Sunday, December 30, 2007

Hildebrand Christmas

The day started out maniacal enough. I'd stayed up until 12:30 making the gin-inspired bag and trying to choose some photos that I could get printed for grandma Hildebrand before our Christmas celebration the following morning. Learning new techy stuff always takes too much time. So I got up at 8:00 and started all over again. Trying to learn.

I managed to order a photo of the boys wearing underwear on their heads and a black and white of the girls that they thought was acceptable and not completely revolting. I'm sure that was worth the approximately five hours I spent on it..... And it left me with just enough time to rush out to the bookstore and purchase a gift that I knew I needed to get since last Thanksgiving..... It just isn't easy choosing something for someone you really don't know... is fourteen.... and ultra conservative. I landed up with a novel depicting a family of Amish children. Pretty pathetically obvious that I was terrified to offend.

Then off to the gas station to top up that thirsty old tank. Wouldn't Brian be pleased at how I took care of all the finer details in life? Especially when my debit card refused to work, and I was forced to back out of the store slowly, uttering sheepish apologies, and promising to rush right back.; after all, my house was only two blocks away. and I'd be back..... just as soon as I found out which pair of my pants had my other, more reliable card in its right buttcheek pocket.

That's when I proudly realized that I'd locked the keys in the van.

Yes, folks! She has blocked the one-way gas traffic, she refuses to pay her bill, and now she's just going to skip along home, dragging her sorry ass behind her, trying to run with all that eggnog coagulating in her thighs. She's going to RUN AWAY from the gas station. RUN to find her credit card. RUN back to move that van, pay that bill, and still get home in time to pack the puppy, the kids, the gifts, the this and the thats. I think her husband will surely arise and call her blessed.

And did I mention that I'd not quite finished Christmas shopping? Oh, the jen/gin bag was done, and the funfun Amish book was bought, the catapult lego was packed, and the lameoid in-law gift was good to go. But we still had to stop at wal-mart to get those glamour shots of the boys, and a gift card for that special someone. oh, and some toilet paper. Some matters take no pause, regardless of the virgin birth.

But I was reminded soon enough of how the relentless march of life doesn't pause for any reason . We learned shortly after our arrival that our brother-in-law's father had suddenly died just minutes prior to our arrival. Not long after that, another family member excused himself to go deal with a nasty domestic violence issue in his extended family.

And I felt terribly sad. Sad for all the losses, all the injustices, all the inevitable pain that comes of loving people, all the enabling we do out of ignorance. Sad for Ken, for what might have been. Sad for ambiguous losses, measurable losses, immeasurable losses. Sad for how little we can really do to help anyone at times. Sad for all the loss still left to come.

This doesn't tidily segue back into the beginning of the post. The part about sideshow Joyce bubbling her way into a Christmas gathering. And in a way, that's just exactly the way life goes. While running home for your "good card", someone somewhere else is beating the crap out of his wife. Someone somewhere else is having their body ravaged with leukemia.

There are so many simultaneous realities, so much sadness, so much hilarity in this life.
And there isn't a cozy or amusing way to sum that up.

Friday, December 28, 2007

What do You Get When You Cross a Gin With a Jen?

Well, if its the night before Christmas with the husband's side of the family..... and you never really ate supper, but the gin was good, and it went down pretty nice with some leftover Christmas baking.... You just might land up with a bag like that.

Do you think a teetotaler-ing relative will love a gin insired Bible bag?!

Thursday, December 27, 2007


I've mentally written a hundred or so posts. But there is self editing issues, time issues, am-I-prepared-for-disagreement? issues, and I-hate-effexor issues.

So, for now, I've hidden myself away in my room to the smells of Brian cooking, and the strains of my trademark Kenny Rogers Christmas in Kentucky cassette tape. I've nauseated myself on that tape every Christmas for a pretty long stretch now.

Christmas elicits a lot of stuff. Good stuff, fattening stuff, emotional stuff, exhausting stuff, messy stuff. So much processed (that would be the fattening stuff) and ever-so-much UN-processed.(mostly deposits inside the cranial space). Hence, the fear of writing at all.

But writing is so helpful. It's like getting some great shelving in big-old-house closet. You know those weird, badly designed after-thought-closets that can only be made useful with some splendid shelving idea? Well, that's kind of how I see writing. You lay out all the stuff, then you figure out what stays, what goes, and what cubby hole to tuck some other things into until a relevant time. Messy, though.

Lets begin with family life. When my anxiety/irritability index is on the higher end of the scale, I tend to perceive my immediate family with mild to moderate and then into finger-nail-off-ripping panic. I berate myself for all the better parenting I should have known about and practised starting from 13.5 years ago and into the present. I wonder about my current parenting status- what am I right now screwing up or missing that I'll be beating myself up for 13.5 years from now when one or two of my adult children are living off of frozen pizza pops and cheezies in my basement? What important questions am I neglecting to ask them right now? What investments of time, energy, listening... whatever am I currently too preoccupied or selfish or lazy to put into play? Why do my children appear to be bored and have no apparent clue of how to occupy themselves within 25 hours of a fullblown, generous, exciting Christmas?! Why does my son have roughly ten billion lego sets in his room, yet wander from fridge to couch to microwave to computer screen, even if he knows that he can not log on until 2:00 pm? Is his brain so completely mushified that he is content to do the boredom wander for five hours for one blessed hour of computer time?!

I think I need to talk about hemmorroids or hairy nipples for a while. This offspring topic is really stressing me out.

Or, we could indulge ourselves in the other hot topic that's about to get a tonne of air time. FAT. Are you ready? You are about to get hit with a barage of propoganda, yes, even more than usual. Because after a few weeks of overindulging anybody with so much as a "D" in marketing knows that we want to listen to 23.5 hours a day of information on how to lose weight, look like you spend all your time working out, and never ever be hungry or sad or lonely or needy or confused again. And this begs the question(s). Which "team" are we on? Are we going to get sucked into that giant vortex? Are we going to snivel around guiltily bemoaning all those pots of gold, birdies with cranberry, deeply fried fondues, and all the gloriously lazing sitting about we did over the Christmas break? Are we going to follow stupidly behind every exercise guru who prompts us to sculpt and lipo and flex and sweat?

Are we going to look around for permission to be lumpy? chubby? saggy?

ooh, boy. Who knows another topic?
Thoughts, anyone on too-much-thinking-at-Christmas? how about this question: What is preoccupying your brain these days? Give me three. And if you are one of those gals or fellas who doesn't over analyze to hemoraging proportions, then do me a favour and fake it.

Throw me a bone.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A Few Of My Favourite Things

We just love our little baby Shadow. She is completely delightful, she gives the girls something to agree on, she's too young to be yappy, and contrary to what people warned; it is NOT just like having a humanchild baby. Here's the difference: I get to keep my shirt on at all times- DRY, and as far as I know, its not illegal to lock her in the bathroom and go out for dinner.

This year, I fully embraced the last minute. I worked on more than one gift within the 12 to 24 hour period before the moment I wrapped and delivered those gifts. I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it.

My nieces got chenille pillowcases with their names on them, (unphotographed), my friend Cheri got a framed "raggy anne" (unphotographed), there was the last minute bag that is shown above, and I did a few button collages. There was no pressure, since these were not obligatory gifts, but something that I simply wanted to spend time doing. That time became available after 5:30 pm friday when I knew that my stretch of daycare holidays began.

Brian and I went to the mall on Christmas Eve. That was a highlight, because I love watching the culture of Christmas.
We spent a tonne of time at Chapters where I found a fabulous book on ideas with textiles. Brian bought me the sweetest mug, which has housed an unholy amount of Baileys and coffee since that day.
The girls bought me gifts this year. It was good, because we went to the thrift shop together a few weeks before Christmas and found a number of really great old things. Then the girls wrapped them up and kept them under the tree until Christmas morning. I got a really great pair of tiny, ancient boy's skates which are hung on my front door with a supermagnet from Lee Valley. Jane got me those amazing vintage bulbs in the photo. They are so exquisate that I can hardly bear to look at them. Arianna got me an old bundt cake pan that is perfectly perfect for storing buttons in, an old sparkly star for the Christmas tree, an enamel bowl, and some other stuff. Its a great gift to see your children grow in thoughtfulness for others.

Then if that wasn't amazing enough.... This morning I had the privelege of meeting two fabulous women (Leah,and Leanne ) who happen to be the faces behind two blogs that you can find in my links. If that wasn't amazing enough to have such a wonderful time visiting and listening and cuddling babies in their presence.... It was in the home of my dear cousin Rosella, whom I love more all the time. Her kids have grown into these dads and moms with interesting brains, who chose lovely wives and husbands, and are bringing lovely, sweet children into our world.

And those are just a few of my favourite things this Christmas. I've not mentioned the amazing curry we've eaten, the Christmas eve candlelight service, trying to skate after a lot of winters of not skating, Sammy air banding to "Frosty the Snowman", Micah's new racetrack from uncle Mel, seeing my nieces at grandma and grandpa Kehler's, spending time ALONE (seriously one of my mostest favouritest things), taking my daughter to FutureShop at 5:30 this morning, sleeping with a wee puppy, not potty training other people's children, my crazy stash of gifts from my generous and kind daycare people, playing with fabric and buttons, stacking my new books that I can't wait to read, getting the fridge cleaned out after a seriously long hiatus, drinking wine with every meal, or without a meal, not being bound to the clock, letting Brian do the cooking....................

Friday, December 21, 2007

Pot'o'Gold Day

Today is pot of gold day.
Actually, today is pot'o'gold AND puppy day.

When Brian graduated from Brandon University, we had two very young daughters, and a son soon to come. Unfortunately there was not an abundance of teaching jobs to be had at the time. We muddled through another four or five years of piecing together casual jobs, substitute teaching, and term positions before Brain got his first full year term teaching early years.

The first exciting thing we transitioned into was eating suppers as a family. I think me and the kids had eaten our way through many a McGavins factory eating toast and peanut butter before Brian started showing up for dinner and I discovered that our kitchen contained a fully functioning stove and range. (well.... except when it wasn't functioning....)

Quite possibly the second most exciting event became pot'o'gold day. This is a highly under-celebrated national event whose time has come for some unapologetic adulation. Now that Brian is a bonified teacher, who actually teaches, and regularly gets generously compensated for his wisdom and creativity, We Too have been ushered into the holy rites of pot'o'gold celebratory practise.

On the very last day of school, when the children begin to engage in unabashed fantasy of bionicles and bratz and broken oh henry bars; our school leaders quietly commiserate to torture our children endlessly with large screen tvs and twenty thousand dozen home baked cookies. Some thoughtful caregiver will throw a bag of ketchup chips into their child's backpack to share with the class. All that white, refined sugar needs an antidote: deeply fried, chemical smeared crispets drenched in blood pressure altering salt.

But I digress.

While the teachers patiently endure a long day of macaroons and chips, Christmas oranges and pepsi, the traditions of pot'o'gold are simultaneously unfolding. Children come before their leader and offer sacrifices of: Christmas mugs their parents received from their company Christmas last year and always hated, handmade drawings, depicting their beloved teacher deep in a well in wintertime, tins of homemade fudge and rumballs, (well.... rumballs only if you live in the catchment within thirty minutes of the big,bad, dirty city. Or, if you live in a town that has so strayed from its pacifist roots that it actually closets off a portion of its grocery store to sell the evil ingredient within...) Then there are the candy canes, the handmade tree ornaments, the dreaded "teachers are the bestest" paraphenalia, some nummy packets of coffee, and of course, some pot'o'golds.

Brian comes home at the end of that day with a look of relief verging on utter kleenex soaking, emotional breakdown and carrying a large box containing the year's booty. I hand him a beer, and then the kids and I lose all sense of reason. We pull out each offering, ooohing and aaaahhing and smacking and licking. We sigh and sort and stack and weep from the sheer joy of it. We stretch out on the davenport and feed one another samples of pinkinsides, orangeinsides, mocha, and caramel. We indulge in candycane flavoured hot chocolate mix slurped out of
#1 teacher mugs, sniffing the air for rich coffee and biscotti.

But this year, we will add a brand new element.
Tonight, at the departure of Joyce's last daycare cherub, we will open the door to a new family member. A small, furry, black-haired, blue-eyed baby dog named Shadow.

Now, change is never easy and I have been warned. A puppy is much like a humanchild infant. But this change should entail entirely new challenges, since from what I hear, a dog can not tolerate chocolate. No, a mere morsal of chocolate can be fatal to a wee dog.

But, like the lion and the lamb, and the spring that surely follows the winter, I will press on. This year, will be pot'o'gold AND puppy day. I feel sure of it.

Because on pot'o'gold day, Anything is possible.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Is It Getting Hot in Here... Or is it Just Me?!

Its gonna be hard to hobnob with the every day citizen, now that I'm a hot celebrity. Yep, did I mention PUBLISHED, hot celebrity? I'll likely have to dye my hair black and wear a cap just to get to the Co-op and buy a paper. Likely the National Post next time, or maybe MacLeans (Most influential people.... I suspect). The Times is another option I would consider, maybe Jeez magazine, probably the Cosmopolotan. Just not the Winnipeg Sun.

Oh, its gonna be hard to be humble, now that fame has spread to the highways, the biways, the bigways, the darps, the villes, and the orts. I must be careful to supplement my wardrobe with items other than ugly sweaters and newsprint. I must not forget the responsibilities that come with fame and prestige. I have mouths that must be fed, relationships to maintain.
No, this prairie girl will never forget from whence she came, no matter where the paparazzi will take her.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas Carols for the Differently-Psychiatrically-Abled

Schizophrenia: Do you hear what I hear?

Multiple Personality Disorder: We Three Kings Disoriented Are

Dementia: I Think I'll Be Home For Christmas

Narcissistic: Hark the Herald Angels Sing About Me

Manic: Deck the Halls and Walls and House and Lawn and Streets and Stores and Office and Town and Cars and Busses and Trucks and Trees and Fire Hydrants and.....

Paranoid: Santa Claus is Coming to Get Me

Borderline Personality Disorder: Thoughts of Roasting on an Open Fire
Personality Disorder: You Better Watch Out, I'm Gonna Cry, I'm Gonna Pout, Maybe I'll Tell You Why

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells........

* sent to me some years ago.... seems many of us can relate...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Coming off Heroin

her·o·in [ hérrō in ]

addictive narcotic: a white powder derived from morphine that is a highly addictive narcotic drug. It is prohibited for medical use in most countries. ( often used before a noun ) a heroin addict
[Late 19th century. < German]
Spelling Note
heroin or heroine? Do not confuse the spelling of heroin and heroine, which sound similar. Heroin is an addictive drug, as in heroin users, an overdose of heroin. A heroine is a brave woman or girl or the main woman or girl character of a novel, play, or movie.

It started on a bicycle, on the cusp of winter, cycling away from a band concert carrying three bags of miscellaneous things that apparently were vital to my very survival. The car had been stolen from the exit of the school gym by its rightful owner and I'd jumped out of the van my relatives were driving when I recognized the inherent danger therein. I made my way across the frozen lake, into a grove of trees that would serve as our shelter through the night. The bags had multiplied into a backpack, a tall hat, dress shoes, mittens, and three babies. I sat at the edge of the lake, washing mittens until daybreak while the babies guarded the bicycle. That's when we noticed that the lake had thawed and we'd never make it to the discount grocery store for chocolate chips in time for a tour of the museum in fifteen minutes.

Have to find another way.

We began to hike into the trees, picking parsley for sustenance and trying not to lose infants in the underbrush. That's when we saw the old farm "half-ton" truck. A little rusty, reminiscent of dad in healthier days, and clearly not an off road vehicle.

But I had to play the trombone at the museum. Or I'd lose my job. and there was that miniature chest of drawers at that out-of-the-way thrift shop for only four dollars. There was no denying it. I would have to find a way out. A way to survive.

I had no keys. I had three babies. I'd lost my mittens.

And it begs the question:

heroin or heroine? Heroin is an addictive drug, as in heroin users, an overdose of heroin. A heroine is a brave woman or girl or the main woman or girl character.........

Friday, December 14, 2007

Thursday, December 13, 2007

junior high band concerts (and She Rants; Indiscriminately)

My teeth have been bothering me, which may become a greater issue after grinding them down to sharp nubules just for the distraction of feeling some other form of pain.

Is it really in the community's best interest to generate potential for mass rioting via the cacophony of hormone fueled blasting and squeaking; whilst confined to an enclosed space without adequate exits and air flow?! Not to speak of the prairie storm cooking outdoors, threatening to trap us indoors without sufficient caffiene or chocolate until spring thaw?

Ah, yes, Winter. Such a pretty concept. So lovely in photographs. Its not dissimilar from weaning oneself off of antidepressants, coffee, and sex in one single, solitary afternoon while sitting on a polyester cushion in a choir loft at a Mennonite funeral. Let's try to market that idea for a moment. For the next four to six months, you will be essentially trapped in your home, with four to seven preschoolers, inadequate sunlight, with moon sand and playdough as the only toys of choice. You will be susceptible to a rare form of scurvy, brought on by the desparation of entrapment- the symptoms which include: rampant cellulite exaccerbated by a compulsion to eat ice cream with chocolate sauce, frozen almond bark, potfuls of mashed potatoes and chili, while gripping a mug of caffienne and rolling from side to side on a twenty dollar couch, groping about for a remote control. The initial symptoms to watch for include: noise sensitivity, teeth grinding, nail biting, cluttered-counter-itis-ness, wheezing, screaming, and foaming at one's mouth..... swearing, hoarding, bathing, irritability, complete loss of capacity to reason, smudged windows (symptomatic of banging one's head repeatedly, crying WHY, WHY, WHY? and gazing toward the south in hopes of the sighting of some Canada goose making the trek back and heralding the arrival of spring....)

Contrary to what you may read in popular propoganda; there is no real cure.

The only treatments are symptomatic. Optimistic organizations plan indoor events to help pass the time and to bring "at risk" individuals into community, hoping to provide support and stem the inevitable flow of mentally and physically affected townspeople from reaking havoc in the drifts of society.

Some of the more popular ideas include band concerts.
Followed closely by Mennonite funerals, church conferences which speak of romance in jungles far far away with no snow, and seminars in which one is challenged to give up food, sex, fossil fuels, and Sorels and just spend more time indoors,


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Today I Just Wanna.....

(and it's nothing spectacular...)

I want to play the artist today. Go into my room, chain smoke, run my fingers through my hair, sigh deeply, get up to refill my coffee cup.....

Maybe by two oclock I could write something brilliant or sew something stupendous.

I want to mend Micah's pants, which ALL have blown knees, except the ones that he says are dorky because they have the wrong colour stripe on them and he refuses to wear them.

I want to work on the five or so bags that I'd like completed for Christmas. I want space for my mind to wander, to get lost in my buttons, fabric, piecing.

I want to wander over to the church, sans kids, and lose myself in the decorating of the place.

I want to vacuum the porch, which is quite gritty.

I want to stop clearing the same $^%$# stretch of kitchen counter which is never actually cleared, only partially cleared, and only just barely in time to prepare more ^%$%^& food for some individual who will surely starve if they are not fed that moment.

I want the individual who invented the sadistic, perverse concept of "moon sand" to be relocated to a small, desert island.

I want a decent backrub.

I don't want any super-sympathetic comments because I know that I'm being dramatic and that my life is really terrific. So, ROSE, this may be your oppurtunity to leave me one of those "get over yourself" comments.....

Monday, December 10, 2007

On Loving People

I've come across a few instances in my blogging life where people choose to go into the "witness relocation program", pack up their virtual online life, and start all over again somewhere else under an assumed identity. Either that, or just sort of vanish. Its not difficult to understand. Talk about a platform for worldwide misinterpretation and vulnerability- providing an oppurtunity for every tom, dick and harry to tell you what your problem is and why you should take it elsewhere.

But there's more than one parallel to "real life". Who doesn't hide behind something? Who isn't afraid on some level of people's judgements, hatred, misunderstanding?

Life as a human is chock full of relationships. And it doesn't take any amount of insight to know that loving people is a quagmire of complications, subject to perspective bound interpretations.

Which brings me to God, and love, and authenticity. The more you allow life to grow you, the more people you love. The more people you allow into your heart, the more your heart expands to allow for the numbers. The more people taking up your heart space, the more you realize how much pain, ugliness, disappointment, and sorrow there is in this life. The more you recognize its existance, the more you want to be useful in some capacity, to ease the pain, to be part of a solution, but ironically, you simultaneously realize that you can "help" no one, that you are utterly bound in your own selfishness and stunted desires and distracting mind games.

Which brings me back to God. And back to the question about how do we people want to live these lives we've been given? I've got to say, that for myself, despite the pain and sense of powerlessness, I wouldn't have it any other way- at least when I think of the richness brought about through human relationships. What wealth we share in terms of beauty in a whole bunch of broken people desiring to give one another a hand up and a shoulder to cry on, and some stuff to laugh about- Together. It provides a sense that God is very creative and makes all sorts of different people for all sorts of different reasons.

On Sunday at church, I listened to a fitting teaching about God and His sense of direction. How the Spirit of Jesus speaks in ways we can each hear. Through the boredom, the monotony, the looooooong stretches of life where no miracles or "breakthroughs" occur in your life. Where you are angry, disillusioned, mad at God, not sure any more why you are compelled to follow that "still, small voice" since it doesn't seem to be taking you into any euphoric mountaintop places or even into a place of endless patience with your spouse and children. But I got a picture of prayer moving things in the spiritual that goes beyond my sense of immediacy and my desired results. I saw a picture of us all being interlocked in varying and creative ways. That a loving heart- a heart that loves God, hurts when others hurt. Cries when others cry. Lends a hand.

How does this relate to the witness protection program? Here's how I see it. We ought not be too quick to judge others, or to offer them really valuable advice, unless it compells relentlessly from that place deep inside. People's pain won't disappear because of a seven point address on why they are hurting, what they did wrong to get hurt in the first place, and how to turn into a better person so that they don't keep getting hurt. I think our good intentions to make people feel better often drives them away. Sends them into hiding. Then we can pretend that they are not hurting anymore, because we don't have to listen to it any more. i think that a more accurate truth is that we are all mixed up all the time. We all struggle with something. We all stumble over some repetitive theme til we want to scream and run for the hills.

And we all have the capacity to listen. To tune into how to love one another. It's bound to be flawed. Its bound to be painful.

But would you really have it any other way?

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Move Over,Hot hockey mom! There's a New Celebrity In Town!

(with absolutely NO surgery, except an appendectomy in 1979...)

Friday, December 07, 2007

Friday Fifty: Possibly Using the Word "I" Fifty times

I may post fifty times today.
I may have fifty things on my mind.
I may feel fifty today.

I had one of those nights that lasted fifty years. Training for a new job, I had to go to the bathroom, I had brought six kids with me, I packed a broken stroller and a backpack and a wheelbarrow full of stuff to take with me. I had chili slow-cooking in the microwave in the conference room. There was a very boring church seminar going on in that room, and the boys were being embarrassingly loud, there were piles of lego and game pieces spread across the room, between chairs, and occasionally I'd look up from under someone's chair, smelling of chili, picking up lego, and recognize a boyfriend from my youth. How dorky did I turn out?!

I blame it on my back. It hurts. Brian won't massage it because of his stupid splinted finger. (handy, faking that whole ligament/snappy/splint thing..... LIKELY STORY).

Today is Sam's fifth birthday. Maybe around the forty-nineth post of the day I'll write something sentimental and poetic but not now. My back hurts. Did I mention that the backache makes my head ache? And that it would be easy to resolve- take some tylenol for the head and do my pilates DVD for the back? But I don't want to . I'm tired, and my back hurts. And I'd rather whine about my back and my fat thighs than do an exercise DVD. That's how crazy I am.


Do rush out and buy the wpg free press tomorrow morning. Then look up the DETOUR section. You'll see a much more joyful version of joyce over there. All decked out in her red ugly sweater, surrounded by her ugly friends.

I've got a housefull of kids today, for which I'm grateful, since Christmas is coming up and I'll be taking a week and a half off. Without pay. (duh). But did I mention that my back hurts and I was running all night pushing a broken stroller with six kids needing to go pee and training for a new job?! And that I slept in, waking up exactly one minute before I heard a car pull up on the driveway to drop off the first little cherub of the day? Oh, how I hate it when I sleep in. Its a "DOOFUS of the DAY" award in the making.

And who of you has the courage to admit that you've ever watched or even listened to a Barbie DVD? I've got a kid who brings it every single day. And since she's here at an undecent hour, I'm utterly spineless and I put it on. But I hate it. It even dummer than any lame Barbie thing that you could come up with in your most depraved imaginations.

Have I whined about fifty things yet?

Thursday, December 06, 2007

A Few Found a Good Home

I've had an irrational fear of my fabulous forty buttons from Lettuce getting mixed up with all my other millions of buttons and then I'll never remember which ones could have belonged to the queen, and which ones could have belonged to the pioneers.
So, since my birthday is quite close to the Christmas season, it seemed logical to use some of them on my Christmas stocking. They were introduced to the lace from my baptism dress this afternoon, while I forced the children to rest. I sat in the south window, in the deceitfully warm winter sun, and stitched a little love. I thought of Lettuce, the loss of her mother to cancer, what her words meant to me when my brother was dying of cancer. And I thought about turning forty. What amazing people I have in my life. How much I love working at home.
How pretty buttons are.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Nothing Inspiring- I'm Too Tired

Tired am I. Completely and utterly tired. This morning it took eight pints of energy and all the strength in my feeble back to bundle four kids for an exciting walk in the bright sunshine and brand new snow. We had two destinations: to the bank to pay some bills, and a stop at the church to play with their toys for the sake of variety. When we arrived at the church, I realized that an hour had passed from the moment I began with the first mitten; then a leisurely one block saunter to the bank; and rounding up a half block near crawl over to the church. One hour.

I stand corrected. Eight pints of energy, quite possibly the same amount of sweat; and an indeterminate amount of patience.

Anyone know a good massage therapist who does pressure points and deep tissue massage?


So far, so good, this Christmas season. I haven't fallen under the spell of the "gotta-get-ta-Dolla-rama-cheepie-plasticy-gotta-gottas". That is to say, that every Christmas I get all self-righteous and wax poetic of the ridiculousness of people running themselves ragged getting stuff that nobody wants so that we can all set up yard sales next summer and pretend to simplify our lives. Then one morning I wake up, feel impassioned and compulsive about getting to BJ SuperToys to the point of driving there with fifty kids in tow, then filling a plastic bucket, or worse.... a large red plastic bag.... with stuff that my kids don't need. (But they'd have such fun with a kicking donkey pen... or a pink fuzzy notebook... or fifteen lipglosses in blue and green.)

I've noticed that super toys are kind of like lingerie. Just go ahead and chuck it on the floor. That's where it will all land up anyway.

So, this year, I'm breaking all sorts of holy rites of Christmas passage. I took the girls shopping this weekend and when they saw a shirt that they liked and were willing to spend their own money on it, I simply took it from them and mentioned that they would find it in their stocking on Christmas Eve. They did the same for me. We went to the thrift shop together and as we went through the cast-offs, they picked up stuff for me after asking for my "yea" or "nay". I'm sure that this year, I won't get any annoying chunks of mass-produced stuff. nope. I'll get OLD, fabulous stuff that was mass produced a long time ago. Much better.

I just really don't get the wonder in us all writing lists of stuff that we want, right down to the producer and record cover, then "secretly" sneaking off to purchase the very things that we are completely specific about. Its just weird.

My favourite gifts are the weird ones anyway. The five brightly painted cats that Brian got at The Forks. The three black cats he bought me at Ten Thousand Villages way back when we were practically just kids. The old light fixtures that got dropped off at my house a few days ago. Buttons sent from England. A lustreware teacup. Old quilts. Red rollerskates.

Here's where it gets complicated. I'm afraid that people have been way too thoughtful.
So, who of you needs me to rush off to Dollarama and BJ SuperToys because that's what you really like instead of old crap from a thrift store?!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Family Tradition (based on many true stories...)

This was going to be the bestest Christmas ever, she thought to herself, smoothing her red and green Rudolph apron down across her lap. December the first marked the beginning of the traditions that had been carefully woven into her family's annual holiday preparations. Today, the children were sure to arise with sunshiney dispositions, knowing that this was Tree and Eggnog day!

She poured herself another coffee, and with a wistful smile playing on the corners of her mouth she descended into the basement to rummage through her carefully stored baubles and tinsel. Ahhhhh! There it was- Kenny Rogers' 1981 Christmas collection. She could practically taste the Kentucky Homemade Christmas wafting through the loving family's house as the children busied themselves with Santa colouring books and wax crayons and the boys set up the electric train set on the floor near the thawing scotch pine. Maybe she'd make waffles! A new tradition that the children were sure to speak of for many generations to come.

Her reverie was jarringly interrupted by the offending sounds of the boys fighting over the nintendo game cube. Seems one wanted to play Tony Hawk and the other preferred something a little more irreverent, hopefully with some violence or inappropriate language. She sighed, and wiped her sweaty palms across Rudolph's midriff, reaching into the fridge for eggs, milk, and eggnog. Once the waffles were made, everything was going to be just perfect. They'd have time for board games, twister, and maybe some neighborhood carrolling!

But first the festive waffle bonanza; maybe some green food colouring in the white sauce. She best call the girls, so last night's rather long trail of dishes could get washed and put away. It was hard to feel festive amongst last night's dehydrating goat cheese remnants and coagulating spinach dip saturating the pumpernickel bread on the arbourite counter. She'd forgotten that firstborn had gone to her best friend's for a sleepover last night. Better give her a call and remind her what a special day December the First was!

Daughter number one was just starting a boy-meets-girl movie and mumbled some less than impressed sentiment about eggnog and tree decorating. Well, she conceded, the waffles would take a while anyway. The milk had soured and a run to the store was in order, so she may as well be accomodating about the movie. Besides, she needed to stop at the tree lot to peruse the rows of trees and enjoy the indulgence of choosing the Perfect Christmas Tree.

Coffee in hand, she rushed out the door, and waltzed down the street, carols of fa-la-la resounding in her imagination. Within minutes, she had the tree in hand. It would fit perfectly between the couch and the chair, its conservative branches holding modestly to its two inch trunk. It was ideal for showcasing the vintage bulbs she had been collecting for years on end. Singing "Deck the Halls" a little louder now, she hurried home, dragging the nearly weightless tree behind her. She hoped to drown out the nagging memory of last Christmas when the children had accused her of bringing home the ugliest tree ever. Couldn't they understand the charm of a natural tree, and get over the ridiculous idealism of a fifty dollar, perfectly dome-shaped, hormone injected tree spectacle?

She snuck it in and quickly planted it into the tree stand. With several meters of tissue paper, and the lid of a pizza box wrapped around the tree's base, the fasteners held the anemic trunk perfectly in place. Now for the lights. Quickly, before the kids notice. Only two strings were working, and half of the singing one. Oh well! Another reason for a modest tree- it shouldn't take many lights to get to the top of this specimen. And the ornaments were sure to get their due respect without the bothersome prickle of garish branches and needles competing for space.

The tinny sounds of "God Rest You, Merry Gentlemen" on the half-blinking string of lights awoke daughter number two. She limped down the stairs, groaning audibly at the spectacle that graced their front window. Sleep-deprived firstborn simultaneously appeared on the back doorstep. She made no pretense of joy at the anticipated burden of hanging out with her three junior siblings and holiday crazed parents, decorating a tree with three or four branches.

Everyone was hungry by now, and there was just no time for those homemade waffles if the house were to be festively adorned by nightfall. Eggos would just have to do, she sighed, throwing her holiday apron on the back of the couch. The kids in the background began an ungrateful chorus about her choice of tree, how gangly the branches, how sparce its boughs.

Guilt smote her then. Who was she to think that she was less than Mother- sacrificer of all opinions, desires, practicalities? Who was she to rob these precious children of their one chance at a merry, merry, joy-infused yuletide? Perhaps she had better reconsider. Back to the tree lot she ventured, tired by now, slumped across her steering wheel, staring woodenly out the small frost-free zone of her windshield. Somehow the romance of walking in a winter wonderland now seemed like a crazy poem she once heard in a seminar somewhere, years before when parenting was a concept and not a gritty reality.

She'd settle on a different tree this time- one that would inspire the family to join her in her songs and tinsel. She breathed deeply, resolute. But her feet had minds of their own and she soon found herself gazing longingly at the gangly, lonely orphans in the north corner of the lot. AHA!! Leaning near the back, right up against the fence, was the perfect, perfect compromise. Yes, it was a spruce, and not a pine (which her tasteless offspring had shamelessly begged for). But it was a big spruce!

There was no time for delivery.

She pause, and thought her plan through briefly. Very briefly. There wasn't much time left to make the bestest christmas tradition ever.

She waited until all the carrolling townspeople looked pretty busy and distracted by their steaming mugs of apple cider, and then she dragged that big beauty up alongside of the van. The rear hatch was frozen shut, but she was not to be deterred. It would be a MERRY CHRISTMAS, and it was gonna start tonight, even if it very nearly killed her. The rear of the gas station opened into the back lane, which was very under-used, and quite possibly the only alley in the whole town that did not require mowing in the summer. Just there at the end of the half block of back lane, she could see the house, and could very nearly make out the sounds of her children singing "Merrily, Merrily Carrolling". Hope restored, she hopped into the drivers seat, the trunk of that big tree resting on her thigh. Sighing contented sighs and humming along to her imaginary Kenny Rogers Christmas, she eased into the lane and headed towards home. She found herself involuntarily breaking into rather high-pitched peals of holiday inspired laughter now, and simultaneously passed two men in half ton trucks who looked themselves to be very full of the Christmas spirit themselves, grinning ear to ear as they were. She couldn't pause to speculate whether it had much to do with ten feet of spruce dragging along the snowy street beside her weaving van. She smiled and waved, acting very nonchalant, careful not to let the tree slip off her thigh, or have the pine needles embed themselves into her soft tissue. Relieved to be home again, with her prize tree intact, she hurriedly pulled the tall green specimen straight into the house, anticipating the sure, appreciative pleasure of her offspring.

She had underestimated the heights of her ceilings. The eleven feet of splendor would surely not fit vertically in an eight foot room.

After sawing off the bottom three feet, the concession tree, stained with the blood and sweat of mother guilt looked exactly like the original gangly spruce.

It looked like December the First was to become an unforgettable Christmas tradition after all.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Holiday Newsletter

With the approaching onslaught of another Christmas season, she realized that she had never been happier.

Her eldest daughter applied herself diligently to facebook and was acqiring the necessary skills of well-applied mascara. Her mother's nearly retired dream of entering her into pagaents seemed once again within reach.

Second born had recently been observed staring longingly at Avril Lavigne's album cover, twirling her hair wistfully, and reaching for a darker shade of eye liner.

The boy had been so easy to care for. He'd spent hours in his bedroom, entertaining himself and saving his allowance for a couple of more challenging video games. His wrists showed promising ripples of strength from the dedication and commitment to acquiring new levels.

The little one, indulge-ed wonder child never ceased to charm all with his crescendoing whine and demands to all possessions of all persons entering his territory. He showed tremedous potential for politics and was sure to appeal to a wide population with his spiderman slippers in one hand and the pink tutu in the other.

And Mr Perfect Family member had never looked better in workboots; slicing and dicing in the kitchen, never ceasing to entice more and more members into his Moosewood pyramid scheme cult.

Nope, things could hardly look better, she mused, studying herself in the mirror. She'd grown into forty with so much grace, and no signs whatsoever of impending crisis.

Their mortgage was practically untouched, so engaged had they been in the various celebrations of life, and learning to love their neighbors. And the echoeing spaces of their now baby-free home was soon to be filled with the piddling and whining of a perfect little puppy. The cat couldn't be more excited.

No, it could not be denied.
They were practically perfect in every way.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

We Are soooooooooo NOT a bed AND breakfast

Last Saturday night, a window or two got opened to accomodate the many thick, heat containing sweaters. And as they say, when a door closes, a window opens, and the next thing you know, you're overrun with cats. Well, maybe that's not exactly what they say, but it is just what happened. I thought it was our neighbor's cat- hearing the hilarity and wanting to get her a piece of the action. But when Jane the cat lady came home, she set me straight on the cat facts. Well, that cat figured she owned the place and just kept coming around. The girls brought food out for her, which she appreciated, but she would still jump up onto the windowsill and do the paw version of the happy dance on the window staring plaintively, frantically, into our dining room.

A gal like me has got only so much strength.

That poor puss was freezing and I couldn't stand it. So, I found room in the inn, and managed to contain her to the bathroom for the first 24 hours or so. She already knew she owned the place, so within 48 hours, she had taken over the beds, the heat-spewing vents, the food dish, the basement, and well..... the house.

She said we could stay.
If we wanted.

Then she discovered the best reality game EVER.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Nobody is Happy All The Time

The bed I need for a napping child is covered in clothes to be put away.
The bathroom smells funny.

I'm sickened by the brutality of Darfur's women and I'm sickened by my thighs.
This sickens me.

Papa's blood is slowing. Clogging.

I dream disturbing dreams of rats and spirits.
I feel

The cat needs
as do the

Guilt, widening.
Thighs, spreading.

Cat stares at me through the window.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Christmas in Darfur

In the last little while I have spent a lot of time researching Darfur for the purposes of a five minute blurb in church this evening. I thought I would test run it here.

In October of 2006, I came across a post linking to a CNN report on the crises in Darfur, Sudan. Reading about the horrific realities that our sisters survive prompted me and a number of other bloggers to plan a website dedicated to the support of these hungry and hurting people. While waiting for my partners, who are working on web design and fund-raising plans, I have begun a small project named: Bags for Darfur. These bags are made from reclaimed fabrics and are useful for book carrying, grocery shopping, making a fashion statement, or for carrying bags of money to donate to our cause.

I imagine that Christmas in Sudan will be much like any other day. For most, there will be nothing to look forward to.

Listen, as I share the stories of two Sudanese women who were brave enough to tell the truth of what life is like in Darfur.

“I am 16 years old. One day, in, I was collecting firewood for my family when three armed men on camels came and surrounded me. They hold me down, tied my hands and raped me one after the other. When I arrive home, I told my family what happened. They threw me out of home and I had to build my own hut away from them. I was engaged to a man and I was so much looking forward to getting married. After I got raped, he did not want to marry me and broke off the engagement because he said that I was now disgraced and spoilt. It is the worst thing for me.

…When I was eight months pregnant from the rape, the police came to my hut and forced me with their guns to go to the police station. They asked me questions, so I told them that I had been raped. They told me that as I was not married, I will deliver this baby illegally. They beat me with a whip on the chest and back and put me in jail. There were other women in jail, who had the same story. During the day, we had to walk to the well four times a day to get the policemen water, clean and cook for them. At night, I was in a small cell with 23 other women. I had no other food than what I could find during my work during the day. And the only water was what I drank at the well. I stayed 10 days in jail and now I still have to pay the fine, 20,000 Sudanese Dinars (65 USD) they asked me. My child is now 2 months old.” Woman, 16, February 2005, West Darfur.

Halima Bashir was born into the
remote western deserts of Sudan. She grew up in a wonderfully rich environment and later went on to study medicine. At age twenty-four she returned to her tribe to begin practising as their first ever qualified doctor. But then a dark cloud descended upon her people...
Janjaweed Arab militias began savagely assaulting her people, invariably with the backing of the Sudan army and air force.
At first, Halima tried not to get involved. But in January 2004 they attacked her area, gang-raping 42 schoolgirls. Halima treated the traumatised victims and sickened by what she had seen, she decided to speak out in a Sudanese newspaper and to the UN charities.
Then the secret police came for her. For days Halima was interrogated, subjected to unspeakable torture and gang-raped.

Her crime was to tell people that a group of Janjaweed militia and Government soldiers had attacked the primary school for girls, raping pupils as young as 8. She paid a terrible personal price. "They were aged between 8 and 13," she said. "They were in shock, bleeding, screaming and crying. "It was horrific. Because I told people what happened, the authorities arrested me. "They said, 'We will show you what rape is'. "They beat me severely. At night, three men raped me. "The following day the same thing, different men. Torture and rape, every day, torture and rape." tens of thousands of women and girls have been subjected to rape and other extreme sexual violence since the crisis erupted in 2003. The Islamist Government in Khartoum has given the Janjaweed militia a free hand in putting down a rebellion by African tribes in the region, and there has not been a single conviction in Darfur for rape against displaced women and girls.

Please join me as I share with you :
Desmond Tutu’s Prayer for Darfur
“We pray for the people of Darfur who have been terrorised and forced from their homes; for those who have fled to refugee camps, and who still live in fear;
We pray for those who have died, and for their families;
We pray for the women in Darfur who face danger every day as they leave their camps for firewood – may You watch over Your daughters;
We pray for the children of Darfur, especially those who face a frightening world without one or both of their parents – may they be protected and comforted;
We pray for the safety of the humanitarian aid workers as they feed and care for the people of Darfur;
We pray for the safety of the African Union's Mission in Darfur as they work in difficult circumstances;
We pray for the safety of the United Nations' Peacekeepers when they begin their duties in Darfur;
We pray that the world's leaders will be guided by You in their quest for justice and safety for Darfur's people – may they be inspired by Your humanity;
Remind us that we are all Your children, and teach us to listen;
We pray that those who are causing death and misery in Darfur will turn away from racism and violence – may they be forgiven when they turn to You for guidance instead;
Teach us to rejoice in all the things we have in common and respect each others’ differences;
We pray that people everywhere will strive to live in peace, tolerance, and respect, no matter what their faith or race – may we gain the wisdom, grace, and generosity of spirit to overcome our differences and live as one.”

Thank you.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A God Thing

Something as irreverent as an Ugly Sweater Party brings me back to the same simple statement- It just had to be a God Thing.

There was a lot of neat stuff that transpired beween the knits and the purls. The schtick with the press was fabulous. These people blended right in, it was completely effortless. I learned a lot of interesting information from Sanderson, including the unbelievable fact that the Vancouvar chapter of Ugliness is H.U.G.E. We're talking Commodore Ballroom and a thousand attendees! I found a list of guidelines for people seeking information on ugly sweater party etiquette. This is freaking me out all over again, because once again I'm wondering about this whole fear of success thingie. I mean- I could fail at what I believed I had thought of ?? Now, there's etiquette, lists of what types of sweaters to look for, how to designate categories for the contests and prizes for the best/worst appearance.

The pressure.

Which brings me back to wanting to dwell on the God Thing.
I believe that people come to these darn events for a reason. I may or may not know what those reasons may be. But I no longer categorize my life by "churchy/faithlife events" and "regular day-to-day life". I live. I am loved. I believe there's a reason. There are seasons, and boy, oh boy, I'm in a fun one right now. And we are made for a reason. Quirkiness is no curse- its part of the obvious creativity of a loving God.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Sweatering With The Oldies

Last year, it was my 39th birthday that prompted the madness. This year it is the paparazzi.

I've had no time to get my pullovers in a knot about it. Its been that kind of a week.

But some really crucially important stuff got taken care of.
I took a good , hard look at the couch. Well, what I could see of it through clouds of dust and flying straw. Yes, that's right. Straw.
I pushed, pulled, and dragged that monstrosity through the kitchen, out the entry way, and over the edge of the deck. I saw it laying there covered in leaves, torn, abandoned.... And I just knew that Brian would kill me if I left it there for more than fourteen seconds. So, I went after that beast, and hurled it continuously, ass over tea kettle, til I could slide that motherload into the garage.
(and hey, if we need an overflow area at the party on Saturday, November 24 at 7:00 pm at my house, bring your own nummie, dwinkie, and sweater.... that couch in the garage may come in really, really handy.....)
I meant to recover the remaining worn furniture in old sweaters, but GEE! Where'd the time go?!
So, you're fresh out of excuses. In fact, you badly NEED a party. I've got two spare nasty sweaters upstairs in my closet, Brian has just done a big party run in the stadt, and the now infamous couch has been replaced.
Did you ever stop to wonder what kind of parties the next generation is likely to throw? Well, repeated bending-over in my line of work, combined with the utter lack of tact and discretion in the preschooler population, has led me to believe that the next generation will be scouring thrift shops for slacks to wear to the Butt-Crack-Pants parties that they are most likely to host.
Aren't you glad you only have to find a sweater?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Navitity Scene

Tis the season. That trusty old nativity scene came out of hiding this afternoon. The one where at least one of the shepherds isn't snowy white. Its old and the paint is faded and kind of weird looking in a wonderful sort of way.

And of course, my son Micah appreciates that sort of thing. Well, okay... not exactly. What he actually appreciates is the oppurtunity to torture these righteous plastic individuals in varied and creative ways.

"I'm not a sheep!
Mary exclaims, her arms thrown up in the air- aghast at this THING which lays in the manger before her.

Somebody! Get this sheep out of my baby's manger!


Get That Child Off That Filthy LAMB! Do you know where that thing has been?


I Wish; I Want; I Wonder

I wish it were possible to do everything well. To think of everything. To not be brought face to face with my dark side.
Defensiveness. Self-pity. Negativity.

I wish I wouldn't run out of ideas for cooking and baking edibles that children will actually consume and don't have sugar as their first ingredient and syrup as the second. I wish children would stop commenting about the inadequasy of whats set before them.

I wish I would stop chewing the skin around my fingernails. Its been about thirty years now.
I hate it. I keep doing it.

I wish the day would lengthen to being 36 hours long, without exhaustion setting in. Then I could e-mail cougar attendees some great pictures, bake some pies, get through my paper stacks, maybe even find my way back into my sewing room and make something.

And that brings me to what I want. Time to create. Which is ironic, because a month ago I wanted my daycare numbers back up to what they were before. Which I now have. And now, by evening I'm so tired, and so busy putting the house back together in time for the next day, that there's no time for creating.

So I want to be content. Enjoy the moment.

I want to get involved in my daughter's youth group. Sort of. Teen-agers intimidate me, and I'm not sure I have the language to relate to them. Plus, there's the whole thing about waiting for the 36 hour day. And the whole exhaustion thing. But I want to get to know her world better. I want to observe her friends in their own element. I want to enjoy my daughter by entering her reality.

I want to do a "Yahnt zeed" thrift shopping tour. Morris. Winkler. Morden. Altona.
Yes, I do. It's been years.

I want to get out walking every day. Its an excellent mental health enhancer. I was doing really well there for a bit, until the whole exhaustion thing set in. Still, I strive for the goal.

I wonder what awaits us? What inconcievable bends in the road are yet to come?
What will my kids say about growing up here? with us?

I wonder how many more old quilts and chenille spreads I can fit into a modest house? when I'll be able to get to those other towns to find out?

I wonder if the ache in my heart for significance will ever be answered on this side of forever?

I wonder who's reading all this rubbish?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Sweater Segue

dear diary;
I've been so busy learning how to deal with conflict that I nearly forgot that our big party is in four sleeps! But Dave Sanderson of the Winnipeg Free Press hasn't forgotten! He keeps sending these e-mails talking about his big fancy photo spreads in the Detour section, and then whispers "front page" in my ticklish ear. ooooh! I must confess I've always wanted to be somebody.... I can just feel it-- This is my big moment!!

Here's how I bet it will go.... We'll start out chatting about knitted garments- about sleeve length, cowell as opposed to v-necked; the benefits of broomstick knit versus traditional knit and purl.... and that will effortlessly segue into a piece about my various and many skills and accomplishments to this point in life. Forty will never look so good! After I get published and my name gets networked around the city, around the surrounding communities, and then.... well... worldwide...Well, after that I just know that I'll really be SOMEBODY! Then the calls will start pouring in. I'll do seminars. Weekend retreats. Do those signing thingies at Chapters, with a fancy Starbucks coffee in one hand. I'LL BE ABLE TO AFFORD STARBUCKS! I'll spend so much time running from signing to signing that I'll develop long, luxurious, muscular thighs. Then I'll have to write more books about how I got over compulsive eating, started running from reporter to reporter, and how I henceforth and forever more look really good on the photo on the backs of all the books I'm publishing. Then, because my life is full and rich, and I've become wildly successful, I won't have any problems ever again. I'll not have to deal with conflict. Disappointment. Security issues.

And that's only the good that I expect will come through Dave Sanderson and the Winnipeg Free Press.

Now, the blurb on Shaw TV with Joanne Kelly..... Well, there's just no telling where that could go!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Dealing With Conflict

The temptation:
Bite back. Locate a weakness in your opponant.


Locate as many weaknesses as possible in your opponant. Exaggerate if necessary. Round up. Look for questionable motives. Theorize on psychiatric maladies. Begin as many sentences as possible with the word YOU. Other valuable words are: Always, and Never. Ask as many people as possible for "advice" on how to deal with the conflict. Mention names. Stay local.


Be prepared for the same kind of set-up when you're in the need of grace. Don't count on getting off easy. Prepare for legalities. Heated exchanges. Mention of lawyers and paybacks and name-smearing.


I've been reminded again of God's burden being easy and His yoke being light. There's good reason behind the precepts of loving our enemies and praying for those who despitefully use us. It goes against the grain, but there's such freedom in it. The small voice inside is easily drowned out, but doesn't go away. Doesn't stop whispering. Doesn't limit itself to three chances.

Its another reason that I love to work at home. There's a certain stillness in all this noise. I'm not tempted to pull up all the mental filters and blab away about others in the staff room on my coffee break. Its good to work with narcissistic kids. If I tried to pick their brains about how to deal with conflict, they'd just shout for snacks 'n water a little more forcefully.

Relationships worth their salt involve some conflict.
And pouring salt on wounds is not part of the recipe.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Oh, Brother

Sam has not had many "real" haircuts in his short lifetime. Usually, I notice him peering out from underneath a mass of blonde bangs, stick him in front of the tv , and hack away at his hair until his eyes become visible once again. Today, however, I had time to stop in at the local hairdressing shop and book him in for a haircut that doesn't look like he's been put under the lawn mower. It became immediately apparent that Sam equated the hairddresser's chair with the dentist and the medical laboratory. He cried and cried and tried to curl up into a ball to escape the scissors and electric razor. We pulled our best tricks out of our bags- me, the victem hair-cutter, and the stylist behind her. We chatted about the interesting figures on his plastic cape, the candy we would feed him if he sat nicely, and the little children across the street on thier way to the park. Outside, his big brother zoomed left and right past the window wearing his ski mask against the November chill; reaching new speeds on the scooter thanks to the accelerating effects of the wheelchair ramp. Even our efforts to point out his favourite big brother's antics refused to stop Sam's river of tears.

Finally the hair was cut. I made my rounds apologizing to all the customers who"d had to put up with the wailing and drama, and made my way to jackets and home. By this point, big brother Micah had come into the shop and was guiding Sammy's hand to turn the wheel of the tantalizing candy dispenser that mommy always refused to feed quarters into.

Micah had observed that his brother was not exactly getting the whole "spa thing". That all Micah's efforts to distract him with speedy scooter-ing had been in vain. So, he'd raced home, gone upstairs to get into his allowance stash for some quarters, then speeded back to the salon on his bicycle. He'd been sure to hurry so as to get back in time to reward his little brother for surviving the haircut. Sammy quickly changed his tune, stuffing yellow and green peanut M&M's into his mouth, and with a friendly "Whaddya say?" from Micah, even remembered to shout a grateful "Thank you!"

I'm sure Sammy thinks of his big brother as a bit of a hero, but I think it will be many years before he remembers and becomes fullly aware of just what a hero his brother really is.

And I've got to say, I'm feeling a little starry-eyed myself.

Psychiatric Help

Last night I dreamed that I checked myself into a treatment centre. It was late at night, after my fortieth birthday party, I had lost a couple of kids and it was too dark to find my way home. So I found my way back into the building, picking up birthday gifts and dirty socks along the way and stood in line for a brain scan. I was unclear on exactly why I needed to check out of life for a time, but felt somewhat confident that the scan would pick it up. My daughter was in line behind me, but she decided to lock herself into the bathroom for the night, and I was not sure why she needed the scan either.

Although I seem to thrive on a certain amount of chaos and insanity, I hate being confronted on things, details, or important perspectives that I have neglected to consider. I want to react with defensiveness, counter attack, self-protectiveness. Or alternately, its tempting to accept every bit of the criticism without editing for accuracy- to go the other extreme and kick your own self while youère down. Whenever someone rips off a strip, there is value in hearing it out and noting what hurts, what resonates, what you can challenge yourself to be more aware of in the future.

Its great to be appreciated and to get strokes, especially when it about something you value and want to be good at. But I suppose there is an equal and opposite that goes along with accepting compliments and apreciativeness. It hurts to have them pointed out and I can not pretend to like it, but dang-it-all, maturity is a noble goal........ plus defensiveness is only going to go so far, since I wonèt be able to pretend to have it all together for more than a few minutes at a time anyhow.

Its either that, or line up for a brain scan.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Want Ads

This morning while hoping to discover an old-fashioned chiropractor on a local online classifieds, I came across the following advertisement.

I ---- ---- along with my Husbend are kooking for Cleaning Job
Offices Banks Churches
we are Christians and will do a good Job

My first reaction was decidedly prickley. I hmmmph-ed, imagining that a Hindu or Sikh or Wicca must be a horribly dirty, lazy thief, never to be trusted with a broom inside the house of God, or in the hallowed halls of money handling.

But then I got thinking about christian culture. How the only real difference between this unpolished appeal and what we accept as normal is a little pinache. Do you ever flip through flyers from faith-y book stores and feel incredulous at all the big problems and challenges you could overcome just by buying a couple of shiney new books and reading seven or fewer tips and steps and exercises and commitments ?
And I imagined the submitter of the ad. How she has probably never been exposed to other cultures, never shared a cleaning cart shoulder to shoulder with a coworker of an entirely different persuasion. How frightening she would likely imagine such an experience to be. How easy it would be to assume that a cleaning person not sharing her faith ( and possibly skin colour, manner of dress, and first language) must be untrustworthy, deceived, threatening.
She probably just really needs a job and is drawing on her mental bank of what a stellar employee looks like. I hope she gets a great paying job at one of those churches that prays with the prostitutes before they head out onto the street,and serve soup and munchies to the crack addicts. Or maybe a really scarey office building filled with NON-Christians. Its sure to be filthy dirty and in serious need of a good, honest cleaning.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Gift of the Day

People disregarded the "no gift policy". And since they came up with incredible, thoughtful, creative, awe-inspiring tidbits; I'm so glad they chose not to listen to me.
This piece is from my dear friend Rosa. I was not expecting her, or her vanful of Brandon-area accompanyists. Their arrival surprised me to the point of jumping up and down repeatedly, wearing blue plastic high heels, and screaming: I CAN'T BELIEVE IT!!
Rose has an amazing gift of putting things together with buttons. This little piece showcases bathing suits made of coloured buttons. I say its an excellent momento of the kind of night we enjoyed together, baring all. Literally and figuratively.
And all the figures owned their beauty and mystique.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Some Party Thoughts

The abundance of hilarity poses as the baseline of all these wonky parties. But there is another thing that goes on, that a person could miss if they chose not to tune in. There's something a lot deeper than the acrylic nails, cheap nylons, and under-elastized snakeskin minis.

Somehow in shedding our typical wrappings, we lose something else - our safety in whatever packaging we've grown accustomed to. We're given the gift of making new friends without the distraction of superficial judgements based on what "life grouping" we may assume that people belong to. As "cougars", we shared an imaginary identity that opened gateways for exploration that we may not have uncovered at an epicure party in our Sunday best. (not that I have any issue with eating dips for hours on end, dripping mayo on my Sunday School blouse and rayon skirt...)

And one of my favourite things was the joy and beauty we found in each others bared midriffs, lycra-ed thighs, rounded bellies, and plungeing necklines. It was a bold embracing of our femininity. A recognition of our God-given beauty as women without the shame and confusion of inappropriate or unwanted sexual attentiveness. Women too often react in fear to their own bodies, and the bodies of their fellow women. We envy. We covet. We criticize, torture ourselves, condescend to one another.

But on November the tenth, we celebrated. And it reminds me of one of my favourite passages in Geneen Roth's beautiful book: Feeding The Hungry Heart.

"...I have a fantasy that I repeat to myself, instead of turning to food, when I need comfort and nurturing. I am at a celebration with hundreds of other women. It is a summer evening, about dusk, when fireflies begin to play. It is warm and the smell of honeysuckle is strong. We build a fire and set tables around it covered with lovely embroidered cloths. We bring out a glorious array of foods: roast chicken, turkey, potatoes, yams, large colorful salads, nuts, hot wheat breads, platters filled with fruit- pineapple, papaya, mangoes, apples, bananas, figs, dates- whipped dream, cakes and pies, wine and rich coffee. A feast for women, not one where the food is prepared for men to enjoy- or one of those horrible parties where the women gather guiltily around the food table and pick furtively. We eat and enjoy every bite. I add various pleasures, depending on my mood; sometimes we pile all the Cosmopolitans, Vogues, Seventeens, and Playboys on the fire and sing as they crackle and spew. Always we dance and sing, and finally I lie back on the cool fragrant grass. (on a great vintage quilt, I would add) The fire warms the night air. Staring at the stars, I know that this world is mine. I feel the food in my belly, feel it nourishing my body, feel the laughter and strength in my bones; and I am completely and overwhelmingly satisfied." (Rachel Lawrence)
Thank you, my friends. Thank you who came, and you who I thought of. You have enriched my life. You have taught me so much. You have expanded the table that is my life, and piled it high with sumptuous, guilt-free indulgences. Not the sort that leave you feeling light-headed, full, and hungry. But the sort with substance, subtleties, bold spices, and life-giving nourishments.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Yeah, About Those Nails

Nancy wasn't able to come out to the grand fortieth, but she very thoughtfully sent out six packets of plastic fingernails covered in leopard print. Last night during the party, Alice (with her servant heart) graciously applied nails to any finger or toenail that came within her grasp. I quite enjoyed the roleplay of claw-lady, even though my fingers audibly and literally moaned and begged for an oppurtunity to breathe and move.
In the morning, I awoke to find myself picking at those nails. My fingers were really gasping for breath by now. Remembering some less tolerant guests with zero etiquette who began soaking their high quality nail jobs in nail polish remover just minutes after their application, I sensed that the removal of this accessory may pose quite a challenge.
By mid-afternoon I received an e-mail from a guest whose alter-ego in the "RW" is that of elementary school teacher... and it was clear that the tenacity of our nails was a common bond. She had given up on authentic removal and had settled for trimming them down with hedge clippers and hoof trimmers, and applying several hundred coats of a more subtle tone of polish to cover the leopard print. The following day was, incidentally, parent and teacher school interviews. It seemed prudent that some manner of professionalism be applied, lest the parents have evidence of their son's downward spiral since being placed under the classroom tutelege of Ms. So-and-So.
By faspa time at ma and pa's, the conviction of the nails burned with shameful urgency. The nails had to come off. Mother refused to make eye contact with those little round leopardy bits on the ends of my hands. Her nose and lips curled in visible disdain and disgust at her daughter's obvious indiscretions and lack of proper training. I don't think she could have been less pleased if I'd shown up in an animal print thong and thrown a bottle of rye into the summa borscht.
So, I came up with a perfectly sensible solution. I gently worked the butter knife under the edge of the nail, grimaced a little, felt the dna in my fingers stretch and cry audibly and literally, then I popped those babies off.
Hopefully none of them landed in the schmondt faht.

Sorry You Missed It

Is is hard to type wearing really long plastic fingernails.....

These legs are all connected to human faces. Their true identities will never be revealed.
I don't think it was any bored, self-pitying has-been who coined the phrase "Life begins at forty"!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Passing Through Winkler?

My sister-in-law lives in Winkler, and has set up two rooms in her house as a Christmas store. If you live in the area, know someone who does, or are passing through, please check it out.

Everyone is Welcome to shop, browse, or just satisify your courisity at:

Under the Tree Gift Boutique

This boutique has crafts from 16 different people. Such things as:
-dip, cheeseball, coffee & cookie mixes
-frames (barnboard and painted wood)
-baby blankets
-hot and cold bags
-handbags (very unique and proceeds go to women in Darfur)
-pet beds and pet neckties
-eye spy bottles
-kids knitted sweaters
-wheat weaving
-advent calenders
-christmas art
-gift tins
-christmas ornaments
-table runners
-cheeseball trays
-denim blankets (proceeds go to MCC)
and more

I am located at 178 8th Street (north of Pembina Ave.) Winkler, Manitoba
Don't be shy about just walking in - it may be my home but it is also a store and I want you all to feel welcome here.
My hours are Wednesday 10-5, Thursday and Friday 1-8 and Saturday 10-3

Come and check us out we have some great Christmas ideas and Christmas decor.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Thursday... that's Two Days Before Saturday, Right?!

I blinked once or twice, spit out a cuticle or nine, and
SHA-ZAM! suddenly its The Thursday Before The Saturday That We've All Been Planning For. The pumpkins have gone the way of the compost, the nails have been counted, a snappin' pair of shoes have been purchased, and a fresh bouquet of flowers plucked. The seams in my lycra pants have been let out. aaaaaahh. But that only increases their appeal.

So what remains, you ask? Well, for you, my guests, I really wanted to get the curtains up in the front window just in case you have some reservations about local voyeurs parading past. Your comfort level may not include showing off your prowess to all those gossipy old farmers and spectis employees on their way serve up some dish at "The Chef".

Then there's the details, such as finding out what culinary delight Brian will stir up for us to enjoy. I may find the time to mop up the splotches of macaroni and curdled milk as well. Maybe hang up the mirrors that have been precariously leaned up against the entry wall for many days now.

OH! and I better not forget to touch up my roots!
I just have to decide whether I was blonde, and then went red, or whether I was mousey brown and then decided to go ash blonde. This whole colouring to let the roots look really bad might get complicated....

See you Saturday!