About The Great Unwashed

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

Red Foreman and Whatever the Opposite of Unicorn Farts Are

Most of the time I’m Pollyanna; my life is sunshine and rainbows and I love it and I have endless patience for most things and to quote the Lego movie “everything is awesome”.

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A picture of my life 99.9% of the time. (Photo Credit Amazon UK)

But then, some terrible bureaucracy will poke its paperwork filled head out of a whole and suddenly I’m a werewolf on an unpredictable, couch-eating rampage. This also goes for telemarketers.

Tex is the second nicest person in the whole entire world. The title of nicest person in the world goes to Tex’s mother Zoey. I once watched her cut her finger- she bled rainbows, butterflies and a song with lots of trills. After applying a Band-Aid, she apologized to the potatoes for quartering them.

Being married to the second nicest person in the world is a burden at times. Because some of the time, for example when someone calls to inform me I’ve won a “free” vacation, well I don’t always feel like being nice.

The summer before Tex and I got married, UHaul made a staggering error while billing my move across country. After listening to me deal with the moving company on the phone, my mother congratulated me for not losing my cool, while Tex cowered in the corner, apparently terrified of his future vengeful bride. “You eviscerated them with your words” he exclaimed, shocked that his chosen life partner could use such a nasty tone.

We’re three years in to knowing each other and the harshest word Tex has ever used was “dinkus”. Since my talk with UHaul, I’ve modified my approach to people and callers I find unpleasant, so as to protect my husband’s delicate sensibilities. Thus when the bank called this evening to offer me “an excellent service for a nominal fee”, I stopped them dead in their tracks then firmly and assertively stated that I was not interested and to please refrain from calling me about such practices.

I was quite proud of my restraint until I turned to my husband who translated the entire conversation for our au pair. “Janie, she told the bank to shut the hell up about their useless product and never call her again”.

Apparently no matter what I sound like this man.

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“How about we discuss my attractive offer of my foot up your ass?” (Photo Credit : Youtube.com)

 

C’est la vie. My husband bleeds rainbows as opposed to me; I’m composed of slugs, thorns and scotch bonnets.

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Reasons Why I Am A Bad Person and Other Excuses For Not Calling You

The woman whose maternity leave I am covering approached me and said “Here’s my phone number. I know it can be hard to make friends in small towns and I want to hang out with you. Text me when you are free.” That was three months ago, I still haven’t texted her. It’s getting a little awkward. Because I told her I would text her after I returned from vacation. The following are a series of messages I debated sending to explain my long silence.

“Hey Annie,

Thanks so much for reaching out to me, sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner; I was recovering from PTSD acquired from visiting the throbbing metropolis that is Toronto for two weeks. I kept having nightmares about tiny dogs in strollers and forty dollar appetizers. I’m good to hang out now- how’s Tuesday?”

 

But then I thought better of it. After all, you never know when someone is a closeted Chihuahua owner and will slip their beloved “Poochie” into the big wheeled Thule to ride next to their daughter. So I wrote this.

 

“Annie,

It was so kind of you to offer to befriend me. Sorry I haven’t texted you sooner, it’s just my husband and I are talking about having another child so I’ve been day drinking to prepare for a nine month abstinence from tequila and I felt like other moms might judge my ten am margarita.”

 

But that text might have resulted in the aforementioned judgment I was attempting to avoid and the only thing I need with my morning pina colada is more Patrón. So I thought of another excuse.

 

“Hi Annie,

Sorry I didn’t text you sooner. I was contemplating starting a life of crime and therefore felt it best not to begin new friendships that would inevitably be cut off when I started to rob banks. But after accidentally stealing my great aunt’s new bed sheets and the extreme guilt that followed, I’ve decided the criminal underworld isn’t for me. Shall we be friends? You needn’t worry about wearing your heirloom jewelry around me now.”

 

But what I actually should have sent but didn’t, is a text with the truth.

 

Dear Annie,

Thank you so much for extending an offer of friendship. That simple act buoyed me up so much and I thought of it for the weeks afterward while I was out of the province. I even thought of you during the weeks following my return home when life consisted of missed naps and laundry.

As a Mom, I’m desperately exhausted and although I’d like company more than anything in the world, that involves moving from the couch which seems like an insurmountable challenge. Consequently, I’ve resigned myself to just having my husband as my primary source of social interaction because he’s often on the couch next to me.

Getting together is obviously out of the question but I’m totally up for a texting relationship. Shall we message potential plans to one another and then invariably cancel when one of our babies is either ill, napping or excessively cranky?

Thanks again for your kind gesture. I’m sure you’d make an awesome friend.

Sarah

The Death of Dirt Squirrellery and Our New Collection of Men

People have been asking “How is Janie?” in that probing- it’s kinda weird, you have a teenager living in your house who doesn’t speak English, kind of way. To answer your question, it’s going splendidly. However my husband and I have developed a list of what we jokingly call “Au pair problems”, they’re like first world problems but worse because no one in their right mind would ever complain about them.

  1. My house is consistently cleaner than it’s ever been my entire life

I’m not a dirty person. Actually that’s a bald faced lie; Janie asked on her third day here (after having her third Canadian shower) “You shower now?” To which I replied “No, it’s only been four days” and then walked away with flies buzzing after me.

 

My house is a different story. I’m responsible for tidying, our house is generally tidy and well organized and before we got an au pair, I even thought it was clean. Occasionally Tex would have some time off work and scrub the hell out of random corners of the house that it never occurs to me to clean, you know like the microwave and then our house would be really clean. But then Janie arrived. And now our house is spotless, always. And I feel super lazy because  not only did the house never look like this when I was home full time, but I don’t even contribute to maintaining its pristine state now- I just come home and I’m smack dab in the middle of a Town and Country magazine shoot. Janie even organizes all of Mini-Tex’s toys into funny tableaus.

 

  1. Sometimes I can’t cook fast enough

Along the lines of our super clean house, Janie cleans as I cook. Before the food even hits the table, the counters are wiped, all dirtied items are in the dishwasher and the kitchen looks awesome. One night, I was about to plate some asparagus. I pulled out a bowl, rested it on the counter, turned to stir something else, and by the time I looked back, the bowl was gone. Realizing, that Janie had already whisked the bowl into the dishwasher assuming that it was sitting on the counter because it was dirty, I extracted another bowl to plate the asparagus. Then I made the mistake of checking the pork in the oven. Again, the bowl was gone when I reached for it. Not wanting to say anything, and embarrass our hard working au pair, I reached into the cupboard and saw there was one bowl left. This was it- unless I was going to shake down the shelves for another serving dish, I was going to have to keep my hands on the flatware or risk eating asparagus out of the pan. I plated the food, and within seconds Janie had transferred the plate to the table.

 

  1. Our linen closet is too small

We have a lot of towels and a smallish closet. This is normally not an issue because most of the time, a third of our towels are waiting to be washed. The first couple of weeks Janie spent with us, the primary job we gave her was bonding with Mini-Tex. We figured out an average weekly wage to pay her so she started receiving money immediately despite not actually working. Janie possesses the kind of work ethic that makes an ant look lazy, which meant that whenever we explained a part of her job- laundering the towels for example, she did it with gusto. Every other day, the towels were washed, dried, folded and shoved into a seriously packed linen closet. If a towel had so much been in the near vicinity to something dirty, it got washed.

 

Thankfully, as we’ve given Janie more hours, she has eased off on the daily washing of towels which is good because that combined with the immaculate surroundings, I might mistake my house for a hotel. This would make things awkward when the neighbours found me wandering around trying to find my home after leaving the super nice hotel where my house once stood.

 

  1. My house has become like one of those bug zapper lights but for men

On top of being hard working, lovely and amazing with children, Janie is gorgeous. Initially I had hoped to hire a chunky uggo to nip the whole “Ben Affleck taking off with the nanny” thing in the bud as much as possible but Janie was the most qualified candidate by far, hence how we ended up with a petite German supermodel.

 

Not surprisingly, the men in the area have taken note of our au pair’s arrival. At least one man has already asked her out. Luckily he did it in a teenage boy fashion meaning he was both shy, off putting and she had no idea what he was saying because of the combination of the language barrier and the mumbling tone. Unfortunately the drunk that followed her home wasn’t as easily shaken off. After talking her up at the park, this inebriated fellow decided that accompanying Janie as she walked Mini-Tex home in the stroller was the key to winning her heart.

 

A notice to all potential suitors of Janie– the bug zapper isn’t her refusal, it’s my Taser that I keep in the front hall closet.

So in response to all the interested inquiries- that is how things are going- they’re exceptionally clean, organized with a faint of aroma of one hundred disappointed men. And of course Mini-Tex adores her and thinks that Janie hung the moon. Thanks so much for asking.

You always wanted to read my diary right?

There are a couple of people whose blogs I follow who just post about their life. I don’t know these people, yet I find myself reading about their Thanksgiving holiday (thank goodness Grammy recovered from that hip replacement.), their new kitchens (Victoria, I love that counter top) and looking at pictures of their sheep (Wooly Wednesdays- so cute!).

In lieu of an actual post, dear readers, you may peruse my diary. Only not actually, because I don’t keep a diary.

Dear Judith,

(Judith is my imaginary friend. I tried writing to myself but I was like “I know all this stuff! Why am I telling myself this?” Whereas Judith is a shut-in; she lives with her mother who is 108 years old. Judith, by contrast, is mysteriously only 42 years old. I haven’t asked her about that whole situation. Anyways, she doesn’t get out much. Judith really likes Fig Newtons, sometimes I’ll tell her about when I see a new flavour of that cookie- she gets super pumped about that. Well as “pumped” as Judith can get- it mostly looks like her neck breaking out in hives, but as her understanding and only friend, I totally get it.)

We visited Regina last weekend. When my cousins were little, they were wrestling with their Mom, everyone was having fun until someone kneed my aunt in the groin. She shut down the wrestling match immediately saying “It’s all fun and games until someone gets kneed in the vagina.” The little girls latched onto this saying immediately and would repeat it in public “It’s all fun and games” and they’d shout the last part “until someone gets kneed IN THE VAGINA!” My uncle was properly mortified by this and tried to cover it up by saying loudly “It’s all fun and games until someone GOES TO REGINA!”

Judith, I don’t think truer words have ever been spoken. My life was all fun and games, and then we went to Regina; now I feel like I’ve been squished flat by a Mack truck. Good gravy I am tired. Not as tired as your mother of course, and I’m sorry for complaining what with her flambormalistosyalgia, but man that trip was tiring.

Worth it though, when I lived in the most beautiful city in the world, it’s ugly step sister Regina, seemed quite homely. But it’s been over a year since we’ve lived in sunny Saskatoon, with the gorgeous river running through it and the bridges arching so neatly over the treed river valleys. Regina doesn’t have a river, but it’s glorified little paddling pool, Wascana lake, isn’t half bad and a lot of the neighbourhoods are quite charming. I enjoyed wandering around the city much more than I have in the past.

The marathon was also fun, don’t worry Judith, I didn’t run it. I was just there to cheer my Mom on. I met her twice; once at the six km mark and again at the 38 km mark. Mini-Tex and I ran with her for four kilometers. Ok, well obviously Mini-Tex didn’t run what with the fact that he’s a toddler and was asleep the majority of that time, but he was there gosh darn it. And I’m sure he was cheering his Gran on in his little baby dreams.

I forgot how entertaining being a spectator is. I liked cheering the people on “Go dancing pecs guy! You work that topless look!” and “Yeah beard dude- way to run with all that extra hairy weight. Keep it up!” At the very least, I made myself laugh.

Then came the 38 km mark. No one runs 38 km and feels good. Thirty-eight kilometers is an exercise in various states of pain. Some people were just getting through it. Then there was the one guy who had a funny gait, started limping and finally stopped to dry heave at the side of the road. The next stage is crying. I know because I’ve been there so I was determined to distract the man.

As he passed Tex, Janie, Mini-Tex and me, I cheered his name. I shouted “Looking strong Daniel” and he looked at me and said “No” pause “I’m not at all” then went on his painful way.

Well I wasn’t about to let that go, so I chased him down and started speed walking beside him.

“Is this your first marathon?” I asked.

“No” he wheezed “My tenth”.

“Ahh” I replied “Well I’ve run twelve or so of these and I can tell you they are EXACTLY like labour.”

I let the fact that a random stranger was discussing her labour sink in with him for a moment before moving on. “See, 38 kilometers is like the point in the labour where the nurses are all “We can see the head- you’re almost there!” and you’re thinking to yourself “Screw you jerks- I KNOW how far I have to go. That is exactly what 38 kilometers is like. So I won’t say you’re almost there but I will say you’re going to finish because in the same way that I had my son, and he’s all big now, this race will end. And even better, if you walk faster, you’ll get away from the weirdo who’s talking about child birth with strangers.”

I am nothing if not helpful. For those two minutes and likely the couple minutes after, I am certain that man was not thinking about his aching muscles or the blisters on his feet, instead he was trying to think of how to get rid of me and who in the hell gives a pep talk about babies’ heads crowning?

Judith, as always, I am inappropriately yours, give my best to your mother.

Unwashed

Illegal Felines and Crimes Against Friendship

Barbara Kingsolver, whose lifestyle incidentally I aspire to, changed her writing following living off the land for a year. According to my mother, she became sanctimonious and dull. So in the interest of avoiding said pitfall, here is an engaging story, which has nothing to do with the environment. Mom I dedicate this post to you.

I have only a sister. But growing up in a church, my family spent every Sunday morning, the occasional Sunday afternoon and every New Year’s Eve with another family, who had two boys the same age as myself and Diana. This was in addition to seeing these boys at every single church event that happened during the week. Effectively rendering Jamie and Jackie the boys in the family, the closest thing I have to brothers.

My mother and the boys’ mother Janie, often talked about how wonderful it would be if either Diana or I married one of Janie’s boys so we’d all be related. This gives you an idea of the closeness of our two families.

Janie and Lane, her husband decided to go away one weekend. My mother quickly offered to care for the boys. At home, Lane was a formidable figure. A cheapskate to the core, he preferred to risk death by pruning the fifty foot tall trees on his property himself rather than paying someone. A strict disciplinarian, things like rabble rousing, takeout pizza and pets were not permitted in his home. Jamie and Jackie knew this and followed the rules to a T.

In comes my mother, who believes that the real world can discipline children with consequences better than any parent and that every child has a right to a pet. This was the woman charged with caring for Lane and Janie’s sons for a weekend.

Friday night went off without a hitch. For the first time in their lives, Jamie and Jackie ate pizza that was delivered to the door. They covered their amazement and awe by devouring every last piece of the cheesy pie. At a reasonable hour, my mother tucked them both into the guest room bed and hugged them good night. So far so good.

It was the Saturday morning when the wheels began to fall off the cart. After a filling breakfast of pancakes topped with anything us children could think of in the kitchen including caramel sauce and maraschino cherries, my mother turned to the group of us and asked what we wanted to do that day. In a sugar induced fog, we all shrugged assuming that the weekend would consist or some combination of tag and playing at the park. “We’re going to buy Jamie and Jackie a cat!” exclaimed my mother.

The boys were dumbfounded. They knew this was not allowed. Scholarly pets like ant farms were forbidden so a cat was definitely against the rules. However the laws of their house dictated that they respect the adult in charge and for that weekend the adult was my mother so away we all went to the pet store.

An hour later Harley the cat rode home on Jamie and Jackie’s laps. The rest of the day was spent playing with the kitten, dressing him up in dolls clothes, cuddling the fur ball and in general enjoying all the perks of pet ownership. At an appropriate time, my mother tucked the boys and Harley into the guest room bed and hugged them goodnight.

The next afternoon, my mother dropped the boys off, Lane met them at the door. Clapping his eyes on the cat he demanded that we “Take it back”. “It’s an animal, not a sweater Lane” my mother replied “and besides it’s your cat.” Lane was unmoved “Take it back” he repeated as my mother brought Harley and all his accoutrements that we had purchased the day before into the house. “He’s so cute!” Janie exclaimed. “Don’t get attached, he’s going back” Lane deadpanned.

And that was how one of my mother’s closest friends got a cat. Appropriately, out of defiance for Lane, Harley is still alive. At 25, he skulks around their house, essentially just a bit of fur stuck on a pile of bones but living nonetheless.

At the age of ten, I knew that my mother hadn’t asked permission from Lane. Or even bothered to question the boys on what type of pet they’d like. But it was only at 32 that I thought to ask the most important question, after reliving the story over the phone one night. “Mom, did Janie even know?”  Still laughing from the memory of her ballsy acquisition she somewhat sheepishly confessed “Nope”.

Readers, I invite you all to suggest ways my mother can atone for her sins. Keeping in mind that she once tried to make my childhood home into a zoo, so taking in animals is NOT a punishment.

And Mom, you know that we will always love you Mrs. Flax.

Remembering Who You Are While Going Pee

It’s a thing. And not just for Moms who finally get a moment of privacy to think. In rural places, while there is some reflection involved, that statement is a reminder of the lack of anonymity in a small town.

In my marriage, I’m known for my willingness to drop trou anywhere to relieve myself. A habit that previously, was more likely to bother a black bear ambling by than a neighbor. While Smokey’s cousin might have taken umbrage with my lack of decorum in his living room, peeing in the bush had few if any consequences. The obvious ones being awkwardly located mosquito bites.

By contrast, on the prairie, where plants are plentiful but by and large short, peeing anywhere particularly by the side of the road is problematic. Tex and myself both work for the government, rendering our mugs somewhat higher profile within the community. Add in our unique cargo trike and you’ve got yourself an embarrassing story should anyone pass by whilst I crouch in the weeds.

So there we were, pedaling along the road to the national park when nature started calling. This urge coincided with Mini-Tex’s need to get out and stretch his legs. So we pulled the bikes over to an entrance to a farmer’s field and commenced exploring the roadside. The pickings were slim; a bare field, knee high weeds next to the field or a ditch. Crossing my legs and hopping from one foot to the other, I squeaked “It can’t wait”.

“Just remember who you are” Tex cautioned as he stood watching for a break in traffic. Having only just lived down my performance in the high school the day after we moved to town, when I showed up looking like a homeless person and yelling about childcare, I wasn’t keen on becoming the resident exhibitionist. After two pickup trucks and a hatchback passed, Tex gave the go ahead “there’s a break”. Already poised in the ditch I quickly dropped my pants. “Hurry that semi’s gaining speed” my husband called from the other side of the bikes. As the tractor neared, I hurriedly pulled up my capris, chuffed that in my haste, I didn’t even pee on my shoes.

After that we continued on our forty kilometer bike ride and hike. Though pleased with my ability to excrete with speed, I rationed my liquid intake so I wouldn’t have another similar pit stop on the ride home.

Rolling Spectacles And Other Embarrassments That Make Up My Life

So I’m a circus. It’s probably due to the big curly clown hair, but it seems regardless of where I go, it’s a performance. Three months ago, we acquired one of these.

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Jealous? I know I was when I first saw a mom riding her two little kids in a cargo trike. Photo Credit : Nihola.com

Since that fabulous day three months ago, when a truck dropped our new bike on our doorstep,  we’ve put 800 kilometers on it. About 500 miles for my US friends. This bike is amazing, we take it grocery shopping, for short haul trips, transport Mini-Tex in it everywhere. He loves it, we love it, and based on the amount of people screaming out their car windows “Neat bike!”, our fellow townspeople love it too.

Children especially love our bike, because, and I say this from experience, at times it’s kind of like riding on a tiny trackless roller coaster. I’m not ashamed to say I beg my husband to bike me to our date night locations. It’s tremendous fun and I feel like the queen waving at my public as we ride by while everyone stares.

Knowing all of this, when we packed up to visit Aunty Betty, Carter, his mom and his little sister at the beach. I pleaded with Tex to load our trike into the van. And because Tex is a nice guy, he did, even though it’s totally a pain because while sturdy, useful and a perfect vehicle for us, our Nihola Family trike is neither light nor easy to maneuver into a van. It’s only through a combination of Tex’s farm boy know-how and his engineering smarts that it manages to fit.

Flash forward to us arriving at my Aunt’s cottage at the beach. The kids immediately high tailed it to meet us and shrieked with joy and excitement, seeing the bike. I should add a disclaimer here. While we easily transport our son and two weeks of groceries home in our Nihola trike, it’s only meant to carry 220 lbs or 100 kgs in the front. And while a person can absolutely put that amount of weight in the front, oh boy is the rider ever going to feel it the next day. Plan to take the elevator if you’re ferrying around the maximum weight because in addition to the cargo, the bike itself weighs 70 lbs. On top of the mass of the actual rider because I’m assuming the seat is too high for most woodland fairies and forest eleves. Also those magical, weightless creatures are notorious for clinging to union rules and taking extended coffee breaks so they don’t make good cyclists to begin with.

So we strap in Mini-Tex, then we strap in Carter’s sister CiCi, and finally eight year old Carter crouches in the front. A combined weight of 300 ish pounds all told. Did I mention that this is a road bike? Meaning it’s meant for paved flat surfaces. Being an engineer, Tex already tricked out the gearing system so it’s easier to pedal on grass but gravel and large hills still pose a challenge.

With this in mind, I steered the bike and the children down a hill first. This would have gone better if I’d understood the braking system but things like common sense and asking Tex for explanations aren’t my forte. As it was, I yelled for CiCi and Carter to “Lean right!” as we careened around a corner at top speed. While trikes are tremendously stable for road biking, if a person takes a corner at a high enough speed, it is possible to flip the Nihola trike. Which is why it’s helpful if the riders and passengers shift their weight while turning. I swung my weight over the side as the kids leaned right and the wheels miraculously stayed on the ground.

We went over rocks, Carter went bump, bump, bump in the hold of the trike. CiCi and Mini-Tex had the best seats in the house with a cushion under their tiny bums. I spotted a pot hole a second too late, the front wheels avoided it, but the back wheel hit it smack in the middle. I clung to the handlebars as my butt bounced a foot in the air. As my tailbone came crashing down on the seat, I silently thankedmy huasband for choosing the most padded of bikes seats.

We pedalled  over grass and rocks. We enraged a neighbour’s dog who had never seen anything like our bike. The local cottage owners stared slack jawed as we whizzed by while their children looked on enviously. I rode and rode, searching for a relatively flat route back to my Aunt’s cottage. It seemed like every road was a mountain. My thighs burned from the exertion of transporting three children.

After about my third lap of the entire community, I spotted it; the only gentle hill which led to my Aunt’s cottage. The only problem was, it wasn’t paved. “Lean forward” I called to my young passengers as I approached the incline, pedalling at top speed. Carter and CiCi obediently hunched forward. I pedalled hard. I could hear my heartbeat in my ears. The bike slowed to a crawl. A snail and two caterpillars passed us. I kept pedalling. My breath was a wheeze. “We might go backwards” I warned just as the tire slipped on the gravel. “Ahhh!” I yelled in frustration. “EEEEEE” CiCi and Carter yelled in fear. Mini-Tex was still trying to figure out why he was having to share his ride, so he was unperturbed. A man came out to his porch to see the commotion.

Once again, I tried to pedal. “Lean forward!” I commanded the children. Carter and CiCi were all but hanging over the front end of the trike but the tries were still spinning out on the gravel. Exhausted from the effort, I stopped pedalling and the bike lurched backwards again. CiCi’s little hands white knuckled the side of the frame. The man who was watching started to sprint towards us, “I’ll give you a push” he cried.

Just then, I spotted it. Although it was gravel now, at one point, the road had been paved, and just to the left of my back wheel, I spotted a two inch strip of pavement. I let go of the pedals and the bike rolled backwards again, then I gathered every ounce of energy left in my exhausted quads and pedalled furiously. The tires caught purchase of the pavement and the bike moved forward. Slowly, we made our way up the hill again just as the friendly passerby arrived panting at our side. In the distance, I saw the snail heckling us to the two caterpillars.

The helpful man waved to us as we made our way past. A group at the top of the hill clapped. When I looked sideways, I realized the there were people standing in the windows of the nearby cottages staring. I’m not sure whether this is better or worse than eating fire. Definitely an improvement on lion taming though- I’m a dog person. I’ve  accepted my perpetual spectacle status.

Black Markets, Being Amish And Sketchy Kijiji Meet Ups

I bought a television. It wasn’t by choice. This purchase was in response to the constant questioning from potential au pairs while we searched for the right person to watch our son. All of the young women we interviewed, regardless of whether they came from a mud hut in Africa or whatever the heck kind of cold house they have in Greenland, all the young women wanted to know one thing, “Why don’t you have a TV?” And then came the questions after that; “Is there a reason you don’t have a TV?” “Could I have a TV at your house?”, “Could I buy a TV?”, and finally, “Are you secretly Amish?”

After this exchange happened eight separate times, I decided it was time to buy a television. The only problem was that they’re damn expensive! If I was going to buy a technological chotchke I didn’t want, you better bet your bippy I wasn’t going to pay a lot of money for it. This was how I was nearly stabbed to death.

After much searching, I found a largish TV for a smallish amount of money on Kijiji. Tex had deemed it necessary to accompany me on said errand to prevent my corpse from turning up in the local river. However, in typical baby fashion, our son fell asleep right as we drove onto the street. Hence someone had to stay in the car with him because if faced with the choice of possible death and waking a baby, one always chooses the less painful option. So there I went to knock on the door by myself.

The only problem was; I was knocking on the wrong door. I had gotten the address mixed up. Realizing my error, I hopped across and down the street and knocked on the proper door. A large well groomed man answered “Is Jules there?” I asked. “You’re looking for the boys around back” the man answered before shutting the door in my face.

Walking down the narrow dark alley, I thought to myself “And she was never seen again”. Somewhat hesitantly, I knocked on the third door of the day. A lanky, scruffy youth answered. “Is Jules there?” I asked hopefully. “Yeah he’s downstairs” gestured a youth, pointing to a dark, narrow and steep staircase. I stepped inside the grubby entranceway and descended the staircase, all the while thinking “And she was never seen again”.

At the bottom of the staircase, I was greeted by a room that must have a special place in the “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not” hall of fame for being the filthiest kitchen in the world. I was shocked there weren’t roaches skittering about. Despite the grime, the youth who had let me in recommenced making lunch. “He’s in there” the scruffy young man pointed to a doorway on the opposite side of the room. “and she was actually never seen again” I thought to myself as I approached the doorway.

Jules sat in his underpants on a single mattress covered by a sheet that had once been white but now was…not. The walls were adorned with a combination of machetes, marijuana paraphernalia and breasts. There was a large, beaten up looking fish tank in the corner resting on an even more beaten up chest of drawers. The nicest item in the room was the television which Jules was still watching. Suppressing my need to gulp nervously at the machetes, I introduced myself “Hi, I’m Unwashed, I’m here to pick up a television” all the while guessing how much time would have to pass before Tex would come to look for my lifeless body.

Jules jumped up and quickly explained that he was just watching the TV until I arrived so he could demonstrate that it worked. Eager to leave, I handed him the money as Jules unplugged the television. He gallantly offered to carry the TV to my car. Given the freezing temperatures, I didn’t want this man to lose his television and his testicles to frostbite in the same day so I declined his offer.

After making my way over several snow drifts, and popping the TV into the back of the van, all without waking my son, I turned to Tex and said “I just stole that man’s television. It was the nicest thing he had in his life, and I took it for a song. I hope he manages to get enough drugs with that money to forget how awful his life is.”

The whole way home I felt terrible. I mean I have everything; a loving husband, a beautiful baby, a nice house, clean sheets, breasts of my own so I don’t need to look at images of other people’s- everything. And now I had this man’s television. I felt just awful.

Months later, after relaying this story and my lingering guilt to my sister, she said “You know that it was stolen right?”

Ever the country bumpkin I replied “Huh?”

“How big was the TV, and how much did you pay for it?” my sister asked.

Gesturing with my hands, I said “One hundred dollars.”

“Definitely stolen” she replied.

A terrible pit formed in my stomach, similar to the one that I had on the drive home from the squalid basement apartment that day because I knew Diana was right. Now, to top it off, I was in possession of stolen goods. I’m not sure whether that makes my karma better or worse.

*Names have been changed to protect the identities of people who have way more machetes than necessary and my contact information.

A Hot Buoyant Mess

I got invited to mom and baby aquafit. Before attending, I figured that it would be something along the lines of mom and baby yoga, wherein a whole bunch of moms stand on yoga mats while jiggling their babies for half an hour and talking about “Namaste”.

I was starting the aquafit class midway through the session, so I had grand plans of arriving early and asking the instructor nicely if I could only pay half of the fee. Mini-Tex of course had another idea in mind, specifically napping five minutes before the exact time that we had to leave. So I rushed around frantically packing what we needed, half-in-half-out of my one piece bathing suit, flashing my neighbours as I rushed past the windows, just in case they needed some more evidence that I’m disorganized and a little white-trash.

Ten minutes later, I woke Mini Tex up, sped towards where I thought the class was, parked, got him out of the car seat, popped him into the carrier and sprinted towards the doors into the church/school/nunnery/all purpose building downtown. Breathless, I bounded towards the security guard and asked where the change rooms were. “You want the Aquatic Center” she told me “it’s on the other end of the building, it’s a ways away. You have to go outside and walk over a block”. Because putting an infant into a car seat takes almost as long, if not longer, than walking any place in town, I ran out the doors and down the street. I entered the Aquatic Center panting and said “Swimming?” to the woman at the desk. “Boots” replied the woman looking pointedly at my snowy footwear. “I need to pay for the class” I added, while removing my rubber boots, which were an inappropriate choice for the weather but I can jump into them, so more often than not I appear at places looking like I’ve been splashing in mud puddles.

“I’m sorry, I meant to get here early to register but we visited the nuns” I explained. “You know the nuns?” the woman at the desk asked. It seemed like an inopportune time to share the story of my accidentally breaking into a nun’s bedroom the day before so I answered succinctly “We got lost”.

The visibly irritated instructor informed me that I was late so we would complete my registration after the class. I bounded into the change room as all of the other moms were exiting to the pool. I pulled out a swim diaper that I had purchased months ago. It was too small and wouldn’t stay on. “It’s fine” I reassured myself aloud, “I’ll just put his bathing onesie over it and it will fit” except that his bathing onesie, size 3-Toddler was too small despite my son being only 9 months old. So doing up the zipper was like closing an overstuffed suitcase, minus putting my knee on my son’s chest to zip it up the last little way. However he was dressed and the swim diaper was in the onesie, so that was all that mattered.

I had put on my suit at the house, so I threw off my clothes like a stripper about to be yanked off stage. Holding Mini Tex like a football, I charged like a running back towards the showers, it was only by virtue of good luck that he was away from the spray and not scalded by the boiling water coming out of the heads as I doused myself. We then sprinted to the pool where the surly instructor told me “Other side” as I attempted to climb down the ladder holding my son.

I had pictured something like mom and baby yoga where moms stand in the pool jiggling their babies talking about jumping jacks. Instead I was met with an unexpected sight of twenty babies in tiny baby boats. They were all bobbing around their moms, sitting in oversized flutter boards with holes cut in the middle to accommodate a fabric baby seat.

I waded over to the instructor, who dropped Mini-Tex into a boat and then started the class. The babies were each given two toys and moms were to hold on to the rope attached to the boat and tow their babies about while they played. Mini-Tex didn’t get the memo about this process, and preferred to chew on the rope, tossing his toys off the side so the instructor had to fish them out of the water while shooting me an annoyed look. So Mini-Tex gnawed on the rope, while riding the waves of the women’s movements and I did aquafit and intermittently chased after the boat when he drifted too far away.

It was awesome, and I loved it. I have grand plans of arriving early to talk with the other moms next week. We’ll see whether that happens or whether I take a wrong turn and pay a visit to the local bait and tackle shop for directions and end up being late, running around like my hot, buoyant mess self.

Two Years Today

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Photo Credit : Sula

Two years ago today, I climbed up the hill on Tex’s family farm to take my place next to him and promise that I would love him and be kind to him forever and ever. I’ve made a lot of decisions in my life, but the choice to be with Tex has to be one of my best. After the decision to hunt him down like a puma of course.

Often, when we’re lying in bed, on the verge of falling asleep, I’ll ask my husband whether the time we’ve been together feels long or short. “Both” he always answers, much to my pleasure, as I feel the same way. When you find someone who is your compliment, who understands you and supports you without question, time seems to stretch and bend in such a way that you can’t imagine your life without that person. But in that same way, the joyous ease of each interaction, each day and each hug makes the years slip past like water in a stream.  We’ve been married for two years and I’ve known Tex for three but it seems like both forever and merely a moment in time.

Two years on, I am still proud of the man I married; I still look at him and silently congratulate myself on bagging such a hottie. Meeting, marrying and procreating with someone, all within the space of twelve months means that life together is filled with surprises. Two spins around the sun later, the surprises still exist, but they’re fewer and farther between, yet I still delight each time I learn something new about my fantastic man. I love that his strong sense of character, that he inspires me to be a better more ethical person. His peccadilloes still make me smile; the way he throws himself entirely into whatever new idea, hobby or interest he’s infatuated with at the moment.

Michael J. Fox has been married forever. There’s a quote of his that he says to his wife which I often think of whenever I’m on the verge of being annoyed “Give me the benefit of the doubt; I would never intentionally hurt you.”  That sentiment is so true and so perfect for marriage. And also for Tex. My sister-in-law and I often comment that our men are never mean. But sometimes, if they truly despise a person, they won’t be intentionally nice. I love that I married a man whose baseline is intentionally nice. It makes forgiveness, and remembering Michael J. Fox’s quote world’s easier.

Happy Anniversary dear husband, thank you for two completely wonderful years. When we are only bones in the ground, I promise to still turn and whisper “I’m so glad I married you” at night.