Monday, November 29, 2010

Grump Busters

Turning the place into a holiday appetizer.
Pulling out photos from across the years at Christmas time and setting them up in little vignettes of pleasure here and there throughout the chaos that is home.

Hanging up the snowflake that Micah made at Rose's preschool so many years ago. It still looks great.
Walking past the christmas tree lot.

Getting to a magical day without too much; wind, cold, or babies.
Witnessing the wonders of spontaneous sidewalk snow angel making.

Vintage glass ornaments in a vintage metal dish rack. I'm sorry, but there's no way you can convince me that there is anything prettiet than an old tree ornament.
Except maybe the five golden fireking Egg Nog mugs that I found at the thrift shop last year. I seriously almost stopped breathing. and then you know what??? It was half price day.
So I got them: two/ 25 cents.

Framing the memories from across the years.
Finding time for creativity when logic insists that there is no time. But guess what. If you wash the floor forty times, it's still dirty after the 39th time. so, I just saved myself a few washings in that mix, and I found myself much cheerier.

Making hair clips and "found object" magnets, and then affixing family pics from across the years on a vintage, wall-mounted tray.
Digging the USB turntable out of the garage, and finding a heap of Christmas lp's to go along with it.

What's Christmas without Kenny and Dolly?
What's life without Barbie Allen to lead the way?
And what's that on your leg?
Well, that's just the summation of turning "bored" to "happy".
And I'll share the secret formula with you: Take a plain Joe skirt. Play "arts and crafts" with some vintage scraps and a bit of cording. Create a leafy little sumpin-sumpin right there on your clothes- go ahead! You're old enough to deface your clothing and your mom can't even give you the silent treatment!
In fact, she'll probably wish she were more like you.
A little more happy, a little less bored.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Confessions of a Has-Been

  • I bore me
  • I miss writing when I didn't mentally visualize actual, for real forreal people who would read my words.
  • I see the occasional "writing contest" and try to have one of those; "Self. You know you coulda/shoulda/woulda-but-I-know-ya Won't-ah" type conversations.
  • I get bored early on and stop listening.
  • I try to inspire me. There's lots of places to go-- like google images. Or other people's blogs. (the none has-been ones) But I feel either cynical or bored and just pissy because I don't know how to use power tools.
  • Because I'm bored, I notice things like the nasty shades of grub on the computer keyboard. I think- "I bet there's a way to clean that". I think- "I could probably google that information". Then I immediately feel bored. I mean-- who wants to spend their free time cleaning a computer keyboard?! I think that's at least a couple of additional stages into "has-been" status.
  • Do you know that if you try to inspire yourself by surfing the internet, you find women who re-make their wardrobes out of their husband's XL white t-shirt and a linen tent from 1980?! Where can you even go from there?
  • Or have you ever actually watched a Martha Stewart tutorial video? Geez, I really felt like slapping her. Is that a sign of life?
  • Dust.
  • The appearance of dust can make me go almost comotose. It's always frikking everywhere. Like all you do is sit around on your pet-infested couch munching on bon bons all day. It just fluffs around the place- all the way up the stairs. Under the desk. Around piles of goodness-knows-what. and if anyone sends me a link on simplifying my life or decluttering, we no longer have a relationship. I will block your e-mails.
  • I've been wearing the same pair of Zenni glasses since August when I got really sick and rolled over in bed, inadvertently crushing my other pair. The pair that I actually liked. These ones are..... pink. They make me look like the middle-aged has-been that I am. In pink glasses.
  • I've taken to habitually saying (to the dog) : STOP STARING AT ME!
  • sometimes I accidently prompt small children to say; "Sorry, joycie". At which point I have to say- "Not You. You can stare at me."

And now for that tidy wrap-up that the feel good blogs insist on:

I walked to the thrift shop with the kids this afternoon. The weather was splendid. A perfect, crisp, clear, sparkley winter afternoon. They wandered over every bump and clump, gathering sticks and licking snow blobs along the way.

After I made my selections (great pair of unripped Old Navy jeans for Sam, some pin backs for a project that I may or may not ever complete.....), the kids and I went to stand in line to pay. Several grey-haired women were ahead of us and one of my kids asked; "Why are there so many grandmas?"

I explained that every kid has a grandma (if they are lucky) and so there are lots of grandmas around who belong to all sorts of people.

To which a four year old replied;

"But there's only ONE of you, right Joyce?"

So yeah. Has Been, but not in triplicate.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Dinner, With a Side of Mennonite

What's it like to be 43, fit, fun, and fabulous?
Well, when surrounded by women of tremendous strength and integrity, it is sort of inspiring, and well worth the ride. (triple chins notwithstanding)

If not to her wise women friends; then where else can a Mennonite in a Little Black Dress go to learn that pluma moos and soora kumst borscht pair beautifully with a crisp white wine or a splash of sangria?

Certainly we'd found our initial support through Rhoda Janzen's hilarious read, but dare I suppose that we were the first in a new craze- the MLBD dinner party?
Granted, some of our guests travelled as far as Japan to procure the most perfect of black attire. Others rescued said items from the cold fate of being shipped off to Russia after a cruel and swift rejection by the hasty and calculating senior who manically sorts through clothing donations at our local stop 'n' shop thrift store. (do the Russians need a little black dress while standing in line for bread rations or head coverings for their inevitable banishment to the winds of Siberia?)
Friends and daughter's closets were raided. Family heirlooms were employed.
And there was rumour of a road trip to a stinky house where numerous little black items were found stuffed into a grocery bag, not far from the contraband lemon rum which was found tucked in an out-of-the-way bedroom corner.

(now don't get all persnickity on me. I have TIDE.)
If you have Mennonite roots, Mennonite friends, ex-Mennonites in your periphery, or you just plain like borscht, you have to read this book. And then you'll realize that you have a slew of really wise, fun, insightful friends. Then you'll want to force them to find little black dresses and join you for camembert cheese, spring rolls, red wine,
And m00s.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Gosh, you people are good to me

(thanks for making my birthday so special!)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

On The Eve Of Being Old Enough To Practically Die

I'm going to be 43 tomorrow.
On the day that my brother turned 43, he found out that the pain in his back and legs were the result of being colonized by blood clots, thanks to the monster that had taken over his bile duct. The big terminal "C".

He'd never really walk again.
His skin would turn yellow and green.
His legs would swell to ballon-ous proportions, while his chest shrivelled into itself and his eyes sunk into his cranium.

I've been trying to imagine what it would be like if I got that kind of diagnosis tomorrow. Silly thing to do, I know. But maybe you don't understand that I need to identify with the sense of life's fragility. That all my brother got was 43 years, and a gal ought to think about the gravity of something so unfair as that.

Having said that, I really hate the notion of "living every day like it was your last".

Can you seriously imagine doing that? You'd sleep through your alarm, feed the kids chocolate fondue for breakfast, and pack a lunch full of peanut butter because the principal can't really get mad at a dead mom, now can she? I wouldn't shower because I hate getting wet. Then I'd call the parents of my daycare kids and tell them that I was dying, and I didn't feel like wiping their kid's bums that day. And then I'd not wipe the counters or the table, or the floors. I'd figure that Brian could spend the rest of his lonely life looking after those trivial details. I would definitely not plan lunch or supper and I would most certainly not pay bills.

Well? Who can live like that day after day? Only a big, selfish dummy, that's who.

But here I am on the eve of being old enough to practically die tomorrow.
And I did wipe the counters and the bums. I took out the garbage, and packed peanut free snacks. I considered planning dinner, and I wondered if I'd ever pay off my mortgage.

I did a bunch of boring stuff that indicates I don't really think I'll die before my furnace filter needs to be replaced.

I remember when my brother was lying there all swollen and yellow in his blue hospital gown and behaving in such grateful and kind ways. I'll never, ever forget his words, and that soft grey vulnerability in his eyes.

"People tend to ask the question; "Why Me?";
but I have to ask a different question: "why not me?"
Can you imagine having that kind of grace on the cusp of slipping away, not watching your kids grow up, not hanging out with people you love, not even walking your own self to the bathroom?!
I can't quite imagine it.
Tomorrow I'll be 43. As far as I know, I don't have anything terminal.
I don't quite know how to explain it, but I feel like I need to mark this passage to honour my brother somehow. As if I could let him know that I haven't forgotten.
I could come up with a list of stuff that I'm going to do this year- get in shape, run a marathon, stop collecting random stuff, work at a soup kitchen. But I might fail, and besides, I don't really get the point of being all "list-y" to commemorate someone.
This year, I'll probably fantacize about being thin. I'll probably get broody and miserable from time to time. I'll probably eat a lot of cheese and bread, muffins and cookies. I'll wash it down with champagne whenever I can get away with it. I'll kiss my kids and beg my husband to rub my shoulders. I'll curse at the dog, read some great books, and write some rubbish. I'll walk to the thrift shop way too often, and visit my parents not often enough.
I'll feel bored and boring, grateful and happy.
And I won't forget.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Why my Kids are ARRIGHT By Me

My boy, who is twelve, left me this note.
He'd been fooling around with a zipper that oddly enough had found a home on my kitchen counter. (It must be a very warm and inviting kitchen counter. I think everything lives on there.)
Now, lots of kids (and grown-ups too) would pull the tab right off a stray zipper and then guiltily shove it under a stack of "home reading" papers, never to be seen by the home matriarch again.
I like how he set it up so beautifully and then left me a sticky note that says; "Oops".
Whatta guy.