Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Life With Really Ugly Legs

I imagine it was an undiagnosed congenital disease, since I barely remember a time that I wasn't hyper conscious that I wasn't like the other kids. By grade six, at the tender age of eleven, I was actively trying to do something about my condition. It was the year my mom required us to pack our own lunches, and let it suffice to say, that mine was left sorely lacking.

By the age of eighteen it must have been catastrophic, since it was at that time I began to puke my guts out. And not from the flu, either. More of a "home remedy" sort of approach to prevention against the fear of growing further out of control.
Often, I could tell that other people didn't notice my curse. They would comment on my skinny-ness, and how lucky I was. I needed that so badly, as I felt I had so little going for me in the broader arenas of personality or intellect. I had a serious deficit in "coolness factor" that no one could deny.
So, I went with skinny, even though I knew how ugly I was. And I puked my guts out because I had to hold the inevitable at bay. Getting fatter would only accelerate the condition.
Somehow I was always a pretty happy person, smiling and laughing a lot so by hook or by crook, I managed to get some dates. I kept smiling a lot, even when I thought the guys were total idiots, because I didn't want them to find out that I had no personality and no brain. So, sometimes they would think they wanted to marry me, since it was a pretty good deal from their angle. That's when I really had to bolt, since I hadn't even been honest about my problems, and if they knew me at all, they'd start laughing and running and not stop until they reached the sunshine coast.
By the time I met Brian, I was pretty tired of smiling all the time, and super tired of puking. So I told him all my terrible truths, especially the one about my legs being really ugly. I cautioned him that the condition was irreversible, chronic, and progressive and that he may want to consider his options, and quite possibly take up the sort of long distance running where you never, ever look back. But Brian was distracted by my breasts, I think, and kind of tuned out of the whole bit about the legs. Maybe he thought it wasn't really a big deal, just a little something that would clear up,over time.
He was wrong about that.

We're more than twenty-two years in now, and my legs are uglier than ever.


But Brian's legs are strong and beautiful, and since he has stayed married to me despite my condition, I like to think of them as at least half mine.


With his legs and mine, we even managed to compile a gorgeous family. Incredible.


A few years ago, I started to think about this word: "Enough". I'm pretty sure it was after a cousin told me that she had finally aligned herself with the truth that she was enough.

It sounded big and daring and bold to me. Outside of my reach.

But, it played on my brain, and I started to wonder about living as though I too were enough. Thin enough, smart enough, bold enough. Just for today. And to say ENOUGH! to things and thoughts in my life that were choking out the good, making the air feel thin and raw, and like I had to gasp and claw for a little place to feel safe in. Maybe there was already enough space for me.

So, one summer day at the beach, I didn't cover up my Really Ugly Legs when I went for a little walkabout. I noticed a lady doing henna tattoos, and I decided to practise wearing a visual reminder to myself that my legs were good enough.
Thing is, my legs have taken me to so many interesting places. Have carried my body and my eyes on such beautiful adventures.
My ugly legs, so utterly lacking in coolness, have been welcomed into some Very Cool atmospheres, where the Ultra Cool people hang out, playing their instruments and chatting about the book learnin'.
Perhaps one of the greatest surprises of investigating the enoughness concept has been that these Ugly Old Legs of mine have carried me through some very turbulent waters of terror, and into the local cross fit gym. These legs have remembered how to skip, have learned how to squat, and how to do a little jog.
My gym friends don't seem to notice my condition, and if they do, we are too busy laughing and loving on each other to take much notice about my ugly legs.

Last summer, my legs went ahead and did some other ridiculous things that I hadn't thought they were capable of. Like, participating in the local Imagine run for Mental Health, and much to my surprise, managing to run four out of the five kilometres that were set out before me. Evidently, cellulite in no way impedes the ability in thighs to grow tiny muscles and just keep moving.
And equally, if not more remarkable, was that my legs began to dance. It was the darnedest thing, that will live in the legends of Blunderview for generations to come. These nearly atrophied, entirely repressed Mennonite legs, with a pretty serious case of RUL, began to dance. They danced for hour upon hour, as the townspeople stood agog and aghast at this thing that had come to pass.
For sure, there are days when my condition feels crippling and my mind and eyes can't see straight. All I see is shame, disgust, and horror when I look down at the sags and bags, cellulite, fat, veins, lumpy mashed potatoey mess that is my legs.
But if I could gather up that little girl in the chevron fortrel pants, I would tell her not to waste a minute of her precious life worrying about the state of her limbs. I would tell her to pump her legs on the swing and go really high and really far, to use her legs to explore the big tree in the garden, and to love on her legs early on so that they know they are enough.
I'm pretty sure that 50, 60, and 70 year old Joyce would like to sit 47 year old Joyce down to do some leg talk too. I imagine them encouraging younger Joyce to stay mobile, limber, to use those legs to live out her life.
They might even say- "You think your legs are ugly now? Whoa mama! Those were the good old days, cuz now we be living with Really Ugly Legs!"
And I would try to remind them, in the kindest way I know how, that our legs are enough.
Just the way they are.



Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Dreaded Family Christmas

When you're part of the Kehler lineage, getting together for Christmas is no small feat.

Folks, its all about the appearances, and the pressure is insane.

I like to get up real early to ensure plenty of time for a pedicure.

There are a number of steps involved- move the dish rack. Lay out a towel beside the sink. Position self within arm's reach of the coffee machine, ipad, and variety of foot scupting tools. Soak the feet in hot water, and begin process of removing approximately eight pounds of nasty callous. Ask Brian to bring in the palm sander from the garage. And the chain saw. Things are pretty jammed up in the whole heel situation.


Like I said- getting ready for the Kehlers is a huge, big deal. There's always the dreaded heel check. So, after scraping off the worst of it, a lavish handful or two of vaseline gets massaged in, then the foot wrapped in saran before slipping into a pair of kitten socks.

Knowing how everyone would be checking for lulu and anthropology labels, I decided instead to wear all the cats all at the same time. Because, there would be no winning. Cat leggings, Hipster cat t-shirt, cat sweater, cat necklace. I left out the earrings because they make my ears itch, and what with the Saran Wrap in my socks, I just felt it was asking too much.

And have I mentioned the cost of this Christmas charade?! For her gift this year, my mother wanted lard from New Bothwell, PLUS I had to bring a salad. Sheesh. That's well over $13.00 at the grocery store, and I haven't even started in on all the gifts. Good heavens.

Every year, we are expected to compete in this gift exchange. Simply an exercise in outdoing one another's appearance of generosity. I mean- My nephew brought the most elaborate, obnoxiously, show offy gift for our white elephant gift exchange.


How is this not supposed to make me feel inadequate. So, my brother lands up with a satellite dish, my daughter with a fax machine, my brother in law with a perfectly intact set of 8 track tapes. Not to mention my niece with all those half filled bottles of hand lotion.

The pressure!

Then there's that awkward moment when the sixteen year old gets a pipe that absolutely no one fesses up to bringing. Now how am I supposed to make Christmas morning exciting for my son after that??

They're all just here to make me look bad.

Fortunately, there are bright moments that help with the sting.

(I force a plastic smile.)

And at one point we found outselves outside the living room window singing carols around the festive sausage tree. Mother was visibly moved. May have peed just a little.

All that singing around the sausage ladder may have been rehearsal for the really, really show-offy uptown types in the Kehler clan who brought their violins and insisted on marching around town to sing carols at people's windows. All this performance and overspending has left me rearranging my saran, and pulling at my catalope tights.

It's just not easy, folks.

Thirteen dollar salads, sausage ladders, gift exchanges that give everyone a belly ache from laughing way too hard. A dear old dad who still reads the Christmas story and leads us in the blessing. A dear old mom who insists on cooking the turkey, the meatballs, the ham, and all the buns at the tender age of eighty-eight. And my six remaining siblings, who simply refuse to sweat the petty things.

Or pet the sweaty things.

Good thing I kept my feet under wraps.









Friday, December 12, 2014

Because, Broken.

There's a lot of stuff broken in the world. It's easy to see that in the Big World, what with the CIA shooting blender meals up suspect's asses with Dr's approval, the UN running out of money to feed refugees in Syria, and moms who kill their babies. And while all of that and more is horrifying, its all sort of "out there", and pretty easy to compartmentalize as "things that will never happen to me, and that I can't do too much about, -sigh-"

But the busted up world isn't just "out there" and no one is offering immunity from all the sad and broken coming into our families, friends and ourselves.

I've been ever so slightly taking it out on Brian in the form of neediness and unrelenting snuggles, snivelling and whining in his ear to please not leave me... or die... He's been largely tolerant, patting me and saying "there, there" types of things while every so patiently reminding me in the gentlest of flabbergasted terms that he's not persuing a sexy relationship with anyone at the local grocery store or during his early morning forays to the pool where he swims lengths with a hairy jumbo sized panting man.

But its all around me folks, and this isn't news to you because many of you are living it. You're figuring out how to hire lawyers and divide mortgages, and maybe kids. Or you're sitting in the hospital with your babies and feeling every shade of helpless. Or wondering when you'll land up in the hospital with your kid (or husband, or old dad, or....) Some of you, my friends, feel like there's a giant sign on your head that says "Shit here" because that's what your boss is doing. (or your son, your husband, your sister...) Everything feels tenuous and incredibly fragile, and that sense of invincibility is way gone.

We are meanwhile working hard at our day jobs because the plumbing broke and the car payments must be met. Plus there might be a mediator to pay for, or some extra dollars to sneak into a secret account for when its finally time to leave the guy that shoves you up against a wall and calls you a fat bitch. Or you accidently ran over your smart phone and need to rustle up $500 to pay back your Mastercard.

There are Pots of Gold to buy for the piano teacher, and your cousin's baby died so your'e trying to figure out how to navigate family Christmas. Dad keeps falling and not remembering and every time you say good-bye at the door, it feels like you're leaving your preschoolers alone at the top of the stairs with sharp knives, and a pot of gasoline bubbling on the hot stove.

Your kids want to know what you want for Christmas and all you can think of is- I DON'T KNOW but I need: Time, and I want a couple of trips to get out of endless winter, and, hey some version of world peace would be nice. And you feel like a first class brat for being depressed about something as mundane as cold, knowing full well that you're living a very privileged sort of existence, what with the utter lack of masked snipers in your immediate neighborhood. But a couple of trips or one would be so nice, and way more doable than helping your friends with broken hearts and broken children, and you recognize that you're selfish anyway, so may as well say it out loud.

The Christmas tree just looks weird this year, and you catch yourself thinking- why do we do these strange things? Bring in a living thing to watch it die by twinkle light?

But we do. We practise our traditions or make new ones to accomodate our missing holes and shattered parts. Like trying to ensure eye contact with the Wal-Mart employee while paying for the chocolate oranges and Disney Frozen socks. Remembering that she's a person with her own family and plumbing, her own fears and wishes, and take the time to ask if her customers are being nice to her today? Are her feet sore?

**(but I'm not nice to the people who phone me to offer to sell me things. They are not real people. They are monsters. Do Not in any case, phone me with any sorts of offers. Also- DO NOT come to my door to sell me meat off the back of your truck, or try to talk to me about a home security system. In that case, you have recinded your right to be a human. You no longer have feelings or any human characteristics, as far as I am concerned).

I'm at the awkward part of this blog post now, where I should turn this gloomy ship around and offer all kinds of hope and Bible verses, but all I've got is "love your neighbor" and some awkward, non specific version of peace and good will toward humans.

I'd like to offer concrete advice for how to heal some hearts. How to rescue the kids. How to make love last for really real next time so that nobody dies or leaves. How to fix that disorder, that cancer, that weird kidney thingie. I'd like to be able to tell all the kids that their dads won't die until they're at least 92 and I'd like to tell the old men that its ok to stop taking their pills and go ahead and die. I'd like to tell the young moms that their next baby won't die in or out of utero and that their other kids are also immune. From all the bad things.

But I can't offer any of that without becoming hopelessly cheesy and full of bull crap, even though I'll stubbornly hold onto the conviction that God is good, and that Jesus' words of loving one another with casseroles, mittens, wine, and tears are definitely the way to go. (slightly paraphrased version of feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and visiting the imprisoned). Sometimes the people we love are in different kinds of prisons than the one Peter lost his head in, and I think we should visit them there too.

It's too bad that we can't save each other. Because its what I would like to do.

So, my loved ones, and the ones I don't even know but I'm rooting for anyway- Let's decide that love wins. That it rises to the top, past the scum of the ones who leave. Past the pain of the ones we've lost and the ones we're losing.

But because the pain is so real and so deep and so awful, I'll try not trivialize it with pat answers and trite words. It's hard work to keep deciding on love, even when we want to hurt each other and we'd rather crawl under the covers with a box of wine in one hand and some nice gin in the other.

Turns out that there is a pretty great verse to wrap it all up with, folks. Huh. who knew.





Thursday, November 27, 2014

Almost Entirely Random Observations on a Frigid Thursday Morning in November

Cheerios in milk. The most unholy, putrid smelling grossness ever to daily assault my early morning nostrils. Yuck. I've learned to hold my breath while cheerfully encouraging fuzzy headed babies to swallow them up.

Chairs. Not professionally diagnosed, but I'm convinced that I have a chair disorder. They follow me home and fill my space like mewing kittens. Thirteen kitchen chairs, four armchairs, two rockers and a couch. Not to mention all the chairs I've resold when I recognized things spiralling back out of control. Again.

I like my 1970's chrome, brown, yellow and orange floral chairs. They're delightfully outrageous. My chippy white wooden pressback chair. The turquoise chrome baby highchair with the glittering sparkles. (That's not going anywhere.) And the yellow highchair with partially destroyed decal. I have a serious fondness for old decals.

The golden thrifted armchair is perfect for reading, petting the cat, laying the dog across my lap, and because there's a chippy cupboard right beside it, I can also have my coffee within arms reach.

Book, cat, dog, coffee. No need to pontificate.

Behind that, kind of tucked against the wall, is my orange and black retro, crazy chair, a gift from a friend whose husband forbid her to make it part of their household. A tragic story really, but I'm glad to have benefitted from his lack of fen shui insight.

The patterned turquoise chairs were a major score, found while yard sale-ing in Kleefeld. I don't think you need me to explain that any further.

Then there's the singular item we have actually spent money on. The big granddaddy rocking chair where Brian likes to sit and read books about the Camino de Santiago, or chat with chicks online all day under the auspices of playing words with friends. A few years ago we decided to properly fix and reupholster it to a tune of five hundred dollars. No regrets, although I do break into the tiniest cold sweat when the littles pretend its tinkertown in the winter, while typically armed with serrated plastic play dough knives and lost pens.

And then just last night, I had 15 minutes to fly through the thrift shop. It was long overdue, there just hasn't been any time for languishing in thrift shops because of the litany of short and long term mission projects I've recently signed up for (that's another post.) And there, under the strains of magical music that only I could hear, was another rocking chair, sort of a long lost cousin to our own pride and joy rocker. Wooden, with dowels, perfect for repainting chippy white with undertones of turquoise and green. (colors my house craves, constantly, without balance or regard for interior design publications). The chair of Great Potential was a whopping eight dollars, and it followed me home.

My chairs are like family to me, really.

Please don't tell me that my family is too big and that I need to abandon some of them. I'll be forced to unfriend you.

Toast. It's winter again on my side of town, so it's taking me a solid six cups of black coffee to get me to 10 AM most mornings. And when the littles start fighting over the White Chair and the Cup With The Purple Lid, I sometimes find that toast is nothing short of medicinal. Especially since pre-noon tequila shots are frowned upon when raising other people's offspring. I never have found an appropriate space to list that on my resume.

And toast naturally brings me to: Pee. It's Pee Week at Joycie's house. No, we are not potty training, that's been done. This week is just sort of a break from the traditional, middle class, suburban notion of peeing on toilets, so we are celebrating unexplored oppurtunites such as: furniture, the floor right in front of the toilet (upstairs) and the floor right in front of the toilet (downstairs), and finally- the carpet by the back door. Softer somehow that the cold linoleum right beside the carpet, and more convenient than the toilet, slightly to the right.

I've found myself craving toast this week. And six more cups of black coffee.

Particularly as I sit on the (now laundered) chair and stare at the billions and trillions of toys on the floor. To properly raise other people's kids, you have to fill your basement with this plastic stuff in the shape of tractors, graders, pink cups and forks, building blocks, transformers, and toy adding machines. Then to contain the sheer mass of it all, and intend to keep it all organized, you need toy bins. I like the medium sized, brightly colored plastic ones that are easy for the kids to tidy up with One for books, one for little cars, one for play food, etc.

So you and I see it like this: Bins are for toys.

Kids see this: Bins ARE Toys.

First task at hand at play time is to invert all the bins. Dump everything onto the carpet. Step on the toys and cry because they hurt the bottoms of bare feet, (socks are for shoving behind the couch cushions) Then line up all the bins behind the couch to use as tiny ladders to launch their volatile little selves up and over. Then the toy bins morph into portable beds for all the fuzzy care bear babies. Become ideal for packing lunches for pretend picnics. Get piled high with Little Ponies and John Deeres to play "Happy Birthday!" Or turn the bins upside down, cover them in a superman cape tablecloth and play tea party. Lure a little baby into a bin and push them around the basement. Bins also make great helmets, or weapons. Depending on your convictions.

I've considered getting bigger boxes so that we can store the toys and the bins in larger boxes, but I think we all know where that's headed: choo choo train and school bus.

That's pretty much it, more or less for this Thursday.

It's cold, and random. Only four months to go.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Oh, The Blog Posts I Haven't Written

In Rattatouille, there's a scene where chef Rat tries to teach his more ratty brother how to put flavours together in more imaginative ways.

Then ever so briefly, the brother hears an visualizes a sort of flavour symphony forming in the air above hime until suddenly and abruptly-- POOF! its gone again.

Such is the tale of Joyce and her blog posts. The word symphonies begin, there are lovely little swirls and flashes and inspirational sort of background music. My fingers start to tingle, and I yearn for a few minutes to find my keyboard so I can let it all pour out of me. Until- Poof! Nope. It's gone again.

And that's why I haven't quite written about

How I Don't Even Know Who I Am Anymore: My Tiny Midlife Crisis, and

Watching My Dad Disappear, and

How I Re-Found My Sewing Machine, and

Life: How Lifelong Relationships Vaporize, and

Brunch With Karla, and

Raising Boys, and

My Body, The Ongoing Story, and

How I Made Peace With My Bread Machine, and

The Last Supper: Giving Up My Position on the Thrift Shop Board.

So maybe I actually don't even know why I am any more. Sure, I'd love to write about it, but it remains to be seen whether any swirly bits of inspiration will stick around long enough for finger to find keyboard. One can only hope.


Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Exercise of Exorcise.

October 10-  fifteen days ago Meghan Trainor's "All about That Bass" had me singing and bopping along in my car as I rode along.  But fifteen days straight of that same song relentlessly playing itself over and over and over in my head has got me craving an exorcism.

I've put on other music, forced myself to mentally sing "happy birthday" over and over again, read books, and shoved the end of a protractor through my eardrums.  But nothing, no nothing with change the tune that goes round and round and round in my head.

And with each morning of waking up and hoping that its gone, I'm freshly disappointed and compelled beyond reason to sing about booty and boom boom.  You might say I've meditated on these lyrics both day and night for half the month now.  And in my unwilling meditative state, I've decided a few things about Bringing Booty Back.

Because you know I'm all about that bass,
'Bout that bass, no treble
I'm all 'bout that bass, 'bout that bass, no treble
I'm all 'bout that bass, 'bout that bass, no treble
I'm all 'bout that bass, 'bout that bass

Firstly.  What do bass and treble have to do with anything?  Well.  A quick look at the googlers brought me this bit of wisdom:  

" The "bass" she's all about is a reference to curves–bass tends to be deep and big"
So it follows that "no treble" means that there's nothing skinny and small about her.  Ok, I get that.

Yeah it's pretty clear, I ain't no size two
But I can shake it, shake it like I'm supposed to do
'Cause I got that boom boom that all the boys chase
All the right junk in all the right places

I'm still with you, Meghan.  I'm not a size two either, good grief.  That would mean not eating even ever.  Forget it.  

Can't say we'll be be besties on the whole shake it, shake it thingie- that's really not in my skill set.  Just ask my kids.  I suppose I do have boom boom and junk in places....  I guess.  But I'm starting to feel a wee bit uncomfortable that your song about body acceptance (which I dig) is still suggesting that we should make sure our bodies are pleasing and desirable to "all the boys".  Hmmmmm.

I see the magazines working that Photoshop
We know that shit ain't real
Come on now, make it stop
If you got beauty beauty just raise 'em up
'Cause every inch of you is perfect
From the bottom to the top

Sing it!
I can even feel myself shaking it a little, activate booty and boom boom!

Yeah, my momma she told me don't worry about your size
She says, boys they like a little more booty to hold at night
You know I won't be no stick-figure, silicone Barbie doll,
So, if that's what's you're into
Then go ahead and move along

so..... we should have curvy curves for the boys?!

Because you know I'm all about that bass,
'Bout that bass, no treble
I'm all 'bout that bass, 'bout that bass, no treble
I'm all 'bout that bass, 'bout that bass, no treble
I'm all 'bout that bass, 'bout that bass

I'm bringing booty back
Go ahead and tell them skinny bitches Hey
No, I'm just playing I know you think you're fat,
But I'm here to tell you that,
Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top

Hold on.
would a song with the line:  "Go ahead and tell them fat bitches" make it to  the number-two spot on the Billboard Hot 100–??  Wouldn't we all be instantly offended at a lyric like that?  How come its ok to hate on little people now?

Yeah, my momma she told me don't worry about your size
She says, boys they like a little more booty to hold at night
You know I won't be no stick-figure, silicone Barbie doll,
So, if that's what's you're into
Then go ahead and move along

I tell you what-  I appreciate the momma who tells her girls not to worry about their size.  I just really wish she didn't make it about being sexually available and pleasing for the boys.
I wish we had more songs about brains and enough-ness, compassion and determination.  Not that they'd be popular.  But what if songs with powerful and positive messages did get stuck in my brain?  would it help me to get over my booty?

Because you know I'm all about that bass,
'Bout that bass, no treble
I'm all 'bout that bass, 'bout that bass, no treble
I'm all 'bout that bass, 'bout that bass, no treble
I'm all 'bout that bass, 'bout that bass

Cuz I'm all about getting that bass to go ahead and move along.

Thank you for being a part of this exorcise.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

All I Really Need To Be Complete. And Completely Happy.

I need a warehouse.

A warehouse near my house where I can store rows and rows and stacks of wooden kitchen chairs in chippy blues and beiges. Hutches accented with decals stacked up to the ceiling. Drawer fronts with green glass knobs. Wooden medicine cabinets with warped mirrors and bevelled edges. Rocking chairs, stained glass windows, trunks, old sewing machine cabinets, chrome chairs and tables, church pews.

Real hardwood floors.

Real kitchen cupboards.

A row of checkered and floral men's bow ties arranged vertically on the dining room wall. (oh wait- Got That!)

I need a dishwasher that works on all the settings- not just "china". I don't really have china, unless you count the ecclectic collections of lovely old glass bits that I don't store in my warehouse because I don't have one.

I need a kitchen without holes in the walls. Plus a new paint job.

I need a bathroom that doesn't double as a laundry room, a walk-in closet, a pet center, and a dump. I also need that horrible green color to GO AWAY. I need a vanity that isn't warped from an under the sink leak that's gone unattended for only around ten years.

I need cleaning staff.

I need a deck!

For eleven long years, I put up with the Ugliest Deck In The World. I endured promises and predictions and plastic lattice. This spring I watched in immeasurable joy as the deck was sliced away from the house.

And then.

The problems. The papers, and permits and phone calls and waiting.

I can't speak of it, in fear of triggering repressed emotion and memory.

Suffice to say that its OCTOBER-FREAKING-EIGHT and I don't have a deck. You can't hardly expect me to be happy. "Joycie no happy", as the day kids delight to say.

To really be complete, I need my own workshop. A place with plenty of natural and unnatural lighting, shelves of colored fabrics, and my seven sewing machines all set up in a row. I need huge, blank walls on which to pin inspirational quotes, pages out of favorite books, swatches of vintage everything, old clocks, embroidered kitty cats in frames, giant old mirrors, and glass cuboards procured off kijiji for $40- or less.

I need to stop craving multi-grain cheerios, slabs of pumpkin pie (ever), homemade bread with crunchy peanut butter, and all food in general. So I can get back to my birthweight and lose the weird bulgy belly thingie that turning 40-something has produced.

I need a car. Something like the chevette that I drove in my twenties with the broken off stick shift and the hole in the gas tank that only allowed me to fill in $5- at a time. Back when $5- could get you out of your driveway. The one that couldn't go through puddles because the water would get into the hole in the gas tank and I would stall in the busiest intersection of Winnipeg at rush hour. Okay. So maybe not all those dramatic things, but I need that general feeling of youth and optimism that driving an impossible car provides.

I need three pendant lights from many perusals through many thrift shops in rural Manitoba. I need them hung in a cluster in my living room, and the husband willing to do it and tolerate it.

Right. Got that. Whew.

I need a door handle not slathered in duct tape. But not until I retire in ten or more years, ever since that incident when I went to the garage for a loaf of bread and the tinies locked me out of the house, and then went downstairs to line up on the couch and watch cartoons where they couldn't hear me knocking on the door. Ever since then.

I also needed baseboards in my kitchen. It had only been eleven years, so it wasn't particularly troubling to me that I didn't have any. But this summer when Brian wasn't building the deck that we don't have- he built baseboards! Its almost enough to make me happy and complete forever. almost.

Except that I need a haircut. And color.

I need pants without butt crack, and dresses. I only have twenty-five dresses. I need a kitten. My cats aren't kittens any more, they're all worn out of kitten hood and it just isn't right. I need my dog to stop loving me so much and to quit following me all-the-freaking-everywhere. Its annoying and makes me feel like I could never possibly ever be enough to fill her bottomless doggie tank.

I also need help parenting. My kids are amazing, what with their disinterest in suicide bombing, dating, bush parties, intravenous drugs, sleeve tattoos, witchcraft, appearances, and expensive running shoes. But still. They're likely full of all kinds of endless, bottomless potential that I have squandered with my most prolific answer to pretty well all their questions since they first arrived- "I don't know". And then, more recently- "I don't know- go ask The Googles". Recently it came to my attention that my son, aged 16, didn't know how to release the seal on a jar of home-canned salsa. I mean- what kind of mother does he have?

I need to stop having the dream where I'm at the airport with too many bags and parcels and suitcases, largely held together with packing tape from Dollarama but I've lost my plane ticket, passport, and wallet. That dream always leaves me feeling unsettled, like maybe possibly I'm lost in this life. It has to stop.

I need passion to return to my living. For more than a year now, I've not sewn. more than a year. Can we fathom this? only with difficulty. Meanwhile the UNHCR sends me pictures of moms trying to feed their children, I read a little about Syria (being a bear of very little brain, I read, but much of it looks like blah-blah-politics-geography-blah to my itty bitty blob of grey matter). I've recently read three books on the Holocaust and was struck with nightmarish clarity that people are still living lives that are utterly lacking in kindness, clean water, and nutrition while I sit here and sip my strong, hot coffee and scarf back cheerios and pumpkin pie as though I were the only person in the universe.

And then I read "I Am Malala" and because it was written by a fifteen year old girl, it mostly went over my head- I couldn't understand three quarters of the politics outlined inside. I got the part about her being shot through the eye by the Taliban for having passion and meaning and for tirelessly advocating for girls' education. Which reminded me that one's life should be lived with passion and meaning. Which is what I need- to be complete.

But I don't have a vintage, turquoise colored boler in my back yard with a cute little patio in front of it and some old metal lawn chairs. Which makes passion pretty darned tough to come by. I don't have chickens either. No chickens at all, except the big frozen ones in my deep freezer. I don't even have lulu lemon yoga pants. All the cool kids have them, and I don't have any. I don't want them, but that's not relevant here.

Some days, I don't even have patience. Or a warehouse. I barely even have two cats, a furry bunny, a bright yellow cupboard and chippy blue shelf.

It's pretty obvious that a lot of things are going to have to come down the pike.

Before I can be happy. Or complete.

Or even, completely happy.


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Church Twice Today

It happens to me sometimes- an insistent thought that pesters me into mobility. Even in the quiet, coffee fuelled space of a sacred Sunday morning.

I haven't gone to church with my parents for about twenty-five years or more.

But this morning, I got that urge. So I made my way to the Kehlers to find mom's Sunday shoes waiting by the door. Dad had on his grey wool suit and asked mom twice if he had written a cheque to the church yet this month? He told me that his legs weren't working this morning, and when he wasn't looking, mom told me he refused to use his walker and that he wouldn't stop eating tomatoes.

I didn't mean to, but a few tears rolled down my cheeks when mom asked- why do you come to Steinbach for church when you have a church in your own town? And I told her- I thought it was "A God Thing". Which is what I say when I get the weird urges to do these things. But I was crying too for dead babies, and old dads who get tottery and forgetful, and the impossibility of it all.

Then dad asked mom- "Where'd I put the cheque book?" and I thought about my dignified dad whose worst fear was becoming a burden, losing his mind, and losing his body.

We were early for church, which we drove two blocks down the street to and parked in handicap zone right in front of the door to wait for the church to empty from German service. Dad asked- where did we regularly attend church? I paused and said- we're not so regular, dad. And I sighed but no more tears leaked down.

The message was about the sign of the beast and fire breathing dragons and there was some mention of Robin Williams dying because even though he had it all, there was some unbearable emptiness left in him that couldn't be filled.

I suddenly felt terribly, terribly tired.

In the afternoon, I went to church again.

There were songs and words and a lot of tears.

And there wasn't a single word that could really fill that unbearable emptiness.

Outside, the sun shone impossibly warm and the trees dropped lively orange onto the green grasses. Two babies tottered across the parking lot crying "Mo? Mo?" and eating their mama's offerings like baby birds.

While my old dad looked around for his cane, and his tomatoes, and his chequebook.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Harvest Moon Festival

I love choosing a mountain of wooly sock and sweater goodness in anticipation of the Harvest Moon Festival.

We will be chasing the chill all weekend in our long underwear.

In perfectly toasty footwear.

I love setting up in the Southwind. Brian and I get the mirror room in the back, but the drive down is always spent snuggled up in Hank and Marie's nest behind the drivers seat.

I love tucking all my chins into my friend's shoulder for the celebratory road trip up to Clearwater. It'll be the last time in a while that we will see any of our skin bare.

Our bed is spread with munchie snacks and tastey sips. Occasionally we make the "honk, honk!" semi truck arm salute to the men miles ahead of us behind the steering wheel.

It's always wise to pack the spare key.

We are headed towards spontaneous dance parties.

and toasty campfires.

High end 6 Star sleeping accomodations.

My precious daughters are there, cuddled up under quilts and toques, waiting for Royal Canoe, enjoying the sights and sounds, and piling up like kittens in their tents at night to try and stay warm.
Sometimes bands gather up around us, and we are swept up in song.

The water drum and costco granola drums never sounded so good.

Even the dogs are compelled to sing.

People think we're telling big, bold lies when we talk about how much fun we had camping in four degrees. But we weren't defying premature winter so much as we were celebrating life, all bundled in socks, and moccs and curling into one another.

On this harvest moon.