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Thursday, August 30, 2007

All That AND a Bag of Chips

Aren't we all getting just a little tired of enduring all this whining about getting old and fat? Yep, me too. There are enough dollars and brain cells being wasted already in our highly misguided society, so how about we start a new campaign? How about some new internal messages? Allow me to propose a few, then please indulge me with one or more of your own.

as has been mentioned; I AM all that, AND a bag of chips.

My gift of obsessive thinking is well suited to dwelling on a book I am reading.

Skinny alone never changed the world.

Interesting is way more interesting than skinny.

Your turn.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Things that Make you Say.... Hmmmm.....

Going through cupboards the other day, I came across some forgotten bottles of vitamins and supplements. It made me wonder why they had been purchased, and what I had hoped they would remedy in me. Were they related to my medication? Were they purchased to counteract side-effects? It struck me again that my memory had seemed particularily unreliable of late, that I had actually frightened myself by forgetting a common word, and wondered if I would land up being that young mother in a brodey chair in the nursing home dying of ALS or something and my children having to come in three times a day to spoon feed me and wipe up my saliva and pee and everything.

So I called up my old friend google.

Turns out that I had forgotten everything that I had previously researched. Most of my problems could be blamed on the said medication. Excessive yawning, sleepiness, insomnia, farting, constipation, vertigo, vivid dreams, sweating.......... could all be blamed on the treatment. Plus a half dozen or more side-effects that I could still look forward to.

Oh. And there is anecdotal evidence of impaired memory. So, whatever brain power is available after having been awake, sweating and farting from 2:00 until 5:00 am last night, will be further compromised by this other, tiny side-effect.

Maybe I should try to remember to take those vitamins.
Although, I find it even more challenging to remember things when I'm sleep deprived.
I wonder if there is a medication or supplement that I could take for that? And what would its side-effects be?!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Bringing Sexy Back

Down at the local junk shop yesterday I ran into a worldly friend who had been hoodwinked into buying tickets for the infamous Justin Timberlake concert. We giggled about being older than fourteen and trying to blend into the hysterical audience of perky young undie tossers. Then I inadvertently launched into a long spiel about my thirteen year old daughter downloading his music and how less-than-thrilled I was about the sexual pervasiveness in his tunes, and my horrer at the very idea of purchasing her a $111.00 ticket for the privelege of watching his hips gyrate. Our culture is so saturated with sexuality, I rambled on, and I want more than that for my daughters.



Little did I know how far and wide that Timberlake's influence had spread. Like a batch of newly hatched Manitoba mosquitoes launched out of a tepid July pond, that sexy thinking had saturated places previously unknown to the world and all its temptations. Little did I know that even our local haven- the mecca for clean hands missionary work, scrubber and seller of all things used and dated, was also a pawn in our culture of hedonism. Yes, buried under key chains advertising evangelism, hilcoa, fancy humble cars, and trendy funeral homes was a treasure unearthed by my precious, innocent, impressionable young daughter.


Run for the hills, cloister your handmaidens.

Our last remaining sanctuary of purity has been toppled.

The Niverville Mcc Store is bringing sexy back.

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Birthday Party that I very nearly attended

Dear Linda;

I was so pleased to be invited to your party at a tea house I was sure would be quaint and filled with finger foods and fancy grown-up drinks. I marked the date on my calendar and planned my day so that there was time to drive to the big old city in time to find the address. I had enjoyed an afternoon that day with an old friend and time went by rather quickly, but when I remembered about the birthday celebration, I was still only a little off schedule. Not being one to follow old fashioned paper maps, I googled maps and entered the address. Good! I thought. Its on my end of the city so I'll only be a few minutes late.

Quickly enough I found River Road and began to look for the correct number.
Non-existant.
And certainly not in the area of any historic churches that was mentioned on the invitation.

Well, no bother. We'd recently invested in a cell phone, wanting to be as important as all the other people we see answering urgent messages while shopping for ground beef and discount sandwhich meats. This was going to work out just fine.

I enlisted Brian to go back to the invitation, then google the name of the Historic church. There were five by that name, so we went with the one which included the words River Road. I was certainly in the wrong neck of the woods. Silly Winnipeg, having all these half and quarter roads that switch names randomly. And no wonder they used the word "river" so liberally. The city is practically overrun with the darn things.

It was going to take some time to get downtown, where the screen at home had shown clearly the address of St Andrews church on Notre dame and some other exchange district street. Makes sense! I thought to myself optimistically ; Linda and her sisters are always doing interesting exchange-district-y things. Of course the party would be there, and not in the suburbs!

While I was manuevering to Brian's googling to the sounds of the children apparently sawing off each others limbs with butter knives from KFC, I found that I had been driving west in my efforts to perfect the whole important person speaks on cell phone whilst operating heavy machinery and desiring not to be rear ended by more proficient cell phone handlers who had probably moved on to texting and google mapping while driving.

Well, never mind. I told myself. This is a very special oppurtunity and think of the posts you could write after meeting bloggies eating crumpets with historic churches in the background! You simply MUST drive on!

So, I made my way back east, and a lot north until I found the street that Brian had described so perfectly that cut between Portage and Main like a slice of pie that I could already picture in Linda's china plate.

I found cinemateque. And a nifty underwear store. And a coffee shop I'd once been to when my brother was alive and let me hang with him. I found a lot of historic buildings, the Ethiopian restaurant I've been wanting to eat at, and the old "Kaye's fabric" that my mother used to shop at.

But no tea house.

I was very determined and I criss-crossed that maze of streets for more than a little while, imagining Linda wiping the cake from her lips, taking a final sip out of her wine glass, and reaching for a coffee to round the whole thing out. Well, I thought, There's still time to give her a little squeeze, tell her how pleased I am to have met her, and how much more I wanted to learn from her before she would come to my fiftieth birthday celebration. But no matter if I bent that van in half or quarters, there was no tea house to be found. I figured I was about halfway to the gulf of Mexico by now with all the driving I had done, so regretfully I turned towards home.

Brian showed me clearly where the map pointed out the church and I thought it curious that I had missed it. I'd seen everything else all around it that the map indicated. So, I went again to trusty google. Aha! Here's something about a church AND a tea house and IT says ST ANDREWS! St Andrews! I tell you.

That would be waaaaay north.
Not south. Not south at all. Not even south of the Exchange.

Happy Birthday Linda!
Wish I could have been there!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Miles Away From Ordinary

uncomplicated pleasures

hay fields and horses

women girls

Thursday, August 16, 2007

A Gal Like Me Has Got No Right To Struggle With Depression


... or alternately, The Hills Are Alive With The Sound of Music.

(It just depends on how comfortable you are with pretending that life is a romantic adventure, or whether it relieves you to know that everybody's got shit and small potatoes to deal with.)

How well I remember that house on the hill where all was alive with the sounds of children, and kittens, the dog Daisy, the pretty hens, and the refreshing melodies of cascading gin.

Its time for a refresher course in all things rural, so I thought I'd unschool the children for a few days and haul them off, kicking and screaming, to spend a few days in paradise. Well, screaming with joy as they ride the moterless lawnmower down the hill is more accurate....

So, as if that's not enough to pull my chin out of my navel, tonight Brian and I are taking our daughters to Rainbow Stage to sit in the outdoor concert hall and experience the production of The Sound of Music. I've not been to the stage since I was a teenager so it goes without saying that the girls have never been. Julia Andrews is like an old family friend. I grew up adoring the story and although we never had a television, the Von Trapps felt like family from all the hours I'd spend lying on the living room floor listening to their sounds of music and studying the faces on the record album, pretending I was the youngest in that family instead of my own.

So, a few more hours to get on the old timecard, and then a chance to indulge in the last glorious days of summer.

My heart shall be blessed.... by the sounds of music.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Runway

Its going to be pretty tough to reach my goal of becoming a runway model in my forties if things don't start changing up around here. I suspect sabatoge when the husband invites friends over for dinner to share his artichoke and olive linguini, washed down with crisp white wine, and tempered with nutty brown buns. He's lured eldest daughter into his sinister plot, giving her the role of baking endless pans of chocolate chip oatmeal cookies instead of playing with her gameboy like sensible children do. Then there's all these lazy evenings spent slouched around a roaring fire in the backyard, turning marshmallows till they droop with golden temptation. Even at the lake, between fitting in the numerous meals that must be consumed, the Mike's hard in the cooler down by the dock, and the mid-afternoon nap, that lake can serve just as well as a backdrop. Its not limited in function to being a place to thrash about in, wet and miserable, and looking like an exercise junkie fool.

Oh, its noble to have goals and all. But if all the people around here don't start sitting down more and cooking and baking less, I'm going to need a whole lot of support. I may even need to sleep in your living rooms.

But only if your people are more supportive than mine.

Monday, August 13, 2007

I Can't Afford a Life Coach so I Got Myself a Blog

There are people who are making a living doing what they are good at, and doing what is fun, and using their quirky gifts at the very same time. If I had a life coach, I bet she would explain to me how I could do that too. She would set me up with some simple but effective marketing ideas, design me a website, and legislate the 24 hour clock to 52 hours instead. She would speak soothingly to me about what to focus on, what not to get distracted by, how much time I should spend scrounging for unique bits of fabric, and how to balance my fabulously successful career with my family life.

But until then, because I am way above jealousy or envy, or covetous thinking, I'm going to post some links to women who are doing amazing work all by their big selves. I am going to be happy for them. Well, mostly I'll whine about how I wish I could market like them. Mostly I'll act like a victem who has had a terribly unfair life and how if I had been born different, I could be like Wanda, Soule Mama, and Gathered Roots.

But if I had a life coach, and if I were good at marketing, then the biggest decisions I'd ever have to make are whether I preferred the Hilton or the Marriott.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

A God Thing

I'm not really a superstitious person, but isn't there a saying about bad things coming in threes? Well, I've had a run of three recently, but I would have to categorize them all as "good".

I've always been wealthy in the arena of friends. People who I learn from, laugh with, whine at, feel envious of, and sometimes get hurt by. (and it goes without saying that I've likely hurt them as well). I often assumed, as the friendship season would change and we'd drift our own ways, that there was something about me that made it "not worthwhile" to maintain the ties. That my stupidity and neediness had just sucked them dry and they needed to wander off and find a watering hole lest their investment in us should wither them to death. Not that I believe every friendship should be stubbornly maintained well beyond the "best before" date. Some friends are with us for a season, and that's a gift all on its own. And some friendships take a siesta for a matter of months or years or centuries and there's nothing particularily deep about it. We pick up where we left off, and carry on from there.

Every relationship is significant and needn't turn into a project of phone calls and belaboured coffees. Well, there are one or two relationships that I think are in my life to showcase my worst characteristics, and I suppose an optimist would say that they are here to grind off my rough edges. So far, they just serve to make me more prickly and irritable. Maybe I'll work on that in my forties....

An-eee-Way.
I was saying.

Three good things. Events that touched my heart and made me think of God and redemption. How things can ache and chew away at a gal and no matter how hard you to try to navigate it the "right" way, the way you were taught in Sunday School, it pretty much just sucks and you can't make it line up nicely into a column.

Recently, three friends from my life in the eighties have found me and made contact after a long period of life having swept us all down different bunny holes. Like old pieces of myself, they came back and reminded me of these aspects of life that we'd all shared. Not together as a foursome, as all three friends came from very separate parts of my life in the eighties. One of the friendships ended badly. The other two didn't end at all, it just wasn't the season for investing in that part of ourselves, as we were busy padding our nests and pouring our bosoms into chubby little blobs of hungry humanity. (come to think of it, now we're padding our bosoms, and wishing we could pour off some of the blobbiness...)

Anyway, far be it for me to ramble. ahem. These three goodnesses, like the three wise wo-men, have entered my life and made me think about redemption. I have a feeling its a God thing and that I'm going to learn something about the way God redeems things and relationships. How important patience and faith in things not yet seen are. How all my sweating and striving don't necessarily write the final chapter in any book of life.

And that maybe, just maybe, we all used just a little too much hairspray in the eighties.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Shit and Spiders

Change and me make nasty bedfellows. So when the dominoes lined up, and God whispered in my ear repeatedly, it became clear that it was time for a move away from "life as we knew it". After sweating blood for a few weeks, we managed to get our old house sold. The house where our babies had come home to, had learned to crawl on the drafty hardwoods, and where Brian learned to make bread and eggplant relish. Our house wasn't exactly "on the wrong side of the tracks". It pretty much sat right on the tracks. A neighborhood with a reputation, you might say.


It was tough to move from an affordable house to the outskirts of the big city where the real estate market had already begun to get ridiculous. We viewed a lot of ugly places, and I often made that drive back to Brandon in tears, imagining the six of us landing up in a skunky trailer in the bush, waiting for the rapture.


But then God happened along in the form of my old mama. She called me up and in her squeaky voice told me that her sister, tante Marie and her were in the real estate business, and that tante's cousin had just put her house up for sale in a good little town not that far from the city. I listened politely but didn't think that much about it.


Well, after viewing a shack in a swamp for a whole lot of money, and a crumbling house surrounded on three sides by railroad tracks, a rushing river, and a highway, I figured.... What the heck? So we called up the cousin. She'd gone down to the local hardware store and outfitted herself with an orange "For Sale" sign and some duct tape, which she industriously used to slap that sign to the front door.


Long story short, it had to be a God thing. We could afford the house. The house was solid, it had lots of potential, and it was big enough for all of us. Once Brian pulled up the pink linoleum, the blue carpet, and the spindles out of the wall, the place increasingly felt like our home. He worked hard and long that summer, laying laminate floor (a far cry from our hardwood, but not bad nonetheless), getting our garage built, taping, pasting, and painting. I did my part too, unpacking boxes, keeping the kids happy, painting bedrooms, and in my spare time I watched several hundred Israelite potatoe bugs sojourn from the large Mennonite garden, across the street (where many met their maker) and away to.... ? the Mennonite church? It was all a bit of a mystery to me at the time, but in retrospect I see it for what it was.


A foreshadowing.


Little had I known what August would bring. Unprepared was I for this new land. Milk and honey? sure. We were a stone's throw from the bee capital and from several billion farms. But what I had not anticipated was this bounty's underbelly.


We had moved into the land of shit and spiders.


In August all inhabitants surrender their homes and belongings to the invasion of the spiders. They spin massive webs in every window and across every available surface. They obscure light fixtures. They linger outside my kitchen window and bare their fat bellies, dashing any of my illusions of squatters going hungry. They wait patiently for the Autumn Flies to shit on every inch of the siding, windows, walls and ceilings before they snare them in their webs. After all that defacating, the flies are tired and buzz around slowly, loudly, round and round my head like a cheap horrer film. Eventually they will surrender to their greedy Autumn partner, and do the dead man dance on the web outside my window.
I suppose its true that no good thing comes without its price. Its a great little town. The people are wonderful. The schools are stellar. There's lots of green space, and just a mile out of town is one of the prettiest sights in the world: a grain field. In August its covered in the most beautiful, golden bales. There's a duck pond beside it, and a lazy little creek. There are parks in the town, a fair to attend, and the friendliest grocery store and post office.
But never, ever forget. For one month in Autumn, the town belongs to the shit and the spiders.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Life in my Head

My head feels like a disorganized three ring circus with me trying to juggle the roles of lion tamer, acrobat, (a rhythmatically-disadvantaged-mennonite-acrobat at that), clown and lion simultaneously. A train of thought begins, only to collide headlong into a vw packed with 44 monkeys twirling fire-breathing dragons. The show has begun, but there's no popcorn made, I can't find my baton, and I've just gotten a great idea for a vintage fabric circus tent. So I begin by twirling needles.


Its colourful, but dangerous.


A recurrent head theme is Clutter. It goes round and round because not only do I collect clutter in the phsysical realm, I also have a great deal of stuff rolling around figuratively, in my grey matter.


Now that "simple living" is a trendy cult, I've read enough propoganda to wonder if there's much credence to the idea of de-cluttering one's environment so that the mind can follow suit and remain on one train of thought for long enough to find some resolution. Its complicated though. I like old stuff. I like treasure hunting. I like toys- for the kids and for me. When I feel the walls closing in on me, I head out for a walk or a drive and I go see if there are any treasures for us all to enjoy. Fortunately, I donate things as freely as I replace them with others. My thrift shop pile in the garage is always high, otherwise we'd likely suffocate from stuff-itis.


Am I in some sort of a rut? Would my head clear a little if I "fasted" from this collecting obsession? The thought fills me with terror. I may as well join one of those cults where they put off going to the bathroom as some perverse attempt at self-discipline. And how many pieces of lustre ware would get away on me if I sat at home and tried to turn myself into a sensible person? How many vintage table cloths would slip by instead of becoming Mary Poppins style carpet bags? How could I possibly be happy?


In my other life in the other city, I was surrounded by the most inspired women who constantly kept me at the sewing machine churning out some exciting thing or another. I miss them severely and although I am insanely happy to be living where I am now, its a componant of my life that I miss deeply.


There's no way to sum this up.

What do you think? Is there a correlation between the stuff in one's head and the stuff in one's closets? (Well, if I had closets. I've always lived in these old, storage-free facilities.....)


Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Through a Glass, dimly

Life is bittersweet.
With love and apathy,
understanding and selfishness.

joy and knotted stomach
transparancy and bullshit peddling.

**

I'm so grateful for the people in my life who live their lives out loud. I'm so grateful for their authenticity, wisdom, joy in life, ability to cry as easily as they laugh. I'm grateful for their perspectives, their honesty, and the truth they speak in love.

I ache and wish for all the pretense to be stripped from humanity so that we could simply BE together. Love one another without fear. Lose our sense of self so that we can more adequately tune into the other selves who move amongst us. Lose the irritability, the competition, the insecurity.

Are you lucky beyond belief, as I am, to have people in your life who exemplify how different it all could be if we could lose those aspects of ourself and thereby free the ones we love to be more fully alive?

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Contests and Contestants

I shamelessly entered my name into Heather's contest because she does great work.

And I am doing eight thingies about me. Cuz its all about me. All of it.
(and Becky asked me to)

1. I once had a baby five years premature.

2. She was a boy named Graeme until the very moment she was born, but then there were some parts missing and some other parts in place, so we named her Arianna instead.

3. I can pour my own cereal.

4. Putting sunscreen on a sweaty back is horrifying to me, but I've spent years in nursing homes washing old men's nackers.

5. I ran once.

6. I'm terrified of numbers.

7. I have recurrent dreams. Sometimes they are like chapters.

8. I plant things in May or June. I kill them in July or August.