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!

Thursday, 29 March 2012

In the Company of Women

What a week!  I've been madly off in all directions. Today, I am excited because several of the females in my clan are gathering at my house for the weekend.  We are the Kuzyk/Charbonneau women.  From French and Ukrainian descent, our blood runs thick with wit and perogies.  We will eat and laugh with much enthusiasm.  What, you ask, could be better?  Well this, of course:
The men will Go Away. 

You see, it's the Annual Ice Fishing trip for the men in my family.  They are off to do what men do. They will fish, they will drink beer, they will scratch, they will exchange tales of how they drove various things at high rates of speed...eeeyawn.    

My husband insists that his forays into the wilderness to hunt and fish are for my own good.  He no longer calls it Hunting or Fishing though, preferring to sell the trips to me as,"Getting Food for the Family".  He is very passionate about calling it this, making us sound like some clan of lost suburbanites foraging the land in our Ford F150 simply to stay alive.

 From what I've observed, obtaining this "free" food involves first making a number of curious investments.  Investments in things such as whiskey and very expensive cheddar... The investments sometimes have little or no return. Sacrificed to the Fishing Gods, the whiskey and cheese are never seen again, and the fact that there are no fish in their place doesn't seem abnormal in any way.  Anyway, off they go, and this time I'm hoping for a whole lotta walleye upon their return. 

Getting back to the women, once again I'm in high gear trying to get the house ready.  I adore my women guests, but somehow prep is easier when men come over.  Men are not the least bit helpful, therefore they stay out of the kitchen.  They may utter something like, "where do I put the empties?"  You hand them a plastic bag for the weekend and there ya go.  They don't have to see the state of the cupboards and fridge.  With women guests, my system of Everything Behind a Closed Door, is not foolproof.  They will inevitably be their wonderful selves and offer to put something away. At that moment I will become fully aware of just how many toast crumbs are in my cutlery drawer.  They will open the freezer and 6 months worth of frozen over-ripe bananas will rain down upon their feet.  "Whoops! Sorry! That's going to leave a mark.  Why don't we apply a frozen banana in a ziploc bag to take down the swelling. Gotta use those damn things for something." 

Anyhoo, next year at this time I am happy to report that the women's gathering will be somewhere hot and all-inclusive.  The men can have their fish & beer & cheese.  We'll have maids and beach chair service.  Ra cha cha.

My April Fool, back from fishing and all ready for hunting season with his new Cutco hunting knife. 

Thursday, 22 March 2012

I Fold...

My girlfriend Lorie has recently made it her life's work to recruit me into what she calls a "fabulous" Pilates class.  This is the activity that I mistakenly pronounced "Pilots" for a good 6 months after finding it on a prominent  DVD display.  How embarrassing.  From my limited research, it would appear that the people who practice Pilates sit on a mat and attempt to fold themselves into various positions.  The problem with my body is that it resists folding, much like a map or a fitted sheet. The monkeys in my head are quick to remind me that this falls into the category of Exercise, which is unnervingly close to the category of Sports.  As mentioned, I hate Sports.  Actually, I am out to impress no one...I hate Exercise too. 

All 100 pounds of me look back on my years of required Phys Ed classes as a colossal waste of time. I could have been reading... Oh, it wasn't so bad in elementary school, especially when you laced up your brand new runners at the beginning of the year.  Put those puppies on and you felt like you could run for days...or seconds, in my case.  I have the endurance of an asthmatic gnat.

When we got older though, they started making us do the stupid things.  Do you remember that rope hanging from the ceiling of the gym?  Who's the genius who came up with this?  "I think we should dangle class after class of adolescents from this rope, secured to the 30 foot ceiling by a jewellery clasp."  At least that's how I saw it.... JesusGod, you want me to climb that??? 

"Look, it's sooo easy", Sporty Spice would proclaim, as she shimmied effortlessly to the top.  Whatever, Sporty, we can all see your Thursday underwear... Of course my willow sticks for arms could not even get me off the floor and I would require a "boost" from the Phys Ed teacher.  Exactly what I wanted.  "Don't worry, if you fall, you'll land on the 1-inch mat!  Careful not to overshoot!"   Don't even get me started on pole vaulting. 

Who were the adults in charge here?  Danger lurked at every confusing coloured line set into that gym floor. (What the hell were all those markings for anyway?)  I lived in constant fear of getting hit in the face with some sort of ball.  I would barely have the gym door open and a dodgeball would whiz by my head.  Thank God it was the 80s, and my perm and large eyeglasses offered me some measure of cranial protection.

Then there were the oxygen-depriving events known as Track & Field.  In Elementary school, you would certainly recognize me on "Fields Day" as we called it.  Coloured ribbons were distributed at the end of every event. Red ribbons were printed with a very large #1.  I was the one with a large green ribbon and several small green ribbons safety pinned to my windbreaker. As I see it, green signified an attempt.  Green ribbons were printed with something soothing like, "Thank You for Participating!!!"  It may as well have said "Green means you are hopeless and should stick to cheering!!!" or "Girl Guides meet on Wednesdays at 4, try that!!"  I spent a great deal of time buying popsicles and mixed candy at the concession. 

In high school, I fared no better. I attempted shot put only once.  I hefted with all my might and the large metal ball landed directly in front of me, nearly shattering my foot. The Phys Ed teacher opted not to allow me to throw the javelin and discus. It was at this point I was handed a clipboard and declared the Manager of Something or Another.  It would seem there were were no ribbons awarded for keeping excellent statistics, though. 

So, Lorie, after much thought, I am willing to attend the classes.  I will diligently take notes and create a spreadsheet, tracking your folding progress.  Glad we can do this together.  It will be Fabulous!

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Live Music Goes Underground

After much anticipation, Thursday had arrived!  Thursday was house concert day.  Our friends from the band, Oh My Darling were leaving Winnipeg to kick off their western tour with a Saskatoon show.  Soon, 50 people would gather at our house to hear these Old Timey beauties.

In my mind, I prepared endlessly.  I would make punch (punch! What a great name, no?)... I would bake homemade treats, I would prepare dips from scratch, using local ingredients and reveal how a house concert hostess could truly set the bar.  "Yes, please help yourself to what I call my 'Pulse Crop Dip'.  You may note a hint of wild chamomile.  Not an accident!  I gathered it myself from a nearby ditch and dried it for this very occasion!"

Reality saw me driving a shopping cart with undue care and attention down the aisles of Costco, erratically grabbing industrial-sized containers of Godknowswhat, made in Godknowswhere because let's face it,  I couldn't possibly have my Act Together for this shindig.  We still had to clean the Godforsaken basement!! The thought of cleaning the basement makes me want to fold myself in half and throw down a hissy, much like a toddler who does not want to take a nap.  Were it not for the help of my girlfriend, Lorie, we would have probably been vaccuuming around people as they were getting seated for the concert...'Scuze me...pardon me...watch your wine glass...'

I'm not sure why basements exist.  I hate them.  Why not go up in the air instead of under the ground when building a house?  Up in the air just seems to have more light and...air.  I suppose basements are good for a couple reasons.  They are a good place to store things, such as your teenagers, for example.  Studies have shown that teenagers, when stored properly, can emerge from the basement in their early 20s as fully formed humans.  They slowly become aware of their surroundings and begin to learn new skills, such as how to pick up a wet towel off the floor, and how to avoid licking the knife before putting it back in the peanut butter jar.

The basement is also a great place for those boxes I've labelled, "Can't Display It; Can't Throw it Away".  Do you have boxes of such delights?  My Ice Carnival 3rd Princess trophy, and my husband's IGA 1988 Beef Roundup plaque, for example.  Can't seem to part with those!  And of course I cannot throw out my album of wedding candids.  I can't bring myself to look at it either, as it is a grim and painful reminder of what I forced my poor, trusting bridesmaids to wear.  I'm convinced they now believe Hell is a place slipcovered in magenta taffeta. 

They say basements are also good places to hang out in the event of a tornado. That tells you something right there, correct?  Only in anticipation of an impending natural disaster should you descend into the basement.  Growing up, the basement was a dark, windowless place where the ghosts and monsters hung out.  It was the most scary-ass place I could think of.  I'd rather have taken a 3 a.m. stroll down Elm Street than go and get a jar of pickled beets from the cold room. In addition, basements are a place where people gather to watch televised sports.  I also hate sports, televised or otherwise, but that will be another story altogether.

Alas, I should be very grateful for our basement.  In our house, the basement is the place we can seat a ton of people and still have room for a live 4 piece band to blow us away, which is exactly what happened on Thursday night.  If you were there, you know what I'm talking about.  If you need information on supporting live music and hosting a house concert of your own, leave me a comment and I'd be glad to help.  If not, for Godsakes leave me a comment anyway!!  

   http://www.ohmydarling.ca/home    Rosalyn - Fiddle, Vanessa - Guitar, Marie-Josee - Bass, Allison - Banjo

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Way-Back Words

Some of you may have noticed my latest Facebook status.  I reported that I came in to work yesterday morning and one of the seniors informed me that I looked like a ragdoll and that I needed to visit the beauty parlour!   Thanks, man, always a pleasure... Later on, as I combed through my hair with a plastic fork (I could find nothing else suitable in my desk to remedy a ragdoll day), I practiced witty retorts in the mirror to this particularly biting comment. "Yes, maybe I should visit the BEAUTY PARLOUR, do I need more Final Net on my Permanent??" or "1951 called, it wants its description of a salon back!" Ha!!  Truthfully though, it was hard to be offended, so amused was I over the use of this great term, Beauty Parlour!  I love these old timey words!  People have told me that I am a bit old-fashioned at heart, and I would agree that I probably am. 

Everyone's a critic, though.  My daughter has several rules for me when it comes to the words I say.  If I go too far back, she rolls her eyes and groans, "Motherrrr, why are you talking like that? No one says words like 'gals' and 'fellows' anymore!"  What??? Gals and fellows are how I describe nice people.  On the other hand, in my failed attempts to be cool and keep up with the latest, I'll throw down a saying that has some legit street cred (she's gonna kill me for that one).  My husband will say something terribly obvious, and I'll reply, "Thanks, Tips!" or "What would we do without Captain Obvious here?"  At this, she buries her head in her arms on the table and emits a muffled, whining, "MU-UM!  You can't say that!!  That's what kids my age say!"  Ok, I've gone Too Far. Damned if you do...know what I'm saying?

Thinking back though, I was the same way.  My sister and I have fits of giggles at the words my parents and grandparents used.  I recall when I was practicing my driving, my Dad would be in the passenger's seat shouting, "Ease off the foot feed!!"  What the what???  "The foot feed!!"  This was his word for the accelerator.  I found this to be hilarious.  My mother was only slightly better, she called it the 'gas', but pronounced it the way most adults in my French Canadian town did, "You're Giving It Too Much GAZZ!"  Again, hilarious.  It's a wonder I learned to drive at all.

I would go over to my grandparent's house to sell tickets for some event or another, and my grandfather would call to my grandmother,"Aurore, get my purse!"  I did not actually have a  transvestite for a grandfather; the words 'purse' and 'wallet' were interchangeable in his generation.   Ticket book plastered to my mouth, I would try to suppress all manner of snorts and giggles. 
Other phrases heard about town by the previous generations included: 
  • If you don't clean your room, I'm going to haul it all to the nuisance grounds!
  • Oh, he's not well at all, dear. He's got the Sugar Diabetes.
  • I just have to shampoo my carpets and then all my spring cleaning will be done.
  • Your grandfather was never one to sit in the Beer Parlour (there were far more parlours back then).
  • Those crazy buggers were doing power turns on main street all night long. (just Leoville?) 
  • I've booked the tickets on my Mastercharge.
 Oh my stars, I could indeed go on... perhaps I'll start a trend.  Some of these phrases are so priceless, I think it's just a waste not to use them.  I've saved my all-time favourite for last. You ready?....It is "Full of Piss & Vinegar."  Isn't that hysterical?  I love it!  Apparently piss, when properly combined with vinegar, can produce much the same effect as a Redbull. Who knew?

Friday, 9 March 2012

The Attention Deficit Housekeeper


Wednesday is my day off.  I love me a Wednesday like seniors love a free McCain pie.  This past fall, I decided Senioritaville only needed me for four days a week.  As you can imagine, this change in schedule sent some of the seniors into what's commonly known as a tizzy.  "Oh Stacy, I came downstairs yesterday but your door was closed.  Do you know, did the mail come?"  Um...I'm not sure, due to the fact that I was not here.  If only there was some sort of key you could use to open your mailbox and check... "Well, it's just that some got their KFC coupons yesterday and some didn't, dear, so I was just wondering." 

I was becoming a bit crusty. It was clear I needed to spend some time apart from the seniors.  I found myself saying things like, "Oh, that young fellow sure has a lot of gumption!"  and " My goodness Jordana, your slacks need a good pressing."  This began to frighten me.

So, dear, dear Wednesday it was...  One day a week would be Plenty of Time. I would concentrate on a couple more contracts. I would play more music.  I would bake things!  But first...I would clean the house.  You see, I hate housework. I hate it. Unfortunately, I like a clean house and I can do NO OTHER THING until the things around me appear tidy or at least are behind a closed door.  Do you see the conundrum here? 

Now don't even suggest I hire someone, I'm far too cheap for that.  Besides, I've tried it before.  Do you know how much time it takes to clean your house before the cleaning lady arrives?  The conversation is always basically the same. "Oh, do you really want to start in the kid's bathroom, Molly??" I would shout, as I barricaded the doorway with my body.  "Why don't you just sit down for a while; start with a coffee!!"  (This is called a Stall Tactic.  It gave me time to go flush the toilet and scrape the gobs of dried toothpaste off the faucets.)  I quit for good when one of the Mollys used a stinky mop to wash the floor.  Welcome Home! Your house smells like a wet mutt...

Normally, I can multi-task with the best of them.  Like any mother, I can make lunches, sign a permission slip, Febreeze smelly gym shoes and build a castle out of sugar cubes all at the same time.  When I try to do this with housework, however, I become Completely Overwhelmed. The sheer number of things I have to tackle swallows up my Wednesday and I end weeping on the laundry room floor trying to understand where the socks went.   The Housekeeping ADD usually begins in the kitchen when I start to put away the breakfast mess:

- Open fridge to put milk away. Observe what time and science does to leftovers.  Gotta clean fridge.  Take everything out of fridge.  This is gonna take a while.  Better get a load of laundry going while I do this.

- Go to laundry room, throw in a load.  Take clothes out of dryer, dump them onto my bed, start to fold. Gawd this is boring. Ooh!  I should make buns!  I better get them started right now if they are going to done before the kids get home.  Mother. Of. The.Year. 

- Go to kitchen...um...ya....put everything back in fridge as there will be no counter space to make buns.  The kids can clean the damn fridge.   Look for bun recipe.  Can't open recipe book, as pages have become hopelessly glued together with dried cake batter.  Screw the buns. 

- Go back to bedroom.  What a mess.  Put all unfolded clothes back in laundry basket.  There, that looks tidier. 

- On to kid's bathroom.  Notice that there are various assorted items on vanity that do not belong.  Retrieve a cheerio, a sock, a AA battery and a soggy Tylenol.   Why are these things in the bathroom?  Of course I can't throw this perfectly good battery without it being tested. 

- Go to junk drawer to get the battery tester....Big. Mistake.  Never open the junk drawer on your day off....

Eventually though, after much needless wandering from room to room, everything that needs to be done gets done.  sometimes... sort of... never...  Maybe Molly has a opening next Wednesday.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Did I shave my legs for this?

On Friday I had to leave my comfort zone.  We were just hanging out, preparing to celebrate the boy's13th birthday and deciding which restaurant he might enjoy most.  It was then that it happened...The Spontaneous Idea.  "Why not, " my spontaneous husband said, "go to the mineral spa in Moose Jaw tomorrow? We have no plans for the weekend."  What??  Wait, wait, wait justacottonpickinminute!   We cannot just up and go to Moose Jaw.  That constitutes an Out of Town Trip. That would be irresponsible and irrational.  I had no Advanced Notice.  A quick look at my daytimer told me that tomorrow was the NEXT DAY.  Not nearly enough time for me to make friends with this Spontaneous Idea.  These are the kinds of things that send Planners, such as myself, careening toward the Saran Wrap drawer in a frenzied search for a paper bag to breathe into. (p.s. you can't really find good paper bags anymore and plastic is not a reasonable substitute)

You see, any number of things can go wrong when you don't plan for something. People who don't plan end up paying $3 for a bottle of water, for example. You have to set aside enough time before the event to worry about the things that can go wrong.  If you don't put in enough worry time, you can be held responsible for all these dreaded things that are sure to happen.   If you've already worried about them, you can sigh a knowing sigh and say, I was worried that would happen....then you're covered.  It's kind of like insurance. 

Well, I took a deep breath and thought, ok... I can be Spontaneous Sally. A soak in the mineral spa would be a great way to spend the weekend.  After all, this qualified as a Leg Shaving Event, so it was all rather exciting.  --Growing up in remote, northern (to some) Saskatchewan, you didn't get many Leg Shaving Events in the winter.  We didn't find there was much point to pulling out our Daisies for just anything.--  Seriously though, for those getting a bad visual, I do try to keep up the leg shaving maintenance in the winter, on account of that time I was trying on a dress in a change room and it got stuck over my head.  Mortification set in when I realized I was probably going to have to call in the 17 year old sales clerk to help me remove it, revealing my hairy legs and my laundry day underwear.  She would certainly take a photo on her smart phone and text it to all of her friends!  Gah!  Thankfully, tugging and spinning around in a hundred circles seemed to work, and I managed to extricate myself from the offending item on my own. Bullet dodged, but...I would learn that shopping for dresses is also a Leg Shaving Event. 

What? Where am I?  Oh, okay.  After Sergeant Major Mom finished barking her packing orders, off we went. Good for us! This would be A Lot Of Fun.  In the very brief amount of worry time I was allowed, I worried about everyone packing a bathing suit.  Darn it, this would not be like the time when the kids were little, and in a sleep-deprived haze, I packed all 4 bags for a weekend at the waterslides.  I recall arriving at the hotel, getting the kids changed and voila! pulling my bathing suit top and a (sort of) matching pair of underwear out of my suitcase.  Fail.

No siree, two bathing suits per family member packed and accounted for.  The weather was great, as were the onion rings from the Dub in Davidson.  We arrived early, got an early check in (score!), and things went very well.  All in all, it was a fun trip with a lot of laughs.  We ate great junk, we soaked, we shopped, we had dinner at Nit's Thai Food (I'm not even kidding). We made it home safe and sound.  On Sunday morning, I lamented that I hadn't had time to at least bake some muffins for a quick breakfast snack in the room. My husband told me that if he hadn't taken control of the situation, we would still be at home waiting for me to finish baking muffins and photocopying the kid's passports (just in case).

Turns out, what I should have been worried about was what I would see at the mineral pool.  Apparently the man-boobed, middle-aged men did not realize....this trip qualified as a Back Shaving Event.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Pinterest and Facebook and Twitter, Oh My!

I sure have 'met' a lot of new friends lately!  I have to admit, I'm loving it. I hear people clucking all the time about the loss of our ability to socialize face to face.  They lament about their teenagers who always have their faces buried in some electronic device and never talk to their grandparents anymore.  For the love of God, as if they ever did!  Teenagers are anti-social creatures who dwell in your basement. Unless you live in the mall, look like the cast of Twilight or drape yourself in snack foods, they don't want to come near you. It's a fact, they pass through it, don't take it personally.  More on teenagers later....

Back to social media, I'm a bit torn.  On the one hand, I entirely agree that people of all ages say things in message form that they would never dream of saying face to face.  And do they truly mean the things they say?  (LOVE YOU SO MUCH BABY GIRL!!!) *barfy emoticon* Really, do you really love her?  You met outside a fitting room at The Gap and became Facebook friends...

Perhaps social skills are on the wane.  I mean, you don't ever want to lose that ability to converse in human form. For example, you might need to ask someone for their awesome cheeseball recipe at a potluck. (I can only think of examples that involve food. Really, why else would you actually leave your house and try to relate to someone else?)  And you need to teach your kids how to conduct themselves in the big bad real world. A text to your boss saying, 'Srry Im L8' just won't cut it.

However, being the socially awkward and highly annoyable person I am, email and social media work wonders in my life.  They allow me to relate to people while avoiding them all at the same time!   I'm sure it's just my questionable personality, but having a face-to-face conversation with certain people is like having a root canal...and a bikini wax....at the same time.
Oh don't look so smug....you all know the people you'd like to avoid.  Can't think of any?  Let me share my list with you:

Nancy Namesayer - Yes, we can thank the abundance of "How to Network" books for the people who believe they have to use your name 12 times in a sentence.  "Well, you see Tracy, our industry is just the best place to be because, Tracy, you know we're just going great guns right now!! Tracy, I think you'd really enjoy what we have to offer."  Thank God you came along, Nancy, because for a minute there I actually forgot who the hell I was, Nancy.  

ADD Andrew - Andy can't be bothered to wait for your answer, he asks you a question then answers it for you. "You want a coffee? Oh, no you probably just had a coffee, I guess we all have to stop drinking so much coffee. Is it snowing out?? I have new shoes!!!!"   He is also guilty of asking a question then taking off, leaving you answering your own sweet self. Yoohoo! Andy??

TMI Tammy - We get waaay more information than we need from Tammy.  "Well you know dear, ever since the surgery, I just haven't been as regular as I want to be. You knew I have the diverticulitis, eh?  I can't have peanuts or anything like that. My bowel just can't handle it."  Woah...that's quite enough, Tammy!

Halitosis Harold - Self explanatory. The equivalent of talking to a dog in great need of a minty Milkbone. It's really too bad that it's socially unacceptable to plug your nose while conversing with someone.  A tictac wouldn't kill ya, Harry...

Personal Space Polly - A close relative of Halitosis Harold, Polly is not aware of the physical boundaries that should separate the two of you. (my requirements for personal space are ambitious).  You take a step backward; Polly takes a step forward.  Soon, you are backed against the wall with your eye on the emergency exit.  Back away Polly, 'fore I bust out the ninja moves.

Recognize any of these characters?   If not, I bet they are coming soon to a conversation near you!

Believe it or not, I actually love socializing with family and good friends (as long as there's food).  Recently our group of friends has been getting together for no real reason, just celebrating life.  No keyboard, monitor or social media platform can take the place of hanging out and laughing your fool heads off.  #tweetshmeet...no contest!
Awkward Penguin....Apparently it's all the rage