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!

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

A word in Spanish

Previously, I wrote about my Spanish classes and how badly I wanted to learn to speak and understand.  Well, as of Monday, I will have two of eight levels of Spanish classes under my belt. Aplauso, aplauso for me!  Onto Level 3 in the fall.  I can now go to a Spanish speaking country and know how to ask for more than a beer and the bathroom.  I also have learned the difference between "I love you" and "What is your name?"  Very important, as it turns out. 

Senora tells us that she doesn't want to 'escare' us, but Level 3 and onward becomes much harder.  We learn many more verbs and do much more 'espeaking'.  She has now learned my name (probably associates it with the smell of fried onions) so I like to keep my head down so I'm not called on.  Often, she'll think she has asked each member of the class a particular question, but then she'll say, "OK, who I no asked yet?  Ah....Traaaaaacy."

We are encouraged to watch a series called, Destinos, which will help us absorb conversational Spanish.  Destinos is a soap opera set in the '80s and I am very distracted by the wardrobe, therefore not much Spanish is getting through.  Ramon's high-waisted jeans are far too tight and Raquel's shoulder pads make her look like a linebacker with too much blush.  I keep expecting Erica Caine to waltz on set and declare her undying love for Victor Newman. No me gusta.

My family and I really love Cuba.  We've been there several times, but to go for a short time and on the cheap like we do, you really only see the resort areas.  We are sick and tired of the beer-swilling fellow tourists who see this beautiful country as a place to get hammered, or worse.  We want to travel inland, away from the English speaking tourist areas, but in order to do that I need to feel comfortable communicating.

As it stands after completing level 2, I can do little more than play Bingo and have a bizarre conversation about one's personal hygiene and daily routine. I'm going to have to trust that the University folks know what they're doing.  I know I'm getting a base for vocabulary but I really have to question why we're learning some of the things in the order we are learning them!  It makes me think back to the many years of French classes I took in elementary and high school.  After all the nous avons and vous avezes, I have little in my French repertoire other than "Pass the Cornflakes" and "Guy is going to the discotheque".  I can also remember how to ask "Where is the library?" and  "There is a lovely tree in the yard" but in a situation where you're partying it up with some French folks, it just doesn't fit to slip that into the conversation.

The more I learn, the more I am tempted to keep my mouth shut!  According to my progress so far, I think the trip is going to have to wait a year or two. Still, if I were more confident and less self conscious, I would just out and out practice the things I know.  Sense be damned!  I should close my eyes and imagine myself rolling into a dusty Cuban town.  The townsfolk would eye us with curiosity... I would certainly impress them with the material from my two Spanish classes:

     Good Afternoon, My name is Tracy. What is your name?
     Ah, pleased to meet you!  What time do you shower in the morning?
     Can I erase the chalkboard now?
     Julio Iglasias is a Spanish singer.

Further conversation would reveal more impressive facts from me:

     The pencil is on the table.
     The cat is named Bonita.
     Carlos is a firefighter.

And my piece de resistance-o:  Where can I find a Bingo game?


Friday, 25 May 2012

A Yard of Differences

It's cold but at least the sun is finally out!  The torrential rain has seemed to die down for the time being leaving freezing temperatures in its stead.  The people in charge of the weather predicted this.  Why are they only right when it's going to be crappy out?  What the people in charge of the weather fail to realize is that we have a yard to finish.  This weather has put the contractor's schedule, which was dubious to begin with, out for 'several more days', leaving us with nothing to do in the meantime but wait out the rain and have rousing 'discussions' about the yard.  We sort of took last spring off, saying we would tackle everything in the fall.  Well, we failed to plan for a Foot Smashing Event that would take our esteemed yard man (Norm) out of commission for most of the fall.  Needless to say, we've got work to do. 

A couple nights watching TV guilt free was actually pretty good.  See, when the weather is terrible in Saskatchewan, it means that you have a really good excuse to lay on the couch and watch TV without the constant reminders of your neighbours working on their yards and 'enjoying the outdoors'.  When you only get so many temperate days, you are not allowed to waste them watching TV.  You must do outdoor things like bicycle, jog, and plant things.  Even if you don't enjoy these things, you must look like you do.  It is our way:  Look at me!  I'm very smug as I remain outside taking advantage of every drop of daylight.  The temperature has climbed to above freeze-your-ass-off below and I'm not laying on the couch! I'm crazy tired from work, but I must jog with the dog's leash in one hand, and a bag of dog poop in the other for it is Summer!

No offense, I love dogs.  I just had a memory of a couple springs ago in my old neighbourhood. A lady on my block called out to me from the alley where she was walking her dog.  She pointed out that there was graffiti on my fence and launched into a very long tale about what the City does if you don't take care of the graffiti on your property.  This was all well and good, except that she was holding a reeking bag of dog crap while reciting Section 8175 of the City's bylaws.  In addition, it did not appear to cross her mind that it might be offensive to hold someone hostage in this manner.  

Anyhoo, as I said, a little break from the yard work was good, but really, we need to get this underway.  It's not so much the yard work but the yard planning.  It's my husband who has the eye for landscaping and all that tedious stuff.  If it was up to me, the yard would have a fence, a rectangle of grass and a rectangle of garden.  I think in rectangles.  It worked for my parents and it works for me.  In my yard, there would be no gnomes, for gnomes are just creepy and I hate them. If you are gonna have a gnome, you may as well go all the way to Weirdsville and plant some flowers in two old toilets flanking your driveway.  My husband does not think in rectangles.  He thinks in pergolas, and swales and crooked knotty pines with 'character'.  He asks me what I want.  I say vegetables and fruit trees (preferably planted in a rectangular manner).  He insists we have Decorative Features.  You can't eat no Decorative Features, that's what I say. Ever make knotty pine pickles?  Um no. I rest my case.

I'm supposed to go out into the yard and 'envision' it.  Should we use 2x6's or 2x8's?  Should we go 18 inches or 24?  I DON'T FREAKIN' KNOW?! I'm one of those hopeless people who can't turn dirt and air into a 'vision'!  Can't we just order Chia Yard from K-Tel?  With frequent watering, we can have a green yard in two to three days! All I know is that it will take 15 years for the yard to mature, so let's get some trees in the ground! 

My husband's plan for the yard might look something like this:

My plan for the yard might look something like this:

Have a great weekend and grow some vegetables!!

Later on in Lalonde Land: Progress!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Mother's Day??

All right.  I'm finally starting to be able to laugh about it.  It took a few days for my disillusionment to turn to humour. You see, Mother's Day for me was not exactly what I expected.

It began at midnight.  The very minute Mother's Day started.  We were out of town at a wedding and were staying in a hotel room.  This is never a good thing for the Lalondes.  If the room doesn't have a sofa, we are in trouble.  This one didn't.  I slept with my daughter, Norm slept with the boy.  Be darned if I wasn't reminded about every 15 minutes what it was like to be pregnant with her because that was the frequency with which she kicked me.  All night.  Then there was SNorman on the other side of me breathing in the curtains, which eventually woke up both kids.  This stopped my daughter's incessant kicking, but it was quickly replaced with violent tossing and turning, and very loud sighing, along with a pillow whizzing past my face.  The boy eventually moved to the floor, then the bathtub when he could take it no more.  Believe me when I say Never. Again.

Once we all woke up for the day and got our arguing done about the previous night's events, we enjoyed a sunny few hours at the gift opening.  It was great!  We arrived back home in the late afternoon, and picked up some beautiful steaks for a barbecue.  I sat on the deck and had a cappuccino in the sun. I could see all my neighbours' beautiful Mother's Day planters and hanging baskets displayed proudly in their front yards.  Ahhhh, a day for us Moms.  This was good, steaks went down on the bbq, it was smelling great and best of all,  I would do absolutely nothing for the rest of the day!  This was the point when the planetary alignment shifted ever so slightly and things started to go to "Hell in a Handbasket" as it were.

I was called inside and presented with a beautiful handmade card by my daughter.  (Reminded that it was Mother's Day, she had fled downstairs as soon as we got home and threw some sentiments down.)  Nonetheless, it was lovely. My husband was standing there with a shit-eating grin, holding a large gift bag that still had a tag on it that said, "Merry Christmas to Dad from Jordana."  OK, welcome to gift giving in the Lalonde family... whatever.  It obviously wasn't a beautiful hanging basket but I bet I knew what a bag that size held!!  I've been asking for a new fruit bowl.  I bet those kids of mine went to Pier One or a great pottery shop and picked me out something beautiful!

Well as it turns out, the bag did not in fact contain a new fruit bowl but a pair of real tree camouflage pyjamas from Cabella's (his new favourite store ever) and a bottle of scotch (I don't really drink, and I detest the smell of scotch).  Silence ensued. Blink. Blink.  I could think of not one thing to say.  I recovered and laughed at the joke. Ha! Ha!  Mother has a sense of humour! It was then that I realized it was not a joke, or at least the camo was not a joke. I became remarkably confused.

"It will be perfect for camping!", he says. Seriously? The man has known me for 22 years.  I thought I made it clear somewhere in those 22 years that I would rather wear an outfit that Richard Simmons made popular in the '80s, than wear real tree camo.  My children were equally as confused, as they had no real clue that it was Mother's Day and had let Dad take care of it.  During my husband's repeated attempts to get me to "just try them on" no one noticed the flames leaping out from the barbecue in the back yard until the boy mentioned that 'something might be burning'.

Father runs out the back door and prevents the house from burning down, but not before the intense heat cracks one of the basement windows.  We sat down to the charred remains of our meal and attempted to assess what had just happened.   Words like, 'good intentions', and 'gifts are not important' were bandied about.  The word Karma was brought up. The importance of really listening to one's partner was also discussed.

In hindsight, I'm still a bit confused but it's funny!  It's worthy of a share.  We do get caught up in the silliness of these special occasions, but one thing drives the point straight home.  We just want our kids to be ok.  If they are not, there is not a store in the world that contains a gift to ease that anxiety.  If your children are healthy and happy, every day is Mother's Day. 

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Life of the Party

I recently returned from a great relaxing weekend up north.  I am on the board of directors for a music festival and we retreat up to our festival grounds, a great place in northern Saskatchewan called Ness Creek.  I get a huge kick out of some of the American bands who come up to our festival and call it The Woods.  "Y'all spend much time up here in The Woods?"  As if they are expecting a real live lumberjack to come ambling out of the bushes at any given moment.  One of them asked if we had a pistol he could carry in case he encountered a bear down at the creek.  "Umm...ya, check your welcoming package...one pistol per musician." 

Anyway, we were invited to go into town to support the local minor sports association, who were holding a Ladies Night.  Yikes. This qualified as a Social Event, which was sure to be full of Acquaintances.  If you are unaware of my social awkwardness, you should read this post first. We did go, but only stayed for the dinner, which was great.  The ladies came out in great numbers to show their support.

My experience with Ladies Nights are varied, but mostly bad.  High heels, high voices and high blood alcohol levels.

I'm kind of a different cat.  When people say, "Let's Party!", I hear "Let's go spend the evening in a dark, noisy room sitting on hard plastic chairs and shouting at one another in order to be heard above the driving music."  Killjoy much? 

I have too many strikes against me when it comes to partying:

Strike One:  I'm not much of a drinker.  I still have vivid memories of my college days, holding my head and muttering, "LordhelpmeJesus" over and over again. I also have no patience for drunks.  Their breath is intolerable and they are spitty talkers.

Strike Two:  I hail from a family of klutzes, so tottering away from the buffet table in a pair of high heels, full plate in hand, is difficult enough.  Being dizzy with drink would just create conditions ripe for a shit show, I'm afraid.

Strike Three:  I am a terribly self-conscious dancer and while all the Other Women have no problem shaking their booty, I feel completely ridiculous on the dance floor.  I fear people will judge my bizarre and erratic movements.  I know you're supposed to dance like no one is watching but PEOPLE ARE WATCHING!  I over-think it..."Would now be a good time to do the arms above my head thing that I've seen the cool people do?"  Ugh, and it always comes down to that circle thing where people go in the centre and do their moves.  I don't have a move. Even if I did have a move I wouldn't do it because I'd feel preposterous. I prefer a good two-step where there is no doubt about what your arms and legs are supposed to be doing.

I do love to have a good conversation, but in a party atmosphere, you just can't hear, so you either shout until you lose your voice or you have to stand uncomfortably close to someone in order to hear them.  This violates my Personal Space Rule.   Anyway, it becomes progressively more difficult to attempt a conversation and by the end of the evening, most go something like this:

     Me (sober): "Hey, *Acquaintance* good to see you!  How are you doing?"
     Them (not sober): WOOOOOOO!!!!  

Easy there, Party Pants. 

At this point, you're probably thinking that you know clergy who are less boring than I am.  Maybe so. Come to a party in my weird little world.  We'll sit on overstuffed couches, wear sweatpants, eat lots of dip and have fabulous conversations. You can mix yourself a drink, and I might even play you a tune or two.

When we returned to the Cantina at Ness Creek, this is almost exactly what we did.  I'll take that any day.