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

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

10 things my dog and I have in common

1) We rarely complain about our sore knees, but we never turn down an opportunity to have them massaged.

2) We are hopelessly in love with D.

3) Shedding is a skill we excel at.

4) Hot summer weather makes us grumpy. Cool autumn weather improves our mood considerably. Cold winter weather makes us deliriously happy. Snow causes us to act drunk with joy.

5) We are avid nature nuts. Splashing around in the river, crunching leaves and twigs on the trails, squelching mud between our toes in the fields: it's all good.

6) There's nothing we'd rather do than spend a solid hour kissing Jade.

7) We find few things more satisfying than a good, long walk along the beach at sunset.

8) We approach food with gusto.

9) We are both highly skilled at the fine art of napping.

10) Loyalty is our prime directive.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Merry merry!

One sister arrived from Australia last week, and the other arrived from the 'Cow a few days ago...so I've been a happy, busy little camper and blogville hasn't been on the tour as of late. Don't worry though - I'll be back moaning to you in bloggy form come January when they've both abandoned me again. (sigh)

Sissy and I decorated our tree on Sunday. We are woefully behind in all things Christmas-decorating related and D only cut down our tree on Saturday afternoon. It's amazing how different Christmas preparations become when you have a Jady Lady in your life! Last year, I had the decorations up, cookies baked, jam made, presents purchased and wrapped all well before the 25th. This year...well, I'm just thankful we have a tree at all!

This year, I used violet and green bulbs (yes, it's a not very subtle homage to Jade Violet), along with the antique Russian glass ornaments my sister in law got me last year. I thought it looked pretty. Kind of minimalist. Then I proceeded to wreck the entire effect by tinselating the darn thing. Sissy said the tree looked "naked" without tinsel. I never use the stuff, but found a mound of it in a bin and did what I thought was a bang-up tinselly job. D came in, took one look and informed me it looked as though a boy in a hurry had done the tinsel job. He kindly removed the offending gobs of shiny stuff and patiently showed me the proper way to hang it - one bloody strand at a time!? No wonder I never use the stuff.

So, here it is, the eve before Christmas eve. I've finished my wrapping, written my "to do" list for tomorrow, the fire is pleasantly warm and I'm dog-tired. Jady is going to waken up any second now for a feed, so I think I'll eat a few chocolate Turtles and head to bed. With any luck, D will join me and we'll have a good night's sleep before the festivities begin. Merry Christmas to all my friends in Bloggerland - have a wonderful holiday and try to be nicer than naughty.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Sleepless at Someday...again

Things I like to do when I can't sleep:
1) Write letters to people in my head. Most of the time, they are witty, harmless epistles to my favourite pen pals E and K, but sometimes they're poisonous, vitriolic notes dripping with hate and bitterness. Mostly to companies where I've received sub-par customer service.

2) Think of all the things I wish I'd said to my ex when he left me. Sometimes I play out the scenarios in my head. They usually come across as campy soap-opera type scenes where I am full of righteous anger and say cutting things while he just stands there, mute and helpless. Not especially productive or healing, but it's reallllly fun. Especially when I simply have to roll over to see the absolute best man in the world sleeping beside me.

3) Drive. I know, I know, it's the STUPIDEST thing to do when one is tired, cranky, worried, etc. I've actually given up the practice ever since I was pulled over by a cop in Point Clark for driving around late at night without my headlights on. Oopsie. I was tired and upset and incoherent. Luckily, he figured out I wasn't drunk and was very kind. But he insisted on following me back to my brother-in-law's place (where we were living at the time) because I couldn't find where D had put the ownership. Ah yes, there's nothing like having your brother-in-law wake up to find a cop in his front foyer.

4) Go down to the kitchen and eat whatever I can get my hands on. Olives. Cheesies. Ice cream out of the carton. My husband's lunch. Food tastes oh-so-delicious when it's eaten sneakily and stealthily in the middle of the night. (Even better than eating it in the bathtub!)

5) Count my blessings. I like to think about the first time I danced with D, in the hallway at the U of W during our first ever salsa lesson. Or the way Jade fit perfectly on my chest every night we slept at the hospital after she was born. The way my friend R snorts when she laughs and the crazy sense of humour both my sisters have. How beautiful the sun looks against my bedroom wall on an autumn morning. How lucky I am to have a big, comfy bed to sleep in.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

In praise of...the bath

I keep forgetting to contribute to my "In praise of" blog series. It was supposed to be a monthly homage to the good stuff in life, but I think I missed November entirely. Oopsie. It certainly isn't because I don't have enough good stuff in my life, either. Nope, life is rife with the good stuff; just not rife with writing/blogging time it seems.

Anyway, today I will wax poetic about THE BATH. Last week D and I stayed at the London Armories hotel, and there was a glorious, deep, marble tub in our room that we promptly made use of. I'd almost forgotten how amazing it is to float shoulder-deep in hot water for an hour. We've been having some water issues at Someday, so I've avoided the bath because I don't want my skin to turn a brilliant rusty orange the way our toilets have from the iron in the water. But spending some time in the bath has inspired me to sing its praises...

- A bath is the ultimate mood enhancer. Anxious about the presentation you have to give tomorrow? Upset about a romance gone sour? Screaming baby making your hair fall out? The bath is the answer, my friend. As soon as you start running the water, your shoulders will release themselves from their hiding place beside your ears. Drop your clothing on the floor and you'll feel your breath start to deepen. Sink into the luxurious warmth of a full tub and all the nastiness of life seems to disappear, if only for an hour or two. Add a few candles and a glass of wine, and you've got yourself a few hours of pure, simple bliss. Ahhhhh....

- Food tastes better in the bath. Eat in the bath, you say? Oh yes. And somehow, eating and drinking in the bathtub makes everything taste better. Red wine becomes silkier, popcorn is crispier, apple slices are tangier, chocolate is...um...chocolate-y-er. I think it's because eating in the tub is a bit taboo, kind of like eating in bed. And we all know that doing something slightly naughty is just plain fun. Don't believe me? Try floating a plastic bowl of buttered popcorn beside you in the tub next time you climb in and see if you don't agree. The only downside is fishing out the mushy bits that don't make it to your mouth.

- You get to be naked. There just aren't enough acceptable times and places a person can be naked and feel completely relaxed; the bath is an exception. Not only are you supposed to be naked, it would be weird if you weren't. So look down, appreciate your wonderful naked self - wrinkles, hairy bits, freckles and saggies and all! Our bodies are pretty cool things and treating them to a nice, warm bath is a good way to show yourself you care.

- Your voice becomes magically enhanced. Singing in the bath is even better than singing in the shower, because your voice carries up from the depths of the tub and bounces off the water. I can easily become Beyonce when I'm in the tub. Or at least one of those nerdy kids from Glee.

- You can be alone. Perfectly, wonderfully alone. You can close the door. You can even lock it if you have such a luxury. Baths are times for solitude and reflection. Unless, of course, you have a big ol' tub with room for a friend. But that's a whole different blog entry.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Recipes for the vegetarian lurking in all of us....

Well, everyone except my Dad, that is. I'm pretty sure Mr. Feick, Hunter At Large, doesn't have a vegetarian bone in his 73 year old body.

It's been a while since I've posted a recipe or two on this blog, and a combo of having had a recent visit from my best vegetarian pal R and a read through Phil Bean's latest blog entry have reminded me that it's time.

I think I've mentioned that I'm a lapsed vegetarian; if it wasn't for the fact that a) bacon is so darned delicious, and b) I married a former dairy farmer, I think I could have progressed far into the lands of meatless bliss. But I haven't, and I likely won't. Yet I do love veggie recipes, and I've taken to subjecting my husband to one or two meatless meals a week. It goes something like this:

D: "Hey, this looks good. What is it?"
Me: "Oh, just some (mushroom) Spaghetti sauce/(bulgar) chili/ (black bean & yam) burritos/ (ricotta & spinach) casserole." (I omit all words in brackets and smile brightly.)
D: "Mmmm." (Takes a forkful, nearly gets it into his mouth. Stops. Inspects it as though he is an entomologist discovering a new bug.) "Heyyyyyy, waitaminute...where's the meat??!"

D is not a picky soul, bless his meat-loving heart, and he always eats what I cook with little complaint, despite a few jabs about Greenpeacers. I've even won him over to the dark side (e.g. where he says, in a shocked tone, "Wow Kim, this is really good stuff. I mean, I could eat a lot of this.") with a couple of recipes, which I'll now share with you. The only thing I ask in return is that you share a couple with me!

Chicky Salad
1 can chick peas, rinsed & drained
1 large tomato, chopped (or two big handfuls of grape tomatoes, halved)
1/4 cup minced sweet or red onion
1 cup fresh bocconcini mozzarella balls (I use the big ones and tear them up, but you can use mini ones and leave 'em whole)
a handful of fresh basil, torn
three good glugs of olive oil
juice from 1/2 lemon
salt & pepper

Mix it all together & let stand at room temp for 1/2 hour before serving. If you're going to refrigerate, add the tomatoes at the last minute. Refreshing, nutritious and easy.

Avocado and Egg Salad Toasties
1 large ripe avocado, peeled & chopped
4 hard boiled eggs, chopped
3 tbsp good mayonnaise
2 green onions, chopped (or chives, or regular onion)
1 tomato, chopped
squeeze of fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper
4 slices of your favourite bread

Mush the avocado, egg and mayo together. Season with salt and pepper. Add all other ingredients and mix well. Slather on toasted bread. Mmmmm...rich and delicious.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

High five, Dr. Ferber!

Finally: Mummy - 1, Jady - 0!

Well, I guess it's more of a win-win situation. Ye olde Ferber method worked LIKE A CHARM. Baby Jade cried violently for the first night only, and has slept like an angel ever since. Clever baby. Clever Mummy. Clever Dr. Ferber.

Nighty night!

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Help me, Dr. Ferber...you're my only hope

Call me cruel, call me unfeeling, call me a bad bad mummy. We are Ferberizing this kid, and the process starts PRONTO.

I used to brag that I had the best little baby in the world, because up until a month ago, Jade usually went to bed around 9pm, got up once at 3am and then slept until 8am. "What a good baby!" people would exclaim when I proudly told them she only got up once. Yes, she was my good, smart, perfect child. Until she turned 5 months old, that is, and began to display a penchant for partying in the wee hours.

I don't mind getting up once a night to feed and change her, but 3 and 4 times gets to be a little much. I become Zombie Mummy, Jade becomes Miss Crankypants, and together we don't win any congeniality contests. Ferberization began to sound pretty good.

Ferberizing, for those of you not up to date on your kiddie psychobabble, is a method of sleep training where you let your baby cry in small increments, while reassuring her that you are still there, you still love her and it's okay for her to GO TO SLEEP. The trick is that you don't crack and pick her up. That's what she wants you to do. That's what she knows YOU want to do. So you have to fight every instinct in your body that is commanding you to go and seize your screaming child in your arms. Instead, you have to fight nature and let her "cry it out," as they say in Ferber parlance.

Several of my friends have used this method with great success. Several others, proponents of attachment parenting, think I am sick and cruel. My step-mom, who is a nurse, applauds Ferber, but I have a feeling that my mother-in-law is in the second camp, although - to her credit - she rarely offers advice. But you can tell a lot from the tone of a MIL's "Oh?" in response to your declaration that you plan to let her beloved granddaughter cry herself to sleep.

Our first attempt at the whole Ferber thing occurred last night. Jady Lady sleeps in a crib in our room (Daddy's idea) which makes the whole process even trickier. D is a big softie and I was hoping he'd sleep in the Blue room so as not to disturb my resolve, but he stayed put and admirably held fast to the rules. I fed Jade at 10:30, then again at 2:30, but when the fussing began at 4:45am, I said a silent prayer to Dr. Ferber and let her cry for the recommended 3 minutes before going over to give her a comforting pat. I went back to bed. The crying turned to screams of rage. D and I clung to each other; neither of us needed to say a word, but we were both thinking, "LET GO OF ME! I MUST GO AND PICK UP MY BABY! MY BABY NEEDS ME! LET GO OF ME!!!" We tightened our grip on each other.

At the 5 minute mark, I went and talked to Jade again. The screams turned to shrieks so loud my eardrums reverberated. Same thing at the 9 minute mark, and the 12 minute mark. But at the 15 minute mark, her shrieks subsided into angry hiccuping sobs, punctuated by the familiar "squish squish" sound of Jade sucking the heck out of her favourite two fingers (think Maggie Simpson's soother sound, but wetter). She was still ticked off, but had figured out that screaming wasn't going to help. And she slept through until 7am. Whoo hoo! Best of all, when I asked her this morning if she still liked Mummy, she gave me her signature gummy grin and squealed. Phew.

Tonight is Return to Ferber Mountain; let's hope it goes smoothly. If we crack now, baby Jade will know she rules the roost and that won't do us any favours now...or in 16 years!

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Worst. Haircut. Ever.

I don't consider myself an especially vain person, but c'mon - everyone has something about themselves that they just don't dig. I bet even Aishwarya Rai (purportedly the most beautiful woman in the world) wakes up some mornings and says, "Ugh, look at my perfect eyes. They are just too perfect."

For me, it's my hair. I can count on one hand the number of times I've been satisfied with the cut, style and/or colour. It's baby-fine. It's naturally mouse-coloured. It's limp. To combat these shortcomings, my signature style is two pigtails, which is cute and all, but probably not the best look for someone approaching the big four-oh.

Add the hormonally induced baldness, and I've got myself one annoying hairdo. So I did what any woman does when faced with the ego-slashing horror of bad hair: I made an appointment to get it cut.

My beloved stylist - the only guy who can make me like my hair for at least 24 hours - is in Waterloo. Waterloo may as well be 1000km away these days. Which caused me to act rather rashly, book an appointment with a stylist in the Kink that I didn't know - the first stylist available - and go without any clear idea of what I wanted her to do. Dumb, dumb and dumber.

When she asked the question that all stylists ask ("So what are we doing today?"), I shrugged, explained my issues and said those five fatal words: "Just do whatever you think." I should have known I was doomed when she chirped, "Oh, you're going to be a great client. I love how you don't care what I do with your hair!"

In all fairness, she was very sweet, and did hunt through a magazine for some ideas. She stopped at a photo of someone named Mandy Moore, who had a cute, scruffy little cut that looked easy to work with. Sure, I said. Go for it.

Half an hour later, I looked up from my gossip rag to see that I had been transmogrified from a sort of cute, kinda hip, still youngish pig-tail mum to a 1980's, no-nonsense Wal-mart mop-head Mom. With a capital M. Holy. Crap.

"What do you think?" asked perky stylist. I nodded and manufactured a smile that hurt my face. I told her it was very....nice. Inside, I was screaming "AUGH! AUGH! AUUGHHHHH!" (Which is Dunstan for HOLY CRAP HOLY CRAP MY HUSBAND WILL NEVER KISS ME AGAIN!!)

All of this is my own fault. I do not blame Miss Perky Stylist. I was desperate, I acted desperately and now I have to live with the desperate consequences: Worst Haircut Ever. Thankfully, said haircut will grow out eventually. Unless I snap and shave the rest of it off with D's beard trimmer.

And no, you can't see a picture of it!

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Dunstan Dunce

My loving sister from Oz sent us a DVD when I was pregnant. It's called "Dunstan Baby Language," and promised to reveal the secrets of baby talk. I thought the idea was sweet; D snorted and rolled his eyes. Then we kind of forgot about it and at one point it became a coaster for Tanzi's beer during her summer visit. My sister from Oz kept asking me whether I'd watched the DVD and I would hem and haw and say, "Ooohhh, not yet, but next week for sure!"

Then came the business of giving birth and recuperating and learning to breastfeed and no sleep, and needless to say, Ms. Dunstan was completely forgotten. Until the screaming began, about the fourth week after Jady lady's arrival.

I was slumped on the couch, bleary-eyed, watching my gorgeous daughter turn purple with unexplained rage. She wasn't colicky, and she really didn't scream that much. But when she did - man, oh man, that kid could really holler. For a long time. Her screams made both me and D want to run and hide, which was not a helpful reaction.

It was then that I remembered the promises of the lovely, raven-haired Ms. Priscilla Dunstan of Australia. I lunged for the coffee table, shuffled through the stacks of assorted crap and fished out the magical DVD.

"Your baby speaks Dunstan," it said on the back. "Your baby is talking to you. Now you can understand." Tucking Jade under one arm, I peeled off the cellophane and popped the disc into the DVD player. "You will feel less stress as your baby becomes happier. You will feel like a successful parent," the insert promised. Eight years of research, remarkable story of an Aussie woman, universal language of babies, blah blah blah. I turned up the volume. My husband would likely laugh at me, and my brother-in-law would make that "you're crazy" hand motion when I told him, but I would do it. I would learn the whole freaking Dunstan lexicon if it would only stop the insanity.

As luck would have it, the lesson (and DVD) was short: Dunstan-ese only consisted of 5 words. Yeah. What are these groundbreaking words, you ask? NEH, HEH, EH, EAIRH, and of course OWH. Meaning hungry, uncomfortable, gassy, really gassy and tired. And ALL babies say these words. Yep, all of them, regardless of race, language, background etc. At least, that's what Missus Dunstan says.

Now, call me nutty, but I really did begin to hear Jade say "NEH" (which I came to interpret as HUNGRY RIGHT NOW MUMMY) and "EH" (which means OW OW OW THE GAS! I AM A WINDY BABY!) and this was extremely helpful, as I no longer tried to shove a boob in her mouth when she said "Eh" or put her to sleep when she said "Neh." As for the rest...well, perhaps I wasn't listening closely enough. I don't think I ever heard her say anything else on the DVD.

It's a neat idea, very nicely packaged, and Ms. Dunstan is mighty attractive. The thing that burns me about the whole Dunstan thing though, is that they don't tell you about the million other words babies say. Such as "WAAAAAHHHHH!", which I personally think has to be the most universal of all baby words. Or what about "AAAAIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEE?" Or even "ARRRGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHHHH!" (Oh wait, that's what I say after a Jady screamfest.)

Anyways, I'm glad there wasn't an exam for Dunstanese, because I surely would have failed. I've taken the handy chart off my fridge, because I got tired of trying to explain and defend it, and frankly, Jady Lady and I are starting to come to vague understandings based on facial expressions. We'll figure each other out eventually, DVD or no DVD.

Now if they'd just make one on the universal language of husbands, I'd be set.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

The White Poppy

So what are your thoughts on this: instead of wearing a red poppy, I'm toying with the idea of wearing a white one.

I thought it was a rather new-fangled idea, but apparently the white poppy has been around for quite awhile. Since 1933, according to the 'net; a women's guild in England started wearing them to symbolize their committment to peace. I like that.

I don't typically wear poppies of any colour for Remembrance Day. It just isn't my thing; I never wore an AIDS ribbon, or a Breast Cancer ribbon, or those little angels you sometimes see. I deeply appreciate the sacrifices made by so many not that long ago; heck, Grandpa Feick was a doctor in WWII. I just don't feel I need to wear a poppy to prove it. I don't usually care to attract attention to myself, but there's a wee little bit of the shit disturber in me (pardon my language) that likes the idea of wearing something that might invite conversation.

By wearing a white poppy, I'd run the risk of offending someone, somewhere. Which is not something I'm eager to do. But I am a fan of people talking about things, even in the grocery store line. I'm a fan of making conscious decisions instead of simply sticking a red poppy on my coat because that's what you're supposed to do this time of year. I don't want to disrespect those who "SUPPORT OUR TROOPS," anyone with family in the military or anyone who has lost someone to war; I just like the idea of wearing my peacenik proclivities on my sleeve, so to speak, and being willing to talk to anyone who asks me about it.


Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Anti TVite

Don't hate me for what I'm about to reveal: we have a TV, and it's a dandy one, but....we don't have cable. Or satellite. Or even two fuzzy channels from bunny eared antennae. Nope, ever since we moved to Someday, our TV has been used as a dust collecting DVD viewer only.

When we moved in, we decided not to get TV for the summer; we didn't miss it, and so here we are, over a year later and still decidedly TV-less. I think that we're an anomaly in this day and age of media saturation; I only have one other set of friends who don't watch TV. And my husband and I aren't even super smug granolas. I facebook, we both email and my husband needs to be surgically removed from his blackberry. But when it comes to TV, it boils down to this: 1) we're kinda cheap (we can't get cable here and satellite is over $75 a month!), and 2) we try hard to find better things to do than melt into the couch for hours on end in front of the squawk box.

There are a million and one things that need doing when you live in an old house on a rural property. Lawn mowing alone takes over 3 hours a week in the summer, and don't get me started on snow shovelling in the winter. There are gardens to tend, dogs to walk, leaves to rake, garages to paint and mutant dust bunnies to chase. Add a baby to the mix and who the heck has time for TV anyway?

I will admit that I miss shows like Dancing with the Stars and House, and before Jady came along, I'd sneak down to my brother-in-law's to watch them. But I can catch shows like Glee online, and when D and I really do have a few hours to chill, we rent a DVD and enjoy every minute of it. I like that we have to make a conscious decision to make the time to watch something, instead of just having the TV on endlessly in the background.

All this being said, I think our TV-less state has finally started to wear on my husband's nerves. He missed one hockey season last year, and I think he's getting sick of my dad calling on Saturday nights to mock us for not being able to watch the game.

My dad, by the way, has a gargantuan big-screen TV and every sattelite channel imaginable. When he comes to visit us, he's lost, because he's forced to (gasp) talk and listen to music. He was here last week and he walked into the living room, stared at our black, dusty TV and shook his head forlornly. "Geez, you kids," was all he said.

I know that when I lived in the city, I used to have the TV on quite a bit, sometimes just as background noise, not because I was actually watching anything. I suppose TV kind of becomes a habit. For example, I recently went away for a weekend with a couple of friends; we had a lovely hotel room with a beautiful view and a fireplace, but the first thing my one friend did was walk over and switch on the TV. Having been TV-less for awhile, I found the noise jarring and unwelcome. But to her, it was the natural thing to do.

At this point, I've told D he can go ahead and get sattelite if that's what he really wants. I do feel bad that he's missing out on hockey, cause he loves it and I think watching a few games a week is pretty harmless. But I honestly think he just wants to get some channels so we seem more "normal." I think he's tired of explaining to friends and relatives who stare at our blank screen in puzzlement why we don't "have TV."

So we'll see...by this time next month, I could be a converted TV queen instead of an anti-TVite.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

In praise of...my new car!

I tend to be pretty set in my opinions (see my blog entry about my need to always be right), but strangely, since marrying D, I've come to change quite a few of them. He takes great pleasure in teasing me about all these changes of heart, too.

For example, I vehemently opposed all-inclusive vacations, declaring them "boring" and "prissy." Then D took me to Mexico for a week, and as I sighed with bliss on the beach with a frozen drink in my hand, he asked me how I liked all-inclusives. If I remember correctly, I stuck my tongue out at him and went back to sunbathing.

I also used to bemoan the noise and stink of snowmobiles. My dad and I always grumbled about them as they blared up and and down the road in front of his cabin, and I made the mistake of complaining to D about the wretched things one winter. "They really disturb the peace," I muttered. "So loud and stupid." So he stuffed me into a snowmobile suit and put me on the back of his loud, stupid machine. We were on it less than an hour before I was begging him to please let me drive.

So it goes that I used to violently oppose owning any vehicle larger than a 4 door sedan. Definitely NOT an SUV. Oh no, I'd never own one of those. SUVs were for right-wing eco-haters who got their jollies frittering away our precious fossil fuels. When D strong-armed me into test-driving a Toyota RAV-4, I was secretly relieved that I didn't enjoy it. Same with the Honda CR-V. But then I made the mistake of letting my Dad talk me into trying a Subaru Forester when he and I were in Owen Sound one day. I don't hang out with my Dad very much, so I did it to humour him. D gets a kick out of quoting what I said when I came home: "Oh, that car was sah-WEET!"

Nope, I didn't end up with the "sah-weet" Subaru in my driveway. But I do now have a Nissan Rogue. Which is kind of like a baby SUV. Sure, it's full of phthalates and it guzzles slightly more gas than the Kia did, but I...and it hurts me a little to say this...I love it. That's right. I LOVE MY NEW CAR. Me, the one who hasn't actually ever owned a brand new car. So to further my "In praise of" series, here are a few reasons why I love it.

1) It starts. It stops. The Kia didn't do either very reliably. 'Nuff said.

2) It's like the last bowl of porridge in the Three Bears' house: not too big, not too small. It's not scary like a Hummer, or obnoxious like a Lexus SUV, but it's no hurridly built piece of crap either. The Rogue is shiny, spacious, and pleasant-looking without being all "Hey! I'm a brand new SUV! Lookit me, you lousy 1985 hatchback! Yeah, I'm talkin' to you!" No, the Rogue is all about Polite Modest Luxury. And that's just fine with me.

3) It's one heck of a smooth ride. The Kia would hit 90km/h and start to shudder like a bowl of Jell-O; the Rogue hits 110 before I even realize we're in an 80 zone. (Don't worry, I'm working on my lead foot.)

4) Stuff fits in it. Car seat, stroller, overnight bag, coffee mugs, oversized purse, shoes, beach chairs, beach umbrella, diaper bag, groceries, bags of dog food...oh, I could go on. I have no idea what its capacity for "stuff" is, but I plan to find out.

5) No dog hair. Yep, the Rogue is a no-Neko zone, as decreed by my husband. Secretly I am not at all sorry about this, although I put up a weak protest just for appearance's sake. But it is so nice not to sip coffee with dog hair floating in it, or drop an apple and have it come off the floor looking like a hedgehog.

6) My husband calls it my "truck." Or my "vehicle." Cuz it has 4 wheel drive. I've never owned a car that didn't automatically spin doughnuts in the snow before. Or one that warrants being called a truck or vehicle. That makes me feel like a big girl.

RIP Kia...long live the Rogue!

Grief sneaks up

An acquaintance of mine who recently lost a baby posted a very poignant sentence on Facebook a few weeks ago: "When will this ball of hurt go away?" If I were to post a reply, it would be this: "It doesn't."

It's weird. You'd think that having a healthy new baby in my arms every day would be the perfect antidote to losing our dear, wee other babes. But while my love for Jade is a balm that helps the old wounds heal, I have come to realize the hurt may not ever entirely disappear. And that's okay.

We lost our first babe two years ago in September, so that explains why I've spent a heck of a lot of time rocking Jade and sniffling lately. It's so bizarre though, how grief sneaks up and attacks when you least expect it. I can feel perfectly mellow, at peace with the world, enjoying a great day; then I'll happen to glance at a picture of my mother, or wander into the Blue Room (which was going to be Rose's nursery), or look under the old chestnut tree where I spent a lot of time sitting wishing I had a baby. And then it's all over for about half an hour: hello grief, goodbye mellow afternoon.

The good thing is that after I embrace my sadness a little, it melts away, leaving me no worse off than before. I could blame it on these pesky hormones but instead I tell myself that it's healthy and normal. I don't wish it away, no matter how intense the hurt gets. I think it's important to keep feeling, keep remembering and to keep acknowledging my grief. If it stays tucked away all the time, it's sure to come raging out in some wacko manifestation. So I'll continue to sit in the rocking chair with Jady on my shoulder and weather these little storms and take care of these little balls of hurt.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Hunting and Gathering

Here's something you probably didn't know about me: I think I was a squirrel in a past life. At least, that's what I would have been if I believed in past lives.

As soon as the leaves start changing colour, I'm seized with the urge to collect things: shiny brown chestnuts, acorns with their cute little caps, bristly pine cones, feathers from under the bird feeder. I'm not sure why. I think it disturbs my husband when he starts to notice little piles of things building up on flat surfaces around the house. He puts up with my obsessive stone-collecting habit, but I think the acorns are going to drive him over the marital edge.

Gotta go. I think I just saw a bluejay lose a feather!

Friday, 2 October 2009

The Sunday Drive...continued

You know, I started the whole Sunday Drive series of blog entries back in the spring and then pretty much abandoned it. So I will delve back a month or so ago and tell you about our latest Sunday drive.

We didn't go far (Goderich) and we didn't do a whole lot, but that's what makes a Sunday Drive so pleasant. There's no schedule, no rush and no worries.

Goderich is touted as "Canada's prettiest town" (at least, that's what it says on the sign, and according to Queen Elizabeth). It is quite picturesque, with its rugged old Gaol, beautiful view of the lake, winding streets and overflowing flower baskets. There is a square in the centre of town that's interesting to walk around, although driving can be another matter if you're behind someone who's lost, or are yourself dizzy from contemplating which of the many exits will take you to the beach already. (Fun fact: D tells me that the plans for Guelph and Goderich were mixed up and Guelph was actually supposed to have had a square in the centre of town. According to Wiki, that isn't actually true, but it's still funny to think about.)There is the best bakery ever and a few nice cafes, plus a little movie theatre that serves kick-ass popcorn. It's great.

We ran a few manly errands (TSC and Crappy Tire, of course) and then D surprised me by fulfilling a long-standing wish of mine: to drive down to the harbour and eat at the fish place. Every time we drive by the sign that says "Best fish on Ontario's West Coast," I sigh and hint heavily about how I'd like to go there for supper someday. Well, this particular Sunday was someday.

It takes a lot to coax D out for supper, but for some reason Sunday drives seem to bring out that rare "take my wife out to eat" urge in him. So we drove down the steep, winding road to the harbour in search of our elusive fish. I kept my eyes open for what I thought would be a biggish restaurant. Instead, we drove up to what was basically a tiny little trailer with a nautical air about it. Yup, that was the place! Inside, it was tinier than I'd expected, but tidy and neat. Each table had fresh flowers on it and everything was decorated with fishy or harbour-y stuff. We squeezed ourselves and Jade into a table at the back, next to a lady wearing a Royal Canadian Legion uniform and her husband. I could have reached across and plucked a french fry off Mrs. Legion's plate, the tables were that close together.

Luckily, it was the kind of place where everyone either knew each other, or decided to get to know each other while they ate. We chatted and traded baby stories with Mr and Mrs. Legion. The waitresses were friendly and pleasant.They even took turns holding Jade so I could eat! Now that's my kinda place.

After supper, we headed down to the harbour boardwalk. It's a very long trail of nicely constructed, raised boardwalk that goes on forever along the shore. Jade fell asleep in no time thanks to the bumpity bumping of stroller on boards and D and I chatted about nothing in particular while a strong wind off the lake buffeted us and mussed our hair. I always enjoy my walks with him; we never seem to run out of things to say. We read all the historical signs, took turns pointing out crazy people swimming in the roaring waves, nodded to other folks out for evening strolls.

On our way back, D spied two ships coming into the harbour. They were tall ships, something I'd only seen once before in Montreal. We made it to the harbour just in time to see them sail right up and dock. I guess it was part of some tall ship adventure tour because there were a bunch of teenagers scurring around on board, tying ropes and untying ropes when some guy yelled at them to do so. If I didn't get seasick just looking at a boat rocking around on the water, I'd say it looks like a cool thing to do. Just not for me.

To end our Sunday drive, I convinced D to stop for ice cream at the roadside stand just outside of town. $11.00 later, we were happily scarfing down sundaes in the car while Jade watched. A perfect end to another happy day.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Laundry Therapy

It's hard to believe I lived as long as I did in the city without a proper clothesline. When I first moved in to my little house in Waterloo, I quickly got my then father-in-law to remove the scarecrowish clothes-hanging thingy that was rusting to death in the backyard. It was so ugly I didn't even stop to consider that it might be useful. Instead, I went to Crappy Tire and purchased a retractable clothesline, smugly attaching it to my deck that very evening. I would be helping the environment, saving money and electricity and generally looking very granola with my fancy new clothesline.


I realized after the first time I tried it that I'd made a terrible mistake. The line was 20 feet long, which only provides enough room to hang a few sheets and maybe one sock; I owned a king-sized bed and a heck of a lot of socks. I had to climb up on the one rickty stool I owned to attach the line to the maple tree in the back yard every time I wanted to hang laundry, which meant enduring the amused looks of my neighbours. (They used their clothesline to exercise their cat and dried their clothes in a dryer) My line also had to be forcibly retracted once I was done, kind of like winding up a really long, tiresome yoyo.

Worse, the darned thing would never stay taut. It'd inevitably droop into the flowerbeds or a pile of doggie doo. Once I even came out to find my dog asleep in the middle of my white sheets as they dragged across the lawn.

Imagine my absolutel delight when we moved to Someday and I saw my new best friend: 60 feet of glorious double line, complete with a concrete landing from which to survey my domain while I hang my clothes out. It even came with those metal pulley things to keep the lines tight when you hang really heavy towels on them. Hallelujia!

I adore the smell of sheets that have been hung outside to dry, so I can't get enough of this clothesline stuff. Clothes just seem cleaner to me after they've been soaked in an afternoon's sunshine. Plus, you leave 'em out overnight during a heavy dew and voila! Hello extra whiteness and brightness, all thanks to Mama Nature. And yeah, I found that out through sheer laziness one night when I was too into my book to go take the clothes off the line.

A baby on board means more laundry than I'd ever envisioned, especially since we use cloth diapers. But I love the poetry of Jade's wee clothes waving at me from the line; the pinks and blues and yellows become a rainbow of pastel colours that make it worth all the trouble and time of hanging them up.

And instead of listening to the dry humping sounds of my 15 year old dryer, I hear the cedar waxwings peeping in the apple trees and crickets sing in the alfalfa. I get to feel the wind muss my hair, the sun glow on my face, and cool, damp sheets against hot arms and shoulders on those scorcher summer days. Instead of gazing at damp cement basement walls, I watch monarch butterflies flutter crazily across the lawn. It's lovely.

Sure, tossing stuff from the washer to the dryer is less time consuming. Yeah, you have to wrestle with heavy sheets, learn the art of the clothespin, search for dropped socks in the thorny roses. And since Someday is always windy, my brother in law, the UPS guy, and a visiting neighbour have all rescued clothing that's tried to escape. Sometimes it ends up in the cornfield, or on the hood of my car. Once my brother in law brought me a stray t-shirt, then pointed to a pair of my dainty underthings lying in the middle of the lawn. "You dropped something. I ain't touching it." But I think hanging laundry builds character in a way that spending too much time with a big white dryer in the depths of the basement never can.

Now the question is, what will I do when the snow flies???

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Aurora Boring-alis

Since moving to the country, I spend an inordinate amount of time craning my neck upward to look at the night skies. It makes my head spin sometimes to contemplate the stars, planets and even satellites scattered up in the heavens. I've even come to recognize a few; rusty coloured Sirius, bright Vega, Orion's tidy belt. In Waterloo, they were mere specks that blended together; at Someday, they're brilliant gems strewn across a black velvet sky.

We've had two weeks of clear, warm weather with cool nights - perfect for stargazing, and usually perfect for seeing the Northern Lights. Searching for Aurora Borealis is kind of a tradition with me; ever since I was a young kid coming to the cottage, it didn't feel like summer until I'd spotted the Northern Lights at least once. I remember lying on the cool sand with my cousins while the waves lapped at our feet, staring up as those mysterious lights wove their ghostly threads across the darkness.

And so I've peered up at the Someday sky, night after night, all summer long. All I've achieved is a severe crick in the neck and a bad case of impatience. If you'd been standing beside Jade and I last night, on the driveway, near the cornfield, you'd have heard the following:

"Ah haaa...look up there Jady. Do you see that? That's the Northern Lights! Yup! Look at it! Isn't it beautiful? It looks like a gauzy white curtain, doesn't it? Mmm hmm. Mummy loves the Northern Lights. Oh. Waitaminute. Hmmm...maybe those are just clouds. Are those just clouds? Dammit, they are. For pete's sake." (Calls to husband who is wearily heading into the house) "D, are those clouds or the Northern Lights?" (mumbled response from husband) "Crap! Are you sure? I could have sworn they were...oh, never mind. C'mon Jady. Let's go in. *sigh*"

Yeah, I know. Jade is way too little to even notice the Northern Lights, let alone stars. But I am bound and determined to see them this year, even if it means scouring the skies each and every night until it snows!

Friday, 11 September 2009


Facebook has many ridiculous questionnaire-type apps (Who would be your celebrity boyfriend?! What colour is your Aura?! What alcoholic beverage are you?!) which, for reasons that I haven't thought about too closely, I seem to keep trying. I think they're mostly harmless little time wasters that you forget about moments after you publish your results (Ben Affleck! Aqua! Beer!)...but one did make an impression on me last week.

"Which ghost sleeps in your room?" popped up on my feed page. And I have a thing about ghosts, so I took it. And the result? Well, here it is, in all its grammatically grating glory:

this dog grew up on a farm in the 1800's but drowned in a lake. this dog doesnt only sleep at the end of your bed every night but he follows you everywhere you go and keeps you away from more danger than you realize. all of your lucky escapes from trouble are thanks to him.


I did have a bull terrier named Henry who choked to death in a tragic apple incident about 12 years ago. He would have cheerfully chewed apart anyone who tried to harm me, so he'd make a pretty sweet ghost doggie. Except I don't believe in ghosts. Which is problematic, because I'm writing a novel about them. Yeah. Go figure.

I shouldn't say I don't believe in ghosts at all; the fact is that I'm kinda scared to believe in them. I don't want to meet one, not now, not ever. But I have felt, at different times throughout my life, that I wasn't alone in a place, even though technically I was the only person there. Especially in our old house in New Hamburg and here, at Someday. Both places are 100 years old and are bound to have some sort of history kicking around them.

But does that mean there are ghosts? Dunno. My friend R is convinced that our blue room must be haunted because her daughter acts weird whenever they sleep over there. It was supposed to be Rose's room, so who knows? Maybe Rose comes out to play with R's daughter. Gah! I just gave myself a shiver.

The thing I struggle with is not knowing whether ghosts are friendly or mean, good or evil, interested in humans or unobtrusive. If they exist, why are they here? How come they're not living it up in the afterlife? And what do they want from us? These are the questions I have been wrestling with for ages, and the elusive answers are holding up my novel's progress. I can't write about ghosts until I can figure out what exactly they want from my character. If you have any ideas, I'm all ears.

Or maybe I should just ask ghostie Fido tonight.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Get Yer Motor Runnin'...

My brothers-in-law both have shiny, growly Harley Davidsons - Sportsters? Roadsters? Something with a "ster" in it - that they are very proud of. They deck themselves out in Harley helmets, jackets, chaps and belts and go thundering down the road looking quite cool. D has a 20 year old Honda 350. It's covered in dust, has two broken tail lights and was recently diagnosed with a bad case of mouse nest in its innards. When we ride it, we usually wear lumber jackets and work boots.

I think I detect more than a hint of wistfulness in D's eyes when C comes rumbling out of the shop on his way for a tour. D doesn't surf the 'net much, but when he does, it's to scroll through pages of used motorbikes every blessed time. I keep coaxing him to buy a new one, but he won't. I'm not really sure why, but I think it's because he never wants to spend money on himself. Surprise me with a ruby and diamond necklace for Christmas? No problem. Purchase a new grain mixer for his Dad's farm? No biggie. Buy himself a used motorbike to replace the one he's had since forever? Not gonna happen.

While it's tempting to want to buy one for him, I wouldn't know where to begin. My motorbike expertise begins with tooting around on the teeny tiny old '70 at his parents' farm, and ends with me balancing on the back of D's bike until my butt hurts. And C has vowed never to help me, for fear of incurring D's wrath. So what to do?

I've been for a ride on both my brothers' Harleys, and while they're a lot of fun, I still prefer D's beat up old bike. The Harleys are incredibly loud; your head aches after a half hour on the back of one. I don't like the way everyone stares at you when you roar through town either. The passenger seats aren't as comfy as the old squishy one on D's bike. Plus the brothers would never allow their bikes to go for a joyride down the dirty 6th concession, let alone a heart-pounding buzz through a freshly shorn field.

I have so many good memories associated with the Honda: the first time D took me for a spin, through fragrant meadows and down bumpy dirt roads, around his Grandpa's old farm and the Lowry Grain elevators; the time we dumped 'er executing a tight turn and smashed the only remaining tail light; the night he proposed at the Point Clark lighthouse with the ring hidden in the bike's secret compartment. Yeah, I love that old bike! Even if by some miracle I can convince him to get a new one some day, the dusty red Honda will always be my favourite.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Stuff I'm slightly embarrassed to admit I like

Oh come on. Everyone has a list. You're just too chicken to blog about it.

1) Baby Duck/Molson Canadian
Cheap, sweet, fizzy wine drunk out of plastic cups on the beach at midnight tastes just like Veuve Cliquot. Trust me. And I'm the beery snobbiest of beer snobs, but a bottle of Canadian so cold your lips almost stick to it is the best way to quench your thirst on a muggy August day. Plus it has fuelled more two-steps and helped me wash down more salty midnight buffets at wedding receptions, stag n' does and reunions than I can count. How can you not love a beer that does that for $2.00 a cup?

2) Friends
I really can't say why this show makes me laugh so much. I mean, it's fairly predictable and not exactly high-brow humour. But there are a few episodes (the one where Phoebe pretends to seduce Chandler, the one where Jon Lovitz is a stoned restaurant owner, the one where Joey discovers that his tailor is a pervert) that make me howl every time I see them. I guess the show is kind of like a warm blanket of sorts; you know the characters, you know the dialogue and you know what's gonna happen because you've seen the episodes a million times. It's not as acerbic as Seinfeld was. It's kind of like eating a nice, warm, fresh squishy plain doughnut. Not great for you, but it won't kill you either.

3) Zoodles
There's something to be said for limp noodles in sweet tomato sauce with a sodium content that would fill three salt shakers. Plus, it comes out of a can! I don't think the recipe or packaging has changed since I was a kid, which is impressive. And this stuff saved my life after my C-section when no other food appealed to me. Now the real question: are Alphaghetti and Zoodles just cleverly disguised fraternal twins? I must do a blind taste test someday.

4) Journey/Abba/Simon & Garfunkel
Ahhh, listening to those soothing ballads punctuated by Steve Perry's freakish high notes on a long trip home from Waterloo. The tinny melodies of Bjorn, Benny and the girls as background music while I make supper. Singing along to the warbling, angsty harmonies of Sim n' Garf as I dust the living room. These tunes are all leftover loves from my teen years when I'd play the same albums over and over and over again. Not enduring classics to any ears but mine, probably. It's still fun to make up words to Abba songs though.

5) The X-Files
I think I've mentioned before how obsessed I am with this show, 7 years after it ended. At first, I had to content myself with reading the episode guide books, which are mostly awful. Then my good friends lent me the entire nine-season DVD collection, which was just mean, 'cause now all I want to do during every spare minute is watch Mulder and Scully play with their flashlights. Jade probably has so much alien conspiracy dialogue embedded in her little brain from all the times I've nursed her while watching X-Files; I've no doubt that someday, I'll be lamely trying to explain why she insists on drawing green men with big eyes during a parent-teacher interview.

Friday, 28 August 2009

In praise of...sisters

I just realized I'd better get my August entry in for my "things I love" blog. No sense starting a new series if I don't keep 'er up! So here are things I love about...sisters.

I am the filling in a three sister sandwich. Tanzi is two years my junior and Sissy nine my senior. Tanzi is teaching English Lit in Moscow until next June and Sissy has been enjoying life down under in Australia for almost twenty years now. Despite gaps in age and distance, we're close and fondly refer to ourselves as "crazy sisters three." We even have our own theme song set to the tune of Dolly Parton's 'Islands in the Stream,' but it only exists in a rarely heard live version, usually fuelled by a lot of champagne.

On the rare occasions that all three of us are together, we talk and talk and talk. And drink. And then talk some more. And I'm not even gonna touch on the giggling fits that drinking and talking induce. The exciting part? There's a slight chance that we may get the opportunity to do just that this Christmas, and it will be the first time since D and I got married that we'll all be in the same country together.

Since meeting D, I've been exposed to the brother dynamic (he has two), but I have to say, it pales in comparison to the sister connection. For one thing, the brothers Lowry don't hug, or talk about stuff unless it's mechanical or cider-related. So I thought I'd jot down a few of the things I love about sisters, just for the record.

1) Sisters get you.
Whether it's your weird fear of feet, the way you blink really fast when you're lying, your penchant for toilet reading or your addiction to Asian knick-knacks, sisters get you. They get your jokes, your quirks, your habits in a way even a parent or a spouse can't quite appreciate. I've seen D and my Dad look bewildered over many of the things I do or say, whereas my sisters simply shrug. "Hey, that's just Kim," their expressions seem to say. "Accept that she's weird. Move on."

2) Sisters are your biggest fans.
Sisters have a knack for making you feel good about even the smallest of your accomplishments. My sisters cheer me on constantly, about things as innocuous as creating a new jam flavour to getting one of my articles published. We encourage each other, no matter how crazy the scheme or plan or idea may sound, and we are there to hurrah or comfort as the situation requires. When I publish my book, you can bet my sisters' names will be first on the dedication page.

3) Sisters are kinda like you, but not really.

Even though you share may similarities and certain traits that cement your status as sisters (in our case, a seal-bark of a laugh that has been compared to our Nana's, a bad habit of making funny faces in photos, and a love of lychee to name just a few), you're very different in other respects. And that's a good thing. It's like you're just similar enough to feel connected, but different enough to earn each other's respect.

4) Sisters let you borrow clothes.
'Nuff said. From what I can tell, the brothers Lowry only borrow tools.

So what else can I say? Amen to sisters, my friends. There's nothing quite like 'em.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Hausfrau apathy

Today, I just couldn't take it. I couldn't take the dirty dishes, the dirty floor, the dirty laundry, the dirty dog. The mounds of thank-you notes waiting to be written. The garbage waiting to go to the curb. The clothes to be packed for tomorrow's excursion to Waterloo with Jade. Individually, any of these tasks would be quite manageable, welcome even. But collectively, it made me want to crawl back under the covers and hibernate until a fairy godmother appeared with a manservant in tow. Preferably a hunky one that looked like Hugh Jackman.
Normally I don't mind domesticity. I like cooking and laundry, and I enjoy writing little thank you notes to all the generous folks who have showered Jady with gifts. But there was just something about it all today that seemed overwhelming - almost suffocating. D is a great help around the house and usually does the dishes, most of which he did last night at 10pm, leaving just a token few "to soak". He even threw in a load of laundry before he left for work this morning. I can't really complain
about having too much to do; I just didn't wanna do any of it today.

So after surveying my arena of domestic chaos, I decided that Jade and I would be better off outside. And that's where we spent most of the day: picking beans, peas and cukes from the garden, plucking gem-like red currants off the bush to make jelly, playing with Black Betty the cat and Neko the dog. Jade got her first feel of grass on her toes (loved it),
her first look at apples on the tree up close (grabbed them) and her first view of a kitty cat (fascinated by it).
I even hung out her wet laundry to dry later in the afternoon since my mood had improved considerably.

Sometimes, you just need to flip the mess the bird and go do something fun. The mess will still be there; garden harvests, sunshiny days and wee babies won't.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Soggy Bottom Girl

Every now and then, God peers down on Someday and says, "Hmm. Looks a little dry down there." He then proceeds to send a deluge of biblical proportions. This happened yesterday at the exact moment I was unbuckling Jady Lady from her carseat to take her into the house. Ahhh, nature.

I plugged her back in, flopped the top over her seat and ran for the back porch door. This is no easy feat when your hands are slippery with rainwater, you are blinded by said rainwater and the carseat weighs approximately three thousand pounds. At least that's what it feels like to stick-armed, outta shape me.

It took me all of 15 seconds to run from the car to the house, but by the time I pried the screen door open and heaved Jade inside, I was sopping wet. I'm talking wet to the skin, from dripping hair to waterlogged sneakers. Even my underwear was soaked. Bleah.

When I lifted the carseat cover to check on Jade, she was completely dry and stared up at me, perplexed. I guess she'd never seen Mummy look like a drowned rat before. As I leaned over, a drop of rainwater ran off my forehead, plopped onto her nose and dribbled down to her lip. She tasted it and grinned a big toothless smile.

It was at that moment that I felt the urge to take off my clothes and run outside in the pouring rain. There's just something about being in the country during a warm summer rain that causes one to entertain thoughts of running outside in one's altogethers. However, having a three month old baby waiting patiently for you to take her out of her carseat and feed her lunch puts a damper on these crazy tendencies. So instead, I stepped outside, fully clothed, and enjoyed a bit more of the rain before peeling off my wet things to put on dry clothes and return to my motherly duties.

I'm sure it will rain again this summer. Hopefully next time Jade will be fast asleep!

Friday, 14 August 2009

The inconstant gardener

When we moved to Someday farm from Waterloo, I missed very little about my old house. It had its charms and I was fond of it, but I certainly didn't miss the cupboard doors that wouldn't shut, the bathroom plumbing that misbehaved at inopportune moments, or the mold growing stealthily in the basement. No, I didn't care so much about the house; what tugged at my heart after we'd settled in at Someday were all the wonderful green and yellow and purple and pink things I'd left behind outside.

I lived at 139 Moore for over 10 years, and in that time, I'd managed to amass an impressive (and motley) assortment of flowers, plants and shrubs. I had gardens everywhere I could dig them. They were crazy and unmanagable but I loved them all the more for their untidy beauty. I enjoyed tinkering with my naturalized boulevard and chatting with passersby; I shared ribbon grass and russian sage cuttings with complete strangers who complimented me on their abundance and traded plants with neighbours. Gardens are great conversation starters.

What my gardens lacked in respectability and neatness, they made up for in personality. My seven foot high raspberry patch pulled me into a prickly embrace every morning when I went to pick berries for breakfast. Clematis vines stretched happy purple faces up the sour cherry tree and along the south wall, growing as high as the eavestrough. Dozens of rose of sharon shrubs bloomed serenely along the east wall where they'd sown themselves from my neighbour's fertile plant. My grapevine produced sticky sweet and sour fruit every year that my husband, dog and feathered friends enjoyed with equal pleasure. Peach and green striped tulips were the pride of my spring, tomatoes and herbs the pride of my summer. I didn't care so much about leaving my first house as I did about leaving my first gardens.

Thankfully, Someday already had many beautiful plants, shrubs and trees for me to discover when we moved here. But there was one thing missing: a vegetable plot. Truth be told, I'd never had a big vegetable garden before. I'd grown berries, herbs and tomatoes successfully in the city, but little else of edible interest. One year I attempted to grow two rows of popcorn; I can still remember my neighbour, an accomplished gardener who grew tomatoes from seed and zucchinis the size of baseball bats, shaking his head at me as I flicked earwigs off the cobs and chased squirrels away in vain.

Shrugging off my past failures, I pictured myself gloating over a green space teeming with with spicy herbs, giant tomato plants, fuzzy cucumbers that twined wandering fingers around the soil, orderly rows of peas, beans and onions. I'd even grow sweet corn. I was now a country woman, and I wanted me a vegetable patch!

My husband ploughed up the foot of the apple orchard with his uncle's tractor (and would have kept going if I'd let him) and hemmed in the space with weathered timber. He warned me that corn and watermelon probably wouldn't grow but I ignored him and planted lots of both, along with the other aforementioned veggies. How hard could it be?

As I've mentioned, I am not a tidy gardener. My watermelon vines overflowed onto the lawn, cucumbers kept climbing up the tomato cages and my peas clung to the nearest corn stalks. It looked a bit wild, but I didn't care. I planted everything myself and with the exception of the corn and watermelon, my crops were bountiful and beautiful.

This year, my garden is wilder and more overgrown than ever, thanks to the arrival of my baby daughter during prime planting time. I couldn’t dig up the garden, spread the manure or plant the seeds, so I enlisted my very tired hubby to do both. Carrying baby Jade in a sling one mid-June evening, dodging bats and mosquitoes, I called out instructions to my patient man on where to set the tomatoes, the herbs, the cucumbers and the onions. He even planted my beans and peas from seeds I’d saved last year. I felt a surge of relief a few weeks afterward when everything sprouted. And then, busy with baby, I proceeded to tend my garden in imagination only.

When my husband informed me we’d be getting our barn roof repaired by local Mennonites, an alarm went off in my head. Mennonites had impeccable gardens with neat, orderly rows and vegetables that behaved themselves. I could not let anyone, let alone a Mennonite farmer, see my garden in its current state of chaos. Baby Jade went in her buggy and I went to work on a warm August day. I pulled out pigweed by the fistfuls, hacked at stray dandelions and desperately tried to train my tomatoes into some semblance of order. I realized that I’d completely forgotten to cage three out of my six tomatoes, and there were two unidentifiable yet important looking plants that I couldn’t remember asking my husband to put in. Gah, I thought. I am a terrible, terrible gardener.

And then, in the midst of my sweaty gardening angst, I started to laugh. I looked at my dirty toes, my mud-caked nails, my dirt-smeared arms. I sniffed the aroma of bruised mint and pruned tomato vines. Jade was cooing in her buggy and the birds were singing. I'd forgotten what fun it was to dig in the dirt and I was having a great time. My garden didn’t have to look perfect. It didn't even have to yield much of anything. It was there for me to work in and learn from. And I have a feeling that it will be there again next year, waiting for me to dig in and learn some more.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Sister Misser

Well, my sister Tanzi left yesterday for the long day's journey back to Moscow. Actually, she's stopping off in London first to take in an unlikely performance: Jude Law as Hamlet. If Hamlet had slept with his nanny, dated a skin and bones starlet and had a habit of impregnating women 10 years his junior, I might believe Jude in the role. At this point, I'm having a hard time picturing pretty boy as the brooding prince of Denmark.

But hey - to each their own. Hopefully it's not a total disaster. At the very least, Tanzi will have the whole crazy city of London to explore for a few days before she heads back to the less than passionate embrace of the 'Cow.

I shouldn't moan too much; we were lucky to have spent most of the summer together. I was so thankful she got a chance to meet her niece and hang with us. We did our annual Bayfield and Stratford pilgramages, drank countless cups o' coffee and played lots of Yahtzee (man, if Facebook ever creates a Yahtzee application, we are so screwed). We slept in, went to the beach, shopped a little, ate a lot of great food and drank a lot of great wine (let's never speak of my attempts at making mojitos again).

It's gonna be a slow and lonely August without her. I got used to waking up and hearing her patented greeting ("Meow!") from the guest bedroom. I relished the fact that I could take an extra-long shower and know that she'd be keeping Jady Lady entertained. I miss seeing her buddha statue on the guest bedroom night table. And I was tickled by how many people thought Jade was Tanzi's baby when we were out and about because she was usually snuggled in her Auntie's arms. In fact, I think the phrase I will remember most from this summer is Tanzi saying, "Can I hold her?" (Thanks Jaime for the beautiful photo!)

Whenever I miss Tanzi too much, I just have to look at all the lovely keepsakes she's given me over the years: my polished stone with golden Koi swimming on it; my "New Beginnings" picture; the rose and violet art she gave me this summer. When my sister cravings get to be too much, I'm able to take some comfort in the ultimate calmer-downer: lying in my king-sized bed under the hand-made quilts D's aunts made us, listening to my husband breathing on my right and my daughter breathing on my left, secure in the love of my little family. That's when I remember that the Tanzinator WILL return!

Well Tanzi, only a few more months until I start making subtle hints about you coming home for Chrissie...in the meantime, I'll innundate your inbox with stories and pictures of wee Jade so you don't miss a moment of her growth spurts, poopy explosions, bizarre noises and other wacky baby accomplishments.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Once more into the beach...

At last, summer has stopped hiding like a naughty child and made an appearance. Huzzah! Sunshine! Warmth! Blue skies! Final-frickin'-ly.

It never quite feels like summer to me until I've baptized myself in the cool waters of lake Huron. And while I'm not really a beach person per se (e.g. I don't enjoy laying on the sand cooking exposed body parts to a vibrant hue of red), I do adore being near the water, especially on that magical weekend every year when the lake turns warm enough to swim in. Sometimes that weekend occurs in July, but most often it's August before anyone other than kids and a few reckless teens venture into the waves. To my delight, this past week of sunshine and humidity coaxed the lake into swimming-friendly temperatures.

I spent all afternoon Friday soaking up the sights and sounds of Bruce Beach with my sis, my good pal and her small daughter and my kissin' cousins from Indiana at my auntie's cottage. My sis and I have been going "up to the cottage" ever since we were kids. It holds a lot of nostalgia for me and has felt like a second home of sorts ever since the day we sold our family home after my mother's death.

My aunt and cousins aren't blood relatives; my auntie was one of my mother's closest friends, but she treats us like one of her own three girls. Coming from a very small family where my only cousins live either in Nova Scotia or Russia, it's wonderful to have a doting auntie so close by. And it's such an added bonus to live two concessions over from them now. We're neighbours all summer long.

While auntie cuddled Jade for the afternoon, we girls giggled, gossiped, swigged lime coolers and Coca Cola. We watched my friend's little daughter get acquainted with sand castles, rocks and waves for the first time, took dips in the water and discreet peeks at the handsome neighbour boy. I decided to pooh-pooh post-pregnancy body woes in favour of my favourite turquoise bikini. It's strangely freeing to wear something revealing despite the triple threat of cellulite, stretch marks and thunder thighs. And man, can I ever fill out that top now. Yay for dumplings!

On Saturday, my friend and I took our daughters down the 6th concession to the public beach. Our umbrella kept blowing away, but we managed to keep our babies shaded and happy. We built more sand castles, picnicked, took pictures of her daughter's sandy goatee, watched a guy wrestle his lemon-yellow boat into submission. I went swimming a few times, and suddenly I felt 10 years old again: watching the water foam up when I kick my feet, snorting nose and mouthfuls by accident, diving under just to listen to the weird watery silence. I even carried lady Jade with me into the water and dipped her teeny tiny toesies in the lake for the first time. It wasn't a screaming success (just a lot of screaming), but hey, my mother did it to me - I have the photos to prove it - so I am just carrying on a hallowed family tradition. As I took my last dip for the day while she snoozed on the shore, I kept thinking how great it's going to be next year when Jady Lady is old enough to frolic with me on the sand and in the surf.

I am a very blessed girl on so many levels. What a great weekend.

Friday, 31 July 2009

Scent of a (country) woman

So I'm reading this book I bought at our local bookstore called Slow Death by Rubber Duck. It confirms a lot of my paranoia about everyday products and the nasty chemical stew they contain. Even before I cracked the cover, I'd already switched to unbleached flour, non-toxic, all-natural, plant-based soap, shampoo, laundry detergent and dish soap. Yep, I'm that granola. And I'm that freaked out about passing along the aforesaid vile chemical stew to milady Jade.

I've been walking the crunchy granola-type line for many years; I've flirted with vegetarianism, organic mania and unshaven legs (don't worry, I've since located my razor and my steak). But this new avoidance of all things chemical is more than just a phase. Why? Cuz it's too scary to ignore, especially when you are singlehandedly responsible for the nutrition of the world's smallest dictator. What goes into and onto me goes into and onto her, and it's a sobering thought. She doesn't deserve to be chemically enhanced at this tender age. I'll save that for when she's 16 and experimenting with make-up and tattoos.

Anyhoo, products with any type of artificial scent are apparently very toxic and very easy to pass on via my skin-to-skin contact with the wee one, not to mention my milk. And I'm one of those gals who loves to smell pretty. It's going to take some time to wean myself off my favourite perfume, but my new stance means I've given up several of my daily potions: my beloved Body Shop scented body butters - oh Satsuma, how I miss you! - my trusty Aveda hair gel and...um, well...my anti-perspirant. Yeah. So now I have scary hair AND I smell bad. Makes you want to run up here and visit, doesn't it?

Thinking I was doing myself (and Jady Lady) a favour by ridding the bathroom drawer of aluminum-laden Degree Ultra, I decided to do what all good granolas do: I invested in a very expensive all-natural deodorant from the health food store. And then I invested in ANOTHER type of very expensive deodorant. And then another. Because, faithful reader, THEY DON'T WORK. At least not on me. Or not unless I apply them every bloody hour. Or only go outside when the temperature is below 0 degrees. Ugh.

But I love my daughter more than I love smelling like "sporty baby powder" or "spring rain," so I will continue my search for a non-toxic deodorant that works. Until then, keep a polite distance, folks! There's an all-natural, slightly stinky country gal at large.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

The mixed tape: a lost art

Lazylad, both a fellow blogger and fellow insurance jockey, did something really nice for Jady Lady and I: he made us a mixed tape. Okay, it's a mixed CD, but still! When's the last time anyone gave you a mixed tape? It's a very cool gift.

When making it for oneself, a mixed tape affords you the luxury of capturing favourite tunes, thus avoiding less-than-great albums. But creating a mixed tape for someone - if it's done correctly - is an art. It's more complex than picking a few songs you dig and slapping them on a tape; the music has to have a flow, the songs have to connect and be meaningful to both you and the lucky recipient. You can build a mixed tape on a theme (most of Lazylad's choices had something to do with girls, in honour of baby Jade), or start off mellow and reach a crescendo, or just basically rock out. It's all in the hands of the mixed tape creator.

I remember making dozens of mixed tapes for my friends, boyfriends, cousins and pen pals back in the 80's. My mother had an amazing stereo with a dual tape deck, so the possibilities were endless. I think I even attempted a radio drama once to entertain my sister during her first year in Australia. It had something to do with an older woman seducing a grocery delivery boy while Frank Sinatra crooned "The Summer Wind" in the background. Hey, art doesn't always have to be good.

In fact, I still listen occasionally to three or four mixed tapes I found wedged in the old glove compartment of my Kia last year. They are real, live cassettes with actual tape in them (the Kia never had a CD player), and the only place I can play them is on my old, beat up boom box (the Kia's tape player is now defunct). It was like finding little time capsules:I mean, where else can I listen to Young MC sing "Bust a Move" or groove to "That Girl" with good ol' goofy Shaggy rasping away in the background while I make dinner?

Anyway, the last time I made a mixed tape was for D, for his birthday the first year we were dating, because he is extremely hard to buy for and I was pretty much broke at the time. (Not to mention I was getting realllly tired of listening to Kenny Chesney everytime we were in his car.) It was fun picking out songs that had meanings both obvious (Girlfriend by Matthew Sweet) and more subtle, introducing him to the type of music I liked and waiting to see what he thought.

Mixed tapes can be memory boxes, love letters, games or simply friendly gifts, like a musical handshake. They were the ultimate song shuffles before iPods reared their fancy heads. Next time you have an hour on your hand, make someone a mixed tape. It's a retro way to show them you care. And plus you'll look pretty cool.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

5 Things I love about...

To commemmorate having achieved my 1000th comment (THANKS my bloggy friends! You rock!), I think I'll start a new series. Every month, I'm going to list some stuff I love. Don't get me wrong: I'm not becoming Pollyanna or Anne Shirley or (shudder) Oprah. Wenching, whinging and venting are highly necessary in many cases and will still occur on a regular basis in this blog. Consider these love-ins small antidotes to the grouchies.

Today, I present: Things I love about my house. You know, I really loved my old yellow brick house in Waterloo, but you could fit about 3 of them in our place here at Someday. There was hardly any closet space at 139 Moore and the neighbours were so close you could reach out the window and patty cake them if they did the same thing. Living here makes me feel like a woman instead of a girl, and that is a good thing. Why? Here are 5 reasons:

1) The heated floor in the bathroom

I was prepared to live with a run-down, beat up bathroom, avocado-green tiles and all, since we were spending so much on insulation and windows. And then the contractor showed me the mould behind the tiles. And under the floor. And behind the walls. And voila! A great reason to re-do the bathroom. Although I never pictured myself as someone who would have heated ceramic tile. That was what rich, retired, older folks had, not young-ish, working, poor-ish people. But now that we have heated floors, I'm afraid I can never have anything else in my bathroom again. Ever. It's so luxurious I want to lay on it naked after every shower. Oops - did I type that out loud?

2) The balcony
It's off our bedroom and it's the sweetest little white balcony I've ever seen. I feel like a less hormonal Juliet when I stand on it. It's fun to catch glimpses of the sunset or the lake through the tree line, and I could even see fireworks in Point Clarke on Canada Day if I leaned just the right way. D got trapped up there this winter while dismantling my balcony Christmas tree (don't ask). Last year I painted it while in my bikini; it was fun getting honks from passing cars (although likely they were all from D's cousins).

3) The fact that I can see a tree from each and every window
Blue spruce, mountain ash, maple, pine, lilac and crabapple. 'Nuff said.

4) Our ridiculously big bedroom
When I begged D to please knock out the wall between the balcony room and the master bedroom, he gave me that look I have come to know as the "Geez Kim, you're crazy" look. I grew up with a big, airy bedroom of my own. He grew up sharing a small room with two brothers. So in his mind, the enormous bedroom I had envisioned was impractical, over-the-top and slightly insane. To me, it was a necessity. But I wore him down with pleading and my favourite line, "I hardly ever ask you for anything...can't I just have this?" And you know what? He loves our big, balconied bedroom just as much as I do.

5) The bookshelves

On the east wall of our living room are two built-in floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. This is a far cry from their previous makeshift cinder block and nasty Ikea homes. I adore my books; they're like old pals and I often re-read certain ones. They are good company, and it's very satisfying to finally give them a classy place to rest.

I could go on and on about the many lovable qualities of our home. Sure, sometimes we get frustrated with the fact that it's old, the water smells like bad egg salad and it will always need a bit of work to keep it from looking unkempt. But it's pretty much everything I've ever dreamed of. Add an awesome husband and a sweet baby girl to the mix and honestly, what's not to love?

Friday, 17 July 2009

Now I've seen everything.

Living in the country really does have its advantages. For example, if I went to the Teeswater reunion this weekend, I could experience square dancing tractors. That's right...dancing tractors. Don't believe me? Well y'all, just click here!

Can I get a yee-ha?

Monday, 13 July 2009

Back by popular demand...

Okay Mrs. S - you asked for it, so you're gettin' it. Fresh off the press: a baby Jade story! (Hey, I'm only breaking the no-baby-in-blog rules for Mrs. S. She's from Scotland. I can't turn down a long-distance request, can I?)

Grandma Lowry made Jady Lady an exquisite green dress a month ago after hearing me rant and rave about how I couldn't stand seeing her in one more pink outfit. Seriously - I open her drawer and behold! A sea of pink. People have been so generous with clothing and I know I shouldn't complain. It's just that...I've always liked pink, and now I'm veering into "I HATE PINK" territory, which is a shame. It's too lovely colour to loathe.

In desperation, I went to the only baby shop in Kincardine, a lovely boutique called Rolz and Sassy (after the owner's kids), and bought Jade a pair of cobalt blue pants and a jade green kimono style shirt. Seeing her in it made me sigh with relief. Until, that is, D arrived home, took one look at his daughter and said, "Kim, she looks like a boy in that outfit." *sigh*

So Grandma showed up one day with this adorable green dress. It's got little flowers embroidered on it, a lace collar that makes Jade look a bit like Queen Elizabeth and a dainty little white slip underneath. But the BEST part is the mennonite-style bonnet with white ribbons, which Jade attempts to eat every chance she gets.

We took her to church rigged up in her new outfit and of course received the requisite cooing, gooing and giggling from all Grandma's friends. It did my heart good to see Grandma showing off her little granddaughter in her pretty dress. Grandma had three boys, so having two granddaughters is setting things even for her.

Our church is small, closely knit congregation and kids are always welcome, even when they're screaming, running up the aisles or asking questions in very loud voices throughout the sermon. I'm happy to report that Miss Jady lady was a well-behaved little church mouse all through the service. The best part? We started singing the first hymn; Jade looked up at me, smiled a big gummy smile, and promptly fell asleep with the grin still pasted on her face. Guess all the singing D has done for her is paying off.

And contrary to the picture, she really, really likes her dress!

Sunday, 12 July 2009

A cure for the summertime blues

And no, it's not my husband doing his "beach walk" in a man-thong. Contrary to the song, I'm pretty sure I've discovered an antidote to bad attitudes caused by this lousy summer weather we've been having (e.g. hail and 6 degree temperatures in July?!?): Death by Chocolate.

The first summer D and I started dating, he took me on a motorbike ride to the Pine River Cheese factory for an ice cream cone. He was slowly discovering my obsession with ice cream - I ate either it or gelato almost every night in Waterloo - and promised me that Pine River ice cream would be "the best ice cream you've ever tasted." And it was.

It's not actually made by Pine River - it's from Kawartha Dairies, wayyy up north. But my heavens, it's good. The only ice cream I've ever had to rival it is from Cochrane, Alberta and that's just too darned far away.

This summer, my sister Tanzi and I discovered a new flavour: Death by Chocolate. You can order 1.5 litre tubs from the Cheese Factory - another discovery - and so far this summer, we've gone through one Black Cherry, two Vanillas and we're on our second DBC. And it's only July! But man, oh man, this ice cream is to die for. Their vanilla is creamy, fluffy and smooth and the Black Cherry seems to be a favourite with the guys, but my sister and I (and any other female visitor) prefer DBC. The website describes it as "Chocolate ice cream with bittersweet dark chocolate chunks and thick chocolate twister sauce" but I prefer to describe it simply as YUM.

Doesn't matter if it's cold, dark and damp outside; inside it's all sunshine and happiness as long as I have a bowl of DBC in front of me.

Hmmm. Is 7:17am too early for ice cream?

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Three Degrees of Happy

'Cuz after those first few scary weeks of being ill at home with baby, happy's where it's at right now. And although the Chinese only have a symbol for double happiness, I'm going with triple the feeling:

1) Jady Lady
Yeah, I know - I'm a sucker for this child! I'm violating all my former bloggy principles! Ahhh! But dear reader, she's started to smile. A lot. Big, goofy, toothless grins that make her eyes squinch shut in a blissed-out, almost drunken manner. She reminds me of the laughing Buddha I used to keep in my study back in Waterloo. And she's starting to make sounds other than cries of hungry rage: soft coos, pirate-like "argggghs" and "ayes" and even little squeals of glee when we make the right silly faces at her. She no longer has chicken legs - there are actually some delicious folds of chub around her thighs and wrists now - and she can wing her head around fairly well too. Despite the fact that she sometimes resembles "an old man sitting on a dock" (says D) or a tiny monk, she is awesome and beautiful and everything I've ever wanted. Insert sigh of contentment and gooey happiness here.

2) Breasty Dumplings
I know it's shallow and will set feminism back several hundred years, but my former A-cup self just has to say it: I love having cleavage. Sure, they're tender and sore and tend to leak at the slightest thought of anything Jade-related, but my new dumplings ROCK and I'm going to enjoy them while I can. So there.

3) Auntie Tanzi is home!
My Muscovite sister is home for the summer and she and baby Jade have taken to each other like Russians to a bottle of frozen Vodka. (And yeah, I can say that without an ounce of political correctness. Why? Because we're Russian.)

It warms the cockles of my usually unsentimental heart to see Jade nestled in her Auntie's arms, sucking on her necklace...or shoulder...or neck (seriously, that kid will suck anything). Auntie Tanzi gets more smiles from Jade than anyone, even Grandma, and that is a feat to be marvelled at. And she's not just a good babysitter: she's been flexing her housekeeping muscles and does dishes, sweeps the dog-hair tumbleweeds, hangs laundry out, feeds the kitties and cooks a mean grilled cheese. I didn't realize how much I needed some help around the place until she arrived. And it's sooooo nice to just have a friendly face to talk to over morning coffee, or an evening glass of wine, or an afternoon lunch. She got me out of the house for my first lunch date since Jade was born, and we're planning daytrips to Stratford and Bayfield. I adore those little towns, but they are the most enjoyable with Tanzi by my side.

I have a feeling this summer is going to go by at the speed of light. It will be August all too soon and then Tanzi heads back to the 'Cow for another year. What in the world will I do without her? Oh yeah...this blog was supposed to be about happy stuff, wasn't it? Guess I'll stop talking then. *sigh*