March 22, 2013

Five-Minute Friday: Remember

I've actually been thinking a fair amount about remembering lately.

I'm a documenter; I keep journals and letters and obsessively hold on to scraps of paper -- birthday cards, concert programmes, the occasional grocery list -- that mean something to be. Usually their meaning is actually more of a function. I collect and curate bits and pieces that unlock memories for me.

This year is the fiftieth anniversary of the summer camp I attended as a child (and for many years as staff, as well). I can't make it to the celebratory luncheon, but I've enjoyed seeing old pictures go up on facebook -- many of them from many years before I was born. Former campers and staff members have been commenting with what they remember, trying to identify years and camps and faces in these pictures of what camp looked like in years gone by.

For about the first six or seven years I went to camp -- starting the summer I was nine -- I kept a special journal that was just for writing down things about camp: what cabin I was in, who my counsellor was, the craft we did, the memory verses we (supposedly) memorized, who else was in my cabin with me, and then the special memories of what I said and did and saw. Looking back on those entries I remember those things, and usually the context around them. I'm glad that I wrote those things down.

What I really remember when I think about camp as a child, though, is not so much what I did, but the feeling of being there. It was a breathless, golden feeling -- where a week seemed about a month long and anything could happen. Camp was so far removed from my very urban regular life that it seemed almost to be contained in (or perhaps to contain) its own universe. Being at camp had its own special magic.

And so more than the activities, the songs, or the things I learned, that breathless, magic, golden out-of-timeness is what I remember. I wouldn't trade those memories for anything.

Link up with Lisa-Jo and other five-minute Friday-ers here

March 19, 2013

I bring greetings from the land of the weird

Every day that I work with the toddlers I become more convinced that they come from another planet -- perhaps Neptune. Here are some recent snapshots of my days:


Goober and Goobrette are pushing three now, which means that they're very interactive and will play imaginative games with each other. Yesterday's jeu-de-choix consisted of them yelling "Funny game! Funny game! Funny game!" at each other, over... and over... and over.

As far as I can tell, that was the entire game.


In the "Hygiene? What's that?" department, a short series of events this afternoon:

1. Goober sits down on the potty for a pee. He's not paying attention so it runs off to the side and down his leg.

2. I point out that there's pipi on the floor. "Pipi on the floor," I advise, "don't put your foot in it!" Goober puts his foot in it.

3. I dive behind him for a spare cloth diaper hanging around for mop-up needs. Goober wipes his foot off on his hand. 

4. "Don't wipe the pipi on your hand!" I cry. Goober promptly wipes his hand off... on his face.


Incidental to the above, some of you may be under the impression that it's only little boys that you have to teach to aim. You'd be surprised.

Twice now, Goobrette has urgently called me into the bathroom, where I've found her on the big potty with a lap full of pee.

"Pipi up!" she'd wail, "Pipi up!"

I still have no idea how that happens.


The three of us were sitting at the table the other day, eating lunch and minding our own business, when suddenly Goobrette's arms started flailing and she started yelling. 

"AAAARRRWOOOAAAAAA!! Me Goobrette, very loud!"

A+ for observational skills.

March 17, 2013

In tonight's episode, our heroine remembers why people don't generally trim their own bangs.

Not that they look bad, per se.

But they do look... odd.

(That's my current mantra: Not bad, just odd. Not bad, just odd. Odd is ok, right? Maybe I can cultivate some complementary eccentricities until they grow in. Not bad, just odd. Not bad, just odd. Not bad, just odd.)

Aw, maaannnnnnnn.

It seemed like such a good idea at the time.

March 15, 2013

Five-Minute Friday: Rest

The thing about rest, it seems to me, is that either we don't have enough and we start going crazy, or we have too much and we start going crazy. It's a challenge to find the balance point.

Two summers ago, I was hit with some sort of mystery illness ("We think it's probably a virus", which is doctor-speak for "yeah, we have no idea what's going on") that laid me out for several weeks. I couldn't eat much and I had no energy, and so work was out of the question and so was almost everything else. I just lay on the couch, resting, or trying to. I don't really remember what-all I did; I dozed, I read, I probably watched a little too much tv. Sometimes I just sat there.

That was rest enforced by outside circumstances, and it drove me nuts. I was bored. I was sedentary, but I wasn't really resting. My body was recuperating, but not much was going on with my soul.

I can contrast this with other parts of my life, where it felt like I was getting no rest at all. Work, church, school, other commitments... I was busy (and part of me likes to be busy), and I was exhausted. I wasn't getting any real rest, and though my body was busy enough to get good sleep through sheer tiredness... again, my body was resting, but there wasn't much going on with my soul.

Soul-rest is the real rest, I think. I've been learning something about it this Lent. I gave up tv (and movies, and youtube...) and so have been forced to do things with my off-hours that are actually restful. I've been practising piano, and colouring, and playing scrabble with Stan in the evenings. I've been cooking and sewing and writing. I've been reading more than usual. And in absence of noise, I've been sitting in the quiet.

I'm learning how to rest.

Link up with Lisa-Jo and others for Five-Minute Friday here

March 14, 2013

Ice, food, and wrath

1. Our apartment is on an embankment that overlooks one of the larger rivers in town. Yesterday the annual ice-breakage started: not naturally, but by means of a very strange-looking amphibious vehicle that is apparently here from New Brunswick (did it drive?). It's got some big inner-tube hips on either side, and a huge claw up front, and it's been working on the river for, oh, it must be pushing 36 hours now.

Yes. It worked all night. I give them kudos for industriousness, but boy howdy, we could have done without the noise.

2. Over the past day or two I re-read Kathleen Flinn's excellent The Kitchen Counter Cooking School. Flinn is a Cordon Bleu graduate who went back home to the states and pulled a What Not to Wear on a bunch of people's kitchens, teaching them to cook along the way. Each chapter has a culinary theme (meat, fish, bread, soup, etc.) and is made up of  very readable vignettes, with tips and recipes thrown in to boot.

I first read this shortly after we were married, and it was super inspiring for a while... but it was a library book, and so although I really appreciated her de-mystification of cooking, I eventually fell off the wagon again. But now I've bought a copy of my own, which I can highlight and underline and make notes in. The funny thing is that I feel more confident in the kitchen just having read it.

Tonight I'm cooking asian-style (read: has ginger, garlic, and soy sauce) braised beef with veg. We'll have to see how it turns out, but in the mean time, here's what I did:


a bunch of stewing beef, cut small
soy sauce
salt & pepper
an inch of fresh ginger
half an onion
three cloves of garlic
one zucchini
two peppers (one yellow, one red)
olive oil
white wine

First I cut up the meat, then set it to marinate in the fridge while I was at work with the soy sauce, salt, pepper, and ginger (I cut the ginger into many many thin strips). I also chopped all of the vegetables down small.

Next, I heated some oil in a cast-iron skillet. The meat came out of the marinade, with the ginger, and went into the pan, just until it was browned. I removed the meat to a handy plate, refreshed the oil, and dumped in my veggies. I let those cook for a few minutes (basically until the onion started to go translucent) and then plopped the meat back in on top of it all. I poured a couple of glugs of wine over the lot -- red probably would be better with beef, but white is what we had -- and then added some water for good measure.

After that I covered the skillet with a large metal mixing bowl, since I don't have a skillet lid, and shoved the whole thing in the oven at 350. I'm guessing it'll be done after 1-1.5 hours, and we'll see if it's successful! My nose guesses "yes".

3. Apparently Google Reader is shutting down come July. Boo! Hiss! Gnash! Because I am vengeful, I've already switched to feedly (so far, so good). I just don't understand why they'd shut down reader (which is popular and works admirably well) over something like google+ (which... does anyone use that? does anyone even know anyone who uses that? .... Bueller?).

March 9, 2013

Veronique, I think I'd like us to be friends

From here:

I listened to a few radio interviews today in between hosting a weekly meeting for my local babywearing group. Yes, women who choose to be attached to their babies as much as possible. From what I heard, Women’s Day is all about abortion and contraception and how hard it is to get either. Isn’t there more to being a woman than to be sexually available and artificially infertile? Because my experience as a woman who raised and gave birth to 8 children, running a home and occasionally a slew of volunteer activities is worth nothing in today’s economy. My degree is outdated, I am unemployable to most but the friend who gave me my part-time job, and I can’t even get a biology credit to return to University without going back to high school. As if I hadn’t learned more putting my kids through school than is required to enter the midwifery degree I so long to get. But hey, what is really keeping women down is not having enough pills. No: What is keeping women down is the belief that women have to be barren like men to succeed and that childbearing and child-rearing are impediments to equality. So that’s your International Women’s Day reflection from a women who is not using artificial birth control out of principle. And while I call myself a feminist for my radical view on the beautiful integrity of the feminine body, ovaries and all, I know that most feminists would be ashamed to count me as their own. Cheers!