They say it’s your birthday

I celebrated Catherine’s 30th, 40th, and 50th birthdays with her; today would have been her 57th.

Her 30th was momentous: we were young and wild and free, and had landed on Prince Edward Island just a few months earlier. I have little recollection of what we did that day, other than that it was warm and sunny and we were very very happy.

Her 40th went sideways: she was in a funk, Oliver (age 2) and I tried our best to make it epic, but failed. 

Her 50th was much better: we booked a table at The Dunes, about which I wrote, in part:

By way of celebrating Catherine’s birthday we headed out to The Dunes for supper midweek and had what turned out to be an excellent meal. The highlight was an appetizer they call “The Grazing,” which was, as it turned out, almost enough to feed all three of us for the night: sausage, olives, spiced almonds, salad, roasted onion jam, fresh bread and more. It was the kind of dish that makes Catherine swoon, so, only by coincidence and not by plan, the perfect dish to celebrate her birthday.

I remember that meal like it was yesterday.

There were, of course, other birthdays in there: I celebrated 28 of them with her, maybe 29 if you factor in the birthday going on next door while I was but her shy next-door neighbour in Peterborough. I wrote here about her birthday in 20062010, and 2016. Because late June was often time to travel, more than a few of them were celebrated while en route to some exotic foreign locale; in 2014–The Last Great Summer–we were en route to Germany for our caravanning vacation, and that wasn’t the only time that happened. To the point where, just now, as I write this, I received a text from Oliver:

Text message from Oliver: "Need Cake" / "We don't want the European Birthday Situation to happen today"

Catherine was never averse to aging, and generally greeted her birthday with enthusiasm, but she never wanted to be the centre of attention, and there was a standing order, from the time we first met, that there should be No Surprise Parties. I followed that order strictly, and tried to work magic, as best I could, in other ways.

Tonight Oliver and I will go to Richard’s for fish & chips, and will think of her. By happenstance I had a grief support group meeting this afternoon, and halfway through, talking about “what rituals will you uphold?”, I realized that every single time we’d ever been to Richard’s as a family, I’d go and get a table with Oliver, and Catherine would order. Tonight I will have to order.

Later in the evening we’ll gather with family on Zoom to remember Catherine–it’s one of a punishing cavalcade of family Zooms that Oliver has arranged for this week of memorializations.

I answer the question “how are you and Oliver doing?” a lot these days. “We’re okay,” I generally reply. And, most of the time, that’s honest: it’s been five months and two days since Catherine died, and we’re slowly starting to find our sea legs. I am not sad all the time (but I am sad some of the time). We made it through the worst of the lockdown together and emerged unscathed. We planted a tomato and some peppers. We’re about to plant some patchouli in Catherine’s honour. We eat. We sleep. We do the laundry. Some nights I look over at the rocking chair and am surprised to not see Catherine there, and some nights the loneliness reaches out to bite me something fierce. But most nights I’m okay. I’ve learned a lot about grief, most notably that it’s largely indescribable in words, and that it’s different from being sad (which is why it’s not simply called “the sadness”). 

I’m starting to tentatively hold out hope that maybe 2014 was not, in fact, The Last Great Summer. Tentatively.

Wherever this June 18th finds you, please take a moment to raise a glass to Catherine, who is, no doubt, sitting on a stool at God’s microbrewery, enjoying tapas, and wondering why we’re making such a fuss about her.

Photo of Catherine's birthday at The Pearl, with her blowing out the candle.

It’s Bike Week

It’s Bike Week in Charlottetown. In our case this is about celebrating cycling, not celebrating motorcycling as it is to the south (I once called a cottage on Lake Winnipesaukee to inquire about a rental; “you know that’s Bike Week, right?” they asked, as though I should know that was a week to avoid if seeking a quiet family vacation on the lake).

Among other things, you will find:

  • an #IBikeCharlotetown billboard on the Confederation Trail near the Charlottetown Farmers’ Market where you can take a selfie in front of a whimsical fox (see below),
  • the Charlottetown Cycling Handbook, a remarkably well-designed and useful primer on cycling in the city,
  • an updated version of the Bike Map, showing cycle routes through the city, businesses that offer cyclists discounts, places where you can park your bicycle.

Tomorrow, June 19, 2020, is “Bike to Work Day” in the city; while in my case my commute, being 25 seconds across the street, does not lend itself to cycling, many others might consider leaving the car at home and discovering that cycling to work is not only feasible, but also kind of fun.

Cycle on.

Photo of me, on my bike, in front of the #IBikeCharlottetown billboard on the Confederation Trail near the Farmers' Market

I Evan Rachel would love to…

A verse from Rufus Wainwright’s You Ain’t Big (emphasis mine):

You ain’t big if you’re little in Texas
Don’t know who are who you are unless you made it in Lawrence, Kansas
Wait a minute, Lawrence, Kansas
Doesn’t really matter at all

A verse from Options Open by Kathleen Edwards (emphasis mine):

I love you so much, everything
You do, you say, you speak, you wear, it just works for me
But I blame it on the weekly flyer
That took me down to Crappy Tire

‘Cause you were smiling when I looked up
I guess we’ll always have a parking lot

A verse from Can I Be Your Friend by Chevy Mustang ft. Evan Rachel Wood (emphasis mine):

Oh I see that you are
Oh wow… oh my
You’re actually Evan Rachel Wood
Wow, nice to meet you
Can I be your friend?
Oh I see that you’re from Fresno
Can I be your friend?
(I Evan Rachel would love to)

Oh I see that you have new shoes
Can I be your friend? (haha they’re adidas, shell toes)
Oh I see that you’re a guru
Can I be your friend?

These three songs played, one after the other, in my Spotify earlier this week.

You get me Spotify, you really get me.

Dark Mode

I have largely ignored the move to offer “dark mode” on computers and mobile devices. I got inspired by the post Dark Mode Support in WebKit, and its demonstration of how easy it is to add dark mode support to a website via CSS, and I have implemented it here.

If you’re using a regular old web browser on a regular old computer without dark mode support (or without dark mode enabled), you’ll see this website as you always have:

Screen shot of "light mode" view of a post on this website

If you enable “dark mode,” though, you’ll see it it lovely white-on-black:

Screen shot of "dark mode" view of a post on this website

While I’ve left “light mode” turned on for my desktop, I much prefer browsing this site in dark mode on my iPhone, and so that’s what I’ve got it set to there.

Help keep the Island in pizza…

As we embark on our deliriously tourist-free summer here on the Island, let us remember that if we want delicious wood-fired pizza to be ever at the ready, we need to step up and take the place of the tourists.

Here is the Nimrods’ menu. Their phone number (902) 393-7637. They’re located on the “floating food court” at Peakes Quay on the Charlottetown waterfront (map).

The ball is in your court, neighbours.