My Back Alley

(See what I did there?)

This is my back alley in the morning sunshine.


Many things happen in my back alley, including awesome skateboarding.


Alley Alley Alley

This also happens in my back alley:


This is a man and a woman sleeping at one of the church’s back entrances, the one that is 15 feet from my garage.  Arlo, Farrah Star and I were in the garage getting on the bike that morning and I have no idea how Arlo missed this scene but I’m glad he did because I am unprepared to explain why two people are sleeping and/or living next to our garage.  Why we have a house for our bicycles and Christmas decorations but some people don’t have a house for their bodies.

The idea of volunteering with my kids has been at the forefront of my thinking lately and that morning I saw one thing – an opportunity.  But with that couple still sleeping and us morning-rushing I tabled the idea and pedaled away.  Upon returning home the couple was gone but for their tiniest belongings.

IMG_1892 IMG_1890

And now I’m glad I didn’t give them all our protein bars.  Is that awful?  Everyone’s got to eat.  But I am glad I didn’t approach them with the kids.  My unpreparedness would have become something else.  I am not a stranger to the sleeping dead; I am a veteran of San Francisco’s Tenderloin after all not to mention all those years in New York, gritty underbelly, etc. etc.  But what do I tell my kids?  How do I explain why people are sleeping in our back alley and more importantly, why we’re not helping them?  Why do we help some people but not others?  How do we pick and choose to whom to be kind?  (“You mean I don’t have to be kind to everyone (eyeballing Farrah)?”)

I leave you with these questions and beseech from you some guidance.  I need to prepare a thoughtful response.  It’s only getting colder.

My Big Butt

When Kris and I were first dating we were at a house party and some guy – a total stranger – asked Kris while looking at me, “Dude, are you an ass man?”  Befuddled, Kris replied, “Yeah …uh…” and then the guy says, “Well I guess you’d HAVE to be, huh?” eyes burning into my backside.

My butt.  As a child it was a source of constant humiliation.  At 24, I didn’t fully appreciate its power.  At 44, I realize it’s not going anywhere.


This Buzzfeed list made me laugh out loud:

29 Struggles That Only People With Big Butts Will Understand

Oh #2, you and I go waaaaaay back (see what I did there?):

Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 1.44.57 PM

And #14 made my day:

Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 1.54.56 PM

This post brought to you by DAT ASS and a much needed moment of levity.  Smiley emoji.


Sometimes I take pictures of intimate moments and if the picture is good, I’ll approach the subjects and show them.  Once the violation is absorbed they might ask for a copy.


These two were having such a moment but my shot quality was poor.  I kept watching and snapping from a distance and the shots improved but I couldn’t capture another moment that didn’t involve a third party, the father’s iphone.

iPeace iPeace iPeace

There was no one else at their table so this tiny child had only this man – presumably his father – to be present.  The only times I witnessed them interact was when the child dropped something, spilled something or stood on his chair.  Those actions provoked tender and affectionate reprimands but still I wondered what was happening on that phone.  It made me think about my own time with my handhelds.

My friend Laura and I were talking about iphones and parenting and I told her I’ve made peace with that partnership.  I think I’ve struck a balance.  You’ll never find me on a self-imposed technology hiatus – god no – that would be impossible especially as someone who keeps moving away from all her friends – but I don’t hide or hoard my phone when I’m with my kids.  I show my phone as a tool, not a grown-ups-only Pandora’s Box and I let Arlo use it as much as possible:

Arlo checks the weather.

Arlo follows the blue dot on the map.

Arlo asks to record thank-you videos when he receives a gift.

Arlo understands I use the phone to set up playdates, send a note to Daddy, take a picture of him at the top of the slide, find a cafe with toys and to buy a Halloween costume on Amazon.  Arlo also understands that sometimes I use my phone for my own reasons and when I’m done using the iphone, it goes back in my pocket.

I think my relationship with technology is fine but witnessing that morning’s exchange was a good opportunity to check myself.  Rare is Arlo’s clamoring or whining so I think I’m modeling responsible behavior.  I have peace in my pocket but that’s not to say I don’t come across a deleted app or surprise selfie every once in a while, but I’m okay with that.


How do you manage this delicate relationship?  How do you make your iphone less enticing while still using it as much as you do?


MMM: Field of Possibilities

Mostly Montreal Monday

Shots and thoughts from my new home of Montreal

It’s good sometimes to go until there’s no where left to go.  This is how I discovered Champs des Possibles one cloudy morning; by biking to the very end of Avenue Henri Julien.


“Le Champ des Possibles (Field of Possibilities) is a former industrial site of approximately one hectare located the Mile End.  Friends of the Champ des Possibles (Field of Possibilities) is a group of local citizens who have worked to preserve the site as a community green space and a habitat for biodiversity.

In April 2013, an innovative agreement was struck between the borough of Plateau-Mont-Royal and the Friends of the Champ des Possibles. This agreement authorizes Friends of le Champ to manage activities and programs in the field in partnership with the borough.” – Facebook

I didn’t know all that at the time.  I didn’t know what I was looking at when I parked my bike.  Was this a park or a vacant lot?  There was no playground or benches or even garbage cans but there was a structure.


There were hints of intention here and there




but I felt an unwavering uneasiness as I combed the area for bodies photographic opportunities. What was going on here?  What was this place supposed to be?


Would I bring my kids here (my every litmus test)?  There were people walking through this place –  clearly on the way to another place, a shortcut of sorts – but they seemed more comfortable than I.  Is this not a place for lingering, for playing?  What do I do in a place like this?

Possibilities  Ah.  Yes.  I can see that.

I am now following Les Amis on Facebook, curious of their plans, but I don’t know that I’ll be rushing back to the Field of Possibilities.  Possibly.  My kids would get a kick out of climbing and jumping off that platform as well as checking out the train tracks nearby but again, that uneasiness.  I like that I found the place though, just by going until I couldn’t go anymore.






Montreal never disappoints.

Happy Monday Explorers.

The Best Things I Saw All Week


Trying to get a better signal. (Mile End)


Carl lacks creativity/Carl embraces simplicity. Art. (Mile End)


We meet again! (Mile End)


I think you mean “Goal Keeper”. (Mile End)

Ruelle (Mile End)

Ruelle (Mile End)

This bitch.  (Mile End)

This bitch. (Mile End)

And this bitch.  (Mile End)

And this bitch. (Mile End)


The reason bar stools were invented. (Schwartz's Deli, Le Plateau)

The reason bar stools were invented. (Schwartz’s Deli, Le Plateau)

Have a great weekend raking leaves and making Halloween costumes.  Please bring me over a hot chocolate if you’re in the neighborhood.

Thursday Thought (23/10/2014)

Lisa Bagchi:

A timely and poignant snapshot from That Montreal Girl:

Originally posted on That Montreal Girl:

I thought this one was appropriate in light of what happened in Ottawa yesterday.

“An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”

Mahatma Gandhi


View original

19 Months


Farrah Star, my darling daughter of 19 months and beyond, you are killing me.  My god, how did you grow to be so happy and cheerful and bubbly and all cheeky grinning goodness?


I am wild about you and not just because in your 19th month you finally decided to sleep through the night but it helps, holyallthingsholy does that help.  You have also decided to nap and what a joy it is have a moment of respite so that I may think about you, edit photographs of you, post to Facebook about you and write blog posts about you.  Even in slumber you are attached.  Our cord, yours and mine, never stops pulsing.  If I had a chance to name you again I would call you “Lure”.


Your teeter totter pitter patter footfalls tell the world you mean business but your sweet-sounding words and captivating mimicry is a language only we two speak.  Your attention is undivided.  You say Mama and I say Baby and no one else need say a word.


From Madison to Montreal our daily adventures continue through puddles and leaves and cafes and long, long bike rides.  You love to go.  You love your shoes and jacket and hat.  You see the world as I reveal it and the magnitude of that responsibility never escapes me.  You will be exposed to it all, secure in my shelter.


“Show me” I say, taking your hand.  I follow you to turn on the train and read the book and find the ball and blow up the balloon.  You don’t ask for much and yet everything at the same time.  Your patience is thin and very, very loud.  Farrah Star, you are killing me but what a way to go.  Mama.  Yes, Baby.


Nineteen months, my darling daughter.  Thank you.



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