This songbird’s wings are clipped

It’s choir season again – yay!

For three years now I’ve been venting here about the spectacle I make of myself whenever our artistic director, in his ‘wisdom’, incorporates choreography into our repertoire. I mean, I’m not talking mild ineptitude, I’m talking about a horrifying lack of co-ordination; an inability to clap and sway at the same time; and a constant fear of crashing off the risers and taking the entire soprano section with me.

I can't work under these conditions!
I can’t work under these conditions!

Well it’s time to stop whingeing and do something about it. Our last show was a monstrous demonstration of badly executed movement, compounded by a ridiculous array of costumes, all of which detracted from the beautiful (if I say so myself!) sound we work so hard to make.

Enough already! I have found a choir which promises we can ‘make music without the use of jazz hands’ and where jeans and black tops count for costuming. Oh joy!

Sadly, I’m already missing my peeps at the other choir. Three years is a long time for me to stick at anything. In fact the only other thing I can think of is motherhood, and really what choice did I have?

So … this post is dedicated to all my dear songbird friends who I will sorely miss. May your wings carry you in a glorious display of rhythmic movement. As for me, I think I’ll keep both feet planted firmly on the ground, and my wings by my sides – because there’s no way you should expect me to stay upright while trying to remember the words, the tune and the steps all at the same time.


A few of my favourite things

Sometimes you have to work very hard to be grateful for the little things.

It’s been a stressful summer, and let’s face it, I teeter on the edge of bat crap crazy at the best of times. Right now I’m vacillating between moderately unhinged and crying pitifully at ads for the local gym. It’s a roller coaster.

Thank goodness for acai berries covered in dark chocolate. Seriously! both those things are good for you, so it stands to reason that the more I eat the healthier I’ll become. Right now I’m doing everything I can to maximize my intake. For the sake of my health.

As for Terry Pratchett, he has no idea of the role he plays in getting me from one day to the next. He’s created a hilariously magical world based on everything that’s absurd or enchanting in this one. It’s where I escape to whenever I need a good laugh. On those occasions when the light at the end of the tunnel turns out to be an oncoming train, I thank him for providing me with that analogy, which never fails to raise my spirits.

Since I’m watching the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel as I write, I’m also inclined to feel grateful to the British film industry. It’s managed to avoid becoming the freakshow that is Hollywood, and it turn out gems like Judi Dench. Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy and so many others who never fail to be brilliant. There are few films I’m inclined to watch over and over again, and most of the them are British. If you haven’t yet seen Love Actually, what on earth are you waiting for?

Here in Calgary it’s snowing outside right now. Looking back I’m pretty sure we had three full calendar months clear of the white stuff, so I guess that’s another thing to be grateful for.

On that note, I think I’ll head off now and open a new packet of chocolate covered acai berries.



I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up!

I’m not much of a drinker. No, really! While I’m not above turning to the gin bottle in times of stress, I find that one glass is generally enough. Not because of any high moral ground, but because, even after all these years, my alcohol tolerance hasn’t recovered from 27 months of pregnancy (not consecutive) and about two years of breastfeeding (also not consecutive).

But yesterday, after a hard day’s gardening, I thought it would be nice to sit out on the front steps with a glass of wine. It’s worthy of explanation here that the front steps are made of stone and they meander in long, gentle strides up the three feet or so to the front door, with flower beds dotted along the way.

As I was sitting there nursing my wine, and babysitting the cat (another story), the phone rang. It was Roxy wanting to chat. With my very mild tendency towards both OCD and ADHD, I find it difficult to concentrate on a single task, so while I chatted and drank, I also inspected the flower beds, fiddling about with some light weeding and a little bit of pruning. I also noticed a small gaggle of neighbours congregated a couple of houses up the road.

Being the graceful creature I am, it’s probably inevitable that at some point I would lean too far, or trip on a stray pebble, and unfortunately when it did happen I couldn’t decide whether to save the wine or the phone, and chose instead to catch myself with my face.

So there I am, hurtling face first into a bush with a shriek and all the neighbours watching. It was a spectacle which ended with me sprawled on the ground, covered in wine, and giggling helplessly like a cheerful drunk.

Unfortunately not all those neighbours had the best opinion of me to start with. Well one of them anyway  – after a small contretemp over a parenting issue, which I have incidentally won, now that the child in question has grown up to be a stellar member of society, even though said neighbour might be unaware of that fact (but I digress)  – and I feel as though watching me fall arse over teakettle in a drunken stupour probably didn’t help much.

Now I can’t ever go outside again because I’m too embarrassed to be seen in public.


The Slippery Slope

Sometimes I go skiing. That’s not to say that I’m a skier; to me that word conjures images of swishing down hills with carefree abandon and cries of joy. My brand of skiing more involves strangled screams of terror and an entire body clenched in a single-minded determination to make it all the way to the bottom without either crying or dying.

Perhaps surprisingly, then, I am often the driving force behind family ski trips. You see hubby has skied since he was a child, and our children have been hurtling fearlessly down hills since they were knee-high to grasshoppers. They are all under the boggling belief that it’s somehow a fun way to spend your time; and I will reluctantly admit that we’ve created some wonderful moments and beautiful memories out on the slopes.

Unfortunately now that the children are teenagers there are few activities both exciting and expensive enough to persuade them to abandon the company of their friends and endure any length of time with their poor old parents. Skiing is one of them.

The attraction is no doubt enhanced by the entertainment value my terror and agony provide to all those around me. They drag me all over the hill with assurances that this next run will be no problem for me at all, and then stand at the bottom laughing while I struggle inelegantly down. So, at the promise of three days at Whistler, they crowded enthusiastically into the back of our truck and spent hours on end in horrifyingly close proximity with no blood-shed whatsoever.

I’m certain that inside me somewhere there is a fearless and graceful skier waiting for her time to come, but I have always kept her locked closely inside for fear of getting hurt. How did I go from the intrepid world-traveller and would-be sky surfer (I have at various times attempted to learn hang-gliding and parasailing, but have always been thwarted by weather conditions. But that’s another story.)?

I blame the children of course. After years of following them around attempting to protect them against every conceivable mishap, I have become a master of expecting and imagining the worst. And in fairness to myself, all three children have demonstrated a tendency to be suicidally adventurous and we’ve spent more than our fair share of time in the emergency room. So, like everything, my timidity is obviously all their fault.

However – I went to Whistler hoping that now they’re older and more self-sufficient my doom-ometer may have calmed down a little … and it has! I find, having crept cautiously throught the first phase of reluctance, I have now safely navigated the second phase of desperately challenging myself in the hope of discovering a comfort zone. Suddenly, and I’m not sure where this appeared from, I feel quite confident in my ability to get down the hill, and totally okay with the fact that it’s slow and so very far from pretty. There are bits that are too steep, or too mogully, but they no longer fill me with terror because I can pootle down in my own fashion, making switchback turns across the entire hill and ignoring those who choose to fly past me on all sides; it’s actually almost a pleasant experience.

If I say so myself, I even wowed the crowds with a bit of extreme skiing of my own. At the top of the mountain, coming out of a patch fog, I was having some trouble working out where the groomed part of the run ended and turned into wild, untamed back country. I didn’t realize I had strayed until I heard the children at the bottom of the run shrieking things like “Mum, what are you doing?” and “get back on the run!”. It seems I was about to launch down a rocky cliff into the double blacks. With uncharacteristic calmness I swung back onto the run, and arrived at the bottom smiling nonchalantly over my brush with the world off-piste. I’m just so cool!

In another episode hubby and I went down a partially blocked-off run that got rougher and rougher until it ended in a little windy, packed down track leading to a small break in a fence. Once I got on the track I realized to my horror that there was no changing my mind; I just had to keep my skis aiming along the track with no hope of slowing down and no way to avoid the huge jump at the end (it may have been larger in my mind than in reality). With my screams reverberating across the mountain I launched into the air and actually landed my first jump, to the delight of everyone on the chair lift above.

Fabulous! I felt like an olympic champion and I would have been a happy bunny if I could have called it a day right there and been air-lifted off the mountain. Sadly that didn’t appear to be an option.

Maybe I should revisit the whole hang-gliding/parasailing idea!

When Good Kids Go Bad

As a parent you like to think you know your children; their strengths; their weaknesses; what they’re most likely to be arrested for.

Or at least we did. Until last night when I received a text from Roxy saying “I have 2 grams for $40”. Closely followed by another that said “Oh shit! Sorry not for you! Ignore that!”.

No! There must be some mistake. She’s probably selling stage make-up by weight, or maybe italian herbs for a special pasta sauce. Yeah that’ll be it. So there then ensued a back and forth via text during which I invited her to explain, while she, for her part, became increasingly evasive.

I finally phoned, half expecting her not to answer the phone. If she doesn’t, I thought, I’m on the next plane to Vancouver; I’ll drag her home by the ear and get her a nice little job at the library. Why, oh why, did we allow her to go there in the first place, to be surrounded by drug addicts and – perhaps even worse – musical theatre kids? Is that where we went wrong?

The helpless giggles that reverberated down the line (am I showing my age using the term phone line? Do we still have those?), when she answered the phone definitely reassured me somewhat.

So … what the heck?

It turns out she was participating in a twitter prank to see how crazy you can make your parents. Apparently we passed some kind of test by not immediately disowning her, swearing at her or professing not to have wanted her in the first place. Yay for our awesome parenting skills!

Thanks Nathan Fielder. Ha bloody ha!

Sod This for a Lark

How many hats can a person wear without going completely schizophrenic?

I suppose it varies according to your innate level of mental stability, but having started off a bit batty in the first place, I feel I might be nearing my natural limit: stay-at-home mum, copywriter, empty nester, tree farmer, trusty sidekick, and now student as I just started an online horticulture certificate course.

This morning’s hat was landscape labourer, which is technically a sub-hat of the trusty sidekick hat.

And so, I found myself grovelling on the cold, damp ground laying about 400 acres of grass – or sod as they like to call it here, despite the fact that I’ve tried to explain that that’s a bit rude.

cropped sod picFor hours I kept my nose to the ground, while I unrolled, lined up and pounded down piece after piece, sure that I must be achieving something – until the occasional glance up at this deceptively large suburban yard disillusioned me and showed that in fact I seemed to be making negative progress.

To amuse myself I muttered sod jokes to myself – like calling each piece of turf a stupid sod, or telling bugs to sod off. Now that’s sophisticated humour.

By about 2.30 my arms informed me that they were finished for the day and had no intention of lifting another piece of sod – each of which, incidentally, weighs about the same as a greyhound bus. Sadly that was about an hour and a half before the rest of my body was planning to leave. Now, as the boss’s wife, I could have feigned a frightfully important errand and left, but I found I couldn’t, in any good conscience, abandon my post or my fellow landscapers, so I soldiered on. Damn that protestant work ethic!

By 3.30 the rest of my body joined in the dissention and the work ethic buggered off early for the evening. We had laid all except the fiddly bits, which the others seemed to managing quite splendidly without me, so I made my excuses and sidled off. Only half an hour early.

Perhaps, when I volunteered to help hubby with whatever he needed, whenever, I should have specified the weather conditions in which I was prepared to go outside, and the fact that I don’t expect to have to do any one task for more than half an hour at a time.

Verdict? Anyone?

A Triumph of Technological Wizardry

For ages now I’ve been thinking that it would be nice to customize this blog.  Make it my own.

Well after months of forethought and planning I managed to gather my children and coerce them into posing for an ’emptying nest’ picture.  With varying degrees of co-operation.  The exhibitionist of the group was just happy to have a camera pointing at her and she skipped and waved on cue.  The boys, as you can tell, were slightly less enthusiastic, but they walked where they were told and for that I am extremely grateful.

Picking a new theme was a challenge, primarily because I couldn’t work out how to change the header image, but google came through for me and together we worked it out.

Here’s the result – and I would love to hear what you think of the new look.