increasingly about what will be in the “time after.” Everyone is in such a rush to “get back to normal,” to reopen businesses and relax some of the protocols that have kept many of us safe and healthy – if not employed. I do absolutely sympathize with those who want to re-open their businesses, who are desperate to earn an income to support themselves and their families. It’s at least as frightening to have the economic rug pulled suddenly out from under you as it is to come face to face with a pandemic. This is about survival, on so many levels.


BUT. I am going to articulate  massively unpopular opinion.

I DO NOT WANT to get back to “normal life.” Not soon, and if I am honest, not ever.

I’ve been thinking a great deal about how ‘normal life’ breaks people and communities through its enactment of privilege, how many people are silenced in so many ways, how at its root this is all about the trade of labour and creativity to enrich the few on the backs of many – and at the expense of the environment and all other beings. How I desperately, urgently, passionately want it all to CHANGE for the better on the other side of this. How afraid I am that it won’t. And how I feel increasingly paralyzed by the prospect of a ‘return to before.’


This is true for me in relation to the broader culture in which I live, and for the sector in which I work. This is a moment in which we could – and should – recognize that not only will the ‘new normal’ be with us for a long time (2 metres for the win!), but the ‘old normal’ is something that we should neither wish for nor return to. It also may be moot – because the ‘old normal’ may not exist for much longer, regardless of what some (or most) people desire.

“Normal” or “business as usual” has been exposed with utter clarity by the pandemic:  the glaring gaps in care, the enormous disparities that are actively cultivated and maintained by the systems in which we live and work. How many people have no choice but to risk their health and that of their loved ones & work in this time, in order to survive; how the most vulnerable of us have even fewer options to remain safe and healthy.

How many of us have seen our entire sector shut down, cancelled, income evaporated, in already tenuous livelihoods.

So this is a point in which we can CHOOSE what kind of world we want to live in moving forward. And we need to ask these questions of ourselves – NOW – while we have the time and opportunity to do so.


What are you prepared to do to create a more equitable culture and community as we come out of this? How can we work together to make that happen?

What aspects of ‘normal life’ are you happy to see gone?

I leave you with these questions – and encourage your replies … and also with an excellent essay by Lou Sheppard; they articulate far more eloquently than I some of the things that have been worrying me about what comes next.

Take Care of Each Other.

A time of Gratitude

It has been a quiet, gentle day. No hubbub.


A day to watch snow fall. Play some music. Make food and eat it.

Tomorrow will be busier; family coming over for a shared meal, gifts exchanged – a different kind of energy, no less delightful for all of that.


And tonight – a chance to pause again, and wish everyone a safe, happy, and peaceful night, filled with laughter and love. Be gentle with each other, and with yourself. The light is coming back, and now is the time to nurture new ideas and projects, to welcome change and the turn of the wheel for another year.


My thanks to those who read my posts here, on whatever platform. I am grateful for the privilege of being able to share my thoughts with you.


I wish each of you the Very Best this Season has to offer, however you may enjoy it.

Be well and take care of one another.

Time Travel, part I

I have been continuing to delve into material for the NEST series over the last couple of years. I’m not “done” with it yet, and the work has taken a much-needed autobiographical turn in the last year.

One of the things that’s been really interesting to me in that process is how many gaps and silences I’ve found in the ‘family narrative’.  So much I don’t know, that wasn’t ever spoken of, or only mentioned in passing.

How many things I remember hearing about, but on further investigation, find that the “real” story is a little different from what I was told (or remember). Official documents with dates that don’t jive with what I’d understood to be the accepted truth for one (or more) family members.

There’s also photos and their inscriptions which fill in some blanks; more often than not though, they raise more questions than they answer … and call more received ‘facts’ into question.

I am left to tease out stories and threads, contend with gaps, accept different sorts of loss, again. Few people left to fill in or clarify information.

As I wade through this morass, and figure out exactly what to do with all of this raw material, I thought I’d share some of my finds.

So, to begin … some photos from my grandparents’ time:



This is the first home my father’s family had in Canada; a homestead in Highvale, Alberta. A far cry from the brick rowhouse in Tynemouth, Northumberland where my father and his siblings were born!



After some time in their first place, they were able to move to another house closer to Edmonton, on what was then called St. Albert Road. Still rural, to be sure, and at a time when travel was just as likely by horse and cart as by car (I was told the family had both).


This is my paternal Grandmother and Grandfather, Ethel and Alfred. I believe the photo was taken outside the St. Albert house.


I love this photo of my Grandmother and her friend; she seems happy, and it  looks as though they were having a great deal of fun on a summer’s day. That rose arbour is amazing … a bit of Jolly Olde England transplanted to the Canadian Prairie!

I don’t really remember her; not the sound of her voice or her laugh or her touch – just that she was small and birdlike. My grandparents lived with my parents and me in their old age, so it feels odd that I don’t have at least one clear memory of her. But then again, I was really young when she died.


My father as a young man, posing with his Mum. I don’t know if they were close, but it seems from this image that they might have been; he wasn’t inclined to hug people, so the fact that he’s hugging her speaks to a warm connection of some sort. She’s wearing his hat too, so it looks like they were close enough to kid around together.




I wish I’d known her better – it seems like she was quite a vibrant woman, with a sense of humour!  That grin (and the fact that she dressed up in my Grandfather’s old uniform for this photo) speaks volumes.

I wonder what stories she would tell me if she could, what her understanding of the world and its workings she would pass on … what she thought of coming here, to this country and it’s snow and space and enormous skies.

Her thread is but one I am attempting to pick up and trace, weave into my understanding of what and when and who and where.

And how all of that eventually brought me to here.