without you

The snow is falling outside.  Falling and falling.  And falling a bit more.  The streets lights have come on and the cats are trying to climb onto my lap as Ingrid Michaelson sings out “without you” from my laptop.  I was searching old files on my computer for my yoga cards.  I am ticking things off my to-do list.  I was clicking through old posters and weird unreadable documents when I came upon the words I wrote last May:  a eulogy for my grandmother.  A goodbye to my memere.  Sitting on the couch in the quiet of my childless house I began to read my words.  Ingrid continued to sing and I could see myself standing at the funeral parlour reading these words:

There are moments when I slow down and really pay attention. Often I’m rushing around and I’m way too busy. Two nights ago I was brushing my teeth in the bathroom with my daughter. And the moment pulled my breath in. I felt how beautiful it was to be watching her brush her teeth. And I wanted to remember, forever, what she is like at almost ten.

I remember sitting in Dairy Queen with my mother and grandmother, maybe 17 years ago. And I had one of those moments. It’s like the air changes. And everything slowed. I looked at memere’s hands, with all her beautiful wrinkles; her fingers were interlaced and I wanted to remember their shape, and softness, and abilities. I wanted to remember her forever.

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My grandmother, Emily Ogilvie, or memere, was an extra ordinary woman. She was brave and strong. She grew up in rural Manitoba and left home at 13 to start working. I could never really get my head around that. I had such a different life than hers. So I asked her to tell me her story over and over. And she did. Her life captivated and inspired me. Her strength and determination awe me. Although there are no photos of this I can see her standing near a train with holes in her shoes holding a small paper bag with her few possessions. I could listen to her all day tell me about pirogies, or her mother’s huge garden, about the hole in the dirt floor where they kept the potatoes. I could listen to her stories about living in Toronto (she loved it there) or of the house (she did not like) on the highway in Penetang, or of working and not having much and raising three children. I did not mind repetition.

She thought of her young self as shy, naive, and stupid. That’s how she described herself. But when I hear her stories about moving to Toronto at 18 I could only see the brave and the strong and determined young woman who wanted to change her life. She did not want to be a poor farmer like her parents. So she worked and worked and worked. During the war she became a welder. This made her a bad ass in my mind. But my memere was humble. To her she did what she had to do. She met my grandfather at the ship yards. I loved getting her to tell me about how he threw rivets down at her to get her attention. I cannot express the sorrow I feel at not being able to hear these stories anymore. It really was one of my favourite things to do. To listen to her.

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Memere worked hard all her life. She raised three children while worked full time at demanding factory jobs. She always had a garden. She would grow strawberries, lots of strawberries to sell to make a little extra money. I can see her at Pillsbury with angel food cake powdering her hair. I think that might be another picture that only exists in my mind.

As many of you probably know she was an extremely generous person. She gave of her time, or her baking, of her love. When I was younger, after her and my grandfather, pepere, had retired they would come over to our house and help out. Seriously! Every Thursday, or something like that, they would do laundry and tidy, and who knows what other things they got up to. I don’t even know all they did. But they came to help my parents.

She was just like that.


After my grandfather died, 28 years ago, she began volunteering at the hospital, at the soup kitchen, baking like crazy for the church. I think she is well known for her tea buiscuits, her tarts and date squares, as well as the large trays of Christmas cookies that she would gift every December. She was also a big knitter. But after my grandfather died she became a sock, sweater and afghan factory. I have a drawer full of her socks and I cherish them. I came to her house one day with knee high socks (not hers) with a hole in the heel. From then on she made me knee high socks. That’s just how she was. Extra generous. Extra thoughtful. Extremely loving. My mother has taken on the sock knitting tradition and I think it’s high time that I learn how to turn a heel.

Memere was incredibly independent. She lived alone until she died last week at 97. 97. Her mind was sharp. I would joke with her that mind was shaper than mine. I think it’s true. She also had an incredible amount of energy. And a wonderful will. Over the last number of years she felt bored. She wasn’t able to do all that she used to. If she could I know she would have come to my house and scrubbed all scrubbable surfaces. But she was slowing down. And that was hard for her.

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I would say that her biggest fault was being a worry wart. Sometimes her way of loving us was to worry herself silly. She would say that she just couldn’t help it. She worried about her children and her grandchildren. She worried about her friends. She worried when Caitlin almost missed her plane. Or if my mother was having a headache. She worried my uncle David was doing something crazy. Sometimes she worried herself into a right tizzy. But what I think is awesome is that she didn’t keep that to herself. I know a lot about my family through memere’s worries. But I’m gonna keep some of that a secret.

My grandmother has been preparing me for her death for years now. But I still wasn’t ready.
She gave me some beautiful bowls when I moved into my house. Over the last 20 years she kept asking me I wanted when she died. I’ll put your name on it. And I would be like what??? But that’s what she wanted. She wanted to put masking tape with my name in Sharpie on the items I wanted. She was incredibly selfless and thoughtful. So she has been cleaning and clearing her house for the last 20 years. I am not kidding. She did not want to leave a mess. She wanted her house to be as easy as possible for my mother.


Over the last number of years I talked to my memere weekly. She was not only great at sharing, but also great at listening. She was not jugedmental. She loved to know what was going on in my world. She was a wonderful friend. And sometimes I don’t know what I will do without her. She was 97 years old. She lived a full life. In her almost 100 years of life she experienced great sorrows and sickness and loss. She lost both her daughter and her husband. She lost many friends. She survived and thrived after breast cancer and back surgery.
After all life offered her; all the beauty, all the difficulty she he continued to live her with generosity and light right until the very end.

Emily Ogilvie was my grandmother. Simply by being herself she taught me how to be brave, and strong, and fierce. She showed me how to be generous and humble. And most of all she taught me how to love.

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Those are the words I just read to myself.  The words I read to her family and friends last May at the celebration of her life. Reading these words brought new tears and with these fresh tears came sobs and with the sobs came moans.  My memere would have been 98 this past December.  I miss her just as much today as I did the day she died.

Today I did things that she would have been proud of.  Today I went out in the world and I helped like she showed me how to.  Today I cried and cried and cried because I miss her laugh.  I miss her stories.  And I miss her love.

After the tears slowed I decided that I wanted to tell you.  To show you some photos.  To say this was my grandmother.  She is gone.  And I am sad.   I am blessed to have such a great bad ass grandmother.  So I say to you: Go out there and be bad ass.  Knit someone a pair of socks.  Bake someone some cookies.  Share.  Give.  Love.


if it isn’t the moon…

beside me is an empty banana peel, a half eaten bar of raw chocolate, a few pens, and lists.   sometimes i think these lists are waking me up at night wanting to talk shop. you know, like: “when the fuck are you going to paint the front porch and oh my god your basement and hallway closet are in appalling condition and…”  i’m sure you know the drill.  you have your own lists.  and i’m sure they must talk to you in their own way.

i have been waking consistently at three or four in the morning for months now.  maybe years…i’m losing track of time.  last night it was just shy of two am.  i like the idea of blaming the moon.  it is so full and round and bright and shines right onto my pillow case.  right onto my sweet face.  i wake and i can’t fall easily back to sleep. sometimes i can’t fall back to sleep at all.

maybe it is the unwritten (unspoken) that is waking me up.  calling to me.  crying.

be, my plant spirit medicine practitioner, wonders if it is my grief.  i am working through a lot of grief these days.  these years.  like a baby, she postulates, my grief wakes me in the middle of the night and wants to be soothed.  but i do not know how to sooth her. in the middle of the night i do not even realize that she/me is sad or crying.  i have asked the linden tree that lives just outside my bedroom window for help.  this might sound crazy to you.  but i do beseech the trees.  and this last week i have also been beseeching my ancestors.  so far i haven’t understood the answers.

yesterday (or was it the day before) i broke down crying in the grocery store.  a sweet friend i hadn’t seen in a while asked me how i was doing.  i told her lots of things.  i gave her a list really.  i said this.  and this.  and this.  i was tired.  and so i also said this. and this and this. then she pointed to my heart.  and told me it was broken.  that all my stories over the years were telling her the same thing.  my sweet heart.  i cried and cried and cried.  right there in the grocery store near the chocolate isle.

maybe i can’t blame the moon.  or the unpainted porch.  or my ex-husband for leaving me.

or maybe i can.

but i’m not going to stop there.  i am going to ask for more help.

what i would like is for my grandmothers and my grandfathers to find some thread.  i would like my great great grandmothers and great great great grandfathers to find a needle.  aunts and uncles can join in too.  i can see all their fingers.  some thick and dirty from their work in the garden. some a little stiff.  i would like them to help me now. together they can work their magic. and begin to stitch, in their otherwordly time,  this heart of mine.  this heart of ours.  maybe they’ll do it while i sleep.  or maybe as i stir and wrestle with the edges of my grief.

because this heart of mine beats on in my daughters.   i would like them to see their mother’s heart whole.  most of their life they have known their mother to have a broken heart.  even if this has remained unspoken.  i long for deep restful sleep and that my heart is free and full and light.

heart is what this whole blog has always been about.  all these years.  moving from my heart!  broken or not.

a few months ago my daughters, now both with ipads, began reading my blog.  it was really wild and weird for me.  they noted that i prayed in my blog posts.  that was weird for them because they don’t see me as spiritual or religious in “real” life.  i am not christian.  or a buddhist.  but i do pray.  and i am spiritual.  they also pointed out things they thought were funny.  and they both enjoyed seeing themselves depicted in my words and images.  and they wanted more!

this post is an acknowledgment of deep hurt that sometimes stays for a long time.  and this post is also a prayer to the trees and to my ancestors that i may continue to heal in just the perfect ways.  for myself, for my children, and all of us.


because a broken heart can still have a tan and wear sunglasses!!!!

begin. again. and again.

oh boy.

oh boy.  oh boy.

twelve months have almost passed since i last wrote.

twelve months.

these past months i have done many things other than write.  many things.  lots of dishes.  laundry.  vacuuming.  (what a weird word that is.)  i have done lots of crying and lots of healing.  thanks to plant spirit medicine i have shed some of what i do not need.  i have experienced lots of loving.  i have watched my children continue to grow.  boom.  my oldest daughter has bigger feet than me.  boom.  both my children are in school all day.

i have experienced a lot of kissing these last twelve months.   more kissing than vacuuming.  which means there was a lot a lot of kissing going on (cause i really like vacuuming).  lots of exquisite kissing.  i have thought that maybe i should just post two pairs of lips touching so you would know where i was.  but really that wouldn’t have done justice to the complexity of my  year (or my days).  you might think it was all roses.  or dahlias.  or cosmos.  or green juice.  or striped yoga pants.  or you might think that i was only having the most incredible orgasms i have ever had.  (i think i will write a whole post about that soon!)  you might even think my year was spent lying on a beach in a bikini.  but that just wouldn’t be true.

this year has been about beginning again.  which is another way of saying that i have been learning to trust.  i have been letting a man love me.  sometimes this has been so easy and sometimes it has been so damn hard.  i have been letting myself really love him.  this too has been both sweet and simple and excruciating.  beginning again is another way of saying that i’m teaching my heart to become un-broken.  or maybe i’m not the teacher here.  perhaps the plant spirits, my children, and my new partner are my great teachers.

perhaps i am “writing” a new story.  my love story.  and maybe i don’t need to write it alone.  maybe i’m learning that we write together.  or as my partner might say:  “what are we going to dream into being?”  what are we going to co-create?

i’m not sure what has stopped me from writing here.  if i have time to scroll facebook….. i have time to write.

i decided to begin again.  right now.  i am grateful that i can.

can you almost see me press the publish button?  just after you watch me spell check!

and after i find that photo i wanted to show you!

P1020035love and new beginnings chantalle xo


deep in water

P1000494it takes me a long time to dive into water.  or jump in.  or even walk in really.  especially in georgian baie. (and i’m talking the warm side of georgian baie.)  ask my children.  it drives them nuts!  i don’t know if i’ve always been this way.  i can’t remember.  but i do love water.  and i love swimming.   it just takes me a long long time to leave earth for water.  or maybe it’s more that it takes me a long time to sacrifice dry for wet!

i stand looking, feeling the sun against my skin, and hesitate.  i love the feeling of sun on my skin.  i have no problem resting quietly, for hours if anyone would let me, with the sun licking at me.  it doesn’t take me long to flick my towel out and lay down on the dock.  but do i really want to get wet?  really wet?  now?


when i finally dive.  or jump.  it’s heaven!  and i ask myself what took me so long?  the water near honey harbour is so silky.  so so soft.  and my mom’s pool is pretty awesome too.  i guess it is just the way it is with me sometimes.  it takes me a long long to leave.  it takes me a long long to change.

P1000423but in the end.  i usually jump.

and i’m happy for it!  look at those blissed out eyes!


garden love


this is such an incredible time of year for me.  the days are full of warmth and light.  i can walk bare feet.  and my garden offers up delicious bounty.  right now the raspberries are ripening.  and this morning i ate a big bowl for breakfast.  i added fun furry blue borage flowers.  such a great combination!  and so much fun to eat blue.  (and i don’t mean dyed crap.)

i am also juicing up so much wonder from my yard.  wild and cultivated greens go into my morning juice these days.  nettle, plantain, wood sorrel, lambs’ quarters, orach, dandelion, parsley, cilantro, dill, lettuces, kale, sun flower sprouts, cukes and celery.  isn’t that a great list.? what powerful medicine!  you can find many of these greens just growing in the cracks.  leave room for them!  they’ll happily grow in your lawn.


what fun awesomeness is growing in your garden these days?   what do you enjoy foraging?  the girls and i enjoy walking to the mulberry tree not far from our house.  so many people in the neighbourhood come and gather berries.  but there are seems to be enough handfuls for everyone.

happy summer feet to all of you near and far!  may your heart be full of colourful edible flowers!

love chantalle