Saturday, November 28, 2009

Just shoot me now...

I just got off the phone... and I would like to die.

Yesterday, I took Kelly out for a bit in the afternoon, and we ended up in one of the little local down-town strips, in an independent bookstore. Kelly is on the prowl for this series of books that she started reading earlier in the year, and I *KNOW* that I could just go on Amazon and get the whole lot of them, probably for a good deal cheaper than the local bookstores can sell them, but you know? They're my Local Bookseller, and I kind of wanted to give them my business this Christmas.

So I asked at the counter if they had this one particular book. And the lady said they didn't have it in the store, but I could write it down, she'd look for it online, when their computers came back online (their internet had gone out, and they were having to do everything manually that afternoon), and she'd give me a call. Kelly was very careful to write everything down, and make small talk with the cashier (they were pretty empty, seeing as it was Black Friday, and wasn't everyone and their dog out shopping that day? Come on, people, go spend some cash at Mom and Pop shops!), and they got on famously, and then we left, and I wondered if I'd get a call, or not.

The store just called.

"Hello! This is Lorraine from the bookstore! We talked yesterday. I have the information on those books....







Cue me fainting while still on the phone, and making a mental note to get a face lift and have my hair cut and coloured.


Could you just shoot me now and put me out of my misery?

Friday, November 27, 2009


I started off this morning thinking that, hey, we're off to a late start, so we don't have as much time, and maybe I'll just get one or two things, and call it done.


I so don't know my own shopping strength.

I picked up Toni, and she still looked a little shell-shocked (she'd had the flu on Wednesday, but had soldiered on, and had come for Thanksgiving pull-out-the-stops and keep-the-wine-flowing Dinner last night), even though she said that she'd been fine in the night. She perked up a bit as we drove to the far-away mall (also a tradition! There's one mall in the vicinity that has a JCPenney, and a Target, and a Barnes and Noble and an Old Navy, and those are the places we usually hit, so we make the pilgrimage in the dark), and was almost back to her old self by the time we waltzed into JCPenney at 5:45 am. The line-ups were atrocious! Egads! I looked at the crowds, and thought "Why are we doing this to ourselves?" but then we started to shop, and it was like the parting of the Red Sea. Everywhere we went, people just vacated the premises, and we had clear sailing.

Nate's shot up in the last few months, and ALL his trousers are about 3 inches too short. I scored three pairs of track pants for him, and did NOT pay $13.88 for them, but a measly $4 each. *fist pump* Also at JCPenney, I scored vintage-looking Star Wars t-shirts for both boys. I also got Skip a groovy Marvel Comics one.

...... stop the presses..... Nate just came scampering down looking all worried. "I might lose a tooth tonight!" he announced. Then he proceeded to wrench one of his bottom teeth right out of his mouth. I shuddered. But now it's over... Someone remind me to put money under his pillow THIS TIME, seeing as when he lost a tooth in class earlier this month, SOMEONE forgot to let the Tooth Fairy know about the Blessed Event. That is all.

Anyways, back to the shopping carnage. I thought to myself, "Hey! I've got 2 t-shirts for Skip, and a shirt for Nate and three pairs of pants. That should do, right? Maybe I'll just stop now..." We don't really need to get Skip anything, because he needs Flash, and that's a pretty pricey add-on. And last month, I found a few jewelry making supplies for Kelly, so maybe I'll just stop now.... And then I saw the rack of pale-turquoise-and-dark-brown puffer jackets for girls... marked down from $69 to SEVENTEEN BUCKS EACH.

It was all downhill from there. But now Ken *is* giving me a very nice pair of red slippers for Christmas.

And then? When we went to check out? There was NO LINE at the cashier that we chose. What are the odds?

Out to the car, to unload our stuff (and shed our jackets) and back into the mall for a trip to Target.

Where all hell was breaking loose as we walked in the door.


But once we broke through the ranks of fidgetty people standing in line to pay for their purchases, it was surprisingly easy to navigate the aisles.

I had a "10% off the entire day" coupon (of course), and I also had a "Get a $15 gift card if you spend more than $100" card. So that meant it was time to stock up on things like shampoo and laundry detergent and bird seed for all the outdoor feeders.

Yeah, the cart was full pretty quickly.

And I was being so 'do we really *need* this?" until I realized that my mother-in-law had sent cash for me to get stuff for the kids, and my folks were sending cash for us to buy their gifts, too! I needed to stop reining myself in, or the kids were going to have nothing under the tree, except what the grandparents sent.

So Nate is now getting a nerf gun that will probably take someone's eye out. And did you know that Club Penguin has merchandising that you can access in stores? Three years ago, I had to get it all online. And I got a couple of new Christmas CD's, so Homer's sound system is now All Holiday, All the Time. And Ken is getting me a couple of nice shirts. He got a real deal on them, too. I snagged the Robocop movie series for Ken. He loved them when they came out (at least he loved the original. We quote it all the time). I also got books for the kids at Target. The prices were great, and then you put the 10% off discount, and it's quite the dealio.

When it came time to check-out at Target?

Everyone was GONE! There were No Lines! We just breezed through.

And then the lady says "oh! You spent more than $100, so you get this EXTRA $10 gift card." And then when I rang up Toni's haul, it as more than $100, so I got ANOTHER $10 gift card. All in all, I *MADE* $35, not including the discounts.

Then we went to Old Navy, which was just One Big Fiasco! Oh my! We walked in the door, saw the line-up for the cash registers, and said, in unison, "There is NOTHING in this store that is enough of a bargain to wait in that line", and we walked out, and straight to Barnes and Noble... WHICH WAS EMPTY! We had our very own "personal shopping assistant" while we were in there. I don't know if that's what he was supposed to do, but he was just So Nice, and he helped us find EVERYTHING we needed. Toni was looking for the Eoin Colfer-written sequel to Hitchhiker's Guide, for her son. And the guy looked for it, couldn't find it, and then went out to the store-room, found it, and brought an unopened box of them back, and gave one to Toni (and one to me, I caved. You might have too, if he'd just said 'Oh, and these are half price'). And then he helped her find the Halo books that her son wanted (and I might have bought one of those, too), and then when we were downstairs in the kids' zone, he ran into us again, and I said "oh, there is one more thing!" and I told him about the 'supposed' Richard Castle novel, which I thought might be some elaborate publicity stunt, because when it "was released" last month, none of the brick and mortar stores seemed to have an actual copy, even though all their records said that they had nearly a dozen in stock. But guess what? Our Personal Shopping Assistant FOUND ME A COPY!

I also picked up a great geography book for Nate, and a few "how to draw" books. He wants to draw dinosaurs. I was looking for Origami stuff (he's still obsessed), but it was pretty slim pickings.

On the way out of the B&N, we saw this "Gift Wrapping" table, manned by high school kids raising money for summer camp. Hey! Let's spread the joy, and avoid wraping the books!, we thought. So we dropped some generous "donations" into their box, and the kids got to work wrapping.

Alas, there was ONE girl who knew what to do, and the boy that got my books? I don't think he'd ever wrapped ANYTHING in his life. Those books under the tree? They're going to be the ones that have "the great story" that we have to tell, whenever anyone sees them. You can hardly tell that they're books. Boo yeah. I should photograph the wrapping job. Alas, I had them wrap the Castle book, so I wouldn't be tempted to read it before I unwrapped it on Christmas.

But the kids were so nice. And the boy got better, after I sat down with him, and gave him 'how to wrap square presents' lessons.

I'm sure that the people that got their books wrapped after us (we were their first customers of the day) would thank me, if they only knew!

I looked at my coupons... I had a Joann's 20% off my complete purchase coupon, but it had to be used by noon (and it was already nearly eleven o'clock), so we booked it over to Joann's, where I scored just a SMALL amount of flannel. No. really! I showed restraint. And I didn't buy any yarn, either! Yes, I know, try not to look so shocked. Toni's husband was complaining about her iron, so she bought HIM one for Christmas. Sweet revenge, baby! And Joann's is where we get our wrapping paper every year. And Butterick patterns were 99 cents. And yeah, I may have offered to make Toni's daughter a black skirt for her band concert next month... But Toni bought the fabric, and a pattern to use as a 'guideline'.

After all that, we were starting to flag (It had been nearly seven hours since my wake-up Starbucks Doubleshot, so it was time), we went to Denny's for slams. Their new tea-twisters (or whatever they're called) are pretty spiff. And the free refills were nice, too. And while we were waiting for our food, we settled the score (I pay for everything at Target and Joann's and B&N to get the discounts), so now I just need to be reminded to PUT THE STUPID CHEQUE IN THE BANK tomorrow.

I should be able to remember that... if I also remember to put cash under Nate's pillow...


Which is what I should be doing right now.

Oh, and then? Because I have a freakin' horseshoe lodged in my butt, and everything was going my way today? I came home to a Jury Summons. It's like... Christmas!

Black Friday, 4am. aka "TRADITION!"

A few weeks ago, Alton Brown visited Ken's work. He may have made some comment that of course we are going to cook a turkey for Thanksgiving, because anyone who doesn't is a Commie Pinko Anti-American.

Love the guy.

But I still didn't make a turkey this year.

Maybe that'll get me deported?

But you should've been there yesterday for the succulent beef tenderloin that we took out of the oven and laid out on the best china platter. Yum. Who needs a knife, when the meat practically cuts itself?

Anyways, there will be photos of the carnage later, but for now, I am trying to blend in with the rest of America, and make up for my "Lack of Turkey" Faux Pas.

Yes, it is that peculiar Tradition of Black Friday.

It's getting to the point where I can't count the number of times I've been heading out the door at O'Dark Thirty. I find it quite amusing. And I've never been subjected to the angry hordes (ok, there was that one year when I made the mistake of going into Toys R Us, but we've moved on from that). It's part of our family tradition.

Toni and her family come over to our house for Thanksgiving dinner. We have a great time, the two of our families, and we eat like kings. Then, once the dishes are done, we sit around the table with our second (or third or fourth) dessert, and pass the flyers around the table (part of my Thanksgiving Tradition is to go to a local gas station on Thanksgiving morning, and pick up a local paper with its gigantic insert of sale flyers) while the kids run off to make their Christmas Lists. (oh, another entry for that, for sure. I died laughing at the Christmas Lists this year!). Toni and I make our "plan of attack" for the morning, and the kids shriek about what they really hope we'll be finding. Then everyone clears out early, and we head to bed, because 4 am comes around pretty early when you're as old as we are.

This year, we're pushing back a little bit. Toni got hit with The Flu on Wednesday, and is still a little shaky on her feet.

So I've got time to write this entry while my Starbucks' Doubleshot kicks in.

Oh. Look at the time!

Those sales won't wait all day.

Have a fantastic "Digestion Day" and enjoy the leftovers, peeps!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Memory Lane 16. Deja vu all over again.

I'm running so late right now! I really should write a story, or something, but I'm about 2 minutes away from being gonna-be-in-trouble late. So instead of stories, I'll give you "spooky look-alikes".

Here's a little comparison.

1966. My folks still have that little table that's behind me. Every year, my mom puts a little nativity scene on it.


Apples don't fall far from the tree.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Memory Lane 15. Everything's funnier with a putty nose.

I've been going through this backlog of old photos that my mom scanned in a few years back, and it's just bringing back this flood of memories. A glimpse of a piece of wallpaper will remind me of a whole new set of stories, or just seeing a particular bedspread that probably hasn't been around for 30 years or more, and I'm back in the house I grew up in. It's amazing, the little triggers that bring so many things back.

I hadn't forgotten about my grandfather, but maybe I'd forgotten just how very funny he was around us kids. He died just before Kelly was born, and Skip remembers very little of him, so it's just what I pass on to them that will be the canon of their 'memory' of their great-grandfather.

I couldn't go to his funeral, because I was very pregnant, and living in a different country when he passed away, but I was told about his funeral. My brother said that people remembered a number of things about his childhood, and his youth, and most folks who knew the stories of his childhood were amazed to see the gentle and fun-loving man that he turned into.

I've been reminded of his fun-loving ways, too.

It's so funny to see that photo. At this point, he hadn't yet retired, yet this photo captures the very essense of how I remembered him more than 20 years later. I lived with him and Nana the summers when I was 19 and 20. And he didn't look much different than this then. He'd ditched the tie by then, but he still wore his little metal elastic arm-garters to keep his sleeve cuffs at his wrists. He had short arms. I did not inherit that trait from him. My sleeves never managed to come all the way down to my wrists.

And everything was funny. To him, everything could be turned into a joke. I think sometimes that grated on my Nana's last nerve, which, ironically, made it just that much funnier.


I am going to pay for this, most likely.

It's 4am. I'm up. I've been up for an hour and a half. But I've not been lollygagging around. I've done a load of dishes in the dishwasher, handwashed all the remaining dishes, swept up the dining room, washed the dining room table (thankyou, 'free gift' of Moon Sand... but that's another entry), swept the floor, cleaned the stove (hello, little blue flame that greeted me when I came into the kitchen at 230am. So glad I did come downstairs so you wouldn't stay burning All Night Long... whoopsie), cleaned off countertops, threw away old orchids (that I've decided I won't keep on the counters to look messy for the next 8 months while we wait for them to bloom again), and went through a bunch of old photos to make a snapfish photo book for my mom's relatives as her Christmas present to them.

I suppose I shouldn't have fled to my bed at 630 last night when I felt nauseated (thankyou, Second Day In A Row Migraine. I love you too), but my head does feel miles better now. I'd probably still be asleep if I hadn't coughed up a lung shortly after 2, and woke up thinking alternately "My throat is on fire" and "Did I just pee my pants?" (All readers will be happy to discover that it was a false alarm. There is no need to open the emergency stash of Depends.)

I am suffering a wee bit of guilt, though, as I was supposed to go to the neighbour's house at 8 to take care of her cats.

Hopefully, they don't choose this evening to tear up the house while I'm inattentive...

Hmm. Got a load of company coming for supper tomorrow night. Er, tonight. Just got another last-minute cancellation. Grrr. I bought a beef tenderloin, too. Time to make some last-minute invitations at church in ... eek! 6 hours.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Memory Lane 14. Love That Dog

Skippy... the dog, not the child.

When I was a kid, I think first grade, my folks got a dog. It was this little sheltie-mix puppy from the pound. A little boy that we named Lad. Lad was so little when we got him that he was still squatting to pee. He was too tiny to lift his leg. Awww. So cute!

We hadn't had Lad for six months before, suddenly, our back yard became the place that all the big dogs in the neighbourhood wanted to be. Even the geriatric basset hound next door tried to break down the fence between our houses to come for a visit.

My folks were stymied. What could be causing this behaviour?

(You'd think they would've figured it out. My mom was a nurse, for crying out loud.)

Realization dawned, but not until after the damage was done. We were missing a panel in the back fence, and Lad was starting to get rotund. SHE was not a very large dog, and she'd been visited by a number of the larger dogs on the block. Her maternity seemed doomed from the beginning.

She went into labour on Easter Weekend when I was in second grade, and died after her sixth puppy was born. Three of the puppies were stillborn, leaving us with three little cute mewling blind furballs. It was time for the eye-dropper feedings, and round-the-clock bottle feedings until they were weaned.

The three little guys couldn't have been more different from each other.

The black one was the largest of the three. He soon grew a curly coat, and was probably some standard poodle mix. He was adopted by another Mountie family, and they called him Oggie. Oggie the doggie.

The little brown one doesn't ring too many bells. He also was pretty large, probably knee-high at the shoulders, but not as large as Oggie. I think he, too, went to another Mountie family.

The little white one nearly didn't make it. She was the runt of the litter, and needed the most care to keep alive. I guess my folks couldn't part iwth her, so we ended up keeping her. We called her Skippy.

She was adorable. The best pet. For fourteen years she ruled our house, and put up with our shenanigans.

She had a stroke the summer after my second year away at college, and went blind. But up until then, she'd been a remarkably healthy dog, considering the shaky start she'd had.

Love that dog.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Memory Lane 13. The Boy with a Purse

I have just returned from a swanky fundraiser evening. I'm all dolled up, and if it wasn't for the fact that I just beat back a migraine this afternoon, and have a sinus infection and am hopped up on cold medication, I'd think that I looked pretty fly.

It's times like these that I need to be reminded that in 1978 I was known as "The Boy With A Purse".

Yeah. It was that bad.

Oh, but look! There's Skippy! That'd be Skippy my dog, not Skippy my son... Hmm. I probably should've thought of that before I gave my kids pseudonyms in this diary all those years ago...

Tomorrow, I'll talk about Skippy. (the dog).

But now? I've gotta get this sinus infected head onto a nice pillow.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Memory Lane 12. Beaches.

When I was a kid, we lived in and around Vancouver for about 10 years. In the summers, we'd often take day trips when Dad had a day off. And because he was a Mountie, we often took those trips mid-week, and so avoided the weekend crowds.

Back then, little short jaunts seemed like Just So Very Far! We'd drive to the Great Aunt's house on East 59th, and my brother and I would moan and complain that we were getting car sick. Good grief, I think I drive farther to church now than that. Oh well. I guess I was priming myself for long car rides even then.

The most fun LONG Day Trip that we'd take, though, was to White Rock. Back then, it wasn't some touristy Mecca. It was a strip of beach, with little steep streets running up the hills, and little wartime four houses on those steep little streets. Mom and Dad knew some elderly folks, and we'd visit them for tea on those White Rock Beach trip days. I remember the lady of the couple, so grandmotherly, and so... I think she was Norwegian, but I'm not sure. Probably Ukranian, actually. She had a Norwegian Christmas Cactus, so that's why I'm getting confused. For years, mom had a slip of that plant growing on her kitchen window sill. Oh, and they had big Shasta Daisies in front of their little meticulously maintained house on the steep White Rock street.

So we'd visit with this old couple, and then we'd head down the steep street towards the water.

It was kind of magical.

We'd play in the sand, and turn over rocks, and pick up crabs, and then dad would gather us together, and we'd go up to the railroad tracks that we had crossed from the street where we parked to the sand. Dad would give us each a penny, and tell us to quickly put it down on the rails, and then go stand with him by the car. There was probably some train schedule, or maybe a distant whistle that I couldn't hear, but in my mind, my dad had some sort of wild sixth sense about when the train would be coming.

So we'd stand there with Dad, huddled by the car, and the big freight train would come lumbering by. Slowly. And interminably. Usually there were dozens of cars being pulled behind the big black CN or CP engines. We'd count the cars, trying not to lose track. while we watched the train go by, clickety-clack. And maybe the engineer would blow the horn when he saw my brother standing on the hood of the old pink 58 Chevy, nearly peeing himself with excitement.

Then as soon as the train had gone by, we'd run to the tracks, and get our flattened coins. Oh man, they were hot at first. I'm sure it wasn't the best thing we could be doing. Once someone gave us a stern talking-to because we could DERAIL THE TRAIN! Another time, we put our pennies on the rails, only to have these nasty boys come running by JUST ahead of the train, scooping up the coins, and running onto the other side of the tracks. I was so sure they'd be run over, I nearly had a seizure. My little eight-year-old heart could barely take the strain.

But most of the time, it was just idyllic and fun.

Oh, and for the record? I think I still have that dress. It has a little tie that completes the ensemble. And there's a turtle applique'd on the tie.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Birthday Surprises

It has been a lovely birthday, today. Even if it was a bit more running-around than I'd have liked.

The kids made me birthday cards, no doubt at the prompting of Ken.

Kelly's was lovely and girly and poetic, and all those things (of course).

Skip and Nate had some fun in a minimalist sort of way...

The front:

What? Is this a card? It's so white. And blank...

Whatever could that mean?

I guess I'll have to look inside.

Completely cracked me up. I'll be looking at this for many years to come.

For lunch, they took me out to their favourite restaurant.

Nice and healthy...


Skip got his weekly dose of protein...

But no time to linger over bottomless refills of the soft drinks. It was time to go to the dentist.

I should've taken photos of Skip in the dentist's chair. He had a mould made of his top teeth so he can get a mouth guard for kung fu. The standard mouth guards are too big for our itty bitty jaws, and Skip and I both gag using them. And the dentist can make one out of any color (and of course, Skip is choosing orange). Anyways, the trays of goo that he had to have sitting on his teeth for the three minutes, or however long it took? Made me gag just watching. But it would've made a great photo.

From the dentist, straight to ballroom dance for Kelly.

Rats, that photo is a little grainier than I'd hoped. But that's without a flash. And from pretty far away.

Then we came home, and I made a technical error with the roast, and put it in too late, and it wasn't done before I had to leave for the Women's Bible Study at our church. Oh well. I'd put butter tarts in the oven while the roast was cooking, so I had two of these hot little creatures while I was driving to church.

Hmmm. That first row of tarts is out of focus...

I'm still learning how to use my birthday present...

The photos will get better. Just give me a bit of time...

Memory Lane 11. Birthday.

I probably should be leaving *my* memories here, but, truth be told... I don't remember much about this day, 45 years ago. Mom and dad phoned me early this morning, and, after a hilarious a-tonal choral rendition of the Happy Birthday song, she recounted a few more details of the time surrounding my birth. I think we were in very dear peril of suffering an "overshare", but mom pulled it out at the last minute,. Heh.

Anyways, here's the photographic trip down Memory Lane for today.

45 years ago tonight, in fact.

I do kind of wish that there were babies in the bassinettes beside mine. Apparently, I was a bit of a moose-child. But being nearly 10 pounds will do that. Yes, it's true, my enormously large children come by their birth weights honestly.

But put me up against a grown adult, and I look positively miniscule.

And while that wall behind my dad's head might look tilted, it's not. My folks lived in an attic during my early years. The walls ALL tilted, and my folks got good at ducking.

Well, it's nearly lunch time, and I've invited my kids out for my birthday lunch at THEIR favourite restaurant. Yes, it's fun being a mom.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Memory Lane 10. Birthday Memories

On this, the eve of Remembrance Day (Armistice Day/ Veteran's Day... and also my birthday) I thought I would give you a taste of what we did Every Year on this day.

First, there would be birthday festivities. Usually over breakfast.

Ooh! I wonder what's in those parcels???? The blue one is probably a shirt. But not a Stretch-N-Sew one. Mom didn't learn to do that until we were living in the house with the daisy wallpaper in the kitchen. See?

Oh look. I'm SIX! No wait. Hold on a minute. We moved into that house when I was in first grade, and I'd already turned six. So this must be Birthday Number Seven.

But no time to dilly-dally. Even though it's NEVER a school day, and the stores are closed, we've got places to go and things to do.

Because every year, Dad was involved in SOME way with the Remembrance Day parade or memorial at the cenotaph. And no matter the weather (seriously, I have frozen my fingers OFF on more than one occasion, standing at the cenotaph), we would be out there, watching the parade, saluting the veterans, and then standing silently at the memorial cenotaph, no matter which town we were living in. And I can still recite In Flanders Fields, too.

This is Prince Rupert. Probably around 1965 or 1966.

We must never forget.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Memory Lane 9. Manning Park Sign.

For those of you playing the "How has Kemma grown over the years: The Manning Park Sign" game, here's another entry:

Yup. Even when there was snow up to our armpits, we still had to get out of the car at that sign, and push our way through so we could get measured.

In retrospect, I'm loving that we did that. I'd say that this was 1973 or 1974. Hmm. The year we went to Nana and Poppa's for Christmas. That would also be the year that I got a lovely little vial of violet-scented perfume from them. it smelled so good, I was CERTAIN that it must taste just heavenly.

Ick. I'll draw a curtain across the results of THAT swig. Ptooey!

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Memory Lane 8. Hinton

When we were kids, holidays usually involved getting in the car (or later, in the maxi-van that dad had converted into a camper. Woo-wee) and driving off somewhere. These drives were usually long and involved, and, if I don't miss my guess, they were well-planned, even though Skip and I never knew what the itinerary was. We just got in, drew the line down the middle of the back seat, and tried not to throw up.

I think it was the summer after 2nd grade, we drove through BC, and then up across Alberta, heading for the little hamlet of Pump Handle, near the Saskatchewan border. Mom and dad had friends (probably from their Northern BC Fishing Village early-married days) scattered across the country, and we were always welcome in their homes (as they were in ours), and this one family had a family farm that they'd gone back to. I remember the big kitchen garden, and the red barn (doesn't EVERYONE have a red barn?), and out through the fields of rape seed, there was this old giant house. Two stories. Partially crumbling, but so far from anywhere that there were no vandals to speed the process. They called it "The Spook House", and you better believe that was a fun place to visit. When I was younger, I had this stack of postcards from the early 1900s that I'd found in a room there. And dad found an old clock that had a bird's nest in the workings, and their friends had said "Take it! What are we going to do with it?" Dad took it home, and cleaned it up, and it's a beautiful mantle clock now. Doesn't exactly keep great time, but it's a piece of history.

I'm trying to find photos from The Spook House (I know they're out there), but today, you'll just have to deal with the Motel Photo. Here we are in Hinton, Alberta, at our cosy little motel room. We travelled in a '58 Chevy, the color of old pepto bismol. I don't think it had seat belts.

And here you also get another taste of my mother's Stretch-n-Sew prowess.

Golly, did I have ANYTHING that she didn't sew?

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Memory Lane 7. Road Trip

When I was a kid, say from the ages of 4 until I was 13, we lived in "The Lower Mainland". That was a catch-all name for any city within striking distance of Vancouver, BC. We lived in and around the city, but never in Vancouver. (Or rather, I never lived in Vancouver until I was on my own as an adult, sharing my third, or fourth apartment with a girlfriend)

But anyways, we lived in The Lower Mainland, and my mom's folks lived in the Okanagan, along the shores of the Okanagan Lake, which was an idyllic place to spend summer vacations. The only thing between us and the lake was an interminable FOUR HOUR DRIVE.

These days? I scoff at a 4-hour drive. That's for pansies! My kids know that to go anywhere worth getting to, you get up at 4am, and drive for at LEAST four hours before you even have your first potty break... but back when I was a kid, and had to share a back seat with my pesky brother, four hours was an ETERNITY!

We had landmarks to pass the time.

Port Mann Bridge! We made it without bickering all the way to the bridge! Are we there yet? Are we there yet? What do you mean, it's not even been half an hour?

The big tall stump beside the highway in Langley! Are we there yet? Are we there yet?

The long sweeping corner just outside of Abbotsford where, if you turned right, you could SEE THE UNITED STATES! Can we go there? Can we go there? It was so exotic!

The windy stretch of freeway just before Chilliwack, with the farm in the middle of the freeway. Hold on tight. That wind could blow your car over if you weren't careful. We'd often see big rigs on their sides. I wonder why that area was so windy...

Hold your nose! We're going through Chilliwack, and there's gonna be that smell of cow poop from the honey wagons spreading manure on the fields, or, if you were REALLY unlucky, pig poop wafting down from the farms.

Then up the hill, around the hill, and we were approaching Hope. "Gateway to Holidayland"! It always felt like we were ALMOST there when we got to Hope, even though it was barely two hours into the trip. Once, my brother saved up his money, and we stopped at this rock shop in the outskirts of Hope, and he bought a big piece of jade. I wonder what happened to that rock...

If it was really hot, once in a blue moon, we'd stop in Hope for ice cream, but that was a RARE event. We had places to be! And people to see! And if we stopped, we'd lose time.

Next landmark, The Hope Slide! In January, 1965 a small avalanche blocked the road. While waiting for the road crew, 4 people were waiting with their cars when a small earthquake brought down the entire mountain side onto the highway, burying the cars and people. My folks often stopped at the memorial, and talked about what had happened. I think (but I'm not sure) that they knew two of the people who were never found under the rubble. But for my brother and I, it was a chance to run around like maniacs for 2 minutes. And, if we were feeling a little 'off' because of the mountain roads we were just starting to drive up into, it was our chance to puke. That was us. We were the Puker Kids.

Back in the car! We've gotta be somewhere.

It was probably only about 10-15 more minutes before the next landmark...

We stopped here every time. It was how our folks kept track of how we were growing up every summer.

The drive seemed to go faster from this point. First, there were the campgrounds. Coldspring (I think), where we'd camped often, and Mule Deer (where we sometimes camped if Coldspring was full) And Rhododendron Flats, where we'd sometimes stop in the late spring, so mom could take photos of the flowers. Sometimes, if there was a potty-break need, we'd stop at the Manning Park Lodge to use the bathrooms, but more often than not, we'd stop at the Beaver Pond, or the Blowdown! to use the outhouses.

We were all rustic like that.

Oh look! A two-fer today! Here's the Blowdown, circa 1969:

(Historical note: When we were kids, this was one of the big landmarks on the Hope-Princeton highway. Everyone stopped there to see the carnage of an entire valley full of pine trees leveled by a single windstorm. The last time I was through there, I couldn't even find the landmark marker. Just a sign that said "Blowdown/Boyd's Meadow" Seems there's nothing left to see. Nature has taken its course, and the new trees are now as big as the old trees ever were, and it's just more forest. Le sigh.)

There were lots of things to see in Manning Park, and some times, we'd spend a little extra time there on our trip. But usually, we were On A Mission! Gotta get to the grandparents' house! So off we'd go. Bye bye, East Gate of Manning Park. Sometimes, we'd get gas there, but not usually. Yikes, it was expensive.

Before you knew it, it was getting hotter, and hotter, and you'd come over a rise, and see the little town of Princeton spreading out before you in the valley. Down the hill, look longingly at the Tastee-Freeze on your right, and the Dixie Lee Chicken on your left, and think "There's a school right between those two Meccas? How do the students ever get any work done, thinking about all that great fast food?" and whoosh, you were out of Princeton, and heading off eastward.

Out the driver's window, we'd follow the Similkameen river with our eyes, a lazy shallow river that traveled in the same direction as we did. Some times, we'd see kids floating down the river on inner tubes or air mattresses. What a life! "If we lived here, we could do that too!", we'd think. And then, BOO YEAH, it would be such a short drive to the grandparents.

Next, we'd see Bromley Rock out the driver's window. A big chunk of granite that the Similkameen had to curve around. Sometimes, there would be rapellers zipping down the face of the rock. It looked exhilarating! I would never have guessed that years into my future, I, too, would be skimming down that rock in a flimsy little rope harness.

Next landmark, Hedley. It used to be a gold rush town. There's still a giant ore-works at the top of the mountain above the town, but the town was down to about 10 houses, and a nearly-crumbled corner store. I don't think it even had a gas station.

But that was OK, because Keremeos was not far ahead. There were farmer's market stands at the side of the road, and a big K written into the mountain above the town by the finger of God. Landslides, or something. Always look for the big K, and you knew you were almost home.

Dad knew "The Shortcut" around Keremeos, so we never went into town, but skirted around it, cheering because we'd shaved 5 or 6 minutes off of the trip. But then... hold on... we're driving past Yellow Lake. And everyone KNOWS that Yellow Lake is BOTTOMLESS! You don't want to fall in there, or you'll get sucked RIGHT DOWN TO THE EARTH'S CORE! And of course, the road was very narrow, and I always held my breath going along that stretch.

Then there was the turn-off to Apex. We didn't ski, so we didn't care about that road. It was SO CLOSE to the Okanagan at this point! And then Highway 3 (The Hope Princeton) met up with Highway 97, and we turned left onto that highway, and we KNEW we were getting close.

It was right around this point that we'd roll down the windows and start sniffing. It was some point of honor to be the first person to smell a skunk. That was the olfactory clue that we were Almost There.

On the left, the Okanagan Game Farm. Crane your necks, and see if you can see any wild animals, because we're not going IN. We're Too Close! Can't you see Skaha Lake to the right? It's just a matter of driving through Penticton, up the break between Skaha lake and Okanagan Lake, and then we're winding our way to Nana and Poppa's house. Past Kickininee picnic site, past Soorimpt picnic site, past Pyramid picnic site, and we were almost there.

Then the Agriculture Canada Research Station road to the left. Oh man, we could WALK FROM HERE! Both Skip and I were on the edge of our seats by now. Crossing Trout Creek! Look! You can almost see their house! And even though the lake was on our right, we were all looking left, as Dad started slowing down to make the drive even more agonizing. A left turn, through cherry orchards, and the long street ending in their driveway. Ah, Nana and Poppa's house, behind the tall cedar hedge that Poppa grew from cuttings. Their yard was a paradise, I will have to show photos of the garden as I knew it as a child, but I want to leave you with a photo of their house in the '40s.

Honestly, I would NEVER have believed this was the same house, if you'd showed me this photo when I was a kid. Nana and Poppa's house was immaculately kept, and impeccably maintained. The lawn was like a putting green, and the flowers were award winning.

It kind of makes me think that there's hope for me with my pathetic garden right now.

Maybe when I have grandchildren, I'll have a garden to remember, too. Not just dirt and weeds.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Memory Lane 6. Mumps

So we're not always healthy and happy in our home.

While I was working in Nate's class yesterday afternoon, he looked a little lethargic, sitting at his desk while all the other kids had pulled their chairs up around the teacher while she read Pippi Longstockings. I looked over at him, and he said "My head hurts".

Uh oh.

Well, they'd just come in from outside, and I thought maybe he had some lingering allergies from the freshly cut grass, or something, but then I went over to him, and touched his head.

There were six kids out yesterday with a fever.

Nate made Number Seven.

He's home today. We'll see how much stuff I can get done around the house while he rests and dopes himself up on Tylenol.

But what does this have to do with Memory Lane?

Let's take a trip in the way-back machine.

November 1971, to be exact.

That's me, on my birthday, WITH THE MUMPS.

How's that for a groovy birthday present?

I think I probably should also give a shout-out to those great plaid pants. I think my mom made them. She took a Stretch-And-Sew class in the summer that year, and my brother and I got the "privelege" of wearing all her creations.

Fortunately, I think the Brady Bunch girls were wearing trousers like that, that fall, so all was well.

My oldest son only wears orange. I wonder where THAT came from...

Well, it's time to take Nate's temperature again, and take Kelly off to school.

Let's hope Nate is the only one in our family to get this nasty fever, but with fifty kids knocked down by it in the school, I wouldn't be surprised if we get hit again.

Have a great day, folks. Wash your hands.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Memory Lane 5. Centennial


Raise your hand if you remember Canada's centennial.


OK. But it was a big deal. Especially in the smaller towns. And I was still living up North, in a town known for fishing, canneries, and drunks.

But when they partied during the day, it was FUN! And look at all the COOL cars in the background.

It's funny. I look at that photo, and I don't really see my dad. He's about 60 pounds heavier now, but still svelte (he was a skinny wiry boy, he was, in his early years with the Mounties). I see Skip a bit in his face, and the openness of his gaze. And I see Kelly in my little blonde-fringed face.

I guess there's no fighting against genetics. You get what you get.

Happy 100th Anniversary Canada... July 1, 1967,

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Memory Lane 4. Summer 2002

A slightly more recent memory. Let's go to the summer of 2002.

Kelly was very much into Winnie the Pooh, and I think the sweatshirt that she's wearing (a hand-me-down) is some Winnie design. Skip doesn't have his two front teeth! Egads! He was such a late bloomer in the teeth-losing lottery. Seven and a half, and he'd only JUST lost his 4th tooth. Nate was missing that many teeth in kindergarten. And look at Nate! He must be about 6 weeks old here, and that outfit (also a hand-me-down, I believe, but in excellent condition) is a 6-9 month size.

Ah, those were the days.

I loved that blanket, too. That was Nate's, and he loved it, too, until he left it in a hotel in Washington last summer. Whoopsie.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Memory Lane 3. Beauty Contest

I was born in a fishing village in northern British Columbia.

It must've been a happening-enough place, though, because when I was 2 or 3, my folks entered me in a baby beauty contest, which was picked up by the local newspaper (I guess there's not much news in these northern towns). Somewhere, my folks still have the newspaper issue that's got the big front-page spread about the contest.

The "grand prize" was a rocking chair. Runners up received bags of groceries from the local grocery store. I think my folks were hoping I'd 'place', so they could get a nice little food buffer in their pantry.

Alas, I won the whole dealio. My parents were interviewed for the paper by one of the cub reporters. That same reporter ended up 'growing up' and becoming a pretty big name in BC politics when I was a young adult. My 30 seconds of fame, as it were. Or maybe an "I knew them way back when" moment...

And, as a result, there's a rocking chair in our garage, now.

When I was little, it lived in my room. And then, when I was older, it usually lived in the front room, with a vine-type plant twining through the wooden spindles of the chair-back.

Hmm. I wonder where I put it. I don't recall having it out since we moved into this house...

Monday, November 02, 2009

Memory Lane 2. Wedding Follies

OK, so this isn't *exactly* a picture from MY past, I want to tell the stories that have been handed down. I want my kids to know the stories of their grandparents and great grandparents. And where better to start that at the wedding of their grandparents, my folks:

Yes, my dad was a Mountie. Mom was a nurse. But that's not why I posted this.

Anyone notice anything about the picture? Do you want to tip your head a little bit to the left to make the people all line up, and not look like they're going to fall over?

On my parents' wedding day, the BEST and ONLY professional photographer in town showed up to their ceremony DRUNK.

He took a few photos, and then FELL ASLEEP during the actual service. And then, in the gardens when they were having their portraits taken, he couldn't get level. There are only a few photos that were salvageable, where everyone is even *IN* the frame or the shot was even in focus. Mom says that back in the day, it used to make her want to cry, but now it just makes her laugh. Dad was pretty upbeat about things, from the looks of this photo, and in my imagination, he's probably making whispered jokes about the inebriated state of the photographer, or telling his two guys (also Mounties) that they should do a DUI stop on the guy as soon as he leaves the wedding. No wonder the wedding party looks like they're getting ready to crack up laughing.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Memory Lane 1. Skating Show

I'm atrocious at routine.

But maybe if I make it a little bit fun, it'll go better.

So I think this month, my NoJoMo (November Journaling Month) entries will be trips down memory lane.

It'll help me in the future, when I'm old and can't even remember if I wiped my bottom before I got off the pot.

Here's #1.

Seeing as this is the month of Thanksgiving, I thought I'd start out with a little bit of my Skating Cavalcade of Horrors.

Back in the day, I took skating lessons. I think it's part of being Canadian. You've gotta know how to skate. You've gotta know how to curl. You've gotta know how to watch hockey. Knowing how to play hockey (if you're a girl) is optional.

I would like the record to show that my mother sewed each one of those little white giant-sequins on by hand. I don't remember what the orange decorations were. Some sort of plasticy thing, no doubt. And the indian costume was just a square of felt, folded over, with my head through the middle. Open at the sides, and held together with a pair of safety pins, I think. Seems kind of risque for a group of 10 year olds to be wearing, that's for darned sure.

I think this is the costume that I was wearing when I walked out onto the ice in a positive frenzy to get my program signed by Don Jackson, "King of Blades", and fell flat on my face in front of him. I'd forgotten to take my skate guards off before stepping out onto the ice. I like to think that he remembers me fondly.

I must say, I wouldn't mind having those shapely legs back. Or that colour of hair. But I'm happier with my teeth now. My serious skating years were during my half-adult, half-baby-teeth years, and that phase is never all that pretty.

Thanks, mom and dad, for the skating lessons. I know they were atrociously expensive.