Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Eve of a New Year

I am
petty, forgetful, insecure, resourceful
kind, resentful, worried, and afraid.
Introspective, anxious, easy-going,
Generous, shrewd, selfish, stubborn.
funny, sullen, irritable, friendly.
gifted, stupid, brave, and terrified.
fat and thin and fine and exhausted.
rested, read, curious, and compelled.
Intelligent, inspired, complacent, passionate.
Assertive, apologetic, timid, bull-headed.

And this year,
I am thinking of doing something pretty drastic.
I'm thinking of accepting
the way
I am.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Life in Pictures

I took the camera everywhere with me this Christmas.
I love looking at life in review through photographs- it helps me recognize all the goodness that is so constantly and readily available to us.

But did I take any pictures?!
I can't find them.
And that makes it feel as though none of it really happened.

But I'm pretty sure that my sister decorated the entire tree at our parents, as she does every year. We always go to mom's for supper halfway through December and call it "tree decorating night at mom and dad's". We all eat. Mom always brings out her puzzle, which my other sister always works on. The kids always make too much noise. I read all the flyers, the local paper, and a Readers Digest.

And Kathy always decorates the entire tree, while we MEAN to get up and help her.
I thought I took pictures.

I'm sure the boys and I went out skating on Christmas Eve after Brian had gone off to bed.
I felt like a voyageur, mother-of-the-year, and an Olympian. I wish there were pictures.

We celebrated Christmas with Brian's family in the Land of Wink.
It was raining, and snowing, and mild, and green.
His mom made all the stuff that makes me weak at the knees- spicy papanate (pfeffernussen), chocolate covered peanut butter treats, chocolate pie, and lemon buns. The kids cousins played some instrumentals for the grandparents. The littlest cousin showed up looking a lot like a growing up boy, and there was no nappers or whiners or cry-ers. It was a moment of realizing how everything keeps changing and growing. We celebrated for the first time "in town" since Brian's folks had moved off the acreage that they'd raised their kids on.

Some photos would be nice.

The kids got way too many electronics for Christmas.
I'm glad there aren't any photos. They wouldn't fit with my preferred self-image as green and tree-hugging, and peace-lovin'.

My Christmas trees are absolute perfection this year.
In fact, they so defy Christmas Past, that I ought to find the camera and record them from every single angle. That would bolster my fledgling image of organic wholesomeness.

I won't be taking too many photos of how the kids are spending the holidays, unless I drug and drag them back out to the ice rink. Photos of the kids engaging in virtual quests is something I prefer to indulge my expertise of denial in.

Tomorrow is New Years Eve, and we're going to throw a party of epic proportion. The kids will be away at parties of their own, since they're practically adults now.

I'm planning to take some pictures.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Back To The Brian

Brian's birthday is in the middle of December, so he's always kind of gotten the shaft when it comes to properly celebrating the man who so many of us love.

This time was going to be different. I couldn't let this birthday slip by underwhelmingly as it had been an epic year for my spouse. He'd gotten his determined and stubborn hat on last January and decided to get fit, lose weight, and ignore the liquor cabinet for an entire year.

His birthday; December 16, marked the end of that self-imposed fast. He strode in 45 lb lighter, pleased as a cheshire cat that all of his goals had been well achieved.

We are all so proud of him (if disgusted and envious).
Champagne never tasted so good.
Friends. You make the music and colour in our lives. Your laughter punctuates our conversations. Our lives have well-worn pathways throughout one another's.
And we are so grateful.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

My Grinchy Boy

I like to say that Sam is our only planned child.

Our first daughter came along five years premature- just one month into Brian's return to school to begin and complete his education degree. She was welcome and adored and somehow we even managed to feed her.

And once we found ourselves in the bliss and delirium of parenthood in all its glamour, we kind of took on a whatthehell attitude and allowed the mysteries of love and biology have their way with our destiny.

Along came Jane.
And by the time I was pregnant with Micah, Brian had graduated and entered a jobless education market. I was exhausted beyond what I thought was durable or life sustaining and while I dragged my two preschooler daughters through the tasks of daily living I made my friends promise to hit me as hard as they could if I ever so much as spoke of bearing another child.

Life was...well...

Yet, there was a lot of love in our dysfunctional family.

When Micah was three, the cravings began.
I wanted to have just one more wee baby.

I fought these urges valiantly. I told myself that I'd forgotten how difficult the whole venture could be and that I was just having some early onset midlife crisis. Besides. With three kids we could still fit in the car and goodness knew we couldn't exactly afford to buy a van.

But I'd always said that money was a lousy reason to not have kids.
So after a year of fighting with my thoughts, we decided to go ahead with our first Very Planned Parenthood.

And along came Sam.

Sam was different from our first three children from the moment he was born.
He slept. Ate. Smiled way more than he cried.
He was not afraid of people, or pets, or of trying new things.
He didn't cry about the seams in his socks and underwear, and never threw tantrums when church ladies smiled at him.

So why did it surprise me when at dinner one evening a few weeks ago, I commented to Sam that we'd need to find him a "who" costume for the upcoming Christmas production at his school.

Casually munching his dinner, he glanced up at me."No, mom. I'm not a Who.

"I'm The Grinch!"

Friday, December 16, 2011


Is my husband's birthday.
The first time I met him, he was seventeen.
He made me laugh while we worked the dish pit together
(posing as camp counsellors by day and night...)
Years later I would learn that I created a huge distraction to his role of canoe instructor
Looking the way I did in a bathing suit at sixteen....

We were twenty-two and twenty-three when we reunited.
I still looked pretty good in a bathing suit and he still had an appealing way about him.

He wanted to be a missionary and I was pretty much just messed up.
I didn't think it was gonna work out.
But I couldn't imagine my life
without him in it.

Brian is forty-five today. And I am forty-four.
He's not a missionary, and I'm a little less messed up.

This weekend we'll celebrate his life.
We'll ring it in with all manner of toasting and cheers beside all sort of people
we call friends.
And I'll be glad again
to have the sound of
in my life.

Happy birthday!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Things To Post on "Buy and Sell"

Bathroom carpet.
Just re-decorating after we potty trained the twins.

Melon baller.

Purchased at Dollarama only a few months ago.

Almost new but out of package.

Makes a great gift!

Used sports equipment.

Decided to switch back to badminton.

Beautiful sock.

Could be worn on left or right foot.

Please send me a private message, if interested.

Heel of rye bread. Left on counter overnight after long party the evening before.

Still has plenty of flavour.

Will throw in last teaspoon of granny's apricot jam for 25 cents.

In Churchill, but willing to deliver to Niverville.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Future Olympians

I never told the boys about Canada
and hockey.
Which kept us happily avoiding arenas for many a year.
The threat of their imminent or eventual deportation loomed in my imagination, so we laced up and limped our way to the community ice rink.
Which is located directly behind our house.
As it has been for several years.
We're under- achievers, and never wanted to appear to be too eager.
We were afraid of people who played with sticks and hard, flat, black thingies.

Which are not allowed in the pre-school learn to skate program.
I wonder if its too late to register?

Tuesday, December 06, 2011


December first is traditionally Hildebrand Christmas tree acquisition day. Now,since my family also has a tradition of hating the trees that I bring home, I was thoughtful enough this year to bring along a delegate from the offspring to represent his siblings.

He mostly embarrassed me by saying; "I like pie" when the lovely tree sellers asked him polite questions like; "How are you?". That's when I remembered why I don't let my children out of the house. But by then it was too late.

Next year I'm bringing the daytime kids. They never embarrass me.

Still, he looked remarkably handsome and DID love their hot apple cider. I think there's a community somewhere in the hills of Kentucky that consider that to be an exceptionally well developed personality trait. Feeling particularly generous this year, and always being a huge fan of the "Put Thineself Back Into The Equasion" cult, I purchased two trees- a proper bushy tree-like one for the kids, and a stick with needles for ME.

With Kenny and Dolly crooning on the turntable behind us, chinese take-out on the table, and boxes of vintage bulbs to unpack, another December is upon us.

And this year the stick tree is mine.

All mine.

Friday, December 02, 2011


Lately, the nicest, kindest, gentlest thing I can think of to do is just find a warm spot to bury my head into a quilt and kind of hope it just all goes away. While around me, the season is steadily shifting.
With the annual Lego advent calendar waiting patiently for December the first, Sam shoots out of bed, yawning and squinting, ready for the traditions to begin.
Always fond of Christmas, I feel green shoots of joy growing inside me as I rediscover the bulbs in teeny boxes, and the collection of family photos that I put out each December. (the wee baby is ME and I feel kind of teary, seeing as how she looks like my own daughter at her baby stage) Little vintage surprises begin to look comfortable on unexpected corners of my world. Vintage deer make me peek out from under my virtual quilt, and


In spite of myself.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Dear Home Consultant

I am writing to voluntarily withdraw myself from any and all future home parties.
Direct sales ventures contain a toxic quality which inadvertently and uncontrollably render me incapable of basic party etiquette.

For example.
When you tell me that your products are bought by celebrities (!), you've actually triggered my defense against this culturally accepted obsession of imitating starving Hollywood women.

After that, I just need you to pass me the cheese tray.
I definitely don't want your bangles; your charms.

When you tell me that your product is electroplated seven times (!) I want to pressure you into admitting that the fancy rhetoric is supposed to make me feel like I'm buying Lady Di's jewels. I smell a rat. Electrocuted.

Pushing these themes further, you've indicated that purchasing jewellery in the kitchen of my cousin is actually investing in my future. If I were less irritable, this may have captured my full attention. I worry about the future. With words like "rhodium"; "top-selling"; and "exciting"; I wish I was ready to become the next hostess; nay, the next consultant!! This just might be that investment into the future that will pay my children's tuition; their travels to the four corners of the world; my retirement; his retirement; the roof on the house!

But, alas. Cynicism rears her bullish head.
I could never be a team player.
Quitting my gritty day job to peddle rhodiums in strangers living rooms while sipping their sangria. Insidious.
Promoting a lifetime of hoarding semi-costume jewels.

I should be happy that you're able to give up your monotonous day job performing laser eye surgery in order to loaf about balancing grapes and wine on tiny cocktail napkins in the homes of unsuspecting strangers.

Instead I offer you a simple truce: ban me from your parties; your wares; your catchy ice breaker games and your free prizes (with the purchase of twenty four earrings, bracelets, and hangy bits that you don't really like) and I promise not to become a consultant. I won't rise to unit leader. I won't rob you of potential sales. And just to prove to you my sincerity, I won't even buy a single bangle out of your glossy catalogue.

I guess I'm just gracious that way.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Sometimes I Get Peed On

And sometimes I get really tired of my house being a chronic mess.
of crumbs and kids and marker lids.
crusty bits and missing
that used to hold things
on the fridge.
broken chairs from
too much climbing

But I got peed on because some sweet soul
missing her mama
climbed on my lap.

And while I stroked her angelic hair
she drifted off
and warmed

Sometimes the kids will call me
They've forgotten
where they were.

and I'm happy.
To think
I could have such
and drippy

Even on my couch


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tante Marie

She left in the middle
of living

Flour dusting her sifter
because she was not yet done

We who were left
met together for faspa
with her jelly
her cookies
her platters and

While sifting through a lifetime of her buttons
and planning
more life
for them all.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Passage of Time

On the night before my 44th birthday, Brian wanted to take me out for dinner. To a quaint, sophisticated Italian restaurant right downtown Winnipeg called Tres Visi. It's beautiful and yummy- we've been there before.

I told him that I really love food courts.
I love the sociology, the diversity, the many faces and paces of humanity, and the sense that I can get up and wander around at any moment that I so choose. I'm not trapped in my pretty seat with a heavy expectation that I'd better be having a really good time.

So, Brian enjoyed pad thai under the sparkling, newly hung Christmas lights, while I ate colourful food from Cultures. The cutlery was plastic. The place was packed with potentially fascinating people.

And all that for under twenty bucks.

Afterward we wandered around Chapters indulging ourselves in possible reading material, and considering overspending on coffees from Starbucks. Instead I found a small set of playmobil and bemoaned the fact that our children had never loved the toys as much as I'd wanted them to.

Brian bought them for me.

for my birthday.

He'd already bought me gifts the previous weekend when we'd travelled up to Lac du Bonnet for a volleyball tournament. Stumbling upon an antiques shop, we spotted two gorgeous old clocks that we both knew I badly needed. Previously, I only nineteen alarm clocks, none of which tell the accurate or actual time of day. That's what the microwave is for.

The pink and silver clocks round out my collection nicely; bringing the total up to a paltry twenty-one clocks.

Well, there's always Christmas.

My birthday this year was so much about the passage of time. I anticipated it to be a significant birthday, since I'd been thinking of my brother on and off the entire year that I'd spent being 43. What must it have felt like for him to know he'd be leaving?! At this age? With so much living yet to do- with so much left to ponder, to struggle with, to learn? And so I knew that when I reached my 44th, I'd think of him a great deal. And have that strange, inexplicable feeling of having outlived him; my bigger brother.

I thought of how I'd like to celebrate. I considered many scenarios, but settled on a simple one that didn't require any of the costuming or hilarity of past celebrations. I was craving wisdom. I invited some women friends over for a dinner entitled; "Wine, Women, and Wisdom". It was just what I'd been hungry for.

It didn't turn out the way I'd hoped; although it certainly fit thematically with my yearlong preoccupation with the passage of time, and fragility of living.

Before we'd quite raised our forks, my mother phoned with the sad news that her last sibling had died that day in a traffic accident.

In the days that have followed this strange birthdate, I've had some meaningful moments. I've spent more time than usual with my family- both immediate and extended. I've observed some wonderful wisdom. I've watched my mother. My auntie's children. Their children. I've listened to stories about tante from grandchildren, cousins, sisters.

And here's the wisdom I'd hoped might come from my party:

There isn't a moment in this life that the choices between

kindness and impatience;

love and indifference;

investing or complacency

don't matter.

It always matters.

Kindness adds up, and up, and up. It pours into people- this resource in our lifetimes that is most worthy to invest in. Every time we choose to be kinder than necessary, our life becomes softer. Lovelier. Richer.

This year on my birthday I was craving wisdom, and it came in the strangest of ways.

I hope that I make the kinds of choices that tante Marie made in her life years of nearly ninety four. I hope I strive to have the energy for the extra mile, the cheerful smile, the generosity of busy hands.

And I hope to have another dinner party.
A festive one, next time.
Wanna come?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Posts I Meant To / Dreamt of Writing This Week

  • 44 Thoughts On My Birthday

  • What I Learned From Burger Night

  • Hell Hath No Fury As a Pacifist Spurned

  • Why Sometimes a Trip to the Thrift Store is all I Really Need

I didn't have a chance to write any of those.

And I really miss you, my online friends.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


This morning there's no big white car across the street from my house.

My auntie has been roaring around town in that car for years- picking up the elderly and depositing them at the church door before parking at the far end of the parking lot to leave the close spots for the infirm.

She's ninety-three.

Two days ago she and her elderly friend left an event early, in order to get home before dark.

Instead, they met with a cement truck.

My tante lived the most anyone could imagine. She never got old.

And its strange- no white car across the street.

xo Tante Marie, you'll be missed.

Monday, October 31, 2011

From The Creepy File

When I'm feeling blue or bored, I love to spend time on such internet vehicles as pinterest ; craftgawker, etsy, stumbleupon,dwellinggawker, apartment therapy and even kijiji.

I'm amazed at the creativity out there.

But sometimes; inexplicably, I'm troubled. Creeped-out, even. Possibly enraged and anxious at some bizarre artistic level.

So please.

Do not photograph innocent barely born humanoid babies in questionable elements such as: flowers, (especially sunflowers), nests, tree branches (even facsimiles of the same), acorn-shaped items, pea costumes, wooden bowls, old tin cans, pumpkins, eggs, terra cotta pots, or driftwood. Please place babies into soft sleepers, then wrap them in flannelette blankies, and cradle them in your arms. You'll be glad you did.

Do not. Take a sweater that was obscenely ugly in the first place, then haul it down around your waist, and pretend its a skirt. A sweater is not a skirt. never was. never should be. And those pom poms? Give your head a shake.

Besides. How many women do you know who have the type of hips that enable them to pull their sweater down over them and prance around like santa's little helpers? Creepy. And just plain wrong on many, many levels.

Don't write on your kids banana before packing it into their school lunch. That's just wrong. When you put a banana into a paper bag alongside a ham sandwhich, you will have banana-infused-ham-and-cheese shortly after heading out the back door. Doodling on the fruit merely adds insult to injury. It must be stopped.

The pencil carving. This is brilliant, but it creeps me out. I hate to think of the artist in his poorly lit studio slaving away on his intricate pencil carvings and slowly losing his precious eyesight. Besides. What does he do when, 15 hours into carving a heart shape out of the top of a pencil, it suddenly snaps?

These things are easily prevented, and cause unnecessary stress to many innocent bystanders.

Now I've told you, and now you know.

Leave creepy to Halloween, and the rest of the year do something awesome instead.