About Me

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What I am: Complicated. A mom. A wife. A thinker. A seeker. A 'musician'. One of the volunteer executive directors of a niche music festival. An administrative business owner who set up shop in a senior's condo. Oh the stories!

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Lost in Translation.

On Monday nights, I go to the University for Spanish class.  When I decided to sign up, the Monkeys in my head were not impressed.  "School?", they snorted.  "Seriously? We are too old for this.  And Spanish??  Don't you remember the time you meant to ask that Cuban cab driver what his name was, and you inadvertently declared your love for him?"  (True Story)

 Nonetheless, I am insatiably curious (read: Nosey) and I cannot stand it when I am on holidays eavesdropping on a perfectly good conversation and I can't understand a word of it!  Of all the crust! (as my father would say)  I ignored the Monkeys and signed up for the class. That's right, sign up now, think later. 

 Well, it would seem that my first night of class coincided perfectly with my husband's offer to cook supper.  This was great!  I wouldn't have to worry too much before class.  I would throw a salad and something resembling a vegetable together, and the rest would be taken care of.  My husband, you see, is a great cook, however, in the winter months in the absence of a barbecue, his meals consist of the following two offerings:
  1. Fried Meat
  2. Fried Onions (sometimes fried cabbage, but only on Special Occasions)
Now, these fried things taste wonderful, but that comes with a price...Smelly fried food clothing. Yes, when daddy cooks, our family walks into evening meetings, band concerts, and community events smelling like a porkchop. Is it our ventillation system?  Why does no one else smell like this?  Do they boil everything?

At any rate, Eau de Fried Onions was not the particular fragrance I meant to be wafting as I strolled into my first Spanish class.  I was mortified, but short of having a HazMat shower and borrowing some clothes from the neighbour, there was not a thing I could do.  I could have doused myself with my one daughter's celebrity fragrances, I suppose, but I think my preference would be to smell like plain fried onions instead of Taylor Swift's version. I detected stiffening of backs and wrinkling of noses as I walked in, but I kept my eyes on my new EIGHTY DOLLAR textbook.

Senora (I don't know how to make the wavy hat on top the 'n'), is our Professora.  Senora is very firm.  I am afraid of Senora.  Thankfully, she, like the seniors, can't remember my name, so I don't get called on individually.  She expects a lot from us and addresses a lot of questions to the whole group. Am I the only one who feels a certain level of awkwardness answering questions aloud...as an adult?  I feel like I'm in grade 3.

I might not be the sharpest knife in the Spanish drawer, but I seem to be catching on. Of course I am afraid to answer too many questions out loud.  The Monkeys are saying, "HEY, we know this one! We know this one too! Why aren't you saying anything??" I don't know...is it cool to answer out loud?  What if my classmates think I'm a Keener??  A Spanish TryHard-o.  I can just hear their conversations when I leave the room. Eyes rolling, they'll point to my empty chair, "Why don't you ask Fried Onions over there, she's got ALL the answers."  It is clear to me that there will be no lasting friendships formed in this class.  Oh, well, all I want is for Senora to pass me so I can go to the next level and learn to say, "Where can I get street food that won't kill me?"

Interesting aside: I learned that the Spanish words for 'married' and 'tired' are freakishly similar.  Consequenso?  Nothinkso...

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Wasting Away Again in Senioritaville...

 A couple of years ago, I applied to get the contract to administrate a large retirement condominium.  Great, I said!  I love Seniors!  They're soooo cute!  (You noticed, I said Seniors, and then I underlined it.) I have experience in a lot of fields, both paid and volunteer...nothing, but nothing prepared me for working with various, assorted Seniors.  I essentially administrate the equivalent of a small town...full of Seniors...Senioritaville.

The contrasts are huge.  One day, I'll be working on budgets for this multi-million dollar building;  the next day I'll be photocopying pictures of swans for Mrs. Dale's sister's scrapbook.  "You know, dear, we like to send the nice pictures back and forth.  It keeps us busy...Oh would you look at that!  It's identical to the swan on the calendar!  What they don't have for fancy machines nowadays!"  

They love me, however after two years, the majority have yet to learn my name.  Apparently, it's not enough to have a large blue nameplate with "Tracy" emblazoned in  boldface 72 point Times New Roman.   I have been called Stacy, Cindy, Donna, Tammy, Darcy and Terry.  All with great affection, nonetheless, all not my name.   "Oh, Cindy, I don't want to bother you!  I know you're busy on your Computer!!"  "Yes, in fact I am using a Very Important Program, it's called Pinterest.  All the best condo administrators use Pinterest.  Please come back later." 

My friends and I joke about the various groups in the building, and how some of them don't like each other.  We think they should start senior gangs.  Maybe one day, I'll go into work and Mrs. Markus will be walking around with a mauve bandanna tied to her arm... "Just so you know, the Mauves have the Craft Room today... if you let any of the Seafoams in to play their damn canasta again, it's gonna get nasty."   I'll walk past the Woodworking Shop to chants of "Fight! Fight! Fight!" and have to break up a scuffle between the Navys and the Forest Greens.  "You call that a birdhouse, Rogers?  I coulda cut those pieces out better with my dentures!"   

 Don't get me wrong. Some of these seniors still have a lot of cool going on.  They wear jeans!  Not polyester jeans, denim jeans!  I can pick them out of the crowd at Wednesday coffee.  There they are in all their glory, denim in a sea of lavender and peach. They roll their eyes at the fussy ones in the building (everyone else) and say they never want to get old.  Is that cool or what??  I want to say, How did you get to be a cool senior??  I bet you refuse to sing, "For He's A Jolly Good Fellow."   I will never sing that shit, I'll tell you that right now.  That's the initiation song to being a Fussy Senior.  You sing that once, and you might as well just stop by Tan Jay and start picking out your favourite pair of beige pull-on slacks, cuz you're done.  DONE.

So, from time to time you will hear about my Adventures at the Condo.  Most of these people are incredibly interesting and have such great stories to tell.  It is only the odd fussy, stereotypical senior that I bring to sport with full knowledge that I, too, will be there one day.  If you are a senior and find yourself reading this, know already that you are one of the cool Seniors.  My mother, for example, very cool senior...great writer & kicks ass in a battle of wits.  I'm taking notes....

Friday, 24 February 2012

Tripping (and Falling) Down Memory Lane

I've been feeling rather nostalgic lately.  And by lately, I mean at least the last two years.  I've been slowly going through old pictures, and consequently remembering the days when my kids were little.  (Thank God I have pictures, terrible as they are, because I don't remember a damn thing.)   Let's just say, I'm not good with anything involving photos.  I did not label any photos with helpful captions, such as Jaxon, 1999.  If I had, I would be able to look at said picture and say, "That is Jaxon!"  Instead of saying, "I think it's the boy...which one do you think it is, hon?" "I don't know, is this one of ours?"

I made a scrapbook of my daughter's first year.  It was the most frustrating, labour intensive thing I have ever done.  I had to sit around a table full of Other Women.  You know these Other Women, the organized ones who documented every aspect of their children's lives:  "Oh, and this one is where I painted her little toenails for the first time!  I used my Cricut and some homemade glue to make my own little nail polish stickers!!!"   "Wow! Good for you, Pollyanna!  That's AMAZING!"  @#*#^!
"What did you do, Tracy?"  "Oh, well, I uh, I took an empty yogurt container and traced around it to make a circle out of yellow paper.  In terms of a background, I think it plays nicely against the strained carrot stain on whatshername's sleeper in this picture." 

The whole thing only served to remind me how disorganized I am when it comes to my family's precious archives.  Let me just say, first of all, WE WERE ROBBED.  Yes, robbed.  I had my babies before digital cameras were in the homes of every family.  See, we had to buy things such as film, and wrestle said film into the camera.  We snapped the pictures on a wing and a prayer, inevitably several seconds after the precious moment had passed, and had to send the film in to Godknowswhere to get developed.  When we finally got the pictures back, we were rewarded with 3 fairly good shots, 4 shots with a grainy fog hovering over the kids, and 5 shots of a linoleum floor tile.  Sigh. 

So, with minimal results from home photography, the popular thing to do was to go in for studio shots. Yeah, right.  More swell statements by the Other Women:  "Oh my goodness!  I hardly had time to buy the kids their Easter outfits this year before our seasonal studio sitting!!"  More swell statements from me. "  "Oh Sh!t, is it almost Easter??"    Seriously??  No one told me this was a mandatory part of parenting.  When I left the hospital with my babies, I remember them telling me that they might want to eat every 2-3 hours.  NOTHING about regular photos.  Certainly nothing about Easter outfits!

We did make it in for professional shots once or twice.  After arguing my kids into their "Special Outfits", and then jamming their snowsuits & winter paraphernalia on over top, I was in NO MOOD.  No mood, I say, and it reflects in the pictures.  But sure, why wouldn't I buy a package of 181 pictures of the same shot for $279.99???  Why wouldn't I?  Now decide which one....right now.

I know I have an old Anne Geddes picture somewhere.  One of the ones where they stuff the baby into a flower vase or something like that. (Real nice, Anne.  What the hell?)   Maybe I'll photo shop it and tell everyone it was just one of our many trips to the portrait studio with our perfect babies. 

My new year's resolution this year was to take more pictures.  So far, I've been doing that.  With my digital camera and my cell phone cam, it's really easy.  I still SUCK as a photographer but now & then I get the shot.  I swear I'm gonna make it up to my kids in their teenage years.  "Yes, that's your first zit!!  I used a yogurt container to trace a circle on red paper....."

Jordana (centre) Jaxon (right)

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Sweet Tater Chips n' Dip

 So yesterday was my birthday and it was also Family Day here in our fair province.  Two words...Winning Combination.  My birthday and the day off and a whole lotta nothing to do.  My kids decided that we should go to Bulk Barn.  This is the place where I become dizzy and completely thrown off my cheapness.  My kids know that my math skills are crap, so if a bin says $13.55 a kg, I have no freakin' idea what that translates to for a scoop full of red dye & sugar.  I LOVE this place!  They love this place!  Let's go!  

So, my friend introduced me to Glories Sweet Potato Chips recently and I'm an addict.  You can only  buy them at a couple of places and Bulk Barn is one of them.  Score!  So many dollars later, we haul home our goodies and I can't wait to tie into my chips.  But, I really have a hankering for some kind of dip to go with said Glories.  I decided to throw a few things together and see what it tastes like.  I do this a lot, sometimes with nose-wrinkling results.  This, on the other hand, was delicious.  So I decided to put it in a pretty dish and take a pretty picture.  Then I ate all the pretty.

Betcha Can't Eat Just One!

This is enough for one (rather large) serving.  The Canada Food Guide would not approve, so maybe you could share.  Increase the ratios for a crowd...You're smart, you figure it out.


2  tblsp Mayonnaise (heaping)
1 tsp honey
juice from half a small lime
1 tsp Sweet Chili & Peppers Seasoning (I like Club House)
Cilantro to garnish.

You can also add a bit of lime zest and chopped cilantro to taste.  Would also be great with Sweet Potato fries. 

Let me know what you think.   Better than traditional Chips n Dip? 

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Small talk will be the death of me.

When it comes to small talk, there are two types of people.  The Runners (me) & the Non-Runners (my husband).  How do you know if you are a Runner?  Well, it's got to do with being in that awkward stage of knowing someone, but not really knowing them.  You know the feeling.  You're walking along the aisles of Wal-mart, looking for the Cheezies, when you see her....the Acquaintance.
Well if you could see inside my head at this very instant, you would see the monkeys having a very brief meeting, analysing the following:
  • Did she see me?
  • Exactly how much do we have in common?
  • Is there anything uncomfortable in our mutual knowledge of one another?  (ie, That last time we saw one another, did I promise to host a Candle Party?)
  • Is there time to get the hell out of Dodge?

This, folks, is the head space of a Runner.  Avoid, avoid, avoid.   It's simply awkward...I am a very practical person and I never have been able to get my head around the stupid things people say to one another when they haphazardly meet. (Damn, I got caught)... "Hi!!!!  Oh my God!!!!! Hi!!!! How are you?"  "Good!! How are you?"  Ok, we've established how we are...

At this point, the monkeys are informing me that they've got nothing else.  NOTHING!  So, without a second thought my fight or flight instincts cause me to begin speaking in a shrill, semi-shrieking voice.  This has somehow become Tracy's coping mechanism.  I panic when I can't think of anything more to say and that triggers, The Voice.  The Voice comes complete with wild hand gestures (I am French) and a rate of speech that somehow becomes dub-time.

"SO, YA...NO...JUST DOING SOME SHOPPING!  I JUST NEEDED A FEW THINGS SO I'M HERE DOING SOME SHOPPING, SO..., "  I bray, causing sidelong glances from nearby shoppers I have nearly taken out with my wayward arms.   This inevitably backfires on me in that it causes The Acquaintance to peer into my shopping cart, which is filled with such delights as Midol and maxi pads.   I suppose this is ok, because it distracts them from the fact that I am shouting at them for no good reason.  I go on to shriek some other dumb things they really don't need to know, and they try and reciprocate.  I'm sure they leave confused.  I go through the checkout mortified, wondering why I can't have a do-over.

I cannot understand why I am like this.  My husband, the Non-Runner, will be in Costco and wave down someone he met in a lineup at the car wash 25 years ago from clear across the store! All the while I am drilling my elbow into his ribs begging him not to make eye contact.  Too late...."Hey!!  Hahahaha!  How ya doin', man?"  Oh well, at least I can stand back, smile and nod and let him make the stupid small talk.

So, know this...if you see me out in the great public and I cut and run, I may not have seen you, but then again, I may just be saving you from an early trip to the Hearing Loss Clinic.  Be kind.  Running away may be the only exercise I get this week.

Thursday, 16 February 2012


Today was the dreaded day. Those who know me well understand that I have my share of deep-seated fears.  One of those fears is of "The Dentist".   Our generation were the products of Blakeney's Dental Program in Rural Schools.  Each fall, word would race through the whole school: "THE DENTAL NURSES ARE HERE!"  Every knock on the classroom door would be followed by a sharp intake of breath.  Who would be called?  Let me just say, these were dental assistants at best, doing what dentists should have been doing.  They did it slowly and badly and they were fond of lecturing and scolding.  The Devil's Daughters, I fondly labelled them. 

Anyway, up until now I have had a hate-hate relationship with dental work.  Avoidance was my plan of action.  It always worked until I needed to have something done.  Like today.

I've broken up with my fair share of dentists.  "Oh, it's not you, it's me...Okay, it's you and that pointy weapon of mass destruction you hold in your hand."  "Next appointment in 6 months?  Sorry, I have a funeral that day."  I decided I was going to try a lady dentist this time.  Typically my dentists have been men and some of them seemed to be more interested in drilling for dollars than easing my fears.  I made the appointment and assured them I was neurotic, so they should prepare themselves.  It doesn't help that I have a gag reflex tuned to high.  It's genetic...ask my siblings.

10:30 rolled around and I started to get that familiar rise in blood pressure.  Quick check, 400 over 300... not as bad as I thought.  I took a deep breath and walked in.  Perhaps the worst part of a dentist's office for me is the SMELL!!   Nothing says "COME ON IN, like the bewitching scent of magic marker mixed with embalming fluid!  

To my surprise, the place smelled like any regular office!  I thought, for a while, that I had walked into the optometrist next door by mistake. Until they said, "Tracy, Dr. Hack will be with you shortly".  (The needle screeches across the vinyl)  "Did you say Dr. Hack??  "Oh it's Dr. Haack, spelled with two 'A's, dear".  Like that was going to reassure me... "Oh!  Two 'A's!  Okay!! That helps me stop picturing her with a hatchet in her hand." 

To make a short story long, it was about the best experience I could ask for at the dentist.  They did not shine that stupid light directly into my eyes,they did not ask me a variety of banal questions whilst their fist was in my mouth, they did not suck up my uvula with that sucky thing...I feel rather blessed.  Dr. Haack, spelled with two 'A's was lovely, as was the hygienist.

I won't be lining up at the door in 6 months, but I will try to be a big girl and suck it up more often.  Getting older means I don't have as much energy for drama.  Maybe that's a good thing!


Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Valentimes Day

Remember when we were kids and there were always those people who pronounced it "Valentimes Day"?  You would spend hours punching out those perforated valentines out of books and the damn things would rip.  (So you would give the ripped ones to the kids you didn't like.)  Don't lie to me!  You ranked your valentines like everyone else! 

You'd go home and count your valentines and keep them in a dusty paper bag under your bed until your mom freaked out and cleaned up your room and threw them out??  Just me?  Ok....

So today, I got half a ziplock bag full of cinnamon hearts from one of my seniors at work. I put them in a bowl on my desk.  Seniors love candy. Especially peppermints.  When there are only a few left, maybe I'll have them analyzed to see if there are traces of urine on them....but that's for another day.

When my husband came home from work, he brought a bottle of wine.  He uncorked it, poured me a glass and said "Cheers!  Happy Anniversary."   Apparently there are too many days with cause to celebrate in the time span of one year.  He gets them mixed up.

All in all, love is a good thing.  I'm glad I have a family to love, nutty as we are.  I don't need a box of assorted chocolates.  I'll just lose the map and have to poke at them mercilessly to avoid biting into 'strawberry delight'.  Really.  It's better this way.