Thursday, May 27, 2010


Some days there's just not enough optimism in the world.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

How Come?

It only seems right that by my age and stage, I should have the honour and respect of my miserable, mangey, self-assured offspring. I should by now have assumed the same position of reverence that my own parents enjoyed. That straight-spined silent obedience that I remember with such fondness and unrequitted joy.

When I bellow threats at the fourth attempt to rise my slumbering, dozey, messy daughters from their duvet nests, ought I really endure them telling me to settle down and quit yelling?

Something gone terribly wrong with the world, I gotta tell ya.

Now, on the farm, we knew the drill. Get up at 7:00, with your very own alarm clock set very, very quietly to a rock music station. Never ever allow that volume to go past two notches, lest your parents should hear the evil emenating from their loved ones bedsides. Get up. Do the chores, milk the pigs, haul the bales uphill six miles, groom the kitties. Have a shower, curl the hair into feathers, apply the blue eyeliner,make your bed, and at the exact stroke of 7:30, ascend the stairs and assume your position at the breakfast table in time for the reading of Our Daily Bread. Miss it and you die. Don't even think about missing it. Don't waste any time at the breakfast table with communicating, laughing, or discussing rides or sports or lessons for the evening. We won't be having any of those. Never ever scrape excess butter off your toast and back into the butter dish. People have died for lesser crimes than this.

Make your own lunch.

We won't be having any of that store-bought convenient nonsense either. It's simply unnecessary. Well, on second thought, you'll find some thinly sliced mock chicken and some ten day old sandwhich bread that fell off a truck on its way to the Union Gospel Mission. Those will go well with the bulk, speckled, reduced-in-price bananas that will make your mock chicken taste like unsweetened banana bread sans chocolate chips by lunchtime. Two white cream cookies minus frosting and sprinkles will complete your brown bag lunch.

Now, run downstairs right quick to get that eye liner and mascara applied. Then straight out the door and down the driveway to meet the 8:05 morning school bus. Don't let mom catch you looking like a harlot either. She'll curl her lip in disgust, not speak to you for four days, and increase your ARBEIT exponentially. Simply not worth the cost.

None of this Mahhhhhhhhhhhhhom, Did you make me some coffee? There's nothing for lunches. Where's the lettuce, mom? I don't like these juice boxes. Didn't you get me those protein bars from Costco? Mom. Quit nagging. I don't nnnneeeeeed to be at school until 9:05. New rules that you know absolutely nothing about. Mom. The straightener won't work. Mom? When are we going shopping?

Sheesh. What about some Shinka Fleish on buns, a little condemnation for breakfast, and some good old fashioned hard labour as a life style?

Yep, something, somewhere went terribly wrong.
And I have a sinking feeling that it all started back there with that contraband blue eyeliner.

I shoulda known my sins would find me out.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

REAL Estate

Sure, I could have skimmed off the top of those off shore accounts of ours and built myself a fancy triple decker, balcony-ed, three car garage, paved driveway kind of house on a pretty goose-poop pond, but I've always believed in living closer to the bone. Supporting the core. "Keepin' it real" -so to speak.

Life in the inner city with its police tape and hash pipes, halfway houses and thieving neighbours. The opportunities for expanding your children's vocabularies. (Mom? What does f*** mean?) Coming home from church to find your kiddie pool full of mud, the hose running, and couch cushions a la dumpster surrounding the trampoline.

Yep, those were the days. If we weren't so shrewd, we'd have sold off our rubies and convertibles, paid for Brian's second degree in cash, and hunkered down in the 'burbs with their fences and by-laws, and their high-falutin' working neighbours. However. That would have made it way harder to walk to Superstore for their 9:00 AM dented can specials or the library for free book reading, or to the YMYWCA to swim with the locals. There would have been a lot fewer interactions with Percy the straight-talking street guy, or the busy little lady who wore mittens all summer, peed her pants as she wandered, and lay in the public parks to let the sun dry her off.

Yeah, the more I think about it, we just wouldn't have fit in with the regular Joneses.

So, when life in that city ended, we began to look for a new nest for our family. Oh, it wasn't a question of finances, of this I'm sure you're aware. What with my almost Bachelor of Arts degree and four snotty children hanging off my folds, I was highly employable. My husband had two impressive degrees to consider, and a promising new career position on the horizon. Yep, nothing like a private school salary to put you in the market for a sprawling five bedroom character home with a sun porch and wrap-around deck.

But we resisted.
We remembered our commitment to inner city, busy streets, and fascinating neighbours. We fondly reminisced about the early morning sounds of beer bottles clanging (Beer Vendor- Open 9:00 AM!), New Year's Eve celebrations on nearby rooftops, accompanied by the sounds of intermittent brown bottles hitting the sidewalks below, and our nature-loving next-door neighbours who preferred urinating on our fence to the inconvenience of stepping back indoors.

Quite irreplaceable.
So, when we moved to Hoo-Ville we resisted the urge to build our dream home on the golf course and decided to renew our commitment to the core. The hood. The slums. We sent all our excess funds to Save The Polar Bears And Melting Ice Caps and invested in a modest one and a half storey with crooked stairs and drafty windows. We're just selfless that way.

We were soon made very aware that Brandon had nothing on Hoo-Ville. Our neighbours here made the drunken pissers back home look like a weekend in Paris on beds of down and fine wine. But in time, we nudged them out and nestled into our new nest with its convenient location close to schools, parks, churches.... lots, and lots of churches....and of course, the thrift shop. Life in the heart of the city needed us.

With the wisdom that comes with age and selfless devotion to my home and community, I decided to become involved in the politics of this burgeoning goose-poop and walk-out basement blossoming town and attended my first ever public hearing. There had been some mention of re-zoning and other obscure notations about changes to by-laws involving unlicensed home daycare providers. My high-profile, at times imposing persona seemed indispensable. Not that I felt threatened in any way.

Embracing the latent sophisticate within, I slipped into place in the board room. That epicenter of local power and prestige. Two presentations in, it became immediately apparent to me that the town had bigger fish to fry than to waste their time going after a pock-faced, middle-aged, sun-darkened daycare lady with a gaggle of happy preschoolers mucking up her back yard.

The re-zoning proposals were primarily about a high-end housing development gone bad. A golf course that never got beyond gopher holes and dandelions. Five hundred thousand dollar homes on streets that are sinking into some sort of bog. Man-made lakes flanked by railroad tracks and empty lots. Lots of prairie grasses, crickets, and residents several hundred thousand dollars in the lurch.

If only they'd known what we did.
About life in the old lane.
With our opulent lots bordered on either side by generous church spaces, great big mature trees, and big, wide driveways. With neighbours who would never notice whether a dayhome increased traffic on the street since the teens on the end of the street roar up and down roughly eight hundred thousand times hourly. Where enormous church lots remove any issue of parking, pick-ups, or drop-offs. And where occasional rental homes sprinkled into the residential mix means that property values hinge more closely on dandelion prevalence than square footage or building specs.

I bet all those two vehicle, triple decked, spare bedroomed, leather couched, hardwood floored suburbanites wish they were more like us. I bet they wished they had given all their money to the poor, volunteered at helping hands, and bought their knickers at the Re-store.

But hey. At the very least, they might have the wondrous oppurtunity to take on a second or third job, and bring their kids to daycare.

In the core.

**so you may have figured out that the town meeting about re-zoning and daycare by-laws was not so scarey. That they are in no way trying to drive out The Little Guy. That I am actually really very happy to live in the old part of town because the likelihood of my neighbours getting their panties in a bundle about people going in and out of my house is exceedingly slim. The town is not at all interested in legislating how people like me operate. So, there was no need for me to get silly about the whole thing, but it was awfully fun! Thanks for joining this friendly middle-aged kid-lovin' mama in some sarcastic rambles about life and living.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

I Want

  • To have my furniture stay in the same place for a few days. Or weeks. Years, maybe. In any case, I want it to move when I decide to move it. Not when they get turned into clubhouses or rocking horses or trampolines.
  • To lose myself in fabric and ideas. For hours, if I want to. It's hard to get lost in five second, stolen intervals.
  • A clean floor. That stays clean when I mop it, which I seem to be doing almost constantly.
  • To stay awake long enough to watch some movies. Like "Precious" and "The Devil Came on Horseback".
  • Really clean up my creative space. Remember what wondrous specimens I have hiding there. Ditch and dust a lot of other stuff.
  • Bedrooms that don't look like clothing killing fields.

I'm Disappointed

  • That after ordering and reading Geneen Roth's latest book entitled; "Women, Food, and God- An unexpected path to amost anything"; I remain essentially unmoved. This is particularly disappointing, as I credit Roth for my hard earned recovery from eating troubles roughly twenty years ago. I still see so much in me still that I want healed and redeemed and I had hoped Geneen would fill in some blanks for me. But the truth is that I had heard much of it before, and really need a whole other layer added on. It's like I'm "Not sick enough, and not well enough either". Of course, there is much to be grateful for in such a scenario. But the disappointment is in having read the book and having only a slim sliver of an "AHA!" moment.

I'm Glad

  • to be working at home. Really. Even though the floor and the couch and the crumbs and the laundry can get really, crushingly old. I love our walks. Our laughs. Our toast with raspberry jam.
  • that the kids have smartened up in the last few days. Last week they all left their ears at home and drove me to fearful distraction.
  • the parents of my kiddies are so incredibly supportive and kind. Wow. This would be a difficult job without them, and I am sort of amazed all the time at the quality of parents that are part of my life.
  • that I still have four other books to read.
  • that it's yard sale season
  • that I found the awesomest book at the thrift shop for 25 cents entitled: "Your Home and You" published in 1962 and packed full of insights on how to be a decent human in the '60's. The photos are amazing. So is the advice on how to properly make a bed, how to fashion your own clothing, and how to look your best.

For your reading pleasure, and to leave you wanting, glad, and hopefully not disappointed, I'll share an excerpt of said book.

"Tips about spots: Beverly spent fifteen minutes trying to remove a grease spot from her dress. After the spot disappeared, she spent fifteen minutes more removing the ring that had formed as a result of her cleaning efforts. If she had taken a half minute to put on an apron before she began to whip the cream which made the spot, she would have saved thirty minutes of work."

(or, she could just live here- throw her clothes onto the rumpled couch, roll around on the crumb-ladened floor, and wait for the laundry to magically appear clean and fresh in her disastrous bedroom)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Told Ya We'd Get That Coffee on the Dock!

That coffee sure would have been good with cinnamon buns.
Too bad Laura ate them all- the day before breakfast...

Ah well, (Wo)man cannot live on bread alone, and in the absence of Mary's buns, we had to make do on the other 700 pounds of food that we carried in- roughly enough to feed several dozen contestants before finding their way onto "The Biggest Loser".

Just for balance, we found ourselves in the midst of a wealth of information on how to live healthy. Whilst stuffing ourselves compulsively on hint of lime chips, munchie mix, licorice, and drinking tumblers full of wine, information flowed freely on the benefits of vigorous exercise, and the disciplined practise of eating butter-free bread. Then, like a tapas gone Mary Key/Shaklee/ ponzi party bad, there was an unscheduled, full length testamonial on a highly successful, highly suspect supplement containing elements of unearthed Old Testament manna- guaranteed to rev your metabolism whilst scraping sugary butter off the bottom of the empty pecan bun pan.

Something like that.
Enough to make a recovering nutbar cry unabashed into her rhubarb and vodka slushie.

But the shared nut tree is some of what brings these women together. Shared history. Craziness. Creativity. Opinionated honesty.

And while I suspect that my compadres are back in line with supplements and regimes, I plan on slurping and savouring my way through another year.

Until we meet again.
In Regina!

Friday, May 07, 2010

Goin' to the Cabin

Last time I was at the cabin, it was really, really cold.
The lake was buried beneath a sheath of snow. The deck was invisible.
The fridge didn't need to get turned on, except to raise its temperature, and the oven offered a lovely secondary heat source.

This time, we won't need the elements for heat. We'll have running water. Maybe sip our coffees on the deck. And the rhubarb slush. Meanwhile, we'll be snacking on Roselle's cheese scones, Kathy's tabouli and spinach rice salad, and looking forward to Mary's morning cinnamon buns. Laura might bring a few dozen boxes of crackers from Costco, Amanda will be gracefully, serenely mixing up something gourmet on the side, and Carol's contribution will likely have an international flare.

Wine will flow. Tongues will wag.
It'll be hilarious, as always.

Once a year the female descendants of the late and great grandfather and grandmother Kehler gather together for a crazy sleepover with limited amounts of sleep. While our grandparents' whiskers would likely curl at the liberties that the generations have coloured us with, I like to think they'd be pleased to think of us all together.

Laughing and learning into the future.

Heart of Darkness

If you are human, and honest, you will likely have to admit that you've glimpsed your own heart and noted a depth of darkness there. Perhaps you have viewed it with some horror.

I know I have.
In sad and dark moments such as those, I know I am capable of horrific things. Things we think only monsters are capable of. Things we don't believe are good, or redemptive, or even a part of our character.

And if you are fortunate, as I am, you will be met with compassion and concern in those moments. As though perched on a precipice with condemnation on one side and waves of mercy on the other, with the ever present possibility of flipping from one side full on into the other.

Staring into one's own ugliness can provide the arena for more honest self evaluation. A change in direction. Additional safe-guarding against allowing that darkness to inhabit more space, caging it from future release.

It's wise to recognize what we ourselves are not above becoming.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Policies, Procedures and Daily Lesson Plans, Part One

So I spent a little bit of time on a Manitoba website about home daycares. There was some mention of printed, visible menu plans, science, outdoor play, and library; among other stuff that are vital to the survival of children.

I think I should practise. See if I'm intelligent enough for this job.

breakfast: silver dollar pancakes, fresh-squeezed orange juice, and B52s. (for me).

Lunch: coque au vin, Creme brule

Snack: Mussels in tomato sauce.

*in the event that certain ingredients are not in season, or available locally, to comply with our top standard of hundred mile eating, items may be substituted with more readily available choices. Options include: honey nut cheerios, rye toast, macaroni and cheese straight from the box, and vanilla yogurt.

Day Plan:
Phys. Ed: continue to practise gross motor skills. Attempt to master running along sidewalks without falling on hands.

Field trip: Tuesday. Outdoor walk to the mall. Practise social skills, manners, delayed gratification, public etiquette.

*the term "mall" is used here to loosely describe a shopping facility within walking distance, specializing in re-usable items.

Fine motor skills: play dough.
And teeney, tiny sewing machines in the basement.

Socialization: Teach the children how to deal with conflict.
eg. When Micah comes home for lunch, and chases a child, and said child comes to report this incident to her caring, nurturing daycare provider, proceed to throw Micah to the ground, flip him over onto his belly, and administer false blows to his behind. (clapping one's hands works quite effectively for this manoever.) Then, with your knee firmly pressed into his chest, practise some phoney WWF head punch moves. Using words like ; "slam dunk" and "donchu evah" seem to multiply the effectiveness of these socialization techniques. Any other creative use of vocabulary is an excellent use of the whole language philosphy, and will support any future work in the area of literature and prose.

Circle Time: One of the most meaningful circle times takes place in the sandbox.
Extend index finger. Place on sandy surface. Continue in a circular motion, creating the image of a circle in the sand.

It really is more straight forward than it sounds. Maybe tomorrow I'll post our schedule again and spend a little more time elaborating on Circle Time.

My Policies:
  • all children must be fully potty trained by the age of four months.
  • no one is allowed to wear socks at any time. Takes up way too much time and energy at the end of the day, crawling under couches and hunting through stacks of dress-up clothes.
  • no one is ever allowed to ask; "What's for lunch?" Closely followed with; "Yuck".

Actually, the more I think about it, the more I realize that I need to concentrate on MY policies. When I have an adequate draft, I'll propose a by-law.

Then I'll charge the town for the privelege of having me be a part of it.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Hey Homies

(Is a recovering Chortitzer Mennonite allowed to use a word like "homies"?!)
It makes me feel so gangsta. So baaaaad. Proud, almost.

People of da 'Ville, gather round. Now, I'll humbly confess that I've always felt prickley when people rant about what's happening to their little Bible belt town-- too much change, its getting too big, blahdy blah. I always think that people are being paranoid and afraid of change. But perhaps I spoke too soon? Gather round, ye haters of change-- I need you to channel your latent irritation at change and direct it at rallying against this assault on home daycares. (Not that I'm involved in that calling any more. I've left it all behind me, and I'll be downstairs with some friend's kids, playing "tuk 'n' nare", just minding my own business plus the business of some very small friends who just happen to be over for a play)

Here for your bristling pleasure, is the message which the chamber recently distributed to businesses in Hoo-Ville.

Do you or your employees utilize daycare services in Niverville?

Do you know that every new resident that phones the Chamber Office is asking about the options for daycare and/or commenting on the shortage of daycare spaces?

Please see your April 20th Town Bulletin for information on the proposed changes to zoning bylaws (687-10 and 663-08) that may affect in-home daycares.

A Public Hearing will be held on Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 7:35 p.m. at the Civic Office, 86 Main Street.
Then please plan to attend said meeting, or else type up a message and send it to

There are still families amongst us who like to leave their precious poppets in a home away from home.
I'd like it to stay that way.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Notice Of My Retirement

I no longer run a home daycare.

The town is proposing a by-law that will require people to apply for permits, have particular frontages, side-ages, back-ages, and packages, and probably a lot of stupid stuff in between. There will be no more games of "tuk in nare" where Lance rallies all the children to throw stuffies up into the ductwork and try to get them Stuck In There. I imagine that will become unsafe or unethical or politically incorrect some way or other and fall under some complex legislation.

I'd only be allowed to look after a very limited amount of children.

Now, as a mother, I can go ahead and produce a litter and raise them in a basement with no windows. But as your child's second mother.... Nope. Turns out that I'm incompetent. Need papers. Menu plans. PERMITS.

So. I've decided to quit home daycare and move into another area entirely.

Effective immediately, I will be inviting the children of my home town into my house and treating them as my own. Loving them, and their parents and supporting them on their child rearing adventures. (who incidentally would be up a creek with zero paddles without home daycares. This town has totally inadequate daycare spaces. Many families are outsourcing their kids to the big city).

So, my friends who have children and used to bring them to my home daycare.... I'm closed.
But please, your children are invited to come to my house from 6:00 am until 5:15 pm Monday through Friday. I'm that lady down your street.

I'm just into supporting my community that way.