Thursday, July 31, 2008

City TV Heroe

*Does a hero bloody her knees, doing the annual swath shave in the shower before the interview?

*Does a hero have to hunt through her teenaged daughter's room for some mascara, eyeliner, or lipstick to try and add colours to a monochromatic face?

*Notice that the hair has gone uncut since early May and the hair straightener is off at camp with the clearly well-coloured, well-coifed affore mentioned offspring?

*Improvise with a self-performed spa... (scissors worked fine on the dog....); then settle on a low, quasi-sophisticated pony-tail?

*consider renting a backhoe to clear out the walk-in closet studio sewing room to fit in a savvy looking interview-type person and her sidekick photographer?

*How about a quick spat with the family, just for balance?

Well, like a family member so helpfully pointed out, everyone gets their fifteen minutes of fame. I suppose two minutes on Winnipeg City tv counts for, well, two minutes of fame. Too bad satellite tv pulled that channel and I didn't actually get to watch my bloodied knees and pale beige face on television this morning.

But then again, I live here. That's sort of heroic, don't you think?!

Riding Mountain National Park

The highlight of my week of volunteering at camp had to be the evening that my fellow cooks and I took a walk down the road winding around Clear Lake. It was a lovely country road, unpopulated aside from a few other camps. The meadow was overflowing with native Manitoba wild flowers like tiger lillies, alfalfa, bright canola, wild roses, and a whole bunch that only Rose and Patti know the names to. I just know that it smelled really incredible, and was much prettier than any "perfect" garden I've ever laid eyes on.
We wandered down the road (that part of Manitoba has "downs" and not just horizontal "flats" like my part), exploring the flowers and breathing in something besides french toast, baked oatmeal, or shake and bake chicken.
On our way back to camp, something rustled just beside us in the grasses bordering the roadway. I looked up to see a beautiful lynx make its way back towards the forest. She stopped, turned around, and looked at us for what seemed an extraordinary length of time.
What an amazing animal.

A Cat the size of a Dog.
Now, how can I domesticate that?! (I know, I know.... don't send me nasty comments about their potential dangers, and all that. It's entirely theoretical. But would that not make the theoretically bestest house pet in the entire history of the world?!)
That kitty looked like the dog sized version of our housecat, Floey.
They are practically cousins.
And no, I did not have my camera with me at the time. Nor did Micah have the camera at archery when he saw a mama bear with her cub. Nor did the directer photograph the cougar coming up our drive in a low laying position, headed for the preschoolers playing in the sand of the volleyball court.
I'm not making any of this up.
And that, teacher, is what I did at camp this summer.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Sunday, July 20, 2008


I'm off to camp with those nutbars.
Not "camp" as in damp tents; but camp as in Bible Camp with cabins, and people, and showers, and toilets, and even a piano. I love camp. so do the kids.

I'll miss my two other nutbars, so if you live within 100 miles of here, maybe you should cover them in sloppy kisses every time you see them....

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Giving Credit Where it is Due

I found myself wandering from stack to stack of fabric this morning, between cups of java, reading Hansel and Gretel to the kids, and putting a few stitches into a bag I'm working on as a birthday gift for Jane's friend. The living room floor is littered in fabric. My sewing room cupboard's doors are open; fabric spilling out onto the floor. My big table has crates on it, a temorary cubby system for more pieces. The floor is a minefield of the same.

And it struck me. Dave Sanderson. He deserves more credit.

If not for Dave, and the Winnipeg Free Press, I'd not have all these donations. All these glorious bits, and pieces, and stacks of texture and colour and design. He put the bug in the ear of all those generous people who held onto bags of stuff that they just did not want to throw out because they knew their value, even if they did not themselves sew. When that article came out on a Tuesday, I found myself thinking (selfishly....) who reads the paper on a Tuesday? But the province is abundant with people far more informed and intelligent than myself. People with fabric lining their basements. People who not only read the article, but then took the time to e-mail, say supportive things, and offer to donate fabric. And I can't even promise them a bag for their generosity. Not until I manage to stop sleeping, or get that 47 hour day in place.

So, thanks again Dave. You've got a pretty cool job- chatting it up with people, putting it all down in prose, and then letting the positive dominoes fall. Good news still does get published.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

She Goes There: Into The Darkness of Being Human

Do you ever read your life like a book; and find yourself wanting to rush through the middle parts where all the uncertainties lie, and you just can't be sure which way things are going to go? You know that it will get wrapped up somehow, with at least a hint of optimism and hope, and some of the "middle part" questions are going to get answered in one way or another?

Well, I do.
I hate being uncomfortable. Or sad. I want to rush through it.

I get all bogged down in it, and I'd swear that I'm chronically miserable. Hopeless. A gaping, bottomless pit. I find myself wishing I were someone else. Someone happy. With less uncertainty.

I actually looked through a bunch of our very own pictures and found myself thinking; I wanna be her. (it was a fleeting thought, for any of you considering speed-dialing my therapist, or heading to your typewriter and writing a sequel to Sybil) Times like these make me wish I were more normal. Steady; with fewer dips and dumps.

But my friend Rod says; "Forget about normal. There is no normal." (easy for him to say- he's normal.) Rod says that if everyone were statistically normal, that they would all be abnormal.

Anomolies of the normalities.

I'd still like to give it a try. But if experience is the best teacher, then I'd best sit up straighter and pay attention. I'm not "normal" in the "water off a duck's back" sense of the word. Things bother me. Change unsettles me. Sadness descends on me and sleep seduces me. There is no rushing it, as the attempt to rush the unpleasantries simply drive them underground where they branch out like the suckering tendrils of the virginia creeper. (or planters warts, but that doesn't sound as good).

Sometimes its helpful to just head outdoors. Pull a few weeds. Watch the laundry sway on the clothesline. Smell the backyard campfire. Remember that life's not all in the endless spinning and washing of plates and floors and bodies and towels. Remember that the photographs are real, but still life, whereas real life is not static and has no sound effects.

And remember what another wise man once told me. (it was Brian, and it was just a few days ago) He said that maybe I just stink at denial. Maybe living in the real world, getting one's hands and heart dirty, just hurts because there are more exposed areas.

It sounds good.
It feels lousey.

There are moments where my forty year old body is still just a cover for a scared, insecure, naive little farmgirl who just wants everyone to get along and no harsh words or judgements or disapproval or hatred to exist. And no criticism. Please, none of that. Yet, ironically, I am capable of all those things myself and practise them, just as others around me practise them on me.

It's just all together unsettling. But me and this body and this mind are in it for the long haul. We're starting to become friends instead of fighting quite so much with one another. We're starting to recognize that kindness must begin at home, with these cells and these neurons, and these weaker and stronger members. We're pulling together more than we used to, and learning that criticism of each other's parts and pieces is no more helpful within one human body than it is in the entire body of the world's people.

And that feels like a growing pain.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Folk Fest Sunday: Squeezing a Weekend Into One Day

Sunday. Not quite so nasty. Sunny, in fact.
Jane? off to the lake with her cousins. The boys? Dry and sheltered at home with two boy baby-sitters. Arianna? In the zone, complete with friend.
We squeezed in our shift of chopping (potatoes, this time.); made our way through the handmade village- bought a ring fashioned from a silverware spoon; sat at a stage long enough to hear about four songs, watch some people, be inspired by textiles, and enjoy the sunshine.
Maybe next year we'll go to the festival, and actually go to the festival. I'll definitely volunteer again, that was the highlight. But I'll hope for no gale force winds with driving, perpendicular rain, and I really hope that Sam is going to have grown out of being stubborn and impossible.
At least I squeezed in plenty of eye candy in a few short hours.
And I've got something new to google: Boler for sale.
Dang, I love the looks of those things.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Friday, Day 2 at the Folk Fest

I fear that I may be getting a big red "F" on my volunteer necklace/name/ID thingie at the '08 Festival. I think the fact that I am at home blogging about it may be a subtle clue....

The chopping volunteering portion went remarkably well once again. The kids met another volunteer's kids, and they busied themselves with the iced tea dispenser, and the joys of liberally tattoeing their entire bodies with coloured markers. (Gee, I hope those weren't the never-come-off-until-you-die-and-maybe-even-later variety of markers.....) I myself was consumed with the chopping of tomatoes. And chicken. Four hours of it.

Brian and I had engaged in lengthy discussions prior to the event, detailing how this FF experience was going to be shared, and family, and reciprocal, and team-building. So, after our chopping session was complete, we enjoyed a truly delicious lunch of refried bean fajitas with sauteed fresh vegetables, chickpeas, a tossed salad, and fresh organic field strawberries. Then we headed out from backstage; towards the children's entertainment tent, and the handmade village. So far, so good. We splintered off somewhere near the handmade village so that Jane and I could drool through the booths and Brian could move ahead with the boys toward the sand pile and other hippy forms of pre-adult entertainment. It was an eye-tingley good time. There was gorgeous jewlery made from raw, earthy materials. Clothing made of hemp. Drums. Guitars. Reclaimed wood products. And Wanda June. Jane found a Wanda hat that she just had to have, and then we made our way towards the section where we imagined we'd find Brian and the boys.

He wasn't looking too happy.
Nor was Brian.

I carried the crying Sam-boy to the van and we made our way back to Blunderview. Jane got that hat. On the condition that tomorrow, she'll watch the boys at home, and we can go and maybe listen to some music at the Folk Festival.

I guess we've officially screwed up our chances of ever producing a fully easy-going hippy child. But, I confess, I still hold out hope. Tomorrow our first born, our original ff child, is coming home from camp. Her birthday is on ff weekend. I was in labour with her at Folk Fest '94. Last year, she accompanied me and shared my joy in living close to the earth.

If you catch me blogging tomorrow, then we'll all know it for sure.
It will become undeniably true that I am a hypocritical, no good, lousey, wanna-be hippy ma.

I may as well just move to the golf course and hire a decorator.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Thursday at the Folk Fest

Day one of Folk Fest, and we're feelin' the love. Packed the kids up this morning and drove out to Birds Hill, getting more excited by the mile. Brian adored volunteering for la cuisine, much as I anticipated that he would. We spent our four hour shift chopping mushrooms, (regular, not magic), looking for the lid of something resembling a cuisinart, chopping fresh basil, and grinning like school kids. Four hours felt like four mushrooms. I kid you not.

Our children managed remarkably well, considering that there was nothing organised for them to do- no kids tent or entertainment up and running until Friday. They hung around, made crafts out of the styrofoam that they found in the recycling, played hide and seek under the picnic tables, and filled up on copius amounts of self-serve iced tea and mystery kool-aid.

I'll never confess to what I heard our youngest, our pride and joy, our last stab at producing a pure child shout gleefully on our way back to the van after our chopping shift came to an end. I'll never say; but might have gone something like this:
Father figure: "Did you have a good day, son?"
offspring: "kinda; not really."
Father figure: "How come?"
offspring: "cuz we didn't get to play any video games."

I am so going to get evicted from the community.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

I didn't call it "Blunderview" for nothin'

Because I am so not Mary Poppins, Mother Teresa, and Florence Nightengale all rolled up in cheery goodness and summertime games with balloons and the carcass of last Thanksgivings' turkey. That would be Martha Stewart. Well, I'm so not her either.

What is it with kids? All year they carry on about the hardships of school, and what glorious good times they are planning to have when the summertime fun rolls around. Hummmph. Bored little spawns of good intention. I suppose that if I were Mary Poppins, I'd have all sorts of games to suggest where they use detergent bottles and turn them into windsocks and roller blades. Or they'd be gifted children who grew their own herb gardens and dried their own pot pouri. Pot. Now there's an idea for an afternoon coffee break. And its practically legal. Whereas giving away game systems, burning msn, slashing phone lines, and leaving children on the end of the driveway on thursday is apparently illegal.

And husbands who happen to be teachers for ten-ish months of the year? Let's not go there.

Well , I'm the only employed collection of cells around the place. And not a very nice one. Like when one of the aforementioned offsprings mentions that we should have "something good for supper for a change", she doesn't get a friendly ruffle of the hair from her uber patient and understanding mother. Ranting banshee sort of borders on close-ish.

I don't know about this whole pseudo role I've taken on. I was having some tingles, and the next thing I knew there was a squalling baby or four at my feet, and I was supposed to know how to not damage them for the next eighteen to eighty years. Not only that, but I am supposed to be this purple-clothed, game-o-de-hour pack of joy and smiler in times of adversity. They never told me that it involved years of made-up songs about pee and poop. They never told me about all the blank stares I would get when I went on a sensible lecture about all being members of a family and a household, and how that means that we all do our share. Except the mom. She does her share, plus the shares of five others, plus the dog and the cat. Like I said. I am not Mother Teresa. No. I do feel sorry for myself, and I do openly admit to having a martyr syndrome. I don't recommend it, and if you are MT/MP/MS/FN then good for you. I hate you, but good for you.

I usually forget to buy band-aids, that's how distant I am from Florence. When I do , they come from Dollarama and don't stick all that well, which is fine by me, because they always land up glued to the only carpet in the house and nothing makes me crazier than a used band-aid. Not even petrified dog poop. And kids' tylenol? I buy the stuff by the crate, I swear. Where is it? Likely with the scotch tape, functional pens, string, and rechargable batteries that I have re-mortgaged our house for, but can never, ever locate. And common sense? Haven't got a lick of that either. So, a few months after purchasing four hundred dollar foot orthotics for my kid, it never dawns on me that she's complaining about ankle pain because its summer and she's wearing $1.99 flipflops all freaking day. Not that she'll heed my doctorly advice anyway, but if I were Mary Poppins and could pull a lamppost out of my ass carpet bag, then maybe I'd have more pull with the kid. But I think I mentioned. I am not.

I imagine that all the good moms are out there playing marathon rounds of frustration with their cherubic offspring. Well, so I am. But on my own terms.

Without the board piece. Bored children; yes. Board game, not so much. That would require me to be one of the previously mentioned perfect female types. And I think I mentioned that

I'm not.

The Classifieds

Gosh, I miss this place.

Needed: Personal manager. Duties include: Making decisions for me; washing the dishes, telling me what to do next, sweeping the floor, like fifty million times a day; folding and returning to the cupboard endless swatches of fabric that get pulled out daily, held up against the day's project, then discarded to the floor for some minor infraction of shade or design. A gas jockey would be handy. Someone who owns a giant barel of purple gas- the stuff we used to have on the farm that was cheaper than the regular stuff, and meant for the implements, but contraband for the family car. Cheap. Gas. Ah, the good old days. right, the classifed ad.... An office manager. someone to answer the phone, fill in the blue cross forms, pay my bills (with their own account, of course) And a program manager. Someone brilliant and positive who gets my kids' butts in gear and makes them want to be endlessly active and creative all summer long.

Qualities: Brilliance. Endless positive energy. Decisiveness.
Must be willing to work for food.
That they cook for themself.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

A Few "Mom Points"

2008 Summer....
zoo.... check.
lake.... check.
backyard campfires.... check.
Rapidly make close, close friends with people who erected a 27 foot round pool..... check.
Parade, fair rides, fireworks... check, check, check.
slurpees.... check.
Looks like we are well on our way. Upcoming? Winnipeg Folk Fest!! (Can't wait, and seeing as it is only a week away, I don't have long to wait. Oh, the people I can watch.... :)
Kids going to camp, me cooking at camp, water-skiing with the big brother, more trips to the lake, beach days, camping, and all the while trying to pack a few more freckles into the empty spaces.