Dear Quarantine Diary – Week 39

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Dear Diary – I headed out Friday morning for a craft sale in my home town. Youngest Son had a PA Day and decided to join me. He was the one who commented on a passing company van:

“Well those drivers have gotta be close to a hundred. Good for them that they’re still driving.”

“How do you know that?” I queried.

“The back of the van says “Over 100 years of experience onboard”.

A few minutes before that I had noticed the overhead electronic sign with a picture of a school bus. It also said, “Watch for children”.

“There are children on the highway?” I thought. I’m driving 100km/hr and there are children?!?!”

I suddenly had horrid visions of carnage and burning vehicles as they swerved and ploughed into each other, trying to avoid the children playing tag gleefully across the highway after their brightly painted daycare van inexplicably overturned.

Friday night my Dad and I tried setting up the new picnic shelter…under stars. It was cold, cold enough to see our breath. And the grass was wet. I called Youngest son to come out and help. He had worn flip-flops. That seemed about right.

The sun was winking at us over the crest of the valley ridge as we stumbled from our warm beds, eyes still puffy with sleep, to get ready for our big day. Dad and I piled into his truck, with Mom to follow in the car. It was the only way to get everything safely to the Market Square.

I worked with a vendor on the Market Square for 3 summers, braving full day sun and steamy temperatures. We used to soak our feet in buckets of cold water and snack on slushies to try to stay cool. I suffered heat stroke at least once every year.

There were no steamy temperatures this time, though the sun was shining. It didn’t take long to set up my stuff and we settled in for a long day.

It’s hard to put yourself out there. You don’t know what would appeal to someone, and you’ve put your creativity on display. Pricing items is the biggest challenge. You don’t want to undervalue what you’ve made, but there are also expenses to be met. Inevitably, you will be judged for what you’re asking, and some people don’t mind telling you with snorts of derision before they walk away.

All day we were surrounded by the sound of popping balloons and consequently, unhappy children, as well as the intoxicating smell of churros.

The churros were delicious…and popular!

Besides dancing to avoid the persistent hornets, we watched people. Amongst the senior couples and tired parents with gaggles of small children, one dog mamma stood out, probably because she had 3 chihuahuas in a covered stroller and one strapped to her chest in a baby carrier. They were all perfectly happy. There was also a woman in a bright, matching floral outfit, which was truly a wonder to behold. And then there were the witches…

They were a friendly group of gals also enjoying the sights and sounds of the Scarecrow Festival. One even invited Mom and I to join their coven. Actually, they perform and are open to new “sisters”.

It’s the thought that counts.

I had one lady looking for adult bibs and another looking for a tea cozy. Sorry ladies.

Through the afternoon, the wind picked up. Auntie M was visiting when a wind gust flipped a row of totes into a pile and crashed my easel of mini totes. No harm was done. Shortly after we restored order, Mom arrived with lunch for me. Except she left the house without my sandwich …but remembered tea, which was the more important thing any way. She kindly dashed down the street and returned with a pumpkin danish!

So. Much. Butter. Sooo good!

Dad arrived later with my tomato sandwich. I ate it too! Sitting works up an appetite!

As the final hour ticked by, all 3 of us had aching feet and were ready for nap. With only 2 chairs, Mom and Dad improvised…

I sold one wristlet, one mini tote, and one set of 2 bowl cozies. Two out of three of those items are Christmas gifts! Everything else is heading home with me again. I’m going to need bigger closets.

Be brave enough to suck at something new.

Unknown

Dear Diary – I seriously thought he had forgotten, and it wouldn’t be the first time.

It would be raining by the time Youngest Son headed home from school, and since I had to pick up a prescription at the drug store right across from the school, I offered to drive him home. But he had to meet me at the drug store!

I made sure I wasn’t late and I parked right by the door so he’d see the car if I was still inside. It was almost 15 minutes after period 3 let out by the time I got my prescription. It’s a 5 minutes walk for Youngest Son so I thought he’d be waiting outside.

He was not.

I rolled my eyes and drove home using his route, but I didn’t see him. I sighed and hobbled into the house yelling. I was met with silence. So I left a note on the door – “Call me. I can’t find you!! Mom”. Then, mumbling under my breath, I drove to the drug store near the house because it wouldn’t surprise me that he got “confused” and went to the wrong place. I wandered through the store, but no kid.

It wasn’t until I got back in the car that I realized…I was an hour too early.

I went home and sipped tea until it was time to head to the drug store…again. It was just starting to rain.

He didn’t show.

After 15 minutes, I drove home along his route, and found him more than halfway home.

He didn’t forget.

He was heading to the drug store near the house.

He seemed very confused as to the location of the drug store near the school…you know, the one we go to all the time! So I drove to the drug store a third time. He “remembered” it by the time we got there.

Maybe next time, he can walk in the rain.

Dear Diary – I started taking that medication I picked up on Monday. Last time I was terribly I’ll but we weren’t sure if it was the medication or something else.

By the next day, I felt like a wind-up doll winding down and I couldn’t get warm. By Tuesday evening, I was a shivering, aching, head-splitting, heart-pounding, sweating mass of misery. It was the death flu all over again!

I called my rheumatologist Wednesday morning and his assistant assured me it wasn’t the medication.

The internet said it could be!

The Dr. agreed I should stop, and ridiculously slowly I am starting to recover from the “Death Flu”. I saw my ankle bone for the first time this year but I’m not sure it was worth the agony. Nap time!

Dear nap…I’m sorry I was such a jerk to you when I was a kid.

Unknown

Dear Quarantine Diary – Week 38

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Dear Diary – The People of Wal-Mart never fail to disappoint.

Last week, my friend and I witnessed a woman on her cell phone driving the in-store motorized cart off the premises. It was the slowest moving getaway.

Later as I waited in the car for my friend, I noticed an average looking guy with a wad of cash in his hand approaching people asking for money. He said he was homeless and needed to get a hotel room. Well, he made the mistake of approaching a well-dressed lady getting into a white SUV. She told him to “take a hike” and got in her car. So…the guy pushed her shopping cart behind her SUV and walked away.

When she stopped playing with her phone and started to back out, using a rear camera I’m guessing, she spotted the cart. She got out and like a true drunken sailor, screamed assaults at that man. I mean, she made a hardened biker look like a saint! She was hopping mad!

When she finished her tirade, she jerked the cart into the spot next to her, backed out and on her way by the man, she unleashed another tirade from the driver’s window.

As she was launching into her second tirade, not completely unjustified I might add as her vehicle could have been damaged by the cart parked behind it, I noticed that she had just vacated the parking spot reserved for parents of small children. AND, she left her grocery cart parked in the handicapped space.

When we finally left Walmart, a store employee was streaking across the parking lot, presumably to find the stolen motorized cart…

These are the People of Walmart, where we save money, shop smart…only at Wal-Mart!

People of Walmart (hilarious music video)

Dear Diary – This week has been Eat, Sleep and Sew, in preparation for a craft sale on Saturday. I’m really nervous about it and very thankful to have my parents to help with setting up and keeping me company. It’s not like I can abandon my “booth” every time I need to pee, and since set up starts at 8 a.m., you know I’ll need to caffeinate!

But I also worried about being around people. Sure, that covid thing, but it’s also that I’m an introvert and I don’t really like people. For the most part, lockdown was great for me! I was happy playing indoors by myself. If I saw the mailman once a week through the window, well that was enough social interaction. Of course, I was also blessed with my guys so I wasn’t ever truly alone. With the return to school and work, I am alone but so far, have found ways to keep myself busy. Now I’m going to have to spend 7 hours being pleasant to strangers… in the hopes that they buy my crap merchandise. I had such high hopes for my Etsy store because I prefer to play a fun and outgoing person in a virtual world!

Plus I need the cash for my fabric addiction.

But, since I store my wares in a box in the closet and not virtually, I gotta find some way to peddle sell my merch. Wish me luck!

Dear Diary – We broke into the second 12th of my 4.5 kg Toblerone bar last weekend. On Day 6…

…Hubby added it to his coffee. He said it was good, but the unmelted nuts at the bottom were alittle strange.

On Day 7…

Oatmeal pancakes with Toblerone and a little maple syrup. It was really good and the silky milk chocolate of the Toblerone bar melted into a decadent pool while the sweet caramel nougat and crispy nuts added texture and richness.

Life is uncertain…eat dessert first.

Ernestine Ulmer

Dear Diary – Dad shared some of his sourdough started and I made my first batch of Cinnamon Raisin Sourdough Muffins using his recipe. Except that in true fashion, I screwed it up! I’ve had more than my fair share of baking disasters, and this was one of those times that I had to let intuition try to save the day.

This time it did!

I fed part of my starter the night before and left it in the lit oven overnight. It bubbled up magically. I followed the recipe perfectly until I realized I wasn’t supposed to dump the entire bowl of starter into my mix. Now I had at least 1 cup too much liquid…and nothing to return to my starter.

I added more flour and whispered a prayer.

The muffins were so moist they stuck to the paper, but they tasted pretty good.

I hesitated getting some starter because once you start, you can’t stop. Every other week you have to feed it and bake it or it dies. Now I’m stuck in a ruthless cycle and Hubby has informed me…he didn’t really like the muffins.

The bread it bakes is succulent and firm…it’s tang for days.

Charles Boyle, Brooklyn 99

Speaking of baking, gamemakers Ravensberger has come out with the official Great British Baking Show card game. It’s being marketed as a “fast-paced, family-friendly game” for 2-4 players, 10+ years old. It’s a race to be Star Baker! What will they come up with next?

On your mark, get set….BAKE!

Dear Quarantine Diary – Week 37

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Dear Diary –
What I said: I passed a dead possum on the side of the road today.
What Youngest Son said: Did it hurt?
If you don’t get it, think bathroom jokes….

This is what I live with…

Dear Diary – The first day of school passed more like a whimper than a bang, which I suppose is a good thing. This was the year that Youngest Son was going to be responsible to get himself up and to school, on time, by himself. It’s looong overdue.

But I’m a sucker.

And it’s a looong walk.

Especially in the rain.

So, while I’ve bit my tongue and paced internally instead of hollering to get a move on, I’ve still provided transportation in the mornings.

Even today when he was running late and my blood pressure was high.

Baby steps!

Less than impressed, Youngest Son’s schedule slots lunchtime at 10:10, which means by the time he walks home, he’s ready to eat the whole box of cheerios and it’s cousin, corn pops. Which also means that he’s not really eating dinner. One night he ate his veggies but not his meat. The next night he ate his meat but not his veggies. I suppose I should be happy because at least he’s getting a balanced diet.

I shudder to think what’s coming next. With co-op in periods 4 & 5, he’ll have 10 minutes to get to his work placement, wherever that may be. I’m hoping it’s online and he can steal into a corner in the library. Then I’ll only have to make one trip to the school per day…or eventually stick to the plan and not drive him at all.

Baby steps!

Dear Diary – I’m not sure why, but someone left a message on the wipe board on the fridge where I keep my grocery list. I’m not sure if it was intended for me…. “You’re not useless. You can still be used as a bad example”.

Another example of what I live with…

Dear Diary – With Youngest Son poised to leave for Uni next year, I think it’s important that Hubby and I start keep working on our relationship, so I suggested we start dating. We never really “dated” because we were poor students, and the first year of our relationship was long distance. We got to know each other slowly with in-person visits every 6 weeks or so, and snail mail. We labeled our return addresses with a nickname and the name of where we lived…I was Neurotic and he was Twit.

I probably started that.

Since Hubby is on vacation this week and even he can stand only so much t.v., he wanted to do something together. And since I have a Honey-Do list longer than both my arms, I suggested something we could do outside of our home: couch shopping!

Apparently couch shopping was more appealing than yet another episode of Forged in Fire or Engineering Dimensions. Or the rest of the Honey-Do list. Or perhaps, he’s sick of the ongoing conversation realized this is important to me.

We bought our current burlap sack couch when we bought our home 21 years ago. Neither of us liked it particularly, but we thought it would wear well…and mostly we could afford it. It was delivered the day we mvoed in. But I’m beyond ready for a change and I desperately want something comfortable where I can sit with my legs up! My ankle is perpetually swollen and the edge of the coffee table digs into the backs of my legs. We might even splurge on another chair or two so that when both kids are home, we’re not lined up, 4 on a couch, elbowing each other as we have a t.v. dinner. Especially when one of them is left-handed!

Shockingly, Hubby and I shared a lot of common likes and dislikes amongst the massive options. Neither of us wanted leather, corduroy, or royal blue velvet. We found a couple of options to sleep on and we can do it without declaring bankruptcy. It’s close though.

We celebrated with lunch at Cora’s and yes, I gave him credit for this to be a date. I even let him play his game on his phone (but only because I knew he’d probably need my help)! 🙂

Dear Diary – It’s been a few years since I made fresh pasta. I don’t know why I didn’t during covid, but that may have been because I was hoarding flour to bake brownies bread and later on, I stopped caring. Whatever the reason, Hubby asked and I like making him happy. I made the pasta; he made the sauce. It was a match made in Heaven. The sauce and the pasta. Us? There have been days…

Dear Diary – I’m not kidding. I won a 4.5kg Toblerone bar at the church’s Sunday Funday event!

As I filled out the form and stuffed my ticket in my pocket, I told Hubby I wasn’t worried because I never win anything. Later, someone asked me if I’d share it with Hubby if I won. I hestitated. I said “yes” of course, but scoffed internally because I wouldn’t win it. And I was ok with that.

On Day 1, I asked for suggestions on just what to do with a 4.5 kg chocolate bar. Only Hubby was truly helpful; He sent me a link to 10 recipes. The one that caught my eye was sour dough brioche babka with toblerone and caramelized white chocolate. My Dad just shared some of his sour dough starter. 

I smell a disaster in the making!

On Day 2, we started to confer on the best way of breaking into it.

Throwing Ax #1 or Throwing Ax #2

Holding 2 throwing axes, and knowing how good my aim actually is (I’ve won 2 of the 2 tournaments I’ve played in…and having only tried axe throwing twice, I think my aim is pretty good!), Hubby suggested the meat cleaver.

Like I couldn’t throw that if I wanted…

So on Day 3 –

Aim and GO!

Don’t worry, there is a cutting board under that. It required some muscle but I wasn’t going to let anything keep me from sweet success!

We devoured 1/12th in less than 24 hours. In fact, Youngest Son became the “parent” and took the container away from me…having failed the first when he just moved it out of reach.

Nice try, buddy. I’m very adaptable and I can use my feet to shift the box closer.

I’m not sure what the next step will be, but I’ll keep you posted!

To victory: it looks unfamiliar but it tastes like chicken.

Jeff Winger, Community

Dear Quarantine Diary – Week 36

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Dear Diary – I did my back to school shopping…

Dear Diary – While it was super awesome and super entertaining watching Eldest Son fell a tree, there was one problem: how to deal with a felled tree.

On Saturday, Dad loaded up the truck with the first pile of brush for a run to the woods. The “woods” is a small patch of scrubby woodlands near what was the family farm. As we bumped along in silence, passing familiar farms and villages. There were more houses than I remembered, but for the most part, all remained the same.

We passed the house where my grandmother grew up with an older couple who “adopted” her. She went to live with them following the difficult birth of another sister and her family’s move to the city. She found her own household too chaotic, and she was happier growing up in the quiet household. She quit high school and worked in a store so she could care for this couple in their golden years, before she married grandpa and moved into her in-law’s home…where she cared for them in their golden years too.

We also passed the large, old cemetery my Dad would drive by slowly because I would hold my breath going past it.

I don’t know why I wanted to go with my Dad. Sure, it was to keep him company, but there’s also something special about this patch of land, like something calling me back to it. It’s a connection to the past and I feel a kinship with the families who came before me.

My great-great-great grandfather, Patrick, arrived in Canada from Ireland in 1837 with his wife and 8 children. They cleared and settled their crown plot by 1840. In 1843, his lawyer began petitioning the government for the title that was promised. The land passed from Patrick to Edward, who died in 1917. When he died, his wife walked across several fields to these same woods at the south end of the farm. She dug up and planted a small tree on his grave. I can remember looking for this evergreen tree in the cemetery (holding my breath), which could be seen from the road on the way to the farm. It came down in 2005. The farm then passed from Edward to John, and from John to my grandfather, Roy. The farm was sold in the early 1980’s, but we still own the woods.

These woods were used in WWII to train the Royal Canadian Electrical & Mechancal Engineering units in camoflauge and equipment recovery and repair. The pigs at the farm soon learned that big trucks might mean delicious scraps, and they would run to the fence every time they heard a truck. Once, my grandmother was taken on a tour of the camp and an young officer went ahead to remind the lads to watch there language and behaviour because there was “a lady in the camp”.

The roadways used by the trainees are nearly indiscernable around the trees, but Dad had no difficulty wending his way through the gap in the wooden rail fence and into a clearing not far from the road. We spotted this puffball mushroom on the way.

Dad measured it on his next trip and said it was about 14″ across.

The only sounds were crickets and the occasional lazy bumblebee. I saw dragons flies and ants, but no other creatures. I know that there are deer and bears, and smaller critters around. We were surrounded by cedar and pine, prickly ash, sumac, juniper, and plenty of moss-covered rocks.

Can you find the road?

On the way home, we took a different route, one that led down dusty roads and over hills. When I was a kid, my Dad knew just how to hit those hills so that my stomach would roll and I’d laugh out loud. It was better than any scary roller coaster!

We stopped in the last village at a bakery in an old limestone building. The windows are low with deep sills to display the store’s wares, and the door is bright yellow…with an old, sticky lock.

We bought 3 kinds of bars to share: maple walnut, peanut butter-chocolate, and nanaimo! We earned them (or rather, Dad did)! A yummy way to end a busy day!

Life is uncertain….eat dessert first!

Unknown

Dear Diary – It felt like Fall had arrived by the flick of a switch. On Saturday afternoon, Mom and I enjoyed a lovely, warm swim in the pool. On Sunday morning, I was reaching for a sweater and regretting not packing more than sundresses.

Monday was our last day together, a bonus day since school was starting later than expected and I remained at my folks with Youngest Son longer. Determined that Youngest Son was NOT going to spend it sleeping all day, as has been his routine for the month of August, I insisted he get up and go out with us for lunch. He was cranky, but he came.

Being a holiday Monday and a small town, our dining options were limited. It’s been years since I dined in MacDonald’s. Growing up, it was the only fast food restaurant in town, and one we usually frequented on Sundays after church. If Dad was working, we’d take it to the Fire Hall. We eat in front of an old black and white t.v. and play tag on the trucks.

After lunch we played board games until Mom needed a nap. I think Youngest Son did too.

We arrived home on Tuesday and I have been unpacking bags and boxes ever since. It’s amazing how much stuff accumulates over the summer, and how well I can pack it in my tiny car!

I’m always sad to see the end of summer. I like the sense of freedom from obligations and deadlines that it brings. I know if I didn’t have routines that I would literally waste precious time, but it’s delicious simply to know that I had the space to do so. Every season has its place and like it or not, the next one is beginning. It’s time for activities to start, jean buttons to strain, and pumpkin-spiced crap to appear in every coffee shop across the land!

The morning had dawned clear and cold, with a crispness that hinted at the end of summer.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Dear Diary – I didn’t sleep well last night: ‘Twas the Night Before

This morning, though the sun shone brightly outside, inside the mood was somber. I did my best to stay out of Youngest Son’s way as he finished making his lunch and gathered his belongings. It’s the first day of Grade 12, a year whose outcome will determine the next step in his life journey. And having attended virtual school for part of Grade 9 and all of Grades 10 & 11, thanks to covid, it feels like the beginning of Grade 9. Again.

Also, he had to get dressed!!

He wore his new jeans today, the ones I bought and exchanged for a smaller size. Though a 27″ waist, he still needs a belt. (Once again I’m reminded mine used to be 24″ and I start singing The Way We Were).

I dropped him off at the corner. I figured the day was tough enough without the long early morning walk. That walk will have to become part of his routine in preparation for Uni next year. Mama’s not living in his dorm (actually only in spirit).

Thus begins a new chapter in his life, and in mine. I was just beginning to settle into a routine at home, having quit my job, when covid shutdowns hit. Now, after 2 years I suddenly find myself in the same place I started the pandemic: home, alone, and wondering just what it is I’m supposed to be doing with my life.

So I’m doing just what I did then…starting a routine. I had breakfast. I had my quiet time with the Lord. And now I’ve said hello to you, dear diary. Time for me to begin my next chapter. Lord, have mercy!

Beginning
Just let that word wash over you
It’s alright now
Love’s healing hands have pulled you through
So get back up, take step one
Leave the darkness, feel the sun
Cause your story’s far from over
And your journey’s just begun

Danny Gokey, Tell Your Heart to Breathe Again

Fairy Tea

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‘T was very, very long ago, in days no longer snug
When giant stood about so high and pixies all were young
The Queen of Fairies said one day, ‘I’m tired of honey-dew,
So hasten now, and mix for me a cup of something new’.

‘It must lift the drooping spirit, it must heal the wounded heart;
It must bring the smile of happiness, and bid the tear depart;
It must make the young grow younger, and the old no longer old;
It must make the poor contented, and the rich forget their gold’.


When it boiled, they cooled and poured it, so the ancient story goes;
And to the Queen they brought it in the chalice of a rose.
She sipped, delighted; then she cried: ‘I issue this decree;
The cup you have so deftly brewed, I christen “Fairy Tea”!’.

So when you see the fairy folk “at home” in Dingle Dell,
All sipping something dainty from their cups of heather-bell,
You will notice they are happy, as good as fairies ought to be,
And that’s because they always use their famous Fairy Tea.

Fairy Tea by D.K.S., Old Wives Tales, St. Nicholas: an illustrated Magazine for Young Folks, Volume 40, 1914

Happy Labour Day!

Dear Quarantine Diary – Week 35

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Dear Diary – The house felt completely empty after Eldest Son left last Thursday. We had one final quiet swim before he left and Mama Cardinal in her nest, though watching us warily, was content. We also gave her space. I puttered with sewing. Even though haven’t made any more sales, it makes me happy…and I got Christmas presents covered for the next 10 years!

Eldest son enjoyed camping trip, even if the mat he borrowed from his grandparents turned out to be the one with the hole!

Youngest Son and I continue to silently count down the final days, making every effort not to think about all the changes coming once the “s-word” starts.

I had already had my first back-to-sch*%l nightmare. We didn’t know where we were going, we were running late, and then, I didn’t know if Youngest Son had even arrived. I woke up soaked in my own sweat, my heart pounding! My own education overlapped with Eldest Son’s, and then his overlapped with Youngest Son’s, so bear in mind that between me and my sons, I have had more “First days of…” than most parents! With only a few more years to go, we think, I’ll be ready for retirement, though I suspect my stomach will still be in knots in the early days of September.

Dear Diary – On Monday Mom and I had a coffee date. We met a friend of hers, for many years, after not seeing each other for many more years. We tucked up in the back corner and alked fast and furiously. This special lady had supported and prayed for me and my family for many years, and once upon a time, her daughter and I had joked ceaslessly about how clueless boys were, mostly to cover up our teenaged insecurities. That daughter now lives on the other side of the world. I bet the boys are clueless there too! Time slipped away too quickly and she had to run, but it was so good to catch up. It’s certainly an advantage when you visit for more than a couple of days…there’s time for fun things like this!

Dear Diary – This morning our house was buzzed by the paparazzi! I don’t know how they knew I was here, unless you’ve been sharing secrets. Just before noon, we heard the thumping of a big helicopter. Mom and Dad live next to a pipeline station, so it’s not unusal to hear a helicopter or two in a week as it surveys the line from the sky. But this yellow fellow wasn’t so mellow – he was circling the house! I went out with my cell phone to snap some pics. He was close enough, the pilot waved at me. After a few more passes in a large circle, he flew off.

I wonder if he was snapping my pic too?

“Hey Buddy…check out this crazy old lady taking my picture…”

Dear Diary – It’s a simple pattern, they said. Suitable for beginners. A one hour project.

They lied.

It took me nearly 7 hours to complete 4 bowl warmers…including the cutting, sewing, ripping apart, crying, pinning and sewing, ripping apart, throwing things, pinning and sewing, ripping apart, aggravated primal growl, ripping apart, and sewing again.

They are practical and cute…

…but I’d be crazy to try again.

Maybe next week….

Dear Diary – I had to do the inevitable. Back to Sch&%l shopping. Otherwise, Youngest Son would be heading out in highwater pants. He has grown so much, and since he’s been living in his pajamas for the last 2 years, there was no urgency to update his wardrobe. I actually managed to find jeans with a 28″ waist. And they are still too big. I’ll have to see if I can exchange them.

I remember when I had a 24″ waist.

Mem’ries, light the corners of my mind
Misty water-colored memories of the way we were

Marvin Hamlisch, Alan Bergman, Marilyn Bergman, The Way We Were

I also remember when I could wear heels without the very thought of them making my body ache from the waist down. It was only a year ago that I donned my $1100 shoes (which I bought at a yard sale for $10 with the original price tag still on). I wore them for our 25th wedding anniversary, which we celebrated, not in Rome as planned, but in our backyard with goofy photos. And then I wore them to pick up our take-out Italian food. It was the closest we could get to Rome.

I couldn’t walk the streets of Rome this year, not because of covid but a literal inability to walk much farther than around the block. So instead of caressing shiny satin stilettos, I’m in search of “comfortable shoes”. It’s code for stable, ugly, old lady shoes…and every part of my being objects.

It reminds me of shopping for bras when I was a teenager. I wanted the pretty lacy ones…but needed the sturdy body armour of my elders.

I still do.

It’s why I bought that bra online several months ago. The one I break into a sweat trying to put on. The one I need to start doing a daily upper body workout so I can actually use it. It’s like trying to squeeze toothpaste back into the tube, but instead things are oozing everywhere. I’ve tried, worrying that the sounds being squeezed from my mouth will arouse the interest of the inhabitants in my house, and they will come wandering up to see where the livestock in the bedroom. If they ever did walk in on me, they would be forever scarred. It’s not pretty. It doesn’t feel good. It’s impossible.

So is finding “comfortable” shoes. I figure I have at least another month in sandals before I have to cover my tender tootsies. My sneakers will last another year. And I haven’t given up hope yet.

But it’s getting thin…

They’ve starting designing pretty bras for pretty plump princesses, so hopefully shoes will be next?

Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world!

Marilyn Monroe

Dear Diary – We caught up with Auntie M last night after her recent big trip. She survived all the walking, including the one to get to her hotel. After a long train ride and since there were no taxis, she decided to walk to her hotel. It was only 5 blocks away. But it turned out that though the blocks were not particularly lengthy, they were uphill. The engineers who built them were kind enough to add stairs in places. She was very hot and tired after her uphill battle, with the summer sun beating down, when she arrived at her hotel. Imagine her delight when she entered the premises only to be met with a towering set of stairs and no elevator in sight.

My old nemesis…
Stairs!!

Po, Kung-Fu Panda

We remarked that at least her departure would be swift. Just set her suitcase on the edge and give it a good boot. She agreed, but unless it was raining or she was too sore to make the trek back to the station, she would be walking, not taking a taxi there. She’d need her suitcase wheels to work. Mom piped up, “ no you don’t…just ride your case down the hill”.

This is one of those times when I wish could draw a cartoon…Auntie M with arms and legs akimbo sitting on her case, mouth wide screaming and hair flying, as her suitcase rolls haphazardly over the crest of the stairs on the sidewalk. The big question is…suppose she made it to the bottom, how does she stop?

Dear Diary – Sometimes when it rains, God paints the sky with colour.

Last night was going to be our last meal together, so we went out with Auntie M. The day had been a mixture of blue skies and sun one minute, and dark clouds with heavy rain the next. I spent a portion of the day packing our belongings. I even took Youngest Son for his back to sch*%l haircut. But then Hubby texted that sch*@l’s start was a day later than tradition, and then Grade 9 only on the first, so Youngest Son wouldn’t be starting as early and we could stay longer if we wanted.

We wanted.

Rainbows were a sign of a promise and I felt like this one was for me. I may not ever walk the streets of Rome, or if I do, it might be in old lady shoes. My body will wrinkle and sag. My children will go off to make their own way. My business may fail. My hair will gray. Promise is a big word. It either makes something or it breaks everything. But I serve a big God. Whatever happens this year or next, I am not alone. It will be ok.

Hello September. Thank you for the reminder that change can be beautiful.

Unknown

What’s In My Cup: Alpine Punch

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Some sounds from my childhood are burned into my brain (and still make me laugh)!

Alpine Punch is in no way related to Disney’s Goofy, but it immediately made me think of that vintage “The Art of Skiing” cartoon, that demonstrated all the ways NOT to ski!

But just because we’re in the summer months and enjoying summer activities, it doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy something commonly found in David’s 24 Days of Christmas advent sets, especially since it’s availble online, year round.

One of our summer activities when gathered as a larger family group includes playing games. So one afternoon last week, the boys and I settled in for a game of Here to Slay by Unstable Games! It’s a strategy card game…that also relies on a little luck!

Something I’ve never had!

But I was in luck when it came to tea because Eldest Son brought tea to share.

Alpine Punch is a rooibos base, which makes it a naturally caffeine-free tea. It also includes coconut rasps, apple, cinnamon, ginger pieces, natural and artificial vanilla flavouring, cardamom, black pepper, rose blossoms, and almond flakes. It is a light reddish colour and smells nutty! I agree that the list of ingredients seems incredibly odd. Rooibos is naturally sweet, so the addition of cinnamon and cardamom with apple was a logical pairing. The black pepper with the other spices also gave it some warmth at the end of every sip, like chai. But I found the predominant flavour of almond, vanilla and coconut an odd pairing that really worked! It was creamy and light, sweet and slightly spicy. It really caught my attention (I’m blaming it for losing that round because I focused on it, not the cards).

I could totally envision sipping this in a chalet around a roaring fire in the evening…but it was also a delight at my Mom’s kitchen table, while the sun “blazed” through the window. This tea is a winner….even if I am not!

Disclaimer: No family members were harmed in the making of this blog post. (And I hold the record for fastest win…I slayed 3 monsters in 4 turns!)

I’m just a simple guy. I like being at my house with my family. I love playing dominos and card games…That’s just what I like to do.

Jase Robertson