Friday, December 23, 2016

The Fifty Shades of Mr. Mark Kolt

It's impossible to live in Flin Flon and not know who Mark Kolt is. Lawyer and administrator for the City, pianist (and more) for the Community Choir, musician extraordinaire for multiple bands and many special occasions. But that's not all.

Mark is also a composer. Anyone fortunate enough to attend one of the choir's Christmas concerts will have heard his beautiful piece, 'Star of Bethlehem.' But he's done plenty more than that. When sister Jennifer decided on a Carpenter's Christmas concert, Mark arranged the parts for soprano, alto, tenor and bass.

Before I get into specifics, let me tell you this. Mark is  a considerate composer. Unlike Beethoven, he understands our limitations, and never wants us to feel bad. No high E for six measures  (I'm felt like more) for the altos, thank you very much. Which is why I was puzzled after last weekend's concerts. It finally dawned on the altos that our parts were a little more difficult than usual. I'm pulling my punches, here. Let's just say there was plenty of weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Thank goodness for our new dentist, who is also in the choir, and will be prepared for our damaged molars.)

I'll try to be delicate, but keep in mind that a certain amount of frankness is necessary, here. We all know that Mark considers the sopranos the heart of our choir. Therefore, in the mansion of his mind, they are the composer's true muse and worthy of loving affection, hand holding, and complimentary easy parts. (This is what all the altos think, okay?) The same could be said for the tenors. Well done. Good effort. Pip pip.

As for the alto parts? Well. We are the ones chained in the basement, next to the whips. Is it good for you, Mark asks, hefting the cat of nine tails, a gleam in his eye. ( Not having read the books, I have no idea if Christian Gray of the original 'Fifty Shades' actually did this, but I've heard rumours.) No, not really, we reply, bracing ourselves for the...let's just call it the chastisement. The basses, the alto males, are also known to have the occasional rough ride. Though most of them are just asking for it.

In summation, I must acknowledge that, yes, Mark, we were bad. And we deserve a little punishment from time to time. But if a sincere apology will lighten our future, then here it is. We did not do your arrangements the justice they deserved. We did not. But. We'd like a little more loving in the next piece, please, and a lot less pain. We, too, want to make you proud. We'd like to be, if not the heart, then maybe the bladder or the colon. Something essential. And it wouldn't hurt to give us the melody from time to time, either, when you're scoring your next big thing.

the alto, second row
 right side of the dungeon.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Hitch in My Step

I like to move briskly. Plodding along sets my teeth on edge, so my tendency is to gallop. The plus side is, I get lots done. The downside? Sometimes I drop things, or occasionally fall down. I'm quick, but not necessarily graceful. I can fake graceful, but it doesn't offer me much protection.

The other day, there was an incident at my house. I was heading (briskly) into my bedroom when the left belt loop of my newish jeans got snagged on the door handle. It's a lever type, and at the very end, it folds itself up like a seashell. I'd never noticed this before, but it literally stopped me in my tracks. 

Technically, I shouldn't have been wearing the jeans. They're a little snug, but since I only  bought them six months ago, I like to pretend they still fit. Because they're newish, I didn't want to pull away and rip off the belt loop. On the other hand, I was stuck. And I was by myself. My husband was a thousand miles away, which always seems to be the case when I end up in one of these situations.

Was the universe telling me to slow down? Was it saying that I'm a little 'stuck' these days? Or was I simply the victim of another weird happening, like when my exercise ball got trapped under my treadmill and lifted me into the air.  Whatever it was, I could only rely on myself for help.

The loops are small, so there wasn't much wiggle room, especially given the jean's close fit. I tried rotating my hip, but it only made it worse. I could not get that loop out of the little curly end. Pulling down my jeans was not an option, so i tried unzipping them. Finally, after ten frustrating minutes, I got the loop free from the door handle.

I should carry my cell phone at all times. Highly inconvenient, terribly annoying, but at least I could call for help. At the very least, if I'm going to move briskly through my life, I'd better keep my eyes open.Watch out for exercise balls rolling under my treadmill, or for old meat stuck to the barbecue. (It had me thinking one of the neighbors had died and was busily decomposing.) And those pesky door handles. For now, I'll wear jeans without loops, or at least make sure they fit. But if you don't see me around, ask the folks next door to check up on me. After all, neighborly concern should go both ways.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

I'm In Love With My Car

Due to a series of unfortunate events, (caribou on the road, car slamming into the back of us) we have to buy a new vehicle. I am very fond of our current one, a 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe. But then, all our family cars gradually come to feel like old friends. I picture this one all banged up, languishing in some steel graveyard and wondering when we're coming back to get her. Yes, our car is a she. We planned to drive her till she dropped, an emotional and a financial win. Alas.

Here is why I loved her. She had great pickup on the highway. You could pass anyone in a pinch. She was so comfortable, and all the knobs and doo-dads were in exactly the right spot. I'm short, but our SUV fit me well. She felt like home whenever I was driving around. So I'm resistant to getting something new.

Clarence talked me into test driving a 2016 Toyota Rav. Since my daughter has an older version, I figured I'd be comfortable with it. Our cars seemed strangely the same. But nothing felt right about this one. Boxy, stiff, with a weird dashboard that managed to hide important buttons like the seat warmers. I wanted to take it out on the highway, so we headed toward the perimeter.

My husband is a positive person. I've never heard him talk badly about anyone, and he truly can't understand the kind of negativity that was welling up inside me. I was working myself up with all the things I didn't like about the vehicle.Then I had one of those, 'can't find the wipers, where's the wash?' moments, just when Clarence said, 'turn right here.'

I lost it. There is no right turn! I said. What are you talking about?? My voice was so high and loud, I'm amazed I didn't shatter the windshield. No, right HERE, he said. Well, duh. I'm practically hyperventilating through the combination of sadness about our car, not enough information on the one I'm driving, and Clarence's driving instructions. You're going to miss it! he said. It's right here!

Ah. At last his meaning was clear. Turn left, right here. I was so busy working myself up into an old fashioned snit, I couldn't hear what he was trying to say. Which was, try out this nice car...see if it can replace the one you love. You'll figure it all out, and by the way, turn here. Once I calmed down, we returned to our regularly programmed relationship.

Want to head home now?
Let's drop the car off, then. Tell the guy we'll think about it.

I cheered up immeasurably. The car wasn't a bad colour. It hid the dirt well. (Behind all the drama, there was reason.) So when you see me next, I'll be with another vehicle. There may be some awkwardness at first, as we get to know each other. I'll probably feel like I'm cheating on the Santa Fe. But after a few months on the road together, the new vehicle and I may just start to feel like family. To celebrate the car love story, here's the band, Queen. And yes, I stole their title.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

No Walk in the Park

I'm a girl who likes to fix things. When people make useful suggestions, I usually listen. My husband was reading in bed the other night when I walked in with a clothespin fastened to my upper left ear. He didn't bat an eye when I said, 'I have a sore back.' 'Uh huh,' he replied. I'd seen a posting on Facebook that said this would solve back ache, indigestion, sore feet and more. They were right. My back pain stopped immediately because my ear hurt like a mother#$&^@*&.

Another thing I've been trying is the vertigo cure. My friend Lois sent me the link. You position yourself in a half somersault with your head tucked down, look to the left or right, count to forty, then throw your whole body upward. This sends the crystals in your inner ear back into place. And it really works.

Vertigo tends to strike me in the morning, but with this cure, no problem, right? Except I have to do the exercise in bed. Since I'm the first one up, I try to move carefully and quietly, but doing a half somersault beside your partner in bed and then throwing yourself violently upward has a tendency to shake things around. But if I get out of bed without doing it, I stagger around like a drunk person.

I'm also fussy about having everything perfect when I settle down for the night. I need the window open about five inches, even when its -20. I like the coverlet off, leaving just the duvet and sheet. I place a giant sized pillow beneath my knees because it helps my hips. My husband calls it 'the other man.' He hates the other man, who takes up a lot of room.

I like to read at night, and I can't do it in the living room. I put my bedside lamp on its dimmest setting, then slowly turn it up when my husband falls asleep. I have to pee once a night (at least) and there's a creak in our door that neither of us remembers to fix until three in the morning. The worst of it is that the power of suggestion is so strong. If he hears me getting up in the night to use the bathroom, he finds himself checking in with his own bladder. Since we both suffer from the psychological pee, it doesn't really matter if he has to go. Because, psychologically, he has to go.

Sometimes I feel tired of living with me. I pick on Clarence in these blogs because he's quirky, but easy going. He doesn't get too fussed about much unless I mess with his art collection. The only time I did that was when he came home with a huge painting of the two of us. We looked like trolls who lived under a bridge. Our teeth were the size of bricks. It couldn't have been worse if it had been painted on velvet. Actually, that might have helped. When I indicated in no uncertain terms that we weren't hanging it up, he told me he'd take it to his office. That's when the utility knife came out. No, not for him. For the painting.

I like to think of myself as low maintenance. All high maintenance people do. But there's a certain finickiness that comes out in spite of my attempts to suppress it. It's the need to feel right, to make things better, to live in a forward moving way. Fix that back, cure that vertigo, follow the yellow brick road of interesting suggestions on how to improve your life. I read health books the way others study the stars. As if there's a secret there. A game changer. And complaining on this bog has brought some positive results. For example, the rosary sleeping cure is still working well. So feel free to send me your craziest idea. You know I'm up for it.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Ring The Bells

I've been caught up in the melancholia of the world. Stunned, like many, by the US election. If any of my friends were on the celebratory side, please don't tell me. Go hang out with your new pal, David Duke. The people who voted for Donald supposedly did it for the money. (They call it the economy, but, whatever.) I had this crazy idea that in spite of global warming, we were all moving forward. More grace in the world, forgiveness, acceptance, and a willingness to share with those less fortunate. To quote Donald Trump: Wrong.

At first, I felt a creeping dread, like I'd woken to the realization that the outcome of World War Two had been reversed. You Know Who was in charge. That's how it felt. A certain resignation crept in after a while, and that dread, mixed with the passing of days, eventually watered down to a feeling of melancholy.

And then Leonard Cohen died. We were heading to a social a couple hours after I found out, but I couldn't stop crying. We have a relationship, Leonard and I. I'd be in a certain kind of mood, and he'd explain things in a way that would make me feel better. In his unique, soulful voice, he described a world of love and loss that, strangely, always left me feeling cheerful. The  kind of singer you pictured sitting nearby while you waited for the bus.

He'd listen to all your sad musings, perhaps take a few notes. 'Let me work on that and get back to you,' he'd say. Then, you'd hear a song on the radio and realize he'd understood completely. That's how he made me feel. He was the dutiful scribe to the darkest part of my heart. The saddest moments, the heaviest days. A singing poet who managed to unravel the mystery of my own feelings of loss, longing and bewilderment.

After a morning full of Leonard Cohen's music, I've decided to give The Donald some  time to get it right. We all make mistakes. We say thoughtless, hurtful things. When my husband, who has been living with cancer, got the good news of his chance for radiation, I said, without a moment's hesitation, 'Darn. I'll miss two whole weeks of choir.' My family stared at me in shock. The next words out of my mouth were, 'I can't believe I said that out loud.' It would take at least four of Leonard Cohen's roadies to remove that large foot from that big mouth.

As Leonard said, while waiting for the bus with me, 'There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in.' 'Whoa,' I said. 'That's heavy.' But true. When we break, we find opportunities to change. When we make mistakes, say the wrong thing, wound people, the hurt has a way of ricocheting back. But that's a good thing. Some of us need only the smallest of cracks to let in a bit of light. Some need a gaping wound. Whatever it is, and however it happens, I pray that Donald Trump sees the light. It can't be fun living in the dark all the time. Even when you're winning.

So, President Trump, I'll leave you with this last conversation I had with Leonard. My two sources of melancholy seem suspiciously well timed, as if our beloved singer and poet couldn't bear to be in the world any longer.  Heed his words, Donnie boy. Sit down on a park bench from time to time and mull them over.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

Maybe purchase  his albums. You might learn the lessons a whole lot quicker.


Sunday, October 30, 2016

May Disturb Some Viewers

I have surrendered to persuasive reasoning and started practicing yoga. I do this in the confines of my own home for several reasons, but mostly for one. I'm just too embarrassed to take this show on the road. Like a one legged man in an ass kicking contest, I'm woefully unsuited for this exercise. However.

There are many practitioners on YouTube more than willing to share their skills. They don't judge, either, but chatter on about lotus position, mountain pose and downward facing dog. The trouble for me starts with the first. I find the lotus position very uncomfortable. I'm not exaggerating when I say that the moon will sink permanently into the sea before I can sit with even one foot resting on the opposite thigh. Just tucking them underneath me hurts like #$%@&*:(

"Doesn't swearing defeat the purpose of yoga?" my husband asks from his reclined position on the sofa. "I'm finding this very relaxing and you're ruining the moment." It's true that he loves the yoga teacher's voice, her bells, the soft background music. He falls asleep, thereby accomplishing the  relaxation element of the exercise.

My main problem is my ankles. In this, I'm not alone. At least one of my sisters has mentioned the same thing. Unlike the svelt, long limbed shape of your average Yogi, we're built like lego people. Our hips and knees are jointed, but there's not much give anywhere else.

So when I pull my feet close, I immediately start whining. Sometimes I have to pause the show so I can prepare for the next position. I pause, and then slowly unfold, often using my hands to move my feet. "Breath into your discomfort,' the instructor says softly. Well, I only have so much breath to go around.

My knees  have a tendency to stick up like chicken wings during the lotus position. "Just use blocks or a pillow," a wise friend offered. It helps, but still my knees refuse to drop. "You got us into this,' they mutter darkly, 'and you're going to get us out of it.' Hence, using my hands to re-position them.

I haven't done yoga in fifteen years. Perhaps its too little, too late, but I'll keep at it. Who knows? One of these days, my ankles could surprise me by co-operating. My sits bones could cease hollering when I don't use a cushion. My knees could drop into place. Or, the moon could fall into the sea. The last is mostly likely, but if the first happens, I'll be sure to let you know.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Devil is Swedish. His Name is Ikea

We are an optimistic pair, my husband and I. Or maybe we're just deluded. It's entirely possible that enough time had passed since our last assembling experience that we'd forgotten what it was like.  For the third time in our lives, we spent an afternoon in purgatory.

It's when we wander around the large store, staring at the simple, clean lines of Ikea's furniture, that we get fooled. The fact that we can never find our way out of the store, even with a path of pointing arrows, should clue us in. But. 'How hard can it be?' we ask ourselves, even though we KNOW THE ANSWER. The pieces seem to come in three basic categories. Difficult, impossible, and nine floors of Hell.

First of all, MDF, their material of choice, weighs a ton. It's only when we're hauling the boxes up three flights of stairs that our backs remind us.  And the instructions. Clear drawings of screws, boards, even numbered pages, but no words. The screw drawings have numbers beside them, but when there are ten sets, it doesn't help much. We peer through our reading glasses, desperately trying to identify one tiny set from the next without losing some. We always lose one screw for at least an hour. We find it by kneeling on it.

The boards are never labeled with simple A, B's and C's. Instead, you have to figure out if the tiny, randomly scattered holes match the ones in the diagram. After assembling our last bed frame, a king sized one in a bedroom much too small, we discovered the sides were wrong.  We had to undo about five steps before finally getting it right, which didn't happen for three days.

When assembling furniture with your partner, you have to mind your relationship. How well can you work together when tension is rising, you've lost the only Allen wrench, and there are five nuts left at the end? You've worn your hottest, itchiest sweater, and climbing around the various pieces has become a game of twister where the other players are bitter, tired and blaming you for the purchase.

'How could you forget?' they say. "Me?' you reply. 'I told you I hate Ikea." Blah blah, blah. Of course,  all is forgotten once the piece is assembled. Which is how I arrived at this point. It's like really bad deja vu, only remembering once the box has been opened, the plastic ripped and the allen wrench lost.

Don't be fooled by the spare, peacefully assembled rooms of the box store. There's an Ikea employee somewhere, weeping and assembling Billy bookcases and examining his life choices. I feel his pain.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

One Cake Over the Line, Sweet Jesus

Most days I do pretty well managing my wheat free, low sugar diet. I hate suffering through the hives, aching muscles, nausea and brain fog that accompany foods that don't like me. It's not just wheat. Gluten free crackers, cookies, and basically anything fun and well sugared also makes my body sad. Especially if I have more than one serving. Which, of course I do.

We had some delicious all natural chocolate truffles last night, along with chocolate chip, gluten free cookies. My body is busy slapping me upside the head today. Not that my brain will notice. It's too busy wondering what the hell is happening and where I'm supposed to be and...what?

This has left me wondering about the following. How on earth do people smoke crack? Don't these people have back aches the next day? Don't they wonder if waking up in a Hell's Angel's clubhouse is worth it? Do addictions even allow us to ask any of the right questions, or do we have to follow blindly until we're so sick that we can't possibly shovel in another bite, or lift the pipe to our lips (if that's what you use to smoke crack. I'm just guessing, here) or, if it's internet porn, then...well.

The apostle Paul says in one of his letters,  "I can't seem to do what I want to do. I keep doing things I don't want to do!' I know, Paul. I'm feeling your pain right now. Literally, I'm feeling your pain. We are all drawn to the dark side from time to time, whether it be food, drugs, video games or just fill in the blank.

The power of not being able to have, eat, or do something instantly makes the thing immensely attractive. Hanging out with people who are very strong willed helps, but my three year old granddaughter can only do so much for me. She can't have wheat, either, but so far she seems to be okay with it. She's too busy lobbying her parents for a pony.

We are all tempted by things that aren't good for us. Perhaps if we were followed around by people holding 'I Told You So' signs, we'd at least put a little effort into some kind of resistance. What helps occasionally is when I think about all the times in the past when I was wrong.  It goes something like this.

Dear Mr. Sims, (my high school biology teacher, unfortunately passed away) you were right about tequila. Just say no. Well, you'd be glad to know I do that. Mostly.

Dear Dad, You were right about some teenage boys. Let's just leave it there.

Dear friends who bug me to join yoga: The stiffness in my joints and back is seconding your argument. My resistance, along with my whole body, is weakening. Though I may be too weak to join. We'll see.

Dear Donald Trump: Ha ha. Just kidding.

You need a multifaceted plan for resisting temptation. Like a team of supporters, or even shamers. Whatever it takes to get you through. Keeping all the forbidden fruit out of the house is usually a good idea. It would help me considerably if there were no birthday parties, no Christmas, Easter, Valentine's Day, or Halloween. OMG. I've just realized I may have to change religions.The United Church is just too celebratory for my delicate constitution.

But onward and upward. I'm back on the food wagon, as of today, and feeling more convicted than ever. And for those of you who also let yourselves down, please feel free to join my pity party. Just don't expect any cake.
I'll celebrate the moment, instead, with this iconic, sadly unironic, moment from the Lawrence Welk Show. Thank you, John Scott, for this.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

For Those Who Can’t Get It Up

I was reading the editorial from Maclean’s September 26th issue regarding online trolls, when I had a revelation. Since I’m Canadian, I'll form it as an apology. I’m so sorry you can’t get it up. Maybe you never could. But perhaps a little encouragement, or even some information, will help you find success. 

Let’s begin with those ultra-scary, sometimes annoying words, political correctness. Many don't get it, never mind get it up. Others believe that behind those words lurks a monster so powerful, it will strip away everything great about you and your country. Allow me to provide a medication-free aid.

First, let's clear up a few misunderstandings. I know you’ve avoided that fearful beast all your life, but here's the good news. Political correctness is only about manners. Not your everyday manners, either. Go ahead and slurp your soup. Blow your nose on your shirt tail. This isn't about that. It's the behavior you show to others. The manners that allow you to disagree with someone's opinion, lifestyle, religious/ sexual persuasion, or otherness, yet leave them feeling like you haven't chopped off a limb. You leave them whole. ‘But I don’t want to!’ you might think. And I know. It’s hard. 

Perhaps you're remembering a time when it was just fine using words like bohunk, chink, or fag. Maybe you told lavish jokes about people with disabilities. 'It's my wacky sense of humour!' you'd say, feeling nostalgia for those days. You know, back when your country was great. 

‘Doesn’t she know what Jesus says?’ you might think. Why yes, I do. But if you slavishly follow the Pat Robertsons, Ann Coulters or others on the hate parade, you’ll derail yourself with such wild emotion that you can’t get it up anymore. Good manners become a bridge too far. But there's a way to get there. 

Take yourself back to childhood. If you were taught to walk a mile in another's shoes, then bingo. You’re back in the game. Even on the internet, where ordinarily you'd act like Attila the Hun wiping out a whole city, you'll find yourself picturing the person on the other end of your diatribe. You'll hear their point of view. You might even feel empathy. (feel free to gasp. It's gasp worthy.) 

You may not agree with the person in question, but because you’re employing your manners, ie: political correctness, you leave that person believing there's still some civility left in the world. When we employ a little political correctness, then like a Christmas morning Grinch, our hearts grow a few sizes. We become greater, and our countries do too, no matter our financial or social position. Because greatness is more about civility and heart than anything else.

For those unable to stop the online vitriol, those who can't empathize with people NOT EXACTLY THE SAME, then again, I apologize. I’m so sorry for your loss. I grieve your inability to get it up, and hope that someone is able to help you. Perhaps you could check in with Jesus, (the real one from the bible.) He has really great ideas. Yes, he floored a lot of people with all that talk about forgiveness, and loving your brother. Your neighbor. Everyone, really. 

But remember this. We’re all rooting for you. All of us who make mistakes and occasionally forget our manners. We understand that the world works better when we behave with kindness and respect. It’s not easy. But at the end of the day, according to Ram Dass, we’re all just walking each other home. Keeping each other company on the journey of life, which is relatively short, and often hard. Strip away all the other nonsense and remember that. You might find yourself rising to the occasion, after all.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Rain Rain, Go Away

Dear New World of Weather,

Please don't be offended by what I'm about to say. We understand that Flin Flonners have done our share in heating the planet. ie: The Mine. But seriously. We are not used to all this rain. We had six days in a row in July, and that was very hard to endure. People couldn't fish, except for the really hardy folks who own those special jacket and pants outfits, or have a party  boat with a built in roof.

We didn't have our new lawn yet, so all that water just went to waste, thumping down on the clay in a sad, end-of-the-world scenario. It's bad enough that we've started getting crazy bugs in town, certainly encouraged by the longer summer season, (which frankly feels like a bit of a joke.) But mosquitoes with barbs on their stingers and those lawn destroying cinch bugs are a bridge too far.

I realize we have it pretty good up here in the north. If it snows heavily, we tend to think of it as a storm. Having lived in Southern Manitoba, I realize that's a bit of a joke. It's true that anything hotter than 28C has many of us complaining. (Heat and northerners, a complex combination--some actually like it.) I have no problem, though, with the -30 weather in winter, as long as it doesn't go on for six months like it did a few years ago. We're still recovering from that one.

It's feeling a lot like fall, and I would like a little dryness, please. I need to bring in the garden, and Clarence needs to continue bricking around our new lawn. (A subject for another blog post.) So please. Help us out and bring back the weather from, say, 1967. Thank you. ps. The smelter is shut down, so please reward us with a short winter.


Fed up, but trying to be nice,

 in Flin Flon

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Father Knows Best

In our family, the one most likely to brag about his clothes is my husband. Never mind that our youngest daughter took fashion design. He is a man of serious fashion conviction.

So one day last week, my daughter was reading her book and I was working on my novel, when Clarence sat bolt upright and called for everyone's attention. His tone was urgent, and I became mildly alarmed. Mildly, because...well. We've been together a while.

My husband had just read a fashion article that begged sharing. He was resting on the sofa, his retirement beard rivaling the Una bomber's, Hawaiian shirt half unbuttoned, and his relaxed fit, twelve pocket, khaki shorts sporting a  hole in one leg, when he proceeded to share Jessica Alba's fashion tips for success.

Excitedly, (because, for mind boggling reasons, he finds this stuff interesting) he read the following list aloud.

 #1. Sometimes, a statement coat is all you need. Michelle's eyes met mine. We both thought about the ancient postal worker's parka he'd bought at a Thrift Store, saying, "It's so warm! And rare!"

#2. A little leopard print never hurt anyone. Really? At my age, it might be mistaken for cougar print.

#3. Bare a little skin but wear your hemline low. Yeah, I'm not baring anything but my feet. Maybe in summer, my lower legs. And a calf length hemline makes me look like a cult member from Texas.

#4. A hat helps everything. Well, not me or my brother. We  tend to look like we have double digit IQ's and deliver flyers for a living. I wear one gardening because I burn easy, but that's pretty much it.

#5. Traveling is no excuse not to look stylish. Yeah? Try a fourteen hour car trip from Calgary to Winnipeg. My idea of stylish is bringing a bib ,so if I spill my smoothie, I don't have to change my clothes and end up with no underwear like that other time. You know which one.

Thank you, Jessica Alba. In a perfect world, with thousands of dollars to spend and with a completely different body, these tips would change my life. Except for the fact that I don't care. I want to, kind of. But not really. On the other hand, father may not know best about fashion, but he certainly knows how to make me laugh. I have to thank Jessica for that, too.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Small Town Gal

(Full Disclosure - I wanted to title this blog 'Small Town Girl,' but grown women aren't supposed to use those terms. So in support of political correctness, I'm going with the aging cowgirl description. Anyway, onward.)

I love Winnipeg. I love Calgary. The cities of Manhattan, London and Paris have all filled me with joy. But Flin Flon holds my heart tight in its hockey mitted, art infused, fist. For those who live here, no explanation is necessary. For my out of town readers, please. Allow me to tell you why.

When my children were young, I ordered large boxes of dried soymilk from British Columbia and sold the surplus. With my white, powder filled baggies in hand, I headed to my local post office. "Kirsten,' I said, to a longtime employee everyone knows. "Would you weigh this product so I can figure out what to charge?' Raising her eyebrow just the tiniest bit, she did. It didn't occur to me until much later that a stranger might have found the whole activity suspicious. But we have an awesome post office, as everyone with any kind of business knows.

On another occasion, my family arrived at the drive-in movie theater without any money. Bill Leafe, the owner, waved us in, and the next time we went, wouldn't let us pay him back. The same thing happened to my dad and father in law. They were excited about the movie, 'Titanic,' and Bill  was so happy to see them there, he wouldn't take their money. Later, he had to go and wake them up because it was over and everyone else had left. They missed the part where the ship went down, so he took some time to explain the whole, 'I'll never let you go,' love scene.

I don't have to dress up for anyone in Flin Flon, which is a really big deal to me. I can if I want to. But I don't have to, except for weddings and events like the Royal party where we all wore fancy hats and celebrated the Queen's Jubilee. As we nibbled on dainty sandwiches and drank tea, we waved to each other with gloved hands. The local cadets, scouts, and Knights of Columbus dressed to the nines and waited on everyone. It was a blast. But seriously, people only comment on an outfit if it's really cold outside and you don't look warm enough.

We have a lot going on in town. Hockey games, community social events sponsored by various service clubs like Rotary, Kinnettes and more. The arts council brings in plenty of entertainment and there are Home Routes concerts, Community Choir musicals and so much more that, frankly, my card is always full. As I said, I love Manhattan. But because I'm from Flin Flon, I don't just go there. I sing there. At Carnegie Hall. Or Lincoln Center. With my choir, of course, but still. No way would that happen if I lived in Winnipeg, because then I'd have to audition. No thank you.

It's the little things that add up to a great life. Just ask the people who had to move away. Most would come back if they could. After a vacation, I love driving down the hill into Creighton or heading into Flin Flon on number ten. Everything is just as it should be. There's the Hooter. The Flin Flon campground. The main streets with most of the same old stores and faces I've been seeing my whole life.

It's not that I don't celebrate new things. I do. I just like the old things better. But then, I already confessed to being a small town girl. Gal. That's the just way I roll.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

A Hail Mary Pass

Since I started complaining about my lack of sleep, the suggestions have come pouring in. First, I'm amazed at how many of my friends meditate. It's not something we've ever talked about, but now that we're all learning to live in the moment, it's a discussion waiting to happen. Meanwhile, I'll share another friend's suggestion.

I grew up Catholic. When I was twenty-five, I changed denominations, but you know what they say. You can take the girl out of the church, but.... Yeah, that's right. Anyway, my friend Maureen read my last blog and had an interesting idea for me. She suggested that I say a part of the Rosary every night before bed. Unbeknownst to her, I had purchased one while at Salisbury Cathedral last fall. I'd been browsing in the gift shop after being softened up by an enthusiastic tour guide who led us up to the highest possible tower where we all peered down and thanked God for sturdy carpentry and conscientious Brits who restore their buildings faithfully.

As I stared at the Rosary, (it was pink, like the one from my childhood) I was seized by a nostalgia so strong that I almost burst into tears. I had left the church, but I still carried that child inside of me. We all do, right?
The Hanson clan was not casual about attending Mass. If we were out of town, we found a church. I remember my dad driving all over these small Saskatchewan hamlets on a Sunday morning, my mom having pulled some decent clothes out of the dress box that accompanied us on our trips. We never missed Mass, and a bedridden teenager in our house had better have a fever and not a hangover, because there were no excuses.

This has stood me in good stead for many reasons, which is probably why you should go to church each week, if you're into that kind of thing, which I am. But, I digress. I took my Rosary down from the mirror where it's been hanging since last fall, and stuck it under my pillow. That first night I pulled it out and closed my eyes. I started off with the beads under the cross and said my usual prayers for my family, community, etc. I continued on with the Lord's prayer and then started saying the 'Hail, Mary,' which I remembered, word for word. (If its been updated or modernized, please don't tell me.)

Anyway, I barely got through three prayers before I fell asleep. I'm not sure why that is, frankly. Is saying the rosary a form of meditation? Was it the connection to my childhood? I don't think so, because I was a bad sleeper in those days. Perhaps it was because my faith has deep roots, and has always anchored me to the best part of myself. Which isn't really me, but that part of the Creator that flickers inside all of us, whether we know it or not. 

The desperate long shot Hail Mary play has paid off. It has carried me into the land of sleep for many nights, now, and I am grateful for it. I'm indebted to every person who has shared their sleep secrets with me, and even their despair over their lack of sleep. In these hectic times of social media and late night television binging, we're messing up Mother Nature's sleep recipe. But as a community, we can help each other by showing the way back. The word hail means to rejoice. So, hail, all you restless nighttime sleepers. I'm so glad we're in this thing together. And can I have an Amen?

Saturday, July 16, 2016

These Summer Nights

I don't know if its the long days, or the pile of stuff in our garage that we moved from Winnipeg, but something is keeping us up at night. We've been taking turns getting out of bed. Clarence covers the two to four shift, I take over until six. After that, we try to get some sleep. This is a relatively new thing, because in the past we almost never had insomnia at the same time.

We know all the tricks. Don't turn on lights when you get up to pee. Don't think about anything as you stumble back to bed. And never talk to your partner. This is my husband's idea, because I am more than willing to let the complaining portion of the night begin. Faking sleep sometimes tricks my brain, but not lately. We're thinking of trying my friend's trick, where you and your partner switch sides. For Sonia and Tom, this is a completely normal thing to do. To me, it's the wackiest thing I've ever heard. And yet, I will probably give it a try.

We've had a busy time, lately. That might be part of our problem. Come the fall, I'll be more than ready to settle into a new routine. The garage, by some miracle, might be empty. Ideally, we'll turn off all our devices by nine, be in bed by ten. This will leave us a good hour for reading. I know the feng shui-ers frown on books in the bedroom, but it's a childhood habit I plan on keeping.

The worst part about not sleeping is that every problem gets blown out of proportion. Even the stuff that's not a problem. Gardening, dentist appointments, weight gains, worrying about weight gains because you know that lack of sleep is a contributor. The brain starts looping from one thing to the next until life begins to feel like a dystopian novel. As John Travolta sings, 'Summer dreams, ripped at the seams.' That's for sure. I can't even go outside and stand in the middle of our lawn to stare up at the starry sky. It's always been my favorite thing to do when I can't sleep. But that's been stripped away and we haven't got our new sod yet. Sigh.

The minute the sun goes up, though, I'm able to shake off all the night time wackiness and revert to normal thinking. 'What was that about?' I ponder as I prepare my morning cup of tea. The oceans aren't rising all that fast. Clarence does not have to start building a raft from our left over deck lumber.

Today we started meditating with Oprah and Chopra, free online and very relaxing. I sat in a yoga like position while Clarence rested on the sofa. He started snoring about half way through, but I'm assuming that's because he was really into it. As we chanted quietly to ourselves, I pictured us having a restful night.

Yes, I'm willing to change from my side of the bed to his, if that's what it takes. But I'm hopeful that Deepak Chopra is right. Staying in the moment will 'unstick' me from this restlessness, sending me into the child like sleep I often experience in winter. As for you, dear friends, I wish you no ripped seams, or floods, no nights of dark planning. Just pleasant and restful sleep. So be quiet, now, and please, don't turn on the light.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

We All Fall Down

It's time to let Adam and Eve off the hook. Yes, eating from the tree of life was a big mistake. Their bad. Listening to the snake in the first place, not a smart move. Eve would love to take that one back. The story reveals humans for who we really are. Excepting Victoria's Secret models, we're often ashamed of our nude bodies, even when they're in good working order. We like to eat lambs and trophy hunt lions. And we generally blame each other when things go wrong. Theologians are divided on the bible story, depending if: a) They believe it in the first place. b) They're sexist pigs who pin everything on Eve. Or c) They take it as a metaphorical example of how we all need to be saved.

Falling can happen unexpectedly. A trap door opens beneath our feet, and down we go. For example. My hubby had to undergo a procedure that meant fasting for two days. He didn't whine about it, but took a relaxed attitude. It was almost disappointing how well he was doing. Because I felt extremely anxious. We went to Home Depot, then to Chapters for a cup of tea. I was famished. I'd been sneaking around our apartment, chewing apples in dark corners like a rat who'd wandered in from the street. I didn't want to eat in front of him, so I was much hungrier than I usually allow myself to get. (First world problem, I know) Hungry. Irritable. Or, as my family likes to say, 'Hanson Hangry.' It takes the definition up a couple of notches.

Anyway, I'm in line to pay for my book and I see Godiva chocolate bars right by the checkout counter. I snatch one, pay for it and stick it in my purse. Over the next half hour, I redefined the word 'sneaky.' If Clarence bent down to tie his shoe, I stuffed three pieces into my mouth. (I'm almost certain I consumed half the tinfoil in this way.) I would misdirect him by pointing and saying, 'Do we know him?' He was so tired from not eaten for two days that he wasn't even suspicious. Did I feel bad? Yes and no. It sucked that he couldn't eat anything. But somehow, chocolate tastes a lot better when you have to sneak it.

If God would have kept Her mouth shut, Adam and Even wouldn't have paid any attention to the tree of life. They would have stayed completely comfortable in their little nude world of free food and gentle animal life. As for me, chocolate is my every day fruit. And when I think I can't have it, then I Want Some Now! What can I say? I was hangry. I never usually eat chocolate that sweet, either. Too much sugar for me and I end up with a bellyache. But it was there! And how could I say no?

There are vices I've always felt a little judgemental about. Things I couldn't imagine doing with my money or time. But we all fall down, every one of us. Mother Theresa maybe longed to wipe the floor with sisters less efficient at cleaning up the lepers.  And Jesus was a little impatient with people for wanting to start a revolution, and not getting the whole 'Kingdom within,' thing. Even really excellent teachers can get frustrated sometimes. Saviours want to walk away, even when they don't. Some fall in these tiny ways, retaining their saintlike status. Others steal the funds from foreign orphanages, or dial up old people, telling them they won a trip and scamming them out of their hard earned money. Those con artists are going for gold in the Falling Down Olympics. We're shocked when we hear these things. But. To some extent, we all partake. Whew! I feel so much better, now that I've made my confession. I bet you do too. Let's hold hands and sing Kumbaya.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

A Word to the Wise

My age has begun to feel like something separate from me. Like it needs its own chair. When I sit quietly and think about it, I feel grateful for this new decade of life. The years past are strewn with things I would handle differently now, given the lens of time and experience. There are words I would rephrase or even refrain from saying. Actions and activities I would skip altogether. Because, the older I get, the wiser I feel. Not like Gandalf or King Solomon, or even my parents. More like a wise person's apprentice. I sense, hopefully, the green shoots of understanding beginning to poke their heads above ground.

Unless I'm around my kids. Then, I often feel like the newest recruit at the office. Or the understudy coffee maker at MacDonald's. The other day, I was driving around with our youngest daughter. Throughout our conversation, she offered a litany of softly voiced suggestions. "Mom, the light is green now, you can go. Hey, mom, you might want to get in the other lane...otherwise it will be hard to turn. No, mom, you have to go past the building, then turn around to enter the parking lot."

The more she talked, the more of a novice I became. "You know, I've been driving a lot longer than you," I said, in the tone parents use when they're feeling defensive. She gave me a semi-compassionate look, which somehow only made it worse. And the thing I kept thinking was, how old do we have to be before our children think we're wise? The answer I came up with was, we have to be dead.

I've always admired my parents, but never more so than after they passed on. The way they did things, the encouragement they gave me. It wasn't always like that, but as they got older, they sure seemed smarter. I wish I would have told them that. I'm sure I was complimentary about many things, but I don't think I ever said, "Mom and Dad, you are so wise. Thank you for the advice."

When my husband and I are alone together, we don't notice that we're reminding each other to turn off the stove or the water sprinkler, to plug in the car when its cold outside. Together, we feel like mature, competent adults. But when we're around young people, ie: our children, we feel, to copy my mother's phrase, like cows staring at a new gate. We become stupider. Or feel stupider. And yet our children are kind people. They're helpful. But somehow, one can't help picking up certain undercurrents. Like they're secretly thinking, 'Dear God, do I have to show them one more time how to get back on Pinterest?'

Being wise probably means accepting help gratefully. Knowing that our children are giving back to us for all the years we cared for them, in the best way they know how. We are each growing in our own way, at our own speed. So I head to the kitchen for another cup of tea and pat my age on the head as I walk by. (It's sitting in the chair next to me.) "Good job," I say. "Keep trying. You're not quite there yet."

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Art of Suffering

A couple weeks ago I was looking behind the washer when I stepped into a pool of water. My foot slipped and I cracked my rib on the edge of the machine. It was very painful, and being me, I cried out. Being my long suffering husband, Clarence hollered down the stairs, what now? Are you alright?

I was too busy whimpering to answer. I figured my rib was broken, or at least pushed out of place. But it would pass, I thought. Unfortunately, it hasn't yet, and I'm very tired of being in pain. I'm not any good at it. There is a smugness to people like me who have skipped through life missing out  on the hard stuff. Yes, I went through childbirth. It was bloody awful, both words being accurate. But half the human race does it, so it's hardly a unique situation.

I went through a bad toothache experience once. I was in Montreal and ended up having to see a dentist about a root canal. Right before I went on national television, I was given very serious sedatives. I'm not sure anyone but family or close friends would have realized how absolutely stoned I was. And in a bizarre twist of fate, I had to keep repeating the words 'Swarovski Crystal.'

Aside from that, and from shingles, which were not fun, I haven't suffered much in my life. I know people who live with all kinds of pain. I pray for them, think about them. But I never really understood what it was like to have pain every day, all day. And night. Rolling over in bed, I sound like I'm either in labour or having very kinky sex. Don't worry, dear neighbors, who can hear me through the open window. Neither is true. My rib is far too sore for any kind of shenanigans.

I have a new appreciation for those who live with pain. I know that mine will pass eventually, but for many, it will not. When I meet these people on the street or at the grocery store, complaining is not the first thing they do. Many have the ability to shove it behind them and just get on with things. Whereas I want to stop strangers in the street, take their arm and make serious eye contact. "I'm really hurting right now," I'd like to say. This need to share, no surprise to my readers, has taken me by surprise. It's as if I can't believe the unfairness of it all.

When you think about how most of the world lives, what's fair, anyway? I've had more than my share of blessings. I should be able to serve my time in the pit of despair with a brave smile. Alas. The people I know who suffer on a daily basis have made it look easier than it is. The art of suffering involves a lip of the stiffest kind. Mine is obviously made of play-dough.

Monday, May 30, 2016

The married Gardener

My husband and I have faced some serious challenges together. Like building two houses. His cancer diagnosis. A couple of elections. After each of these rather stressful events, we gave each other a long look, brushed ourselves off and went about our business. However. Gardening brings out some kind of latent control issues in us both. Dare to plant the tomatoes in the wrong part of the patch, and all bets are off. The hissy fits are reality TV worthy.

Things are at their most serious when we have to put equipment together. We just got a new weed whacker and assumed it was ready right out of the box. Charging the battery was the easy part, but figuring out how to attach the safety cover and flower guard? Two Neanderthals trying to program a smart TV would have better luck. Two dumb Neanderthals. It was only when we finally stepped outside to turn the sucker on that I happened to catch sight of our neighbor, Gerry. He had such a pitying look on his face, I knew he'd be willing to help. Sure enough, he had the same weed whacker.

Talking to us slowly and clearly, like we might have trouble understanding (duh) he reached out and pointed to a little button we hadn't noticed, plus a longer switch. "You have to hold them both down to start it." We were so thrilled to finally get it going that we were willing to overlook his obvious concern. And, since we've lived next door for over ten years, well. He's seen it all.

It was extremely necessary that I take the first turn. In the end, it was the only turn, because I could not stop whacking those weeds. "Watch the perennials," Clarence shouted from the sidelines.  He barked out instructions which I totally ignored, and then he ignored me in turn when I told him that there was no room for squash in our small garden plot. "Put the marigolds over here," he whined, while I planted them in the opposite corner.

It's fighting therapy, doing yard work together. Somehow, while dealing with the petty details of seed management and the business of how to save the front lawn, we are able to plant a more meaningful peace. Because there are times when you should sweat the small stuff. It makes the big stuff so much easier to handle. Now I'm going to to march over there and take back my favorite rake.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Cry Wolf

In an earlier blog, I spoke of my calmness during emergency situations. And it's true. However, I left out something important. In minor emergencies, or when there is nothing momentous happening but for some reason I am still freaked out, I tend to gasp. If the situation is serious enough,  I cry out like an actor in a B movie. (But again, not in extreme situations. Then I am like Mr. Spock. Cold. Logical. Seriously calm.)

This gasping, crying out behavior might occur during an exciting passage of a good book. Once upon a time, Clarence would come rushing into the room, a wild look on his face as he prepared for battle. Now, he mostly ignores me. I can't say that I blame him. When my children were little, my sisters and I would talk on the phone in the evening. From time to time I might draw in my breath sharply. Clarence would put down his paper and wait for the worst news, ever. "Susan had Connor asleep and now he's awake again," I'd say, expecting him to also gasp in dismay. Instead, he'd give me 'the look.' But for tired mothers of toddlers, this was a gasp worthy event.

If I'm baking and forget an ingredient, or if I'm driving somewhere and realize I've forgotten my reading glasses, I may respond with some serious exhalation. This drives my husband crazy. I've been trying to change, but I fear the damage is done.

Last week, I suffered an unusual event. It wasn't serious, just unexpected. I decided to read my kindle while walking on my treadmill because, as previously stated, sitting is uncomfortable. Somehow I missed seeing my giant purple exercise ball perching against the wall at the end of my treadmill. I climbed on and set the speed. Within seconds, the machine started making these screechy, rubbing noises. I squinted toward the front where the motor is, and then, to my alarm, I began to rise into the air. "Help!" I called. "Someone help me!" Of course, since only my husband was home, no one answered.

Actually, Clarence did answer. He said something like, 'Nope. Not falling for it this time." "No, really," I screamed, "something is happening to me." Finally I had the sense to jump off the treadmill. I watched, my mouth gaping like a Southern Baptist at a hooker convention, as the track continued to rise in the air. Then it started jumping up and down, up and down. I leaped backward, kind of wondering if the thing was possessed. That's when I noticed the ball. "It's okay," I shouted. "My exercise ball is trapped under the treadmill!" 'Uh huh," Clarence said, not stirring himself from his chair. Really, I could have died.

On the other hand, its my own fault. Perhaps being calm in a serious emergency has this kind of effect. A person feels the need to react at least some of the time. Right? I mean, a ball caught under a treadmill, a person rising in the air like the rapture was happening and I was ascending to meet Jesus? I have to confess, the thought passed through my mind at the time. 'So this is it.' I think that was worthy of a gasp or two.

I've been wondering about this whole thing, and I've come to the conclusion that a person can't be calm all the time or they'll simply explode. In a real emergency, I'm a cold fish. But when things are less extreme, I let out a cry or two as a way of reducing pressure on my brain. No one operates well with a full head of steam. And someone needs to explain that to Clarence. But in a very calm way.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Dear Fathers

I'm going to let you in on a little secret. No mother can resist breakfast in bed delivered by her own children. How can her face not light up at the sight of those precious little beings? She knows every soft curve of each little face and how the stem of their necks are so fragile, its almost worrisome. So the burned toast and strange concoction of pancake, peanut butter and jam (because they thought it was more fun than syrup) is welcome when brought into the bedroom by these tiny,  playdough covered hands. Mom wipes the sleep from her barely opened eyes and tries not to wince as the tray slides, spilling coffee all over the new duvet. The children lovingly watch every single bite. I know, because I tried to escape to the bathroom once to flush a meal down the toilet and got caught.

Mother's Day is a celebration of a child's love for mom, and a dad trying to make it all work. But here is what mom might really need. A day off. Maybe at home, just lounging in her pajamas, listening to the house echo around her.  Add in a bath, a book, maybe, or a Netflix binge. A whole day dedicated to her recovery. Because mothering is a slog. Parenting in general is like attending a school where you never get the marks you'd like and always feel like you're going to fail or at least fall short of how everyone else is doing.

You can't put a price on love, but let's try. Imagine if you charged your kid for every single thing you do. A pee break in the middle of the day would cost your toddler a quarter. In the middle of the night, its a whole dollar. for those snacks you prepare that they forget to eat, perhaps a sliding scale, depending on your mood. Meals, laundry, bedtime routine, helping with homework, weeping in the night (your own weeping) washing faces and hands, putting on sunscreen, parents day at school and camp, piano concerts that go on forever because everyone plays the same song, soccer games, baseball, all the pets, hair washing and brushing, funny stories, singing in the car so your toddler won't fall asleep and stay up until midnight. Waiting up for teenagers. Talking to teenagers. Worrying about teenagers. The list is endless, really. And if children had to pay, say, when they turned thirty, well. You'd make a killing.

But that's not how it is. Because mothers are cheerleaders for everyone in the family, including dad. Every single muscle and bone in their body is honed by parenting because it takes its toll. But while it's busy taking, it's giving as well. Once my children left home, I had a revelation. Life was so easy! Meals lasted forever and I hardly ever had to clean the house. But. There was a flatness to it. I'd become addicted to the excitement children bring to our lives. When you have kids, you get to view the world like they do, and its always astonishing and beautiful and unique. Every single time. The way toddlers can listen to the same story over and over again, and never tire of it. The way they stop on a walk to gaze at every rock and blade of grass. It's painfully slow, but awe inspiring because it takes you back. The things they say, the way they question absolutely everything. No one has ever made me laugh as hard as my own children.

Anyway, dear father, whose turn is coming up in June. Do something great with the kids on Mother's Day, preferably away from mom. And maybe when your turn comes up, she'll do the same. Then, reunite for dinner and talk about your day. Mom will be in a very good mood. And you know the old saying. When mama's happy, everybody's happy.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Skip Lightly

I have a hard time sitting. Not because I have A.D. H. D. (I hope) but because I find sitting uncomfortable. This makes all committee work difficult. Those long meetings with people who like to think deeply before sharing their thoughts. Speed it up, I want to say. My butt hurts.

Watching TV is also problematic. I have solved it by skipping rope every ten minutes during the show. Not every day. Just when I've been sitting at a desk instead of writing on my treadmill.  Skipping is also handy when watching thrilling shows like The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones, because it saves my butt and my nerves. There's only one real problem with it.

It's very hard on my partner. I try to stand off to one side and skip lightly, landing on the balls of my feet and staying in the salt category, rather than the pepper. If you remember skipping games, you'll know what I mean. I bounce from foot to foot, trying to land quietly and avoid heavy, giant sized thudding.

The thing is, I would never skip while watching TV with anyone else. My kids would shoot me, for one, and I'd be too embarrassed with my friends. I like to pretend to be normal when I'm out and about. Only in the privacy of my own home do I allow my inner annoying weirdo to surface.

Most people move through life masking their discomfort or pain. I happen to come from a family with no game at all. When it's slightly cold outside, we wear ski pants and long underwear. In hot weather we rival Scarlett O'Hara's sisters with our limp wristed mewling. (Bill, you're excused from this last accusation.) But avoiding discomfort is of the utmost importance to us. I'm trying to toughen up by a) drinking water before bed and not getting up to pee every half hour. b) Walking in the cold without a balaclava. c) Trying not to complain so much.

This blog is my version of skipping lightly. I'm still complaining, but I'm managing a soft landing, hopping from foot to foot, off to one side, and almost out of sight. See? You've hardly noticed me over here in the corner. I'm not really bothering you at all. Now excuse me while I work on my double dutch routine. I might make a little more noise during it, but I almost always stick the landing.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016


It's time to talk about politics, the elephant in my blogging room. I can't dance around the beast any longer. I'm not here to pander, promote, or manipulate. I'm here to whine. So please, for the next few minutes, let me make this about me.
But not just me. This may come in handy for other partners of people with big plans. The dreamers and visionaries. The one married to George R. R. Martin.

"Hey," you might hear at some point in your life. "Let's give up our jobs and travel across Asia, freeze our asses off, almost die and spend a lot of time with rats." Of course, Clarence didn't phrase it in that particular way. His type is very inspirational when presenting ideas. The next thing you know, you're following along obediently. Nay, gladly.

I'm not in Asia anymore. And I'm not married to George R. R. Martin. But I am wedded to a politician who is up for re-election. So here's my high pitched violin moment. Nobody ever talks about the politician's spouse unless you're Bill Clinton.  And believe me, we partners have our woes.
(The violin is playing quietly in the background. Can you hear it?)

Anyway. It's a slog, this political life. I'm mostly okay with it, but people don't realize the dedication it takes, the nerves of steel, the stiff upper lip necessary for the spouse of a political candidate. Just ask Donald Trump's wife. Thank goodness making speeches wasn't part of my bride price. I'm not sure how they do things in Slovenia but she definitely gets the sympathy vote.  Anyway, back to me.

I really, truly appreciate  all the people who run for office. Somebody has to step out of their comfort zone. Throw their hat in the ring. We can't all live in North Korea where one guy is in charge forever. The problem is that when the candidate's hat flies through the air, so does yours. You barely have time to look up before the job of being a full time minion begins. Fetching, carrying, printing, prodding, mailing, stuffing, listening, etc. I could go on. (You know I can.)

Please thank your candidate, whoever he or she is, for stepping up to the plate. They deserve your appreciation. Months of plodding around trying to get their points across, and an earnest desire to make things better is truly what most people running for office want. Please understand that. Then look behind them for the minion waiting, often bored, in the background. Shake their hand and mutter the words, "I'm so sorry." We'll appreciate the gesture.