The Unrelenting Echoes of Summer

The ‘hood battles are raging and the summer days are stretching onwards and upwards. No one is immune to the reaching fingertips of ire and impatience emanating from cranky neighbours who refuse to admit their age is getting the better of them. If one is to listen to them, the kids are running amok flailing wildly among heathens and hoodlums destined to dethrone the king of badness. Nothing good happens past nine- thirty peeps, and children left to pillage and plunder the village into the abyss of indifference and permissive dismissal are future adults destined for the Presidency of an American nation. Alas how are we to survive the madness?!Calm down, peeps.

The children are children playing in the backyards of responsible professional adults paying their taxes, abiding the laws of society and contributing to the well-being of community and ‘hood alike.

There is no crime here, only that of youth being restless and young on summer nights that have magically become windless and warm. The days where summer seems to last forever, where any kid of any age can dream of digging for buried treasure, swim in the depths of a backyard pool and savour the taste of s’mores and burnt marshmallows on a backyard campfire. Tents, giggles, sleeping bags, practical jokes, stolen garden gnomes (oh, my poor Norman where art thou?) all a big part of childhood and growing up in a safe environment surrounded by loving parents and committed neighbours to raising a generation of well-adjusted, educated, intelligent, compassionate and community minded young people.

That’s what my idea of a neighbourhood is.

Watching out for each other against the rallies of the occasional late-night thievery, lost dogs, wayward cats, and kids out past the boundaries of the park at the end of the street. Local spring clean-ups, bottle drives for hockey trips, Mummering Christmases, barbeques and the fence raising- shed building- deck erecting- construction that brings friends and neighbours together.

We connect to support each other in times of confusion and debt reduction, lost jobs, raised taxes, sky-high grocery bills and illness and heart attacks and even the death of someone’s parent or relative. It’s what they mean when a neighbourhood becomes a small village.

We become each other’s indirect relative.

A communal leaning post.

Friends. Allies. Fellow compatriots in a world where we embrace differences and stand up for the underdog. Where we denounce bullies, raise up kindness and understanding and assist at all costs.

It’s in the DNA of every Newfoundlander to have this innate sense of community; to feel responsible for each other because, hey, don’t I know yer father? At least, that’s what I was led to believe.

Let’s see more of that. Community. Fellowship. Understanding.

AND FUN.

Hey kids! Your loudness behooves me!

The kids running around playing spotlight after dark, the fires in the backyard pits, the barbeques, the late night dog walking, the chatting…

There is no room for fear of being loud or obnoxious. The sounds of laughter and squealing from children should be a sign of a healthy happy environment fraught with joy and the unending bounds of childhood activity.

It should be lauded as the epitome of strength of home and family; not sullied as unnecessary and appalling.

As the summer progresses, let the children play in the streets and wreak havoc in the backyards. Soon enough they will be grown and gone and our yards will echo with their lost squeals of fun-fueled delight from summers past. Youth is fleeting.

Let’s not wish it away.

 What?! I can’t hear you! Whispering sucks. 

 

 

The Fall

Sometimes I feel like the worst mother in the world. I don’t seem to ever have enough to give or I just don’t seem to give a damn. It’s brutal the feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt that plague me. And that guilt! I think it’s a universal feeling. Mothers often question their ability to make logical decisions in the face of chaos and drama. Are we doing the right things? Are we making the right decisions? Is there enough wine in the world to get me through the next few years/decades/century?  My answer is probably not.  

Being a mom is hard.

Every time there seems to be a major catastrophe in one of my kids’ lives, I internalize it and blame myself for their struggles. If only I gave them this or if only I warned them about that or if only I was better at being a mom…it’s never ending.

Watching one of the offspring struggle with a life event is heart breaking and standing around waiting for him or her to come to his senses about it is even worse. I’m knee deep in that now and I can’t seem to get myself out; to convince myself it will all be fine in the end, it’s just a few more weeks and things will turn around. We’ll all laugh about it later.

Nobody is laughing right now.

I’m too busy stopping myself from giving in to my tendency to help; to come to the rescue; to bail him out.  

That’s not my job, but it sure feels like standing around waiting for her to grow up is taking way too long. And he sure doesn’t understand why I’m just standing here waiting and not putting out my hand to help.

I am helping. Just not her version of help.

I know what the issue is, but if I give in what would be the learning life lesson; the character building experience; the chance to grow from struggle?  

There wouldn’t be one.  

The child/adult needs this to happen. Consequences from actions. That’s how life works.

I just wish I didn’t have to be the eye witness to the fall and the struggle to climb back out.

But that’s my job.

I’m a mom, after all.

No Dress Rehearsal

This is the first post I’ve written since my Aunt died.  I haven’t been able to post anything since.  She read everything I wrote.  She commented on everything I posted.  Sometimes it seemed like she was my only ‘fan’.  I still think that. Even if what I wrote was total crap, she liked it.  She laughed at it.  She loved it anyway…at least, she made it look like she did.   I didn’t realize how much I wrote knowing she was there to read it, until after she was gone.  It’s weird she won’t read this.  I think she would have liked this one…

Maya Angelou said “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”   

What an emotional week.  The Hip concert, our friend crashing his bike, another friend’s mother has heart issues and an old friend of our family died this morning…it seems that life is taking a journey into a roller coaster of ‘life is too short’ expressions and asking us all to take a good hard look at how we do this life thing and get on with it.  Move it, sista and get to whatever it is you need to do because tomorrow is not promised to you.  It is dangled precariously in front of your face, lulling you into a false sense of promised procrastination, all the while the edge of that cliff draws ever so near.

There is no waiting until tomorrow, or I’ll get to it next week, it’s now or never time.  It’s the time to do that massive thing you’ve always wanted to do because tomorrow is gonna be too late!  Never have I felt so urgent a need to appreciate a day in the sunshine or a day in the rain as I have this week.  To love my grey hair, (sorry bestie) my uneven walk and my penchant for junk food…hell I’m even relishing my descent into madness (via the other M word) and learning to cope with hot flashes and mood swings…Yeah, it’s happening and that’s a whole other rant.  I’m grateful…just to be able to feel something and relate and cope and struggle and rant.  I’m grateful for the opportunity.  I’m grateful for this day.

Saturday night, Canada closed down for three precious hours and said goodbye to Gord Downie and The Hip.  The band. The Canadian guys.  The guy who is dying, has his days numbered on a calendar and instead of taking to his bed and laying down, he got out into the spotlight and sang his heart out in towns across Canada to say goodbye and thank you to his fans and the people who supported his music and his life for the past 52years.  How awesome is that?  It must have drained every last bit of energy in him to hit that stage and sing, perform and dance for his fans, his people.  The mere act of standing must have taken its toll, but he did it anyway.  He cried, screamed, danced and sang all laying it out for the country he loved, to see.  He sang with humility, honesty and a great deal of force. There was no time to hold back, no putting it off until tomorrow or next week, it was now time.  It was heartbreaking and emotional and difficult to watch, but we did anyway.

That’s what walking through life is, isn’t it?  Singing, dancing, screaming, crying all with a great deal of humility, love, passion and power until finally you are no more.

With illusions of someday casting a golden light. No dress rehearsal, this is our life.”

Get to it.  We have to crush this living thing…we owe it to the people who don’t have that chance, who will never have that chance.  We owe it to ourselves at the very least.

 

Gord

Running Amok

So, time to come clean.  I’ve gone and done it.  Last month I took another leap. I’ve managed to wrangle myself into running another Tely. My fourth. It was something I’ve been thinking about since January, but was unsure if I would remain healthy enough to see it through. Self-doubt always being my biggest obstacle, I had to put that aside and look at the goal. Running another Tely.  And a good virtual kick in the ass from Hubby was appreciated…after the fact, of course. After my first outdoor run in January and I realized running a mere 3 kms was a struggle. Scary.

I think this would be way more fun....

I think this would be way more fun….

I’ve been following the training schedule from the Tely 10 website since the first day it came out in early May and I’m surprised to say I haven’t missed a day of training. Not one scrap, one kilometer or, as painful as they all were, not one hill repeat went unnoticed or unrun(?) The Hill O’Pain remains the bane of my existence, but I persevered and hauled my ass up that hill…eight times last Wednesday. There was a lot of swearing that day. And cars driving by wondering why some lady was running up and down that big ass hill in the fog, and last week in the rain…I loves St. John’s, right? Admittedly, I had to train for the training, which means there was some daring tiny runs in January and February, some cross training going on thanks to D2 and her Cross fit schedule laid out in the basement in March and April, and then finally, some runs as the weather became less frigid and more less-frigid…I’m still waiting for warmth, but that should happen some day in July…you know, that one day…
My love/hate relationship with running is hitting the love meter, right now. After six weeks of pain and agony, I can finally feel my stride returning. I felt strong after my 10km on Sunday instead of tired. I felt capable of running a few extra kms if I had to, instead of flopping on the roadside looking for a ride home. Dare I say the training is working? Shall I say that I may remain uninjured and healthy long enough to see race day? Hmmm….let’s not say that too loud. The universe is watching…

NOT the infamous Hill O'Pain...this one looks almost easy...pffft.

NOT the infamous Hill O’Pain…this one looks almost easy…pffft.

Running Thoughts

Running is mind over matter. Unfortunately for me, my mind takes on a whole other perspective with the true meaning of ‘positive self talk’….
My legs feel like cement blocks
Why am I doing this again?
I shouldn’t have had supper before coming out here.
You should congratulate yourself for even being out here!
Congratulations! Ugh.
Running is hard. Ugh, I just sounded like a tween with an attitude problem. “Oh Ma Gawd…running is so, like, you know, hard and everything?!”
Playing chicken with a semi is scary…kinda.
Was he laughing at me?! Asshole.
Come out here and run with me! Yeah…I thought so.
Ooohhh..pretty…sunshine.
Inclines are small hills designed to piss me off.
I like walking…walking is good.
I must have dissociative disorder ‘cause I just heard a voice yell at me in my head “UMMM…EXCUSE ME! ARE WE WALKING HERE?! ‘CAUSE I DON’T REMEMBER US SAYING WE ARE GOING FOR A WALK! HAS THE PLAN CHANGED?! WALKING??!! REALLY??!!” God, Shut up. She’s not nice. I don’t like her much.
Good thing I try to run, otherwise therapy may not be a bad idea.
How far have I gone? 17 minutes??!! IS THAT ALL??!!
I need new lungs…
Oh, goody another hill/incline/pain in ma ass!
I love downhill…
“Yay, hi yeah running here!” *wave* fuck, I hope I knew that person, otherwise I’m just an asshole waving at random drivers hoping they’ll save me from an impending cardiac arrest…
Oh, look Snow’s Lane. The reason for all of my hate…
OH GAWD, IT’S PERFECT RUNNER DUDE. QUICK! LOOK GOOD BY RUNNING! Oh, Geez are you back again?
I am running…
UGH…NEVER MIND. YOU SUCK…
Hahahaha…if I could laugh like Eddie Murphy, I so would be doing that right now…and, hey Sunshine! I ran…some. Shut up!
Almost home now…
“WE ARE NOT SO ALMOST HOME! WE HAVE THE WHOLE FUCKING LANE TO GO YET, DUMDUM!!!! ARE YOU JUST TRYING TO PISS ME OFF?!! WILL YOU PLEASE GET GOING?! I HAVE STUFF TO DO!!”
I just ran up that hill…
WHADDA YA MEAN?! THAT WASN’T A HILL!! THAT WAS AN ITTY BITTY INCLINE!! MOVE IT GIRLIE!
You know, it would be much better if you spoke nicer…
NICE??!! YOU WANT NICE??!! OKAY…HERE’S NICE. MOVE YOUR ASS BY RUNNING AND STOP WHINING…PLEASE!! THERE. NICE.
That was lovely, thanks.
I SAID PLEASE! MOVE IT!
Okay, okay…geesh. Stop being so cranky…
Oh, look. I’m on Stavangar!
UGH. FINALLY.
………..
OKAY, GO!
Home. Made it. I rock.
YEAH. NICE JOB.
Thanks.
YOU. ARE. WELCOME. NEXT TIME I’M NOT GOING TO BE AS NICE.
I know.
JUST SO WE UNDERSTAND EACH OTHER.
Self talk is supposed to be positive.
I WAS POSITIVE! YOU RAN WHEN I YELLED. POSITIVE RESULTS.
Mmmhmmm….
YOU HUNGRY?
Ugh…
WHAT?!

I think this would be way more fun....

I think this would be way more fun….

 

 

The Double Dutch Tragedy of 1975

Falling, tripping and losing my balance has all led to my face kissing cement, parking barriers, random walls, rubber balls and softballs at some point in my life.  It’s not that I’m totally inept with the art of walking, it’s just that I’m too preoccupied with other variances occurring within my plane of vision to be particularly careful.

My experience with aptly titled ‘face plants’ started early on in my young life.  Ever the classic klutz, I managed to pull off some of the most infamous and awkward moments which invariably involved sports.  So, basically I suck at all sports.  Okay, and walking is tough, too.

To those of you who know me, my ineptitude for any and all sporting activities became glaringly obvious to you only after observing a phys ed class with me.  Or witnessing when I tried to play volleyball, or ever attempted to catch a basketball, or swing a bat, or throw a ball, or kick a soccer ball or stand on skates (both the roller kind…what?  I’m old enough…and ice)  Clearly, a painful experience for everyone.

My initial experience with falling causing any major bodily harm was probably a lot sooner than the one I am about to describe, however, since memories are only accessible to the human mind normally at or after the age of three,  I can only assume that the infamous Double Dutch Tragedy of 1975 was just one that I could remember out of a possible one hundred.

It was a hot summer day.  The sun was blazing down from a periwinkle sky and school had been out for a few weeks. The air was thick with humidity and the abundant energy of the pre-pubescent boys and girls anxious for fun, activity and the ring of the Dickie Dee truck. (those of you not familiar, Dickie Dee was most famous guy in the ‘hood bringing ice cream treats for every kid lucky enough to score a quarter)   The kids from my neighbourhood congregated in the parking lot where the cars were scant and enough room remained available for double dutch tournaments for the girls on one end and ball hockey games for the boys at the opposite end.  The townhouses we occupied were situated in a semi-circle, the parking at the centre, the houses facing the lot.  I somehow managed to participate in both these sports, albeit in the ill-fated ball hockey game as a bystander/participant/ball catcher-gone-horribly-awry, but that’s another story.

The skipping game of double dutch required skilled timing, lightening fast reflexes and athletic ability akin to an Olympic gymnast in order to pull off the tricks and jumps all the girls were doing. You can see how that drew me to this game.

The rope turners were usually either two girls who, sadly, were at the bottom of the pecking order and who were just tall enough to make sure the rope just skimmed the ground when it was turned, or jumpers who were out by missing a jump and forced to take a turn at the ropes.  A toddler old enough to stand and turn ropes would have made due, but for some reason the mothers refused to put them out in a parking lot with a bunch of over obsessed double dutch enthusiasts and pre-teen ball hockey boys.  Go figure.  The jumpers were usually the girls who were so consumed with getting all the tricks and quick jumpy moves just perfect, that they usually took most of the skipping time.  And then there were girls like me.  Oh, sure we could jump and maybe even do a one foot at a time jump, but as for turning or touching the ground whilst jumping, that was a near impossibility.  We were lucky we were given a chance to participate at all.

We had to watch out for the cranky rope turners.  These were girls who wanted to be the jumpers but were relegated to have their turn doing rope duty and none too pleased about it.  You didn’t want to risk taking a turn jumping in between the ropes of these girls.  The perpetual whipping from the one hundred mile an hour lines proved detrimental to anyone brave enough to step foot in between.  This is where the lightening fast reflexes came into play.  One had to be quick so as not to get one’s face whipped or feet pulled out from under by the cranky rope turners, who if they happened to catch one unsuspecting jumper, just smiled an evil sort of grin then dropped their ropes declaring it was their turn to jump.

We sorted out who was turning and who was jumping first by taking orders from the bossy ones, then assuming our rightful place at the turner position.  After an hour of turning, I wanted a chance to jump.  Since it was an exceptionally humid day, some of the jumpers were getting hot and tired, so they took the opportunity to cool down and let one of the lame younger turners take a jump.  Gleefully, I took my stance and waited for the girls to start turning.  The ropes whipped by my face, the breeze tickling my nose as I closed my eyes and launched into a perfect entrance.  I opened my eyes and was jumping.  I did it!  I survived the initial rope peeling and managed to get in between the wildly swinging lines.  I jumped and soared and was about to exit for the next jumper to have a turn when things went horribly wrong.  My foot became twisted in one of the ropes and instead of sailing elegantly out onto the side to watch the other jumper, I went crashing down onto the hard cement. I opened my eyes to hear the screams of the other girls coming to my rescue.  I attempted to get up, but felt an awful stinging in my knee.  I looked down at my raw red palms, then at the skin hanging from my knee as the blood trickled down and I began to cry.  As my face crumpled into shocked pain, I felt an awkward stinging from my chin and forehead.

That's what I would have been doing had my face not decided to go before my hands....

That’s what I would have been doing had my face not decided to go before my hands….

The girls saw the blood streaming from my face, my leg and my knee and immediately went into Florence Nightingale mode.  Somebody yelled for my mother, somebody else went knocking on some random neighbour’s door and one girl tried to soothe my pain by saying “Ewwww…you’re bleeding from your face!”  She’s now a Therapeutic Counselor for accident victims of double dutch tragedies.

I remember getting up, the blood streaming from my face and my knee and my mother running out to see what all the commotion was about.  One look at my bloodied and scraped face and the exclamation of “OH MY GOODNESS WHAT HAPPENED!”  sent all the girls running for the hills.  My mom snagged me from under the arm and I was taken inside.  A while later, after sponging off the stinging parts with warm washcloths then sending me into fits of throbbing pain with the hydrogen peroxide to ‘clean it out’  I managed to see my reflection. It wasn’t pretty.  I looked more like a monster from a horror movie than the freckled face jumper of a mere half an hour ago. The red patches of dried blood were quite the contrast to my usually pale face, and my chin was swollen and sore after the beating it took smacking the cement.  After the blood had dried, scabs formed in a line from my forehead, along the bridge of my nose and all down my chin.  My thigh and my knee were not great, either.  Essentially, I had flown from the inner sanctions of the whipping ropes and belly flopped directly onto the pavement that had been baked in one hundred degree heat.

 My older brothers were very helpful and supportive with their “Nice face” remarks and “Gee, that looks like it hurt. Are you sure you were just skipping?  It looks like you were attacked by a rabid dog”.  I kinda wish I was.  Older brothers are awesome, really.

 “Well, at least you don’t have to go to school looking like that”.

Thanks, Mom.

Sadly, there have been many more incidents involving possible head injuries, bruising and even stitches once…but no broken bones which is a miracle, really.  Maybe I’ll tell the Ball Hockey Incident next.  It’s a classic.

Snowy Days

charlie brown shovelling

Our first snow-fall of the season and I’m exhausted.  With Hubby out of commission, (knee surgery..again. )  I decided to command the snow blower in order to move ma lovely car…so I could get to work on time.  Students were awaiting ma arrival to begin their exams!  I needed to sweep in there and make sure all were taken care of in a super-human and wonder-womanish like manner…kinda.  So at 6 am I head out to the man-shed and

…stood there looking like an ass.

I had no idea how to open the blessed doors…then I couldn’t find the light switch.  Hubby came hobbling out on one leg to show me how to turn on the light (the switch on the right hand side should have been my first clue. Duh) and how to start the snow blower…apparently, you have to plug the bloody thing in.  Who knew?  Last time I ran it I had to push a button.  He changed it up on me.  The thing is old, so it’s necessary to do a series of steps after it’s plugged in and before you start it.  I had to do a bunch of hand signals, push this, pull that and it magically started…I looked like that pretend sign language interpreter dude at Mandella’s funeral.

Only he’s a bit taller and he wasn’t wearing a parka.

The snow blower started and away I went…I almost took out the gate and part of the fence but the thing was moving!  I was so proud…until I hit the first drift and almost stalled the thing out.  Hubby comes hobbling out again…”You’re making my snow blower sound funny”..  “No I’m not!  That’s how it sounds!  It’s not like it’s supposed to speak whale or something, is it?!”

He takes it from me and proceeds to push it through the first drift…on one leg.  We start yelling at each other.  Me telling him to go back into the house and he trying to direct my snow blowing techniques.  Pretty soon, it was a full on “YOU LOOK RIDICULOUS! GO AWAY AND LEAVE ME TO DO THIS BEFORE YOU HURT YOURSELF”  and he “I WILL AS SOON AS YOU DO THIS RIGHT!”  I’m surprised the neighbours weren’t calling the cops and having them cite us for disturbing the peace. All I needed was one good push and hubby would have been like a turtle on its back in the snow…No, I wouldn’t do that…

Where everyone could see me.

 He relents and hobbles back into the house while I continue to get rid of the snow.  It wasn’t perfect, but I was able to blow out a major portion of it in front of my car and D1’s car. Of course, there were a few tense moments when the blower got away from me and D1’s front end almost had some festive green paint and a lovely little dent added to it. Perfect holiday effect.

  Yay me!

Of course, then I had to put the thing back into the shed…which he watched me do from the kitchen window.  I wanted to ram it into the fence but changed ma mind on account that it would just give him something to yell at me about AND I would have to re-stain the whole fence after he fixed it in the spring…so really, it was about saving work for me.  I wheeled the blower in perfect rotation into the shed.  Then I couldn’t turn it off, dammit.  I forgot the magic sequence of hand signals and turny knobby thingys.

I yelled.

He yelled back.

I turned it off.

All done.

I rock.

Kiss ma ass, snow.