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. 

 

 

Summer Days Can Be Noisy. Bring Your Headphones. And Gas Ovens. 

The summer is spinning on and I’m trying desperately to hang on without randomly sticking my in the oven…It just occurred to me that even that wouldn’t be effective, as I have an electric oven. I guess when you see the old lady-with-her-head-in-the-oven gag, she actually owns a gas operated appliance, which obviously would do one in. An electric one would only be harmful if it was simultaneously touching water…or plugged in whilst out in the rain. But then, why would you have an oven OUTSIDE IN THE RAIN. No one would need to bake a cake outside during a monsoon. Unless you wanted to have a baked goods sale on the side of the road instead of the usual lemonade stand and having the oven outside is both convenient and a sales pitch, and people would be too excited and cause mass riots in the ‘hood since, BAKED GOODS.    Then some people would think y0u are trying to sell the oven instead of the baked goods, which would cause more discussion and chaos.

No oven outside is what I’m saying. Totally useless and makes too much noise in the ‘hood which apparently, is an issue what with all of the children home from school because ITS SUMMER HOLIDAYS AND THAT’S WHAT HAPPENS IN THE SUMMER.

And no need to stick one’s head inside it, since it would also be pointless. And kinda creepy looking. Unless, cleaning. Ugh.    

What was I saying?

Right. Summer.  

It’s happening and really I just want to sit outside in the sun. It’s the best.  

Unfortunately, there are people in the universe who are not happy well-adjusted human beings who, for some unknown reason, decide that living in a neighbourhood full of children and families is a great idea until the children decide to, God forbid, laugh and play then it’s all STOP THOSE CHILDREN FROM HAVING FUN I’M TRYING TO BE QUIET HERE! And we’re all like YOU LIVE IN A NEIGHBOURHOOD WITH FAMILIES. And they’re all WELL THAT’S NOT MY FAULT. GET THOSE CHILDREN TO BE QUIET. JEOPARDY IS ON AND I CAN’T HEAR ALEX’S QUESTION! And I’m all like IT’S ACUTALLY THE ANSWER, YOU NEED TO COME UP WITH THE QUESTION GAWD DO YOU NOT WATCH JEOPARDY ON A REGULAR BASIS?! And they’re like NO BECAUSE I CAN’T FREAKIN’ HEAR IT WITH ALL THE FRIVOLITY AND FUN GOING ON!  

Hence, the oven.

Maybe I will have a baked goods sale with ovens and children and lemonade stands and garage sales and carnivals in the streets. Mags can be outside and bark at all the joyous crowds gathering then we could have firetrucks and police cars sounding their sirens and in the evening have fireworks and a bonfire and…

DID SOMEBODY SAY BLOCKPARTY??!!  

 THIS LOOKS AWESOME.  AND SCARY.  HANG ON KID! But don’t scream. That’s way too much noise.  

All Hail Friday

Fridays are a day where normally, everyone is rejoicing in the weekend to come. Those of us fortunate enough not to have to work weekends or shift work, look forward to the last day of the week when we can kick off our shoes and sit back and enjoy a bit of respite from the hassles of working life.
Then the Universe sticks its nose in just to keep it interesting.

Relax?! YOU DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THAT!  

Friday’s dilemmas: Traffic snarls for daughter who has issues with drivers cutting her off and one lane detours then an awesome morning spent at the hospital for an appointment….which is ALWAYS a joyful experience.

I spill coffee down the front of my dress. Not so bad if it’s the end of the day, but at 9am it’s a bit of a piss-off.

Daughter baffles medical community following an appointment fraught with questions and little answers and left to figure shit out on her own. THANKS MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS FOR MAKING MY DAUGHTER AN ANOMOLY. HUGS!

Son receives a letter on his report card foreign to any of us who know and love him and are left wandering the streets yelling “WHY?!!!!!!!”  

The Universe is currently sitting back with a beer and pizza watching the games that have only just begun….

Daughter #1 has returned to work after the obligatory five days of mourning and wearing the same black clothes for a week. We all await the next round with bated breath and wine at the ready.  

I set out a plan of buying more wine for the long weekend ahead that is sure to have something akin to cleaning, arguing, laundry, in-fighting and heated discussions about the lives of the children/adults currently residing in our house. I plan on being sober only 10% of the time with some witty repartee ready for those occasions somebody actually asks my opinion.  

The new floor in our new bathroom that took months to renovate no longer heats up. The thermostat looks like this: —————– I’m under the impression it is DEEP in THOUGHT. Or it has decided to take a summer vacation. Maybe it’s shocked that we still require heat in July. Here’s a tip, Therm-O-Stat – WE LIVE IN NEWFOUNDLAND. IT DOESN’T GET ANY WARMER THAN THIS. NOW GET TO WORK!  

The 95 year old hip that occupies this soon-to-be 51 year old body enjoys the daily reminders that I can’t move to the left without the pain akin to getting a door slammed on my thumb times one thousand…with a Trump speech blaring in the background. And a hive of bees stinging my butt. I could go on, but you get the idea…it HURTS.  

 

Is it possible for a coffee stain to get darker as the day goes on? Because now it just looks like somebody smeared poop on the front of me. VERY ATTRACTIVE.

The Universe just polished off its first six-pack and opened another for the evening show…

 

 

Ma plan 

 

 

Top Ten Things I Learned on My Epic Family Summer Vacation The Sequel

As it is with ma ‘hood, we like to do stuff together. In fact, togetherness is all the rage, yo. So, behold, on the fourteenth of this past month, five and a half families(the half came in middle of said vacation when a father-son duo joined the group) decided to depart TOGETHER on the Epic Family Vacation venturing on what would become an epic fantasmic event of lost wallets, missing Disney tickets, the barbeque from hell and frogs that just wouldn’t shut the fuck up. Here is a list of shit I learned whilst venturing into the wilds with nothing more than my wits and my flip flops (and alcohol…don’t forget the alcohol):

1. Blue water is good, brown water is yukky and may contain nastiness such as alligators, crocodiles, mosquitos on steroids and wasps…ewww.

2. Nothing says ‘romance’ more than sharing a room with three kids, a cot, a loose praying mantis and a veritable array of alcoholic beverages that do not go well with oatmeal. ugh.

3. Barbeques work especially well when the propane tank is attached and actually filled with propane. When the inevitable ’empty tank’ situation occurs, the next best thing is to ‘borrow’ the neighbour’s barbeque…only beware. Their anti-theft shit is awesome. Four men couldn’t open the tank….it took yours truly, a stealthy little can opener and five minutes of hacking to get that baby to move. I know…I rock. I was proud to announce ma prowess with barbeques after the men all sat back down and recommenced to chugging the beers they were consuming pre-barbeque valve contest. There should have been prize money involved…at least a free t-shirt that read “I OPENED THE BARBEQUE TANK WITH A CAN OPENER. WHAT DID YOU DO TODAY?” yeah.

Yay!  VACATION!!

Yay! VACATION!!

4. Attending Disney is better when you actually remember to bring the tickets. This did not happen to me, but to poor Birthday Girl who forgot the tickets, however, did wisely take pics of them and showed them to the nice lady at Blizzard Beach, who promptly issued new ones. We love her. AND, Birthday Girl’s mom who had to endure the “This is how you take a picture with iphone and email said picture” lesson…which was a bit lengthy, I understand.

5. Keep it in your pants, pal. The wallet, I mean. I was referring to the wallet. The escapades continued with Bday Girls’ fam as her hubby promptly lost his shit on the Summit Plummit ride…and by shit, I was referring to the wallet…which was recovered. Eventually. See? There are good people still walkin’ around out there…AND, he could have lost his shit on that ride I didn’t stick around long enough to watch the descent into madness.

6. Don’t take the fucking chair lift, please. Bday Girl made the mistake of gently suggesting we take the ‘nice chair lift ride’ to the top of the ‘mountain’ so we could ride the water slide. I think I vomited a little in ma mouth before I retorted the “DO YOU WANT TO SEE ME CRY?!!” She then remembered my anxiety around chair lifts (there is no such thing as a ‘nice chair lift ride’) and we made the trek up the stairs.

7. Saying “I just passed away” is not the same as “I just passed out”. Just to be clear. I don’t want people to start the funeral arrangements for daughter who said she “passed away” whilst lounging in a chair in the summer heat…poor girl. I think somebody was eyeing her room and planning to pilfer her eye shadow collection…

8. Standing in the underbelly of a large ship with four thousand of your closest friends with no AC and lined up like targets in a shooting contest all in the name of ‘safety’ doesn’t really work well for me. Hence the nausea, intense sweating and hyperventilating that went on before I moved out to get air. I think if we ever were in a dire situation and we needed life boats, I’ll jump, thanks. I tend to like air…and breathing. Breathing is good. I’ll chance the drowning…and the sharks. Sharks are our friends, right? Right?

9. Apparently, there is no such thing as ‘too much Rum’. Hmmm….

10. Packing a suitcase can be tricky when said suitcase is packed too full already and shit starts to spill out and you have to start leaving stuff behind because it’s over the weight limit. Pretty soon you’ll be approaching strangers in an airport and asking if they want to buy used t-shirts or shoes or ‘look, it’s pretty! Hardly worn…underwear’ . That’s when airport security gets a little ‘annoyed’ and asks you to cease and desist with the Undergarment Giveaway Extravaganza you had planned. Damnit. Soo much decent underwear to be won by the many weary travellers just LOOKING for a great pair of boxers. Ugh.

I leave you with the best line of the vacay:

Heard on the plane as we were about to touchdown in St. John’s, my nine year old neighbour promptly asks what day it is. Friday, we say. “Hey, it’s Happy Hour now. Might as well break out the Tequila! Vacation isn’t over yet!”

AWESOME….I like the way she thinks….

 

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.

The Barn

white-wood-black-barn-old-wooden-grass-hi-274116

I remember being in the presence of an old barn.  This was back in the seventies when the summers were hot and seemed to last a whole year, not a mere few months.  We with nothing more to do but to wander aimless and reckless, our shorts hiked up and our faces flushed from the heat, trudging through yards and barren forest looking for adventure.  Or shade.

There stood before me a large black structure, the wood rotted and the inside dilapidated. The tall A-frame of the roof pointing skyward as if noting the direction of heaven.  The window at the top was gone; replaced with just a wooden bi-fold door hanging off its hinges.  The wood was split and left hanging, the wind blowing the shards innocently, as if afraid to blow too hard and break them. The grass lay brown and dry, the summer quickly turning into fall the leaves having fallen, dried up brown and withered away.  The dirt road was dry and gravelly, the stones crunching when we walked upon them.  There was a gaggle of us, the kids.  We were dispersed in age, the older ones herding the younger ones around the barn discovering it’s secrets and noting its dangerous allure. We were alone out in the country. Of course, near Chatham the country is everywhere around the outskirts of town.  I couldn’t have been far from where I lived.  I can’t imagine my mother ever allowing me to stray too far from her sight.   The attraction to the old building was in its mystique.  The rotting wood that once housed what exactly?  Animals?  Hay?  Corn?

   I’m not sure I was ever inside the barn.  The large looming face stands resolutely in my memory, however, any ideas of lofts or ropes or any items deemed ‘barn materials’ seems out of reach to me.  Was it a dream I had and I thought it was a memory?  Maybe, as the motives for attending the scene secretly remain hidden within the black rotting wood.

My brother seemed to have been the catalyst for my presence at the site.  My cousins were there as well, but more as outlying extras in a movie set.  Their milky dreamlike movements float through my mind and I can see their smiling faces looking down at me, mocking my existence among the big kids.

My memory of the old barn ends there.  I have no idea how we managed to travel so far outside of town, or even if it was that far out.  I just remember the feeling of freely walking about and curious as to its existence.  I know it’s no longer standing out in the country, but it’s nice to visit from time to time….