About The Great Unwashed

I enjoy nonsense. I have a large family. I do bathe, just not often.

Knockdown Brawling Walker Rugby and Grandma’s Spanx

While cleaning out my grandmother’s room, I found the most bizarre garment I’d ever seen in my life. It was like a cross between bike shorts, underpants and football padding. “What is this?” I asked my aunt,

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This image doesn’t capture how GIANT and thick the pads were. Also obviously my Grandma’s were for a lady. Photo Credit activemedicalsupplies.com.au

holding up the object in question for her to see. “Oh those” she laughed. “They’re hip protectors. I bought them for Mom when she got unsteady. Mom refused to wear them though.” I placed the hip protectors in the charity pile and continued sorting.

A little while later, my Dad was stuffing the charity pile into garbage bags and he came across the hip protectors. “What in the heck are these?” he asked, justifiably alarmed. Before I could answer, my aunt jumped in with her boring explanation. I was so disappointed; my father is trusting to a fault, making him the best person to prank. He was the only person who believed me when I said that I sent out naked pictures of Tex in my Christmas card a couple of years ago. My favourite joke was when my mother came home with a fake belly button ring. My Dad blew up like a puffer fish, opening and closing his mouth in angry indignation “How could you? What kind of example does this set for the girls?” At that moment his face was the reddest I’d ever seen it. That is until my Mom took the ring out and Dad realized that he’d been had.

All the Outlandish Stories I Would Have Told My Dad Instead of the Truth

  1. They’re Grandma’s Spanx

On occasion she’d put them on to impress the church ladies. Paired with her support hose, she’d have all the male church elders hollering. But obviously Grandma only wore them once in a while out of deference to Jesus.

  1. Thursdays the old folk’s home hosts walker rugby

It’s exactly like normal rugby only the players have fewer teeth to lose. Also the nursing home mandates that the elderly players protect all their fragile parts hence the hip padding. Grandma’s rugby nickname was ironically “Ruthless”; she had the most knockouts of anyone on the floor.

  1. The Turkish baths downstairs are nude but require a flotation device

Grandma could have worn a lifejacket but she liked the feeling of letting the girls loose in the water. Also it was a better spot to receive all those cat calls. The pads on the sides are buoyant.

  1. New technology incontinence pants

Standard incontinence pants bulk up in an obvious way. These skintight ones have special wicking technology that moves the liquid to the removable pads at the sides. NASA invented them for the Mars mission.

  1. Hockey top for my cousin

This was why Grandma didn’t sew much- she remembered the shoulder pads but forgot a hole for the neck.

I’m fairly certain I could have sold every story but the Turkish baths, and that one only because the nursing home didn’t have a pool.

This post is dedicated to my Aunt Camelia who follows in her mother’s kind and loving footsteps, whereas I tread in my mother’s impish and occasionally devious ones. You remind me to be nice Aunty Camelia- thank you.

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Where All the Robot Mole People Come To Hang

Months ago, right after Tex took off for rainy Vancouver and left our au pair Janie and I all alone to carbe for the house, the basement started beeping. Which was quite concerning, given that basements don’t beep.

Generally my farm raised, cowboy husband takes care of these sorts of issues. He’s a dab hand at that type of house stuff, when I bring him some broken wrought iron patio furniture, he says things like “Oh, I’ll just weld that back together” as if it’s the easiest task in the world. Then I feel silly, because if only I had thought to break out the blow torch and stick the leg back on the chair with finesse and panache. Of course being raised in the middle of suburbia where my father hired people to put together IKEA bookshelves, I’m about eight different kinds of handy as one might imagine. Or not.

Anyway, so there Janie and I were, most likely about to be blown sky high because our house was sounding an awful lot like the bus from “Speed”. And worst of all, Keanu Reeves didn’t even bother to show up and help, so we were all by ourselves trying to figure out the reason for the beeping.

While both Janie and I considered my theory that terrorists had driven four hours from Winnipeg, broken into our house and implanted a bomb in our basement to make a statement about how tasteless it is to have a play structure in your living room instead of a couch, ultimately we decided that it was one of the many electronic machines that live downstairs that was making the racket.

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If by tasteless you actually mean FAB-u-luusssssss. This is best said in a singsong voice. Photo Credit: Unwashed

The difficulty was that the beeping wasn’t incessant; it was only a couple of times an hour, making it hard to locate the exact source of the noise. Within a day, we determined that it wasn’t coming from the laundry room. Janie and I had both been folding clothes when we heard the muffled beep from another room. This was reassuring because when washing machines go rogue, it’s ironically quite messy.

Eventually we determined the source – the random box in the corner that we have no idea what it does but it says in big letters “DO NOT UNPLUG!” so it seems foreboding that something like that would be acting up. After two consecutive weeks of beeping, I was done; giant capital letters or not, that electronic box was getting unplugged. While I will confess to being a harbinger of chaos and destruction, I do attempt to be a good mom most of the time- so I asked Janie to take Mini-Tex upstairs while I cut the beeping monster’s power.

Happily, there were no explosions, and Keanu Reeves once again failed to show up but I’d stopped expecting him about ten days back, so that was fine. I stood there, with the cord in my hands saying nasty words to the formerly noisy box and then because I don’t enjoy that much chaos, and didn’t want the firemen to come back, because we still had no idea what it was, so I plugged it back in. There was silence. I felt smug and slightly all-powerful for defying the capital letters and living to tell the tale. But then, it came again- BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP.

It was then that I had a brainwave- what if the mystery box wasn’t placed by aliens to spy on me and steal my secret to having skin that is prone to freckles and random allergic reactions? What if it was part of the weird alarm system that we never ever use because we’re terrible tenants? After a call to the alarm company, and resetting the entire system, for the first time in weeks there was quiet in the house. But then it came back, like raging case of herpes – BEEEEEEEEEEP.

At that point, I gave up. After all, I learned to live like a mole person in a house that 90% of the windows begin above my sightline, what’s the harm in adding beeps to my existence? I’ll just pretend that I live in a mole-person, robot dance club that only plays one song.

 

Part Two – For Pete’s Sake This HAS To Be Someone’s Monkey! Please, If This Is Your Monkey Come Get It. It Has Fleas, Bites and Snores Like a Bandsaw During The Night, I’ll Bet You Miss It More Than Anything

 

Yes there’s a part two! EVERYONE knows that isn’t how mole person, robot dance parties end!

The mystery machine in my basement which said in big letters DO NOT UNPLUG, was still beeping a monotone song and I just decided to groove with it. The alarm company hadn’t laid claim to the plastic box. So probably the box was installed by evil geniuses who were conducting a study about how long a box could beep before the inhabitants of the house lost their minds.

The ignoring coping mechanism worked for another month, at which point I got fed up with the chronic beeping, climbed on a chair and more closely inspected our irritating electronic DJ. Huzzah! There was a website written in tiny letters, I visited the site and discovered that the mystery box beeps when the battery is low. And the box supposedly belongs to the phone company. Please note that the website did not explain the purpose of said mystery box or why it is imperative that the mystery box should not be unplugged which leads me to believe that the government is spying on me and I need to start wearing tinfoil hats and clothing like a character out of the Wizard of Oz. The website detailed how to remove said low battery and where to take it once removed.

The battery removal instruction pictures made it look easy, but based on the images, the company had Hagrid remove the battery – whose hands measure a foot and a half from pinky to thumb? There is no way that my pinky and thumb could stretch like that. As it happened Mini-Tex was playing in the basement while I did this. It was a proud moment for me because he learned the F word in this whole process. Around the second time that Mini-Tex dropped his second F-bomb, I called in the cavalry and had Tex finish taking out the battery.

Finally, after three months of intermittent beeping there was silence in the house. I would have thrown a parade with a marching band and children playing kazoos to celebrate but there remained the problem of a battery the size of Estonia.

Caption -See it’s a microscopic country but it makes for an enormous power source.

Anything that large needs to be recycled and responsibly. So I set off to the mall to give back the phone company what was rightfully theirs and demand a new one because at the very least if we weren’t going to use the alarm system, we would make sure that it was functional. We’re mediocre tenants like that.

“Here!” I heaved the battery onto the counter. “I believe this is yours” I said to the woman and then she looked at me like I had three heads. “Please don’t look at me like that” I begged. “I listened to this mystery plastic box beep for three months straight and I finally removed this enormous albatross from its electronic innards and taught my son the F-word in the process and now you have to take it because the website said you would and the internet never lies.”

“It’s not my monkey.” The woman replied. Actually that’s not true; she mostly looked at me with confusion, pity and a bit of annoyance because while I was saying this Mini-Tex was throwing all of the cell phone cases onto the floor. But she told me that she had never seen anything like that in her life and no she would absolutely not take it, nor did she have any idea where I could recycle it and had no clue where I could get another one. She suggested that maybe I should call the alarm company again.

Then I collapsed in a puddle of frustration and anguish. Only not actually, because I’m thirty and have a child so I had to put the 57 cell phone protectors back on the wall. But I thanked the sales associate in a way that let her know that the act of apologizing and leaving the store with the battery was stabbing my soul. And then apologized for taking her time, because I’m Canadian.

Back to square one. At the very least, the beeping had ceased although there was a part of me questioning that if the mystery box was so clear about NEVER BEING UNPLUGGED, that it was likely bad that the elephant sized battery was sitting on my dresser rather than in its mystery, beeping, plastic home.

Once again, I called the alarm company, described the mystery box and the battery and inquired where I might get another battery and where I should dispose of this one. The alarm company was all “Sorry, it’s not our monkey, also we have no clue where to get a new one and that mystery box isn’t ours.” So since the box doesn’t belong to the phone company or the alarm company, the only conclusion is that I’m being spied on by Martians, which is reassuring because I’m fairly certain that I’ve cut the power to their planet by removing the gargantuan battery from the mystery box.

That’s my life this week in a nutshell. If I disappear without a trace, please send NASA to find me. Also, if the aliens come knocking looking for the heart of their civilization- it’s on my kitchen counter.

I’m Not Usher, But These Are My Confessions – Liquor in the Morning and Glory Moments of Parenting

Sometimes I Just Leave My Toddler Lying In The Middle of The Floor

Can we all just acknowledge that snowsuits are like one piece bathing suits for babies- impossible to get on, painful to remove and God help you if nature calls? Anyway so Mini-Tex has this routine of falling asleep in his stroller and then I half lift, half drop the stroller on its way up the stairs into the house, park him in the entranceway, without throwing on the brake because that would wake him up, so I hope that there isn’t an earthquake while he naps, otherwise the stroller might roll across the hall and down the stairs. Also, Mini-Tex sleeps in his snowsuit because removing it is next to impossible and I always feel like I’m about to break one of his tiny arms in the process, but I prevent him from overheating by turning down the heat. I then curl up five blankets and make believe that I’m in Siberia, I would do a Russian accent to help sell the idea but I’m atrocious at accents.

For the most part, my son and I had both accepted this new sleeping arrangement. Then it snowed. Like apocalyptic Siberian Russia snow. There was so much snow that the stroller was an impossibility. But staying home was not, because I’m addicted to the grocery store’s contest so we needed to buy pickles and detergent. That’s when I broke out the sled. Mini-Tex thought it was pretty great, and like clockwork he fell asleep as we turned the corner down our street. As I lifted him out, he kind of woke up. He was still tired in that “I’m just so warm in this one-piece-oversized-down-filled-bathing-suit-strait-jacket-thing kind of way” so I laid him on the floor. And he just stayed there. Didn’t say anything, so I walked away, and his eyes kind of closed but not all the way. So I left Mini-Tex awake on the floor, then I picked up my two year old, French, trashy magazine and read for a couple of minutes before checking to determine that he was out. And I left him there, sleeping in the middle of the floor. One of my finest hours as a parent.

I Call It “Baby Fetch”

Listen, sometimes, you just need a minute. Occasionally it’s to make coffee and you hand your child a package of fire engine stickers which ends with tiny fire engine sized carpets after your child sticks the entire sheet to the rug and in attempting to remove the stickers you create fire engine shaped bald patches in the rug and a handful of fuzzy, miniature carpets. Other times, well, you’re out of stickers, so you get creative. Baby Fetch was invented while I was trying to write a letter, Mini Tex wanted to play soccer. Instead I threw his beach ball as far as I could and he ran after it. In between throws I’d pen a handful of words. I regret nothing because Mini-Tex is going to show that Golden Doodle who’s boss at the park this summer.

At This Point In The Winter, I’m Debating Wrapping Him In A Couple Of Duvets And Calling It A Day- Obviously I’d Make His Head Stick Out, So I Don’t See The Problem With This

We’ve agreed that snowsuits are winter’s answer to one piece bathing suits? Uncomfortable, only used a couple months of the year and wearing them during your teens will get you laughed at etc. My biggest beef with snowsuits is that I don’t know where my baby ends and the snowsuit begins. Problematic from the point of view of “Are you cold?” randomly fondles the snowsuit, “Oh you’re just fine”. When really your baby’s hand is an ice cube but you can’t find it in the endless folds of fabric.

The worst example of this was the ten minutes that Mini-Tex spent with two legs shoved into one pant leg of his snow suit. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why the snowsuit wasn’t fitting properly and then when I finally realized the problem, I was so fed up with the entire business that I needed a break. So I left Mini-Tex lying in the middle of the floor with his little legs pinned together while I regrouped in the bedroom upstairs and debated a ten AM vodka shot because we’ve established that I’m an awe inspiring parent. One would think that I’d realize that an entire pant leg was just fabric but nope, because snowsuits take your children and make them significantly larger. It’s like taking a small European child and making them North American in five minutes or less.

I would say if you must judge me, bring me hard liquor first, or offer to dress my son for playing the snow.

I’m Becoming The Lady At Walmart Who Fights People For A Television on Black Friday and Ends Up As An Unintentional Youtube Celebrity

This is now a blood sport. My Fuel Up To Win card now has one piece missing in each of the sections INCLUDING the $100,000 prize. This morning alone I tackled a grizzled old trapper at the gas station to pry six tickets out of his gnarled arthritic hands. Actually that’s not true, for some reason, probably because he lives in a cave with only a beaver for company, the trapper didn’t know about Fuel Up To Win.

Consequently, when the kindly cashier handed him his tickets, he proceeded to rip into them like he was a starved wolverine feasting upon a squirrel.  The cashier intervened and helped him to open the second ticket. After discovering that he didn’t win a car or another moose head for his cave wall, the trapper threw his tickets at her and stomped out. She was balling them up to toss in the trash when I sprinted for the cash- “I’ll take those” I said. She handed the whole ripped mess over to me and I pocketed it quickly. Then I purchased a small box of Glossettes to earn myself a ticket.

In case you’re sitting in the wings, judging me for abusing the contest rules and buying a small box of candy just to play. Yes I’m there, judge away. But what you should also know is that it wasn’t my first visit to a Coop Gas Bar that day. At nine AM, after being kept awake by Mini-Tex’s terrible cough and my own GI bug, I woke up wanting only one thing – a chance to play. Well two things, I also wanted Smarties.

The problem was that I had told someone in town that I wasn’t feeling well last night. That I was so sick in fact, that I had to cancel our plans for that day. This is a very, very small town, that becomes microscopically small when you do something like dash into the grocery store wearing pyjama bottoms and no bra, then suddenly your child’s teacher, your boss and that lady you hate because she always has her hair perfectly coiffed are all waiting at the checkout with you. Man, I hate Samantha; her outfits are always fabulous too.

Having lived in this tiny town for almost a year now, and having already made the mistake of going to the mall on a Saturday, I knew all of this. Meaning, that I knew that I couldn’t take our stroller out for the quick walk to the gas bar because I would see no less than 10 people I knew. All of them would know that both Mini-Tex and I were ill, so I would be forever marked as the negligent parent taking her ailing son out and the bad friend who cancels but isn’t too sick to go for a walk. So walking was out, which was just as well because I was actually too sick to walk.

At 8:37 AM, I drove the 500 meters to the gas bar. I’m ashamed to say it, but it was the only way I could be within a minute of a bathroom and get my Fuel Up To Win ticket. On the way, I debated asking Jesus to stop paying attention to all the lepers and poor people and steer everyone I knew away from the gas bar so I could buy my early morning treat in anonymity. I decided not to, that as awful as it would be to be seen purchasing chocolate before nine AM on a Monday, the people whose noses were falling off needed prayers more.

This morning, I got lucky and was in and out of the convenience store with my tickets in hand before someone could so much as say “How’s that husband of yours?” and I didn’t see anyone that I knew which means that about half of the people recognized me. This is my new gambling low. I always wondered how people could throw punches over electronics, but now, hitting rock bottom, chewing on my second box of candy today, I know that I’m a short hop away from boxing with strangers over a TV.

The Reason For My Burgeoning Toilet Paper Collection

  1. A bunch of teenagers are coming over later and I have a vendetta to settle with a house down the street. Also, can you point me in the direction of the eggs?
  2. I’m hosting a bridal shower and we’re doing the make a wedding dress out of TP activity. So fun!
  3. My toddler is constructing a giant fluffy castle and wants to add another turret.
  4. What? This isn’t used for insulation?
  5. My aunt with the iffy stomach is coming for the weekend.
  6. We keep playing the “Mommy is a mummy” game. It takes a lot more rolls than you’d think to completely encase such a small person as myself.
  7. I saw a mattress made of toilet paper on Pintrest and decided to try it. Like all Pintrest ideas, it seemed good at the time but now I’m halfway through the project and am regretting all of my life choices that have led to this.
  8. The adult version of the frat boy beer can collection is toilet paper; I’ve decided to proclaim my adulthood by showcasing my Charmin in all its glory to the neighbours on our bay window ledge. If this doesn’t make me block captain, I don’t know what will!
  9. The ball pit balls are missing and this seemed like a roll-y equivalent.
  10. I’ve actually hit that low point in the Fuel Up To Win Contest; I have no more food to buy because it’s just myself and my son at home right now and we were sick over the weekend, meaning that we didn’t eat much. So I’m buying toilet paper. Lots of TP. Twice a day. Judge me all you like; I’m having so much darn fun.

The Answer to My Husband’s Question of “Why Do We Have 38 Bananas, 7 Liters of Milk and 12 Pounds of Baloney?”

Hello my name is Sarah and I’m a gambling addict. I wasn’t aware of this quality of mine until recently; my extreme inner cheapskate would never permit me to actually spend money on gambling, even quarter slot machines eat at my frugal soul. Sitting at the slots, I would agonize internally- “That was a quarter you just lost” I’d admonish myself, “That money could have purchased eight whole peanut M&Ms out of a candy machine!” So slots are out, as is poker and any other card game because I’m not one for games. The lottery is too unlikely as a winning venture and even scratch cards tend to get on my money saving nerves after a couple of losing tickets, but contests run by businesses? Count me in.

Once upon a time, before caffeine spelled my imminent demise, I loved coffee, and in the New Year, I LOVED Roll Up The Rim To Win, an annual event at the Canadian institution of Tim Horton’s. As a student, my once daily cuppa joe would become a jittery morning, afternoon and sleepless night, three-times-a-day habit during the contest. All in the name of rolling up the rim to discover a free doughnut or coffee. But then, tragically, I grew up and got myself a drip filter, thus my inner cheapskate killed this once beloved tradition in favor of saving money by brewing coffee at home.

Now enter the Prairie past time of “Fuel Up To Win”. The name is deceiving because if Tex and I were dependent on putting gas in our car to participate- we’d lose. Even if we were to drive all over town every single day- we’d fuel up once every two months, it’s just not a large place. As avid cyclists and staunch environmentalists, we use even less fuel. The contest began at the pump, but extended to the grocery stores, meaning that each time a person buys milk or kielbasa, you’re given a ticket to win. In other words, I’m in cheapskate gambling heaven.

Purchase $25 of groceries, you get one ticket, $50 of eggs and the like will get you two tickets but packing your cart with $100 worth of yogurt and such will earn you three tickets to win. Here’s the frugal catch – it’s $25 and UNDER. Meaning a person could buy $11 dollars of groceries and still get a chance to win- or even two dollars! This is why I’ve found myself visiting the grocery store every single day. Sometimes twice.

Occasionally I’ll get lucky and some distracted shopper will leave hard earned tickets behind at the cash. At which point I’ll ask whether I can have them. And God bless the underpaid youth- they always nod and push the tickets my way while scanning the rest of my order. It creates the kind of feeling that one only gets when they realize that they’ve accidentally placed a “Z” on a triple letter score in Scrabble. It’s brilliant, it’s wonderful, it’s beautiful; it makes you want to fall on your knees in appreciation of the youth’s ambivalence. As it is, I just shove the tickets into my pockets and speed away before the cashier changes their mind.

Then comes my favourite part- the actual ticket. Tim Horton’s coffee cups have nothing on this game. First of all, there are THREE tickets- they’re all placed on a game card. The playing card itself has separate sections so one filled section may earn a barbeque or another will earn $50 in grocery gift certificates. And then there is the piece de resistance- the section that if all the matching tickets are found, gets one person $100,000 dollars cash. All this just for buying chicken wings that I would have purchased anyway!  My inner frugal miser is doing joyful cartwheels in a bouncy house over this.

Yes, often there are duplicate tickets, but amass eight of those and you’ve got a chance to enter yet another contest! Oh my cheapskate self is crowing with pleasure. Then as if all of that wasn’t exciting enough, the three tickets are packaged within a larger ticket that could be a coupon, or another chance at a different contest or perhaps a free KitKat. Free chocolate? I’ll take eight!

So all of this excitement has led to frequent trips to the grocery store. What I’ve discovered is that, after visiting the grocery store every single day, sometimes twice for two weeks, is that one eventually runs out of groceries to buy. It’s gotten to the point where I’m avoiding purchasing such staples as toilet paper or dish soap because I could buy those any day whereas today we definitely need apples. The contest has also led to an overconsumption of kale on my part. It’s the one food item that I can justify eating in mass quantities in order to have something to put on the grocery list the next day. And while I could spend only a couple of dollars purchasing one item, I feel that’s a bit like gaming the system, especially during my second visit of the day after my son has enjoyed his second free cookie from the bakery. (Yes, I stuff my two year old full of baked goods so that he’ll willingly accompany me to the grocery store a couple of times a day. You can judge me after I’ve won a free lawn mower.)

A friend nicely pointed out that I may have a problem. Which is true. But it’s a short lived one- the contest closes in mid-April. In the meantime, I’ll just have to live with myself on days like yesterday, when it was too slippery to drive and too snowy for the stroller so I hauled my thirty pound toddler over two kilometers on a sled in the name of kale, frozen pizza and a “Fuel Up To Win Ticket”. Such is the life of an addict.

What the Hell Wednesday – Mixed Martial Arts and What Actually Goes On in Cars During Highschool

Would you encourage today’s generation to join the military?

Yes, millennials are damn irritating and I take any opportunity to ship their voice-conversation-phobic selves away. The old people can stay though. Also the quietest of the children.

Did you have a car in highschool?

Oh yes, I had a car in highschool. I did not have a choice in the matter. Five long months after I turned sixteen, my mother frog marched me to Canada’s version of the DMV and we waited. And waited. And waited. And waited. FOR SIX HOURS. When I finally got to the desk, the woman pushing the button said “smile” brightly to me and I sneered a curt “No” at her. I am a peach, let me tell you.

Anyways, back to the car, ever since I can remember, I have hated driving, hated being in the car, basically despised everything having to do with four wheels. This is definitely a person who should receive their own car. And so I did because my parents are both exceptionally generous and delight in my misery.

To make the best of it, I prided myself in having junk in the trunk. Actually. At any given time, there five/eighths of a plastic skeleton, thirty or so mostly dried up markers, a bucket of feathers and bowling pins in the back of my highschool car. I’m uncertain whether the goal was to scare, amaze or put on an impromptu cabaret, regardless it was a mess.

This car followed me around for thirteen long years. After 350,000 kilometers and more than a decade, I junked it, converted to a hippie lifestyle, grew dreads and began making my own kefir. Not actually though. I did live without a vehicle for a year. And then I got pregnant and it was decided that hippie-ism is romantic but impractical with a newborn so we have a van that sits in our driveway during the warm months of the year here. Meaning two, not actually but close.

Have you ever done drugs?

Never. My sister once taught me the smell of good weed and bad weed though. For those not in the know like me- there is a difference, I couldn’t tell you what now but rest assured, I’m well informed. Also, I accidentally brokered a drug deal because I knew the frat boys next door liked to party. But no, the closest I myself have ever come to drugs was in university when I discovered a bag of what I believed to be desiccated broccoli under my bed following a visit from a friend of a friend of a friend. I was understandably horrified because it’s one thing to be unwashed but to drop vegetables under ones bed and leave them there until they crumble like old green leaves? That’s revolting. I took said baggy to my friend who had invited the friend of a friend of a friend. This friend always had a spotless room, I clearly needed tips. I showed her the bag which she took for some reason and she gave me tips on life- like the importance of making your bed every day.

 

What were you like when you were 40?

Well I’m not, so I’ll tell you what I will be- first of all I’ll have so many abs they will start calling it an Unwashed Dozen, I’ll likely be a prized Mixed Martial Arts fighter known for my signature move- the ear bite which is two parts distressing and one part disgusting. And I’ll own roof top llama farms, a concept that I will have helped to create, starting a worldwide movement. No one will ever see me without my rocket boots.

Did you ever think of joining the military?

No, I resent being asked to carry heavy objects and my understanding is that the military has an infatuation with moving heavy objects around and teaching people to lift heavy objects. Ostensibly they call it “training” I call it “torture” or as it’s known in today’s world “helping friends move”.

If you could do it over would you join the military?

Storyworth, you seem to be on a real military questions kick, are you secretly trying to figure out whether I’ll help you move? The answer is no, I’m busy developing my signature ear bite to rise to MMA fame.

 

All of these questions were taken from the website Storyworth, when they’re not convincing people to enlist, they are a company that sends your loved ones questions, which are only half about the time they served and compiles their answers into a book that will be beloved by the whole family for years to come. Check them out.

 

What’s The Opposite of Breaking Amish? Do I Still Have To Be A Millennial Now?

God I love the peace of it. Imagine if the solitude and stillness of that log cabin in the woods was your life. To me, that’s what life without the internet is like. When I tell people that I’ve lived three or four years of my life since adolescence without internet, they sputter and say “Three or four years? I thought you were going to say months! But how can you possibly live? Surely you had a smartphone?”

Actually up until two years ago, I didn’t have a smartphone. When my son was born, I acquiesced to demands and acquired one, ostensibly because the camera was better than my actual camera. And it was, but what I noticed early on, was that I wasn’t spending most of my time taking pictures of my beautiful son. No, mostly, I was surfing the web and trying to find out whether Khloe was the fat or skinny Kardashian (answer – both?).

Around this time last year, my phone began to bug me, with its constant, addictive siren song. So I downloaded apps to record how much I was using it, because the only way to fight addiction is to use more right? My worst fears and suspicions were confirmed- I used my phone far, far, far too often.

I tried to cut down, but that was a little like trying to swear off carbs while living in a bakery. So instead, I just started to track my use of it. And it got real scary, real fast. Because I pride myself on using my time well, on actively creating a life that I desire, whether spending time working towards goals or living my values. On a day when I was working, I used my phone just under two hours a day. That time adds up quickly-fourteen hours a week. Now it would be one thing if I was say writing, or talking to loved ones, but most of the time, I was reading news stories about how to kick sugar habits and updates about the latest Disney Fan Conference. It’s best not to ask how many hours I used my phone on weekends.

To add insult to injury, the tiny electronic box was spying on me! More than once, I’d notice that ads would pop up for items that I had never searched but had thought of often. I brushed off the unseemly notion, that is, until my sister and brother-in-law confirmed my suspicions when they tested out their phones’ listening skills by discussing a product that neither had searched, or had any intention of buying. Immediately they were presented with ads for said product.

That was it, following our au pair’s departure, we had gotten rid of the internet, and after two years of having my leisure time filled with nonsense like reading about Christopher Walken on Wikipedia (Why?!), I was done with my phone. In the two weeks since it’s become an expensive paperweight, I have to say, I’ve loved it. I’ve remembered the space that comes with no technology. I’ve enjoyed reading without the urge to check emails. I’ve felt more reflective and focused. In a nutshell, I remembered why whenever I’ve had the choice- I have lived without any of that internet nonsense. It detracts from the beauty and mental quiet of my life.

Tex and I are bouncing around the province and the country these next couple of months but I promise to give updates on my new Amish-like existence.

And to those who are curious as to how this was posted. The library in our town, like all libraries, has free wifi and exceptionally helpful librarians to distribute passwords.

Walking Through One of My Childhood Homes

I’ve been breaking into her house at night, wandering through the rooms, running my fingertips over the surfaces of the furniture. Just to remember. Just to be there. I walk in, and my route is always the same; tossing my jacket or sweater carelessly on the green leather chairs she recovered, stepping lightly onto the plastic walkway that protects the carpet from so many dirty footprints. I glance at the mail on the table in the entranceway, now the table that my TV sits on. Invariably there would be a letter from a charity. She loved supporting those organizations- if she wasn’t able to help someone directly, she’d offer money instead.

From there I walk straight into the kitchen. A couple years ago she painted the cupboards. It brightened up the space so much. The radio plays classical music because the radio always played classical music, that is until after dinner, at which point she’d retire to the den and watch the news before bed. When I was younger, before boyfriends and then husbands entered the picture, the kitchen table was the kid’s table. Our family was too large to sit altogether in one room, so us rowdy, cookie-loving cousins were relegated to the meal prep area. This was the table that I told the story of the gravy boat over. All the cousins went along with it, but only the youngest fell for the yarn- hook, line and sinker.

According to legend, gravy boats got their name because of the unmanned ships that pulled into each port every holiday, empty but for gallons upon gallons of gravy. Aunts, mothers and grandmothers would all arrives at the harbor with pails, buckets or even small bathtubs to be filled with that liquid goodness, the walk back to their houses becoming a waddle from the weight of the gravy. Sitting there as I told the story, each of the cousins pictured her, slowly but determinedly, hauling home the gravy for our holiday meals.

Throughout my teens, there were her classic cowboy chocolate chip oatmeal cookies in the cupboard next to the fridge. Later, when she stopped baking, there were still cookies in the cupboard but they were made by Dare. I remember the familiarity of the yellow cutlery tray; it contrasted the metal cutlery so forcefully, as though THIS cutlery tray would be recognized for its lifetime of service. From there, the view of the yard would be partially obscured by the plants sitting on the windowsill. She loved plants and gardening. Long after the winter, she would nourish her poinsettias; hers would be the last live one on the block.

To the left of the window was one of the kitchen chairs, which sat next to a table, upon which sat her telephone and address book. Past this table was the dining room. The center of so many gatherings. I never picture her here though- she was always a bundle of activity, bustling from one room to the next, one task to the next whenever the lot of us descended upon the house en mass. She is everywhere and nowhere; she’s in the kitchen checking on a dish in the oven, she’s clearing the table in the dining room. She’s sneaking up behind me to unsuspectingly to yank my left hand out from under my body and set me off balance, just to get a glimpse of the ring. She’s standing in the hallway, looking for bags to bundle together leftovers for guests, or in the den cross stitching. Or she might be downstairs, on her treadmill if footing is treacherous outside. God forbid she went outside, there’s no locating her- she’ll start in the backyard, weeding and watering, go to fetch something from the garage only to offer to help a neighbor. Could be someone next door or the woman two streets over who just had twins.

I pad quietly up the back hallway, looking at the pictures of my family; graduation photos, extended family, the picture of the whole family when half the cousins were still wishes for the future. Her bedroom is across from the den. As a little girl, I played here; lounging on the fur rug that I to this day don’t know whether was real or not. My last stop is always the bathroom. During family functions this was a haven of quiet. I’d hang out staring at the small blue tiles on the floor, the dated coloured bathtub that I remember being bathed in.

A year and a half ago, when the house was sold, I wasn’t upset. She declared that she no longer wanted to cook or care for a home. Quickly, her things were packed up and sent to the senior’s residence of her choice. At the time, it seemed to me like her logical next step. I wasn’t concerned or sad- she had told me that she would live to be 104 and I believed her. But now that she’s gone, I find myself returning to her gardens, her kitchen, all the rooms that contained, if only ever for brief minutes in her bustling life, her. Those walks through memory bring me comfort.

Killing Old People For Sport- Likely The Most Questionable Aspect of Student Life

I’m grieving my grandmother’s death but actually, for the past ten years, she’s been living on borrowed time. In reality Grandma should have died the day that we attempted to move the giant, white, lead elephant that was masquerading as a freezer in her basement.

That morning, my mother asked me to go to Grandma’s to help my sister. Mom phrased the demand like it was a reasonable request, being a respectful child, who was still in university and therefore living on her parents’ dime, I obliged. So off my sister and I went, supposedly to move a freezer, but actually to murder our grandmother.

We got there and discovered that the appliance in question was NOT in fact one of those charming, petite chest freezers meant for apartments but rather was a hulking, metal behemoth designed to house enough frozen food for a medium sized army. In “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape”, the children burned down the house because it would have required a crane to move their deceased and beloved but morbidly obese mother. As far as I’m concerned, my grandmother’s freezer deserved this kind of ending. Not surprisingly, me, my sister and my grandmother discovered that we were unable to lift it ourselves.

“Not to worry girls” my grandmother cheerfully told us. “We’ll get Tommy from down the street- he’s very strong”. My sister and I pictured Tommy as a strapping nineteen year old who has a chin up bar installed on his bedroom door, the kind of guy who wears t-shirts with protein shake logos and whose vocabulary consists primarily of the words: bro, dude and Yeeeeeah! No – Tommy was another octogenarian, although supposedly a freakishly strong one based on Grandma’s faith that he could assist us in moving this freezer. Not recognizing that his demise was imminent, Tommy chatted happily as we walked back to the house, strategizing that we’d use carpet ends that Grandma had kicking around to slide the enormous, metal freezer across the basement and up the stairs.

It bears mentioning the stairs. Specifically the fact that had it snowed in my Grandma’s basement, the pitch of the stairs was so steep that Olympians could have competed for downhill skiing gold on these steps. Later in my grandmother’s life, when she finally acquiesced to having one of those chairlifts installed, cousins would take turns scaring the bejesus out of themselves by taking a ride, moving sideways down the steep slope. One can only conclude that four children gave Grandma nerves of steel even into her 90’s because I would smell like a decaying antelope before I’d ride that chair twice a day to do laundry.

I digress- this was the treacherous path that the gigantic freezer was supposed to take up and out of the house. Suddenly burning the place down to escape moving the  gargantuan appliance wasn’t looking so crazy.  When the freezer slid backwards down the stairs on the carpet ends and foiled Tommy’s plans to ease the process, it was decided that we would each grab a corner and hoist the enormous metal beast ourselves. Diana and I offered to lift from the bottom of the stairs but Tommy and Grandma insisted that they would take that position, essentially sealing their dark, flattened fate. It was like some sort of elderly Hunger Games with my Grandma and her friend volunteering as tributes. Despite our best protests, they gave Diana and me no choice.

Up the freezer went; slowly, painfully. There were a couple of tense, harrowing moments when someone had to adjust their grasp on the smooth metal. But after every other step Tommy would call out “Up we go now girls, Everything is tickety boo” or “Almost there now, Bob’s your uncle” while Diana and I exchanged skeptical looks because everything was NOT tickety boo and we had many uncles but Bob was not one of them.

The whole experience was horrifying, but the worst part was when we reached the steepest point of the stairs, the shape of the house meant that the top of the freezer almost met the ceiling, so for what felt like thirty minutes but was probably only three or four, we lost sight of Grandma and Tommy. I gripped the freezer tightly with my flimsy, pipecleaner-like arms, stepping up when Tommy’s muffled voice instructed, because even though I was going to be party to his manslaughter, the least I could do was listen to him. Once or twice Diana and I glanced at each other to silently commiserate about our poor choices that had led us here, an act that we’d no doubt continue for many years in prison as we served out our sentence for double senilicide.

Perhaps there was a guardian angel helping us, one who had spent its heavenly days bench pressing Bibles or other weighty items in the afterlife, but we managed to get the freezer up those steep, steep steps. To be honest, I can’t remember how we moved the freezer out of the house, or even how it was hoisted up into the bed of our truck. All of that is overwhelmed by the memory of the relief I felt when we turned the corner away from the stairs and Grandma’s white haired head came back into view.

The freezer made its way to Diana’s house at the university, where it remains, I’m assuming to this day because she left it there when she moved out. As sad as I am today over my grandmother’s recent passing, I’m grateful that she and Tommy survived that day and for all the memories we made during the years afterward.