Sunday, March 30, 2008
But she couldn't have known. Would not have wanted to know.
Death came at her through living; rubbing the wheels off her satchel, taking the ease out of the transport of its contents. Death came at her in the most unusual manners, nothing like the fine print warnings she had skimmed while planning the journey. Death visited, took, and took, and took, then stole away to leave her gasping; grasping. Yet, in and out she breathed, reaching still for her luggage and moving somewhere towards what she hoped was forward.
And with each visit from death, the absence of what once was left behind something much bigger than what it took away. Each theft left a mammoth scream in its wake. A scream that was as easy to capture and tame as blistering steam from a boiling kettle. It blurred her vision, changed her perceptions, filled the spaces she tried to travel through. It was nothing she had expected. There was precious little in those suitcases for the cold and horrer, burn marks and scratches that death crippled her with. Little there for the ache, the questions, the surprise of the thousands of mini deaths that followed, like the aftershocks of a turbulant earthquake.
The information kiosks kept changing. The boundry lines kept shifting. The escalaters moved up and down simultaneously. The handbook was riddled with mystery, the itinerary obsolete. Agents approached her constantly with offers of remedies, potions, comforts, distractions.
She regarded them cautiously. She found herself wary, dubious, guarded.
And she craved for something more. Something so sure, that when death snatched her carry-on and cargo, this deepness could not be taken. Something so known, so deep, that her destination was something she carried infallibly with her. Something so unswerving that her burns and scratches no longer defined her. She wore them; they did not own her.
She did what she could with what she had, all the while stretching, and reaching out for something more.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Thursday, March 27, 2008
How could I say "no", and directly after Easter too?! I don't imagine poor Abram had much self esteem left, after being passed over for fetching wood and water, and then the hardest blow of all: not hiding coloured eggs in the snow encrusted villages of Manitoba and the greater world.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Having recently PURCHASED A PINK SEWING MACHINE!! ... I think I may be ready to call it a life. This proud new owner has been
Here's how it all went down. Our humble town has become somewhat of a suburb of late. We've got all these swanky new uptown developments with cul de sacs and fancy bay names and goose dropping lakes behind walk-out basements. Keeping up with the Joneses, so to speak, our humble little thrift shop started to feel a bit cramped and inferior. So it did what any good money scrimping Mennonite organization would do. It bought the old chicken murdering spot and covered the blood splatters and wet feathers with new carpet and lead paint. Then the volunteers and cast-off distributers hoarded stuff for a few months and carefully arranged it tidily in the killing-field-turned-mission-field thrift shop.
Much to my dismay, I couldn't make it to the grand opening on March 11. I did a great deal of deep breathing (and even considered deep knee bends but thought better of it), to ward off the stress- imagining all those less deserving people scooping up all the good stuff. As soon as possible, I did make my way downtown to check out the new digs. There, way up on a self above the fortrel fabric scraps was the most beautiful piece of machinery in the whole world. I almost had to walk away. The visual stimulation was too much, and I was already clutching the mother load of old carded buttons. "Self", I said. "This is a machine. This machine is much bigger than a button, or a bedspread that you could at least justify by turning into a Darfur bag or a summer tent, or a parasail or something. One does not simply wander into a store one day and pick up a sewing machine. It is not done. It is not sensible. It is not necessary".
And so I listened. I took my buttons home, played with them, lined them up, put them in a pretty coloured dish and feasted my eyes on them.
And then I thought about the pink sewing machine.
The following week, I went back into the store. I wandered around, chatted with the townspeople, kissed the babies, and pretended to be casual about the machine high up on the shelf. "Probably really heavy", I told myself. "You already have two sewing machines, you know. You've got your bernina- undeniably the least stupid thing you've ever invested in. You've also got your old black singer that came in the great old treddle cupboard. Now you're just being ridiculous. Go home, make some borscht or something".
So, once again I listened. All the way to the following Saturday- when some mysterious gravitational force propelled me back down main street, entirely against my will. I pretended to look at the dishes, the bedspreads, the toys, all the while knowing that I was being controlled by a force much greater than my own. A force so powerful, that I soon found myself not only standing beside the pink beauty once again, but reaching upwards to lay hands upon it. "Wouldn't hurt to look at it. I'll see that it's much too heavy to be sensible, that the price is inflated, and that the bobbin winder is hopelessly broken. Then I'll go home and do something sensible like sew nappies for the poor or something. On the two machines that I already have".I got it down from the high shelf. I laid it on the floor. I chewed my cuticles. My heart began to sing and pound and I felt I could have danced all night. (but then I reoriented to time and place.... BAD idea.) There was a piece of fabric underneath the presser foot that indicated perfect tension. There was a lovely metal banner splashed across its bosom boasting "American Home". There was no price tag, so I thought it best to approach the manager. Surely she would see that I was interested in the thing and she would automatically inflate the price, being mindful of those far, far away mission places that needed my money more than I do.
She whispered "twenty-five dollars" into my hungry little ear.
I remembered that I had four children to feed, Easter lillies to buy, and soccer, basketball, flute, and youth retreat fees to pony up. I remembered whining about those very things only a few short lifetimes earlier. They rang emptily in my head at I gazed at that little vixen.
I simply had to have it. Sure, I had a white one, and a black one, but a PINK one? Never even seen such a thing. I remembered that $35.00 I had won in December for the local paper's writing contest. I remembered saying that I would use that money for something monumental, since I would always think of it as the first money I made piecing words together.
Surely this was providence.
Surely, this machine could not belong in any home other than this one. Not only is it precise, and deluxe, and pink.... it operates like a dream. I kid you not.
There are a few quirks. The foot pedal is not a foot pedal at all, but a knee pedal. In its original form, it came in a sewing case or cupboard and the pedal was mounted to the side for the right knee to operate. Because the cupboard is no longer in existance, but my determination is in season, and abundant... I spent some time learning how to hold the fabric with my left hand, and operate the pedal and the reverse button simultaneously with my right hand.
Might have to look into the feasability of grafting a third arm onto self.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
How I love you. How I wish I could keep you. But my heart is so very big, that I choose for you a better life, one that will afford you the possibility of priveleges beyond this scope.
Live wisely, little button.
Remember that your cousin will be living a life of unbridled excitement in Norway, and will keep you forever in her thoughts. I am pleased to comfort myself with the knowledge that you will always be near me, and when we meet at the grocery store, I will contain myself and not embarrass you publicly with my tears. I will bow my head and shuffle by, and remember that you have a new mommy now. Perhaps from time to time, she will allow me to hold and cuddle you and remember the times we shared.
But you, dear little button, keep strong. Do not easily become undone.
You will always be a part of me.
When I first embarked on operating a home daycare, I opened the door to any age and stage of child. I had a small group of kids who came here in the morning on their way to school, and I had another small group of children who came to spend their days with me. The mornings were very busy, and typically loud. The television would be on, the frying pans and milk would be out, and large children would be outside bottoming out the trampoline and wrecking my little tykes wagon. (yes, that's bitterness that you sense). Then summer would come along, and I'd have this disparent bunch of kids ranging from diaper-poopers to wagon-bashers. I did my best to grow an extra two brains, seven more arms, and rig up some sort of program that made the older kids think this was a stellar place to play, and make the younger kids make happy sounds instead of whiney, needy sounds.
Mostly, all eight of my heads would hurt, and I felt chronically incapable at following the bouncing babes.
I don't like to say "no". And I don't like to give the message of rejection.
But. I like liking my job.
So, I began to fine tune. First I received no more school age children. Then I encouraged the ones I had to find other arrangements. Then I just started chasing them down the street screaming unkind things like: dummy, yella-bellied snakeskin, sissy... and your mom. And I'd throw moldy baloney sandwhiches at them. Okay, I never did those last two things because I figured I wouldn't get great references that way, and that's what it's all about.
Slow and steady, those spots got filled with little people. My favourite. Kids who play puppy, think a walk is comparable to a week in Cuba, kids who are so secure in themself that they see no issue in pooping their pants, or puking on my $25.00 couch. I thought it was mostly all adorable, and much prefer it to wagon-crushing fifth graders. They think it's hilarious when I answer their "What's for lunch?" question with the politically incorrect retort; "Lips and bums!"
This morning at 7:00 am as I melted into the couch sandwhiched between a cabbage-patch faced little toddler, and a slobbering, furry little puppy, I revelled in the loveliness of it. I didn't miss the plate spinning mania of the years before. I didn't miss the couch lined up with big kids making fun of Sesame Street. In fact, the tv stayed off, and the house was so peaceful that I had to go wake up the daughter not once, but three times.
The puzzles and the blocks would be exciting enough entertainment today. As would animal crackers and fruit and veggie juice served in mini happy face mugs. No one would be bursting in the back door at 4:00 expecting a craft and a snack that rivalled what they'd had in their lunchbag hours back. My jokes would be funny enough, my videos wonderfully lacking in suspense.
No matter if I'm a late bloomer, it's mighily rewarding to get a little assertive, make some changes, and learn to say "no" when it's the correct answer.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
I have an insatiable need to buy toys, especially small sets of toys. I love them, but I hate them so badly. There is hardly a child in the world who will take out a set of toys, set them up, and play with them as a set. What children actually do is take bins of toys, and dump them out, and trip over them. Or, they load up a backpack, picnic basket, or grocery bags with many, many parts of many, many sets of toys. When that bores them, they dump out the backpack and throw it across the room. Older children open up hide-a-beds, unfold ten thousand blankets and pillows, and sprinkle all that, PLUS all those small sets of toys, with ketchup chips. Crumbled ketchup chips.
Nothing, NOTHING, nothing makes a child more pumped with expectation than when a grown up spends fify-four hours separating chip from ball; plastic couch from pez dispenser, re-loads them all back into their appropriate box or bin, and vacuums the whole mess. Nope. That kid just about lights up at the anticipation of scrambling all that up again into a tangled mess of dice and dolly dresses.
I get so crazy, that I rant this about how I am going to throw all sorts of toys into a large box and give it to the poor. Or the sane. Or a rottweiler. And how I will force the children to sit and watch as the rottweiler salivates and gobbles up all those delicious toys. Okay, well I dream about ranting like that.
And then I sigh and get out the vacuum cleaner. Actually, the vacuum cleaners. I have a similar relationship to vacuum cleaners as I do to couches. When I moved out about twenty-one years ago, I asked my dad to find me a half decent vacuum at the thrift shop. Then, whenever it quit for any reason, I returned it to my dad and demanded a lifetime warranty. Dad always gets it going again. But recently the powerhead, which he has already revived numerous times... died again. As luck would have it, I was visiting my sister who was shamelessly boasting about her hedonistic purchase of a retail vacuum that actually sucked dirt out of her carpet!! (she used to strictly adhere to the $17.00 mcc model as I do, but has recently backslidden). I faked joy for her sake, but quickly turned the conversation to whether the powerhead on her old model still worked. I did not leave for home empty handed.
Well, her powerhead works, but the rest of the vacuum sucks. Actually, it doesn't really suck, which a problem when, as a vacuum, that IS your destiny in life.
So. Not only are there fifty-gazillon-katty-rillion toys on the floor, but there are two vacuum cleaners. One for the powerhead, and one for the linoleum.
And I hate both of them.
Along with my hate for all the toys surrounding them.
But I am inexplicably compelled to return the paper money to the drawer in the kitchen centre, the plastic shields to the dress-up bin, the blocks to the box, the animals to the barn, the dolls to the crib, the &^#$@! video games to the console, each precious light brite peg to the game box, (okay, I lie. I take perverse pleasure in vacuuming those little beasts up), the bratz head (which wasn't MY IDEA, ROSA) to the shelf, giving her a good hard smack in the skinny belly and siloconed lips, just to soften my resentment..... Then I restack the books, gather the plastic cutlery, pick up the chalk for the board, separate them from the dry erase markers, rescue 49 buttons which have fallen to the floor, put the bread I bought last Wednesday into the freezer, and lovingly return the catapult to the castle.
And I know what you're thinking, you self-righteous, superior beings, you. That the children should be trained. That my children are old enough to clean up after themselves. That I should be less materialistic and have fewer toys, and instead set the children up with endive and scissors; henna and plasticine. That I should stop accumlating things, organize my day better so that there wasn't constantly piles and piles of stuff to clean up.
But I love the little dishes. The fabric aprons, the old wedding gowns in the dress-up. I love play mobil, horsies on sticks, teeney- tiny plastic strollers. And I try to make the kids responsible for their own clean-up.
how I try.
Monday, March 17, 2008
Is she out to get me?
Saturday, March 15, 2008
What meanings have we attached to our physical self that have nothing to do with arms, legs, or bellies but which we are utterly convinced do? That somehow the weight we do or do not carry there reflect or impact our lives in significant ways? That if it were different..... something big... relieving, redemptive, reassuring would finally happen. The ache would be less achey. Sadness would have an end. Or at the very least; the raw ends would have a casing. Something to rest behind; to be contained within.
Why does arm-i-jello cause a sudden lurch of panic in the stomach? What does it mean to the soul when that size you used to be is not the size that you now are? And why does the intellect have such stunted influence on the thinking process? One would speculate that the intellect and the thinker would be one and the same- sharing the same cranium and all. Yet, it is frustratingly possible to "tell yourself something" and yet not to live in accordance with it as true, or permanent. It evokes the image of a damaged short term memory- what you intellectually know to be true must be spoken and respoken and told again to your thinker before your behavior changes at all.
Popular culture has brainwashed us into believing that if we control and manipulate the shapes of our bodies; our lives will radiate with success. We will have accomplished something of great value. If nothing else, then at least we are not fat.
People die for that cause. And all along the way to dying, they are grasping for this accomplishment that will validate their living.
Friday, March 14, 2008
Well, actually, one teeney tiney area. And although it is typically dust-free, it doesn't exactly qualify as "clean".
But it gets bathed daily.
Then mixed up with some delicious ground up roasted beans.
Then heated up and dripped to perfection.
If the bookshelf is crusted in dust; does that mean I should read books while I drink coffee, so that the shelf gets cleaned as well as the coffee maker?!
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Yesterday there was no school for the three offspring. I anticipated their presence as loud and ill-begotten of a daycare lady's standards. I anticipated that the combination of the
pre-schoolers, and the boy-named-Micah to be full of hilarity, noise, some more noise, and several dashes of chaos.
Yesterday wasn't like that at all. It was one of those lovely, sunshiney, I-can't-believe-there-are-kids-in-the-house days.
Today, on the other hand, has been deafening. Some mother in her infinite wisdom, thought it caring to send a child's electronic keyboard along; complete with fifty-million tunes and sound combinations. This encouraged physical movement known in the greater world as "dancing" but which in the presence of wired preschoolers soon descends into the contraband world of wrestling.
The rest of the time they played puppies. These were ill-behaved puppies who didn't know their outside yapping from their inside barking. The kids who were not puppies and crawling about my feet looking for pats on the head; were tired real-life children who wanted to be held.
Tonight, after everyone goes to bed, I'm going outside all by myself, lying on the snow, and howling at the moon.
Monday, March 10, 2008
Two blocks from home I begin a chant.
Turn your chubba into muscle.... turn your chubba into muscle.....
Then I break into a little bit of a run. After all, only a few short years ago, Shelli and I used to lap around town only stopping once or twice for a breather.
Now I urinate myself and fall gasping into the snow after a block. My feet start to hurt.
I stop to tuck my thighs into my sport socks and to regroup. I glance at the houses along this frozen stretch- wary of cameras pressed up against the frosty panes and worry about what may make it into next month's Town Bulletin. These things take time, I tell myself. Give yourself a few weeks to look graceful in running shoes. Besides, your little jaunt was on the road parallel to the railway tracks- unlikely that the townspeople have turned off American Idol to laugh at you instead. Try to remain focussed. Turn your chubba into muscle...
Determined to turn thunder thighs into admirable pillars of steel, I brace myself against the wind and start out again, undeterred by motion sickness from my thighs rhythmically slapping together. I start thinking about people I know who are genetically blessed with thighs that don't fall in pleats. I begin to hate them. I daydream about how to see my mother's legs without a long housedress covering them so I'll know whether to give up four blocks from home, or keep going. She's been walking a few miles every day after supper for about thirty years now. If she still looks like hog fat bludgenoned by a disoriented woodpecker, I'll cut my losses and go home for ice cream. Big sigh. I'll never see my mother's thighs.
By now I'm employing my ice pick to navigate the peaks crusting up the bike path in the soccer park. I'm limping, as my impulse I'm going-to-get-in-shape-right-stinkin'-now running shoes are making my heels blister. The arches are rebelling. The legs are chaffing. My brain is shaken and discouraged.
If I'd stayed at home and only intended on exercising, I wouldn't be so painfully aware of how completely flaccid my internals have become. I could imagine myself training for a half marathon, running like a wild stallion, the wind in my hair.
I've been so well behaved of late. I've not been buying old fabrics compulsively at any and all thrift shops. Nope. When I get the urge to don my camis and go out hunting I say; "Self, what you need to do if you have a bit of time on your hands is to sit down at your best friend the bernina, and turn some of those tablecloths, bedspreads, corduroy pants, and tea towels into messenger bags."
And weirdly, "self" has been obedient.
I've been selling the bags at a pretty steady pace, but have the plan to stockpile for future projects. So, I began a third blog called: Darfur Project: Ecclectic Bags. (www.bags4darfur.blogspot.com) It is in its infancy but the intent is to show the currently available bags if anyone wants to browse. Eventually I will get off my duff and set up an etsy account. But I hate learning new things. I don't much like sticking my neck out because I hate getting slapped there.
So far, limping along and doing it my own bumbling way seems to working out ok. I could spend a whole bunch of time (and will, eventually) on working on the Darfur blog, but I want to spend my little available time doing a whole bunch of sewing, because I really, really miss thrift shopping.....
Has anybody heard any progress on my proposal for the 47 hour day?
ps. some of you have noticed a third blog called "All the Rest". No one is invited. It's utter rubbish that I spout when I don't want to be toxic to people around me. Believe me, you don't want to know.
Thursday, March 06, 2008
My daughter Jane and I are heading off on the big yellow bus this morning to spend two days and a night at Camp Arnes with all the grade six students. We're going to learn about outdoor survival, do a little cross country skiing, and generally freezing off our gluteous maximuses.
Our stupid dog, who is just barely starting to pee pee and poo poo outdoors, will now regress at mach speed- gloriously alone in the house and sprinkling and immersing the place with wild abandon.
Brace yourself for pictures and random philosophizing about 12 year old mini-people in the grips of hormone marinade.
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
What I see: An average human being picking up the puzzle pieces, day after day, and slowly but surely seeing a picture get put together. Not so different from you, your neighbor, and your paper boy.
You see a little boy who doesn't know his bum from applesauce. You see a little boy who is wearing bottoms on his noggin.
What you see: An adorable puppy dog. Bringing play and love to the family. Endearing us all with her wide-eyed wonder and soft little puppy fur, and wiggy waggy tail.