Mapping Memory Lane: Diary entries

Kid2 graduates from public school next week. She’s had a pretty good run with the expected rough patches but overall I think she’s leaving it behind with much less residual angst and awkward than I did. I’m going to go ahead and take some credit for that, plus she has gone to a really great school.

We were recently talking as I was writing thank you notes – people had been extremely generous to me for my birthday. Kid2 commented that I seem to like writing, and asked if I always did, even long, long ago when I was her age (she had the grace to smirk when she said that).

I had to think but then realized, yep I’ve always liked writing. Always captured moments or expressed gratitude and vented with pen in hand. I told her I’ve written since before I was her age, and that I had proof. I then went and dug out my public school diary and looked up entries for this week, 33 years ago. I have to admit I winced, cringed, and at times smiled softsadly to myself.

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The major accomplishments of Grade 8 were listed in an entry dated June 25th. I had made it to the science fair, made the soccer team, and seemed proud of my grade in math (which was a “C”)… I itemized track results (mostly distance running), and had danced with a boy for the first time. As I flipped through the pages, I first felt mortified for my childish perspective then sad as it seemed I never felt confident in anything I was doing. I also had to admit I hadn’t always written what was in my heart, the diary contains an edited version of what I was living. Sometimes I had gone back and added postscripts like “I wasn’t glad he dumped me, I just wrote that to try to be brave” or “I wrote this for your benefit, Sister” as privacy wasn’t a guarantee in our house growing up.

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Either way, the gift of peering back into my 13-year old psyche makes the diary precious to me. It seems I’ve always loved language – I used words like “betwixt” and “mayhap,” and swore like a sailor in many entries. It also seems certain things that mattered back then still matter today, like books I’d read, our pets and their adventures, and things I saw or read that inspired me. Finally, I love what the diary shows me most clearly, which in contrast to my tween self, I’m finally comfortable owning the choices I make.

As kid2 breezes out of public school, I think the best I can do is tell her to do as I did, 33 years ago, and see what comes next as a grand adventure, one worthy of coloured markers and captured memories. Wowzers indeed.

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Posted in Kid Stuff, Mapping Memory Lane | 1 Comment

A word on birds…

I’m pretty out there as liking birds. Their imagery, plumage, symbolism. You name it. I like birdy everything.

That’s why my ears pricked up leaving work the other day. Two women were walking ahead of me and they were commenting with disgust about bird droppings on the ground, saying someone should do something about it, that it was gross.

As they stepped along, looking down at the ground and “tsking” about the mess I registered something. I registered how different I was from those ladies, as the mess didn’t bother me. I wear shoes so I don’t step directly in such things. It also was the last thing I would have noticed, stepping outside into glorious sunshine and a light breeze. Lastly, while they were looking and putting down, I was looking up. This is what I saw:

Barn swallows are a species at risk in Ontario. Their habitats are disappearing and their nests are constantly knocked down by people who can’t stand mess. I actually think they look kind of sheepish. Like they wish no one could see them or their messy nest area. I also think they look new and full of swooping promise.

I’ll take the nest and the mess. I will also continue looking up instead of down. It’s a much better view.

Onwards!

Posted in Inside my head | 1 Comment

Dog Momming – the early days

When we were kids it was sea monkeys. The fabled creatures touted in the back pages of our comics, that had people faces, webbed feet, and arrived in the mail if you bought and saved enough coupon codes. I thought sea monkeys would make my life shine, but never got any, for reasons I can’t recall as I certainly read enough comics.

In my late 20’s it was a scooter. In my yuppie phase I yearned for a scooter – not for illusions I was glam with the perfect chiffon scarf to breeze about wearing, but for knowing I could do on two wheels what cars did, and that it would save gas and help the environment. I did get a scooter back then, before it was cool… note to self to write about that sometime.

Now it’s a dog. I had dogs growing up, have yet to meet a dog I haven’t liked, and always wanted my own dog. The mess, the dorkiness, the excuse to stay home/not make plans, but I always resisted as I was transient in my 20’s, then over extended in my 30’s with work and kids, and owned a cat who tolerated only two-legged creatures. All that is behind me now, and we’ve taken the plunge. On day three as a dog mom, as sleep deprivation peaks and my frantic attempts to organize ruptured life logistics slip through my fingers like unset jello, I’m learning from this new experience. I’m learning and don’t let the dark circles under my eyes fool you – I’m loving it.

Lesson #1 – PeaceCalm can be found in my front yard at 1 a.m.

Standing there the last two nights, while a 16-pound blonde frolics at the end of his leash, I’m struck by how lovely the night can be. I was always fine outside at night, nothing in the Canadian (must specify that) nature dark scares me and it is a remarkably wonderful time to ponder. While stepping along, my rubber boots making their squelching sound and Bucky gambolling beside me I’m quite content – a feeling 100% due to the fact I know I won’t have to visit that time or space forever, he will grow a bladder that fits our world in a few months.

Lesson #2 – Forced Flexibility is Freeing

I’m a pretty middle of the road person, in all things. I’m fixed in some ways (don’t try to keep me calm in a tight, unorganized space. I’ll start compulsively tidying and/or simply freak out), and flexible in others (love it when plans change, especially in my favour). I have been devoted to my Fitbit and morning workouts for awhile now, believing those micro goals and achievements were keeping me sane. They’ve disappeared like Aloyisus Snuffaluffagus now that Bucky is here. In our planning for a puppy I mapped out how I would still do everything I was before, and fold puppy time alongside it. I threw those plans away fast and have no residual twitch. Time will tell if this forced adaptation to my daily routine leads to resentment… I feel more like it will lead to new trails, lined with squeaker toys.

Lesson #3 – People are nice

Dogs make people smile, that’s a known fact – but people being excited for you when you get a dog feels like a smile walked up, slung an arm around your shoulder and gave you a squeeze. Hand-me-down puppy beds, tips on housetraining, patience when puppy moments occur – the shared experience in a network of friends and family now that Bucky is here has me all schmoopy. We’ve seen and talked to more of our neighbours in the last three days than we had – no exaggeration – all year so far. Our niece is going to save my bacon by dog sitting next week when I’m on a corporate retreat. My sister gave me a crate. Friends gave us toys he adores, a brush he laughs at, and a mug that says “Dog Mom.” I want for nothing.

As we see our kids smiling and laughing at Bucky, and see them caring for him, chasing him, cleaning up after him, and falling in love with him, we’re quite convinced this was the perfect time for us to go for the full-on, puppy madness knowing it will evolve into part of our daily routine. When thing calm down a bit we might even try for a family picture. Until then, onwards in chewed-on, tired, smelly (me not him) bliss…

Buckminster, aka “Bucky” May 30th – 8 weeks old.

Posted in Dog, Everyday Adventures | 1 Comment

Sparkle Steps

I wore sparkle flip flops the other day and someone asked me where the party was. I regret that my inside voice (which is snappish a la Rachel Lynde) came out when I replied.

“I could die tomorrow,” I said. “And wouldn’t it be a shame if these shoes were sitting unused in my closet?”

They wisely agreed and changed the subject… but it stuck with me. I had debated wearing them. They are shiny bright and I don’t love feet, but I remembered Erma Bombeck saying she wished she had eaten popcorn on the good furniture and not saved things for a special occasion…. that’s why I was wearing party shoes in the grocery store on a Saturday morning. That’s why I’m wearing them again today, in fact. That, and an exchange I had with my neighbour* yesterday.

We were chatting in my front yard where I had been trimming grass. She happened to stroll by with her family, out for an after-dinner walk. She asked me about the baby rabbits that had been hopping all over our lawn the other day, and when our new dog comes home. As she hung off the fence and happily plucked a dandelion, I asked her what her shirt said. She proudly held it flat, so the front showed in all it’s glory, grape juice sprayed across the words: “I share my SPARKLE with the whole world.”

So do I, neighbour. So do I. Onwards in sparkle flip flops.

*my neighbour is quite possibly the most charming four-year old I have had the pleasure of meeting

The sparkle shoes, artfully photographed with Arthur and Luna… because posting a picture of my feet is something I simply cannot do. My feet are fine. They’re just… feet. 

Posted in Everyday Adventures, Gardening, Kid Stuff, Onwards, Uncategorized

Reading in OverDrive

I’ve read 26 books so far this year… a fact I know because I’ve been listing them in my beloved organizer. I’ve given myself permission to consider listening to a book on equal plane as reading one, so if that offends your sensibilities, I suggest you bail off this post now.

I never used to be able to listen to a book, my squirrel! quotient being high, but I found a secret – it’s OverDrive. Hubby mentioned it to me once and I didn’t bite – thinking it was a paid service and preferring to browse at the library, because like any serious reader, the cover art has to intrigue me – but OverDrive has it all. You sign up with your library card. You check books out, and get the motivation to read them as they expire like real books do. Ebooks and audio books aplenty, you can reserve and request books and the best part – no fines for overdue returns and they keep a list of your reading history!

The books I’ve read so far this year are as varied as they come – and for my future reference I’ve listed them below as not all were in OverDrive. Note I have given myself permission to periodically enjoy the literary equivalent of dill pickle Doritos (vacuous yet fun to tear into) and finished a couple YA series kid2 and I had started. I’m loving the time lost in characters, and the brain break of wondering what’s going to happen next in something made up, versus my swirl of domestic blurbliss. Reading is the original brain bleach, and variety is everything.

Read anything awesome lately? Hit me with your suggestions, I love having a huge list of characters and worlds to explore! Now that I’m this far into the year and this long into a list of books I’m going to go ahead and call my shot and say I want to have read 52 books by the end of the year. Onwards into the pages of something new!

Book List YTD

  1. Essentialism, Greg McKeown – pragmatic validation to focus on what matters
  2. ShadowHunters Bk 4, Cassandra Clare – angsty teens in supernatural escapades
  3. UnCommon Type, Tom Hanks – short stories, pleasant and matter of fact
  4. Origin, Dan Brown – loved it, influenced The Last Jedi and Marvel writers, am sure
  5. Artemis, Andy Weir – he can write no wrong in my book. Will be a movie for sure
  6. ShadowHunters Bk 5 – Cassandra Clare – more of the teens. Danger! Magic! Love!
  7. Still Me, JoJo Moyes – didn’t rip my guts out as hard as others, good to see Lou again
  8. The Break, Marian Keyes – sadly the only one of her books I’ve not liked
  9. Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen – my boss gave me this to read, I loved it
  10. Queste – Angie Sage – a series that has Potter echoes. Fun escapism, YA
  11. Anne of Green Gables, Lucy Maud Montgomery – like a hug for my spirit
  12. Anne of Avonlea, Lucy Maud Montgomery – like the hug includes kittens & flowers
  13. Planet of the Apes – The Forbidden Zone – stories from various authors. Excellent!
  14. Deer Life, Ron Sexsmith – a fairytale by a Canadian rocker. Fun tidbit of a book
  15. Immortal Reign, Morgan Rhodes – Canadian author, YA series that amused me
  16. Silver Bay, JoJo Moyes – I’m reading all her books. This one had dolphins.
  17. Anne of the Island, L. M. Montgomery – heart soothing spirit boosting
  18. Clade, James Bradley – bleak yet motivating to save our planet. Save the bees!
  19. Syren, Angie Sage – had to finish the series, found out this is not the last book :/
  20. The LightKeepers Daughters, Jean Pendziwol – haunting and gorgeous
  21. Uncopyable, Steven Miller – marketing book, reiterates and reinforces
  22. The Identicals, Elin Hilderbrand – the reason I obsess about seeing Nantucket
  23. Charlotte’s Webb, E. B. White – read it lately? It’s radiant.
  24. The Silent Sister, Diane Chamberlain – totally predicted it, but still a great story
  25. The Bookseller, Mark Pryor – Parisian Dick Tracey-type private eye
  26. ShadowHunters Bk 6, Cassandra Clare – teens in trouble, magic worlds in trouble

 

Posted in Inside my head | 2 Comments

Mapping Memory Lane: Ice Storm Popcorn

Dance season is upon us. After months of preparation it all comes down to four competitive weekends where we roll into various towns, set up an ops centre (usually under ridiculous circumstances like 40 people in a 6 by 8 foot room), and execute tricky maneuvers like blacking out dancer faces only to have to reset them to pristine for the next dance, while picking up pieces of disappointed child when a dance doesn’t go well.
When you combine a dance weekend with an ice storm, things get really interesting.

Peterborough is a nice little town. Quirky almost, with it’s one way streets and vintage downtown. The Holiday Inn there is an interesting design, executed very well. The staff are amazing – congenial and helpful. Friendly, even as they patrol the halls and shoo people into rooms at 10 p.m. curfew. The halls are Shining. Had I seen a set of twins that weekend I would have run screaming in the other direction. Peterborough’s Showplace Theatre is a grand old performance palace and the dance we were seeing was all great. The other studios were lovely people, the theatre volunteers were gracious, we were having a terrific start to the first weekend of competitive dance, except for the weather.

Mother Nature was mad mad mad and it was coming down in icy sheets of pebbled sleet and freezing rain. All. Weekend. People started talking about staying an extra night as soon as we got there. The Friday drive up was dark, rainy, and a perfect example why lines on the roads are important – when you can’t see them, driving becomes tense. We had carpooled and my friend is a first responder. She had to be back for work Monday. I decided to Scarlett O’Hara the whole issue (worry about it another day) and get the competition over with first. Cue Sunday night.

We Tetris’d the gear into the car. Snugged the (incredibly successful, congrats again girls!) two dancers into the back seat. Tossed kid2’s giant mirror-blocking tutu into someone else’s van, and took a deep breath. There were several signs things weren’t going to go well.

First sign: Kid2 stole a donut. We hit Tim Horton’s for dinner. We were in a hurry and we ordered a cubic ton of food. As we poured out to the car I couldn’t figure out why kid2 was hanging back. I saw her ask the Tim’s employee* something. I headed back into the restaurant just as she was coming out, happily carrying a donut. “I got my donut!” she said. I asked her how she paid for it. “YOU paid for it…” she said. I hadn’t ordered her a donut. We looked at each other for a heartbeat. “Get in the car” I said.

Second sign: We got lost getting lost. Peterborough seems to have circles going around it. Spirals of intersections and cut-offs, that when roads are mere tire tracks and a storm is raging, are hard to navigate. I have to confess I get lost every time I go there but this wasn’t the day or road conditions to be messing around in. As I tried to turn around in a driveway, I got stuck. I could feel rage bubbling, knew the dent in my forehead was forming. I ordered everyone out of the car, to go stand way in front of it, which is ridiculous as all together they total a combined body weight of maybe 350 pounds. I needed to feel like the load was lightened though and I spun backwards out of the driveway then without issue. Of course we proceeded to get lost again. At this point I was chew-the-steering-wheel level of angst. I have a creepy kind of tense mood I hit which is like the Tasmanian devil pausing before starting to twirl. That’s where I was poised. That’s when I turned savage.

The final straw: Popcorn madness. We decided to stay driving in the wrong direction for a few kilometres as it was a main road and all the side roads were snow covered with no tracks. We were doing 50 km/hour and there was no one else on the road. Time to settle in for a long, slow drive. I was trying breathing exercises and wondering how damaged my friendship was going to be, for having turned savage when it happened; the final straw. Kid2 is a twig. She is grace and elegance as a dancer, and beautiful energy as a person. She’s also very feminine. That’s why hearing her croakretch in a demon voice escalated the situation to critical. Maybe it was the stolen donut. We’ll never know, but she was going to be sick.

I knew we had at least three hours ahead of us in the car. I knew where my patience and sanity were at, and with no bars left on either I flipped to crisis mode. “GIVE HER A BAG” I yelled at her friend in the back seat. She handed her a Tim Horton’s bag. Flimsy paper. The demon voice was still croaking, I knew the bag wasn’t going to work.

I should say a word about my friend who had carpooled with us. She’s a first responder, and excellent at her job. She’s super chill, hilarious, and a great mom. She had opened a bag of Chicago Mix popcorn that I had saved all weekend, for the drive home. I love the stuff, and was going to consider it, and the inevitable gastric distress it causes me as my reward for doing the crappy drive. I had just commented that the top of the bag was all cheese, and I wanted more caramel. I had just said how glad I was we had snacks. Then I yelled at her to THROW THE POPCORN OUT THE WINDOW so we could give kid2 the plastic bag. I saw her pause. I saw her emergency-handling reflexes weighing the situation. I repeated myself, saw her clutch the bottom of the bag tightly, put her window down and fling the contents to the wind.

Picking popcorn out of my bra later at home I suppose I could have handled things differently. My friend said she debated which would be worse, kid2 barfing and us smelling it, or me realizing I had no popcorn left. As it blew back into and all around the car I felt slightly amused for having thought you *could* throw popcorn out the window of a moving car. Kid2 got her bag, which as barf bags go, smelled lovely. The tension was broken and as we picked popcorn out of our hair the drive gradually improved and all ended well. I haven’t lost a friend. Kid2 gained some awesome memories, and we’re off to the next dance weekend, new bag of popcorn in hand.

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Kid2 and I in a happy moment, as we prepped to dance on day 1

*I would like to give full props to anyone who was working that weekend, in food service, at the theatre, and at the hotel. The weather conditions were apocalyptically awful but everyone was cheery and if they hadn’t been doing what they were, we would have been even further up a frozen creek. I will pay the stolen donut forward a multitude of ways and hope everyone appreciates the employees of such places, during such times. They’d rather have been home snug too, I bet.

Posted in Dance, Everyday Adventures, Kid Stuff, Mapping Memory Lane | 1 Comment

Very superstitious…

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Mind the cannonballs

…Except about Friday the 13th. These dates occur because the annual shift of days to calendar to leap years and so on means random Fridays fall on the 13th day of the month. Lots of smart people can explain that better than I can. Friday the 13th is not any one person thumbing their nose at the universe, or someone tempting fate – that’s when real superstitions come into play.

Shoes on a table – Guaranteed to let bad heebiejeebie into your space. How do I know this? Put shoes on your kitchen table and take a moment register the gross chill that goes through you. Don’t attribute it to hygiene, my house is far from clean but I still can’t stand shoes on tables.

Pointing at a shooting star – Immensely bad luck. I can’t remember who told me that but their relaying of it included a broken leg and some unfortunately timed nudity. Never point at a shooting star. Instead, make your wish and keep it (and you) safe.

Speaking of wishes, be careful what you wish for. Memere used to say this all the time, and while she leans to sardonic on the best of days, it’s good advice. Thinking any one thing or person or event will make us happy is a dangerous pursuit. I long ago stopped making transactional wishes on cakes and stars and now make wishes for other people. I’m never disappointed that way, and it puts a smidge more optimism and hope out into the world.

I wasn’t going to blog today, but the new blogging buddy system I’m doing with people at work meant we had to post something today. I’ve rattled this off in the app while pedalling on my exercise bike to reach my steps before driving several hours in the pouring rain to a dance competition. I trust no one reading this is offended (knocks on wood).

Note re: photo – is from photo booth at The Rec Room in Toronto, a fun and expensive place to hit up, perfect for kids of any age. We’re being attacked by pirates, but as you can see I didn’t need anyone to hold my beer.

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