Thursday, July 30, 2009

Things that make me happy today

Three toddlers.
Grinning, curly, word-sampling toddling toddlers.

Heart warming three year old words:
"Mommy- Thank you for bringing me to Joyce's house today!"

It's a great feeling to come back from holidays and feel really happy about one's job.
A great, grateful feeling.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

This is Where Nasty Rumours Are Born...

So, I sent a silly e-mail to a daycare mommy today which went something like this:

"Mrs So-and-So;
I am soooo ONTO YOU!"

Brian and I share an inbox, and when the subject received her e-mail, here is what her eyes told her brain:

Brian Hildebrand says:
"Mrs So-and-So;
I am soooo INTO YOU!"

How ;) InAppropriate!

Monday, July 27, 2009

A Change Will Do You Good...

Our boy has never been particularly good at change.
When he was a toddler, it posed some inconvenient and embarrassing challenges for me. He would cry and tantrum for hours if his furniture got moved, his socks felt wrong, or a person looked at him. I was truly worried about the child.

But magically, at the age of five, things began to change for the better. He went to kindergarten without being expelled or placed into many special programs. He looked at his teacher. He managed to get dressed in the morning, complete with socks and undies, plus winter outerwear without me ever calling Child and Family Services.

He began to progress through grade school with minimal incidents. True, I could always see the toddler beneath, and noticed his sensitivity, his resistence to the change in seasons, his preferences for the familiar and predictable. But he did and does regular kid stuff. (just not soccer. Or sport of any kind. Or sandals in summer. Or pants with stripes...)

He even goes to summer camp. This year was a little touch and go, since I decided this summer not to use my holiday time to volunteer for camp kitchen; flipping french toast and stirring vat-o-porriage. The child would have to go it alone. He decided two weeks before camp that it was something he would like to do, so pack the bags we did.

On the way to camp, we camped out at Boler Babe's estate for a few days- splashing in her pool, listening to owls in the treetops, and roasting marshmallows. Micah spent these few days in his favourite pants- black with a bit of camoflauge down the side. Before we left, I'd made sure to mention that he ought to pack some of his other, less favourite pants in with the socks, undies, t-shirts, swim gear, towels, Bible, and notebook; since he would be away for a total of eleven days and nights.

We dropped Micah off at camp on Sunday afternoon and picked him up the following Friday.

His teeth looked pretty clean. His hair smelled like he'd been bunking with a band of damp chipmunks. He was wearing exactly the same outfit as we'd dropped him off in five days prior. His towels were completely dry and clean. His crusty socks stood around in straight lines alongside the Holy Bible. Close inspection of the duffel bag revealed zero undies.

I'm going to say that all his underwear landed up packed up with some other lucky little boy. Along with his brand new zipper hoodie. I'm going to say that he spent the week frollicking in the lake with all his buddies, not thinking for a moment about what might lie beneath those swimming minnows and stray floating bits of slimey seaweed. I'm going to say that he wore his other pairs of pants on the days between Tuesday and Thursday and saved his favourites for pick up day. I'm going to say he went to the showers but forgot his towel and chose to drip dry.

But like I said, change has never really been his thing.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

This is For You Hecklers...

So, I've had a couple of days off.
Time to get to most every thrift shop this side of Guontanamo Bay-- 'cuz what this place needs is more stuff! Especially weird, eclectic stuff that just screams: Pocket! at me. (because the myriad of shelves in the sewing room, the stacks in the basement, and the boxes in the garage will never suffice for adequate sewing paraphanalia. Nope. That stuff is soooo last month. Besides, there's always that irrational fear of running out to cope with.)

Thrift shops have a certain magnetic pull to them that I find hopelessly irresistable. (could be the pleasantly musty odour of second hand handkerchiefs, but that's just a guess) This week I found myself drawn to a second hand store in a particularly righteous and morally upright type of community. I couldn't wait to see what I might find in the hankies and aprons. Such wonderful handwork hidden in those tidy little stacks.

I was not to be disappointed. A short search yielded a sort of fisherman's souvenier; complete with little prayers and silly sayings perfect for an exaggerating sportsman. At the whopping price of ten cents, I scooped that non-snotted garment up and imagined it reinvented as a pocket on a bag, or as handy insulation for the house should we get buried alive under the hankies and linens that have collected here over the past million years or so.

Eager to peruse the aprons and skim shelves for chenille bedspreads, I didn't look at the hankie in it's entirity.

Neither did the Ladies Aid group who was in for sorting that Monday, I should think.

And if they had, they'd have been drinking something a lot friskier than instant Postma for their faspa. They'd need something a whole lot stronger than that to dip their day-old's into, I should think.

I'm thinking that the moral standards of some towns are a'slippin'.
(much to our viewing pleasure....)

Well, time to get my bass out of the bucket and get geared up for another camping getaway. However. I do think I've had enough of fishiing for now.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

'cuz the photos tell the stories...

For the third summer now; I have volunteered at Winnipeg Folk Festival on the La Cuisine crew. This means that I am one of many people who assist the chefs backstage in preparing meals and snacks for all the performers and thousands of volunteers. Apparently, we fed up to 4,500 people per meal this year. Dat's a lotta chopping. The food is unbelievable- so fresh, so gourmet, so NOT cafeteria. We ate a lot of beans, a lot of fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, cinnamon buns from Tall Grass Prairie Bakery, hummus, roasted red pepper and feta dip on grainy bread, creme brule, eggplant parmesan, raspberry cream cheese french toast, blackened chicken, fresh cucumber salad, and lots and lots of...

..Juice. That's how the boys entertained themselves while Brian and I were on shift. With their backstage pass came the benefits of the all-you-can-drink "juice bar". They sampled iced tea, mystery punch, lemonade, apple and orange juice, and hot chocolate until their bladders begged for mercy.

It kept them hydrated for hours of fun at the family tents. Micah learned how to twirl a plate, make a monster out of clay, and walk a tightrope.
Sam made a few hundred new friends, made a pair of bat wings out of paper, and did his best to master the hula hoop.
There was another really important reason to hang around in the family area. Fred Penner. Our fifteen year old had to convince her little brother to come into the tent for his performance so that she wouldn't look like a dork. But it was really her re-living her childhood. As I wandered around the area and noticed all the teens and adults singing along to all of Fred's favourites, I knew she wasn't alone in her love and reminiscence of her many hours listening to his marvellous cassette tapes. And what a sweet man. One evening we came to our shift and discovered that the team before us was waaaaaaaaaay behind and we essentially had half an hour to prepare and bake the supper meal. There were long line-ups forming, problems with the barbecues and grills, and eggplant still to bake. While cooking myself over a hot grill, I saw Fred out of the corner of my eye moving from barbecue to veggie chopping to long line of hungry people singing a song and playing his guitar to encourage and urge us all on to finding our happy places.
It worked, of course.
Who doesn't love Fred?!

Backstage was also our favourite place to re-group, relax, re-hydrate, and find one another.

The atmosphere is light, friendly, and relaxed.
Waaaaaaaay relaxed.

According to the Winnipeg Free Press, at this year's 36th annual festival a new record of 73,000(cumulative total) visitors to the festival. That's an average of 14,600 people on site a day. Somehow with those odds, I managed to run into my friend Karla-with-a-"K", Heather
(fumbling for words), Linda (my voice), and repeatedly, a face I did not want to see. A man who used to be our friend but casually left his wife after 26 years of marriage because he "just wasn't into her anymore"....
At the Handmade Village, I had the great pleasure of enjoying Wanda June's work again, and supporting the marvellous, artistic jewellery made by Redd Line.
And that's not even mentioning some of my absolute highlights: camping in family campground in our brand-new-to-us tent trailer, getting caught in the rain with nothing but two spiderman ponchos and one garbage bag; and best of all? A "chance" conversation backstage with a beautiful, amazing woman who is giving her life to Rwanda. A priveleged Westerner who lives there as a local with no fridge, stove, hot water, or family. She spends her time at a local orphanage loving kids, and spending whatever money she can raise to buy fresh fruit and diapers at the market. For the kids.
Made me think long and hard about Jesus.
Inspired me to keep attempting to live life intentionally.
Hopefully, over the next year there will be more on that. For now, another fantastic festival is behind us.
With no regrets.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009


Fridges are a marvellous invention; no?
You go to the far faraway grocery store and spend five hundred or so of your easily-come-by spare change. You come home set for a healthy week of fresh fruits, veggies, and dairy-type products.

You eat quite a bit of it, but it's always surprising how the back of the fridge always recedes into the wall behind it, and the strawberries, mushrooms, sour cream, and apples start making babies with each other. Bad babies.

When the kids yell "snack time!" some ten days after shopping day, the pickin's are a little slim and you get down on your haunches to peer behind the fur coats into the narnia beyond. That's when you recognize that the fur is actually growing on what was your groceries just a coupla days ago.

You're glad you are doing your part to stimulate the economy. Just a few weeks ago, you bought a composter so that after the groceries brief vacation in the refridgerater, they can go make their contribution to the world in another way- return to the soil from whence they came. Now you've invested in two big gadgets to not make use of your produce. The fridge, which is so much fun to fill up when you've spent fifty hours collecting the stuff, lengthened your arms by fifteen inches hauling the stuff, and made a special trip to the city far faraway to acquire the stuff. After this easy stuff, you get to empty the Rot-erater and carry it to the composter.

Or if you're lazy; you could just leave your fridge door open and make it an all-in-one. You'd save yourself a couple of bothersome steps.

(You might have to move though. Or be prepared to plant tomatoes in your kitchen after all that stuff composts. Or be willing to share your abode with rodents, bugs, and all manner of neighbourhood dogs and cockroach.)

I don't personally recommend it; but it's your Rot-erater.

If you're fortunate enough to own one.

**NO! silly. It's not my fridge up there in the photos. Not the clean one, and not the disgusting one. not even the strawberries between the two of them. My camera is on leave with eldest daughter who seems to have sprouted some photography talent and seems in high demand with the locals. Strawberries are yummy! So is vanilla yogurt. I don't usually let those things rot too readily. It's the half lemon in a tupperware in the recesses of the fridge. The lone carrot from the summer of '07. That portabella mushroom the husband was going to barbeque. two weeks ago....

Monday, July 06, 2009

Wanna Be

A few nights ago some women (circa high school grad; 1985) met for dinner and conversation. I was amazed and inspired to hear that three out of the six women present had a disturbing habit of rising with (or before) the sun and hitting the elements for some hard core cardio.

I was duly impressed. All that discipline. Muscle. Anti-flub proactivity. All that energy- producing, happiness promoting endorphin production.

My husband is of equal baffling persuasion; having been known to swim one hundred laps at the pool before breakfast for years on end.

This morning at 6:00 am, he convinced me to accompany him and the dog on an early morning walk. I didn't want to. I didn't even want to be vertical, never mind mobile. But I did it; thinking that I wouldn't mind experiencing that energy rush and that positive chemical reaction. Seemed like an excellent way to approach a new week. I had often engaged in daydreams and fantasies about being one of those people and I suspected that actually starting was an important element of the process.

I felt ill.
My feet hurt where the callouses on my heels were beginning to crack. My eyes hurt. My arms felt weak. My toes felt pinched. The sense of fatigue was as yucky as when my babies insisted on nursing at the most inconvenient of times.

Almost four hours later- absolutely no change. I feel like I walked across town on my eyeballs.

Dinner and conversation I can do; but beyond that I may just settle for the cheering section when it comes to my early morning heroes. I'm pretty sure that produces a lot more feel good endorphins...

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Canadian Shield Safari

First sighting: a wee bunny hopping towards grandma's lush garden.... Little does he know of Aganetha the Horrible.

Families of goslings marching in the ditches along the long highway that leads us to the lake. Huge ravens waiting for the oppurtunity to bully lunch out of some smaller being. Gorgeous deer and spotted fawns.

At the cabin; a very, very tall tree blown over in a wind storm provides an instant project for a handy guy with a chainsaw. What weakened that tree? A very industrious woodpecker, who had carved out an impressive suite inside the trunk and tucked her two wee offspring inside.
Unfortunately; they did not survive the fall, but did wet my own appetite for learning more of this hardworking bird.

And on the drive home? A black bear. Slowly padding his way across the road, disappearing his furry self into the tall grasses of the opposite ditch.
A long winter? Indeed.
But what a beautiful foray into this summer's new season of life.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Happy Birthday, Canada

Kids these days.
Our third annual trek to the Winnipeg Zoo for Canada Day. Eldest opted for staying home and sleeping in instead of heading out at 8:15 with us crowd-beating keeners. Some certain other children refused to have their photo taken, or mumbled obscenities like: "I'm bored. How many Aminals do we have to see before we get to go home...?"

The sights were luscious as usual. Too bad for the poor wee mouse that we happened upon along the path. Must have seen a really big prairie dog and dropped dead of fright? Or did he feel so inferior to the bright plumage around him that he gave in to his dark side and called it a life?

Or. Maybe he told his mother that he was bored.
At the zoo.

Nothing a bit of sugar and fat can't straighten out in a nano second.
9:15 in the zoo munchie station.

Traditions are good. Kids are too, I hear.
Judging from the amount of pregnant bellies and miniscule humans around the place, I'm going to go ahead and speculate that word has not gotten out that babies turn into children who whine.
Might need to blow up that photo of the mousie...