"All words are symbols that represent unspeakable realities. Which is also why words are magical." (Donald Miller tweet)

Monday, September 28, 2015

my chair

Moving. Renovating. Unpacking from one trip while packing for another. Fitting in "one more coffee" with various friends before we're gone.

It's not easy. Louie's really feeling the effects of it all. We found him like this when we woke up this morning.

Poor guy. I can empathize, honestly.


And then there's this.

I took this picture last night.

It felt symbolic.

When I was 8 years old, we moved away from the little town in which I had been born. I remember the night my parents told us.

I was sitting sideways in a big armchair,
the chair I loved the most,
where I did all my reading
and dreaming.

I wasn't sure what I thought
about this idea of "moving".

I remember saying, "I don't want to move."

"Why not, sweetie?" Mom asked.

I couldn't find the words.

"Because ... because ... I'm comfortable right here," I said, curled up in my chair, patting the cushion.

They kind of chuckled.

"Honey, we're taking the chair with us," they laughed.

I sighed.

I knew what I meant.

And I knew I hadn't communicated it.

I always remembered that moment.

In the end it was ok. It was good, in fact. Really good.


So I took that pic last night.

It's my chair - not the one from when I was a child, obviously - but the one I now love the most.

It's where I read,
and write,
and nap,
and text friends,
and dream.

It's now in what used to be part of our open concept main floor. The wall behind it is only a few days old. On the other side of it is now an almost-finished second bedroom, making the house easier to rent out or sell.

Because we're moving again.

Part of me doesn't want to. I'm comfortable right here, in this house, these friendships, this life ... this chair.

I know the chair's coming with us.

But still....

And then of course, right in the middle of that chair ... Ukraine.


Heading there again in a few days.
Can't wait!

I kinda ache a lot these days, even while looking forward to the future.

I really, truly am looking forward to the future.

I'm pretty excited, honestly.

But I kinda ache leaving what's here.

It will be ok. It will be good. Really good, I'm sure.

Ukraine ... well, that will stay the same, somehow. It's part of my chair. It comes with me.

Louie's pretty happy about that.

Monday, September 21, 2015

moving feels a little frantic

Things we learned on the weekend, and are trying to solve in an hour this morning over coffee.

#1 Although it only takes 6 hours to drive from Hamilton to Montreal, movers take the scenic route, moving others at the same time, and possibly visiting Disney on the way. It's a good thing we set aside two weeks to move - potentially, we're gonna need most of it. It's also a good thing we have an air mattress - potentially, we're gonna need that for a few days too, possibly in a very empty apartment.

#2 Our beautiful, open-concept little home that we LOVE technically only has one bedroom. Which means that it doesn't matter HOW beautiful it is, potential buyers set their preferences at two or more bedrooms, and if we list with one, nobody will even see the listing. So we have to put a second bedroom in. Right now.

#3 We have a beautiful, old, very heavy piano that we would be happy to give away. BUT - it's in the space where that second bedroom is going, and once the wall is up, the piano will never come out. So it needs to go just BEFORE the "right now" of #2. It needs to go immediately.

And I'm headed out of town to three days of meetings in a couple of hours. So Spike gets to handle all of it. He's super-excited about that. (No he isn't.) Oh yeah, and we're also transferring money in all directions to pay off the loan on a car we're selling; to pay half up front for the contractor; to put a deposit down on a mover; and we also need groceries.

All we have in the house is coffee and crackers.

Blowing a big kiss to Spike, who is my hero, handling all this stuff. If you happen to see him, could you maybe give him a standing ovation? Or lunch?


Friday, September 18, 2015


Two weeks from today!!!!

It's been too long, honestly. :)

Two weeks from TODAY, we get on a plane!!!

And two weeks from TOMORROW, we land!!

You know where...



Every time the plane lands there, I whisper, "I'm home."

Can't wait. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

generations and dinosaurs

Our favourite almost-seven-year-old joined us for lunch today. He listened in on the grown-ups talking about generational differences.

It was mostly me talking.
I read this book on the weekend,
and couldn't stop myself
from prattling on about it.

A few minutes later, he asked his mom for some clarification. She explained, for example, that, "When Nana and Papa were little, there was no internet. It hadn't been invented yet. So they did different things and grew up differently than you."

I chose not to mention
that the Internet hadn't been invented
when I was growing up either. 

He nodded hesitantly.

She continued, "My grandma lived during the war. Remember we've talked about that?"

"Oh yeah," he said. "That was a long time ago, right? Like ... a looooong time ago?"

"Yes," she said, and he paused, thinking. 

And then, very earnestly, startling every Boomer at the table ...

"Was the war right after the dinosaurs,
or was there a little bit of time in between??!!!"

Saturday, September 12, 2015


Oh, today is a glorious day. 

Reading what I want. 

Eating chocolate and pizza. 

Napping randomly. 

Peaceful silence, except for the faint sounds of whatever game is on downstairs. 

Hours all to myself, with The Boy checking in from time to time, just to ensure I'm still breathing. 

I really, really, REALLY needed this day.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

i understand / je comprend / я понимаю

"Are you bilingual?"

Tends to be the first question asked when people find out we're moving to Montréal. 

I've started answering in the affirmative. "Yes," I say. "But the thing is, the languages I speak are English and Russian."

Which is a vast overstatement. Still, I've worked really hard over the years to be able to read, write and speak a bit of Russian, and it's the language to which my brain defaults when I try to think outside of English. The people in the part of Ukraine where I visit speak predominantly Russian, so that's what I've learned. 

I'm going there again in just a few weeks, and have been promising myself that as soon as I was done school I would delve hardcore back into my Russian studies. Of course I didn't anticipate that on the afternoon of the morning that I handed in my last paper I would be calling my District Sup to let him know that I might be moving to la belle province, where French matters much more than Russian. 

So I've downloaded Duolingo and it turns out my high school brain DID retain some French after all. (And you mocked me for my A+ grades.... *shakes fist*) Duolingo doesn't have Russian, sadly, so I have a different app for that. 

So. I've come to a decision. 

It's the only reasonable option.

I've got a good start in both French and Russian, so... 

I'm going for trilingual. That's all there is to it. Wish me luck!

À demain. 

До завтра. 

Monday, September 07, 2015


Soooo... small change in our lives. Just a teensy one. 

After 16 years at our current church, and ... hmm, let me see ... our whole lives in various parts of Ontario ... we're moving. 

To Montréal, Québec. Right downtown, baby.

I know. "Patti, I thought you'd never move, unless it was to Ukraine." Yeah, I thought so too. I've been learning Russian all these years for just that reason. 

Still going to Ukraine
for a couple of weeks in October,
for the record.
And it won't be my last time,
no way, mister. 

But the question came my way of whether I would be willing to talk about a new plan. And I said, "Oh, I doubt it, honestly..." And Spike said, "I dunno Patti... maybe you should have the conversation." So ... I did. And we met a pretty great church with some awfully fantastic people in a really vibrant city.

And when a person on the front lawn of a homeless shelter near the church instantly made friends with Spike, based on his hairstyle and tattoos ... well, we realized that our plans might be changing after all. 

So just over a week ago, this happened.

On my birthday, by the way,
though I kinda kept that part quiet at the time.

And this is me trying to graciously say "thank you" and something profound, while suddenly, tearfully, chokingly, realizing I now had a whole lot of goodbyes to say at home, and then laughing at myself for bawling in front of people I've only just met. And this is Spike, smiling graciously and secretly hoping his wife can pull it together quickly. 

And now ... we've got a whole lot of packing and moving to do.

With a trip to Ukraine in the middle. 

Um ... can I just toss out a quiet shout-out of thanks to those been-there-done-that friends who remind me that the emotional roller coaster of it all is normal?

"Treasure this moment, Patti, it will go by so fast."

"You know all these years when you've told people it's ok to cry? Listen to yourself."

"Bit by bit, you'll get there. It's a good thing."

"Those of us who know you, Patti, we know it's right."

"You're gonna love Montreal. Except the snow. You know there's a lot of snow, right? A LOT."

So ... it's time for a new blog label. You're familiar with "my city" which probably I'll just leave alone - it's Hamilton. In honour of our new French-speaking, soon-to-be home...

"ma nouvelle ville"