Weight: 39 pounds
Interests: Dance, snow, kites
More about EssieCanadas' Most Wanted
A Word from Essie . . .
a few more years, Essie will be able to write her own profile--in iambic
pentameter, I suspect. In the meantime, our little artist is expressing
herself in a number of other ways. Although she has yet to put pen
to paper, for example, she has become quite outspoken, even inspiring us
to record some of her most notable quotations. One of her favorite
expressions concerns her name. While she is good-natured about the
abundance of nicknames we have heaped on her--peanut, nutty, piglet, pigletti-spaghetti,
and a host of others--she is also quick to correct us if we go too far.
Try, for instance, telling her she is "a little looney" or "a clown," and
she is likely to respond with a polite giggle, "No, I'm Essie." This
pride in her name may be no accident, for when we chose the name Esprit--a
French word for "spirit," "character," "wit," and "humor"--we had no idea
how right we were. At age 3, Esprit Canada is the most spirited human
being I have ever met. She spends her days running, climbing, laughing,
and exploring, and she is constantly inviting others to join in the fun.
She is, in fact, a lot like her dad. While I am eager to taste all
the world, though, Essie wants to swallow it whole.
Her endless supply of spirit comes through her diverse other forms of artistic expression. She has long gravitated toward the performing arts, clearly delighting in the response she receives from a live audience. Her early proclivity for singing along with others at church--and, in some cases, launching into impromptu solos--has earned her some small acclaim, as have her interpretive dances, complete with spins and leaps and, on occasion, a final bow. Perhaps more than anything, however, Essie craves the stage. Indeed, her mother has caught her practicing facial expressions--first sad and then ecstatic--in front of the giant mirror that we inexplicably placed in her room. While her portrayal of the despondent and beleaguered child, common at diaper-changing time, still needs quite a bit of polishing, she has shown great promise in other roles. Most recently, she has perfected the part of the bubbly puppy dog, which she has mastered with pinpoint accuracy, down to the running around on all fours, lapping with her tongue, and leaping into humans' laps. Though not eligible for a Tony or an Oscar, she already has garnered three nominations for a Lassie. On some occasions, she has stepped behind the scenes to act as playwright and puppeteer, frequently enacting one-act plays featuring her Fisher-Price Little People. The dialogue in these parlor dramas--"Hey, come here!" "What?" "What doin?" "Once upon a time . . ." "What are you talking about?"--while far from profound, is rife with realism, clearly torn from the pages of her everyday life. Although these shows enjoy a standing engagement at the Canada home, she also has taken them on the road to church, where they sometimes compete with a somewhat less lively performance.
Esprit also has dabbled in painting, where she tends to favor abstract expressionism, and her experiments in architecture have produced some impressive--though not always functional--towers. As I have tried to capture in a poem I recently wrote about her, however, Esprit is more than anything a living work of art, one who delights and inspires merely by being. No poem, play, song, or sculpture has moved me as much as her smile or the little things that she says and does. When she sees other children having fun, her face lights up in an indescribably beautiful way, and she rushes to join them. On the other hand, when someone is visibly sad, she turns emphathetic. On occasion, she will invite someone feeling down to play with her and "be happy." I have tried to capture in words some of the experiences we have had with her: a recent Christmas morning, a Halloween party, even a simple walk that she and I enjoyed together. While all the world is her stage, however, I also know that no one can appreciate her beauty as much as her family, who have followed her career from its outset and will always remain her biggest fans.
not easy for me just to start writing about myself, especially because
there isn't too much that is noteworthy about me. I'm a sort of regular
person. I grew up in a big, middle class, Catholic family. I was a misfit
at North Side High School in Fort Wayne because I was interested in theater,
languages, diagramming sentences and domestic endeavors. I sewed costumes
for the school plays that didn't cast me, worked diligently on a cookbook
for my Latin classmates, babysat every weekend, wore a t-shirt that read
"Veni, Vidi, Vici" and performed scenes from my own one-act plays for classmates
in English. I would have made fun of me too.
Somewhere in college I straightened out, I guess when I started dating Mark; and I had a pretty successful career in public relations, appearing on enough TV and radio to feel that I belonged. Now that I'm a homemaker, though, those old misfit interests are resurfacing with better results. I design and sew projects for my family and friends, to everyone's amazement; am a resource for advice on rearing children and am a refuge for friends needing emergency childcare, have earned a reputation as an excellent cook and pastry maker, and occasionally give Latin etymology to people needing a definition and word history. I gave away my "Veni Vidi Vici" shirt during my hip phase; perhaps that was a rash decision.
A few new interests include studying the lives and literature (fiction and non-fiction) of the women who settled the American West. I enjoy decorating and creating objects to beautify my home and gardening, though Laurinburg's climate and soil have challenged my ability. On good days, I am a Mother Nature-Earth Goddess, barefoot, clutching herbs in one hand, a loaf of challah in the other, and children (my own and my friends) peeping out from the folds of my skirts. On bad days, I am a robe-wearing, coffee-drinking housewife "clutching a copy of Life just to keep in touch."
More about MarkMoving experiences
than a decade ago, before we were married, Lisa gave me a simple clay coffee
mug as a gift. Although I don't drink coffee and don't collect things,
especially mugs, the message she painted on the side revealed how well
she knew me even then. It reads: "The glory of God is man fully alive."
For me, being fully alive means immersing myself in this glorious world:
wading in a cold creek in the Appalachian Mountains, eating a deli sandwich
in Central Park, reading by a single light in a dark room, discussing books
with interesting students or colleagues, pouring a Mozart symphony into
my ears or singing along with Hank Williams, catching my little girl after
she soars down a slide, and doing almost anything--except shop for fabric--with
my wife. If I collect anything, it is experience. Inspired by my reading
and by my wife, who has an infectious zest for life, I want not only to
see, hear, and feel the world, but through my senses to know it.
Like most collections, mine is heavy in some areas. I have always enjoyed working with words and, after studying journalism and English at Indiana University, went on to work as a copy editor for two newspapers in Indiana. Later, I went to graduate school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and became a professor of English at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. Even when I am away from my office, I spend a lot of time reading--sometimes aloud with my family--and writing. I also like to exercise and to travel and have come up with a way to combine them in something I call the "moving experience." Some of the moving experiences I have collected are hiking through the Cumberland Gap, jogging on the Appalachian Trail, and bicycling on Jamestown Island.
few days after we bought our house in Laurinburg, North Carolina, we went
to the local Piggly Wiggly to pick up some groceries. Noticing the pile
of clothes and other items in the back seat of our car, the carryout man
asked if we had just returned from a trip. No, I replied, we had just moved
into town. He asked where we lived, and I told him. He smiled and said,
"The rich street!"
Anyone who knows anything about us or about the income of college professors knows that that remark was about as close as we ever will get to wealth. Nevertheless, after years of renting, we feel rich in this wonderful home. Built in 1949, it has a lot of what real-estate agents call "character," but it needed a lot of what the Canadas call "work." Almost immediately, Lisa and I started painting, hanging border, and making other adjustments. Eventually, we added crown molding to living room and dining room, installed new kitchen counters, laid new tile in the kitchen and utility room, and made a few thousand other changes. The work continues on a smaller scale--some raised garden beds, a coat of paint on the screen door in back--but generally we feel very comfortable here.