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, 25 July 2012

Road Trippin'

The Lalonde Clan just returned from a real-live road trip.  This doesn’t seem like a big deal to most people I’m sure, but to us it was HUGE.  First of all, it’s summer time and as my husband keeps reminding us, we do not travel in the summer: We are Lake People.  He insists there are two kinds of summer celebrants… Lake People and People who Go to The Lake.  There is a difference, he says with great emphasis.  Lake People will turn down weddings, reunions, and other inconvenient get-togethers because --don’t you know?? --they will be ‘at the lake’.  People who Go to the Lake go if there’s nothing else going on, and if there is not a cloud in the forecast.  

Secondly, we are not car people, and when I say we, I mean me.  My mother said that from her earliest memory, I screamed when I entered a car and did not stop screaming until we arrived at our destination.  I totally believe her.  Vehicle travel is a necessary evil for me.   In the 70s, our family car was a new Chevy Impala.  I believe the Chevrolet people, in their infinite wisdom, took the new car smell Too Far.  The comforting smell of vinyl and formaldehyde never did leave that car and if I could find it today in some junk heap, it would STILL smell like that.  I am willing to bet my life.  You could take samples of that odour, bottle it and use it against your enemies to invoke a wicked combination of headache and car sickness.  The whole car-smell experience did nothing to appease my barf-inducing hatred of road trips.

So only for my dear, dear friend and former band mate, Doll, would we make an exception to leave our lake utopia and travel to Southern Manitoba.  We decided to go via Montana and North Dakota to make it a bit more interesting.  I’ve made the trip to Brandon many times and always joke that I’m ready to slit my wrists by Moosomin.  If there’s such a thing as flatter than flat, the landscape is pretty close to that.  Zzzzz. “Look kids! It’s another freakin' canola field!”  Good thing the kids are too old to play that game where you have to spot all the things on a list.  They would have checked off a crow, a fence post and a grain bin in the first 5 miles and the rest of the items would remain blank.
  “Ooooh!  Is that a fox in that field, Mom?” 
“Nope. Rock.” I would confidently say, without even looking.  
I have to say, in Doll’s area, south of Brandon the landscape does change and it becomes quite scenic, but the stark contrast between north and south Saskatchewan never ceases to amaze me.  No wonder people call us The Gap!

Our joke -- We travelled to the south to see 'The Tree'

I try to make sure we have everything we need in the car when we’re on the road.  A cooler filled with great snacks and drinks, pillows, books, a small pharmacy...you name it.  Against my will, I took many road trips as a kid and there was never anything in the car but a box of Kleenex and a dusty map of Alberta.  Summer was unbearable; no air conditioning and water wasn’t invented yet. (okay bottled water wasn’t invented yet).  I was the only kid in North America who didn’t drink pop so you could usually find me dehydrating quietly in the back seat unless I wanted to treat myself to a mason jar full of warm water that had rolled around back there the whole trip.  Sigh…good times. 

Speaking of snacks, one trip stands out in my mind.  We took a month to travel through Alaska and the Yukon.  Me & my parents.  In a ¾ ton truck with a camper on the back. I was 12.  Now Alaska is breathtaking but you see one mountain, one stand of tamarack, and one waterfall and you’re all done as a 12 year old.  On top of this, Mom & Dad had packed ‘snacks’ before we left.  Was it cookies and fruit?  No. Trail mix?  No.  Radishes and green onions from the garden? Why, yes!!  I spent the first week on the road listening to classic country, enduring nasty radish burps and begging to ride in the camper.   Why couldn’t we be a normal family, go to Disneyland and eat ice cream??  

Well, fast forward 30 years and now I know the answer to that.  I have memories and experiences that are not ‘normal’ and I am very grateful.  We had a lovely time on our little road trip with friends who are like family to me.  I hope my kids have taken some memories with them, even if they are just their Dad singing out of tune to 80s classic hits and their Mom yelling for him to turn around because we are certainly hopelessly lost.  Maybe I’ll even get to read about them someday ;)
Buffalo Jump near Cartwright, MB

Saturday, 14 July 2012


As I write this, Saskatchewan is experiencing a heat wave.  Real feel temperatures have reached the 40s.  We north-centralese (it's my word, but you can use it) are not accustomed to such numbers unless they are below zero.  This is how we differentiate ourselves from others.  “Land of the Living Skies and Home of the 40 Below.”   No 40 below this month though, this is the month that we really begin the process of Enjoying Summer.

 I don’t care what you say.  I love the heat.  I suppose if we were not at the lake and if we were stuck at home in the basement watching re-runs of Big Brother, I might feel differently.  However, we are not and the best part is….I am finally warm!  Because I am a scrawny runt, I am always cold.  I am always the last one to shed my sweater.   I am starting to mortify myself by taking my slippers along when visiting at other people’s homes like my grandparents used to. 

“Oh don’t worry, dear, I’ve brought my slippers and my shawl.  I don’t like a cold back…"

 I would much rather be too warm; I love having feeling in my toes.

Another benefit of the hot weather is that I have finally packed properly for camping!  After years of hoping for the best and arriving with four suitcases full of various assorted swimming costumes, we’d inevitably spend most of our days clad in fleece and rubber boots.  We’d finally get one glorious day of hot weather and spend it hanging our soggy clothing out to dry.  In the morning, we’d emerge from the camper to find it and the whole landscape sodden and dripping once again.   We knew it was time to give up and go home when the children began to mold and mildew, the stray dog began to resemble Shrek and I was forced to wear Crocs… I know.  I had no choice. 

Alas, we are in the wilds of Canada (a Regional Park) and the real dilemma with a heat wave here is this... cover or uncover?  There is bliss in Saskatchewan summers, but for every yin there is a yang.  Stay covered and you feel as though you will ignite at any moment.  Sweaty and irritable, you fan weakly at yourself with your palm as though this will somehow cool you down immeasurably.  But uncover and you are forced to waste precious summer moments swatting at mosquitoes and horseflies while attempting to scratch the bites that are already welting up around your ankles.  These movements resemble a jerky, un-choreographed summer dance. The Solstice Dance of the northern Prairie Inhabitants. 

There is but one alternative, other than to go indoors (which would be counterproductive to Enjoying Summer) and that is to cloak yourself in insect repellent, until your nostrils burn.

“What’s that bewitching scent you’re wearing?”
“It’s the latest from Johnson & Johnson, all the lunatics…er…outdoor enthusiasts are wearing it.  It’s called OFF.  You can find it at fine sporting goods counters everywhere.”  

We are hardy stock and we will prevail.  We will Enjoy Summer because we have earned it, dammit!  So put on that swimsuit, dip your kids in bug spray and get out there.  Before you know it we’ll be shivering and shovelling again!

It takes a heat wave to get me in the lake!

Saturday, 7 July 2012


So here we are at the lake. Luckily, the weather could not be more awesomey. (great word, eh?) When the weather is grand, it is easy to forget that we are not shoulder to shoulder in 20 feet of living space; a.k.a the camper we call home for much of the summer.  Yes, when the rain socks in for days, there is only one thing I really miss….TV.  Many of you who know me understand that I am addicted to the Food Network.

At home, if I am in possession of the remote control, we will be watching Channel 103.  We also have the Food Network on an HD channel, and my husband thinks that if we are forced to watch the Food Network, why can't we at least watch it in HD?  No, I am used to 103.  HD would be considered a Change.  I don't feel like implementing a Change right now.  I have enough to worry about and I can't remember the channel number for Food on HD.

An interesting aside is that I have tried not one single recipe I've seen in my 5 year history of being addicted to the Food Network.  This is not unlike the 423 recipes I have pinned onto my "To Try" board on Pinterest.  Oh, I have great intentions... "KIDS! Look at this appetizer! I have to make it for when so & so comes over!"  I'll scribble down the inspiration on the back of a receipt or on an old envelope.  Invariably, I’ll look at it two days later, wonder what the hell it was all about and toss it.  It’s ok because I have the recipe for a great appetizer memorized.  It's called ‘Celery avec Cheez Whiz’. That's what so & so are getting when they come over.  Judge not and try it.

Chopped is one of my favorite Food Network shows. In Chopped, four chefs square off with a basket of mystery ingredients, with which they have to quickly make a dish.  The first round is an appetizer, then a main, then a dessert.  Each course is served to a panel of snooty, pretentious judges.  After each round, one chef gets chopped.  The ingredients are always pretty weird.  For example, a basket might contain octopus, bran cereal, beets and blue cheese. Mmmm.  The judges turn up their noses at the dishes they are given. "I just wasn't getting the octopus, unfortunately we had to chop you."  “You did nothing to coax out the earthiness of the beets…for that reason you’ve been chopped.”  Harsh.  

I don't see what the big deal is.  I do this every summer in my camper.  I look through the strange ingredients left over from last year and I attempt to make a stunning presentation out of microwave popcorn, stale Cheezies, a can of cream-style corn, and half a box of Lucky Charms with all the marshmallows conspicuously absent.  The only seasoning I have is a shaker of salt that has formed into a solid block from the moisture.  I would likely get no bonus points for using the partial bag of Temptations cat snacks leftover from feeding last summer’s stray cat.  The judges, who are fraught with mosquito bites and swimmer's itch, are rarely pleased with my amuse bouche.  I've been chopped a number of times but I always seem to get invited back to compete again and again.

Fortunately, we've now stocked up on a king's ransom worth of chips, nibs, and s'mores stuff.  I hope the this next while produces some great blogging material, but I probably won't be at the computer a whole lot unless it rains and I get Chopped from my job as chief cook & bottle washer. Stop by for a visit…we’ll see what we can string together for a snack!