Saturday, August 09, 2014

Sometimes I Run Out of Words

Sometimes I accept an invitation into someone else's world entirely.

Somewhere near the corner of Higgins and Main- A street party.

To meet folks who have been friends for a long time.


And to feel almost entirely welcome there.

In this place where I really don't speak the language.

But we were welcome there- For sure the farmer sausage burgers were welcome there.

So they waited there in the line.

While the kids got their faces painted.

It was about twenty-eight degrees, and on the concrete pavement of the street.

I don't want to be that white person who shows up on the street once a year and pretends to know stuff. So, risking that, here's what I think I learned today:

"Homeless people" don't always look at all like homeless people.

Put some music on, and people just want to dance.

There is a strong sense of community.

People are all kinds of beautiful and diverse.

Everyone loves a little tap dance.

Strength and resilience takes different forms.

It was an honor to be welcomed near Higgins and Main.

I can't even describe it.

Because, sometimes I run right out of words.


Saturday, July 26, 2014

DIY: How To Hang Bifold Doors in Just Three Days

Prep work: Have doorless, gaping closet hole of horror for 4-6 years. Stare at it daily in shame and humiliation. Try a variety of cover-ups, including but not limited to: red drapes hung on a tension rod. Notice that it looks like a mudroom closet that is missing its doors and is trying to look chique in red drapes hung on a tension rod. Disassemble. Resume shame for additional 12-36 months.

Recall that said closet once boasted doors. Remember the nightmare inducing scenario of right side door falling on head of toddler that one has been hired to guard and protect. Hire therapist to unearth repressed memories of hauling said Doors of Death and Dismemberment to the garage.

Take holidays. Venture into garage to dig through rubble to unearth doors.

Drink gin.

Go back indoors, stair at gaping hole, feel shame rising, return to garage. Resume search. Curse compulsions to purchase and hoard and compile things and then dispose of things in Shame Spiral.


Drive to Steinbach, pull into an entirely unfamiliar parking lot: Penner Building Supplies. Enter. Walk, pretending to look purposeful. Actually locate "bifold doors" without fainting, hallucinations, carcinogenics, opium, or staff assistance. Note price on Ugly Door. $56.00. For one.

Pretend to have stopped at Penner Building Supply to use the toilet and do some price checks. Exit.

Return home, bypass house to resume garage search. Find Kokanee. Try to forget about mudroom closet.


Day Two.

Begin kijiji search. Two doors for a 48 - 49 inch opening. Pore over the math. Conclude that two 24 inch doors are required. Leave "interested" responses on three ads that meet the requirements. Wait. Receive reply on the most appealing ad of all- "Free bifold doors".

Create floral arrangement out of wild flower mix that succeeded in back yard garden. Drive to the south end of Winnipeg and locate address of free doors. Pull into an impeccable front yard that would rival the Garden of Eden. Load free doors into the rear of Rusty, Almost Dead Montana Van and leave pathetic, sucky, sad, and lame floral arrangement at the front door. Ponder the relevance of one's existance. Drive to McGavins' Bread Store to buy nine hundred and seventy seven loaves of bread in anticipation of endless pb and j sandwiches about to resume after conclusion of summer holidays spent not fixing closet doors.

Drive to Home Depot. Locate the correct aisle for door hardware and begin to select All The Things that I might need. Try to look confident as "an associate" comes down the aisle towards me. Pretend that I own a hardware store in another part of town and that I hang doors as a hobby and a career. Confirm with said associate that I am choosing all the right goods, and then discuss bifold door hardware as casually as I can muster.

That's a lie.

Tell associate that I've never done this before and that I want all the help he has ever received in training and life experience and beg him to tell me that I am on the right track. He makes hilarious joke about tracks, as this is one of the parts I am required to purchase.

Make a purchase of forty-freaking-one dollars on hardware.

Go home. Spend the evening on Pinterest. And YouTube, watching "How to Hang a Bifold Door". Begin to sense that I am invincible and entirely capable of every imaginable thing.

Sit in my mudroom and stare at gaping hole.

Carry doors in, and place one in existing track. Swear and return to garage for Kokanee.


Day Three.

Face the undeniable truth that the doors were NOT twenty-four inches wide. Return again to kijiji but feel the weariness of more floral arrangements, more road trips, more conflicts with my measuring tape.

Paint the front door blue.

Clean the eavestroughs.

Have my warts burnt.

Schedule a physical.

Remove my own wisdom teeth.

Consider a home hysterectomy.


Ride my bicycle to the thrift shop. With my tape measure. Locate TWENTY-FOUR INCH BIFOLD DOORS for $5.00 each. Ride my bicycle back home to switch up for a '91 halfton. On my way, come across a friend in van, and stop traffic to chat on the street for way too long. Likely cause local civil war by traffic flow interruption. Anticipate next community letter with new bilaw outlining traffic/chatting laws.

Bring home five dollar doors and use toolbox razor blade holder thingie to remove Dollarama stickers that apparently come backed with some sort of granite strength adhesive. Find wood glue to reglue doors after removal of sticker causes collapse. Use clamps. Feel invincible. Use empowerment to remove hardware from free kijiji doors and reapply to five dollar thrifted doors.

Work self into sweat drenched fury guiding first door into existing track. Recognize that original problem of door-on-boy's-head concerned the track having stretched too wide, thereby causing door to heed to gravity. Smack forehead for purchasing new, now unnecessary track. Employ pliers to tighten existing track.

Burst into song.


Note that doors have a certain five dollar bargain-ish look to them. Find paint, roller, and pan. Paint doors. Paint trim around the doors. Paint trim around the back door, move on towards the window trim, take a hard look at the bathroom door. Sit down. Study absence of gaping hole, make mental note of what is now safely hidden from prying eyes: winter jackets, cans of fruit, a variety of paint and stains, soccer shoes, a bundt pan. Meditate on the meaning of closets, and wax internally eloquent on the symbolism of hiding our own, authentic, messy selves from the world around us. Snap out of it- remember that No One wants to know that our enchilada sauce is on the same closet shelf as the baseball gloves that Sam never uses.

Take it all to the next level, by actually remembering some vintage door hardware and vintage door pulls in drawers around the house. Ride my blue bike back to the hardware store to get the appropriately threaded and long enough screw/whatcha-ma-callie to hold the whole mess together.

Take champagne off ice.

Consider a new career in home renovations, plan to charge by the hour.

Or perhaps by the day.


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Strawberry Picking


For lunch, we have somma borscht, made with fresh sorrel from mom's garden.

Belly full, dad shuffles over to his reclining chair for an afternoon nap. Mom leaves him a note:

"We went strawberry picking :)"

I tell mom that I want strawberries, but what I want is to go to the strawberry fields with her.

At eighty-eight, she wouldn't dream of buying ready-picked, or sending me and my sister to the fields without her.

And so we are together in the prairie sun and wind, remarking on the succulent berries, the well kept rows, the abundance of fruit. We pick together- mom's six pails, Kathy's one, and the four that I pretend to need.

I love being with my mom on the field. She says funny and wise and optimistic things. She moves much more slowly than last year, but never once would you hear her complain. She says that when her knees hurt, she imagines that a physiotherapist might tell her that exercise would be just the thing- so she keeps moving.

We bring mom home with her berries and find dad still safe and sound in his favorite chair, so we part ways. Later that afternoon, I offer to deliver some berries that a friend has picked to her grandmother, who lives in my town. She lives just up the street from me, in a sprawling senior's complex. Not having had much reason to visit there before, I have a little trouble finding the correct apartment number and wander around outside for a bit until a lady opens her door and calls out- "Are you looking for someone?" And I explain that I'm there to deliver berries but can't find the number. "Come on through here", she says, ushering me into her gazebo and straight on through her home to the connecting corridor. Her husband is cutting roll Kuchen, a favorite Mennonite fried bread that is a must-have accompaniment to summer watermelon.

She leads me through long corridors until we find the right door, and behind it, the right lady. I pass over the berries, and we chat about strawberry season in Manitoba. My new tour guide tells me how she used to have berries on her farm, and how she likes them not too big- they have more flavour that way. And that she'd like to get some yet this year. Pre-picked, as she's left her picking days behind her.

We weave our way back down through corridors and back through her apartment. I'm halfway back to my van when I turn back- "Hey! I picked berries with my mother just this morning but I don't actually need all of them- would you like two pails?" And with that, we have a contract.

When I return again to their gazebo, I have the pails in hand. I'm relieved of the duty to hull and freeze fruit that I didn't really want in the first place. They are happy to see such beautiful berries.

And we eat some rull kuchen together.


Sunday, July 13, 2014

She Did Other Stuff

I didn't go to the Folk Festival this year.

Instead I took a walk with friends past the Bridge Drive In, meandering along cozy Winnipeg streets with a sweet sense of community.


Past front lawns that were destined for more than just forgotten patches of grass.

On Wednesday morning, while hoardes of bikes, campers, and vans headed up highway 59 to Birds Hill Park, I met one of my bestest bff's at The Forks. We indulged in some outdoor catching up over Tall Grass Prairie cinnamon buns and sandwiches.

Then off on some Winnipeg exploring.


There's so much right at home if you just take a little time to explore.

Arty shops brimming with creativity.

And some antique shop perusing.
Pretty unfortunate about that taxidermy.

Maybe just Not-A-Dermy.

Time for refreshments. This summer tradition could never end well without our favourite outdoor patio at Carlos and Murphy's.

Nom nom.

On my way home, I pulled to the side of the highway to pick some fragrant alfalfa for the bunnies.

On the way to her little outdoor lair, I stopped to enjoy the yard in full bloom.

Thursday, July 10 didn't find us at the Folk Fest either. Twenty years ago, we were there, and I was labouring my firstborn daughter. Now she has exited the life of a teen and is up and away at a fishing lodge, so for her birthday I lined up all the epic thrifted cat pics I had compiled for her and sent them off in text form.

She was entirely amused.

Without my birthday girl at home to spoil and celebrate, I set my sights on playing with thrifted bird houses.

Until- oh happy day- I scored free tickets to the Red River Speedway. Bucket list material.

Sam and I headed out, not knowing entirely what to expect. We learned quickly enough when people piled in with ear plugs that it was going to be noisy. And dusty.

Friday dawned bright and sunny. New tradition, year two: drive up to Gimli for the day. First stop? Awesome breakfast in St Boniface.

From there things pretty much continually evolved into ever widening circles of perfection.





And then, hold me down- this!

All wrapped up with a harbour walk and stone tossing.

Practically perfect day in every way.

On Saturday, I "built" Theo a new bunny run. He's a bit of an escape artist, so I tried to make the walls high enough.

I hope it fixes his wanderlust.

Silly bunny.

So, no. This summer I didn't go to Folk Fest.

No regrets.