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!

Sunday, 29 April 2012

It's a Spring Thing

Winter on the Canadian Prairies is like a bad houseguest who says he is leaving in April, but decides to use your place as a bed & breakfast for "a couple more days".  You think he's gone, so you wash the sheets and re-claim the spare bedroom, but then you come home from work one day, and he's laying shirtless on your couch, eating Nutella straight from the jar.

I was not blessed with the best memory, but I swear that spring was different when I was a kid.  Suddenly, it was warm and it stayed warm! As I recall it, one day the sun came out, the arena closed, all the snow melted, and it smelled like spring.  That smell meant it was time for two things:  Your rubber boots and your bike.

When we were kids, rubber boots were rubber boots.  They were all the same.  No pretty pink hearts or checkered prints with buckles, no...they were black with a strange peachy/orange coloured trim.  All of them.  If you had green ones, you were either pushing the envelope or you were a foreigner.  Everyone took a black marker, and wrote their name in their standard issue black rubber boots.  Sometimes your cousin’s name was already in the boots, so you had to cross it out and write your own name.  You then wore them to school and put them on the shelf in the Boot Room.  The Boot Room had a terribly unpleasant aroma because all the kids had gone out the night before and gotten a “bootful” and this, coupled with the fact that every kid had the exact same pair of boots, should have been considered permission for teachers to carry a hip flask.

Rubber boots were tested in the first mud puddles of the season. That's right, tested. Why? Rubber boots ended up with holes in them.  How did that happen?  I have no idea...I can't think of a more industrial grade material than rubber boots, but you knew as soon as you stepped into that puddle and felt the cold water seep into your sock, you knew. You knew that tomorrow your mom would make you go to school with the dreaded BREAD BAGS lining your boots. Shameful. 

Bikes were also standard issue.  Oh sure, the odd banana bike or 10 speed would make an appearance in our town, but any old bike represented freedom to us. When my daughter was about 11, we went to a fancy bike store just because it was nearby.  The guy asked us what we wanted in terms of gears, and tire width, etc.  What?  My bike at that age had pedals and handle bars.  What it did not have was a chain guard, consequently almost ruining my best pair of  fortrel bell bottoms when they became hopelessly stuck in the chain.  Did I complain?  No.  My mother simply gave me a rubber sealer ring to tame the flaring fabric and off I went.  Kids have not had to worry about their pants getting  caught in a bike chain for 25 years now.  Instead they are so confused by what gear to select that they park their bike in the garage, and return to the basement to play video games.

Even the biking accidents weren't so bad in hindsight.  Most weren't terribly memorable, but one fine spring evening, I was riding my bike on the sidewalk across from my house.  Back in the day, some people fenced their front yards, as was the case with our neighbour, who had a LUNATIC for a dog.  So I'm riding along the fence, minding my own beeswax when Flash appears out of nowhere barking his evil face off and matching my pace from behind the fence.  I go all wobbly, my handlebar with the cool plastic streamer gets caught between two of the pickets and I am launched unceremoniously, ass over teakettle, into the ditch.  Thank goodness for the Avon lady, who was driving by.  She stopped and picked me up and helped me limp over to my mother, who helped me retrieve several pebbles out of my knee.  They tell me I was one of the lucky ones, as I was not even wearing a BIKE HELMET!!

So enough of this gloomy windy rain already. I am ready for sunny spring evenings.  Who's up for a game of Anti-I-Over??  If you know what that means, leave me a comment! 

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Premier Mom

I'm a Saskatchewan girl, but I've been following the race between the two female-led political parties in Alberta with much interest.  Okay, so not that much interest, it's politics after all.  Not since Ralph Klein's boozy hijinks have I really given a hoot, but this caught my attention.  See, I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with that province. They've always been kind of like our snooty next door neighbour who invites us over once in a while to use the hot tub.  They're all, "OOOh, we have a great big mall and Banff and a giant Easter egg and stuff..." Yeah, okay...

I'm forced to make nice with Alberta, though, because most of my family is there.  Yes, it managed to vacuum out half of my siblings in the 80s when there were no jobs to be had here in Saskatchewan.  Not true anymore, is it? HA!  Stick that in your giant Fantasy Land roller coaster!  Plus we had Corner Gas so...winner, winner chicken dinner, that's what I say.

Anyway, no matter the outcome, the victim lucky winner charged to lead Alberta to utopia will be a woman, and the official opposition will also be a woman, so let's hear it for the girls!  Of course when I hear this, my mind has to wander to the challenges women must face in what is traditionally a man's world.   Immediately, I consider the consequences of an ill-fitting bra or a particularly restricting pair of nylons on one's level of concentration.

So these women must either really have their act together, or they have People, don't you think?  Curious how they can go on those long, dreadful bus rides and yet appear perfectly groomed before the cameras.  I can barely manage to be in charge of one house and family, I cannot imagine having to deal with being in charge of Alberta as well.  Talk about stress...my slogan would be 'Alberta...Just One More Thing That Needs My Attention'.   If I suddenly woke up and found myself Premier, I probably wouldn't last a day because I'd approach it far too much like a Mom.

First of all, waking up would be a problem.  I would think the Premier would have to wake up extra early and read boring things I imagine to be called Statutes and Resolutions...what a drag.  No longer would I remain in my housecoat until the very last minute slugging coffee, and reading the obituaries while I bark out lunch-making orders to the kids:  "Bread and Miracle Whip is not actually a sandwich!" or "For God's sake have a vegetable in your life!" No sir, I would be careening around the house, digging through the laundry baskets looking for something to wear. "I have to be at the Legislature in an hour! Who has seen the stiff & scratchy suit jacket they made me buy?"

I am certain my advisors, in a frustrated huff, would eventually give up on me.
"Madame Premier, there is an angry mob of environmental activists outside, challenging your decision about the oil sands."
"What? Ok, um...just give them a snack...Who doesn't love a snack??  Run out and grab some Tang and Timbits; economical yet patriotic, what more can you ask of me?" 
"But Madame Premier, there is one particularly irate person who is refusing to calm down unless you agree to meet with him."
"Hmmm...okay fine, let him in, but tell him to try going to the bathroom first. That's probably what his real problem is.  A lot can be solved with a trip to the bathroom."

My first act as Premier would be to pass legislation for all teenage boys to pull their pants up.

Ms. Redford, Ms. Smith, I wish you luck.  I have a feeling that scratchy suits and binding nylons may be the least of your challenges...

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Take Me Dancin'

We just came off of a whirlwind weekend of dance. (Not me...although I do like a good two-step...but we'll save that for another entry).  My three nieces were in a dance competition here in Saskatoon.  They live out of town, so they were our guests for the three day event.  It's quite a big to-do, and very entertaining to watch.  I've always found choreographed dance to be rather mystifying.  To me, it would seem dance is all about running to one spot on the stage and doing a Twirly Trick.  Then running to another spot and doing a Jumping Thing.  How do they pick which spots and which tricks??  I know nothing about this and it all seems more complicated than trying to assemble furniture from Ikea.

If I didn't have the girls and their family staying with me, I might think it's no big deal. Put your kid in a tutu, give her a gentle shove onto the stage and Bob's your Uncle. Nope. This is highly involved. There is ballet, jazz, tap, musical theatre, and hip hop to contend with.  The kids are changed into one sparkly outfit after another, hair is coaxed into all sorts of crazy styles, and fake eyelashes are applied.  Their mother can do all of this while she is sewing the last dress.  This would explain why I am not a dance Mom....

 My daughter was in dance when she was little, but we haven't been involved for years and years.  She didn't like "all that boring stretching" before ballet, so dance gave way to stretch-free activities like art and drama when we moved back to Saskatoon.  This suited me just fine because all the commotion this weekend reminded me of how I did not and would not excel as a dance parent.  I would be declared 'Jordana's Mom, the Hopeless and Miserable One'.

First of all, I can't sew a thing.  I'm sure I was voted Most Likely to Tangle a Bobbin by my Grade 9 Home Ec teacher. I held everyone else back, being completely bewildered by having to use a pattern.  Why did they call it a pattern anyway??  That would imply that there was something to follow!  No Man's Land is more accurate... I finally did manage to produce a pink seersucker jumpsuit that year, but only by the grace of God.  If I recall correctly, the zipper cut across my torso at a very strange angle...Good thing it was 1986 and everyone assumed it was designed that way.

I think I come by my hatred for sewing quite honestly.  My poor mother had to sew figure skating dresses for my sister and I every year.  I think she turned to cigarettes for comfort.  I don't blame her... I once bedazzled one of those dresses with sequins using Speed Sew instead of a sensible needle & thread.  For those of you whose father did not own a hardware store, Speed Sew is a tube of glue. Clever on the marketing, those folks.  As you can imagine, this did not work very well -- the sequins fell off and I had a bodice adorned with crusty yellow lines...

And then the dance hair...my Lord the hair... I remember the first recital my daughter was in. "Ok ladies, we need to have a short meeting about hair!"  Oh no, hair requires a separate meeting???  I could feel my blood pressure begin to rise. "For the first dance, we'll need tight ringlets; fairly fat. And then for the second number, just a loose bun."  All the Other Women were nodding in agreement while I went into full-out panic mode... "WHAT??  What does that even mean????  I'm not qualified to do that, she won't even let me brush her hair!"  It was not a fun time in the Lalonde household, but we all melted when she put on her duck costume, hit the stage and bossed all the other tap dancers into position.  So cute they are...I was much better at the makeup part, although putting full out on-the-town makeup on a 5 year old is just plain weird.  Sorry.

However...if you are a zombie from the Shellbrook Zombie Prom...the following makeup would be entirely appropriate!  Thanks for a great weekend girls, you are gifted...dance on.

Jill - All ready for the Zombie Prom

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Easter Then & Now

I just finished the strange Easter ritual of hiding things throughout the house for my children to find.  Despite my cynicism, I'm excited and happy that I still have kids at home to celebrate with, even if they are now Teenagers.  Frankly, I'm relieved the days are over where I have to pretend there is such thing as a globe trotting magical rabbit that deposits all manner of things chocolate while my children sleep.

My Easter treats are often fairly non-traditional anyway.  I'm one of those mean moms who doesn't give in to my kids requests for Fruit Loops and Pop Tarts throughout the year. So instead of gigantic chocolate eggs with three Smarties inside them, my kids get 'fun' grocery items in their Easter baskets.  Yes, at Easter I have a temporary change of heart, and carefully select an assortment of processed foods just for them. I will admit, it's difficult to hide a family sized box of Corn Pops when you are travelling to Grandma & Grandpa's for Easter weekend.  As well, I had a good laugh to myself as I noted the grocery store cashier's reaction when she rang the three items I laid on the counter: a very expensive prime rib roast (Easter dinner) and two cans of Sponge Bob spagetti-os ('fun' grocery items).

Warning: This is the part where I begin to gripe about 'kids these days' and talk about the olden days.

Really, though, there isn't one darn thing I can think of that would be exciting to kids nowadays. One candy filled holiday blends into the next, so really, the only surprise is the dental bills.  They've had it all.  During a recent holiday discussion, someone told me that one of the children in their extended family was receiving a large, expensive dollhouse for Easter.  Wha??  Does anyone else find this disturbing?  I think the Easter Bunny is going to have to start delivering iphones and Mustangs to make any sort of impact. 

When we were kids, treats, were just that, TREATS!  Candy really didn't exist in our house when I was growing up except for a few times a year.  "You want something sweet? Here's some raisins... Stay out of the chocolate chips!  They're for baking!"  Remember that first big surprise when a knowing sibling tricked you into biting into a nasty unsweetened Baker's Chocolate square?  We were desperate! Even the chocolate Ex-lax in grandma's bathroom cabinet would start to beckon after a lengthy period of candy deficiency... (Weirdest Product Ever Award!)

Treats certainly have changed over the years. I remember when we would get one chocolate Easter bunny...Hollow...Always hidden in the same place...The china cabinet.  Sometimes it was a waxy chocolate substitute that tasted a lot like the box. (I don't know where the Lindt people were back in the 70s but they sure weren't selling their premium chocolate in rural Saskatchewan). One year stands out in my mind. My Mom must have kicked out all the stops and shopped at the PA Woolco because I got one of those chocolate eggs that had my name written on it in shaky white icing. I nearly turned myself inside out with excitement.  It was all we needed! Sometimes there would be extra treats from other family members like those big, brightly colored egg shaped candies that no one would touch...They resembled enormous gag-inducing jelly beans.  Mmmm... I leave you with a photo of them. Hopefully, it will help you recall your own Easter memories.  Right now, I'm off to steal a Pop Tart!  Happy Easter!