Monday, November 19, 2012

The Delegates

It might have been the two dollar cowboy boots.

Or the recognition that followed standing up at that church event some weeks ago when I sprung from my pew to pay my father tribute for all the years he'd given. Maybe all the Mennonite elders and eldresses saw me in a new light that day: Wow. Kehler. Abe's girl! Maybe they saw new things in me, possibilities yet to unfold. Maybe they saw all this potential, lying fallow, awaiting a Mennonite ignition.

Maybe it was the way I handed out the programs at tonights annual meeting. I did it all without a walker, defibrillator, or seeing eye dog. I handed those papers out with a flair- I would have kissed the babies, but I think that I may have been the closest qualifier for that position, so I poured a little extra energy into shmoozing with the seniors.

It's a tricky dance, sitting on the board for my local Mennonite Central Committee thrift shop. (Well, its really not a dance at all, because that would be a sin.) But I've spent the past three years sitting. Mostly quietly, taking it all in, getting acclimatized, acculturated, laying low, staying humble, knowing my place, searching for things to apologize for. Trying to follow the right columns during the reading of the financial reports, never firstening or seconding those minutes because my severe and untreated terror of numbers caused my hands to grow numb and usually brought on a series of seizures.

But tonight- oh glorious night- my chance at fifteen more minutes of fame. A cabinet reshuffle of sorts, new delegations for old delegates. And I suppose my three years of humility bore fruit: a new title.

Secretary Of The Board.

I have a pretty firm idea its those boots.

Because I for sure don't have a spiral notebook and ballpoint pen that our now defunct secretary of ten years weilded at our monthly meetings. I used to gaze across the table from her and wonder; "What's it like to be a real writer? What's it like to get published every month?! Oh, to lose myself in such fervor- such singleness of vision, such dedication to the preservation of history!"

It will such a sweet relief to have the privelege of reporting to my father, the ninety year old forefather of many things Mennonite and thrifted. To be able to tell him that his act of bringing eight children into the world was not in vain, but that finally, in his last, most ambitious exertion, a child has risen to the prestigious title of Secretary of the Board Unto The Mennonites.

I know for darned sure it wasn't the double piercing in my right nostril. Or the holes I punched into my left ear after I turned eighteen and mama wasn't looking. It can't have been that I have an ipad and can bypass the notebook, typewriter, the blacksmith and the printing press.

I'm just thinking it must be those two dollar boots.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


I said "no" to two parties.


And I really like parties. But last Monday when I mysteriously and serendipitously got the day off, I stared the long list; the big list straight in the eye, and I took it on. I painted the back porch- the mud room- the reception area for my daily entourage of little guests. It had been painted a brown-with-tinge-of-terra- cotta around six years ago and it wasn't at all pretty. (I don't even like terra cotta) This was all confirmed recently when one of my wee ones carried on about how my house was like a "cabin" and "Joycie- what is that hole in your wall? Does a mouse live in there?" I was properly chastised and "Paint the porch" made an official entry on my long list of dreaded things. Right below: "call the physiotherapist, your daughter isn't able to move" and "call the wart lady, your other kid can't walk".

So, Monday I took on the porch and transformed it from terra cotta awful to what I thought would be "steel grey mysteriously classy". It came out more like "Old country blue are we still in the 80's" but I"m choosing to live with denial. I'm calling it grey and calling it painted, and taking it off of the list. Besides, the mouse hole and the long chiseled channel that happened somehow last Friday when I wasn't looking got mudded in and painted over, so that's got to count for something, right?

Well, when the boy came home from school, he said he liked that color and that's what his room should become.

We've done this massive shuffle, you see. With the long awaited basement reno came the new love nest for Brian and me. Which led Jane to claim and repaint our old upstairs bedroom. Which meant that Micah could move into Jane's room which had been painted nine years ago in soft pinks and greens and flower stencils. Fussy boy felt this this should be changed. Jane had also hung so many LP's, posters, mementos, etc onto her wall that it had become more of an eyelet piece than an actual partition. It was ever so overwhelming. But Monday's porch success empowered me and I promised Micah that on Thursday evening (my first available five minutes) we would begin.

By Saturday morning, we'd pretty much patched and painted and were ready to take a look at the floor. Which was a disaster, I might add. So, after swimming lessons, I steered the rust bucket towards the Steinbach thrifty store with the pretense of looking for a piece of carpet. First I sniffed my way through several other departments, landing cowboy boots..... not floral but still awesome... not on sale for $75.00 but regular priced for $2.00! Then piling up on vintage fabrics ranging in price from ten cents to three dollars. In my jubilation I nearly forgot all about flooring, but in the furniture department glancing around for a book shelf for Jane's new room my eye landed upon a roll of carpet. Grey. Just the color my son had his hopes hung on. Perfectly clean, large enough, and beautifully priced at $40.00.

I really like paying for a stack of fabric, a roll of carpet, and a pair of boots for less than what the boots at the mall that made me sleepless for a week had cost. It validates my existence.

Upon our return home, armed with an exacto knife, a gin and tonic, and a $40.00 carpet, I set straight to work. Hence the refusal of party #1. Which I know was awesome, and that I would have enjoyed a great deal. Sometimes though, its for the greater good to just keep going, looking neither left nor right. By the end of the night I had the carpet laid, the last of the painting done, the bed and dresser moved, and the boy happily hanging his Zelda poster.

It felt like a party.

I went to bed early, exhausted, reading a book about the holocaust called "Children of the Flames" that I may have also bought at my favorite store for about a dollar. I slept like a freaking brick.

Sunday morning, and another party (of sorts). The first Christmas event- the Martens family gathering. My mother is a Martens, the last of her crew. The event was to begin at one in the afternoon, so my sister and I were enlisted to arrive at 11:00 AM to set up. I didn't have the heart to break it to anyone that it doesn't actually take two hours to unfold some chairs and start up the coffee perk. They're all kind of old and I didn't think it was nice to mess with their heart medication. So, I took the opportunity to do very little, slowly, and with precision. It makes my mother happy.

Once I got used to that rhythm, I found that I had very little desire to go home. Home was that place that went to hell in a hand basket while I was upstairs carpeting. So, thinking of the pit of despair that I was avoiding by making coffee very slowly and methodically at a family gathering prompted me to say "no" to party #2. A very fun costume, dress-up party with friends who I really enjoy and want to enjoy more often. But the thought of Monday being just one sleep away, my boys upstairs going through nine years of toys, discarding and donating, five loads on laundry on the bathroom floor, carpet scraps strewn on the back deck, the spoils of swimming lessons, painting days, etc all over the porch, the kitchen up to my ass in alligators, and hopes to make time for the Etsy shop looking bleak, I felt that a cancellation was in order. Besides. I hadn't had five minutes to dream up a costume. Which you need for a successful costume party.

It's Sunday night now; 9:15. My work day begins in 10 short hours.

My boys are in their rooms upstairs, happily busy in their newly acquired, tidied, painted and carpeted bedrooms.

Brian is happily watching a documentary in his new bedroom.

The porch is tidy; ready for an early morning invasion.

The kitchen is clean.

The laundry has been laundered, dried, sorted, dispersed.

And I still have some time. To snuggle under the covers with my book, to get enough rest, and to not dread Monday because I'm all caught up and ready for the madness.

Until next weekend.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Bless Me Bloggy

I have sinned, its been eleven days since my last confession.

And I probably have stuff to confess, like how people's faces have been annoying me lately.

I haven't decided who to blame for this phenomenon; pinterest for planting this image in my brain and allowing me to pin it forevermore; or Early Onset Winter and Greyness; or people's faces. It's a toss up.

Regardless, its largely the faces of people who I love which annoy me, and this complicates things. The dog keeps looking at me like I"m about to do something amazing, the husband lets words out of his face that reduce me to the emotional maturity of a gnat, and then there are the children. Lovely people, really. But yesterday one small person chiselled a groove into the drywall (how do they manage these things?!) and another smallish child urinated on a vintage chair that I quite like(d) the way it was. Without eau de yucka-pee. After that their faces pretty much annoyed me, so I had to concentrate on a tiny imaginary dot just behind their heads so that my annoyance would reamain invisible to the naked eye. I think it worked, but repressing my true feelings is clearly worthy of a full confession.

In other news, I had to call a sick day this week. I've never had to do that in the past nine or so years of doing dayhome care for tinies. I've always managed to pull myself together to some sort of degree that I fake it through my workday and not have to make those early morning phone calls that I know I wouldn't want to receive if I were the parent of the wee one. However, with absolutely no warning, I was awakened at 4 AM on Monday morning with a yak stuck in my throat. It reappeared at 5:45 when my alarm went off, and the floor kept drifting up to where the ceiling should be so I knew it wasn't going to be an awesome day for potty training. I like how kind everyone was when I phoned them at a ridiculous hour to say "no go". Really kind. I work with some of the nicest people in the world. The nicest. Not only do they trust me with their kids (a super big deal), but they pay me for being sick without me asking. That's kind of Jesus-y in my opinion.

(While I type this, the dog sits just to my left and STARES at me. Full of expectation. Do you know how annoying this is.)

I have more things to complain about, but they involve infringing on people's privacy and I'm too irritable to deal with all that. Besides, that would entail more confessions and I'm not actually Catholic. I'm sort of Mennonite, and we don't even have release of cubicle confessions. We just kind of walk around chronically feeling guilty for having been born, taking up space, emitting odours, breathing in and out.

Forgive me.