Unfortunate Note Taking and Political Outbursts

Moving is amazing. The only thing better than packing up all your belongings and schlepping them to a completely different place is the process of rebuilding your social circle from scratch. We officially moved into our new community over a month ago and life is going swimmingly. The only problem is, well, I can’t recognize people. Children are easy to discern- they’re always running around shouting their names and declaring that so and so hit them, so remembering their names and differentiating little people is a snap. Adults? Not so much.

It’s to the point where if a man of similar size and build approached me on the street and was like “Hey sweetie, ready to go swimming with dolphins?” I’d be all “Dad! You always forget that I’m terrified of dolphins.” And “Is that moustache new?”

Our small community was rocked by a scandal recently. Our local provincial representative found himself at the epicenter of a sexual harassment lawsuit.

Gross. Super gross. But I was delighted because it’s a small community, meaning that I would see this knave, and could therefore take him to task.

I love telling off politicians. It’s my second favourite activity after eating hamburgers while watching people on ellipticals. I enjoy telling politicians off even when they haven’t done anything wrong. All that I require is that their political views that differ from mine. By the way my political views are that everyone should share everything always and belt out the 90’s heartthrob band Hanson once a day. Super reasonable and mainstream.

But in order for me to recognize the politician in question, the creep would have to be standing next to one of his election signs, sticking out his hand saying “I’m so and so, elected official for the area and confirmed dirty old man.”

Even then, I’d probably take in that scene and scratch my chin saying “I feel like I know you from somewhere.”

For serious most men look similar. They compound this problem by constantly dressing the same- shirt and pants or a suit for fancy occasions. My heart goes out to all those baby mamas on Jerry Springer who had their husband’s brother’s baby. When the women on daytime TV screech “Puddin’ I had no idea it was your brother- I thought it was you! I’m sorry five of our eight babies are his.” I nod in solemn solidarity because there but for the grace of God go I. For the longest time, I tried to date only men with sisters to avoid this problem.

So though I was all fired up and ready to rip the local MP a new one, even I recognized that calling out this man on his actions was a poor choice. I could even see it in my head. Last Tuesday evening, there was a massive town event. Everyone was in attendance. I pictured myself spotting the miscreant from across the curling rink.

“Oy! Pervert! You think you can harass women in private? Well I’m here to bring you your come uppance in public! Times up jerk!”

And there’d be an uncomfortable murmur through the crowd and some nice woman with a blonde bob who would later claim that we have multiple times would whisper in my ear.

And then I’d sheepishly say “Pastor Kent, I’m so sorry. I didn’t recognize you without your robe on, obviously I need to review to your last sermon about finding tranquility through God.”

So in spite of my great desire give our local politician what for, I’m going to focus my energy on learning the names of everyone in the community. Currently I have a list going by our front door. I add to it whenever I meet someone new. It looks something like this:

Sharon- grocery store, highlights, likes macrame

Max –church, tallish, weird gait, hockey buff

Cherise – church, chubby, toe ring, bakes

Fern – bowling alley, three children; one is a disappointment

Alex – park, black dog, unibrow

I’m not sure what I’ll do when Cherise takes off her toe ring or Max finally gets the orthopedic shoes he needs but I’ll cross that bridge when I get there. In the meantime, I’m blending in and trying not to introduce myself to the same person for the eighth time that week at the park and inquiring gently about Fern’s middle child. Also I should have made a note as to whether it was Alex who had a unibrow or his dog.

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Why Do I Always Guest Star In Pornos or The True Secret To #WinningParenting

I don’t claim to be the best parent ever. In fact, I’m probably third from the worst but generally, in public at least, I keep my act together. Except for that time I wanted to beat up a septogenarian. Or at Halloween when we kept our three year old out so late that he lost interest in candy and decorations. However I can definitively say, that I have not bang-a-langed in public while with my child. Previously, I felt that this was a key step in raising well adjusted children, my experience last weekend now leaves me questioning that conclusion.

At the Children’s Museum, there was this pair of Francophones who were sitting on a bench pawing at each other like teenagers. You know how people shout “Get a room!” at couples who are getting a little too amorous in public? I felt like saying “Get a consent form!” or possibly “You might need to check the provincial legislation before trying that move.” It was a little extreme. And creative.

These people were going at it like it was some sort of dirty movie. I could all but hear the “Bow-chick-a-Bow-wow” music playing inside their heads. However they were kind enough to leave half the bench empty so being a person who makes poor choices, I sat next to them for a bit because it was the closest seat to my son’s chosen play area but it was kind of awkward. And by kind of awkward, I didn’t know whether I should be filming the couple or writing up a ticket for a citizen’s arrest.

All the while, I saw these two little girls who were playing so sweetly together, they were just wandering from gallery to gallery, happy as could be. Mini-Tex was having a heck of a time getting into the play structure and needed help to get from one level to another, so when the girls returned, I asked them whether they would help him. I thought maybe the girls would give my son a boost and just go back to their play. No, suddenly my three year old had two best friends who wanted to lift him and show him all the fun spots he couldn’t reach previously in the structure. The kids just had a ball together. At one point the tow girls got Mini-Tex to cling to a hanging pool noodle and pushed him like Tarzan swinging on vines through the jungle.

The girls were very careful to always make sure that he was safe. It was delightful to watch because Mini-Tex was elated to not only have such interested playmates but to try out all the elements of the structure that he had spent a year merely looking at. So there I am, trying to avoid the soft core porn on the bench occurring next to the play structure while keeping my son in my sights.

The girls played with Mini-Tex for over an hour. He had the time of his life. I kept watch for their parents to commend them on what an awesome job they were doing and how kind their girls were but never spotted them. In the meantime, the Francophones had decided to do a hands-on, educational demonstration of how to create more children. A perfect exhibit for the Children’s Museum if a person thinks about it really. The other parents and I averted our eyes while the kids played innocently around the public display.

Eventually, the girls made their way down the play structure with Mini-Tex. “We have to go, it’s his nap time.” I informed my son’s new friends. “We will walk you to the door” the little girls all but sang at Mini-Tex and me. Then, I watched in utter shock as the girls rushed over to the French couple. “Maman, Papa, on revient!”

So that seals it, apparently I have to start dry humping my husband in the supermarket so that our son grows up to be as independent and kind hearted as those two little people. Sex in public- it’s my newest parenting hack. And here all of you concerned parents were debating to spank or not to spank. Clearly the answer is to spank, just not your children.

 

Also, in case you don’t remember, this isn’t the first time that I’ve made an accidental cameo in a dirty movie. The last time was five years ago. Apparently this is something I do twice a decade.

Four Years Ago Today

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I still relive this day in my head with the same joy and excitement that I felt climbing up that hill and kissing my new husband for so long that the minister commented on it. (Photo Credit : Sula)

Tex,

I’m sorry. Once again, you undoubtedly bought me the perfect card which sums up your feelings for me and inscribed it with a heartfelt and romantic message of gratitude and love. And in return you received a Happy Hanukkah card with a porcupine on it-which is a bit of a head-scratcher because to start with, we’re not Jewish. I’m a little rubbish at personal milestones.

Don’t let my inability to choose heartwarming stationary make you think that I don’t care. It sounds trite, but every single day you inspire me to be a better person; the kindness that you unconditionally show to the world makes me smile. And makes me wish I could be that nice. Most of the time, I settle for having a truly empathetic and loving spouse while continuing to be my mischievous and slightly unpleasant self.

I said it in our wedding vows, but I hunted you down with all the stealth and cunning of a puma. And every day I look at you and think “I’d do it again in a heartbeat.” You’re the most funny, interesting, smart person I know. You’re the only person I ever dated who matched the magnitude of my passion and zest for life. Your deep commitment to your interests brings me joy. From the time we met, you are and remain, my favourite person ever. I can’t wait for our next wedding anniversary and all the ones to come.

Also, right now, hold onto those fluttery, nice feelings you have towards me. I need to confess something. I told our mailman that you’re a never-nude.

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It’s exactly like this. Only with black socks. Photo Credit : Twitter.

It just came out. Sorry. But it is odd that in the five years that we’ve been together, I’ve never once glimpsed your feet.

As always,

your loving, but overly chatty wife

An Accurate Squash Recipe

Recipes read like joke books to me. In particular, the ones involving squash. I always look at the ingredients list and think “3 cups of squash? Are you kidding me?” What I’d like to know is; who are these people who just have three cups of squash? Do they not have gardens? Or mother-in-laws that farm? Are they the ones buying the teeny baby squashes that are sold in grocery stores by the pound for exorbitant prices?

Admittedly, I have less squash than I’ve had in previous years. And nothing will ever compare to the year of the gourds. That was the year that butternuts came like the plague only instead of grasshoppers, we got gourds, an endless parade of gourds. Not even the little ones that are sold in the grocery stores- these were giant butternut squash that ate the little grocery store squash for breakfast, then took over the zucchini patch for lunch.

Tex and I ate two hundred pounds of squash that year. Two hundred. By December I didn’t love my favourite squash recipe anymore. I used to be able to eat that salad for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Also, while Tex is willing to take one for the team and eat his family’s allotment of dog fur flavoured seal meat, around about January of the year of the gourds, my husband gave up eating squash. Meaning that in twelve months I ate more than my weight in gourds. That’s right, I ate a butternut person. And if my mother-in-law drops off another couple hundred pounds of squash at my door, I’d do it again.

I started hiding squash in things. Not like couches or other people’s cars, although that would have been brilliant idea and relieved me of a couple of gourds, more like in dishes. I discovered that squash thickens up homemade spaghetti sauce. And best of all- you can’t taste it. I mashed acorn squash into chili and then told Tex that it was just chili. Because otherwise he might have balked and gone out for KFC.

During the year of the squash, we had so much that Tex, my resident knife sharpener got tired of touching up the blades every other day and invested in a cleaver. The butternuts were rendered easier but the Koboka squash were still tough to crack. Don’t be upset if you’ve never seen or heard of a Koboka squash before, its part-gourd, part-medieval-cannonball and they’ve got a rind made of  cast iron.

My uncle who grew up on a farm suggested throwing the Kobokas down the stairs to crack them open. Not only would we have lost our damage deposit along with a means of accessing the laundry room in the basement but I suspect the Kobokas would have rolled away without a scratch. Tex purchased the cleaver specifically for them.

To cut up a Koboka, Tex would stand at one end of the kitchen, and using all of his farm boy strength combined with engineering know-how, chuck the cleaver at the Koboka like a hipster at an ax throwing competition. The cleaver would barely sink into the skin of the cannonball-squash-cross but it would be enough. Then he’d walk down to the local prison and ask the largest inmate, the one who spends his entire jail sentence bench pressing weights, to lean on the cleaver. Once that strong man was exhausted, the Koboka would be pried open enough that Tex could repeat his cleaver throwing bit again and begin to carve the vegetable up for dinner.

We had twelve Koboka squash that year. All of them were approximately the size of a chubby eight month old. I know this because I held a photo survey with my family asking “Who’s larger: the squash or the baby?” The squash won by a landslide.

In addition to the sheer amount of work necessary to chop them up, I also was forced to find new recipes. Hence the laughable nature of a soup requiring just three cups of squash. So I’ve decided to make my own recipe. One that farmers and those with gardens will actually find helpful.

 

Squash Soup or Squash Casserole or Squash Rigoli or Whatever You Need To Call This Dish So That Your Family Will Eat More Squash

Minutes of preparation : Until the end of TIME

For serious, you will have squash until the end of time. Your days will be marked by time not preparing squash versus time chopping up and cooking squash. If you wanted a different life, maybe you should have considered that before taking up gardening.

Ingredients

Squash, all the squash, as much squash as you have the strength and wherewithal to chop up.

Other vegetables, probably broth.

Steps

  1. Cut up squash. Give up halfway through and start downing shots. Eye the twenty other squash sitting in the corner or your pantry with a combination of revulsion and appreciation.
  2. Return to the kitchen. Might I suggest using the dull knife after all the alcohol?
  3. Finish chopping squash.
  4. Lay squash on a tray, place in the oven. Bake at 375 F for an hour. Unless the squash is spaghetti squash from Tex’s cousin, in which case it’s going to take a minimum of two hours. While you’re waiting, down more shots.
  5. Remove squash and put in pot with other flavourful vegetables that will hopefully cover the taste of the squash. Add broth. Bring to boiling and then simmer for 30 minutes.
  6. Depending on how bad the situation is at your house, you may need to blend the sucker. In fact I recommend it, anything to disguise the fact that you’re eating squash.
  7. Serve to your unsuspecting family. Tell them it’s carrot soup. If the soup isn’t orange, add an Oompa Loompa as a garnish.

 

This post is dedicated to my mother-in-law, who has lovingly grown every one of the 600 lbs of squash that I’ve eaten since 2015. And put up with teasing about her plentiful squash patch.

There’s A Terrible, Devious Part Of Me That Wants To Call His Bluff

So I arrived home to find this on the counter.

If you can’t read my husband’s writing it says

“If I find one more of these loose in the bottom of the dishwasher clogging up the drain, I will preemptively remove all of them. We will be having “surprise” for supper a lot.

Love, Tex”

And there is an arrow leading to my label which says “Pork Spcg Sauce”, which for those uninitiated to my serial killer printing, means pork spaghetti sauce.

The ironic thing is; the containers began being labeled because of Tex. He objected to pulling what he thought was sausage soup out of the freezer, only to arrive home to a thawed container of applesauce. I don’t know about you, but I am fine with just applesauce for dinner. I just pretend that I’m eight months old again and sporadically sneeze into my dining companion’s mouths to complete the experience. Although I’m not a fan of the dessert course, when you take off your socks, rub them in your applesauce coated hair and then suck on the juicy toes.

In fact, I was accustomed to the concept of mystery dinners, because ten years ago, I started a steamy love affair. With soup. I had just begun learning to cook and while I enjoyed it, it wasn’t something I wanted to do every day. Enter my hot and freezer worthy friend. I began cooking vats of soup. And then freezing it in small batches. It was convenient, it was fabulous; I had discovered the culinary equivalent of a boyfriend sweater- all easy to heat up, comforting and right there when you need it.

When I lived alone, because there’s only so often a person can grow a beard, scratch their groin and retreat into their own personal hovel, I had potluck dinner with friends twice a week. In the morning, I would grab unlabeled containers out of my freezer then leave them to thaw all day in my car. This plan would never work now, what with my snuggling up to polar bears and camping on icebergs every night, but back when I lived in the south with that stranger whom people call “heat”, my soups melted. (It’s approximately minus a bajillion outside today. A snowdrift knocked on the door asking to come in and warm up but I had to turn him away because there was already a hypothermic ice sculpture shivering in the hallway.) Then I would crack open said “mystery” supper container at my friend’s house. There was only one occasion where I did a Homer Simpson impersonation after realizing that I had not shown up with chili- it was pasta sauce, which I also made in large batches.

Luckily my friends were as lackadaisical about food as me. I also suspect that they were grateful when I didn’t turn up on their doorstep with eight pounds of mashed rutabaga. Because this was also around the time when I turned full hippie and was a pious, irritating, root vegetable-farting locavore.  I was one stick of organic incense away from braiding rugs out of my underarm hair.

Sula, my best girlfriend, moonlighted as a taxidermist on weekends. Her freezer was often stuffed full of meats succinctly titled “STK”. A rarely discussed benefit of stuffing wild animals- sometimes hunters give you the meat. For our weekly craft nights, she’d pull one of the trays out and create culinary masterpieces. Including the one time when I walked in the door and Sula said “I’m sorry, I thought it was venison but I think it’s bear.” Then she dipped her spoon into the mixture and took another taste. “Yep, it’s bear.”

Though my friends and I loved this devil-may-care approach to dinner, this did not fly with my husband. So when I started cooking up giant vats of different soups using his old 60 liter beer making pot, the final step before stowing the endless parade of containers in the freezer became making indecipherable labels for them. For  serious it was an endless parade, even though the plastic vessels weren’t filled with candy, there’s a part of me that feels vaguely like an Oompa Loompa after dealing with 50 liters of soup. This might have something to do with my hands being dyed orange from peeling and chopping ten pounds of carrots like I’m a cook on a military base. Or an orphan in a Dickens’ novel.

Tex would even make jokes to chastise me when I would forget the labels. So there’s an evil part of me that wants to test my husband’s patience along with his taste buds because at some point, if we remove the labels, Tex will end up eating an entire container of wild cranberry sauce for lunch. Sweat sock smell, round pits and all. I’ll let you know if my diabolical or, more likely, forgetful side wins out and the labels get tossed. I can’t wait to eat apricot kiwi mash for dinner. I’m going to toss some of it in Tex’s hair just to make it authentic. What would be the best though, is if I was still nursing our son. Nothing like a wholesome cup of breastmilk to cap off a rough day.

 

Addendum

Tex arrived home right after I finished penning this post. While writing it, I had sent him a text saying “Do you have your key? Also, I did what you asked.”

The second sentence being a reference to the fact that he signed his note with the moniker I use for him on my blog. I thought Tex had wanted me to write a post. When my husband walked in the door, he breathed a sigh of relief over not seeing a pile of tiny labels next to his note. In his words “My wife is a little evil, I didn’t know what to expect.”

I love that our marriage is a bit of a crapshoot for him.

Our Family’s Paris Accord – Two Years Later

The odometer of our cargo trike clicked over to 2200 kilometers this week. As large and wonderful as that number is, the biggest achievement in our family’s journey to reduce our carbon footprint turns out to be what the bike represented. By investing in the bike and the goal of putting as many kilometers on our Nihola tires rather than our van, we made a visible commitment to ourselves and our community. That commitment has snowballed and honestly, despite doing my best to live in an environmental manner for the past ten years, this outcome was unexpected.

The thing about making large changes, for example choosing to bike over any other form of transportation, is they force you to reevaluate other aspects of your life. Since getting the bike, our family has increasingly said the words “That’s wasteful”. It makes me so proud, each time I hear my husband say that phrase or when he nods in response to me saying it. We haven’t heated or cooled our house in weeks, choosing instead to exist within the temperatures Mother Nature gives us which have been between 67 degrees Fahrenheit and 82 degrees Fahrenheit. Compared to May and June last year when we lived in a tiny fourth floor walkup with no air conditioning or air circulation at all, where temperatures were over ninety degrees each night, this is easy.

The kilometers we’ve racked up on all of our bikes are peanuts in comparison to the kilometers that we have not put on our van. Previous to our family’s Paris accord, my husband was putting 25,000 kilometers on our van each year easily. Since then, we’ve done our utmost to avoid long trips to the nearest city which is four hours away. When a trip can’t be avoided, we schedule necessary city appointments and complete city errands while there. In spite of living more than double the distance from a major center than we were two years ago, we have succeeded in only putting 15,000 kilometers on our van this year. That’s 10,000 kilometer difference, never mind the mileage on our feet and bike odometers. In addition to this, my husband is changing jobs this year so we are hoping to cut our yearly mileage even further.

My husband, who loves convenience, has an ongoing list for the secondhand shop rather than ordering whatever he needs off of Amazon. Our three year old son talks about taking care of “living creatures”. It’s his new favorite term in reference to insects.

The most remarkable part is the way that change has spread. Tex’s family was always extremely environmentally conscious but mine has even jumped on board. After I told my Dad about the reason why we avoid palm oil and what products contain it, he stopped purchasing chocolates for us- win! My mother bought my son a second hand toy as a gift this year- I was proud of her. Ultimately, as a planet we need a lot of people making lots of little changes to their life to better the environment.

Think about yourself, is there something that you would like to try this week? Taking the bus to work perhaps? When we lived in a city with public transportation, I loved seeing the world awaken and ready itself as I sipped my coffee and watched from the bus window. Could you sleep with just a sheet or less and enjoy the feeling of the hot summer night?

Or could you go bigger – write to a governing office about your thoughts? Or maybe would you like to satisfy your curiosity about cargo trikes? Ours was purchased from the good people of Curbside Cycle in Toronto Ontario, however they ship across Canada. Before you balk at the price, consider for a moment how much your car costs. Cargo trikes are not merely a bicycle- they’re a vehicle. We use ours to transport children for playdates and groceries. My only regret with regards to our cargo trike is that we didn’t buy the larger version. By contrast I regret owning a car every time it goes in for yet another expensive oil change or repair. Especially that last action given that car payments are still being removed from my bank account monthly.

Small changes snowball, just imagine how different your life might look in two years if your family wrote their own Paris accord today. If you’d like a starting point, here is a link to our original accord.

The Greatest Love Story of My Life : Casablanca, The Notebook, Beauty and the Beast all in one

My favourite love story doesn’t have a prince. It doesn’t feature Ryan Gosling. And shockingly, even though I love my husband to the moon and back, my favorite love story isn’t even my own- it’s my grandparents’.

What has always made my grandparents’ relationship remarkable to me was the fact that they liked each other. I grew up in a house that felt like the United States during the 1960’s Cold War, where at any moment one side might detonate the nuclear bomb of divorce and annihilate my world. Thus, the feeling of genuine friendship that my grandparents shared, formed the basis of what a loving marriage looked like for both me and my sister.

You couldn’t separate one person from another. Gran came with Granddad; their names were said together, always, because that was their life. My grandparents tackled the world head-on, side by side. They danced west coast style together, they sailed together, they biked together, they geocached together. It didn’t matter that every single one of those interests belonged almost exclusively to my Granddad, they did them together. My Gran spent her life sewing matching costumes for their nights out dancing, scrubbing the boat to ready it for a trip, preparing elaborate lunches to feed my particular Granddad during their outdoor adventures. Gran supported Granddad while he captained the ship of their life.

The way that my grandfather supported my Gran was more subtle. As a child, my sister and I would watch for his love- in the way that Granddad would come up behind Gran and hug her. Or the way that, despite living on modest means and carefully budgeting every month, Granddad insisted that they could afford a sewing machine the price of a used car so Gran could add detailed embroidery to her sewing projects. When I went to university, Granddad truly proved his love for Gran by buying her two dogs then walking the canines twice a day, every day, after that.

In the same way that my sister and I liked to bask in their love for us, we would delight in our grandparents’ love for each other. As teenagers, whenever our family traveled together, despite having our own space, somehow Diana and I would end up in Gran and Granddad’s room. They wouldn’t be paying any attention to us necessarily. My sister and I just enjoyed watching our grandparents be together.

Even the off moments of my grandparents’ marriage were endearing. The same night that Granddad unwittingly revealed Diana’s actual age (as opposed to the one on her fake ID that she carried in her pocket) to the nightclub bouncers, my sister and I sat in my grandparents’ room beforehand. Both Diana and I were ready for a night of dancing, but Gran and Granddad still had to put on their matching country Western outfits. Granddad carefully set a map on their bed of how to get to the club and said to Gran that the directions were there and could she please remember to bring them.

Fast forward to the four of us walking to the dance club, Granddad is about two minutes away from loudly declaring Diana’s underage status to the bouncers. Granddad turned to Gran and asked whether she had brought the map. “What map?” my Gran asked. “The one I said that I laid on the bed for you to bring in your purse, and you said ‘Mmmm hmmm’” replied Granddad.

“Dear, you talk an awful lot, sometimes I don’t always listen” my Gran confessed. All of us laughed and I marveled to myself how wonderful it must be to live with someone for so long that on occasion you just allow the cadence of their voice to fall around you without listening, not in an inconsiderate way but more in the manner of letting your chatty spouse talk. Then my Granddad shouted Diana’s age to the bouncers, setting off a course of events that would end with my other, paternal grandmother being dropped off by the police at midnight and the spell of goodwill was broken. Evidently we hadn’t needed the map, only a set of Ontario legislation for Granddad.

It wasn’t just my grandparents’ friendship that makes their love special to me- it was the endurance of that love. My grandparents met, married and had children in their teens. They traveled across the globe as a family when my grandfather was in the military. They lived in more places than I have, which is astounding because I’ve moved a lot in the past couple of years. And through all of that, they were together, creating stories, supporting one another.

My whole life, I’ve been fortunate to watch my grandparents live their marriage vows; for better or for worse, in sickness and in health. Often I’ve marveled at the achievement of loving the same person for your whole life, choosing to endure every peak, plateau and decline together and the determination it must have taken for both of them to achieve this.

The last time I visited my grandparents, my grandfather turned to me and said “Gran and I are friends.” I smiled at him and replied “I know” because I do, their love for one another has been a fact of my life, every day since I was born. My only hope is that I can create the same caliber of love story for my own family.

Love and Thunderclouds

“Are Grandma and Grandpa at my house?” my three year old asked me as I walked him home from daycare. His grandparents had appeared the day before and stayed over to help us with our upcoming move. Tex’s parents had dropped my son off at daycare but I had neglected to inform my little boy that Grandma and Grandpa wouldn’t be there when he returned.

“No buddy, sorry” I replied.

A grey cloud appeared over my three year old’s head and I heard a clap of thunder as his face darkened. “I want to go see them!” Mini-Tex all but stamped his little foot.

I felt badly, because I understood my son’s sentiments exactly. I was raised partly by my grandparents. Every other weekend when we were small, my mom would drive my sister and me to their house. What followed were the best two days of my week, filled with love, extra attention and fun.

As we got older and started school, my favourite moment was the school secretary announcing over my classroom’s intercom “Please remind Sarah not to take the bus home today”. That announcement signaled only one thing- that Granddad was picking up Diana and me from school, then he was going to drive us to his and Gran’s house.

My grandparents were present for every important event in my life, every performance, every achievement. My grandfather left school at grade ten and only later completed his GED, so education was paramount to him. My sister and I would proudly display every one of our report cards and he would fawn over our academic triumphs.

Christmas didn’t begin until we stepped foot in their house. It didn’t matter if it was the 27th or the 29th, to heck with Santa, as far I was concerned, Christmas at Gran and Granddad’s was the “true” Christmas. To me, if my grandparents weren’t there, it was as though I couldn’t totally celebrate.

The worst part of the year came after Christmas. Each January, Gran and Granddad drove down south for twenty nine months. Or at least that’s how their winter sojourn felt to my childhood self. Like my birthday wasn’t actually my birthday until they returned. Sure I enjoyed partying with my friends, but I never truly turned a year older until I received a hug from my grandparents and the completely unnecessary congratulations of living another year.

From the outside, my son’s scowl looked like frustration and anger but I knew better. It was an expression that said “I love my grandparents and they love me and we are accustomed to being together”.

As I apologized to my surly looking three year old, I did my best not to smile and in my head, I made a mental note to talk to my husband about when we could visit his parents next because even though I’m grown up, a part of me desperately wants to see my grandparents too.

A Day In The Life of a Professional Writer

8:00 AM Drop offspring off at daycare. Feel excessively guilty when offspring cries because your job isn’t paid well, doesn’t have normal hours, or contribute anything concrete to humanity aside from the occasional laugh.

8:20 AM Eat breakfast while your computer glares at you menacingly from the corner.

8:30 AM Continue eating breakfast so that you can justify not writing for a little while longer.

8:40 AM Still eating breakfast to avoid writing. Reflect on whether writing is making you fat. Reminisce briefly about the days when you were single, not pregnant and used to have Baileys and milk in lieu of food to fuel your writing.

8:45 AM Still musing about booze. Conclude that it is a good thing that you are pregnant otherwise you might be an alcoholic.

9:00 AM Begin to write. Or rather do the pre writing step which is thinking of words to write.

9:07 AM If you were drunk all of your ideas wouldn’t seem so awful.

9:08 AM Shake off notions of being an alcoholic and begin to type words.

9:50 AM Review the work you’ve created so far.

9:51 AM Realize you are nowhere near your word count for the day and collapse into a puddle of remorse on the floor. Briefly contemplate becoming rodeo clown. Seems like a less painful profession.

10:00 AM Give up staring at your computer screen in favor of changing your sheets for the third time this week. You finished up all the other housework when you were avoiding writing yesterday.

10:25 AM Return briefly to computer, type a couple hundred more words.

11:17 AM Stew in a cloud of crippling self-doubt. Compare yourself, your work and your career to every other famous and well respected writer you can think of. Debate becoming an accountant. They always own such nice pants.

11:20 AM Call whatever family member is home and available. Keep them on the phone for as long as possible by asking increasingly personal and inappropriate questions.

12:20 PM When family member hangs up phone abruptly, attempt to decide whether there are any more words to be written. Conclude there are none. Eat again to mask your complete lack of productivity.

12:40 PM Prepare and drink a cup of coffee to kick start your creative juices.

1:00 PM The coffee has merely kick started your bladder. Make second trip to the washroom in half an hour.

1:05 PM While in the bathroom, taking the full minute and a half to wash your hands as recommended by health agencies everywhere, you recall that Ernest Hemingway used to drink seventeen cups of coffee in a day.

1:07 PM Stand in kitchen and debate whether you have enough grounds to brew the staggering amount of coffee required to fuel true literary genius.

1:10 PM Choose to settle for literary mediocrity and only make one additional cup of coffee because seventeen cups would have you flying around the room like a rapidly deflating balloon.

2:20 PM How did it get so late?! There is only an hour and a half until the daycare pick up time and you have accomplished nothing. NOTHING!

2:30 PM Type furiously to make up for the fact that you spent a day being a lay about rather than caring for your adoring, sweet offspring who want nothing more than to spend every second whether awake or asleep in your presence.

3:30 PM Success! You have more than met your word count for the day. Celebrate by calling mother to whinge about your life choices. And her life choices. Because if she had chosen a literary agent to be your godmother and been a celebrated author herself, then your life today would be simpler.

3:45 PM Reread all of your work from the past week and a half and decide that it’s rubbish.

4:00 PM Pick up lovable offspring from daycare. Wish fervently that you had put on socks before leaving the house as you watch the other parents remove their shoes at the entrance. Frantically and surreptitiously brush crumbs from breakfast from your shirt. Silently make a pact with yourself to do better and wear something aside from pyjamas in public tomorrow.

Flying Electronics and Other Talents of My Mother’s

Does anyone remember Flava-flav?

Flava Flav

This man? Who has ingeniously sidestepped the issue of strangers asking for the time by wearing it around his neck? (Photo Credit : heidibenj.blogspot.com)

He’s a national treasure. Along the same lines as Trump, or that guy who tries to bankrupt rich people by selling them tickets to a nonexistent festival.

Once upon a time, Flava-flav had a reality show. My sister and I loved it. And by loved it, I mean we were university students home for the summer in a place whose night life consisted of going out to the Dairy Queen and searching nearby bushes for our indoor cat when it got out of the house. Brampton is dead sexy, what can I say?

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The place I grew up is this man in city form. Every young person’s idea of a good time. (Photo Credit Twitter)

There wasn’t a whole lot of choice when it came to entertainment.

So there we were crashed out on the couch, and we stumbled upon a Flava-flav’s “Flava Of Love” marathon. I don’t need to tell you just how awesome twenty women competing for this wizened, Viking hat and clock wearing man’s affections are. It was akin to discovering a buffet of deep fried Mars bars. A terrible idea but to a young person, 25 seems ancient so who cares if your bad choices lead to a heart attack in four years? You should dig in. Flava-flav = great. Endless Flava-flav= the best day ever.

My mother did not agree. However my entire life, she abided by Barbara Coloroso’s advice, the former nun’s mantra is “If it’s not morally threating or life threatening: leave it be.”

During the first episode, my mother huffed at the television. In the same manner of an alligator, subtly warning its prey that they’re about to become lunch. The second episode she roared, with such primeval anger that I’m going to continue with the alligator theme – “There must be something better to watch- you change that channel now!”

It may have been the episode where one of the girls takes a laxative and poops on the floor during the Flav-a-flav equivalent of the Bachelor rose ceremony.

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Every facet of the show renders it a timeless classic. (Photo Credit Wikipedia.com)

With the same stupidity and naiveté as tourists, my sister and I ignored the danger signs and continued enjoying the low brow delights that only reality TV can provide.

The third episode is when my mother lost it, and ate the television whole like she was some sort of character out of a children’s story.

Not actually.

But my mom did step in front of the TV and bellow “If you don’t turn this garbage off now, I’m going to chuck the TV.”

Now she had our attention.

  1. Because in addition to being extremely fit, my mom was and still is freakishly strong. I joke about her bench pressing the neighbour’s sedan, but until she proves she can’t, the Grumans park carefully. It was unclear where she was going to chuck the TV; out the window or in the garbage but the fact of the matter is, in the sport of large electronics shotput, my mother is capable.
  2. My mother is a passionate person. And passionate people are unpredictable at times. Where other people jump in feet first, my mother has been known to hurtle herself backwards into life butt first. It makes for better, more interesting entrances. And good photos- as evidenced by all the pictures of my Mom throwing her backside into the ocean while surfing. In addition to being physically capable of throwing the TV out the window, my sister and I feared for the squawk box’s life and could picture our forty inch TV sailing over the deck in homage to my mother’s frustration with reality show culture. Other people might have merely unplugged the television, but my mother, who once bought her friend a live animal rather than a standard gift of perhaps socks, could be relied upon to be erratic at the best of times.
  3. My Dad would have quietly tolerated and accepted the smithereens of electronics laying on our lawn when he returned home. This was the same man who contentedly assumed his fate when in a span of less than a week, my mother, sister and I brought home a skink and two cats in succession. My Dad rocked at rolling with the punches of living with three weirdos.

Consequently, off went the TV. My mother stopped snapping her jaws and ceased bicep curling our couch in preparation for setting the Guinness Record for World’s Longest Television Throw. My sister and I still watched Flava-flav that summer but never when my mom was home.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom. I love you. And all of your quirks. Especially the ones that make for good blog posts. I’m allowed to watch Flav-a-flav type television now, but you’ll be happy to note that my husband sends me to a far corner of the house and forces me to wear head phones.

Also, if you curse me with your standard dastardly spell of “I hope you have a child just like you” please note that you will be called upon to hurl our television out the window and onto the patio when my children watch bad television. My pipe cleaner arms are not designed for shot put of any type.