Sunday, February 27, 2011

Tasting the Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge.

Home alone as an eight year old, I took the opportunity to investigate what secrets lay behind my parent’s bedroom door. I don’t ever remember being told we were not allowed in there. Some things we were just expected to know.
I wouldn’t have been surprised had I been hit by fire and brimstone raining down from heaven, as one by one I pulled the drawers of my mother’s dresser open. She didn’t own a lot of clothes, and though the drawers were small, none were full. I’m not sure what I expected to find, but there, in the middle drawer, were two items that were clues that life was changing: a pair of burgundy elastic waist pants, and a little box that resembled a small matchbox, except that it was plastic and bright red. I slid the box open. I had no idea that the little black cake of paste and tiny comb inside were mascara, but I sensed whatever its purpose was, it was sinful.

A lot of things in those days were sinful, according to the cult, thinly veiled as a church, which our family had been a part of since my parents had married ten years earlier. Women were only permitted to wear dresses. And they certainly did not wear makeup.

Coming across those two items in my mother’s drawer, I felt like Eve eating from the forbidden Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. I knew I wasn’t supposed to be in there but there was no way I could turn back time and pretend it never happened. It was too late. I had tasted the fruit, and my eyes were opened to the knowledge of good and evil.

Prior to that day, I had never questioned our lifestyle. I did not know it was not normal to have lived in fourteen different places by the time you were eight years old. I did not know that most other people in 1973 had homes with electricity, telephones, running water and flush toilets. I did not know most people bought milk and eggs and meat in a grocery store rather than surviving on what you could farm, shoot or gather from the wild. I did not know parents could be misguided. I did not know church was a place to find acceptance, love, forgiveness and healing...

From that moment on, I began to collect knowledge.

I stored up overheard snippets of conversations.

“He’s like a vacuum cleaner,” I overheard someone say, in reference to the self-appointed leader of our isolated community. “Sucks in anything that comes near him.” I’m not even sure I knew what a vacuum cleaner was.

I fit together little pieces of action.

Our most recent move, which was a return from two years previous, to an abandoned homestead in the Fraser Canyon – an aerial ferry ride over the Fraser River and hour’s drive on gravel switchback roads, coincided with some of the more prominent members of the commune relocating to the Yukon.

I sensed we were breaking free. Strange. Since I hadn’t previously understood we were bound. We didn’t talk about it. Children did not question the motives of parents. Parents did not confide in children.

My thirst for knowledge continued that year as I entered second grade by distance education, which was homeschooling with the materials provided by the government. I essentially taught myself grades two and three while witnessing my brother struggle through the third grade in tears along with my mother.

My younger sister had help from a nearby teen to finish her first grade assignments. My brother next in line was set to start school, with the youngest sibling only a year behind. I don’t know if the prospect of homeschooling five kids had bearing on the situation or if truly my parents had grown into their own, taking steps of freedom and personal responsibility, but we moved clear across the province the following year.

Our new home had a street address, carpet and a phone, which to this day, I still remember the number. I learned to operate an electric stove, a washing machine and a toaster.

And that first week in September, I walked through the doors of Isabella Dicken Elementary School. I walked sheepishly, yet thrilled, beside my mother, both wearing pants, feeling liberated, grown up and looking forward to eating the fruits of knowledge that only real life in the fourth grade could provide.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Take Care of the Meat

Yikes! I am caught in a lie. Momma always said your sins will find you out.

As you probably know, I am taking a " creative non-fiction and the personal essay" writing course. It's not unlike the blog in that you start with a real life story and tell it not just simply as an act of exhibitionism, but as a source of entertainment or education for your reader.

While we are encouraged to embellish and take poetic license to a certain extent for the sake of the story, the facts are supposed to remain the facts. But me, well sometimes I make people up. I do it for the sake of the story, knowing my classmates are from all over the world and no one will know that I don't have an eccentric old Aunt, or a co-worker with a sordid past. Except when everyone falls in love with the eccentric old aunt. They all want to know more about her and insist that next week's story have good ol' Aunty at the centre....

It's true, you can never tell just one lie...

Here's this week's submission (which had to be written from the 2nd person voice) that made them love Aunty:

Take Care of the Meat

"No man will go out for a hamburger when he gets steak at home," your elderly aunt wags her crooked finger in front of your seventeen-year-old nose. From previous encounters with Aunty you instinctively know she isn't talking about ground beef and prime rib. You see wisdom in her words that causes you to vow to learn the art of grillin' steak.

Now this is not to say that your first encounters with chunks of meat are delectable morsels. Far be it from you to claim immediate mastery in the art of steak preparation. However, fortunate for you, there is a grace period for a young wife and her initial inability to grill meals worthy of 5-star ratings. Your new husband, satisfied by simply having someone there to throw his meat on the fire every night, is willing to overlook the often times overcooked steak and the occasional burger that comes off the grill looking a bloody mess. But with practice you learn what works and what doesn't. Sometimes the practice is the best part.

Oh, you've found a couple of recipes that satisfy every time, without fail, and you tend to default to them, but you can still picture that wagging finger.

Although Aunty left this earth a number of years ago, you can practically hear her voice, crackling with age, saying, "Even a perfectly grilled medium rare t-bone can get monotonous night after night." And you heed her warnings by making sure you serve it up a little juicier than usual every once in a while. And sometimes you throw on a little extra spice just to keep the sizzle going.

As you consider the exceptionally high rate of long-term marriages in your family you can't help but wonder how many others can partially credit their success to that little old finger wagging under their noses.

It seems so primal and basic and you know there are women who will take offence, and men who will pronounce denial, but you know in your heart Aunty was right. Take care of the meat and the rest of the meal will fall into place.

I do remember being told the "hamburger vs steak" metaphor years ago - not sure who told me. Or maybe I read it. I dunno where it came from but I thought I'd turn it into a story.

Aunty doesn't even have a name for crying out loud - how am I gonna bring her to life!

Thursday, February 17, 2011


I find it a bit difficult to blog from my iPhone so I guess I'll be AFK for a few days. See ya Monday.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Monday, February 14, 2011

Hallelujah Mickey!

I wasn't thinking. I should have taken a video at church yesterday.

Xander loves coming to church with me. However now that he's closing in on his second birthday, it's hard to keep him contained and quiet for an entire service. He has discovered the nursery and looks forward to playing with the toys and books and things, but I usually keep him in the sanctuary for the worship part because he loves all things music.

My heart just melts when I see him raise his little hands whenever a song has the word hallelujah in it. He has recently learned to "sing" as well. It usually just sounds like babbling, but he's engaged in the music.

Yesterday he was dancing in the aisle waving his arms around when Jade and I realized he was singing actual words. While the rest of us were singing "Be Exalted, oh Lord" and other such songs, Xander sang along at the top of his lungs, repeating over and over, while dancing and raising his hands in worship, "Mickey Mouse clubhouse! Come inside. Mickey Mouse clubhouse. Come inside!"

He is just the cutest little kid ever. And next time I'll get a video so you can agree with me.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Who am I to argue?

A number of years ago Jed, like most tween-age boys, developed a resistance to showering. While most boys grow out of this adversion after a couple of years, when they discover girls (the Palm sisters usually being the first, however that's another story for another time, and probably a different blog....) Jed has never matured into a love, or even an acceptance, for showering.

He regularly needs to be coaxed into jumping in the shower, and often needs to be chased back in when he emerges from the shower with his hair not even wet. It can be so frustrating, because once he resigns himself to showering, he blasts his stereo and sings at the top of his lungs and dances and stomps around to point that I expect him to put his foot through the acrylic bathtub at times.

He went to a Spruce Kings hockey game last night, and true to form, came home with a bag full of goodies from the sponsors of the game. Included in the bag was a "Shower Coach."

I am certain the intention of the sponsors was to promote enviromental responsibility and the 5 minute timer is intended to make sure people aren't staying in the shower wasting water for too long. However, Jed is convinced it's a gadget to promote staying in the shower long enough to make sure you are clean - you know, like singing Happy Birthday or reciting the alphabet while you wash your hands to ensure you've killed all the germs. Hey, who am I to argue.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

How do I become a nun?

If you've been reading my blog for any length of time at all, you know I'm a google-a-holic. Google is my bible. My bible when I want to look up stuff about Jesus. And my bible when I want to look up stuff like sex stores.

That sounds slightly more perverse (or exciting - depending on your view) than it really is.

I'm writing a story for my creative writing class and I'm making reference to the age someone needs to be before they can go into a sex shop. Since most people in the class are from the US I wanted to make sure I had my "facts" straight.

I typed into Google, "How old do you have to be to go into a sex shop in the USA."

Right at the top of the list returned by Google was a site called "How do I become a Catholic nun?"

Does anyone else find this funny???

Friday, February 11, 2011

What I got so far

I've decided I'm gonna be a starving artist when I grow up.

Well, I don't really want to starve, I would love to have someone bring me occasional meals and top up my wine glass regularly. But you know what I mean...

For someone who tends toward the creative side, I don't have a lot of imagination. I have to see something before I can paint it. Thus, I spend quite a bit of time googling ideas for my new hand painted watercolour card making venture.

I've gathered quite a few ideas. Okay quite a few dozen. But I haven't painted nearly that many. Yet. But here's a sampling of what I've done so far:

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


I went into work for a couple of hours this morning. My boss hasn't said anything to me but apparently she complains regularly that she should never have agreed to lay me off for a couple of months. I, on the other hand, am loving it! Although my Visa would really appreciate my EI cheques to start flowing in. Stupid Revenue Canada.

I received a notice within days of initiating a claim giving me my online access code and reminding me to submit my ROE (Record Of Employment) I've been regularly logging in online to submit my weekly reports. Each time, the website reminds me to submit a copy of my ROE. However, at no time have they instructed me "where" to submit my ROE. I have spent hours - and yes, I mean HOURS at the Service Canada website, Googling and on the phone pressing 1 for english etc and NOWHERE is this information available.
(If you can find this info and publish it in the comments I will give you a dollar!)
Then the other day I got another letter stating that I must submit a paper version of my roe IMMEDIATELY! Then it goes on to tell me how to submit an electronic weekly report (I've been doing them for 5 weeks) It gives me a phone number to call to get information on my payments. (Which they will not start until I submit an ROE) It gives me a webpage to enroll in Direct Deposit. (Which I already have done) Not one teeny tiny mention of how the heck to submit an ROE - the sole purpose of the letter.
Finally, I drove downtown and found a Service Canada building, freaked out (in the nicest possible way) on the receptionist, waved my ROE in her face, along with their information-less letter, and kindly asked what I was supposed to do with it.

"Oh, it doesn't go here. But I will take it and forward it on." Still NO mention of where "on" was. But truthfully, she was super friendly and actually guided me to a suggestion box and gave me a pen to fill out a card. Bless her heart.
The card didn't have nearly enough writing space, however I think possibly they got the gist if what I meant. Now gimme my money.

Funny how blogging goes. I totally did NOT sit down to whine about Revenue Canada. I wanted to tell you how I was loving being off work and that I'm taking my regular painting classes on Tuesdays, and tomorrow I'm taking an all day watercolour seminar, and that I made scads of greeting cards as part of a little "pay it forward" homemade craft group I commited to on Facebook. And how I wanted to know if I made a bunch more, would people actually pay me for them -with money going towards Relay for Life. But alas I got sidetracked ranting on like a lunatic. Sorry.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Still a weirdo...

The marathon is over.

I really hadn't intended it, but I simply forgot. Sorry.

And you know this is just "the thin edge of the wedge" or the first step on the "slippery slope" of blogging sporadica. (Yeah, I made that word up. But I like it and I'm sure it'll become a permanent part of my vocabulary)

Friday, February 4, 2011

FFF - Flash Fiction Friday

As soon as she awoke, she glanced out the window to see if the weatherman’s predictions had been correct. “Why? Why today of all days does he have to be right?” she wondered when her sleep deprived eyes focussed on the rain pelting down sideways, carried by driving winds.

“Oh well,” she brushed off her disappointment and jumped out of bed resolved to have the best day of her life. As she passed her wedding gown hanging from a hook near the ceiling, she couldn’t help but reach out and caress it. Oh how she’d longed for this day.

She’d always dismissed the stories of other brides-to-be telling how the dress picked them. How slipping it on just felt right. How tears flowed when they caught a glimpse of themselves in the mirror. Until it was her turn.

The dress didn’t particularly catch her eye, but the gallery attendant insisted she try it on. It was as if it held magical powers. She felt transformed. Beautiful. Loved. Invincible. It was the one. Just as she knew Trent was the one.

She and her two best friends had a full morning ahead of them: breakfast, hair appointments, facials and make-up, then back to the house to slip into her magical dress before heading off to the church to marry her prince.

She refused to have her spirit dampened, even when the wind flipped their umbrellas inside out and the rain played havoc with their coifed tresses. She was marrying the man of her dreams and nothing could prevent this from being the best day of her life.

The limo pulled up in front of the old stone church. “This is it!” she squeezed her maid of honour’s hand and giggled like a school girl as they climbed out of the car.

The driver and her dad held umbrellas for her as she side-stepped around a puddle at the bottom of the stairs leading into the church. She forgot how much fabric was bunched up behind her as she held her dress up around her knees, showing off her floral rubber boots.

Rrrrrip. The beautiful dress caught on the handrail and tore a six inch corner tear. She wanted to cry. But again, the transforming powers of the dress helped her to hold her head high. “At least it’s in the back,” she consoled herself and forged ahead. Her groom awaited her.

She expected to hear music and see all the mini lights twinkling when she entered the church. There was darkness and silence. She immediately realized the power was out.

There was a bit of mad scrambling and the wedding started a half hour late, but she walked down the aisle in candlelight to her sister’s beautiful acappella voice singing I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You. It was a tender and magical moment.

The planned garden photo shoot was out of the question. Disappointing, yes. Devastating, no. For she was beautiful, loved, invincible. Though not at all the wedding she dreamed of, it was memorable for sure.

Ten years later, she pulled the torn dress from her closet and put it on. It still fit - she gave a little prayer of thanks. They would celebrate their tenth anniversary by renewing their vows in the old stone church and finally getting their garden wedding pictures taken.

She looked in the mirror. Tears streamed down her face. She felt beautiful. Loved. Invincible.

The writing prompt was "Ten years later she pulled the torn dress from her closet"

Thursday, February 3, 2011

That'll teach ya

So tell me, how many phone calls or texts have you gotten from Jed this week? (Or that unknown number ending in 6244?)

When Kerri got back from Texas a couple of months ago, her iPhone wouldn't work in Canada so I lent her my old cellphone until she could get a new one. She returned it last week - with a large credit on it, which expires sometime in the middle of February.

I thought, "What a great opportunity to see how Jed would handle having his own phone."

Everyone else thought, "Damn!"

I glanced out the window this afternoon and saw a loader coming down the street. Weird. Sometimes they follow a grader, but this is not a through street so it's unusual to see one when the streets don't need plowed.

The city actually did a pretty decent job of keeping our streets cleaned off during those huge dumps of snow a couple of weeks ago. And the loaders piled up all the gathered snow at the edges of everyone's driveway. It was a bit tricky to see oncoming traffic for a few days, however it warmed right up and rained for a couple of days, bringing the banks down to a managable size.

As I watched the loader, it passed my house, stopped at the neighbour's driveway, turned around and came back to our house where it proceeded to spend 20 minutes cleaning the banks from the end of my driveway (even coming right into my driveway) and dumping all the snow on my front lawn. He went to my next door neighbours' yards and scooped up any banks they had and dumped them also on my front lawn.

Then he drove away. And for some reason I think I saw a thought bubble just above his loader as he drove away, "That'll teach ya!" it said.

So yeah, Jed got tired of scrolling through and calling all the contacts on his phone so he started phoning people like the city. And complaining that they did a crappy job cleaning the streets and we couldn't see past the end of our driveway and it was a danger to society and they needed to get their act together.

Guess they took him serious. Mine and my neighbour's driveways are cleaned right up. And we won't see grass in the front yard until June, I'm sure.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Is there something wrong with this picture?

I'm sure if you haven't already heard this week about the mass execution of the sled dogs in Whistler you must be living under a rock.

I do not condone this behaviour and am shocked and disgusted by it. And truly I hope that appropriate punishment is metered out. But think about it...

The guy owned the dogs. He knew he was not equipped to continue to provide care to them. He couldn't be bothered to find loving homes for them. So he killed them. His choice. And the world is up in arms - offering death threats and screaming for the maximum penalty.

That very same day (and every day previous and each day since) approximately 250 women, in Canada alone, make the same decision for their unborn children. They own them. Don't feel equipped to deal with parenthood. Couldn't be bothered finding loving homes. They kill them. It's their choice. We applaud them.

Is there something wrong with this picture??

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Setting the neighbours straight...

Crunch. Crunch. Crunch. Every vehicle that drives by on the street sounds like it's in my driveway with all the ice out there. All that snow. Then days of melting and raining. Then sudden drops in temperature. Everything, including the snow banks, are wearing an icy crust.

I hear the vehicle crunch, then I hear Jed leave the house. Then I hear talking in the driveway and think perhaps someone did drive up this evening. It's 10pm and I wonder who it could be so I look out the window to see a taxi leaving next door.

I open my door to hear Jed deep in conversation with my obviously drunk neighbour.

"Uh yeah. Good for you Shelly for not driving tonight. Drinking and driving isn't a good decision. Glad you got a taxi!"

One by one, I'm sure my son will get them all converted.

Consider Yourself Reminded.

Ten years. It's been 10 years today since I was branded with that title that no-one ever wants to wear. That is until you receive it. ...