"Someday's gonna be a busy day..."

Thursday, 3 April 2014

To my darling girl

Rose Marie Lowry
April 3rd 2008

Silently a flower blooms
In silence it falls away;
Yet here now, at this moment, at this place,
The world of the flower, the whole of the world is blooming.
This is the talk of the flower, the truth of the blossom:
The glory of eternal life is fully shining here.

- Zenkei Shibayama

Friday, 28 March 2014

Some Days

Alarm warbles.

6:45 a.m.


Crawl out of bed. It's early for me. Gotta shower. Gotta get Dylan ready for daycare. Gotta walk Jade to the school bus. Gotta make some freaking coffee.

Jade is cheerful until she's not. Soon there is wailing and gnashing of teeth. She can't find her sock. Where is her sock? Dadddy picked out these socks ESPECIALLY for her. SHE CANNOT FIND HER SOCK. She slumps on the floor and wails.

The sock is beside you, I say. Look.

The wailing stops. She pulls on the sock. I want to crawl under her turquoise and lime flowered duvet and sleep. She merrily hops down the stairs. I follow, less merrily.

Dylan needs a new diaper; Jade needs juice. I need coffee. I change Dylan's diaper and pour Jade's juice. I make Jade's lunch. I drink two sips of coffee. Now it is snowsuit and backpack and where-are-your-mitts-child time.

Jade and I walk to meet the bus. The winter morning is sparkly clean. Our breath puffs as we stroll down the lane way, hand in hand. The sun rises behind us, unhurried. Dylan watches from the upstairs window, knocking and waving. He is not wearing pants.

Jade leaps on snowy crags, tells me they are mountains. Gifts the snow plow has left. The bus pulls up. I give the bus driver a chocolate bar. I was so late last Friday. That's not necessary, she says, but smiles and takes the chocolate. I hope I'm not THAT MOTHER. I hope she likes Jade. I hope Dylan doesn't drive her crazy in September.

I walk back to the house, sunrise on my face. Finches rush into the sky at my approach. In the back porch, Dylan peeps at me through the mail slot. Pudgy fingers poke out and wave. Hi Mumma. I waiting for you.

Where are your pants? I ask. Where is your diaper? My diaper is gone. His eyes are the colour of the lake in autumn. He runs away and jumps into the beanbag. Toopy and Binoo are on. I will wrestle with him later.

I check the time and sit down at the kitchen table. Flip open the laptop. Click through my email. I pour fresh coffee, close my eyes and let the aroma drift into my brain. Dylan climbs up on my lap. Demands his favourite show. He pats my face with his hand. I smell poo.

Were you playing with your bum? Tell me you weren't playing with your bum. He attempts escape. I grab his hand, lead him to the sink. He screams and flops around like a fish on a hook. I wash his hands with difficulty. He flails. Water is everywhere. I want to go back to bed.

I get a diaper. I find pants. Dylan runs away, squealing. I chase him, cajole, joke, beg, then finally, threaten. No TV, I say. Corner, I say. He relents, sobbing. Snot and tears, little chest heaving. I don't want pants, Mumma.

It's a Nina day, I say. We have to go to daycare. Daddy will pick you up. NO! He wants to go to the grocery store. He wants to go to the post office. He wants to go to Grandma's. Not today, I say through clenched teeth. My mother used to talk like that when she was mad. I squish my son into pants and socks, give up on the shirt. Fine, I say. Wear dirty pyjamas. Dirty pyjamas, he agrees and crawls into my lap, thumb in mouth, mollified. For the moment.

Get your hat, I say. I turn off the TV. I close the laptop. Dylan goes purple with rage. TV! I WANT TV! No TV, I say. Get. Your. Hat. NOW. More clenched teeth. I am going to throw something. I need more coffee. He gets his hat. He puts on his boots. He sobs. He needs his mitts. Mitts Mumma! My blue mitts are GONE! I find the mitts shoved behind the door. He needs his blankies. Where are your blankies, honey? Where are they? My blankies are gone. I check upstairs. I check the bathroom, the bedrooms. The blankies are in the tent, downstairs. I drape them over his little head. He pulls them off and beams. You found my blankies, Mumma! You found them!

I help him with his coat. I grab keys, sunglasses, purse, snow pants. We head for the car. My phone. My phone is upstairs. Dammit. I buckle my son in the car and backtrack. Damn phone. I get back in the car; start the engine. I have a doctor's appointment later. Do I have money for parking? Do I have a toonie? I check my purse; nickels and pennies. One quarter. Dammit, dammit, DAMMIT! Back upstairs. I take change from Jade's piggybank. This is not bad parenting. She has stolen most of the money from me.

Back in the car, roaring down the driveway. Off we go, I say. Like a herd of turtles, says Dylan. Like a herd of turtles, I agree. Turtles who need more coffee.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

5 Things…I really suck at

1. Buying anything related to technology
It all started when I bought D an iPad for Christmas. He keeps stealing my much-adored MacBook to check boring stock prices and look up hockey plays, which is annoying. I mean, I bought that thing as a tool for my writing, and for keeping our family photos updated and…okay, I use it mainly to play Scrabble. But still! It's MINE. So I though it was a stroke of brilliance when I decided to buy him a gadget of his own, something that wasn't too expensive (he hates it when people spend money on him), something portable enough for him to take to the bathroom if he so desired. I bought a reconfigured iPad off the internet and lo and behold! IT. SUCKS. Apparently, it's one of the first versions that was released, which means that it won't play NetFlix, or take photos, or basically do anything other than allow you to search Google. Very. Slowly.

"Didn't you do any research before you bought this?" asked D, trying not to act like he hated it, although I could tell he did.

"It was on sale! I thought I was buying something good! I thought you'd be glad I didn't spend too much money!" I wailed.

"Kimmy…just, wow," said D.

He still steals my MacBook and the iPad is gathering dust somewhere. I tried to redeem myself by buying a charger for Jade's LeapPad (seriously, who makes an expensive children's toy and sells it without a charger?). Once again, I thought I'd save money and make D proud. So I went on the internet and bought a knock off. Which didn't work. So I tried again, and ended up with pretty much the same gadget, which…also doesn't work.

D has made me solemnly swear that I will never again buy anything remotely electronic.

2. Cooking Meat
I suppose it's because I lived with someone who did the majority of my cooking for ten years, but I've never learned how to cook meat so that it tastes…you know, edible. Ground meat is no problem. Who can screw up hamburger? Big cuts of meat, on the other hand, like pork chops, roasts, even steak, turn into very unhappy meals in my vegetarian-inclined hands. I can whip up any type of chicken and make it taste heavenly, and I have been known to do lamb chops to near perfection. But anything else? You're looking at dry, tasteless disasters. Bake, poach, grill, microwave, doesn't matter. I get the same disgusting result. And do NOT tell me I need a crockpot, because…

3. Crockpots
I hate them. That is all. Need proof? Here: and here:

So there.

4. Finishing a cup of anything.
At any given time, on any given day, you can travel through my house and find at least one (but probably more like four) unfinished cups of coffee, half-empty glasses of water or mugs of stagnant tea. I am incapable of drinking anything to the dregs, unless it's a glass of wine. Even beer falls prey to this habit, and I love beer. I think it has something to do with the time my sister Sissy told me never to drink the last bit of beer in a bottle, because it was just backwash. So really, this is all her fault. I'm not sure why, but this little habit of mine drives D completely bonkers. I am pretty confident that 33 years from now, on our 25th anniversary, he'll be yelling at me across the nursing home: "HEY KIMMY, YOU FORGOT TO FINISH THIS BOTTLE OF ENSURE!"

5. Wrapping Stuff
There are about a squillion Pinterest posts (pins? pings? pints? See, I suck at Pinterest too) on how to wrap a present so gorgeously that the recipient of said present will squeal and then faint in awe. I wish I was artistic enough to figure out how to do even one thing on Pinterest, let alone wrap a measly box of whatever. Don't get me wrong. I want to be that woman, the one who uses bits of ribbon and stray buttons and dryer lint to create a unique and gloriously gift wrapped present for every member of the family on Christmas. But I'm not. I can't wrap to save my life, and I know why: it's because I am not patient, and I am a jammer, and I leave wrapping until the last minute because if I didn't, my children would seek and destroy all the gifts before they even made it under the tree. I can't even wrap a fajita. I made my little niece a vegetarian wrap for lunch when she was here a few weeks ago. As I put it in front of her she looked at it unfurling on her plate like a bizarre, slow-motion film of a really ugly flower blossoming, then looked up at me. She did not say a word of complaint, but her big brown eyes said it all: "Auntie Kim, you suck at wrapping."

Monday, 17 March 2014

A walk in the woods

Today I walk by myself.

The cold is glorious; the sun is bright. The woods beckon, and I am so happy to be on the trails for an hour of solitude that I want to shout and dance. The labyrinth is covered in a duvet of snow and I feel like a giant when I notice that the packed snow on the trail has lifted me up to the level of the aspen branches.

Cardinals whistle and chickadees swoop, sure signs of the new season ahead. The river has cracked open and sings a joyful song before it dives beneath the crusty ice. I run my hand over the rough bark of an elm, scrunch fragrant cedar between my fingers. Strange dogs stop to nuzzle me as red-cheeked owners nod or smile before they whistle their companions back to obedience.

The snow sparkles and dances, drifts down from tree branches in puffs and clouds that twirl lazily in the sunlight. My boots plunge steady and sure into ankle deep powder. I take the looping trail past the gnarled oak with the face of a praying mantis and head for the second bridge.

Just around the curve before the darkness of cedars swallows up the trail, I see a young couple. They have stopped to adjust their young son's scarf and hat. We exchange hellos and as I pass, I am hit by a wave of sadness. I meet the brown-haired mother's eyes for a moment and it's as though I've been pricked in the heart with something sharp and cold. I cover my surprise with a nod and keep walking.

I am not psychic; I'm not even all that intuitive. I don't know what has pierced my soul in that moment. Maybe nothing. Maybe imagination.

But maybe not.

As I pass out of earshot, I close my eyes for a second, mutter a quick prayer to the trees and the snow and the sun and the birds, asking for healing, for a lightening of the burden of hurt the family seems to carry like boulders on their backs. Because we all carry our own invisible stones of sadness; sometimes in our pockets where they weigh us down, or in our shoes where they punish us with each step, or inside our heads where they rattle around for only us to hear.

I think we can drop the stones one at a time on the paths we walk; I think the best way to relieve our burdens is get outside, and keep walking.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

About Oscar...

My favourite event of the entire frigid, non-holiday season has come and gone: THE OSCARS! If you read this blog with any regularity, you'll know I have a slight predilection for lunacy on Oscar night, which includes dressing up real fancy and serving yummy nibbles with a bottle of something bubbly. I've been meaning to post this for over a week but I think I had an Oscar hangover. Am I getting too old for my annual, stay-up-till-the-bitter-end-and-drink-2/3-of-a-bottle-of-champagne-by-myself ritual? Egads.

The Prep
After nearly eight years of marriage, D has accepted my Oscar-related eccentricities, although he continues to look bewildered when I flounce down the stairs in my gown and heels. He never dresses up, but he never drinks my champagne either. Plus he could care less about movie stars so he barely talks during the show. He's a perfect date.

One thing he finds especially bemusing is my insistence on making rich, indigestible hors d'ouvres to eat during the show. "Whatcha making tonight?" he asked as he got ready to go to the farm and help with chores. "Let me guess. Olives and eye of newt." I ignored him and continued to stuff mushrooms with parmesan-infused cream cheese. D had promised to be back in time to let me watch the opening number unhindered by children; he was welcome to his sarcasm provided he kept up his end of the deal.

Miraculously, I made the hors d'ouevres, fed the kids, and tucked them into bed and donned my Oscar finery just as D stomped through the door at 8:24 p.m. I think this was due in part to the fact that I treated myself to an extra-special dirty martini while the kids ate supper, but he doesn't have to know that.

Tipsy Toodles
The kids had experimented with all my ice cubes during the most recent stormy day, so after I measured the gin, opened the jar of olives and found the ice cube tray tragically bereft of ice, I was forced to think faster than an Oscar host after a winner drops an F-bomb. The only thing worse than a luke-warm martini was no martini. Then I remembered the smug hipsters giggling in snowbanks in an old Baileys TV commercial:

Screw you, ice cubes! Icicle martinis from now on! (Well, in the winter, at least.) At least the Prosecco was cold.

For some reason unknown to me, nearly all my hors d'ouvres were cheese-based this year. Maybe all these years of living within a 2km radius of my dairy farming in-laws is warping my taste buds.

Similar to the Oscar broadcast, my nibbles weren't anything spectacular, just some tried and true recipes from the Alisa Feick school of entertaining, along with a few of my own creations. I even made extra in case Carman showed up, which he didn't, because he still remembers the time I yelled at him for eating the Nacho Dip right off the serving plate. It was the one and only time Carman ever tried to watch the Oscars with me. I guess getting yelled at in his own living room by a crazy lady wearing an evening gown wasn't his cup of tea. Oh well. Nacho dip is always good for breakfast.

Who are you Wearing?
It's been a very happy winter for me for a change, which means I am also fatter than usual. When I'm unhappy or ill, I tend to look like a skeleton, all bones and angles. The better I feel though, the plumper I get. Squishy and happy or skinny and miserable? Hmmm…I think I'll take squishy. There's a treadmill around here somewhere, right? Anyway, being happy and squishy means my wardrobe choices were somewhat limited this year. I allowed the children to have a say in my choice and did a fashion show for them, which ended up, as it usually does, with both of them naked nudie and clomping around in my high heels. I went for a classier look this year, donning my silk jacket from San Francisco Chinatown and my favourite black pants. I finished the look with my mother's antique jet beads and tarted my face up considerably with more makeup than I wear at Hallowe'en. Jade was impressed; Dylan looked scared.

I know. I'm a bit silly. But couldn't everyone's life benefit from a little more silly? Oh, and I cut all my hair off. JUST LIKE J-LAW! It's totally going to get me in People magazine. Or at least the Kincardine News.

The Flicks
I managed to see several Oscar movies this year, and I'm glad that Dallas Buyer's Club was honoured appropriately, and that Sandra did NOT get best actress for Gravity. The movie itself rocked, but ugh to her performance, which was pretty much just heavy breathing and whimpers. And what's up with perfect waxing jobs in space, anyhow? Nebraska was a lovely, quiet little film and it deserved to get something just for being so hilarious and heartbreaking in such a non-explosive way. And June Squibb made me howl. With Nebraska, Alexander Payne created a handful of meaty roles for actors of a certain age, something I didn't see in any of the other films, and I'm glad he did.

Oh yeah, the Actual Show
What can I say? It was a rather mellow affair this year. Ellen was her usual pleasant and benign self. She's like the labrador retriever of hosts: kinda goofy and eager to please, hoping to get asked to sit on someone's lap. Like Douglas Adams might say, mostly harmless. I don't dislike her - how can you hate that face? - but I wasn't thrilled by her either. I suppose she's the middle ground between Billy Crystal's ancient schtick and Seth MacFarlane's acidic barbs. I just thank the Oscar gods that Anne and James will never, ever, ever be asked back.

Well friends, another year, another Oscars. See you in March 2015! Hopefully I can fit into a fancier gown by then.

PS: For a hilarious, spot-on review of the show, including fab photos and witty commentary, check out Hick Chic: http://hickchic.blogspot.ca/2014/03/2014-oscar-blog-report.html

Thursday, 27 February 2014

5 Things About…a highly unsatisfactory day

Today was what I (borrowing freely from L.M. Montgomery) like to call a Jonah day. It was one of those days where I wished a big fricking whale would just come along and swallow me up. Because sometimes, being confined in a dark, smelly mammal stomach is actually more appealing than living in my own reality.

Okay, maybe it wasn't that bad. I think it just felt that way because I didn't have any wine or chocolate in the house. In no particular order, here are five of the many things that made today A Highly Unsatisfactory Day.

1. I rolled in raccoon poop. That's right: I got POOP ON ME. I had taken the kids to the hayloft to play since it was -25 outside and we were all on the verge of going batshit crazy inside the house. As they jumped from bale to bale and rolled squealing through piles of straw, I warned them repeatedly to watch out for raccoon poop. Then I plumped myself down in the straw, stretched and and rolled directly onto a big plop of 'coon doodie. The kids thought it was hysterical. Jade, ever the comedian, yelled, "WATCH OUT FOR POOP MUMMA!"

2. Last night I bought two little chickens, rubbed them all over with herbs, olive oil and good mustard and roasted them to delicious perfection. Roast chicken is not part of my usual repertoire, especially since D informed me that those cute, inexpensive birds are likely ONLY TWO MONTHS OLD!? But D has been doing double duty, working at the office and then heading to the farm to do evening chores and I thought it might be fun to make something a bit different for supper. Afterward, I cleaned up most of the kitchen, but was too tired to deal with the gross pan of chicken grease and decided it could wait until morning. Have you ever seen what ten hours of air does to chicken fat? GAH. As if to drive the point home, I somehow managed to dump an entire pan of said fat mixed with hot water all over the counter, the draining board full of clean dishes, and, of course, myself. I really hope D enjoyed that chicken because it's likely the last one I'll be cooking - or cleaning up after - for a while.

3. On Tuesdays, I take Jade to skating practice. Parents are asked to take turns at "manning the booth" to sell coffee, chips, sour keys, and all that other arena goodness. This week it was my turn. I like being in the booth, because it means I don't have to chase Dylan around like a madwoman, plus I get time to chat with other parents and watch Jade swish around the ice from a perfect viewpoint. I've volunteered a few times, but this was the first time I got hit on. By two ten year old boys. Have mercy. What is this world coming to?

4. Saran wrap: 3. Kim: 0 Lord, how I hate that stuff...

5. Around 7:45 p.m., I sent the kids upstairs to undress and get ready for bed. I slumped on the couch to check Facebook and recount the the wreckage of my day. The house was a disaster; I had lunches to make, dishes to do, laundry to fold but all I wanted to do was lie on the couch and fantasize that the children would somehow put themselves to bed. It dawned on me that there was a whole lot of crazed giggling going on upstairs. I dragged myself off the couch to investigate, expecting to find them playing tickle tag or short-sheeting my bed. I did not expect to find an entire roll of toilet paper ripped into pieces and strewn about the bathroom floor while my naked children pranced through it singing, "A-rah-cha-cha-cha-CHA-cha!"


"Dylan did it," said Jade immediately. "Dylan took all the toilet paper off the roll, Mumma. I did not do it." Dylan had wisely taken his naked dance party into the bedroom the moment I walked upstairs, so since he was well out of stink eye range my glare fell squarely upon my four-year-old daughter.

"So you had nothing to do with...this?" I asked, waving my hand at the toilet paper carnival.

Jade looked at me with the innocence of a baby seal."For true Mumma! I didn't take it off the roll. I only ripped it up."

At least she's honest.

I gave them both a big lecture about how every time we waste paper, a tree cries, and that seemed to leave them sufficiently chastised. At least until they discover the next household item to destroy and dance on.

So that, friends, was my day. I can only hope that yours was better. And thank my lucky stars that tomorrow is a brand new day, without any mistakes in it.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Double or Nothing…the conclusion

My sister and I had lost the second Euchre game to the Brothers Lowry. Now we were on our second round of dirty martinis and starting to feel desperate. There was entirely too much Feick losing and Lowry winning going on for our liking. I think of myself as a liberated woman who doesn't need to prove herself in the company of men, but there's something about playing against my husband that makes my blood boil with a seething desire to win. Unfortunately, I suck at Euchre.

It was Carman's deal. The boys made smarmy remarks about expensive bottles of wine as I poured another round of drinks and shook the last of the Goldfish Pretzels into a bowl (emergency snacks - we were out of chips). Apropos of nothing, D held up Tanzi's new bikini, which she'd left out on the counter for my inspection. "What the hell is this?" he asked, holding it arm's length like it was a dead rat. When informed it was Tanzi's new bathing suit, he snorted and told her it had way too much material. Having bought seven of them for me over the years, D considers himself something of an expert on bikinis, and is of the "less is more" school of thought.

While my sister and D debated appropriate bikini sizes, I sucked on an olive and tried to think of the Euchre cheating signals my sister and I used when we were kids. That's when Tanzi proposed the most outrageous bet in the history of Someday.

"Okay boys. How about double or nothing?"

Everyone rolled their eyes.

If we win," she continued over the rim of her martini glass, "you guys have to put on my new bikini and get your picture taken in front of the Christmas tree."

A hush fell over the card table. The Lowry brothers eyed one another. I grinned; my sister was suddenly a genius. At least, three martinis made it seem like she was.

"D'you mean the outside tree?" asked Carman, looking dubious. It was -20 with the wind chill.

"Yup," said Tanzi.

"You're on," D said immediately. Clearly, he feared no loss. Carman did a kind of half-nod, half-shrug to signal his reluctant assent, then held up a finger. "Wait. What do we get if you guys lose?" he asked.

"Nothing," I said. "It's double or nothing. Get it?" I wasn't really sure that's what double or nothing meant, and I could tell Carman wasn't sure either, but for reasons best attributed to cider, he went along with it.

By now I'm sure you've guessed the outcome: the Feick girls smoked the Lowry boys and won the fateful bet. I'm proud to say that my husband and his brother said not one word of complaint, although they wore a look similar to the one they have when the Leafs fail to get into the playoffs.

I've been forbidden from posting any incriminating photos here ("Kim, I have a JOB.") but suffice it to say the boys followed through. Carman took the bottom half of the bikini, D took the top half and out they went in the frigid weather to pose with our wooden Santa in front of the Christmas tree. They were excellent sports and gracious, if humiliated, losers. Best of all, Tanzi and I have the proof to hold over their heads in all Lowry/Feick tourneys to come. Double or nothing has never been so sweet!