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, 17 February 2013

Take me back to the Winter Carnival

Ahh February.  Love is in the air and you can almost reach out and touch spring…before she snatches her hand away and tosses up another blizzard. This time of year always reminds me of one thing (besides Jamaica).  The Winter Carnival. 

When you think of a carnival, you think of summer and roller coasters and sketchy characters, certainly not snowmobile racing. If you grew up in a small northern logging town, however, you no doubt had a Winter Carnival.  Social event of the year, it was.  A whole community came together to celebrate the fact that we are frozen solid for 6 months of the year.  May as well rent the hall and have a thing, eh?  I suppose it was an offshoot of many of the pioneers who had settled there from Quebec, where the carnival is a massive winter celebration.  Complete with a large creepy snowman who is seemingly everywhere.  That crazy BonHomme!

The winter carnival had many, many events packed into a single February weekend and I remember a few of them quite vividly. Aside from the obvious hockey tournaments and curling bonspiels, there were the lumberjack events like the Cherry Picker contest (I had no idea what that was, but what a great name, no?)  I think the contestants would attempt to show off their heavy duty machinery prowess by picking up an egg off of a tree stump using a logging grapple hook or some crazy thing. Artists would carve various things out of blocks of ice or wood using nothing but a chainsaw.  “Look! It’s a squirrel...or a beaver...or a coffee pot, I'm not sure." You can only get so precise with a power saw. Then there would be the trapper’s events like snowshoe races and tea boiling contests.  Knee deep in snow, we all had a blast. 

Weeks before the event, tickets would be printed with the photos of six teenagers vying for the coveted title of Carnival King and Queen. On top of being able to wear the crown and cloak, they got into all the weekend festivities free of charge and had the first dance at the Lumberjack Stomp. The royal couple may as well have been Mr & Mrs Universe to me when I was small.  I dreamt of the day I would stand on the red line at centre ice and receive my crown, but I think I was too lazy to sell tickets when the time came.

The whole weekend was kicked off with…yes, the ICE SHOW, a figure skating spectacular!  In our minds, it was like opening night on Broadway. All winter long, we had diligently practiced our routines to such great songs as “The Good old Hockey Game” and “Music Box Dancer”, depending on the year’s grand theme.  The night of nights would arrive with much pomp and circumstance.  Either it was 40 below or melting.  No moderate weather was possible during the third weekend of February; this is just how it was.  I would don my newly polished skates and my fortrel dress trimmed with Christmas tinsel and off onto the ice I would go to perform my 8 waltz jumps, usually well ahead of the music.  As I skated by my family and friends in the bleachers (usually near tears as I had most likely already fallen down at least twice by that point) they would cheer loudly.  I would end with a dramatic one foot spin, wave to the adoring crowd and would then in a dizzy stupor weave my way off the ice.  Superstar.

We had a large scary mascot of our own to rival BonHomme.  His name was Leo the Moose and I was terrified of him until I was about 10 years old.  He insisted on skating in the “Grand Finale” with us every year at the ice show.  I made sure I was at the opposite end of the can-can line, lemme tell ya. 

So many great memories of life in a northern town.  When I think back to the community spirit required to pull together something like that, I wouldn’t trade growing up in the bush for an all-inclusive two week vacation to Jamaica.  Anyone know where I can go watch an amateur ice show?
Me in the 1982 Ice Show. haha

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Randoms from the Rumpus Room

Lemme tell you something.  You don’t need no stinkin’ rodent to tell you that it’s going to be bloody cold until the end of March!  Saskatchewan needs to get its own groundhog and call him Cynical Cyril.  Cyril will not even bother coming out of his hole.  He’ll just roll over and flip the bird to all the media and onlookers.  Read the sign: “Welcome to Saskatchewan; where you’ll never get your early spring.” 
Don’t be fooled by this current mild spell, last week it was -34 in Saskatoon with a windchill making it feel like you were on the shores of the Beaufort Sea. And to add insult to injury there was an 85% possibility of precipitation.  Longest.Winter.Ever.

The teenagers don’t want to stay in the basement.  It’s freezing down there.  It reminds me of when I was a kid and my friends and I would never want to hang out in the freezing cold rumpus room.  People don't have rumpus rooms any more, do they?  Isn’t that a great word, Rumpus Room?  Several blogs ago, I wrote about some way back words used by the parentage of our generation, words like 'beauty parlour' and 'piss & vinegar'.  My friend-relative, Nicole, said I should have included Rumpus Room, and right then and there I decided it deserved a blog of its own.  (Just as an aside, I want to tell you the great joyous thing about having friend-relatives.  If they decide one day to ditch you as a friend, they are still obligated to hang out with you because they are family!  Isn’t that awesome?)

Anyway, at one time, no one dared build a house without designating one room in the basement as the Rumpus Room.  “You kids are creating a noisy, disturbed or disruptive commotion in my living room!  I will build you a separate room to create your rumpus in!”  

If I had a nickel for every time I heard my mom yelling at my brothers to, "Get downstairs to the Rumpus Room”, I would not be living in Saskatchewan right now.  In the 1970s, my parents decided to take on the project of decorating the rumpus room. The result was downright groovy.  The new carpet was a (non) luxurious deep red industrial number I liked to call “Hotel Hallway”.  They installed a black and red vinyl bar with matching black and red vinyl storage benches along the walls.  I’m not sure why they decided on storage benches because there was never anything in them except my brothers’ stinky boxing gloves. (I never actually saw my brothers using them but when you opened those benches; it was Hello Old Sweaty Boxing Gloves!).  The only other thing in the benches was an old game of monopoly with everything missing except Baltic Avenue, the race car and three hotels.  

My parents decided to order the "Sunset Dream" wallpaper from the Sears Catalogue which was very popular at the time.  It was less wallpaper really, and more like one huge picture panel that went on a Feature Wall--the big thing in the 70s.  It was supposed to feel like you could just walk right out of your basement and onto a beach in Fiji at sunset. 
Regardless, it was at this time that I learned the rule called Never Buy Wallpaper.  Problem was you needed a team of 40 giant people to actually adhere it to the wall all at once or it would bubble up all over, causing swear words to tumble out of the homeowner's mouth in an avalanche of frustration.  The bubble trouble happened on our feature wall; however my parents had a solution.  They purchased stick-on mirror tiles to go behind the groovy vinyl bar and they thought it would be helpful if they stuck the leftover mirrors in panels along the bubbled areas of the Sunset Dream.  This created a very unique style of decor, never copied to this day, as far as I am aware.

They also had enough Sunset Dream leftover to wrap around the telepost in our rumpus room.  Ah, there it was, basement reno complete.  No one ever went down there again.