Blurryface Sniper Hyperbole

Basically, if you’re not listening to Twenty One Pilots and USS, what are you even doing with your life?

Honestly, even I am sometimes amused by my music selections. My childhood soundtrack was folk music and classic rock with a splash of Saturday afternoon at the Opera and weekend morning jazz. My Mom played guitar and my Dad took me to the symphony. I took piano lessons for a decade and Bach, Beethoven, Bartók et al. are old frenemies. As a teenager I sang in the church choir (namely with this cool cat ) and fell hard for punk and indie rock (sharing headphones with boys on the bus, at swim meets and in the halls is pretty much a defining feature of my high school days). I lifeguarded with a DJ who got positively giddy about dubstep and a bunch of girls who switched back the radio to Top40 hits as soon as he went back on rotation. Went to some really fun indie/rock shows in my/Kyle’s Uni days – but that’s also the time where I got into medieval (religious and secular) music. I’ve always had friends who were in bands, and always felt terribly inadequate in my musical skills as a result (with no jealousy to be honest, just admiration and delight in getting to hang out with them). I miss record stores being a thing, because Kyle and I used to go there to hang out and talk to people about new records. We’ve found a work around though and now have a delightful new Spotify playlist called “Doesn’t Suck” – I think we must be getting old, because we find most of the new music does. Thankfully there’s more old music than we can listen to in a lifetime. So here’s a list of weird eclectic stuff to check out.

Stromae – Belgian rapper, social themes, brilliant word play
USS – my darlings, super eclectic electronic folk punk with lasers and cutouts and smoothies
Strada – Mediterranean medieval masters, check out the Christmas albums as an intro
Twenty One Pilots – I wish I didn’t have to rhyme everytime I sang. (But they’re so good at it though)
Billy Talent – Canadian Punk, more niche than I realise now that I live abroad
MotherMother – more CanCon, Quadra Island weirdos let loose on the world
Mahler – Kind of a jerk, but darn he wrote some great stuff
The Ting Tings – Girly, in your face, unignorable
Chopin (by Jan Lisiecki) – saw him live before he was a big deal *classical indie cred is a thing right?*
Helmut Fritz – here for the funnies.
Alexandre Astier – directs movies so he can write the soundtracks. True story.

Anyway, Mistral’s got a birthday tomorrow so I should make brownies!

Dadedada, dada, dadedada We have problems!
Love,
Belligerence&Chocolate

Old school blogging in the age of influencers

I think what’s stopping me from posting here as much as I feel like I’d like to, is primarily a sort of social media pressure. It sounds so tacky to even say that, but it’s really true. I have this blog, I love the name and ridiculous latin tag line. I love writing and am really craving that release, it’s cathartic and creative for me, more than anything else I do, and yet, I hesitate to post. Why? Because I don’t have a “brand”, because this place is all over the place. This place, incidentally, means my brainspace as much as my blog, my hobbies as much as my atelier, my plans as much as my planner, it’s all all over the place. Perhaps I need to strive for the authenticity the influencers claim (but how much of it do they deliver?) and just accept, and lay out for the world, the random, ecclectic, eccentric space I inhabit. Perhaps it won’t help me sell the cute clothes I make, or get followers on instagram, or whatever else it can maybe do for others, but it can at least free up some space in my brain, let me reach out into the vastness of the interwebs and make a connection or two. And if not, maybe at least I can get my ideas in order and feel saner for that.

It’s been a theme in my life that I haven’t had very defined goals – a gifted (slight) underachiever with way more ideas for projects than time to complete them, a 5w4 with way more plans than energy to put into them, it’s been a sort of defence mechanism. I have so many things going on that eventually some of them get completed and I can let people think that they’re things I set out to achieve, but like when I used to pull off an A on a project I’d done over lunch before handing it in in the afternoon because I’d completely forgotten its existence until then, it’s much more accurate to say that they’re just hings that happened to get done at that time. I appear self-driven because I like working on things on my own – but mostly I just like to experiment and am happy to share what comes of it if it’s not a complete disaster (spoiler: it rarely is in the kitchen, but the rest of it is less certain). As I get older, I’m more aware of my nerodivergence. I had a beautiful bubble of similar minded friends through high school and university (including Kyle’s years in grad school) that sheltered me and let me be odd without seeming so (primary school was not great, but I try not to think about it too much, and then I had my delightfully odd siblings anyway). As I spend more time in the “real world” and on social media it’s becoming apparent that goal settings and having a clear purpose for doing things is more common than haphazard experimentation. I’ve tried a few times to write out goals for this blog, for my shop, sensible things to do, but they just don’t work. I just don’t know, and honestly… I kind of like it that way.

Of course, part of me longs for stability – a decade of blissfully playing “follow the funding” across Canada and Western Europe being gatecrashed by forced immobility for two years has shifted priorities a bit, as have some illnesses, deaths and births in the family in the same period. Really though, what I’d like is just enough stability to relax in – like the way a poem needs to have a meter to fully expand into. Absolute creative freedom leads to uncertainty, form contains and channels creation into something transcendant. I think that’s what I’m looking for as I poke around the darker corners of my memories, as I try to sort out how this gorgeous brain of mine is wired together. I’m not looking for a goal or a game plan, for a list of objectives or best practices, I don’t want tips to grow my business if they’ll crush my soul, I don’t need to know in advance what my end will be – but I need to find a form, a poem to contain… me.

no ads, no sponsors, just thoughts.

Love,
Belligerence&Chocolate

Socialising again…

It’s weird folks, we’re getting social again. Like people in houses, groups outside, sharing food. SHARING FOOD. My favourite thing. My charism. My life’s work. I’ve missed it so much, and today I got to get back to it, and get my small humans in on it. We participated in a local Bake Off for the village harvest fête. We had friends over for dinner. It was great, it was exciting, it was exhausting.

Seriously though, I’m grateful for the days of prep-for-an-event-baking, the good-but-exhausting social days and the quiet-because-we-overdid-it recovery days*. They’ve always been our family rhythm before, and I’m glad that I remember how that goes. A house full of mostly introverted humans who nonetheless love their friends and love to party isn’t the most straightforward boat to steer, but it’s the one we’re in and we’re happy it’s sailing again.

Now when do we get to go back to the panic-pack-for-a-trip-tomorrow days, followed by the all-day-on-trains days and the walked-who-knows-how-many-miles-around-a-new-city days? Because I miss those too.

Love,
Belligerence&Chocolate

*This will be tomorrow. We will hide at home and maybe go to a playground during school hours. Maybe just watch Fantasia 2000. Hopefully sleep in past 7am.

The hope in bright pink elbow pads

I will admit to having been dismissive of the Olympics (and other major sports competitions) in recent years. If you know me irl you may even have heard me say that these displays of nationalism and machismo had reached their expiration date. Honestly, a large part of me still feels that way. The humility and brilliance of a Southgate doesn’t quite match up to the disgusting behaviour of countless “fans” thrashing Wembley and spewing racist nonsense online.

That said, Sirrocco went to football camp, mostly because he was enthralled with watching England (and sheltered from the attendant news stories) and loved it. And tonight, I passed by the kitchen window to see a man zip past on a skateboard, his tween daughter shouting at him to give her back her board. He did, and held her hand and showed her how to get herself moving. She fell, she laughed, she got back up, dusted off her bright pink elbow pads and tried again.

And that, that might just make it worth it.

Love,
Belligerence&Chocolate.

p.s. If you haven’t watched the Women’s skateboarding, do it. It’s the most wholesome, encouraging, hopeful thing on the telly these days.

Happy Easter!

Lent has been very lent-y again this year, hasn’t it. But here we are, Easter Monday, and we woke up to snow and daffodils. It’s a good image really. Hope springs eternal, and Spring brings hope, over and again each year. They look a bit sad in this picture, but they were just keeping their heads down, protecting themselves from a harsh night, and when the sun hit them later in the morning, the snow melted and they lifted their heads right up, sunny flowers on a sunny day. I’m feeling like life has been throwing quite a bit of unexpected spring snow, so doing my best to cherish and shine on those sunny days where it all melts – knowing that both of these are phases, that it can’t be sunny all the time, and that I’ll make it through the snow storms, the winter, the bad day, and shine.

Love,
Belligerence&Chocolate.

Ordinary Time

It doesn’t feel like a good name for this particular period… until you realise that Ordinary doesn’t mean “Usual” but rather “Counted” – like ordinal numbers. And we’re definitely counting, weeks of lockdown, months since our last date, numbers of cases, deaths, vaccines, counting all the time, trying to get some sort of grip, some sort of rational framework on these very unusual times. So much of the past year has felt “Lenty” we’ve made sacrifices and waited and mourned. But actual Lent is different, it’s a time outside of time, outside of the regular count of days. So maybe for Lent we can give up counting the uncountable, trying to rationalise the unreasonable, not as a way to ignore or trivialise our problems, but rather as a way to step outside of them and into calm reflection instead of frantic counting.

We’ll see if I can follow my own advice… In the meantime, I need to make a giant pile of crêpes. I won’t count them though. Have a lovely delicious Mardi Gras and a blessed Lent.

Love,
Bellicerence&Chocolate

Snow days and memories

content warning: toddler has super gross accident, gets better

A year ago today I spent the day in the hospital with Chinook. I had a lovely day of sewing panned and then, while I was getting dressed, a scream. Kyle went down, and he screamed. He never screams. My baby had caught his finger in a fire door and the tip was hanging by a thread. I didn’t vomit. But it was close. Thankfully all the years of First Aid training I did as a lifeguard have stuck and I bandaged it up in place nicely. (The nurses at the hospital complimented me). We struggled to find a taxi, we don’t have a car, couldn’t wait for a bus and our neighbours were out. My phone kept dropping the call, but in the end we got there. By then of course, babies being resilient little things, he was feeling happy and playful, it didn’t look very urgent. We waited for hours before anyone even looked at us. The kindly nurse looked at the happy baby with the bandaged finger and his freaked out looking Mom and started removing the wrappings while making soothing sounds. Blood flooded out, Chinook screamed and screamed, the nurse’s eyes were like saucers. We got rolled to A&E in a desk chair, dripping blood along the floor. The surgeon was young, pretty, competent, but not hopeful. He’ll probably lose the tip. They wrapped it up again, we waited some more, in a private room this time, at least. The x-ray was done, it didn’t look too bad. The plastic surgeon was young, handsome, competent and a bit pushy. He got us into surgery that day. I think Chinook worked his charm – loudly playing with a car and running around, then watching intently as his finger was unwrapped again (it was finally bleeding less now). The bad news was, at this age they didn’t do local anaesthesia, he’d be going under. He was 20 months old. I was scared. We called his siblings and they wished him good luck, then we waited. I’m glad Kyle had remembered to stuff snacks in my bag. Chinook did not want to put on the gas mask, and he did not fall for the distractions. This did not help my state of mind. The surgeon was confident, she smiled – this was before masks all day everyday. I told her I sew and that this was not the kind of sewing I expected today. She laughed. I trusted these people. It would be fine. I am glad the nurse walked me back to our room though, I had no idea how we’d gotten to the operating room. It was probably the longest hour of my life. My brother, who is a nurse, texted back and forth with me for a bit. I was reading Little Women, it helped. I drank water. A nurse came to fetch me, “He’s waiting for you!”. And there he was, my beautiful baby boy, snuggling the beautiful, wonderful nurse. She laughed and said what a darling he was and he was mad when I picked him up. I don’t blame him. We ate some food, he had a nap, the nurses changed shift and our discharge papers got lost somewhere, so we waited some more. Somehow we managed to call a taxi, we got home and I told the driver about our day. He talked about his kids. We got home. We were so tired. Most of our plans for the next month had to be adapted to our convalescing, yet still super high energy toddler. We had several nurses come around to check on him. Kyle found and installed door guards to prevent this happening again. We registered with the GP, which it turns out is much easier than in Canada. He never got his 3 month call back appointment, because by then the pandemic was in full swing, but he’s barely got a scar left.

Today was a much better day. It snowed. Nice powdery snow for kicking up in the air and making snow angels and finding rabbit and squirrel tracks in. And apparently, 3 years ago, it was also snowing. So how’s this for a then and now?

Oh, and what I said about looking for signs of Spring last week? It snowed then too… But didn’t stick around.

Is it snowing where you are? Any toddler mischief? All the best in any case…

Love,
Belligerence&Chocolate

February 1st

It’s 5:30 pm, soup is simmering, Sirrocco is making meatballs and singing while the little ones play with homemade playdough. It’s the eve of Candlemas, the feast of St. Brigid, half way between the solstice and the Equinox, and the days actually do seem to be getting longer finally. There’s still a glimmer on the horizon as I sit down to write.

It’s getting very strange to look back on the last year and how different things are now. We haven’t seen any of our extended family since last February. Even with our wandering lifestyle that’s a long time. Lent is just around the corner and I’m already tired from the sacrifices of the last year. January is always a long dark month. This past month was no exception. Lockdown fatigue, the weight of grief, the increasingly hostile environment towards home education in the UK, not to mention deadlines at work for Kyle, have collaborated to form a particularly potent cocktail of exhaustion. And so, what’s there to do? This weekend we counted birds in our garden, reorganised the living room furniture and tended the garden. I ordered some new books and took a long bath.

Tomorrow we will celebrate longer days and hope for the future by looking for shoots and bulbs peeking out, decorating candles and putting some daffodils on the table. We’ll read about the contradiction that is the Holy Child who brings Joy to all, but whose life and suffering will pierce his Mother’s heart. Our calendar image shows an old woman sweeping away the last of last year’s leaves in the pouring rain, I found it an odd image at first, for the first peeking of Spring, but I like it, there’s work to do, dead leaves to sweep, snow to melt, cleansing rains to come before the rising of the sun.

May Brigid bless the house wherein you dwell. Bless every fireside, every wall and door. Bless every heart that beats beneath its roof. Bless every hand that toils to bring it joy. Bless every foot that walks its portals through. May Brigid bless the house that shelters you.

Love,
Belligerence&Chocolate

Spiritual Motherhood

It’s a fun little quirk of Catholic spirituality that I am very attached to – and which gets misrepresented. As women, we are called to be Mothers*. No, not like that. Your worth doesn’t depend on birthing. Don’t you let anyone tell you otherwise. We are called to mother, spiritually.**

So, what does that mean? In many ways, it’s just a beautiful way of thinking of, and honouring, the people who my (many, wonderful) secular humanist friends would describe as “good humans”. It’s acknowledging the divine spark that is alive in people who do for others without expecting a reward or a return. To me it’s a piece of theology that is like a flower, full of beauty, scent and seeds, ephemeral and yet eternal as each one generates so many more.

Who, then, is a “Spiritual Mother”? She is all the women out there, performing works of mercy, be they spiritual or corporal, for people to whom no blood or law is binding them, no law but love for their neighbour. She is a woman who blesses those around her by her presence, her kindness, her generosity. She’s not perfect of course, none of us are, but she is wonderful. She is my sister, a cloistered nun, praying for the world as so many of us are fretting about the state of it. She is my own mother, consoling and counselling my friends and my brother’s friends when they cannot turn to their own mothers. She is my childless friends spending their Saturday afternoon playing Lego and drinking tea with my children so that I can have some time with Kyle. She is my friends with children and busy lives unhesitatingly accepting to care for my children while I birth their siblings. She is the friend, who seeing me on the edge of tears in her kitchen grabs a teapot in one hand, a bottle of wine in the other, and asks which I need first. She is my neighbour, dropping off outgrown clothes at my door, or handing them over a pew after mass. She is a teenage girl, biking across town to make sandwiches and go to the park with my children while I rest. She is an elderly friend, proudly hanging a small girl’s drawing in her window “so that everyone can see how lovely it is”. She is my daughter, dropping off flowers on people’s doorsteps, because she’s “pretty sure they will like that”.

Love,
Belligerence&Chocolate


* Right, so this is also true of men, and fatherhood, but lets focus on the women for this one time, mmmk?
** I would love to go on about Maiden-Mother-Crone triads and concepts and all that excellent stuff, but this is not the time, and if you read on, you’ll see the other two pop up.

p.s. Trying something new. Old school blogging. Spewing random thoughts into the ethernet. Let’s see where the journey takes us.