Categotry Archives: Just for You

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In Public, Sober.

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Categories: Just for You, Stories, True Stories, Tags:

One night, as I lay in bed…okay, actually, technically, I think it was one morning. But it was still dark. Because it’s frigging winter and the sun is being coquettish. So either it was night time or early morning, and I was lying in bed, and His Nibs was lying beside me, and please forgive my use of ‘lay’ and ‘lying’, as I’m sure I’ve used them incorrectly; it doesn’t matter how many times I learn which is transitive and which is intransitive, I still get them messed up. It was chilly, because I keep our house just barely above the temperature where a little crackle of ice forms across the water in the terlet bowl at night, and His Nibs said, “it’s cold in here.”

And I said, “I’ve been thinking of getting one of those electric fireplaces for our bedroom.”

And His Nibs said, “…that’s an interesting idea.”

And I said, “Note I did not ask you whether you thought it was a Good Plan.”

And then we went to sleep. Or else we got up.

Enter yesterday. Probably one or two days after the above noted dialogue took place. I checked out some websites and looked at the different kinds of electric fireplaces (which are really just glorified space heaters with fancy graphics) and decided that I was going to buy one.

I should explain how I shop.

I should also explain that I hate shopping with the burning rage of a thousand angry suns. Coquettish or not.

When I shop, I decide what I want, and then I go get it. I don’t fart around and browse and dilly-dally and ooh and aah over things. Even when I go to Costco (one of the shops into which I am not permitted without a grown-up), I don’t “browse”. I just go get my cheese (and floor mat, and yoga pants, and artichoke hearts, and fireproof safe, and office chair, and bedroom suite, and baking soda), put it in the trolley, and I leave. His Nibs ends up in the queue, scratching his head and saying ‘I don’t remember putting this in here…’.

So I decided which electric fireplace I wanted, and I went to Costco. WITHOUT A GROWN-UP. But they did not have my fireplace. I left Costco, disheartened, and without a karaoke machine (did I mention I’m also an impulse shopper? Because I am. Ask Mr. Tall about the As Seen On TV shopping day sometime). And I went to Rona, which is Canadian, which makes me happy. I did not find the fireplace I wanted, but I found one that I thought was EVEN BETTER. So I asked a strapping young lad (who is in contention to be my new cabana boy, I’ll have you know) to hold the trolley while I lifted it on. Instead, the young lad suggested *I* hold the trolley while *he* lifted it on, and, forgive me gentle reader, but I let him. I did not exercise my right to do equal work. I just stood there and watched him serve me. It was good. It was *very* good.

At the checkout queue. I have two (2) items. To Wit: One (1) electric fireplace; One (1) chain for The Nipper’s light.

The fellow at the checkout looks at the trolley and says, “well. That’s a big box.”

To which I reply, “That’s a little forward. Not to mention a huge assumption, considering we haven’t even met.”

The fellow at the checkout turned this colour:

He sputtered and spit and didn’t know where to look. I said, “the barcode is at the bottom of my enormous box. You’ll have to go down to scan it.”

After the scanning was done, he said, in a slightly squeaky voice, “this has a remote control. I guess you’ll be using that, huh?”

I replied, “No, I think I’ll let Mr. Poopypants have the remote control, since I’m always hotter than he is.”

The checkout fellow looked at me with tears in his eyes.

I said, “Everything we say has to be dirty when you open our conversation with ‘that’s a big box you have’. It’s one of the seven rules of conversation. I hope you have enjoyed our exchange as much as I have. I wonder if you have a strapping young cabana boy I could borrow to help me manoeuvre my enormous box into my van.”

A *second* strapping young fellow obliged.

And that is how I got fire in my bedroom.

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Sometimes, everything works out

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Categories: Just for You, True Stories, Tags: ,

There is nothing quite like the feeling of painstakingly hand-knitting a sweater for someone who dies partway through the process, then having to repurpose the sweater for someone else whose arms are longer. I say this only because it’s a shame to let that hard work and good yarn go to waste. And it’s not like you need to TELL your mother-in-law that the sweater you made her was intended for your own mother, but your own mother bit the biscuit, leaving you a textile-challenged half-orphan. And really, how were you supposed to know when you were in your thirties that women in their fifties don’t like crop tops? It wasn’t a crop top when you first started making it, because your mother was only five-foot-nothing and so it would have come at LEAST to her waist. Possibly to her knees.

It’s not like you’ll have hard feelings knowing your mother-in-law will never wear the sweater. It’s the thought that counts, right? It would be better, in fact, if she donated it to someone who would like it, but you know she won’t because she’s too goddamned nice for that and she doesn’t want to hurt your feelings. And that right there is the thing that’s going to make you feel the most ashamed for the rest of your natural life – that your mother-in-law is too goddamned nice to donate a dead woman’s sweater because she doesn’t want to hurt your feelings.

Sometimes, everything works out, and you knit a sweater for a boy and things don’t work out so you keep the sweater even though it’s way too frigging big for you and for everyone else you know, because you didn’t know anything about test swatches and gauge so you just chose to keep the sweater because damnit, there’s six months of your life in that thing and the majority of your pregnancy. And then you meet some dude who’s like, seven feet tall and the sweater fits him like a glove and you give it to him and he’s really sweet about it but then the next time he comes to your house he’s a total dick and you don’t ever want to talk to him again, but still, at least someone gets to enjoy the gargantuan sweater you made for a boy you desperately wanted to please.

Maybe the moral here really is “don’t knit sweaters for people”. But then you see it work out *really well* for other people, and for babies, because when you knit sweaters for your wee one and they just look so goddamned good, you start thinking, “Man, I should knit sweaters more”, and you make one for your husband but something went weird in between the cuffs and the shoulders and even though he has really really long arms, NOBODY has arms THAT long and the sweater never gets worn because who wants to look like he’s wearing a sweater that looks like a mentally awkward person knit for a particularly docile orangutan. Even though sometimes your husband does wear it, particularly in the winter when you refuse to turn on the heat and he kind of likes it because he can double the sleeves up and pin them around his neck and still get full coverage of his arms. So that kind of worked out too, but only because your husband is pretty much the sweetest person on earth; he’s the kind of man who agrees to wear the horrible sweater you made with stilt-arms because he wants you to know that he appreciates the *gesture* and how much time and effort went in to it even if you’re not particularly good at gauging real people arms.

It’s like this time TUO was really nervous about telling me when I was pregnant the joke about a pregnant woman taking thalidomide because she can’t knit sleeves and I laughed and laughed and laughed  until there were too many tears in my eyes to see and she was so relieved because she knows how emotional and sensitive women can get when they’re pregnant but I was just so goddamned relieved that someone out there understands about how bloody impossible sleeves are. If all of the sweaters in the world just had no sleeves, the world would be a better place. Things would work out much more often.

Doing away with sleeves entirely is a good compromise, but it takes a very special sort of person to agree to wear a sweater vest. And chunky yarn only works when your aunt is so tiny that if she sneezes, she might just disappear. Luckily, I have such an aunt. And a sister-in-law who is gracious enough to tell me she wears the silk camisole I knit her in cerulean blue.

Anyway, I didn’t actually give my mother-in-law a sweater that I’d begun for my mother only to have her die on me. I bought the yarn for a sweater I was going to knit for my mother, but I ended up making my mother a different sweater out of different yarn and she loved it. Well, she said she loved it but she had a brain tumour and tried lighting markers thinking they were cigarettes and then she laughed and laughed. I choose to believe she did love that sweater, and the arms totally fit her, but the rest of the sweater was way too big because she’d lost so much weight. She said it was good because it was so warm and for the next sweater, could I make it in blue.

I said I could make it in blue, but I knew I wouldn’t, because she was dying and I didn’t want to start another sweater and have to leave it partially made for the rest of time or else unravel it and use the yarn for something else. Sometimes I think that makes me a bad person, and the part of my brain that still doesn’t accept that I myself am not still ten years old thinks that maybe if I’d have started that sweater for her, she wouldn’t have died. Maybe as long as I kept adding one stitch, or one row, she’d live another day. Or another year.

And can our lives be measured in terms of stitches, counted row upon row, building from a simple ribbed pattern to something very much more complex, narrowing at last back to a ribbed pattern and then ending, finally, in a long and twisting single string? If I had started that blue sweater, would I have sat unravelling it, undoing my mother with each frogged inch?

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Be Strong

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Categories: Just for You, Letters, Tags:

Dear Princess Kate Middleton:

Let me open this missive by saying I don’t actually give much of a rat’s arse about the social and class structure to which you now belong, and I give even less of a rat’s arse about the family you married in to. I mean, it’s not your husband’s fault that my great-grandparents had to leave their homes, their language, and their culture behind and move across the ocean or face starvation, persecution, imprisonment, segregation, enforced poverty, and the theft of their native lands and religious beliefs. I don’t hold that against your husband or his family *personally*. And frankly, the whole colonialism argument is wearing a bit thin, in my opinion. I do hold it against the institution to which all y’all belong, which is no fault, again, of your husband’s. He couldn’t help being born into it. Neither could his parents or grandparents, etc..

In fact, I suppose one could argue that your husband and his family are as much a product of their accidental heritage as my family is, and that our positions in the world could easily be reversed. I mean, that’d be a complete lie, because there’s no way anyone with title and peerage would have lowered themselves to rut with anyone from my family (who, by and large, were swarthy, hard-working farmers who probably enjoyed a little too much Uisea Beatha from time to time). But, things being what they are, you and your family are where you are and I and my family are where we are.

Listen, Kate. May I call you Kate? My grandmother’s name was Kate. Did you know that? It was her parents were kicked out of their country by the British lords stationed there to take over their land. Just, you know, for some perspective. I mean, her husband’s grandparents’ lands were also taken from them when the famine came and food rotted in granaries on the docks. On the other side, my grandfather’s great-grandparents came over because they couldn’t afford to pay the landlord *and* eat. But that’s all in the past, and there’s no sense, my grandmother Kate would say, in nodding our heads to the ghosts in the room, because they just won’t go away if you do that.

Hey, listen, it’s really nice that you and your husband are visiting children in other countries whose families can’t afford to feed them. That charitable work all y’all do is…well, it’s downright inspiring is what it is. You get to wander around the world with your husband and his family and see all sorts of people who can’t feed themselves because they are living in poverty, living in war, living in drought, living through famine. Your mother-in-law was pretty famous for appearing to give a crap about these sorts of things, and that’s really nice. No really, I mean that.

Anyway, normally I wouldn’t bother writing to you or anything, but I just wanted to say that I think you should be able to go around nude whenever and wherever you please, and it oughtn’t be something shameful or sensational. We all come into the world naked. We all look the same under our clothes, by and large. So I think it’s pretty completely not fair that your vacation or whatever in Malaysia or whatever might be threatened because those people are, like, crazy about things like revealing clothing. Although I suppose you could try to argue that being in the altogether is absolutely nothing like wearing revealing clothing.

Probably, you might want to consider yourself lucky, even though your grandmother-in-law is probably holding the bridge of her nose and muttering that she was never naked in her entire life, save that one time in Scotland when a wild romp through the heather tore her finely tailored suit from her body, back in her military days. But the most that came out of that was a Harlequin Romance story involving people called Duncan and Wee Angus. In some countries, like North America, you might be called a slut for doing things like not wear clothing in what you thought was the privacy of your own home, and then it would be okay for anyone to rape you, if they felt the need. Actually, I’m pretty sure that doesn’t happen, so forget I even said it.

But that’s another thing. I mean, your husband’s family has their knickers in a bunch because there are people in the world who make a living taking photographs of famous people doing, like, everything. And through the Wonders of Science they can probably take photographs of your superfluous third nipple from SPACE. Which is actually pretty cool, if you think about it. The space thing, not your third nipple.

I just wanted to write to tell you that *I* think you should go naked more often. My grandmother Kate used to say that if they can’t take seeing you in the altogether, they shouldn’t be looking in the first place. She was a very wise woman, you know.

Yours sincerely,

cenobyte

 

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By the sea

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Categories: dreams, Friends, Just for You, Tags:

I woke this morning keenly aware of the distance between us and sad because of my loneliness for you. I asked myself, was it so very bad? And the answer of course was no. But, as the dude says something about star-crossed lovers, the tower had to fall.

Still, thank you. And I miss you. I know you are well, and happy. In that other universe where things turned out differently, I should very much like to trade places for a single day with my mirror self.

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Heritage Education

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Categories: Just for You, Tags:

Please consider signing the petition to save educational resources at the Motherwell Homestead, one of Canada's amazing national parks, here in Saskatchewan, that preserves our provincial heritage. http://www.change.org/petitions/enironment-canada-parks-canada-maintain-the-historical-integrity-of-the-motherwell-n-h-s#

You’re going to get sick of seeing this, and I apologise. I don’t normally launch one-woman campaigns like this, but this one is an exception, I think.

When The Captain was in third grade, his class went on a school trip to the Motherwell Homestead. It may be a notable excursion in that I was a) not asked to leave the tour, and b) not in need of air-lift rescue. Also, both of my children returned intact, and stitchless (Stitchface, aka The Nipper, also came along with us).

The Motherwell Homestead is important for a number of reasons. First, it’s been declared a National Historic Site. That’s pretty important. Second, it is one of the oldest working farms in Canada. Certainly one of the oldest in western Canada. And by ‘oldest working farm’ here, I mean ‘oldest working farm that’s working in the same way it was working over a hundred years ago’.

So the Federal Government, in its infinite wisdom (/* <– sarcasm arm) has decided to severely reduce Heritage and Museums Canada funding. Because nothing says “we value our people” more than forgetting their histories, heritage, and stories. Anyway. One of the results of this asinine decision is that the people at Parks Canada who do the budgeting want to axe the educational programming at the Motherwell Homestead.

What does that mean?

Well, if you haven’t been to Motherwell, I’ll just list the things that will probably be gone should this decision go through:

1) The Working Horse program – the Motherwell Homestead includes a farm that is worked the way our great-grandparents would have worked their farms in the 19th century. With horse-drawn ploughs, threshing machines, and hay carts.

2) Interpretive employees – the people who work at Motherwell all wear period costumes and learn the history of life on a pioneer  homestead. They show kids the toys that the kids of the 1800s would have played with on the farm (the tug-of-war between ALL OF THE KIDS and me was awesome…and watching a bunch of nine year olds trying to carry eggs on spoons had me cracking up).

3) The farm itself – I don’t know, but I suspect the horses will be gone, the cows they use for demonstrations (kids can learn to milk cows). The pigs will be gone, the chickens will be gone, and, probably, the amazing garden will be gone. They use the produce from the garden in the restaurant and at local farmers’ markets. They use the eggs in the restaurant. They probably use the pigs in the restaurant too…

4) An important piece of history and of our provincial heritage will be lost. The proposal is to produce a self-guided tour. With no one in period costume. With no hands-on exhibits. With no “pioneer experience”. With no smell of horses and demonstration of how to saddle a horse. With no PEOPLE.

History is the story of what has gone before. It is the story of the past. Heritage is the story of our PEOPLE. It is the story of where we have come from, who we were, how we lived, how we worked, how we died. Heritage is the tale passed down at every kitchen table about the time Uncle fell in the slop bucket and ended up sleeping with the pigs. It is the story about the women in the parlour who had to stay on one side of the curtain because women and men did not sit together after dinner. It is the connexions between us and among us. Heritage is where we have been, and that plays a big part in who we are now and where we are going.

“Guess what this was used for?” Won’t be something asked by a self-guided walking tour. You won’t see thirty wide-eyed children (and nine bored little pishers off in the corner trying to catch flies off the windowsill) all trying to answer at once. You won’t take home quilted swatches (another thing the staff at the Motherwell Homestead do – they teach quilting and, I think, baking). You won’t take home jars of Homestead honey or sandwiches made from wheat harvested *by hand* on a pioneer farm.

Think about this. Please think about signing this petition. Don’t let the federal government tell us that our heritage isn’t important enough to have people tell the stories to teach us.

Here is the petition: http://www.change.org/petitions/enironment-canada-parks-canada-maintain-the-historical-integrity-of-the-motherwell-n-h-s#

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40 x 40

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Categories: Friends, Just for You, Tags:

I have begin my “40 by 40″ challenge. I’ve decided to write (and send by post) 40 letters; one to each of 40 individuals who email me and ask for a letter, before I turn 40 (this won’t happen for SEVERAL years, of course). Some folks have asked me to write about specific things. Some folks have just requested a letter. Either way, I’m quite excited.

I have had penpals over the years…I have always loved writing letters. Lately, I’ve chosen to write postcards. Postcards are a small commitment. With the exception of the postcard stories I sometimes send on the postcards (my recent favourite of those was the one I wrote for my Actor about the barrows), you don’t really get to say a lot on a postcard. Which is kind of the point, I suppose.

So this letter writing is both exciting and intimidating. My letter-writing skills are rusty. I have finished four letters today. I kind of like the pan-Canadian selection here…

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Hubris, a Guest Post

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Categories: Just for You, Stories, Tags: , ,

Hubris*
By Aidan
Delivered to Mrs. Collicutt’s class, 1980

Hello everyone. I am so glad to see you all here today. For my presentation Mrs. Collicutt asked me to pick a word to talk about so I am here to tell you about hubris. What is hubris? The dictionary defines hubris as the act of bringing shame to someone. To use the word in a sentence, I could say “Dwayne showed hubris when he threw dog poop at me last week during recess,” but that sounds weird. My dad says that hubris is when people show too much arrow gins. Gin is a kind of liquor, so I guess that hubris is for people who drink a lot or show off their collection of gin to everyone. But I wasn’t sure what arrow gins was exactly, so I asked dad for an example but he told me to talk to my aunt Jane. But I’ve never seen any gin at aunt Jane’s place. She doesn’t have any liquor at all, or even a television. And all the furniture in her living room is covered in plastic, and no one is allowed to go in there. Why did she buy a house with a living room if she didn’t want to go in there ever? Maybe she keeps all her gin in there. What is an example of hubris in my own life? This story has aunt Jane in it too. Over Christmas time she took me to the Science Centre to look at the animals and see the guy do the dry ice demonstration and they had a whole exhibit on evil lution. Aunt Jane said they had too much hubris and that mankind should remember where it came from. She also said she didn’t pay twenty dollars to have her intelligence insulted with evil lution. She took me home right after and dad was asleep on the couch and not doing anything but he got mad anyway because aunt Jane was supposed to take me out for supper as well and couldn’t he get just one day to himself and then I asked him why evil lution was hubris and he started shouting at Jane to keep her opinions to herself and then mom came from upstairs and she didn’t have her makeup on and she started shouting at dad to stop picking on her sister and dad told her she looked ugly with no makeup on and then mom threw a vase at dad and Jane left with me and now I’m staying at her house for a few days. Tonight I’m going to sneak into the living room and see if I can find her gin. Well that was my presentation and thank you very much for listening. I hope you don’t think I had any hubris in my talk.


*this guest post has been brought to you by the Palinode

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Sodium

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Categories: Just for You, poetry, Tags:

I imagine
Your face bathed in the diffuse orange glow of a sodium street lamp
The curvature of your jawline casts sharp shadows
You shrug into a light leather jacket
Where are we
going?
Your only answer a slight smile
You reach for my hand unabashedly
Twist your other hand through the short hair at the nape of my neck and pull
The city a subtle symphony beyond the reach of this street lamp
It plays for us, love
In the variegated keys of summer.

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Six of Thirteen

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Categories: Family, His Nibs, Just for You, True Stories, Tags: ,

The spring of 1997 I moved in with Drang, and one of his best friends used to spend a lot of time at the house. His friend was drop-dead sexy, rather shy, with a biting wit and a soft-spoken nature. He didn’t smile often, but when he did, the whole world stopped moving. That summer, Drang and I would have these raucous parties when he was home from the mine, and often, his friend would come.

I’d known Drang’s friend from LARP of course, but it seemed like he’d never really been interested in talking to me, so I just watched him from across the room.

Then, at one of our summer parties, Drang’s friend agreed to let me dye his hair pink. So I was in the bathroom, rinsing the dye out of his hair, and he looked at me. Right in my eyes, which he didn’t usually do. My heart stopped, and my legs started to shake. I couldn’t meet his eyes for very long. Finally, I asked him, while looking at my feet, if it would be okay if I kissed him.

He said he thought that would be okay.

And, as they say, “since the invention of the kiss, there have been only five kisses that were rated the most passionate, the most pure. This one left them all behind.”

He had never had a lover before, and I had never been so scared. We dated for about seven months, and then I broke up with him because I was so broken and I knew I would hurt him. And I knew breaking up with him would hurt him. But I knew that I would destroy him, and his tender, beautiful soul, if I stayed. So I broke his heart.

Then I had a mad love affair or two, and the whole time, I wanted Drang’s friend. And then I had The Captain. The Captain was born in October, and Drang’s friend was one of the first people there. We had been talking to each other, trying to rebuild our friendship during my pregnancy, and I had realized far too late that I was still, and always would be, in love with him. He had moved on, had found another woman (that’s a long story in and of itself), and we were doing okay as friends.

But then when I was in hospital and The Captain was dying, Drang’s friend was there. I remember standing at the end of the hallway; I’d been on the phone with my father, sobbing. And I turned around after I hung up the phone, and Drang’s friend was walking toward me down the hall, which was dimly lit because the babies were sleeping in the nursery.

And I knew then that I would always love him, that I’d made the biggest mistake in hurting him and in breaking up with him, and that I’d never be able to make up for it, and I’d missed my chance. I’d REALLY missed my chance. It was the worst, most hollow, sinking feeling I’d ever had. He held me for a long time that day, and with everything that was going through my head and my heart…with my baby dying, and having to go back to work in a month and being alone…I *seriously* lost my shit. But I didn’t tell Drang’s friend how I felt about him.

I did my best to be his friend, and he came over almost every day to see me. We watched movies together, and I made him lunch, and we went for walks with The Captain, and Drang’s friend was still playing in the Vampire game, and every time I saw him, my heart grew bigger, and every time he left, it broke a little because I couldn’t tell him how I felt. I’d already beached that ship.

Just before Christmas, we were watching a movie at my house, and The Captain was sleeping in a laundry basket at the foot of my bed, and Drang’s friend and I were sitting next to each other and I couldn’t not touch him. I had been doing really well for two months, but this feeling just overwhelmed me and I put my head on his shoulder and I put my hand over his.

He turned to me and kissed me, and I started to cry. And he asked what was wrong and I told him how much I loved him and how I always had and how I’d made the biggest mistake of my life when I broke up with him but that I really thought I was doing the right thing by him and that I understood if he didn’t feel the same way anymore but that it was killing me not to tell him and that he was the only man I ever wanted to fall in love with ever again.

And he told me he still loved me. That he always had. That he’d never stopped.

That was December 20th, 1999.

And that’s why His Nibs and I got married on a Tuesday in December.

(His Nibs is Drang’s friend, you see. And although this is how I remember this going, His Nibs probably has a completely different memory of the event.)

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