Monthly Archives: December 2015

Happy Old Fogey New Year

I remember a time when celebrating the new year meant dancing so hard, you broke a heel on your shoe and had to hobble home through the snow, because you couldn’t get a taxi and the buses weren’t running. When you are young, -30C is a minor detail. When you’re my age, it’s a reason to stay home with a bottle of wine and some comfort food. Maybe rent a movie if you feel like staying up past ten. Which you probably don’t. If you do stay up to watch the balloon drop, I’ll guarantee that your spouse will be asleep on the couch when you kiss him or her at midnight.

I am full of admiration for older people who retain a balls to the walls attitude for celebration. Late nights, fancy clothes, uncomfortable shoes. Come to think of it, that describes me at no age at all, except for the late nights part. I have always enjoyed flannel over sequins. And yet.

I long to be the person who does a one eighty at age eighty and starts skydiving. The kind who learns a second language. Something hard, like Mandarin. Or finally learns to enjoy Sushi. Everyone likes it but me, even people from Flin Flon. But I really hate it. It seems so unhealthy, all that polished white rice with tiny bits of raw fish and seaweed. Yuck. Okay, so that’s off the list. This blog is definitely helping me narrow things down.

Before I’m seventy, I need to step up my game. Become braver and less complacent. So when the time comes, I will step out of my comfort zone and do something crazy. Not as crazy as eating sushi. But crazy enough to make myself uncomfortable. Like learning to hunt, or going deep sea diving. Since I haven’t had the courage to snorkel yet, the last one might be a long shot.

In eight years, I will be almost seventy. In 2022, if you remember, please ask me what courageous thing I’m about to attempt. Say it in a way that I can’t ignore. Extract a promise from me. Because if I’m not held accountable, I’ll never walk in high heels again. I won’t sky dive, or eat monkey brains, or even ride on a ferris wheel. I don’t want to die having been the same old boring person. And feel free to send me your own list. I’ll be sure to hold you to it because that’s one thing I’m already good at. And Happy 2016. Whew! Eight more years to relax.

Dear Mom

It’s been a year since we said goodbye. Though we talked a lot in your last days, I have some other things I need to say.

Congratulations on your one year anniversary of enjoying heaven with dad. You’ve beaten your record of life without kids by three months. And mom, you’d be so proud of us. We have supported each other. Listened to each others troubles. In other words, we’ve tried to take your place. But we’re not you.

The relentlessness of your loss is still knocking us down. For a while, we all pretended you were on vacation. But your ongoing absence has marked us like a burn. It hurts so much. And every day we rip the bandage off and think that maybe now the wound is going to heal. But it never does. Not completely. It feels better for a while, but then the pain comes back. It takes us by surprise, every time.

You know all about it. Like every human being on the planet, you suffered your own losses. And complaining is not the point of this anniversary message, because you were never a whiner. This is a fan letter, mom. You probably didn’t get enough of those when you were alive.

You were a rock star at dying. Talk about setting an example. We sang you to heaven, but you opened the gates with your prayer, and your absolute faith. It was such an honour to be there with you. Your body was so small at the end, but your spirit filled the room. Such a big spirit.

Your faith, kindness, and unflinching moral code were an example for all. If we turn away from the path of love, it will not be because of you. You are the most powerful person I’ve ever known. Humble, unassuming, unpretentious. But so strong. More than the light of one star, you are a constellation.

I can only imagine the strength it took to raise seven kids. To help with your sixteen grandchildren. Being there when they came into the world. And going to work from there! You still amaze me. You’ve been the guardian and heart of our whole extended family. An energizer bunny powered by love, and never quitting until your heart finally made the decision for you.

We miss you so much, mom. You and dad, we’re grateful for all you did for us. If I was a little kid again, and you were here, I’d watch Hymn Sing with you. I wouldn’t bug you about buying me Go Go boots, or one of those pedal cars. I guess this is the lesson we carry with us. We have everything we need when we have each other.

Thank you for the example you set from the time I was little. Thank you for helping me with my kids. With my babyTrekker business. For all your prayers and pep talks and encouragement. Give dad a kiss, and Ann and Vic a hug. And Merry Christmas to you all.

The Princess and Every Damn Thing

If someone stuck a pea under the twenty mattresses I was sleeping on, it would wake me up. Just me, not Clarence. My husband could be on fire and not notice. Someone could shoot him in the leg and, if they used a silencer, he wouldn’t notice for hours. Cuts, burns,  cracked ribs, pneumonia. Nothing seems to stop him. I can’t make that claim.

My whole day can be ruined by a shirt tag. Even the softest piece of fabric feels like an ice pick coated with scratchy velcro. This is true for pant tags as well, which is why my underwear looks like it belongs on someone’s great grandmother. Anything to prevent the tag from peeking over and digging into my skin. Socks that bunch, itch, or almost have a hole, hats that grip my head, tights that won’t stay up. If my clothes don’t feel right, I can’t have a good day.

This is also true of the weather. I hate wind. The kind you get near the ocean or on Osborne Bridge in Winnipeg. Wind makes my ears ache. I find it unsettling in ways I’ve never been able to figure out. I could not be a sailor. I’d live for the days of calm when the boat just rocked from side to side and never went anywhere.

Loud music is also a problem. My sister Linda and I were the only teenagers with cotton batting in our ears at a concert. Certain voices that carry in a grating way, or people who are generally loud, are hard to be around. Clarence’s family took a while to get used to when we first got married. Everyone talked like they were on stage and no one had provided a microphone.

As I look over the list, I realize that these symptoms are close to those on the autism spectrum. Unfortunately I didn’t receive the powerful concentration for things that interest me. Even when I love what I’m doing, its easy for me to … Look! There’s a fox! Wait. Where was I?

What I’m trying to say is, if you see me walking down the street with a discouraged look, know that my long underwear is probably not as soft as it should be. My jacket may have wrist bands that bite, or a hood that hugs my neck too closely. I can handle actual pain much better than this kind of irritant. I don’t know why. But now that I’ve put it out there, I feel a little better. Just…that tag… dammit.

The Bug Eaters Dilemma

Apparently, cows are bad news for the planet. All that farting and pooping heats the atmosphere a hundred times faster than regular CO2. And lamb is the same. I heard nothing about sheep. If a lamb hides in the forest and waits to grow up, will it be kinder to the environment? I’m not sure. I had to get out of the car and didn’t hear the rest of the CBC program.

Apparently the most sustainable, environmentally friendly meat sources in North America are White Tail deer, feral hogs and Canada Geese. This sounds very Hunger Games to me. My son in law, Bob, has a freezer stocked with the stuff, so he is the moral champion of the family. Clarence used to hunt, but our butcher lost his hand in a meat grinder and that was that. Now, we prefer to buy our meat in plastic packaging from the grocery store. Or, as one vegetarian friend calls it, ‘meat that has suffered for you.’

According to many sources, the protein choice of the future will be bugs. Yes, there will be beans aplenty, but my digestive system has met few kinds that actually agree with me. My methane output would thus put me into the cattle category.  So. There are a few choices available that could be raised quickly and provide enough protein for the whole planet. Here are the two I’ve heard the most about.

Mealworms and crickets. Apparently, the upperwardly mobile, food conscious consumer is looking into these two items. Famous chefs are frying them up and hiding them in plates of egg noodles and such. Oh, the dilemma. It’s like buying eggs. Do I get Omega 3’s, with their flax laden health boost, or opt for cage free eggs from chickens with a life? Hmm. Back to the bugs.

I can’t eat a worm. I don’t care if it’s dried, frozen or pureed, I can’t do it. However, a cricket that’s been killed humanely (someone else has to figure that part out) and then sauteed with salt and pepper and a little olive oil, well. I would order the deluxe cricket powder made from this process. I would have to take the word of the company in charge that they actually used genuine olive oil, and not one of those knock off brands I’ve been reading about.

Powdered cricket added to a fruit shake, with yogurt, mixed berries and a banana? I wouldn’t even know it was there. I’m actually willing to do this to help save the planet. Plus, those big brown eyes. It’s harder to eat beef than it used to be, now that I can’t kid myself about the conditions they live in. What about those white tailed deer, you might ask? Well, a good outdoor life, a short panicked run, then boom. I’d rather eat that meat than what my friend calls ‘concentration camp beef.’ I really, really have to stop hanging out with her.