Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Introducing Emlyn

Born July 28, 6 pound 7 onces and a full head of hair.

When last we left our intrepid blogger he was waiting for his wife to start having real contractions. Waiting in a wilderness of anticipation and anxiety. Unfortunately my anxiety turned out to be warranted. The baby was breach and Claire's waters broke long before she started having contractions. There was no way to turn the baby and the hospital wouldn't even consider trying to deliver breach. We ended up having to have a Caesarean delivery. And for the record, I will hunt down and put the boots to anyone who citizens that decision. It was hard enough to go through without being second guessed.

It was 20 minutes from the time they took Claire into the operating room until they let me come in. Those were some pretty long minutes. I've never consciously tried so hard to not think as I did at that time. I counted the holes on the edge of the mask I'd been given. I wondered how many fathers-to-be had sat in that seat and took a picture of the sign that said "No photography." I did everything I could to not let what was about to happen enter my mind. They were about to cut open the first person in the world for which I'd gladly sacrifice myself to stop such a thing from happening. Cut her open in order to retrieve the second person for which I felt that way.

No matter how hard it was for me, it was harder still for Claire.

Enough about that. In the end the method her birth is one tiny detail compared to the rest of her life. One she won't even remember.

As you can see, she's pretty much the most beautiful baby ever. What? You think I'm biased? Well, 5 out of her 6 grandparents agree and you can't get a more significant sample than that.

Learning how to be a father has been a challenge. My previous experience with children consisted primarily of avoidance. But I'm getting the hang of diapers and the lack of sleep.

There's been so much that's happened since last I wrote, it's hard to find a place to start.

The summer job helping people fix their bikes was the best job I've ever had. It was almost a daily occurrence where someone would thank me sincerely for my help; such is the nature of empowering people.

Right now we're in Sydney Australia. We spent almost a month in Colorado Springs in the USA while I attended Barnett's Bicycle Institute. It was a great experience, I learned a great deal including just how little I actually knew. Unfortunately I got sick in the last few days of the course, a minor cold with a sore throat. After we were done in Colorado we went to Sechelt BC (just up the coast from Vancouver) to introduce the little one to her Canadian Grandma. It was nice to be there but I spent the whole time being miserable with the cold.

We had a bunch of fun with my Australian visa and my passport. I had to send it off to Ottawa in order to get the visa. Twice. It literally came within 10 minutes of not being returned in time. The one-day service courier we'd chosen to get it back to us in Sechelt actually takes two days to get there because of the ferry connection. I called the Australian High Commission 10 minutes before it's scheduled courier pick up and changed the service. We stopped on the way to the airport in Vancouver to pick up my passport. We also stopped so I could go to the doctor. My cold had turned into a lung infection. The doctor took a look at me and said "You're not doing anything this weekend, right." It wasn't a question. I had to admit that I was actually getting on a 16-hour flight as soon as I was done there. The doctor paused, sighed and reached for his prescription pad.

But now we're in Sydney and I can sit on our balcony looking out over a banana tree and scary the parrots with my hacking cough. Ya, life's not so bad. We're here for a couple of more days then off for a drive to Wilby (good luck finding that on a map of Australia) to stay with the mother-in-law.

So much for the reportage, hopefully soon I'll have the time and energy to think about what any of all this means.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

So we got married almost 2 weeks ago. Best wedding I've ever been to. Last night a 5am Claire's waters broke. We went to the hospital and they've sent us home until the real contractions start. I am not ready for this. Think good things for us. When next we speak there'll be a shiny new person in the world.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Time doesn't just fly, it rockets

So here it is, the last deep breath before the craziness. I'm sitting here alone waiting for the LUC to pick up our first Aussie wedding guest from the airport. From now till the baby's born we'll have at least one house guest staying here. It's been busy, so very busy despite quiting my full time job and taking one running a bike co-op's repair shop for 6 hours a day. I was leaving the bookstore anyway and playing with bikes for a summer sounded great. This is literally the end of my already skimpy free time.

We're just 11 days from the wedding and around 29 to the due date and 75 days from packing up the house and going to Colorado Springs for 3 weeks. I'm going to attend Barnett's school for bike mechanics there and then we're off to Australia for 8 months to stay with the new grandparents. Just looking at that last sentence makes me tired.

Anyway, I can't imagine I have any regular readers left, but if I do here's a little bone:

I've made a point to be anonymous but really that's just an affectation these days. I'm self-censoring to the point that I'm not going to offend anyone in my daily life anymore. My mother reads this after all.

I'm not giving up on blogging yet. I do find great satisfaction in the whole thing, when I have the time that is. I'm sure I'm going to have plenty to say about the wedding and the birth of our child so I'll be back. Hopefully soon. Wish us well.

Oh, and to answer the most common question we get: no we don't know the sex. Really, we're hoping mostly for a human. You see, there's these three hours that the LUC is missing and all her credit cards have been we're keeping our fingers crossed.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


"....death. Mine, the LUC's and even our unnamed babe's and that is more than OK, it's perfect."

Hmmph. A pretty bold statement that. The kind of statement that's just begging for a reality suplex followed by an atomic elbow. Oh yes indeed, a great, crushing backhand to the head was dealt to me last Thursday.

There were two messages on the machine when I got home late from rehearsal. On the first my brother was audibly tense and terse, "Call me as soon as you get this." On the second he explained: my mother had fallen down that morning and broken her hip. They were going to have to do surgery.

She lives in Sechelt on the coast of British Columbia. It's an hour and a half flight to Vancouver from here, followed by a couple of hours of bus and ferry to get to her place. They'd moved her by ambulance to the Lion's Gate Hospital in North Vancouver so all I had to do was get to Vancouver.

Initially I wasn't going to go but I thought better of it. After all, I can get more money but I have only one mother. There's always a risk with surgery, sometimes people don't make it even during minor procedures. My mother's 77 and that makes it all the more risky. I really wanted to be there before they started cutting. Have I mention I'm a worrier? Yes indeedy I am.

I haven't been the best of son's. Sure, I rarely borrow money and she's never had to bail me out of jail but I've been geographically and emotionally distant. There are things I needed to say to her before the end.

I booked the 6am flight and after 2 hours sleep got a cab to the airport. The cab driver was chatty, really chatty. Who the hell wants to make small talk at 4am? From the Vancouver airport I cabbed to the Seabus and was at the hospital before 9. Take a moment to think about that. I crossed the Rockies to get there. It was maybe 5 hours total travel time, door to bedside. Can there be any doubt that we're living in a golden age? Well, a golden age of travel at least.

I stayed at the hospital until they took her into surgery, with just a short break for lunch . It was hard. She was in a lot of pain and the morphine was kicking her ass pretty badly. She was nauseous, itchy and mildly disoriented until they gave her Gravol which put her even more out of it. And thirsty. She wasn't allowed to eat or drink anything. All I could do was wet a sponge on a stick so she could wipe her gums and lips. Very hard that.

I didn't really get to say anything I needed to in those few hard hours. She was in better spirits than I as they wheeled her into the elevator to the operating room. I was trying not to cry.

There was no point in waiting at the hospital. I gathered my pack, map and hat and hiked to my brother's place. It was around a 45 minute walk and the weather was, well, appropriate for my mood. It rained hard, the clouds didn't even surrender a glimpse of the mountains let alone the sky. There was a moment where I stood, map in hand, the rain pattering against it unnoticed as I cried. I most definitely didn't feel like the possibility of my Mother's death was "perfect".

She came through the surgery fine. Apparently if you have to break a hip the way she did it is the way to go. The next day she was off the morphine and much more comfortable. They even got her on her feet for a few steps. Ah the power of a few titanium pins and deft hand with a scalpel. Sure western medicine has it's problems but there's nothing better for fixing broken bones.

We talked. Just a conversation glancing across the regrets I have as a son and she has as a mother. It was enough. You see, I'm just as comfortable with the fact my Mother is going to die* as I am with the mortality of everyone in my life. Or at least I am on a sunny day with more than 3 hours of sleep under my belt. What's not acceptable is any of those people going to the grave without knowing that I love them.

*Not anytime soon Mum! You have another grandchild to meet.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Orbital Mechanics

Last night I stayed up way too late. I'm claiming that it's training for when the baby comes, a claim I'll make under oath if necessary. I made the mistake of downloading Bach's Art of the Fugue just before going to bed. I've wanted this piece, pieces really, for a while now. I have a small book of the sheet music for it that I've been looking at for almost a year and it was time to see if it sounded like I imagined it did.

I ended up staying up until 3am listening as I read along. These pieces are scored with four separate melody parts but there's debate as to what instruments should play each part, Bach never said apparently. I bought one of the more common arrangements for string quartet. I found that reading one of the inner voices as it played, either the second violin or the viola, gave me a whole new way of hearing this kind of music.

Contrapuntal music is pretty busy stuff by and large, and fugues can be very complicated indeed. When three or four melodies are playing at once I find that my ear bounces from one instrument to the next depending on how prominent it is in the mix and how active the part is. By listening to just one of the inner voices I found myself being able to hear the piece as whole. The bass and 1st violin parts being the lowest and highest stand out naturally so this makes sense.

I could hear, at least most of the time, all three of these parts at once, as separate melodies even while they were being played at the same time. This is something I've been trying to do since I read in music school that it was probable that people in medieval times heard music this way. Some scholars think that they didn't hear the harmony, the way notes sound when played at the same time, as dominantly as we do today. Or at least it wasn't important to them. Bach the senior's contrapuntal music is the most sophisticated expression of this even though he used the harmony rules that we still use today.

It was one of those moments when suddenly something that had been difficult became easy. I've been having a lot of those moments lately.

It's not much of a secret that I never really wanted children. I tried a number of arguments with the LUC: financial, environmental and so on to discourage the idea. None of it flew. Possibly because the real reason I didn't want to father a child wasn't really any of these. No, the real reason was that the very idea scared the living crap out of me. I'm a worrier who possesses an active imagination that was only too happy to provided me with no end of parental disasters.

That changed with Owen's death and the LUC's pregnancy. You'd think that such a tragedy at such a time would make me worse. After all, there's nothing like seeing fears come true to encourage the chronically pessimistic. But as I said before, even a short life well lived is worth it. This is one of those points were I wish I was a great writer. I wish I could craft a phrase that conveyed just how a profound a change this is for me. A simple phrase that would leave you the reader feeling as at peace as I do with the fact that my child will someday die. Ah well, there's nothing to do but blither away.

My father died when I was in my early teens. I was the one who recognized that Dad wasn't asleep on the couch, that he wasn't breathing. Death is not an abstract thing to me. It was a very real terror for many, many years. The nihilism of the of the 80's punk culture found fertile ground in me, despite never completely buying into all the rules and uniforms that went along with it. A "What's the point? We're all going to die no matter what we do." attitude informed most of my actions.

It ran deep enough that when the Soviet Union collapsed and it became clear that a nuclear war wasn't likely to happen in my lifetime, well, I was pissed off. Pissed off enough to write a song about it. "I thought they'd burn us all with a piece of the sun, now I know it'll happen one by one. I miss the end of the world." was how the chorus went. I meant it. I was comforted by the thought that when I went out, everyone else would be coming with me.

As life went on (And on, and on, and on. Honestly. How the hell did become 40?) I began to get a handle on my depression. Well, mostly anyway, I still lose the occasional battle for all that I seem to be winning the war. For the most part my nihilism faded into the background, not gone entirely, but not informing so much of my world view as it once did.

That was pretty much the state of things for the last few years.

[Hmmm, reading over this I realize I haven't strained a metaphor yet. We can't have that. I mean, if they don't get strained they're going to go all flabby and there's nothing worse than a pudgy metaphor.]

The arc my life made through the heavens had been changing every so slowly over the years. It had been curving its solitary path away from the dark empty and towards... well, what exactly I couldn't see. I met the LUC and the arc doubled and tightened, the destination was still unclear but the velocity increased. Suddenly out of nowhere came the twin planets of Owen's death and the LUC's pregnancy. These two massive bodies with gravity inexorable have grabbed and flung me on a new course. For the first time in my life I can see where I'm going. Fatherhood. Family. Life. Life, wow, life. It's there, stretching ahead of me, all the way to death. Mine, the LUC's and even our unnamed babe's and that is more than OK, it's perfect. You see, that end is just one tiny point on the journey. Of course you see, the thing that's filling me with wonder to point of bursting is that now I see it too.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Easter thought

I told the LUC this weekend that she is flatly forbidden* to give birth to any sort of messiah. Even a cycling one. I mean, the perks of being the father of the saviour would be awesome, think of all the free wine, but it didn't turn out so well there at the end. Not for the kid anyway.

No, I'll settle for a healthy human child, thank you very much.

I felt the baby kick for the first time last week. It was cool and creepy in equal parts. I can only imagine how it feels to be the one being booted in the kidneys. And really, I'm OK with that. No Venus envy here. :)

*OK, I know were not technically married yet so it's a little soon to start issuing spousal orders. Despite that, I've been compiling a list of things she's forbidden to do since we first met.

They include:

-Getting hijacked by terrorists

-Getting eaten by sharks

-Getting abducted by grey aliens

-Getting involved in multi-level marketing

-Jumping off of anything with a malfunctioning parachute/bungee cord or vehicle, motored or otherwise

-Being bitten by any kind of radioactive fauna and developing superpowers (this is more of a preference than an outright ban)

-Giving birth to a messiah

I've also told her that if she dies giving birth I'm going to name the baby Skrotor, regardless of gender. The babe and I will then go on a cross country crime spree in the largest SUV we can steal. The crimes against property, humanity and the environment won't end until we're taken down in a hail of righteous police bullets or until Skrotor becomes old enough to be tried as adult.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


I look at what I've written here over the years and I'm not sure I like the portrait it paints of me. For the most part it's pretty humourless stuff. This might be because I use this space to sort out the negative things in my life or it might be because I really don't know how to write humour. Be that as it may here's something that made me laugh this morning. Laugh in that deep and satisfying way were you feel the weight of, well, everything slide off your shoulders.

The LUC brought me some cake yesterday. It was a lovely surprise and I'd planned to take it home and share it with her after work. I forgot it. I called work and asked them to find it and put it in the fridge for me.

This morning I came in and found this next to the "Help Us Find Our Missing Father" poster that we put up for someone last week.

Click on it for a larger image.

Sometimes I really love my employees.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The cost

The room's crowded, uncomfortably so. It's hot and late, people are obviously starting to fade and it won't be long before things break up. It falls quiet, just one of those moments where everyone comes to rest at the same time, their punctuations aligning for a moment.

I fill the silence and the sound of eye rolling is the reply. Someone mutters "whiner" under their breath. Not unexpected, not by now, and though it gives me pause I still finish my thought.

You see, I had to say something. I was having trouble breathing. The elephant in the room, my elephant, was taking up so much space that the air was being compressed, heavy in my lungs. It's one of a herd that I can't seem to shake, not for long anyway.

Fortunately those elephants of mine have very large ears and are shy by nature. They can't stand to be spoken of and flee at the sound of their names. A temporary respite, but I'll take what I can get. And if the price I have to pay for a moment of peace is contempt from strangers and strained sympathy from friends, then so be it.

I'll pay, and pay again gladly, even if the government figures a way to tax such a purchase, even if no one else ever manages to glimpse the fleeing pachyderm.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Wonderfully banal

So, do you want to see a picture of my kid?

How that question gets answered is pretty revealing. It seems to polarize people into those who are eager and those who are grudging. Mind you no one ever refuses outright. I guess new parents are perceived to be a bit touchy. Go figure.

I can understand this. Kids embody one of the basic dichotomies of human existence. On the one hand they are utterly miraculous and on the other there's nothing more banal. The ability to create new life, a whole new person with unique thoughts and emotions is astounding. I have trouble wrapping my head around the idea and I'm having even more trouble trying to articulate the wonder of it.

It seems to me that there should be more to it. You should have to complete some great quest, slay the dragon with a rock, climb the mountain alone in winter or cross the ocean on an open raft to be granted such an ability. But it's far easier than that, or at least for the LUC and I it was.
It's that simplicity that has covered the earth with humans. What is it, 6.5 billion and counting? Every one of them born to parents, every one of them a tiny little figure at 14 and half weeks like we saw on the ultrasound. Banal indeed.

I was one of those people who only saw the ubiquitousness of children. I even told my brother when he had his first child "No, you don't need to send me a picture of the baby. At that age they all look the same, send me a picture when he starts looking like a real human." I was, needless to say, an asshole. Sorry Dave.

I still feel that way and yet I've come to understand the amazement too. I'm trying hard to hold these two things at the same time because that's what keeps the sparkle in life, wonder at the banal, seeing the miraculous in the everyday. We get so, well, just plain used to things that we lose sight of their essential nature.

The stars are just as beautiful the thousandth time you see them as they are the first. The only thing that's changed is how you perceive them. You can choose your perceptions, and that's a huge lesson that my unborn child is already teaching me. I hope she (or he) doesn't grade on the curve, turns out I'm a bit of a slow learner.

So, do you want to see a picture of my kid?

Friday, February 23, 2007

Hearts on Lent; or, What I had for lunch

I had an Amy's Black Bean Burrito.

Total Fat: 8g
Saturated: 1g
Trans: 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 580mg
Carbohydrate 44g
Fiber 4g
Sugars 4g
Protein 9g
Vitamin A 10%DV
Calcium 8%
Vitamin C 40%
Iron 20%
Years ago I'd eat a peanut butter and honey sandwich for lunch. I'd often make them for myself but just as often I'd be late for work and would rush out the door with nothing. My girlfriend at the time left our apartment later than I did so I'd call her and beg her to bring me something. Eventually she got tired of being treated like a mother. The day when she showed up at work , brown paper bag in hand, and told me off is very fresh in my mind. I'd felt like an asshole before, and I've felt like one since but that dressing down has really stuck with me.

This started a long period where I ate a bag of chips or a chocolate bar to tide me over until I got off work. When I changed locations I used to run down the street to McDonald's or A&W and get a burger and fries, but often I just wouldn't eat anything.

Slowly I began to change my habits. I found that not eating during the day was wiping me out to the point that dinner didn't revive me. I began to buy frozen dinners to eat at work. Then I met the LUC.

I never ate a lot of meat, I certainly never ate it at home as I have no idea how to cook it. The LUC is a vegetarian and I gave up meat without any real regret. My frozen lunches became veggie and that was that.

A month ago I went for a full physical. The coming baby provoked an unusually adult response in me and I figured it was time to get myself a GP and have a once over. I told my new doctor my whole medical history, depression, and colitis, and heart arrhythmia...OH MY! I gave her my family history: alcoholism, diabetes, and my father's fatal heart attack at a very young age.

She poked, prodded and listened. I was sent for blood tests and an ECG (Electro Cardio Gram). The blood results didn't surprise me, "My cholesterol is a little high? Well, I coulda told you that!" You see, despite my veggie status I still ate a lot of chocolate bars and cheese. Ah cheese! I don't have the writing skills to describe how much I love a good sharp Cheddar.

What did surprise me was the abnormality she found on the ECG. It appeared that I had Left Ventricle Hypertrophy, a thickening of the wall of my heart. This is usually caused by high blood pressure, but also can be caused by athleticism or be congenital. It can be serious and is an indicator of an increased risk of a sudden fatal heart attack.

I went of an ultrasound of my heart. I'd done enough reading to know that what I saw on the monitor wasn't a worst case scenario, but even to my untrained eye my left ventricle's wall was much thicker than the others.

It turns out that I have mitral valve prolapse, which is a fancy way of saying that one of the valves in my heart doesn't close properly. This isn't a big deal apparently, they estimate that up to 18% of young women have this problem. But it appears that this is causing the wall of my heart to thicken, basically my left ventricle is working too hard because it also has to pressurize the atrium. If this isn't fixed it could continue to grow until there's no space left to pump the blood. Mind you, this my interpretation of what's going on, I could be talking out my ass.

Now I wait for an appointment with cardiologist. I do very poorly in an absence of information and I'm struggling not to worry. I'm pretending this is training for having a teenager. Eventually your kid goes off on their own more and more and you have to simply hope they're ok. A situation that's not good for a worrier like me. Especially one with a bum heart.

I'm going to have an Amy's Black Bean Burrito for lunch again today.

Total Fat: 8g
Saturated: 1g
Trans: 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 580mg
Carbohydrate 44g
Fiber 4g
Sugars 4g
Protein 9g
Vitamin A 10%DV
Calcium 8%
Vitamin C 40%
Iron 20%

Pretty healthy for pre-packaged food. No cholesterol, which I have to be much more careful of and low in saturated fats, also very heart healthy. But that sodium is a little high and I also have to be very careful of my blood pressure. I've lost 2kg in the last couple of weeks, just by stopping the unhealthy snacks. As the LUC's aero-belly grows mine is shrinking. I find this hilarious, but her? Not so much.

Tomorrow I'm going to have to eat something else and with all due respect to Maggie Mason there are at least 3 people who care very much about what I had for lunch: the LUC, my Doctor and my Mother.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Hearts on Valentine's Day

I've been getting huge traffic on this site from people searching Owen's name. Normally this is a sleepy little corner of the internet and this came as a surprise to me.

There's a few things I should mention, for the sake of my conscience if nothing else.

First, I didn't really know Owen. The first time I met him I could tell that he had no interest in talking to me. "Right." I thought, "Fair enough." and left him alone. I'd say 'Hi' when the LUC and I went to dinner at the Richel/Hunt household and "Bye" if he was still awake when we left and that was the total of our interaction. The LUC made more of an effort and was usually rebuffed. Owen wasn't shy about making his wishes known. During his hospital stay we visited a number of times. Nothing had changed, he still didn't want anything to do with me.

I respect that. Hell, I admire it. If I, as a 40 year old adult, could get away with being as blunt and straight forward as Owen was in dealing with the world I'd be very happy indeed. And yet I found myself getting angry during the memorial because of this. Angry at myself for not making more of an effort to know him. Judging by the moving accounts told by those who knew him well, Owen and I shared a very similar world view. Angry also that there was no one to blame for this tragedy. I found myself wishing I believed in a god, any god, so I could curse him as a cruel, capricious bastard. I also felt anger for not doing more to help Daryl and Charlotte, and deep down I felt a little presumptuous because of these feelings.

The memorial was perfect. I was moved by the eloquence and sincerity of the speakers, moved by their love for the little boy who I hardly knew. I cried for a time. I confronted my shortcomings as friend and my shortcomings as an adult and was angry for a time. I even forgave myself, just a little and not without misgivings, for those shortcomings.

I learned things. It is better to care too much, even inappropriately, and forgive oneself for it than it is to have a stony heart and never know that one needs forgiveness. It is better to share tragedy. Just as many hands make for lighter labour, so too do many souls lessen the burden of grief. And most importantly, it is far better to have loved and laughed, been loved and been laughed at, even been scared and cried, for so short a time as six years than it is to have never lived at all. (Believe me, if I could go back and pound that lesson into the head of my angsty teenage self I'd do it.)

Over a decade ago I attended the funeral of Darren Howey, a young man who's life also ended far too soon. I made a promise to his father that I would never forget Darren. I've kept that promise. Darren now has the company of a strong-headed, fearless little boy and I sure hope they get along, because they will be in my heart together till the end of my days.

To all of you who knew Owen best and feel his passing deeply, you have my most sincere condolences.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

In Memory of Owen Hunt Richel

He was six years old and had been battling lukiemia. He died last night. Daryl and Charlotte, his parents, were an example to us all of love, courage and grace in the face of the hardest choices anyone would ever have to make.

I grieve. Less so for Owen because his time might have been short but he was loved fiercely and often and is now out of pain. I grieve for his parents, lovely people who are now faced with their own battle to heal. You don't bounce back from a thing like this, not quickly anyway.

This has been a strange time for the LUC and I. The following is an email I sent them on Teusday.

>I wanted to add to Claire's thoughts. Monday was a very odd day for
>us. To see Owen in such a state and realize just how great the
>difficulties of being a parent can be was very sobering. I had thought
>that to go from that to the first shadowy glimpse of our child-to-be
>would be hard.

> But it wasn't. In fact what I took away from our time with you,
>Charlotte and Owen was entirely positive. It was a realization that
>love begets strength even in the face of such terrible difficulties.
> I'm sure you've had your black moments, moments when you felt
> you couldn't continue, couldn't make one more hard decision.
> And yet the people I saw on Monday were making those decisions
> and contemplating more with a grace and a strength that I
>couldn't imagine having. Couldn't imagine that is until I looked at
>that tiny figure on the ultrasound monitor.
> Daryl and Charlotte, by allowing me to share in this difficult time, however
> briefly, you have shown me a glimpse of what it means to truly love a child.
>No matter what happens in the end, your ordeal will have had at least
>that one positive effect in the world, an effect for which I'll be forever

Yes you read that right, I'm about to be a father.* This isn't the way I wanted to announce this but you can see how Owens illness and death and my impending fatherhood are all mixed up in my feelings. Daryl and Charlotte were two of the first people we told about our engagement and about the pregnancy. (Sorry Mum.) Mostly because it was a good way to distract them from their worries.

So now we all go on. Daryl and Charlotte to their grieving and healing and the LUC and I to our wedding and baby prep. I hope that our happiness will help them just as the example they gave me of good parenting will help me. I am going to hold what I learned very close as I take this journey into the deep, dark, mysterious jungle of fatherhood.

*Yes, yes I have details. As of today we're 14 weeks and 1 day in. The ultrasound and blood work showed normal development and reduced the likelihood of having a Downs Syndrome child from 1 in 686 to 1 in 6000 or so. The tyke was 7.5 cm long. We don't know the sex yet and aren't going to find out, kinda seems like cheating. Yes the marriage proposal took place before the conception. We really didn't expect to conceive on the first try (I'm trying very hard not to feel too manly about that). The wedding going to be 2 weeks before the due date. I hope our child is like us in that he or she is never on time for anything. There's a wedding web page in the works for updates, I'll post the link as soon as it's up and running. And finally remember: wedding gifts and baby gifts are two different things.

Can he tell me where my keys are?

We live in an increasingly superstitious world. The rise of religious fundamentalism, the popularity of the new age movement, the increase in psychic and ghost hunting shows on tv all point to this. It scares me.

It scares me far more than the drunk guy who came up to me as I was unlocking my bike and insisted that I was going to die. I have to say he was spooky. An older guy in a nice suit and overcoat with shiny shoes; he wasn't an incoherent homeless ranter. He was however, very insistent that getting on my bike was going to be fatal.

Pah, I say. I know folks, nice, normal, intelligent folks who would have taken him seriously. He was well dressed, he could have been a psychic who earned his living of the lottery, right? This is the danger of letting the para-normal into your life. You decide to believe one thing without insisting on good evidence and that can be the start of a downhill slide. If you're willing to believe X despite a lack of proof, why not Y or Z? Where does it end?

It ends with allowing some drunk who knows nothing about winter cycling project his unsubstantiated fears onto you. There's more than enough to worry about in the world without that sort of nonsense.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Going on

We, all of us, cannot see into the future. We stand in the hall and peer around the corner and are greeted with an imperfect view. The difference is that when I look ahead I see nothing but silent dangers lurking in the shadows. Others see infinite possibilities, a path that can lead anywhere.

I'm so very tired of fear and yet there's so much in this world to be fearful of. I do my level best not to lie to myself, take pride in it in fact. But you have to deceive yourself just a little bit in order to be happy. You have to tell yourself it's all going to be alright even though sometimes it most definitely won't be alright. You have to purposefully ignore the unpleasant realities that you can do nothing about.

I'm learning how to do this, being forced to, truth be told. And like many a child I'm coming to this education unwilling, grumpy and uncooperative. I just hope that by nap time I'll be so entranced by the shiny blocks and rainbow crayons that I'll have forgotten that I was supposed to be throwing a tantrum.

Monday, January 22, 2007


I've had a very bad week. So now that the new one has started, technically speaking, I'm hoping for an improvement.

Wish me luck.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

My morning

I left the LUC asleep in our bed and rode out into the blizzard. It was hard.

She's really ill, wheezing and coughing all night, and cold despite three layers of comforters, touque and scarf. I piled all my clean hankies on the bannister, she's going to need them. She called me a "good man" for going to work despite her plea to stay home and muttered something about "...taking care of your obligations." as I tucked her in and rustled away in my cold weather gear. Yah, it was hard to leave. Was it the right thing to do? How do I decide which obligation is greater?

The blizzard promised by Enviroment Canada wasn't so bad. The wind had died down from the 60km/h gusts of the night before but it was still snowing hard. The snow was 5cm or so on the ground, more where it had drifted but the riding wasn't too hard. There had only been one bike and a couple of peds before me on the bike path and fresh, un-tramped snow only makes it a little harder to pedal.

The streets were worse. The uneven packing left by the cars is a bit tricky. It can push you around as you move from one density to another. My glasses were fogged over pretty bad, I hit the surface streets after sweating my way out of the valley. I could see big shapes fine but the subtle differences in snow conditions? No way.

The trick is to trust your skills. Hold the bars gently, ride it out as the bike slips and turns and above all: relax. Being tense leads to overcorrecting which leads to bruising.

Not being able to see perfectly actually helps. Instead of anticipating how hard that next streach is going to be and thus getting tense, you simply ride through it and react only to what actually occurs.

Using the right bike helps too. My fixed gear has very narrow nobby tires. They cut through the snow to the hard surface underneath much better than fat mountain bike tires.

As I move into this new phase of my life, marrriage and some other big changes, I'd do well to remember all this. You learn the skills you need and practise them as best you can. You put on approriate clothes and make sure your tools are in good working order. Then you relax and ride through it and if you make a mistake? Well, bruises heal.