May has always been one of my favourite months. The mornings tend to be cool, the birds are chirping and announcing their happiness to the world, afternoons are perfect for sitting on my front steps or back patio, and we occasionally get evening thunderstorms that clear all the yucky energy out of the air.

This May has had all of these, and a couple great surprises – which made some of the crappy stuff a little easier to deal. But while my foot is healing from the bird bath incident last month, my heart got pretty beat up. May was book-ended by bad news, but the bright spots made it better.

May 1-8: (Mostly) Welcomed Additions

I get an email on May 1 that I’ve awaited nearly 4 years to receive. I took a company that wouldn’t hire me to the Human Rights Tribunal in January (three and a half years after filing the complaint). The ruling is not in my favor. To say that I am disappointed doesn’t even begin to cover it. I throw myself into productivity, because it channels some of my frustration and disappointment. My partner and I load a wheelbarrow with leaves from the yard (I load, he transports), then put everything we can into the fire pit in the back yard. It’s too wet to burn right now, but it will burn… eventually. What isn’t burn-able at all goes into the ever-growing pile of stuff to go to the Ecostation. We’re tired of looking at it, so we hire a couple guys to haul it all away for us – and now that it’s gone, there’ll be a new pile of junk to take its place.

Wolf comes over for a visit. From her first night – where she begs for attention until 3:00 AM – to just two days later – where she relocates her kitty cave and snuggles in to get away from Annie and Jenny – it’s like she’s never left. She provides an additional level of kitty quirkiness, and a ton of laughter at her antics.

The barbecue out back is in such bad shape that my partner and I agree that it’s time to buy a new one. It takes two orders – the first being canceled with no explanation – and a package delivery from friends to get the new one over here. My partner spends Thursday afternoon while I’m working to put it together, getting it finished just before the rain comes. It’s time for me to get over my fear around fire, and make some food!

May 9-16: FIRE!!!

I’ve barbecued once before, at a summer camp for the blind where we were taught safe barbecuing techniques. My skills are about 20 years out of date. My partner and I barbecue our first meal, and it’s a rousing success! I’m still a little squeamish around fire, but I honestly think I will get the hang of this and some day feel confident enough to barbecue independently. I’m not there yet, but maybe that’s OK.

In the land of things that are weird and tangentially related, that carbon monoxide detector in the kitchen gives up the ghost. I move the one I installed upstairs two months ago down to the kitchen, where the beep-beep-beep of the dead one mercifully stops. The smoke detector at the bottom of the stairs likewise dies when we take it down so it will shut up when we’re cooking bacon. I guess it’s time for us to buy new stuff, but the fact that all of it is dying at the same time weirds us both out, if nothing else… but the house is still standing, and all of us are alive, and haven’t had food poisoning, so there’s a plus… right?


This week is the first week my foot feels strong enough to do anything more than casual running. I find a perfect 3km loop around my neighborhood, and log multiple 6km runs, each with less pain and swelling in my foot. It gets me and Jenny out of the house – even though Thursday’s lifting of some public health restrictions means that more shops and restaurants are open – and for this, I am grateful.


The first day it’s dry and calm enough, my partner lights a fire in the fire pit, burning some of the yard waste we had loaded into the wheelbarrow. I turn on the hose that leaks like crazy to make sure there’s enough water to keep the area around the pit wet enough to act as a barrier. We discover quite quickly that we need a new hose, pronto. And maybe a new tap… but we hope it’s just the hose – replacing the tap on the side of the house just sounds like an exercise in frustration.


We add more backyard leaves to the wheelbarrow – more stuff to burn! – and start yet another Ecostation pile. The shed has been completely sorted, if not completely organized. My backyard no longer looks quite as much like the scary nexus of doom that it has for the past little while, but there’s still a lot of work left to do. And we’re so lucky to be able to barbecue regularly and sit outside and enjoy the beat-up patio table while we can.



May 17-24: Cohort



It’s a quiet week here, really. The weather is mostly gloomy and grey, and while I’m able to get out for a run a couple times, my motivation seems to be in direct correlation with the sunshine. The yard can generally wait, though we do pick up a new hose and some extra supplies – we realize there’s no seal on the hose, but it looks like we won’t need a new tap. The new hose seems to have solved the problem of leaking – I can stand by the tap and not get absolutely drenched along with the patio! – and the new nozzle works like a charm!


The air conditioner I fought to price-match arrives on Thursday – the soggiest day all week. My partner takes delivery of the package and puts it together while I’m at work. I hope that it will make my upstairs less like an oven than it’s been for the past several years; it looks like I’ll find out next week!


We have been generally doing so much stuff outside that inside has looked a bit neglected lately. With the exception of taking care of the aloe and Happy Plant, which are both thriving, we’ve let the inside of the house generally be ignored. So Friday night we do a moderate clean – floors, counters, carpets, furniture. My partner locates and dislodges a blockage in the vacuum, which makes cleaning so much easier. The tables and floors and couches look suitable for company, even the idea of which fills me with boundless joy.


Public health measures here in Alberta include the concept of a cohort household or family. This is a family or household who primarily socializes with another family or household, without as much attention required for physical distancing. Obviously, certain considerations such as frequent handwashing and not sharing utensils or common food items (like chips or dips) are still recommended and followed, but the recommended six foot distance isn’t required in cohort families. Our cohort household arrives on Sunday afternoon, and we sit at the beat-up patio table in the sunny afternoon, with drinks and food (barbecued, of course) and laughter that feeds all of our souls.



May 25-31: Sadness and Hope


We’ve got a problem in our house: a shortage of doors, a need for some sort of barrier, and a strong dislike for the closed-off feeling of traditional doors. Last week, we ordered a couple of bamboo beaded curtains to cover a couple door frames. One takes less than fifteen minutes to install, and they suit the spaces perfectly. There’s something about that transition that both provides a separate space and a feeling that you are welcome in that space even as it “belongs” to someone else.


The weekend is glorious and sunny. The air conditioner gets its first couple of uses, and it’s already worth the investment. We take advantage of the warm weather to clean the yard some more, burn more of the leaves in the fire pit, and barbecue some yummy food. But my mood is dark, and in some ways I don’t feel like I can enjoy the perfect spring days.


I got a call on Tuesday afternoon. A friend passed away suddenly, with no known cause. The shock has sent me reeling, the grief so intense that I have no place to put it. I somehow finished off the work day, then slept for hours. Over the coming days, I waffled between numbness and sadness and anger, sometimes without warning. I curled up under the afghan she made for me – and hurriedly dropped off when the Human Rights decision arrived, because she “knew I was having a bad afternoon” – and talked about her. I laugh at the time we went to Dairy Queen (something we did regularly over the past year or so) and the pop machine refused to dispense my Dr. Pepper, then wouldn’t stop once it started, and then she threw her drink into the garbage can instead of the straw wrapper. I talk about her kindness, because she was truly one of the kindest people I’ve ever known. I want to scream at all my wonderful supportive people who say all the right things just because I want some place to direct the anger I feel. I know it isn’t fair, and the people in my world are nothing short of supportive and amazing; I would like to think she’d understand, but a part of me thinks that in her gentle way she would show me grace while kindly checking me and telling me to smarten up.


A succulent plant in a pot, with blossoming pinkish flowers on it.

Happy plant is happy happy happy!


On Fridays, we give the aloe and Happy Plant some extra water. For some reason we’ve noticed this makes them happy. I’m watering Happy Plant and I realize something: my friend who passed away earlier this week was the same friend who was with me when I picked up Happy Plant. I stand at the table where Happy Plant blossoms merrily, and I think for a moment that my friend would be proud, that she’d tell me I might just have a green thumb after all. I’m still sad, but I realize that little pieces of her story are woven with pieces of mine. It’s now up to me to take the lessons she quietly taught me and extend kindness and optimism and generosity. The world lost a great person – I just wish I could’ve told her.