About The Great Unwashed

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

Put Away Your Zagat Guide, This is the Country

I grew up in the throbbing metropolis which is known for having too many people in too small a space. This leads to phenomenon such as line ups, traffic jams and general rage. The last one may just be something I have when in the throbbing metropolis but still. The upshot of this is, I line up. I am awesome at lining up. In addition, I rock at showing up early to avoid the aforementioned line ups.

The country, or the middle of nowhere, where I currently reside has lots of space and very few people. Yet instinctively, I still stick to my learned habits of showing up early and expecting a mad house to events. It’s exactly like the “Field of Dreams” where they say “If you build it, they will come” only there’s nothing built and yet I’m still standing here waiting for masses of people.

For example Santa visits. In the throbbing metropolis Santa is available all day, every day the month of December. Parents cut off their right arms to pay to meet the jolly guy and then turn sideways for the photo to hide their missing limb while underpaid youth wish them “Merry Christmas”. Families wait upwards of an hour for this privilege. This is my normal. This is what I know.

So when I found out that Santa only met twice in December, for only two hours, at what we call our local mall, I expected a madhouse. I debated the merits of the baby carrier versus the stroller in the event that we were trampled in the rush to get to Santa. I ultimately concluded that the stroller could double as an ankle battering ram as well as protection for our son. I made my husband take out fifty dollars in bills because I knew these kinds of places only accepted cash. The four of us, my husband Tex, myself, our au pair and my son had an early supper so we could be there thirty minutes before Santa arrived to line up.

Being from the middle of nowhere, my husband Tex tried to reason with me, saying the five minutes was more than enough time. But he quickly lost that argument because I’m from the throbbing metropolis- we metropolites KNOW we are right. Always.

Supper took a while. As it does with a toddler. Also I insisted on bathing our son and dressing him in a specific outfit and that everyone freshen up. Because I am unreasonable seeker of memories and a tyrant. It’s one of my best qualities. All of this prepping and unnecessary eating meant that we were only twenty five minutes early instead of thirty.

“Go, Go GO!” I shouted to our au pair as our husband dropped the three of us at the entrance so we wouldn’t waste the thirty seconds it took to park. “We’re late!” I cried. I tucked Mini-Tex under my arm like a football and sprinted for the doors slamming through them. There was no time to wait for the slow automatic door to open. We were late.

I ran past the bank and the store that sells tissue masquerading as clothing to teenagers all the way to the giant Christmas tree at the center of the mall to see… nothing. There was no one there except for the sign saying the times when Santa would appear and an empty chair.

One minute later, my husband appeared. “Excellent” he said “There’s no one here, can we go grocery shopping now?”

“NO!” I cried, “The crowds will arrive any second- we have to get into line!”

The urgency in my voice and my statement would have made a lot more sense if there had been more than you know, fifteen people in the whole mall. And by fifteen people, I mean they were all scattered either working or shopping in the stores and clearly not there to see St. Nick.

“Oooooook” said my husband in the “I’m going to leave you to this” way that he does when I get crazy. “I’m going to do our shopping and come back in twenty minutes” Then he and our au pair took off and Mini-Tex and I wandered the vacant mall for twenty minutes. Mini-Tex mauled the Christmas decorations while I was on high alert, ready to start throwing elbows and fighting the throngs of people who would inevitably appear in an enormous group to meet Santa and take up the full two hours so Mini-Tex missed out.

Just so you know, we weren’t the first ones to meet Santa. Five minutes later, at the sound of the jingle bells, a family materialized out of nowhere and rushed Father Christmas. Exactly like I predicted. Then our son had a full five minutes with Santa. I’d like to say this is because he loved Santa so much but it was actually because Santa was smitten with our au pair and tried unsuccessfully to convince her to sit on his lap. Also the whole interaction was free. Well unless you count creepiness as a price in which case Janey our au pair paid dearly.

One would have thought I learned my lesson.

But no. Last week the circus rolled into town. I was unreasonably excited the whole week. Because nothing happens here. Well not nothing, but traveling acts are few and far between. I may have shaken my son awake that morning “The circus is coming!” in an effort to make him as excited as I was.

I had the day planned down to the minute. Every moment was used to ready ourselves for the circus. I bathed. Mini-Tex had a bath. I did laundry so he would have an adorable outfit to wear. If I had owned Spanx, I would have broken those out to ensure attractive and svelte looking family photos. I took Mini-Tex to the indoor playground as soon as it opened and ran him like a tiny greyhound so he’d nap before noon.

My husband got off work early that day. As he walked in the door he shouted “I forgot my phone”. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem except that THE TICKETS WERE ON HIS PHONE. Luckily, thanks to my advance planning, my son and I were ready. So we all hopped on our bikes and cycled back across town to retrieve Tex’s phone.

This makes it sound like a gigantic, athletic debacle, but across town to the hospital where Tex works is all of two kilometers away. However the upshot of this is that we were only twenty minutes early, rather than the thirty minutes that I had planned for.

Biking back from the hospital, I resisted the urge to shout “What’s our time?” at my husband at every stop sign. I remembered the Santa Claus meet and greet. I also calmed myself by picturing a warm, sunny beach. Of course I wouldn’t be lying on it, because even in my fantasies, I realize that such a place would result in my pale skinned death. But I also imagined a giant curtained cabana that I could peek out of at said scene. In between sitting in absolute darkness.

I managed to keep my calm long enough to stop to get Mini-Tex a snack. A hotdog, because he has an obsession with the book “The Pigeon Finds A Hot Dog”. Previous to this, Mini-Tex had never shown any interest in hotdogs and I had actually thrown out two packages because my husband and I don’t eat them either. However they seem like good toddler food so I bought them.

Walking into the tent, I expected bedlam, with parents frantically throwing diapers bags and coats over the bleachers to reserve seats. Instead we were met with strobe lights, the smell of popcorn and a whole lot of empty stands. There were about ten people there.

Even with all that empty space, I was still judicious about choosing where to sit. After all, the tent could fill up at any time. We biked through the back field, so it’s possible we missed a lineup of cars all paying thirty dollars to park. I resisted the urge to walk around the entire tent in order to determine the best vantage point. Instead, I picked a side and a row a little ways up, explaining that even if people filled the rows in front; we’d still have an excellent view.

Then we waited and Mini-Tex finished his hot dog. And requested another. So Tex ran out and returned within thirty seconds with a second hotdog. Apparently not even the concession stand was busy. A handful of people trickled in. Mini-Tex demolished a second hotdog. A clown came around and took photos with all the groups. A family trooped into our section and took up the back row. I tensed up expecting a swarm of people at the last minute.

Mini-Tex requested yet another hotdog. While peering around at the empty rows, I silently vowed to write “The Pigeon Eats Kale Salad”. Then I placed the tiny Skip Hop penguin back pack on the bleacher next to me, silently cursing myself for not bringing a large bag, because no doubt when the crush of people arrived, I’d be smushed up against a large, hairy man who bathed even less often than I did. I asked Tex the time. The show was supposed to start. I scanned the entrance, expecting a stampede of people. The show did not start. Apparently the circus also expected more people.

I silently and smugly congratulated my urban self for arriving early and getting the best spot before all these late comer rural people arrived. Three more people walked in and seated themselves across the ring.

Then the show started and I conceded that I may have to stop being quite so Type A if we’re going to live here for any length of time. Well you know unless we want to be the people who show up an hour before the party starts. But nobody likes them.

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Muscly CFL Footballers Drinking Egg Smoothies Make The Best Housemates. Just In Case You Were Wondering.

I lived with a CFL footballer. Not like lived with as in passing him in the kitchen on my way to the bathroom in the middle of the night being all “Hey Craig, having your 2 AM egg smoothie? Nice. Well I have to pee”, but more like lived with in the same heritage home that had been divided into apartments. Although the egg smoothie bit is totally true, his wife wrote about it on her blog. Apparently footballers get up in the middle of the night and down a glass of a dozen raw eggs. I found this deeply upsetting because

  1. That would give me a wicked stomachache and heartburn
  2. If I’m up in the middle of the night, it had better be for the purposes of consuming something delicious, like my husband’s lunch.

Even though Craig and I were in separate apartments, it still totally counts. I lived with a footballer, that makes me 3,000% more sporty than before. Really ask me about anything athletic- I’ll know the answer as long as it’s “What colour is a football?” and “Why are there names on the back of jerseys?”

Also, I saw Craig a lot. Mostly when he would walk past my son and I while we were playing on the lawn, with me completely entombed in my sun protective gear looking like I was on my way to rob a bank that had a rule requiring people wear large hats. Craig, for his part would wave, say “Hello” and act normal, like he always lived with women vampires. I would then wave back while holding a Bubble Guppy and possibly pull down my buff so my voice wasn’t muffled to ask how he was. Regardless, Craig the footballer was super nice which was not what I was expecting.

For starters, he’s the size of a house. I’m fairly certain that once I heard him get stuck in the doorway when he forgot to turn sideways to exit his apartment. No doubt his poor wife had to call the nice European couple next door to help pull him out.

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In my mind it was exactly like this but instead of a cuddly bear, it was a giant, muscly footballer. Also his wife is significantly more comely than rabbit. Photo Credit : deviantart.com

This hunch was confirmed when Craig showed me the tennis ball that he had hung from the ceiling to remind himself to duck before entering the bathroom because he bumped his head on the doorframe so often. Heritage homes were not designed with men the size of houses in mind.

Between his physique and career choice, I half expected him to be constantly pulling the legs off of creatures as a demonstration of his strength because he LOOKED like a man that could do that. Like some Gaston come to life, who would, in addition to eating five dozen eggs, would remove the limbs of eight dozen crabs and fry them up as a snack.

Given that Craig is a celebrity who appears on national television, I also expected him to be aloof; instead, when I asked him if he would sign a ball, he offered to take it in for the whole team to sign it! I NEVER would have thought to ask for this. For starters, I thought that kind of thing only happened to people with either a terminal illness or a lot of money. While my vampire-ism is unsightly, it’s not deadly, and being a stay at home mom is not the highest paying job I’ve held.

As it was, I had already purchased a ball. A basketball, because my Dad thinks I’m funny, and likes my jokes. And while all of the Blue Bombers’ signatures would have been neat, I didn’t live with all of them. And only Craig attempted to high-five my son. So his signature seemed far cooler to me.

Hence why Craig very kindly inscribed his name and number on a basketball for me, along with the message “I hope your grandsons know more about football than your daughter.”20180627_181224

This may possibly be the only photo of Craig on the internet holding a basketball. Also, he forgot to angle himself in the doorway, so when he flexed his biceps after the picture was taken, he became lodged in the doorway again. It took a crow bar and a container of bacon grease to get him out.

Also please note how humble this man is, the message is written in tiny letters, as if he expected me to take it to all the other celebrity athletes I know to have them sign too. Happy belated Father’s day Dad, this may also be your birthday gift because I’m desperately disorganized.

Forget Locking Up Your Daughters, You Need To Lock Up Your Washers

So a couple of weeks back, I did something bad. Not like murdering someone and tossing the body under a bridge bad, but worse than stealing Tex’s car keys so I could secretly eat Halloween candy for breakfast. (He locks our Halloween candy in the car because I’m like a devious, curly haired raccoon.) I broke our washing machine.

To be fair, Tex gave me permission to do it. Because when I held up our bathmat that had seen better, cleaner days, and asked “Can I wash this in the machine?” Tex replied “Yes”. So he’s an accomplice in the death of our washing machine. I would like you all to remember that when the Maytag police show up at my door. Yes, our son will be an orphan but at least I won’t go to appliance prison alone.

But the thing is, I’ve done this before. Not washed our bath mat, but when we were staying in the walk-in closet a couple of months ago, the place came fully furnished. Complete with a bathmat that was proving the theory of evolution every single day by spawning new and disgusting creatures for Tex and I to squish under our feet.

trash heap

(This trash heap from the The trash heap from the Fraggles was cleaner and less concerning than the walk-in closet’s bathmat. Photo Credit: youtube.com

I’m the Great Unwashed. I freely told my doctor that I only bathe once a week. I regularly let my son cover himself head to toe in dirt and then send him to daycare like a living, breathing Pig Pen. However, this bathmat was a whole different, more gag worthy version of dirty. One that I am not comfortable with.

That’s saying something.

The bathmat was so dirty that you could feel bacteria wrapping their mutant tentacle arms around your toes when you stepped on it. Like a horror movie crossed with science fiction. Had I left the bathmat as it was, it undoubtedly would have inched its way to our bed during the night and suffocated us in our sleep. It was maybe eight days away from forming intelligent life.

So I washed the walk-in closet’s bathmat. I didn’t have high expectations. In fact a part of me expected the creature to spawn in the water so that when I came back down, it would have sprouted legs and taken off with the washing machine, dryer and the random giant painting of a pear in the basement.

A better option would have been to use fire. Or even better Tex’s ray gun that he still claims doesn’t exist. Although undoubtedly Tex would deem that washing a bathmat was an inappropriate use for a ray gun. As it was, all I had was a washer. So I threw the sucker in.

It was so disgusting I may have used tongs to transport it downstairs. Then I said goodbye to the washing machine, dryer and the random painting. But forty minutes later when the cycle finished, lo and behold the washing machine was still there. And after drying- it looked like a whole new mat. Complete with a different colour! Like entirely different. I still shudder when I think about the degree of change.

The whole point of that new life form filled story was that I have successfully washed bathmats before. And also if pushed I can kill entire civilizations. But only those living on towels.

Fast forward two months when we are back at home in our house. While washing our bathmat I discovered something- bathmat washings are not like cats. Both in the way that you can’t put bathmats in the crate, spray water at them and hope for the best like my sister did once with one of our cats; more in the way that cats have nine lives and apparently a person only gets to wash a bathmat successfully once in their life.

I washed our bathmat and destroyed our washing machine.

Like completely destroyed it.

Part of me wished that I had ruined the walk-in closets washing machine because there were six other units in the building so I could have walked away and pretended it was someone else. But no, it was OUR washing machine, in OUR house and there was only one person who could take the blame.

There was water sitting in the drum. There were little bits of rubber everywhere. And I could tell that this rubber-bitty situation continued all the way through the washing machine’s innards. “Tex?” I called, inhaling deeply to mentally fortify myself before admitting my mistake, “I, um, I did something bad.”

The next three hours were my and Tex’s punishment because I had to put our son to bed by myself while Tex took apart every single piece of the washer and laid it out on our basement floor. Then he swore. And not in the normal Tex way, when he uses curse words as exclamation points. For example “It’s a &%$@ing beautiful day!”

No, this was more of an angry pirate, on a sinking ship, fighting a giant shark for his peg leg kind of swearing. I’ve never heard the word “tree” included in a curse before. Once or twice, I’d poke my head around the stairs and ask ruefully whether I could help. Then Tex would sigh, mutter another new profanity into the belly of our former washing machine and say “No, just go upstairs and never wash another bathmat again.”

It took him three hours to fix the washing machine.

Three hours.

Nothing takes my husband three hours. The man is a farm boy, engineer, doctor, black smith who knows how to pick locks. I’m not even sure his ray gun took him that long to put together. Although he swears up and down that it doesn’t exist.

And we’re getting to the worst part.

The repair didn’t work.

Well, not the first time.

Tex of course successfully ran a test load of laundry. And then I ran a load of laundry and everything was fine.

But then, oh then, my parents came to visit. Which everyone knows is a completely stress free experience for all involved, and when I washed the sheets, a little bit of water trickled out the bottom. I ignored it. Because I make bad decisions like that. Regularly. And I’ve been known to get a little splashy with the liquid soap sometimes. Also did I mention we have a two year old? I found a chunk of banana in my shoe the other day. Stuff happens. A little water can be ignored.

But then I made the mistake of doing two loads back to back. And then there was a puddle. One large enough to soak my socks if I wore socks. I brought my mother into my confidence. “You mustn’t tell Tex” and she agreed especially after I told her about the tree curse word thing.

Previously, in my life, when my butt sat much closer to my back and I didn’t have weird lines in between my boobs that may or may not be wrinkles, I didn’t do laundry often. And by “not often” I mean, I wore things three or four times until I determined that they smelled (OK, maybe five or six). I worked at many different job sites so wearing the same outfit the entire week wasn’t an issue. The point is- I am accustomed to being a little dirty. I am after all the Great Unwashed.

By contrast, Tex might as well be known as the Obsessively Cleaned. He loves washed clothes. He attacks stains with the same vigor and effort that Mr. Clean would if he showed up at your door, all bald, shiny, and grinning.  For the record it’s equally disturbing to watch.

There was only so long that I could put off doing laundry. If Tex had been away, my son and I might have gone months. I mean at some point, when the stink lines coming off my and my toddler’s body became visible, I might have sprayed some Febreeze, but then we would have been fine for another month. As it was, I got a week in before I was forced to tell Tex.

Happily, he fixed it in an hour. It’s been working since then. Now everyone knock on wood for me.

 

If This Isn’t Contraception I Don’t Know What Is

Greetings from the center of the sun. Or as I like to call it “home”. In a fit of insanity, I chose to live in a fourth floor walk-up that’s the size of a celebrity’s walk in closet. The kicker is NOT the forty steps up to our suite, no, it’s the lack of air conditioning.

So we’ve all become nudists. Mini-Tex has stopped saying “Mommy! Your pants! Find your pants!” when I walk around now. We can all just sit on the couch in a partially-clothed, over-heated heap. The newest toddler game has segued from jumping on the couch to sticking himself to the couch. Given that he was always wearing clothing before, Mini-Tex only just discovered the joy and entertainment of peeling bare skin off vinyl. A trick he repeats over and over in the way two year olds do.

For some strange reason when Mini-Tex goes to bed, my husband and I don’t find the same glee in unsticking our bare skin from the couch.

Fun Fact– Air conditioning changed the timing of babies. Previously people didn’t want to bang-a-lang when their goolies were all sweaty, so fewer babies were born in April and May. But with the advent of central air suddenly people were bumping uglies year round and there were more spring babies. True story.

Tex and I lived this fact the other night. So it was 35 degrees Celsius outside and approximately 7,000 degrees in our apartment. Mini Tex had demanded the fan be moved to the bedroom so my husband and I were left to sweat it out in a sticky, mostly naked mess on the couch. Sounds hot right?

You better believe it was. I mean I was lying there, completely motionless and yet beads of sweat still were forming under my eyes. If that isn’t hot, I don’t know what is. The couch is small, so my legs were draped over Tex. He put a hand on my knee, then moved it to my ankle and uttered the words every woman desires to hear. “Your entire body feels like a dog’s nose- vaguely moist and clammy.”

My God, it was like the trilogy of Fifty Shade of Grey right there in one sentence.

“You know,” I responded “now would be as good a time as any to experiment with ice cubes”.

“Do we have ice?”

I snorted. “This place doesn’t have a pot with handles. Do you think there’s an ice tray?”

“There are frozen peas.”

The prospect removing a package of frozen peas to cool myself was attractive, but liable to be messy given my habit of tearing into the plastic bags like a cougar ripping into a gazelle. It makes for a lot of large and oddly shaped holes, which would make for many tiny, frozen marbles on the floor. I shot down the idea “Nope. The pork chops could defrost on my stomach though.”

In the end, we stole the fan back from a sleeping Mini-Tex and lay on the couch thinking about all the celibate couples like ourselves before the advent of air conditioning.

What Matters

You changed

out of your new outfit

that you proudly

modeled for me

because it showed

your upper arms

 

Even my mother

whose biceps are

large stones

beneath her fit skin

HATES  her upper arms

 

But I found it funny

given that it was here

in this sunny kitchen

over the endless

buffet of soul food

that you served

of stories

 

About building character

about seeing the person

through the disability

about what it took

to offer true dignity

that I learned

what truly matters

 

Upper arms don’t

but I understood

the costume change

 

If I’m honest

your arms

have never been

my favourite parts of you

your compassion

your bold laugh

your inherent ability

to show respect

to everyone

always seem

to come first

Our Family’s Paris Accord – A Year Later

All non-hippies or those who don’t enjoy puffed bulgur and braiding their underarm hair may ignore this post.

A year and a month ago, I showed “Before the Flood” to Tex. That coupled with Trumps defection from the Paris accord caused our family to write our own Paris accord and make some large scale changes to how we live. I wrote about the initial progress a couple months in after we received our cargo trike but since then, haven’t offered any updates. Here is how we have been doing on all our environmental goals. We met every single goal on our accord except for the number of car free days.

 

Eating less beef

We have done that. Despite having cattle ranchers as relatives, we have done that, which is impressive. It helps that cousins have started raising pigs and chickens, meaning that my city slicker self has someone to turn to when we start raising our own non bovine livestock. Ultimately, we didn’t feel this change keenly.

 

Using the car less

I will be honest and say that we failed to meet our lofty goal of driving only 15,000 kilometers a year but met our lower goal of reducing our mileage by 6,000 kilometers. Most people put approximately 20,000 kilometers on a vehicle per year and the majority of families have two vehicles or more, meaning that they drive about 40,000 kilometers a year. We have one car and previous to our agreement, had been putting about 25,000+ kilometers on each year. Because of Tex’s work which required him to frequently visit the city and the distance to said major city, we ended up putting 19,000 kilometers on the car which was over a 20% improvement on the previous year. We hope to decrease that next year.

 

Car free days

Our au pair was not a fan of the bike and chose to use the stroller when it was warm and discreetly take the car keys when it was cold. Between this and the significant amount of time we spent living in the big city without our bike so Tex could receive training for his job, it meant that we had fewer car free days this winter than hoped. Our goal was 115 car free days last year. I think we had around 80. Given that we spent five and half months in a city without our bikes, I think that’s pretty good. I absolutely think we will achieve that goal this year as Tex has completed all of his training this year and will remain at home for eleven months this year.

At home, we do not use the car. Even in the winter Tex would pack up our son and ride off to the grocery store. My personal favourite example of Tex choosing the bike over the car was when he took Mini-Tex to see the Christmas lights around town. They were out for an hour and our son came back with his eyes alight and red little cheeks. Boy was he delighted. In the car, our little boy faces backwards so he rarely has the view we do and will often miss things, but on the bike, he faces the same direction so it’s more fun.

Both Mini-Tex and myself will be acquiring neoprene masks so that we can bike comfortably in the winter. This is Tex’s get up in order to get to work on the coldest of days.

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This gear could also be used in the Antarctic or on the moon. Photo Credit : Tex

I should also mention that although I have NEVER received as much respect as a cyclist as I have in our small town- people will regularly move over to the other side of the road to give me a full lane when passing, Tex did not have the same experience in the winter. The amount of snow we receive is so great that it builds up along the roads and takes up about a lane, narrowing the streets. Around about December, Tex was forced to put a pool noodle on his bike to remind motorists to give him space. Since the spring thaw, he’s removed the tube of green foam, but it is still in our shed for next winter. Tex also bikes home from work at 12 AM on occasion, so he needs extra visibility and space.

Tex’s bike’s odometer just passed 800 while our cargo trike passed 1300. If anything, I see us increasing the mileage on our bikes and decreasing the mileage on the car this year.

 

Air travel

This was a sensitive point of shame for me, as air travel is one of the worst actions one can take in terms of environmental impact. I made two unplanned trips home this past year in addition to making stopovers while en route to a conference for Tex’s work- both there and back.

My Grandma passed away in February. One trip was to see her before she died and the other was to attend her funeral. While I am happy that I chose to spend time with my family during the difficult and sad period, ultimately Tex and I have decided that the cost of the travel was far too great for the environment, a strain on our finances and caused a great deal of personal stress for our family, so we will be remaining at home for quite a while. My goal is to fly only once this year for a wedding.

 

Reducing packaging and waste

We bought in bulk this year. A lot, which was a challenge because the bulk products available in town are limited. Meaning that each time we visited the big city, on our way to Tex’s training, we would stop at a bulk store and fill up every single one of our available containers.

I am proud to say that even when we were in the city, I continued to compost. The biggest challenge was finding local hippies. Luckily there was a large garden with a composter down the street from where we rented an apartment. So I showed up one morning and asked very sweetly if I could empty my giant bag of eggshells and vegetable peels into it. Between my short stature, my high voice and my bright clothing choices, I’m often mistaken for someone much younger. So this man, whose door I knocked on, rubbed the sleep out of his eyes and silently questioned himself why a child was holding a bag or organic waste then said “yes”. Boy was I happy.

 

Increasing our dependence and support of renewable energy

The solar panels were installed at the farm last August and have been chugging along ever since then. We have discussed installing more panels when we move there to support the energy required for an electric car as well as an electric furnace.

 

No internet

This isn’t really an environmental move so much as a lifestyle move, although it does mean fewer electronics are plugged in at our home. We got rid of our internet at the end of December and I finally chucked my smartphone in February. I have not regretted either decision once. Tex has a limited amount of data, meaning that if I want to use the internet, I head to the library.

All libraries offer free wifi. All librarians are helpful. Spending more time at a library has NEVER hurt anyone ever and more than likely will result in more reading and learning.

For me personally, no internet means more space to think. My time is not absorbed by social media or random click bait that I am want to fall prey to. I’ve read more books since getting rid of the internet and my smartphone, I’ve felt like a more engaged and attentive parent. But the most creatively rewarding aspect has been the effect it has had on my writing. While I haven’t been posting here, I have been writing up a storm for other projects, a feat I’m quite proud of. Ultimately this has been an excellent choice for me, although it annoys and confounds the living hell out of my family.

I must say that Mini-Tex misses music. Any grandparents out there are permitted to buy him children’s soundtracks, or his most coveted music- the Frozen soundtrack. Aside from that, a paper map in the car has replaced Google maps, in addition to an increased sense of direction on my part.

A year later, that’s where we are. I can’t wait for the environmental goals we will reach in the coming year.

Seeking Short Term Rental- Frat House Adjacent With Live-In Poltergeist Preferred

I failed being an adult. Again. It’s worse than the time I wiped my son’s butt with one of his socks but better than the time that I didn’t change the oil in my car for six months. Tex is working in the big smoke for a couple of months and wanted Mini-Tex and I to accompany him. Thus I was charged with finding us accommodations. No small feat because the place needed

  • To be available for one and three quarter months starting May 7th
  • To be furnished
  • To be within walking distance of Tex’s work
  • Also to be in our limited price range

In retrospect, Tex should have been the one to search for housing because I choose housing based on

  1. The proximity to frat houses. My ideal living space is a soundproofed duplex with frat boys on the other side, so I can be right on top of the action. Isn’t “Baby’s First Kegger” one of the major milestones? Of course Mini-Tex wouldn’t imbibe; he’d just be the adorable celebrated mascot that the young men would nickname “Little Bro”.

 

Frat boys are the literary equivalent of living on a gold mine. They create it just by virtue of doing everyday actions, for example peeing. Most people choose to do this in the privacy of bathrooms. By contrast frat boys will take any old alleyway. Even the one that my kitchen faces.

  1. Amenities like functional plumbing are less important than say a poltergeist because how else am I going to explain who ate Tex’s lunch in the middle of the night?
  2. A self-described cheapskate, this quality is the key reason why I’ve lived in somewhat unique housing for the majority of my adult life.

As it was, Tex works full time and I am a stay at home Mom, meaning that procuring a short term rental fell to me. After a couple of false starts- no one responded to my frat house with poltergeist ad, we found a place. Tex is a fan of the apartment in spite of the fact that it’s the size of a celebrity’s walk-in closet. I mean yes, there’s a bed in the kitchen and we have to move the kitchen table and chairs one way if we want to sleep and back the other way to open the dishwasher, but first world problems – am I right? I keep telling myself that it’s training for if I ever lose my mind and embark on a train trip across Canada and have to shower over a toilet for two weeks. These are the kinds of life skills I was missing.

Also, my refrigerator Tetris skills have never been sharper, due to the fact that one of the two vegetable crispers can’t be used because the bed prevents the fridge door from opening fully. Should TLC ever pilot a show “Food Storage Wars” which chronicles the struggle of polygamous families with thirteen teenage sons trying to fit the week’s groceries into a small space, I will swoop right in like an organizational Mary Poppins, only I’d have a parachute of kale rather than an umbrella.

As much as I joke, Mini-Tex LOVES the place. He is never more than five feet from either parent. If this doesn’t cement his attachment to us, I don’t know what will. Also the “using the back of the kitchen chairs as a framework to bounce himself on the bed” is the best toddler game ever. Two year olds don’t care if they can touch three out of four walls while standing in the middle of the room, or that it was the only place available, no, the springy nature of the futon coils is what counts.

The funniest part is, I’m beginning to like the Lilliputian life. I’m trying to convince Tex that we should actually become elves and live in a hollowed out tree. We’d have our mortgage paid off in no time.

The Original Storyteller and The Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

My grandfather is the reason this blog exists. He told wild, interesting, funny stories to me before I could speak. My Granddad spent my childhood captivating audiences and his family. Those experiences are the reason why I myself became a storyteller and why my two year old son, who carries my grandfather’s name, now starts sentences with “Remember the…?”

For the past little while, I’ve been struggling with the nature of my blog. I debated whether I should keep it in its original form- a place for wickedly amusing happenings in my life, or transform it into something entirely different. My husband remarked that three years ago I lost my funny entirely and have since been penning a subdued form of Reader’s Digest humour, so maybe the change has already occurred.

I began this blog, with the same hope that many other writers have- to strike it big, be recognized and be published for the larger masses. It never happened but still, I kept going. Over time, as with anything, my writing became better, more descriptive, more fluid. Even the process of writing itself became easier. When I started The Great Unwashed, it would take me an entire evening to come up with a couple hundred words. Slowly, the work of writing, editing and publishing became much faster.

As the years passed, I built up a portfolio of work. To date, I’ve published nearly 400 posts. When my son was born, something that I felt proud of was that my baby would always know my voice- no matter what. Not the sound of it, but the cadence of my words, my stories, what I found funny, what hurt me, what buoyed me up. Should anything ever happen to me, my son will have this. And obviously his baby book, where I write ridiculous long paragraphs of how much I love him. Undoubtedly he’ll throw the thing on a fire in his teens. But I digress.

There are unforeseen benefits that have come as a result of writing regularly for five and a half years. Ultimately, what I love about my blog is that it chronicles my life, and my stories. This year has been a tough one for me family wise. Hef died to start with. (Anyone who has followed this blog for any length of time understands the depths of my obsession with the bunnies and recognizes what a blow this was to me.) So I knew the next twelve months were going to suck on some level if this was a warning of what was to come. Then my grandmother became very ill and passed away as well. Her death wasn’t unexpected- she was older than Hef. But this made the dark winter months significantly darker. Most recently, my grandfather was given an upsetting diagnosis.

The moment I received that troubling news, a decision was made. Nearly two months ago, The Great Unwashed ceased to be the only place where I write- currently I have two other writing projects on the go, so this blog can be whatever I choose. I pick family stories, whatever is clattering about my head on that particular day. The following are my heart’s musings for the day.

When I was fifteen and my sister was thirteen, our cat attempted suicide. Ringo concluded that he’d had enough of the excessive attention my sister lavished on him, that a life spent chasing a laser was not worth living and that perhaps my mother was buying the cheap cat food when truly Ringo deserved the expensive stuff with chunks of chicken rather than the machine pressed junk. So in a fit of angsty feline rage, he threw himself off the upstairs banister.

This is my version of the story. Despite cleaning our cats’ litter boxes for over a decade, I am not, nor have I ever been, a cat person. My mother has a different version.

Ringo was an acrobatic cat. Around the neighbourhood, he was known as the cat on the roof, because he would jump from the deck railing to the lower roof, finally making his way to the top of our forty foot house. Ringo was a thin, determined cat who knew what he wanted out of life- generally it was your chicken dinner. He walked around our house like he owned the place. Seeing as I spent my entire adolescence shoveling Ringo and his brother’s waste, I felt he had good reason for this.

Ringo used to taunt death by jumping onto our upstairs railing and walking along the thin curved piece of wood, twenty some feet in the air. He never once fell. At least until that day.

My mother recognized Ringo’s miscalculated landing immediately, had she not been in a hip to toe cast at the time, from a ruptured Achilles tendon, she herself would have rushed to Ringo’s aid. As it was, my mother’s cast cost Ringo the precious seconds it took for her to yell, “Dad! The cat!” Ever the knight in shining armor, my grandfather rushed to catch the now falling cat.

Granddad didn’t get there in time. But the point is he tried. Granddad tried even though he would constantly claim that we only had one black and white cat because he couldn’t tell the difference between the feline brother duo – Ringo and Splat. He tried, even though he hated cleaning up cat vomit especially when it was from a cat that didn’t belong to him. I have suspicion that Granddad does not actually like cats.

For all those concerned about the cat- Ringo used one of his nine lives that day and walked off without a scratch or even so much as a limp, whereas Granddad had to feel sorry that he didn’t catch our cat. Twice; once when he failed to actually catch the cat, and the other time when my mother relayed the tale to my sister and me over the phone while we were on vacation with our Dad.

This was the Granddad story I wanted to share this evening. He would tell you it’s less a story about him and more about our daredevil of a cat. True, but like so many of the stories of my life, Granddad was there, and I wanted to remember that he played a role. My grandfather of course loves having top billing but for this story he was there.

Also, the roof cat might not have been Ringo. My parents have had so many pets in their life that the cats blend together into one furry, Sarah-hating animal, that I spent years cleaning up after and chauffeuring to the vet.  All except for Splat who was almost as dirty and uncoordinated as me, God rest that filthy feline’s soul. If there is a lap to topple from in heaven, Splat is laying legs akimbo and irritated on the floor.

Who Needs Hottie Boyfriends and Furniture That Isn’t Stolen From Dumpsters When You Have Love and Approval?

Growing up, I was never one of those girls who dreaded Valentine’s Day because I always knew that I’d get a valentine. Every morning on February 14th, I’d walk down the stairs to find a card, and when I was older a box of chocolates, sitting at my place on the kitchen table. My Dad continued this tradition long after my sister and I left the house- sending us Valentine’s Day care packages in university. Then cards stuffed with thoughtful notes and something special when we became adults. Love was a given, it was unconditional. A hunky escort to the movies with a hot car on that day? Well, that was a bonus.

I played sports only once, but long before then, my Dad was always on my team, sitting in my corner, rooting for me. After university, when my peers were applying to prestigious graduate programs and medical schools, I chose to be an underpaid performer at Walt Disney World. My Dad was the first one to stand up and applaud my decision. My father laughed heartily when I told him that the Disney recruiter had asked whether I didn’t want to do something bigger and better with my life. From the time I was small, I have received my father’s support. It’s a key element of my freight train like momentum whenever I get an idea in my head.

While the love my father shows me and the confidence that his constant approval has built are some of the best parts of my Dad, undoubtedly my favourite quality of my his is the way he reserves judgment. In university, I dated a pot smoking, PHISH loving, wisp of a man. My parents hated him. Incidentally, the PHISH lover’s parents hated me too and were quite vocal about it. But I never had any idea of my father’s feelings. It was only through my Mom that I discovered my Dad’s words about the break up – “Good, now that nice young man who’s been hanging around will have a shot.” I loved that my Dad respected all of my choices, even the ones he didn’t agree with.

So on this day, when everyone is buying the men in their life lawn mowers and power saws, I hope each of you are lucky enough to have a person like my Dad. I’m a stronger, more confident person for having him as a parent. After the men in your lives open their cement mixer or running shoes, make sure to tell them why they’re special because there’s nothing in this world quite like a Dad.

 

Dad, in case you missed the hint in the last paragraph, I didn’t buy you a gift. I got my thriftiness from your mother. This post is your gift. It won’t keep you quite as warm as a portable space heater but last I checked; your furnace is working fine. What can I say? You’re lucky to have me. But not quite as lucky as I am to have you.

I’ll Either Gain 3,000 lbs or lose 30

The last couple of months have been, well, rotund. That’s putting it nicely. My skirts have been straining at the seams. The ones that I can struggle my way into at least. My butt is developing its own gravitational pull not unlike Kim Kardashian’s but less shapely. My stomach, which has generally been a flattish (ok not really) friend to me, became a turncoat and developed a mutinous roll to accompany my omnipresent muffin top.

Something needed to be done. For a while now. Other bloggers have lost countless pounds by recording their journey for their readers, to keep them on the straight and pizza-free narrow. But this seemed like the writing equivalent of the sixteen year old girl who calls up her boyfriend every night and lists off everything she put in her mouth that day. Alarming and so many shades of irritating.

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And then I nibbled on a plain rice cake and afterwards I ate four red jelly beans but left the purple ones because like eww. Someone once told me they’re made of Smurfs which makes NO sense because I always thought Smurfs were green. (Photo Credit meangirls.wikia.com/wiki/Regina_George)

So I was in the process of accepting my slowed thirty something metabolism and my new fatness when Tex decided he would go on his high fat diet again. Earlier this year he shed twenty something pounds while following this regimen. Out of concern for his health, I told him that I would follow the diet as well, for three months. It would mean giving up buttercream icing as a food group and no longer classifying knitting as my physical activity for the day, but I had nothing to lose. Well, except for the gravitational pull around my butt, which was raking in leaves and the odd candy wrapper into its orbit.

The Basic Tenements of this Diet

  1. People are not designed to eat processed carbohydrates

It’s why I’m beginning to resemble the cast of Wall-E or at least that’s Butter Bob’s explanation.

  1. Previously people ate more fat

A lot more. A staggering amount more. Based on what Tex is eating my only conclusion is that early man survived on mammoth blubber. I wasn’t aware mammoths were that flabby.

  1. When the body gets an adequate amount of protein combined with a tremendous amount of fat, it feels sated

Tex has done the research on this, most of his research consists of reading Butter Bob’s thoughts. And as everyone knows, random people on the internet are ALWAYS right. It’s how I know that smearing axle grease on your arms cures angina and gout.

  1. People eat too often and when they’re not hungry, eat only in an 8 hour window

Agreed. Again, the roly-poly people of Wall-E, which I myself am becoming.

 

It’s only been a week or so for me, but my conclusions thus far have been

  • Life has never been more delicious. Tex loads up salads with so much fatty dressing that I feel like my arteries will clog just from the sight of them but I’m not concerned because I’ve got a can of axle grease at the ready.
  • I don’t crave sweets or breads. Strange because I’ve spent my entire life wanting to mow down entire bakeries in one sitting. For serious, Paris for me was like one giant carbohydrate trigger.
  • I’m not hungry. Like physically can’t eat because I’m that not hungry. My entire life has been a denial of hunger. I’m the fat kid in my family with my body’s end goal being that of a large pear shape, something along the lines of James and the Giant Peach. Only I’m the giant pear. So this sense of satiation is novel.
  • The amount of butter and avocados that we are consuming is frightening. But our intake of meat has not changed.