Brunch is a portmanteau of breakfast and lunch, and is often accompanied with an alcoholic beverage, like mimosa (equal parts oj and sparkling white wine or champagne). Typically brunch is served between 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and includes both hot and cold dishes, as well as both sweet and savoury.
Our morning brunch was less elaborate and caffeinated instead…tea or coffee…but did include pancakes, sausages and homemade goodies… sourdough raisin muffins, hot cross buns, and peanut butter bread.
The peeps were also up for grabs! Happy Easter! Happy Monday!
Dear Diary – The raging inferno of my dying youth has been wreaking havoc for weeks, so on Christmas Eve, I wore my ugly Christmas t-shirt. Just the thought of an ugly Christmas sweater made me break out in sweat.
So did baking pie. I baked a green tomato pie using green tomatoes that were stored in my parents’ freezer. The foil on the top said “Happy Thanksgiving 2020!” I soaked the raisins in rum, which sparked a series of “Jenn’s in the rum” jokes.
And I alarmed Youngest Son when I passed him in the living room and shared that “I’m done decorating Dad’s log”. What I meant was that I was finished decorating his birthday cake, a yule log cake, but you can imagine the terrible mental image I painted for him.
Hubby and Big Guy arrived in time for dinner. It was a slow drive because Hubby’s car was making rude noises on the highway, and he had to take the “scenic route”. I could finally tuck in for a long winter nap with my favourite peeps.
With no little ones in the house we slept in and took the morning slow. I broke out my first German stollen.
We opened gifts and I finally got to see what this was:
We exchanged gifts before lunch, which included silly socks, goofy t-shirts, even a whopee cushion…because the joke never gets old. I could finally give Auntie M her new gnome; I was having too much fun with it.
Don’t worry – Auntie M’s gnome was quarantined prior to the holidays and properly masked with a handmade, blue tissue-paper mask.
Even though we thought we’d never need to eat again, the dinner hour arrived. With leftovers laid out, one by one, we fixed a plate and enjoyed round #2. We also enjoyed a rousing game of Scattergories, which was particularly hilarious with our tryptophan-induced brains.
The day ended with a bang! I asked had asked Eldest Son to help Auntie M take her things to car, then I went in my room to put on my fuzzy jammies. Nice Mama! It had been raining all day but we didn’t realize how much it had iced over. I heard the crash from the far side of the house and I knew it was bad. Both Auntie M and Eldest Son had fallen, but Auntie M wasn’t getting up. Dad is a retired firefighter and we let him take the lead. I called 911 and we paced inside, while Eldest Son and Dad kept Auntie M company and scraped ice off cars and the sidewalk. When they went to move her vehicle so ambulance could park closer, the doors were frozen shut. They also wandered carefully, with flashlights, looking for her car keys, her purse, and the crockpot lid, which all went flying! Thankfully, the hospital wasn’t busy and Auntie M was not seriously injured. She was sent home at midnight. Dad and Eldest Son made sure Auntie M and her pumpkin car, made it home. She’s badly bruised, and in no hurry to get back out there! I wonder if she’s working on the evil puzzle I gave her…
The rest of the week has been spent sleeping in, watching Harry Potter movies, and eating non-stop. We’ve also played board games. Mom got upset when she spotted someone’s trains on “her” track. It was her train. Eldest Son was given a couple of genuine Guiness and the closest thing we could find for a proper drinking vessel was a flower vase. Boxing Night, we watched Christmas Vacation, my all-time favourite Christmas movie. Right up there with…Die Hard!
I also had one final sewing project to complete by the end of the year, which should have been easy peasy. Instead, it took several hours because I’m so talented. I sewed things in wrong and had to rip them out over and over. I spilled warm tea all over the table, and me! Then, with only 1.5 inches left to sew, the machine started to grab and snarl, and make a right mess of it. After multiple stitching and ripping, and with more holes in the fabric than on a tattoo artist, my Dad took the machine apart. Back together again, and with the end so close I could taste it, I started to sew, hit a pin, and snapped the needle.
I finished the bag the next day!
It’s hard to believe that a New Year is right around the corner. I’m not sure yet if we’ll be ringing it in with Eldest Son’s traditional crack of his Terry’s chocolate orange. His girlfriend’s father passed away suddenly from covid; her mother was released from hospital earlier this week. He may be heading home to spend some time with her. If she had called him on Christmas Day and asked him to come, I would have given him my blessing. While there is no better place than with my family around me, I’m well aware that we’re all growing up, and I never want to be an obstacle in my children’s lives. I just pray they’ll still share a slice of their life with me. Afterall, they were once my whole world.
When we took this photo December 31, 2019, I had just quit my job. I had spent November coping with kitchen renovations and December baking up a storm. Youngest Son was facing his Grade 9 first semesters finals, the only ones he’s written to date. Eldest Son was preparing for a career-advancing exam. And my folks were planning their annual trip to Myrtle Beach. We had no idea what was to come…
I still somehow feel like we’ve lost time, 2 years to be exact. As if we have all been hibernating and it’s time for new beginnings and greater adventures. I feel like we should be celebrating the start of 2020, not 2022.
Like we deserve a do-over.
Don’t we? It’s time to re-engage with the great big world beyond our front doors, even if that engagement is a phone call, an email, a handwritten letter. I’m not suggesting we disobey the rules or take unnecessary risks. I never want to put others in harm’s way, but our souls don’t belong to a virus. We can’t let covid hold us hostage any longer. It’s time to resdiscover joy. One day at a time.
Dear Diary – It’s Christmas Eve Day Eve Day, and I am home!
It doesn’t matter that it isn’t the house where I grew up! It doesn’t matter that the cookies never got decorated, or that my hair didn’t get dyed, or that my Christmas skirt may not even fit. All that matters is that this year I’m truly in the one place in the world where I most want to be, and in one more sleep, I’ll be with most of the people I treasure.
I know I am blessed.
I know it will not always be this way.
But today, I am here and I will live in today. The present is a gift.
The week has been a blur of activity – finishing gifts, making sponge toffee, and Hubby’s birthday cake. He’s a Christmas Eve baby! Last Saturday I leaned into my German roots and attempted stollen. I even soaked my fruit in spiced rum.
On Monday, Hubby and I watched the Love Nature channel. It’s not really our thing but it’s on free preview and the videography is amazing. In the ad for their channel, they talk about how there are no sleepy Mondays on Love…I say they need to read the room! Sleepy Monday sounded good to me!
My mind has been humming at full tilt, somtimes overheating my body, and I have to step outside to cool off. It’s been keeping running lists of things to do and things to pack: baking, clothing, food, gifts, games and entertainment. Somehow I prepared meals in the chaos, and the pile of dirty dishes never ended. Amazing in a family of only 3.
My brain has been so scattered as a result, and I’ve made several stupid mistakes and extra trips up and down stairs. I posted Wilderness Wednesday a day early, and didn’t realize it until I was waiting in the Tim Horton’s drive-thru at 1 in the afternoon, between a chiropractor appointment and a grocery/gift delivry to a friend. There was no time to stay for tea, hence the Tim’s delivery too. I had to make a last-minute trip for fabric – both for a post-Christmas order for a knot bag and in case everything shuts down again. A very real possibility, so I purchased enough fabric, on faith that I would make some sales, for January projects. No one corrected me to say I was a day early, which I appreciated! 🙂
It turned out I wasn’t the only one confused on days because they had too much going on. Mom read my Monday blog on Tuesday, and thought it was Tuesday all day, and couldn’t figure out why I kept saying I might be coming the next day because didn’t I have an appointment?
My travel plans were precarious, even without the ever-threatening covid restrictions. I had planned to travel on Wednesday, but it was supposed to be a blizzard with high winds. If it was, I’d leave Thursday. But the forecast kept changing, with heavy winds Wednesday afternoon and snow on Thursday. So I dragged Younger Son from his sweet slumber and we ran a marathon to get on the road. He even remembered to grab granola bars because we’re not making any pit-stops on the way. He even brought the chocolate kind I like.
It was sunshine all the way!
Christmas road trips are always accompanied by two favourite Christmas cds: John Denver & the Muppets, and The Arrogant Worms. Even last year when the road trip was only halfway home to trade gifts and goodies with my parents because we couldn’t be together.
But Younger Son’s tastes in music has changed over the years and he actually prefers silence. I can’t drive in silence, especially for over 2 hours. Normally he doesn’t sleep either but since he’d run a marathon before noon, half an hour into our trip, his head started to bob. I waited patiently until he was “out”, and I slipped in The Muppets first. My uncle H was a fun & fantastic guy, and we’ve missed him for years. I can remember him taking my brother and me to the city to see the first Muppet movie in the theatre. I was 6. He introduced us to this cd, singing alongside, and excitedly telling us to “listen” just before the funny parts. I still listen closely for the “funny” parts!
I use to be jolly, now I’m depressed Had a twinkle in my eye, now I’ve got a bullet proof vest Cuz if the pace don’t kill me, some gun totting yahoo will They keep shooting at me like I’m some sort of big fat red criminal
Got the Christmas blues, I’m starting to see That I gotta be some sort of loser to get paid in milk and cookies
I’ve already listened to Bing Crosby dreaming of a White Christmas, which is better than listening to George Michael crooning about his bad taste in partners when he gave his heart away at Christmas. He’s planning to do it again this year.
So I’ve stitched the last handmade gift and all the gifts are under the tree. The goodies are mostly in the freezer, out of reach. I’ll thaw Hubby’s birthday cake and turn it into a yule log tomorrow. I’ll also thaw my green tomato pie filling, for tomorrow. I can’t snack on either one. I’m also the queen of Mom’s latrine!
After an exciting game of Play 9 (I won!), we settled in last night for another winter slumber. A large moon, nearly full, climbed into a clear sky and rested over a tall pine. Moonbeams glinted off the icicles over the kitchen window, and bathed the fields in white. I stepped out on the deck, in my slipper socks, snow crunching under foot. The sky was so clear, I could see the milky way, and I listened to the silence.
Was it this clear and this quiet on that first Christmas?
While the Town of Bethlehem slept, the moon witnessed the greatest gift coming to earth in the smallest and less likely packagae of all – a baby. Immanuel – God With Us.
Was it this clear and quiet on the first Christmas as the moon shone on plain and lowly shepherds watch their little lambs sleeping. They were unaware that they were about to step into the pages of history as the first to hear the heavenly announcement. Christ is Born.
Was it this clear and quiet on the first Christmas when wise and learned men spotted a star in the sky, heralding the birth of the King of kings, and began their long journey to worship at His feet? The Hope for all the Nations.
‘Cause how many kings stepped down from their thrones? How many lords have abandoned their homes? How many greats have become the least for me? And how many Gods have poured out their hearts To romance a world that is torn all apart? How many Fathers gave up their Sons for me?
My plan is to do what I have done every year for the past 40+ years (with the exception on last year): wake up in my parents’ home and celebrate Jesus’ birthday with my family. That’s Plan A. But I also have Plan B. And Plan C. I hope it doesn’t come to Plan C because it involves a sugar-induced coma. And since it’s not guaranteed that I will be embarking on Plan A just yet, I decided to start celebrating a little early with a cup of Stash Christmas Morning Tea. It is a blend of black and green tea lavishing the imbiber with a bold flavour, like English Breakfast tea, as well as gentle floral notes of jasmine.
Christmas Morning Tea is part of the Holiday Family Tea series, which contain an assortment of seasonal flavours and spices in black, white or herbal blends. It’s available in many grocery, drug, and box stores, as well as online. I picked mine up at the Bulk Barn. If you want something spicier, I’d also recommend Holiday Chai and Red Dragon Chai. But after December, they can be hard to find!
I think it’s a welcome change to plain black tea when I’m busying myself with fun, holiday things. This morning I enjoyed a quiet moment at the start of my day, next to the twinkling lights of the Christmas tree. And perhaps I’ll savour another as a pick-me-up while I continue baking spiced breads, cakes and cookies, wrapping last-minute gifts, or packing to travel.
It’s possible Santa would appreciate a cup to refresh him during his international flight in only 5 sleeps! I’m not ready….are you?
You better watch out, you better not cry Better not pout I’m telling you why Santa Claus is comin’ to town
Dear Diary – It’s hard to believe that a year ago, we were preparing for the holidays with the threat of lockdowns over our heads, as the numbers of covid cases rose alarmingly. I spent my first Christmas away from my parents in almost 50 years. We met in the parking lot halfway between our homes for 5 minutes, long enough to swap gifts, snap a pic and wave. I dashed through a grocery store to buy last minute groceries, and I bought a turkey from a friend who had an extra one.
With optimism, we were told it would all be over by next Christmas if we all pulled together. Some of us never stopped pulling. At least I can say:
Dear Diary – Is cheese on apple pie really weird? I know that green tomato pie grosses a lot of people out, but it’s a long-standing tradition on my Dad’s side. Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it! I also grew up with cold cheddar cheese on warm apple pie, not the processed kind (that’s gross), but a thick slab of aged cheddar. The only other options were whipped cream or ice-cream.
I had no idea that cheese on pie could be as polorizing as pineapple on pizza. The idea started in England in the early 17th century, with diary-based sauces in pies, which transitioned to on pies. Poet, Eugene Field wrote, “But I, when I undress me / Each night, upon my knees / Will ask the Lord to bless me / With apple pie and cheese.” Mr. Field experienced apple pie differently than us. Apples just weren’t as sweet then, as they are today. Red delicious apples didn’t appear until 2 centuries later, and with the lack of refrigeration, ice-cream was out of the question. Cheese offered a salty addition to a rather bland fruit pie. The trend travelled across the pond and is more common in farming communities, where cheese is produced, than in cities, where ice-cream is king. What’s your preference?
An apple pie without the cheese is like a kiss without the squeeze.
Dear Diary – An old Facebook Memory from December 2016 came up in my feed:
“Told I look “creepy” in my nightshirt by my child. Considering walking child to the school door wearing nightshirt. Now that would be creepy.”
Dear Diary – It’s toffee time! Armed with my very specific list, I braved the bulk food store for my Christmas baking ingredients, and chocolate hazelnut toffee was at the top of the list! The recipe came from an old Woman’s World magazine (such a sexiest title)!
The first step was to finely chop the hazelnuts, which proved to be a challenge because hazelnuts are round. Every time I tried to slice, and at risk to my fingers, the nut would ping off the counter. They were louder and larger than the bbs that went flying the weekend before, but that’s another story. Bottomline, they both hurt when you step on them, and they both like to roll under the stove. Someday I’ll clean under there and I’ll wonder why there are peas, hazelnuts and bbs.
Then I had a brilliant idea, that prompted me to tell my guys to keep their hands off my nuts: The Slap Chop! Creepy informercial pitchman Vince used to “wow” us in ads for a chopping machine that “slices and dices” food when you slap the plunger. Except that I’m too short to get much leverage. Hubby and Younger Son, who tower over me, had to step in.
They were only too happy to step in to sample too. I had to set the timer on the microwave to keep the wolves at bay until the chocolate had set…and even then some of the chocolate stuck to the counter when I turned it out. After complaining that I’m never in family photos, Hubby stepped in there too.
You didn’t seriously expect me to let good chocolate go to waste!
Dear Diary – Note to self: mini wheats as a last minute bed time snack is a poor choice because I can’t just hork it down in a hurry. It requires chewing, thorough chewing or I choke on the “sticks”. It sticks in my teeth and around the gumline so brushing is “extra special”. And this time, the milk…something was off with that milk. Better to stick with something healthy and sensible…like fruit, with chocolate.
Dear Diary – The Squirrel Games has intensified. Two weeks ago, Hubby had to make some adjustments to our bird feeder because a trio of black squirrels had found it and the leader of the pack is settling in nearby for the winter. He’s an adept trapeze artist. It’s not uncommon to catch him hanging under the feeder, and hunting with his forepaw for the goodies. I wouldn’t object to feeding the squirrels if they weren’t such pigs! But now that some birds have finally found the feeder, I want to enjoy them too. It may be closest I get to a pet since I live with Scrooge.
Older Son offered some firepower, but long story short, both of his parents failed to get it to work, and someone barely missed me, so the “toys” have been safely put away. I suspect sabotage…squirrel sabotage!
In a feeble attempt to discourage this rogue, Hubby nailed down some “scat cat” pads, plastic squares with spikes. The railing looks like something from Mad Max, but the birds don’t seem to mind. Neither does the squirrel, apparently.
Hubby decided we should take down the feeder and I was terribly discouraged. Maybe it’s the time of year, missing loved ones and knowing so many who are experiencing their first Christmas without someone, others, their last. Maybe it’s the knowledge that Younger Son will be leaving the nest soon, and can’t wait to “escape”! Maybe it’s the uncertainty of holiday plans as covid numbers rise and we just don’t know when, or if, we’ll be with family. Lately it feels like even the little things that give me pleasure keep being taken away. I just have to keep committing it all to the Lord. He knows my heart. And my squirrel!!
It snowed softly yesterday, and in between piles of dishes and cherry squares (that taste good but look like Mad Max baked them), I watched a number of little feathered friends visiting in the back. One little nuthatch especially caught my eye. He must have felt very safe there because he nestled down on the outer ledge of the feeder and watched the snow falling too.
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
Matthew 6:26 (NIV)
Dear Diary – I’m taking my friend on a quest north for her covid booster shot. Unfortunately, she’s booked in the middle of rush hour. I sense adventure, and not the “good” kind.
Dear Diary – It’s been a busy week and I have to head home today for a rest!
On Friday, we eagerly anticipated Big Guy’s arrival for the weekend. It had been 7 weeks since our whirlwind summer holiday at my folks. Some Mamas would scoff because that’s no time at all, but for this Mama, it was more than enough! He showed up with snacks, his laptop, but no suitcase or laundry. Which makes me wonder, just where is the 7 week old pile of dirty laundry? Has it evolved into the living dead and is moving as a horde toward my house?
Time will tell. In the meantime, we spent a lot of time, 4 people on a couch, eating too much junk food and watching movies. We reluctantly hit the sheets early because Saturday was starting with a celebration.
Love was in the air Saturday morning. Big Guy woke me crashing into my bedroom door and grazing his big toe on my dresser. He’s used to getting up early so he was the first one us up. It was 6:30 a.m. and our niece (his cousin) was getting married! But she’s not a morning person; she’s in Norway, and her 2 p.m. wedding meant 7 a.m. for us. Hubby had suggested we get up in enough time to dress up and take a photo. So I rolled out of bed with a groan, gave up trying to run a comb through my hair, and put on a dress and a really heavy sweater. I grabbed a large quilt on the way down the stairs, so we could cuddle together our burlap pew too. Hubby was wearing jeans and a hoodie. I guess dressing up sounds more like fun when it’s not 6:30 a.m. and still dark outside. While I was getting dressed, Big Guy made a Tim Horton’s run. It’s the first wedding I’ve been to where I got to byob. Of course, our “b” was caffeinated, not alcoholic!
The bride was beautiful; the ceremony was lovely. And we cheered loudly when they kissed.
The neighbours may not have appreciated it, but I don’t really care! 🙂
I spent the rest of the day in clean pajamas, taking the day off. I even asked Hubby to cook order pizza.
On Sunday, I made a white bean and leek stew for lunch and packed to run away from home. The beans were just starting to work their way through Hubby when it was time to leave, and Little Guy and I barely escaped being gassed. My Dad was hunting this week and Mom and I were praying for the deer. I suspect these days, it’s less about the hunting, and more about sitting in their own sweat by the fire swapping stories!
On Monday, Mom and I gorged ourselves on HGTV and pots of tea. I started a new sewing project, and we swapped Christmas lists. Little Guy and I spent time in the evening fighting with Rebel forces against the Empire and eating chips.
On Tuesday morning, Mom and I shared my laptop for our Zoom Bible study. I had to keep muting us though – we were just too giggly together…and the clock chimed every 15 minutes. In the afternoon, we went shopping to fill our Operation Chrisrmas Child boxes, and picked up Timmies for our packing party!
I never did get my box packed.
For dinner Tuesday night, we met Auntie M at one of our town’s fine dining establishments, Denny’s. It’s the first time I have dined out since March 2020. It’s also my first time dining out since the controversial “Covid passport” was implemented. Thankfully I have an older, tech-savy friend who downloaded them all to my phone. After fiddling for a long time in the cold, we were able to pull Mom’s up on my Mom’s phone.
The instructions at the door of the restaurant were cryptic and they weren’t kidding when they asked us to be patient because they were short-staffed. The QR on the poster didn’t scan on our phones. And the QR code on Mom’s phone was too small to scan too and she had to go digging in her multi-pocketed purse for the paper version.
But I have to say, our waitress was very patient with us, and the cinnamon roll pancakes were worth the wait!
Wednesday was our big day – shopping in a mall! Since all my clothes have shrunk in the closet (the gal at Old Navy suggested it was something in the laundry detergent), I was looking for me, as well as for Christmas ideas for my family. They are as out of ideas as I am. I figured a pair of jeans that I could wear and still breathe in at the same time, might be a good place to start. I could also pass on the other 7 pairs, sizes 3 to none of your business. Jean shopping is way less traumatic than shopping for bras or bathing suits. How bad could it be?
I don’t want to talk about it.
Even though I had grabbed 2 sizes above anything I’ve worn since Little Guy was born and I was too big a mess to even walk upright to the loo, they weren’t big enough. Discouraged, we moved on to something less personal: board games. It never ceases to amaze just how expensive board and card games are considering they’re mostly made of chipboard. I saw a cooperative adventure-style board game that either of my boys would like, and it was $140! And what about puzzles? Some photographer randomly throws a bunch of objects in a pile, snaps a photo, a machine cuts the pieces en masse, and I get charged $29.99? I would be more understanding if it were a limited edition artist’s original piece. Starving artists gotta eat too. But some of the puzzles pics look likes ones I saw as a kid, molding in the corner of a cottage. That artist probably starved to death forty years ago.
We dragged our weary bones to the food court to restore our bodies and our souls, but we didn’t think it through. To sit in the food court, you have to show the nice security guard your covid passport and your photo identification. Not such a difficult thing, except when you’re holding your “papers”, your wallet, your bags, and your very hot cup of tea, while your purse slides repeatedly off your shoulder and your body turns into a boiler. There was nowhere to set your things down in the process…or as you waited, all the flesh burning off the tips of your fingers, for the lady in front of you to dig through her multi-pocketed purse while balancing bags, a toddler, and a tray of food. The couple behind us had less patience, sighing audibly, one cup in one hand and papers in the other. Note to self: eat before shopping at the Mall!
Of course, when you drink tea, you have to pee! But at least you don’t have to balance a paper cup while you do it. However, when your door won’t stay closed so you have to hold it with one hand, strap of the bag hanging off your wrist, while you hover in mid-air, hoping you aren’t “missing”, it’s still a challenge. Should I mention the purse strap sliding off and flashing hot enough to crisp bacon?
We had one more store to visit before we needed to head home because I was expecting a phone call. And I braved another change room and a much larger number on the tag, to try on some jeans. By the time, I had peeled in and out of a few pairs, I was perspiring heavily and my mask was moist. I was frustrated that every pair fit except that I could grab a handfull of denim behind. Then I realized my current jeans fit the same way, and rather than be naked, I bought a pair. I didn’t realize they were on sale. That softened the blow.
It’s Thursday and we’re heading home after dinner. Little Guy has been in school online every day, and by the time he finishes, we’d be in to rush hour and sunset. This morning, everything was covered in sparkling frost and the fields were veiled in white. The sun is shining now, but the yellow leaves of the maple are flowing off the trees like water. It’s so sad to see. Last year, at the end of our holiday while Dad was hunting, we had no idea that we wouldn’t see each other for Christmas. And I’m hopeful that this year will see more of a return to normal.
But for now, I’m heading home for a rest!
I’m knackered again, come on sleep take me soon And don’t lift my head ’till the twelve bells of noon
Dear Diary – I watched Big Guy folding a fitted sheet with horror. I know I taught him how to do it without stretching it across the floor, mainly because I don’t trust what’s on the floor of his apartment. In fact, it’s been less than 12 months since I gave both of my boys a demonstration! When I pointed this out to him, he gave me the lamest excuse: “I’m too short”. I’m way shorter! At only 5′ 1-1/2″ (and the 1/2″ is important), I can still figure out how to make miracles happen!
It’s an appropriate excuse when you’re 12 and your father’s co-worker said you could have ice cream cone if you could reach it (or if you’re caught climbing the bottom shelf at the grocery store because the item you need is at the pinnacle). But folding a sheet?
Can I use this excuse too?
Hubby: Why did the potatoes boil dry? Me: Because I’m too short.
Hubby: There are enough cracker crumbs on this rug to bread chicken. Someone should vaccuum it. Me: Not me! I’m too short!
Bed sheets should not be folded on the floor. Ever. But is it the lamest excuse ever, or pure genius? It’s starting to grow on me!
Dear Diary – Walking the last mile to September means thinking ahead to my responsabilities at home. Ugh! I still planned meals and procured produce for Hubby for those weeks I was away this summer. It’s time to boost my self-esteem by fattening him up again. Not really, but we do have to eat, so I made a trip to the local frozen food store. With grocery costs creeping ever higher, any steps to stay in budget are worth it.
While I thought ahead about what to pick up, I didn’t think ahead when I parked at a distance. It meant I had to wrestle my full cart down a steep curb and trail it, wonky wheel wobbling, across the parched parking lot. The lot sloped toward my car, so I needed one hand to hold it while I scrabbled with the other to grab my keys. My keys, however, were firmly lodged between the metal bars. It took two hands, a foot and a lot of straining and straddling to set them free.
With the car door finally open, I had to face the next challenge. The lovely cashier tried to make my job easier, by packing my entire cartload into one box. One large cardboard box that I had slid into the cart at a rakish angle, because it was too large to fit in the cart! Praying I didn’t break the leg that was now a post through the bottom of the cart to keep it from running away, I heaved the box up the side of the cart until it was balanced precariously along the top bars. That’s when I realized I was on the wrong side of the cart to ease the box into the car and the cart was blocking the door from opening. There could only be one winner, so a sexy tango ensued to right the wrongs.
As I was spinning oh SO not elegantly, I noticed a graying biker dude in a big, black pick-up truck enjoying my dilemma. “I hope he’s enjoying the show”, I thought, as I hooked my toe around the cart’s undercarriage and lifted the box.
My load was exactly halfway into the backseat when the wind caught my skirt and tossed it unceremoniosly over my head. If that biker dude was still watching, he got quite the eye-full…of my sad, white granny panties. You know the ones I’m talking about – with the stretched out elastic and the “not so white” hue, and you only keep them because you need something to wear when the laundry pile has grown too large? There was nothing to do but to keep bending forward until I could drop the box and run.
But I couldn’t run. It would be rude to abandon my cart in the middle of the parking lot, even if my face was burning brighter than the sun. So, with what dignity I could muster, I proudly marched my cart with the wonky wheel across that parched parking lot and hauled ‘er up the curb again. I walked back to my car with my head held high, and my hands cupping my buttocks. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do!
Dear Diary – September started and it felt like the thermostat was suddenly turned down. On Sunday, it was damp and rainy. It was as if weather could sense our spirits as the end of our week-long family holiday neared. It was such a change in weather that when I got home from church, I changed out of my sundress into a hoodie and leggings. I even asked Mom if I could warm my hands in the soup?
She said “no”.
It had been a great week. We stayed up too late and rolled out late. We enjoyed rousing games in the evening, and quiet conversation over coffee or tea in the mornings. We went swimming a few times, and took time to read quietly in the shade. We treated Mom and Dad to A&W one night for dinner, and made the long drive back to the restaurant when they failed to give us all the food we ordered. And we went on a ghost walk followed by late night fancy doughnuts from Tim’s.
One afternoon Big Guy and Little Guy headed into the backyard for a climbing lesson. I watched from as distance as the youngest, now taller than his older brother, strapped on equipment that looked like it weighed more than he did. I took lots of photos and cheered as he slowly ascended the oak. He didn’t get very far because it’s far more difficult than one can imagine. Not only is it a serious workout, but it requires a lot of coordination and skill. I thoroughly enjoyed watching my guys, 16 years apart, hanging out!
A sibling is part blood, part rival, part coach, and forever friend.
Dear Diary – You know you’re getting old when your sons have to help you get undressed. Sort of. I got stuck in my wet t-shirt after I got out of the pool. It had rolled up behind my head, and while I’m regaining the use of my shoulder, the edge of the shirt was just out of reach. Still, it bodes well for the future that they’ll jump to my aid when I need it.
Dear Diary – It was a gift and rare delight that transported me back to childhood. My Mom’s neighbour arrived on our doorstep one morning with potatoes, carrots and watermelon from his garden. The watermelon was not only deliciously sweet, but it had real watermelon seeds! What’s so terrible about watermelon seeds any way? All the watermelons from grocery stores are “seedless”, robbing children of the joy of spitting seeds in the lawn (or at each other). I relished the pleasure of spitting seeds this week, but not at anyone…even though I was sorely tempted. 😉
Dear Diary – Every now and then, Hubby and I will look at houses online in different communities. We currently live hours between our oldest to the west, and our folks to the east, so even if we could move, which way do we go? One evening, Hubby sent a few links to houses in my hometown. On a whim and even though it was getting late, my parents, Little Guy and I piled into the car and drove around town to look at them. Dad drove into neighbourhoods that I used to walk through on my way to school, and the trip turned into a walk down memory lane. We ended it at Dairy Queen before heading home for a card game. Which I lost.
One of the houses was right around the corner from where my grandparents lived. My brother and I would take our little lunches to their house and we’d watch The Flintstones, Rocket Robinhood. or Spiderman. Sometimes Nana made KD or hot dogs. I’m not sure I could live that close to memories. I miss them.
As a teenager, I longed for life outside of my small town, and after very few years in the big city, I desperately wanted to come home again. I know even if I was able to move back, I can never go “home” again. Everything is so very different and so much is still the same.
Chase our dreams but always know the road that will lead you home again.
Dear Diary – A dark shadow was on the horizon last night: school starts today. Unless you’re in grade 11 or 12. Then it begins tomorrow!
Dear Diary – This week I’m vacationing at the cottage with the boys. Sort of. Thanks to covid, we haven’t been able to rent “our place” (which we’ve only been to twice. Ever), so we’re hanging at my folks’ and doing all the cottagey things. We stay up to late and sleep late. We snack. We read on the deck and snooze in the shade. We watch M*A*S*H* with dinner and I have a coconut cream pie stashed away for the end of the week. We skipped the annual Risk game and I banned Monopoly so we’d still be speaking at the end of the week, but we’ve still enjoyed several family games of Uno, Carcassone, Play 9, Five Crowns and Ticket to Ride: America and Europe. We also took a stab at the game, Unstable Unicorns. Of course, I had to get Pumpkin Spice because I’m oh so in to pumpkin spice…
We went swimming in the pool and had a massive water fight. Mistakes were made. My life flashed before me when I inhaled half the pool (inhaled, not swallowed) and fought to catch my breath. I spent the remainder of the day hacking up a lung, and half the night too. On the plus side, when we went shopping the next morning, I was still discreetly coughing and everyone gave me a wide berth. It gave me unfettered access to the sales racks! Also something to remember the next time someone invades my personal space.
Nothing says vacation like vaccination! As well as relaxing this week, it’s a good opportunity for Big Guy to tackle some of those jobs that he simply doesn’t have the time or energy to get done.
We started with his car! Papa booked his car for major servicing (yet again) and dropped him off very early Monday morning. Sunday afternoon I evicted more than a laundry basket full of empty coffee cups and fast food packages from front passenger seat and floorwell. I didn’t have the strength to tackle the rest. My deepest sympathy to the mechanics. Sunday night I went to bed with my cell phone so Big Guy could call me if he needed a ride home. Hubby woke me early with a morning message or five. I could hear that someone was up but I assumed it was my Mom. Eventually I gave up and stumbled out of bed. Big Guy was already home and Mom was still in bed, so we made a Tim’s run to surprise her. The traffic was particularly heavy on their country road which could mean only one thing: an accident on the highway.
Having spent countless hours in such a position on a hot day, sometimes with a hangry kid and stinky guine pigs, all these folks had my sympathy too.
My Dad took care of the first item on Big Guy’s To-Do list so I took on the second: booking an appointment for his second covid vaccination. Now that the initial panic had died down, I thought it was be easy. Instead I once again found myself searching for a mystical unicorn on a wonky trail in a dark enchanted forest. I ended up calling 6 apothecaries in town. Some were was waiting on shipments of serum; others never had any. One store had appointments…the day after Big Guy went home. And finally, one had what I sought, but would only schedule appointments once they had enough “customers” to warrant opening the vial. My quest required me to journey farther afield. Again, most places were booking for the following week, but after much wailing and gnashing, and grumbling like an angry troll, I found my unicorn. I can now safely say, my immediate family has all been stabbed…twice. Take that Covid-10!
Big Guy didn’t arrive at my folks without a special gift for his Mom – a garbage bag full of dirty laundry. And not just any laundry: works laundry. Big Guy is a utility arborist who has the misfortune pleasure of working outdoors all year long. Like a postal worker, the weather never stops him from doing his job, no matter how many stars he wishes on! This time of year can be particularly “pleasant” because temperatures have sailed into the 40s (celsius) with high humidity following. Pile on hard hats, work boots, long-sleeved shirts and heavy kevlar-lined chainsaw pants and you’ll find a recipe for mephitic sweat that will make you go blind. Imagine all that tightly packed and sealed in a black garbage. In a hot car. For a day.
I should have known better. Afterall, the bag was still quite warm when he dropped it at my feet, by the washer. The brightly coloured orange and yellow work shirts contrasted with the noxious stench. The toxic, malodorous cloud swirled around my feet in an ominous mustard pool for only an instant before it began to assault my senses. Even Little Guy, who has virtually no sense of smell or taste on an ordinary day, could taste it and I yelled at him to flee, lest the poisonous vapour melt his fair skin from his frame.
This….this is love. This is the sacrifice that Moms make for their children. Even their adult children. I washed those polluted tunics, the crumpled undies, the stiffened socks. I bore the burden for his bedsheets and bathtowels. I rid the world of this ethereal evil and when he returns home next week, his co-workers will call me their champion. For a week or two.
Then it’s his turn to purge the evil.
Speaking of evil, we went on a ghost walk in the city. As the sun disappeared on the horizon, we were regaled with spooky ghost stories and interesting historical anecdotes about the city. We wandered down darkened streets past quaint limestone cottages and a few grand houses. I enjoyed the architecture and peeking in people’s windows more than the stories.
Afterward, we picked up some fancy doughnuts at Tim Horton’s. I imagine the calorie count on those doughnuts was the most frightening of all…next to the bathroom scales.
I slept with a night light.
If you really want to be afraid, weigh yourselves again in grams…
Dear Diary – As if the world isn’t messy enough, now we could be at risk from rogue, mutant spiders from outer space. NASA just commenced Operation Dragonfly, taking 2 spiders to space to see how they react to zero gravity conditions. Things became messy, figuratively and literally, when the “back up spider” escaped into the sealed chamber. Let that really sink in…
Apparently, this is not the first time arachnids have travelled in space. Frankly, it all just sounds like the makings of a horror story, and with days to go before we start 2021, it just gives me the hee-bee jeebies! Anyone else?
Dear Diary – On Christmas Eve Day, I set out to bake a lemon blueberry cake with a lemon glaze, a lemon meringue pie, and a pumpin pie. To save myself some grief, I bought the pie shells and a can of pumpkin pie filling. But I had been so efficient (Nana J would be proud), I put away my pie filling, somewhere I would find it. Until I couldn’t.
While Big Guy went searching for my can of pumpkin, in every cupboard and drawer in the kitchen and basement, I started the lemon cake. Did you know that butter explodes in the microwave?
It took Big Guy half an hour to find the pumpkin filling. I read the directions and my heart sank. It needed evaporated milk. I had evaporated milk…which I used to make inedible fudge. Big Guy texted all his friends in the neighbourhood, but none of them had any either.
Pie will be the death of me.
I made a substitution and crossed my fingers. It worked. So did the lemon curd and meringue.
The lemon-blueberry cake was to celebrate Hubby’s birthday that evening. In the spirit of not spreading covid, or any other airborne disease for that matter, we decided to use a sparkler that I had found in the food processor box. (Seems like a reasonable place to store sparklers?)
It seemed like such a clever idea…until the smoke threatened to set off the smoke detector.
Before bed, Little Guy decided to play with the corn pops box. I store cereal in plastic storage containers and for some reason, the corn pops were stuck together in a solid lump inside. Little Guy was shaking the box, upside down (do you see where this is going?) when the flap popped open as the lump broke apart. It was a family game of “pick up the pops”.
Dear Diary – I never thought I hear myself saying these words: “Don’t spit in your brother’s hot chocolate”. My sons are 16 years apart – you’d think they’d know better!
Dear Diary – We only had a couple nights with Big Guy before he headed home, thanks to the provincial lockdown. We watched a lot of great Christmas movies: Die Hard, Mad Max, Lego Movie 2 and Monty Python.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!
Dr. Seuss, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas
While it really sucked, to say good-bye to Big Guy so soon, it was better than the alternative: Not having him come at all. When it looked like that was going to be the case, I had a complete breakdown. I’m not proud of it but Mama’s hearts are fragile things. I felt guilty for not being content with the many blessings we have compared to so many in our hurting world. I knew of other Mamas whose hearts were broken too. I had to choose to hold on to what joy there was, rather than lament what was not.
Christmas is as much about lament as joy. No one could have imagined, as we gathered around the Christmas tree last year, that everything would look so different. I imagined the Israelite nation once felt the same way. That first Christmas, they were still under the thumb of Caesar. They were waiting and longing for Messiah to bring a new way, a greater kingdom, a beautiful hope. Meanwhile, an innkeeper was collecting his fees. Shepherds were watching their sheep in the fields. Magi were studying their books. And everything changed. God visited His creation as a divine and human baby, bringing light, and hope, and joy, to a weary world.
Our Christmas Day came and went. It was different. It was sad in many ways. But in truth, no one or no thing could ever steal the Hope and Joy that Jesus brought that first Christmas. Our celebration was always meant to go beyond gifts and glitter, or even the hugs and harmony in family gathering. It is deeply fixed in our heart and soul, and sustains us all year long. Even as the years pass, and the world changes.
Lord willing, it will be better next year. Even if it is not, don’t let go of Hope. See you next year!
Remember, I’m pulling for you.
We’re all in this together!
Red Green (aka Steve Smith)