Conundrum from workplace trenches

It is no longer safe for me to use the bathrooms on my floor.
A trip to the washroom is rife with candy landmines – Halloween goodies – prominently available for the taking on my route. Since I have no willpower, my safest option is to go up a floor, avoiding my level and the storey below me, with its cafeteria smelling like fabulous fresh muffins (damn them!). But, that puts me into Executive Territory and forces me to change into full office dress. I hate wearing hose and heels, and I am very happy slobbing around my floor in my runners and socks all day when I don’t have any external meetings. It is usually close enough to noon, arrival or leaving time to pretend I just arrived and haven’t yet changed. But on the exec floor, well, that’s trickier.

Being as I am lodged in a cubicle these days, making myself presentable means going to the loo to put on hose. At some point. So you can see where this is going. Yep, right past the candy again.

And it is good stuff – chocolate, not just suckers or something.

What’s a girl to do?


Halloween survived

This year, we got the pumpkins a week ahead, carved them a day ahead, lit them an hour ahead, and generally had things under control.
Nobody decided to be something different an hour before trick-or-treating, nobody complained about their costume. J stood very still for her make up, and was virtually unrecognizable as a witch in green face paint. A was the same blue fairy she was last year, only with fewer outdoor clothes on top. About the same time the girls could no longer contain the urge to crack their glow sticks into light, our friend came over to man the door at home so we could venture forth to demand treats from our neighbours. The glow sticks ignited and attached to costumes and bags, and flashlights in hand, we set out as merry a band as every you’d see.

We ran into a boy from the neighbourhood who used to be in J’s class, and assimilated our little group with his, catching up on news with his Mom and Aunt. The boy said absolutely nothing, but J more than made up for it, explaining all the details of neighbour’s names, families and, oh everything, to him and his mom. Nobody panicked at the sight of the Aunt’s little dog – although A continuously told him, at the top of her lungs, as she climbed down steps from front porches with her growing stash of treats: “You can’t have any!”

The weather was mild and pleasant. We managed over an hour outside, and with the many long driveways in our neighbourhood, the kids earned their few treats before bedtime, and fell fast asleep even as they tried to mumble again that they weren’t even the slightest bit tired.

At our house we had a grand total of 3 groups of treat seekers – for a total of maybe a dozen kids, including ours. We have enough candy to last us till New Years.

Any time at all

Wednesdays, we have a standing arrangement with our baby-sitter; she comes over for an hour or so, Beloved Husband and I get out for a walk together.

This week, we weren’t feeling well, either of us, and we decided to go to the little mall near us instead of marching around outside in the cold. BH had some toys he wanted me to see at the department store at one end of the mall, and then we’d check out the grocery store at the other end. At the department store, I did a full tour of the toy shelves tucked into the furthest corner of the department store, while BH moved on to the electronic section closer to the mall doors

That’s where he was when he heard the shots. Being him, he recognized the sound. But, unusual for him, he discounted the possibility. I didn’t hear a thing, and I met him in electronics just as staff closed the mall doors, not too unusual at 8:45 . Then, when we made our purchase, the outside door was also shut. The store was locked down. After a very brief delay, the doors were opened; we went out, and then into the rest of the mall to do our other shopping.

Two people had been shot to death in one of the mall stores, as it turned out, men who were involved in drug distribution.

Apparently a purposeful shooting, and we were at no virtually no risk, though it shocks me to think what if we had finished our perusing a little earlier, and had been wandering past as the gunman tried to escape? I can vividly picture that going very badly.

But what I really did see is bothering me. As we entered the mall, about half-way along, a woman ran past us, with so clear an expression of pain on her face that BH remarked on it. I made some comment on stupid high heels. She ran down to the crime scene and began to cry. I pulled BH on, to do our shopping, but I can’t get her out of my mind. Presumably she knew the deceased, but is she deeply connected? Married to one of them? How is she now?

This kind of thing doesn’t happen often in our city. It isn’t a big place or a highly crime-ridden one. But that undercurrent is there. And, crime aside, life can end abruptly. I’m hugging my kids and BH a little harder than usual this week.

An update

Already a week to Hallowe’en.
I’m doing better than last year – The kids have worked out their costumes, the pumpkins are purchased.
Now, I only have to catch up on the cleaning, cooking and laundry, decorate the house, shovel out my personal, financial and scouting paperwork, organize clothes and gear for fall, tidy up the yard toys, put the gardens to bed, rake, organize our social calendars (through till January) to ensure we get to see ANYONE on weekends, get back on the exercise program and get some Christmas preparations in place.

This weekend was all good. I spent 15+ hours at a course on how to be a Beaver Leader, and met some lovely fellow leaders, new and experienced. Sunday morning, the girls got to ride their bikes (with training wheels) on a 4 ish Km route – which involved run-walking for their parents to keep up. Thank God there are two playgrounds enroute, where at least I get to stand still and just push swings.

I was exhausted. I made lunch, then imposed quiet time. I lay on the couch with my book – kids in separate rooms – until my book fell from my hand and I slept. The kids got me up shortly after that. A had fallen asleep on the toilet and needed consoling. Not my finest moment, but we recovered.

Then we managed a two-part grocery trip, wherein I managed to buy neither supper ingredients nor two vital supplies: eggs and raisins. Again, we managed. Following a late supper and baths, Dad came home, and we all put together a map of Canada (200 pieces – the Northern parts are tricky – all the same colour!) and then bed, and laundry/ the last 2 episodes of Big Bang Theory Season 2 (? maybe 3?) bed and oh, my God it is Monday again.

I’ve just recalled I can post by email.
So this is a bit of a test – let me know if it is unreadable or less-than coherent. A real post with less “and thens”, and more actual stories, to come.

Suggestions welcome!

So I’m turning 50 in two years. I have a personal goal, not a very well defined one, of becoming “Fit by Fifty”.

But I’m feeling like the occasion warrants a more momentous activity. Although sorely inspired by 50 for 50 , a fabulous (and fabulously successful) endeavour by the awesome Communicatrix , I think raising $50,000 is a  wee tad beyond me. But I’m willing to stretch, some.

I’d like to do something valuable, for kids, for their world, something that is related to food, maybe. But I’m sure raising money isn’t my forte. I’m not particularly good at raising awareness, but if I could find a cause I could truly get behind, maybe a purpose, a goal would arise.

So, any thoughts? Causes you’ve heard of, that you find inspiring, or think I would? Could I raise money walking to Toronto? Or awareness by pedalling naked? I wouldn’t mind public speaking, if I could find a cause that needed that. No one is in need of marathon book readers, that I know of. But I’m ready, I think, to take on a cause, make a mark, take a stand, be counted. But for what?

Help me out here – what would be worth doing, that I could use as both a celebration and a contribution?


If you go into the woods today…

Sunday morning, the girls and I met a moose on the trail near Mer Bleu.

Seriously. A big bull, with a full rack, he seemed to fill the space under the forest canopy where he stood, blocking our return home. We had ventured out early-ish, and had made our way through woods and clearings, covering, I guess about 4 or so Km.

We had just turned around when we saw him. We were in a large clearing, and after backing J and A down the trail a bit, I found a place where I could stomp down the undergrowth (about chest high on me) and pull the girls further off the trail, despite their bare legs and skirts. We heard him huff and puff, and I threw J’s apple core to one side. Then we heard him crash through the brush that-a-way, and shortly he was out of our earshot. We waited, then we carefully proceeded back the way we came, going as fast as little legs would take us past the place we’d seen him.

After that, we saw our first people on the trail. We told each group in turn what we had seen, and they all seemed impressed and appreciative. One couple, with twins in backpacks and a 3 year-old on foot, took the opportunity to walk back to the car with us, which was a boon because A was announcing she was too tired to walk further. With a new friend in tow, the girls zoomed ahead, A suddenly filled with energy.

It was a banner weekend for the great outdoors.


Meanwhile, back at the ranch

The fact that I finally got my sunglasses on my head, for the first time this summer, on September 25, says a lot about how things are going for me.

I found them occasionally, more or less where they are supposed to be, on my dresser, but they never made it into my purse, the car, or in anyway over my face, since this spring. I feel more than a little bit sheepish about that, but no more than realizing my last post announced Easter festivities when now Thanksgiving is near upon us.

But now, people, I am taking the bull by the horns and attempting to get back online.
I have a number of random posts waiting, and with no further ado…

Here we go!

We’re ON

In case there was any doubt –

The Easter Egg Hunt is on at Chez Treehouse at 14:30 today.

(Yes Good Friday is a little untraditional, but hey, that’s how we roll.)
Hope all the locals reading this can join us!
Happy Easter to all the rest.

Friendship – an abstract art in itself

I am mostly dressed, but I go back and put on a necklace for courage. It is made with extra love, and even has inspirational words on a couple of the beads. “Faith,” I read, then “hope,” hearing the words spoken by the necklace’s creator. It buoys me up as I prepare to face the elements, and that sense of lightness makes me smile to myself. I’m thinking about our two gulls and a buoy, and the giggles we’ve all shared.

Outside, the trees are bending and shaking in the wind, rain whipping at my face and clothes. I turn my back to the gale and fish my key ring out to lock the door behind me. Deep in my pocket I feel its soft wood, another gift from my treasured friend, knowing it is emblazoned with my hard-fought status: “Mama”.

That elicits another grin, as I realize it’s been five years we’ve been in this together. From the first, she was my stalwart supporter, the first person to sing to my daughter and the woman with whom I celebrated all her firsts. Even as she struggled through her pregnancy, she somehow found enough energy to be our girl’s biggest fan, and time to watch her so my husband could come with me to attend a myriad of tests on our unborn baby.

My husband was at home with our girl while I was in the hospital with daughter two – and  despite that her hormonal hell had not abated,  my friend brought me food and caring, just what I needed, supplanting the soul-destroying desolation of hospital catering.

And she’s been there for me ever since, encouraging me through depression and dilemmas; crises and career angst. She’s been that little spark of courage, held tightly in my fist, deep in my pocket, through the worst storms, and the hallelujahs ringing clear to acknowledge our new lives’ accomplishments.

But above all, she’s been an inspiration. She’s kept on giving and believing, being present and persevering, succeeding in improving the world through her work, her marriage, her art, her motherhood.

Happy Birthday,  my bestest friend. Let  your grace shine on.

Our J

My Uncle Edgar used to tell my mom that her first mistake was letting us kids think for themselves.
Being a confirmed bachelor, himself, he was inclined to deliver these kind of helpful observations. And when you think of it, what, exactly, is the alternative?

My poor mom, putting up with him all those years she was trying to raise us, and well, manage. But I’m grateful he was in my life. Everyone needs an uncle like that.

J is now 5, and clearly, somewhere we managed to make the “mistake” of letting her think for herself. She has a unique kind of confidence, a certainty that she is right, that extends to her speech. She is perfectly capable of acknowledging that other people say “snowflakes” but she feels it is far better to refer to them, and particularly images of them, as “snow flags.”  She likes saying “colander” so much that she uses that word to refer to calendars and dog collars, as well as the thing in the kitchen with holes in it. She still says “aminal” or even “aminimal,”  instead of “animal”, and  And, yes, she can say the other words. She just prefers not to. Likewise, she says “those things that babies drink from,” instead of breasts, or boobs or anything else, because she doesn’t like those words. However, her saying “Eau de voir” for good-bye in French drives me nuts.

Some days there are very few things I can tell her about. I’m embarrassed to think  how many times I have caved in to her certainty that she knows better than I do. In many cases, that is simply because I can’t argue with her logic.

In part this is because J is also very sensitive. She gets anxious about movies and upcoming events, even happy ones. She can be cut to the quick by a poorly considered word: I mentioned that everyone is boring sometimes, in response to her complaint that some friend was, but I went too far and suggested that even she was, sometimes. Hurt feelings ensued that took hours to patch over.

She cares deeply about other people’s feelings, and will still run to get her little sister’s special blankie when sister is distressed (but that may be self-preservation to prevent ear damage – A has never been known to suffer quietly).  J still bosses A around, but it is getting closer to a relationship of equals, unless A specifically challenges J’s knowledge. “You don’t know. You aren’t in kindergarten” J yells as the final riposte in numerous arguments each week around the treehouse.

So, yeah, maybe not so secure, but determined as all hell. I get that. Sometimes, I just decide that arguing a point isn’t worth dashing her sense of certainty. I remember when admitting I was wrong, or just didn’t know, was a strike to my entire sense of self.

J simply glows under attention. She revels in time alone with me, her dad or our beloved friend. And yet, when they are apart, J is the first one to think of making something or bringing something back for sister.

J now contributes real art to our world, drawing things and making crafts without any grown up intervention. She can draw all her numbers, and all the letters in any of our names. She’s interested in reading, and can spell out a few words. She still astounds with her memory of events or stories, and loves to listen to chapter books– we’re reading Alice in Wonderland now.

She looks fabulous these days, as strong as ever, but with her slender height, delight in hairstyles and ability to put together outfits – a talent that clearly has not come from her father or me – she looks fascinatingly  different, older, younger, sportier or more elegant, every day. Mostly, though, she simply looks enchanting: a tough, mercurial, elfin child I was somehow lucky enough to have for my own.