Scene Setting and My Sort-Of Green Thumb

Every once in a while something happens that triggers a memory of my late father. It’s usually the oddest things.

This time it’s the plant that’s shrivelling on my windowsill. It’s been sitting there since last year when my mom gave it to me. I have no idea why. We both know I’m horrible with plants. But she did and I even kept it going for a little while. But then we left on vacation and I forgot all about it. I came home to a gnarled little twig. Poor thing.

Just to add insult to injury, I kept forgetting to throw it away. It sat on my windowsill for a month before I noticed something unusual happening. A leaf had sprung from the wreckage I’d left behind. The twisted branch I had neglected for so long had decided to come back. To try again. Resilient little bugger.

I started watering it again after I noticed the change and now every time I look at it I can hear him. “You know if you add some more earth to the pot you can save that thing.”

It came over me quick. My chest tightened with the memory and I was there again. With him in his garden. So much green everywhere around us, the sun bounced off the plants and I had to squint for a moment to fight off the glare. Tomato plants taller than me and a fig tree that might as well have held gold on its branches as far as I was concerned. Near the end the tree had grown so large that it took my dad, my husband and my brother-in-law all working together to drag the pot inside every fall to protect it from our harsh winters.

He’d explain things to me that I hadn’t learned anywhere else. Taught me what the air smelled like right before a rainstorm. Crisp and damp and heavy with the impending downpour. I still love that smell. He showed me how the plants knew that the rain was coming just like the animals sensed it. How the trees knew to protect themselves, their leaves turning over so the rain and wind wouldn’t cause damage.

Now, I don’t know how much of this is scientific truth. But I do know that my father grew up around nature and every time he’s ever told me something, I opened my eyes to the world around me in a way I had never noticed before.

I honestly believe that if I am in any way capable of describing a scene when I’m writing it’s due in part to him. He taught me to understand scents, sights, sounds, textures and tastes in a way that made me feel grounded in the moment. In tune with the elements around me.

Maybe I’ll add the earth. Well, probably not. What fun would that be…

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Saturday Date Night

Free time is a luxury. Between work and the kids I don’t have much. I try to use the few moments I have to get some writing done. I work on the relationships on my page. I stress over them and wonder how I can get them to their happily ever after.

But recently, I realized how long it had been since my husband and I had worked on our relationship. For that matter, I couldn’t remember the last time we spent any time together. Sure, we saw each other every night (or rather most nights as he travels a lot for work). We caught glimpses of each other while we cleaned up after dinner, gave the kids their baths, put them in their beds and everything else in between. Even after that, he’ll want to watch the hockey game while I want to write and watch the Big Bang Theory so off we went on our separate ways. Him in the living room as I settled into our bedroom to get an hour so of quiet time in before the baby woke up.

I’m tired just typing this up. It’s my life everyday and I’m sure there’s a lot of you out there who feel the same way.

We’ve been married for the past seven years and had our first child five years ago. Between work and life, we let our connection falter a little. The good thing is I know that we’re meant to be together, as annoying as we find each other sometimes. So, in order to get things back on track I’ve reinstated a once a month required Saturday Date Night. Now I know this sounds super scheduled and restrictive…well it is and too bad. We needed it! We needed to force ourself to give each other some time together, just us two in a nice restaurant with nice cutlery and alcohol.

Our first scheduled date was last week and I’ll be honest, it almost didn’t happen! Once again we were about to let life get in the way, but we pushed through, drove the kids to Grandma’s house and headed our for our 6:30pm reservation. YES, I said 6:30pm and I’m not ashamed (although the restaurant was pretty empty when we arrived!) This gave us plenty of time to relax before we had to pick up the kids at around 9:00pm.

Guys. This is the best thing we’ve done in years. We didn’t talk about anything important. Nothing about money, bills, daycare, work. I can’t even tell you what we talked about because for the most part we were just joking around, and most importantly eating. Oh it was SO good. I forgot what it was like to go to a nice restaurant.

And it was exactly what we needed. Some time together without outside stresses. Enjoying each others company instead of struggling to get through the chores of the day.

It’s so easy to forget how much work a relationship is, and not just in a couple. Siblings, parents, friends, coworkers, neighbours, the list goes on and on.

What do you do to keep  your relationships on track? Girls night with your best friend?  An after work cocktail with coworkers? With everything we all have going on, how do you find the time to fit everyone into your busy schedule?