Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Just Put Me On An Ice Flow And Drift Me Off To Sea


Meals around here lately have been pretty intentional. Backing away from the carbs a little, as a nod to January, there has been a lot more kale, and avocado, seven grain cereals and fruit and yogurt smoothies.

My cupboards often contain bean mixes and healthy grains that take a little more time to prepare than say- microwaved wieners. And January is pretty much all about time. It's roughly minus a trillion outside all the freaking time and the radio drones on about the arctic vortex- as if we didn't know. Just going to the garage to get a loaf of bread from the freezer means risking the loss of fingertips and the end of my nose to the ravages of frostbite. So it's not as if time is being gobbled up with day trips to the beach, or poking around in the garden, or even, walking to the edge of the driveway. Haven't seen the driveway in some time. It's been obliterated by snow storms.

There's no time quite like January to reconstitute the bean mix that looked so wholesome and organic at Crompton's Market back in the summer when one might browse in a market without fear of dismemberment or death. "Spicey Northern Vegetable" sounded robust, the opposite of bland, quite possibly the antidote to death to boredom and freezing in a Manitoba winter. So into the slow cooker they went, those lovely fibrous gems of delicious potential.

A couple of hours in, a spoon raised to my mouth, it was time to test for any necessary adjustments, embellishments, and seasonings.

Spicy. Didn't quite suffice to describe my face igniting in spontaneous combustion. No way that was going to serve my family later that day. It would be akin to serving "flambe" with the flame having been lit individually on each tongue.

Downright abusive.

But never mind, there was time to make a different soup, and the bread machine had also been resuscitated - dragged from her complacent napping spot in the corner of the counter. A lovely, robust recipe of spinach and shredded cheese discovered on allrecipes, it was going to be rewarding to glance into that little bread machine window and watch the magic as that dough got whipped around and around like magic before it slowly puffed up into yeasty, winter comfortable, delicious bread. A trip to the garage was to be successfully averted.

But what's this. No mixing magic, no whipping round and round.

No paddle. No bread. Just a blob of ingredients damp and pathetic, sadly bound for its trash bin destiny.

Many drawers and cupboards have been cleaned since that day, all in the name of locating that paddle. Drawers have been purged, vacuumed, wiped. Mysterious gadgets have been donated to the thrift shop where they'll no doubt be hurled into the bin (better on their conscience than mine...) Even the ten thousand containers in the kitchen have been organized, scrutinized, and purged.

The mystery of the missing bread machine paddle came up for discussion while visiting with my parents. Never having been a bear of very much brain, I like to tell my folks stories about losing things, -my mind, my keys, or forgetting appointments, which kids are napping in my room at the time, and generally fumbling through life brain dead. It's an attempt to comfort them for thinking that old age has begun to invade their grey matter and make them repetitive and finding themselves occasionally storing the dish cloths in the freezer. My life has been a long series of senior moments, and there's no geriatric decline to blame.

I should have known that my mom and dad would have extra bread machine paddles kicking around the house. Dad had a long and successful second career in the back of the thrift shop fixing all kind of small appliances that came in. My mom's bread machines all came from that store, and she was astute enough to know that what might go on the machine would be its plastic component- so she thought to hoard a few spares.

Usher in Round Two of intentional eating! More delicious and wholesome bread lay in the immediate future for my loved ones.

I have no idea what happened.

There may be no cure for stupid.

So if this winter ever ends, and spring begins to thaw Lake Winnipeg into chunks,

Just put me on an ice flow, and drift me out to sea.


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Snow Day

From Monday to Friday, Brian's richest fantasy involves the weather becoming so bad that the toughest school division East of Siberia cancels its buses and closes its schools.

He is checking his phone before my 5:45 AM alarm has even thought of singing its terrible song. And then he lays there, all happy, while I try to reframe MY (home is my work place) day. Where it's "take your kids and husband to work day" regardless of my opinions on the concept.

If the day before has looked iffy and Brian is really starting to get his hopes up, he'll always buy bacon. Brian's bacon costs $86.00. (Bacon, Strongbow ciders, some growers, a jug of milk....)

The kids wake up to the smell of bacon, and a text from mama- "SNOW DAY!"

Sam has been learning the art of making cupcakes from scratch.

He takes the mixing bowl out for another round of chocolately goodness.

There is no one at my door at 7:00 AM, the highways are closed. I'll be keeping company with a few kids from in town, maybe we'll mix up some play dough, eat some cupcakes, and take in the smell of crispy bacon.

Snow day.


Friday, January 10, 2014


The last baby waves goodbye, Mr Potato Head's appendages go back in the box, the gold fish crackers are swept off the floor, high chair pushed up along the wall.

I choose a green glass. Vintage, 1070's.


Vodka, and kahlua.



The house looks like it belongs to adults again. No one is pulling on my pant leg. The sippy cups are in the dishwasher and no one is trying on my 24 hour lipstick.

But my head is not entirely at rest.

Do I stay here in the bright lights of home sweet, restful and warm home?

Do I allow myself the leisure to sit at my keypad and wait to see what it is that my brain wants to say?

Sit while my ice melts, my muscles relax, my mind wanders? (Ahh the blissful luxury of the wandering mind!)

*Sigh* But there are the folks.... I need to see. If I put it off, will I be any less distracted and busy tomorrow and the tomorrow that follows? Papa is not as he was. Time is not on our side. And sweet mom. Who wouldn't want to be with her? Funny and spry. Tough and kind, my mother.

I am taking the boys sledding tomorrow. I am. Really and truly, I will. I've still not forgiven myself for not doing so at Christmas break on that one day that wasn't so cold to freeze the balls off a brass monkey.

And there are the errands- deposits to be made, bills to pay, snow pants and lasagna noodles to be bought, the wrong stuff we bought last week to be returned....

Oh. And someone keyed the side of our car. That new car that we bought, the only car we ever bought new. Should probably look into fixing that.... and the oil should be attended to. The block heater.

It is quiet here. The boys are playing video games, Jane is at work. I have the cats, the dog, the house.

But my heart is restless, and I worry.

Friday is here with its freedoms and choices and I must be wise.

The day will come when I have fewer options. When the boys are gone, and daddy's body has finally said "enough". When it will be hard to figure out how to buy groceries for only two,

My mother always said that life is backwards. When you are young and have babies you are tired beyond words. You crave sleep and never get enough. Then the babies grow up and your body grows old and is says- I have no need of sleep! And you spend half your nights lying awake waiting for the morning when no pressures or babies greet you.

The work week is finally over.

In my forties, I find myself in the sandwich. Aging parents on one side, and a growing up family on the other. Yet, on the weekends, its my friends that I crave. I want that connection, the meeting of the hearts and minds, the normalizing of parental stress. I want breakfast at Stella's, coffee at Portage McDonalds, wine in the cabin. I want to leave this house, drive in silence, meet with my women.

But still, there's my mom, and dad, the girls, the boys.

The house, the car.

All of life, all of it good.

And I am restless

worried that my choices may end in regret.

I imagine someone might suggest balance- and I want to ask-

and tonight? what if tomorrow I don't have the same choices as I do, this