11:00 PM

The Art Of Life UnPlugged

The draw of social media has a magnetism that pulls tight like a 90's turtleneck.    In the same way a peek-a-boo baby thinks y...

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

This Is 34

The most amazing thing happened yesterday...

I turned 29 for the sixth time!

I'm getting really good at it.

My parents showed up after dinner with dessert and a gift (including Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Creamwhich I immediately proceeded to apply to my lips before reading the packaging).  As the candles were lit, Zander's best friend Simon asked, "So, how old are you, 26?"

"Oh, I love you!" I exclaimed like a mooning Marilyn Monroe.

He just grinned.

I try not to dwell on the number but I JUST CAN'T HELP IT.  Something about being in your thirties demands a certain amount of maturity and accomplishment I just don't feel I've reached.  I still feel like I'm a little ninth grader daydreaming of kissing a boy for the first time.

We recently spent a night in a Toronto hotel, the kids nestled up together in one queen bed and beside me Scott gave a shake of his head and said, "I just can't believe we're here...look at us...look at Zander...he's so huge..."  And I can't believe it either because it's been a blink and it's been a lifetime.

I dare say, much must have happened in 34 years.  I must have some wisdom to impart now than I am halfway to the darling age of 68 (at which point I shall be ballroom dancing on a cruise ship in the Caribbean with a pool boy named Francis).

These are for you.  34 pieces.  String them together into a pretty necklace...for they are pearls!

1.    Hold your heroes to a high standard.

2.    Squeeze the toothpaste from the end.

3.    Put a lock on your bedroom door.

4.    Perfect a strong handshake.

5.    Give credit.  Take blame.

6.    A little chocolate every day makes you a better person.

7.    Forks on the left, spoons on the right.

8.    Be slow to hate and quick to forgive.

9.     Just because you can doesn't mean you should.

10. Climb trees.

11. Never ever ever say one of the following: 'How far along are you?'  'You're going to lose that,   aren't you?'  'You might want to rethink that second piece of pie.'

12. Always always ALWAYS say one of the following every single day: 'I love you.'   'You're beautiful.'  'Thank you.'

13. Eat dinner at the table as a family - no screens.  'How was your day?' is not a stupid question!

14. You're never too old to need your mom.

15. A grudge is never worth it.

16. Pouring a bad cup of coffee down the drain is better than letting it gurgle around in your stomach.

17. Hold the door for strangers.

18. Say no to new credit cards and limit increases.

19. Find out if there will be food there.

20. Don't litter.

21. Go for walks without a destination in mind.

22. Turn Facebook notifications off on your cell phone.

23. Take so many pictures that it annoys your kids.

24. Keep your promises.

25. Read what moves you.  If a story doesn't make you laugh, cry or shudder you've probably just wasted valuable hours of your life.

26. Do things that scare you. 

27. Be like Jesus - not like his followers.

28. Don't let the dirty dishes pile up.

29. Snow tires are worth it!

30. If it's something you can do yourself, don't wait for someone else to do it - initiative is a beautiful thing - be proud of your capabilities and accomplishments.

31. Your children think you're a hero.  Don't let them down.

32. Love your enemies.

33. Cherish your friends.

34. Treasure your family.

So, there you have it.  In all things be true to your own happiness because how can you bring joy to others if you haven't any of your own?

Blessings and Happy New Year's Eve!

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Art Of Life UnPlugged

unplugged, rest, slippers, christmas tree, book shelf

The draw of social media has a magnetism that pulls tight like a 90's turtleneck.  

In the same way a peek-a-boo baby thinks you have been whisked away the moment you cover her eyes, so does Facebook assume you're broken should more than a day go by without a conscientious 'here I am'.

It startled me actually, when facebook began emailing me to discover whether or not I was dead - that passive aggressive troll who can't stand to think I may have a lover beyond the realm of this fifteen inch screen - some Alphorn-playing-buffoon (so vain they think this post is about them) shouting my name like an anthem, trying to make me understand how important it is that I plug in, get connected and drain my life force into the things that matter...(things like what shoes Jane wore with that blue skirt or what kind of peppers John put on his sub...you know, the real important stuff.)

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around, does it even make a sound? 

Even more so, if a girl doesn't post to facebook for a whole week,
does she even still exist?

The answer, my friends, is yes, yes she does. 

It wasn't only facebook that I pulled back from - I ignored emails, I didn't blog. There were weekends when I didn't even open my computer.

Ah...sweet freedom...such blissful tastes of candy cane and sugar plum and Joy To The World!

I lived.  I breathed.  I read a book.  I took baths.  I drank tea.  I basked in the tinsely glory of the season and unapologetically refused the beast that begged to pull me from being present in my most favorite time of the year.

And when the hustle and bustle slowed down I thought to myself, 'Self, you are ready. This Sabbath is over. Go forth and share!' (In my very best Christopher Plummer voice, of course - which isn't very good but he's just such a motivational darling, isn't he??)

The only real problem with taking a break is the work you have to do to make up for the time you took off...because there are stories to tell that would have been told had I been wearing my crazy-hat and trying to do it all at once.  Instead, I will write some back-posts (at my leisure) to fill you in on the gaps and in the meantime know that I wish you all the wonderment and joy the coming new year has to offer!

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Hills Are Alive With The Snuggles Of Smelly Boys

Christmas brings with it many moments worth sealing into memory.  There is the thrill of stockings,  the mounds of food, the laughter of sticky children, the moon on the breast of the new fallen snow...But often, if we take the time to look, it's the simplest piece - the humble pie - which tattoos us warmly with moments that define true importance.

nbc, carrie underwood, sound of music live
photo credit

stephen moyer, true blood, vampire to von trapp, bill compton
photo credit
I recorded NBC's live Sound of Music because I wanted to watch it with my sister. When she decided to be too busy for too long, I tucked myself in a blanket and decided to enjoy it on my own.  It wasn't anything to write home about.  Carrie Underwood was charming but Julie Andrew's put the bar pretty high - like CN Tower high - poor thing didn't stand a chance!  It was a little bit adorable with a splash of cheese and a whole lot of 'Bill Compton...who do you think you are????...Vampire to Von Trapp??? Meh...'

{Once you go vampire you just can't go back - especially to something like a warbling Navy Captain.  A vampire shouldn't sing.  (Unless, of course, we're talking about that Season 2 musical episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer which, in my humble - and in no way endorsed - opinion, is the true definition of network television production genius!)}

I am barely through the credits when the familiar fall of Liam's clumsy sleep-feet shuffled at the top of the stairs.

*push pause*

"What are you doing, Liam?"

"I can't sleep!" It's the same every single night of his life.

"Come here," I say.

"Why?" Because, by this point he's come to expect the regular 'Are you kidding me??? Get back into bed!!!  Now!!!'

"Just come here!"

And he slips down the stairs like a slinky and comes to stand in front of me, wary of the punishment he can't find on my face but is sure lurks there somewhere.

I flip back the blankets and pull him onto the couch beside me, tucking him down into a little nook by my hip.  He giggles and squirms down to comfort and I cover us both while the fire lets out a friendly crackle and the cat jumps up to sit on my chest.  He purrs.  Liam pets him and looks at me all smug like he's won some kind of war.  "Whatcha watchin'?"

"A musical."

"What's a musical?"

"The greatest invention of all time."

"Yeah right!"

*press play*

The nuns are singing.  "This is weird," he says.  "Why are they wearing those hats? This is so not even real life!"

"Just watch," I tell him.

And he does.  And he becomes completely invested.  When we get to a sad scene and Carrie has tears leaking from her eyes he sits up tall and declares, "She doesn't even have to cry, Mommy. You know what she should do? All she has to do is sing that raindrops song and she'll feel better!"

He watches the entire thing, late into the night - offering his brilliant commentary and as the credits roll he tries to tuck himself tighter against me, "When can we make everyone watch this with us?"

"Soon," I promise - but it has to be the real one because if he liked this version, the 1965 release will blow his mind!

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Great Dutchie Letdown

dutchie, donut, dutchie donut, tim hortonsIt became a tradition after every Music Festival. Whether I killed it and took first place or sat paralyzed at the piano, dying inside because I'd forgotten my piece - we would celebrate a victory or repair my broken heart by visiting a Mom & Pop Donut shop on the main street - the kind with signs painted right on the window and a counter you could sit at with your hot chocolate and clear baggies full of day-olds you could buy for a couple dollars and smoke curling up to the ceiling from the old man eating his butter tart with a spoon, reading the Sports Section in the back corner.

I would always choose a Dutchie.  I liked that it was square when everything else was round.  I liked that it had raisins. I liked how there was always one corner where the raisins would congest and I could save that corner for the very last bite because it was perfect and every ending should be 'happily ever after'... 

To this day it remains my favorite. Nothing compares (in the area of coffee shop confection) to a Dutchie. Nothing else holds the proverbial high-five of my mother or the tender sentiment of being cared for with a special treat.  Nothing.   Not a Cruller, not a Fritter, not a good old Canadian Maple.

Some days just call for sweetness.  Days like today, when the air is crisp and the sun shines blinding on the snow and your coffee is begging for companionship on the long drive to take your husband to work...

"Welcome to Tim Horton's.  Can I take your order, please?"

"Medium regular and a Dutchie, please."

"I'm sorry, we've discontinued the Dutchie...can I interest you in a Boston Cream donut instead?"

* Ew! - Gross! - Barf! * 

What are they thinking?  Tearing that little sentimental snack right off the rack like it doesn't seep nostalgia every time I save the raisin corner until the end?  Turning a blind eye to a customers need desire?


I feel robbed.

And I intend to hold a grudge until they bring it back (or start selling homemade pie through drive-thru windows).

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Time To Mourn & A Time To Dance

grandpa austin, earl austin, alberta grandfatherWhat is the weight of 94 years? How heavy does that feel, resting on shoulders that bore the witness of so much life?

I can't even imagine the creep and crawl of years for this man who had silver in his hair and gold in his heart - how he did so much and loved so hard and carved himself a little place dear in my soul. Soft and gentle but with the strength of the sea - strength to carry through until heaven knocked too hard.

I think of him in tones of blue, like a sky of wispy clouds, all this love that asked for nothing as he slipped away peacefully from dreaming straight into the arms of Jesus.

I hear him laugh and it is like air and it shakes his whole body but hardly makes a sound and how he would pat my head and call me 'sweet girl' and the tickle of the long grass by his barn that time in Alberta...

I imagine him, reunited now with my grandmother, eyes sparkling like they always did, "Elsie, darling, have I got a story to tell you!"

Sleep, dear man. Rest. Dance. Play. May the legacy of your goodness carry on, just as those you've left behind will never stop loving you.

Farewell, Grandpa.

You're in my heart forever.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

He's Sweet Like A Lollipop [If You Take The Time To Pick Off The Pocket Lint]

The stairs groan and the lights of the Christmas tree  seem to cast his shadow a little longer than normal as he slowly slips, step by step, down to where Sweeney Todd and I are having a marvelous late night sing-a-long.

I mute the movie, right in the middle of 'Not While I'm Around.'  "What are you doing, Liam?"

"Mmmmm," He slides his bum down the last three stairs and comes to stand in front of me, rubbing his eyes and squinting against the overhead light. "I just have two things," he says and then holds up a finger. "First, I can't even sleep!"

"Yes, you can, Liam - you do this every night!"

"Okay, but second," he holds up another finger. "Can you take me to Walmart by myself?"


He scratches over his ear. "'Cause I just wanna buy a Christmas present for Zander and Noa."

"Oh, you sweet boy!" I say.  "Come here!" And I pull him in close. "I just want to kiss your face!"

"But can you take me to Walmart?" he asks as I plant a big one beside his nose.

"Of course, we'll figure out a day, okay? You need to go to sleep now though."


One more kiss and he climbs back up the stairs while Helena sings, 'Nothing's gonna hurt you, no one's gonna dare...' and I smile at his dwindling shadow and the shuffle of his feet as he trundles off to bed - because there, deep beneath all those toads and snails and puppy dog tails is a pocket full of sugar and spice that sprinkles warm upon anyone who is patient enough to watch it slowly trickle out.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

I Survived NaBloPoMo {And All I Got Was A Habit}

I made it through.

November 30th passed without fireworks, without a high five or an atta-girl, without fanfare, without a drum roll, without much more than a sigh. 

But I'm proud! I faced a mountain and I climbed it and some days felt like I didn't have a harness but I pushed and I pushed and I breeched that crest and now I'd like to sleep for just a little while.  

But as I've watched the December 1st clock slowly tick towards the 2nd I feel weirdly incomplete without taking a moment to make a mark here.

I've heard that it takes 30 days to adopt a new habit.  

So watch out!  Momma's got a brand new bag!

I'm not saying I'm going to carry on with posting every single day but I've been pleasantly surprised with how much I actually have to say - not that all or any of it is particularly profound - but leaving a mark means something even if that mark is just a smear.

It feels good to be out from under that oppressive pressure of 'holy-canoli-I-signed-up-for-something-and-I'll-look-like-a-loser-if-I-don't-carry-it-through!' I'll trade that, instead, for a more casual 'the heart writes what the heart writes when the heart feels so inclined.'  

Ah.  Freedom. I embrace you wholly.
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