Sunday, 27 May 2007

Sleep . . . Perchance to Dream

We all have one purely indulgent thing we like to do. Maybe some of you like to buy shoes or play online poker. Others may find their daily coffee from a favourite vendor an indulgence. Whatever it is, we all have one. Something that makes you feel so good and so guilty at the same time.

For me it’s sleep. That lovely place where nothing bothers you, nothing matters. Your world is a mishmash of scenes and circumstances that make no sense to you, but you don’t mind being chased by a two legged cat with a cigar, because you know it’s only a dream, and you’ll wake up and try to explain the madness in your brain, which will make the people around you laugh.
However, I have learned the hard way that when trying to explain these dreams, if I manage to get a laugh, it’s AT me, not with me. Face it – dreams rarely make sense.

My friend Mitzie Dunkirk told me that she looks forward to getting up every morning at around 5 a.m. because it is the most peaceful part of her day, when nobody needs anything from her (Um, hello?, it’s pretty peaceful when you’re s-l-e-e-p-i-n-g). The only thing I ever look forward to at 5 a.m. anymore is letting the cat out so I can go back to sleep for a few more hours.

A couple of weekends ago, a soccer coach had the unfortunate luck to phone my house at 7:45 on a Saturday morning (I hear your collective gasp). Peter was in Toronto, so this poor coach never stood a chance against the sleeping- princess-awakened-before-her-time-turns-into-harpy-from-hell-with-scary-voice.

After asking quite politely if Peter was around and after I answered just as politely that he was in Toronto, the harpy took over and reminded him of the time and day of his call, saying “not cool”. I wasn’t rude, I was desperate.”Not cool” are two words that mean it’s-Saturday-morning-and-why-aren’t-YOU-asleep-and-if-I-don’t-hang-up-now-I-can’t-be-responsible-for-my-actions?. When it sounds like you’ve been gargling razor blades, you can bet that “not cool” can sound pretty tough.

When the same coach showed up to pick up some soccer equipment, he apologized profusely, explaining that his clock in the workshop hadn’t been reset since Daylight savings, and he’d been up that morning since 5.

And then he nearly killed me with his next statement: “Sometimes I get up at 2 or 2:30 because I just can’t sleep anymore.” I remind him that there are many remedies for a sleepless night, but he brushed me off. “I don’t need the sleep.”

It hit me then that I almost wished I could be like him. Not needing the sleep, naming complete wakefulness at 5 a.m. as one of my strengths, tackling pre-dawn chores with manic energy. . . so NOT gonna happen. I wouldn’t have time for any more dreams of cigar wielding, two-legged cats, and I don’t think I’m ready to be done with my bizarre dreams just yet, and hey, I prefer to sleep for my country(ies).

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Girl Cult Season Opener at Windmill Acres

The first weekend of May was a beauty, and we chicks decided that we would help Fluffy open her family cottage a couple of weeks early. The sun and party fairies demanded it. Who are we to disobey?

Fluffy invited us to spend Saturday at Windmill Acres raking the beach, gathering the debris and kicking the mice out of their winter home so we could begin the cottage season.

We had an amazing greeting committee. Three baby racoons have taken up residence in the shed outside the cottage at Windmill Acres. And though Muffin and I were most excited by the prospect of seeing NAYchur up close and personal, Fluffy has a bit of a whipping fetish and made us do our chores before we turned into the camera crew from Animal Planet.

Rodentia that they are, those little critters sure are cute. Momma racoon was nice enough to let us take our many pictures without ripping our faces off. Those babies brought back the childhood pang of wanting a racoon as a pet. Bet there was a time when you wanted one, too.

The chores weren’t nearly as bad as we might have expected, and within a couple of hours we had our lawn chairs, frosty drinks and sunglasses on the sunny side of the ranch.

Although I am not at liberty to reveal full, gory details, I will tell you that the bra tree is alive and well, the stove is out of the kitchen, the mice can no longer live in the shower and the beach is relatively debris free, thanks to the raking magic of Roxie and Muffin.

You may think that we girls go up to Windmill Acres to cut loose, which is partly true. Of course, we get to cut loose every Wednesday, thanks to gifted prioritizing, but when you go to a cottage it’s just different.

Talk turns to deeper issues: religion, the universe, environmental issues, and whose turn it is to go refill the drinks. There is no clock, only the vague signals that your body gives that it is time to eat, drink, nap, or put more of the jigsaw puzzle together. We wear no make-up, there is no need for a hair dryer. If you plan correctly, throw your dishes in the fire pit and KP duty is done.

When it’s time to sleep, you fall in your sleeping bag, exhausted and snoring almost instantly. When you wake up the next morning, your ankles feel fuzzy and your breath is deadly.
It’s only when you get up that you realize your ankles don’t need shaving, but a chipmunk has decided to find its final resting place in the bottom of your sleeping bag. As the horror dawns on you, you wonder who was in charge of airing out the sleeping bags.

And even though you know you’ve never had a more disgusting bed companion, you can’t help but wonder when you get to come back to Windmill Acres. Oh, the joys of cottage life.

Thursday, 10 May 2007

Moms. . . Where Would We Be Without You?

Without our moms? Well, you could let your mind do a cartoon-type rewind all the way back to - um - . . . nothing. Kiddies, none of us would be here if it weren’t for our mommas.

I’m speaking of all mothers; the seemingly perfect moms as well as the seriously imperfect moms. Fun moms, strict moms, and certifiably crazy moms all had a major role in this game of life that we’re playing.

In honour of Mother’s Day 2007, I would like to send out a great big appreciative thank you to every mom of the world for all of the following things:

For the hours of painful labour that we made you suffer without painkillers. Thanks for not taking us out of the world once you brought us into it. We appreciate that you didn’t abuse that power, even though its dark promise must have tempted you sorely at times.

For every toy you picked up, dried food you wiped off the wall and for every tantrum we threw and scream we bellowed, thanks for not losing your mind when we were two. And we won’t forget every nasty diaper you changed, thanks for keeping the rash away.

For the first time you saw us off to ‘real’ school, for packing a great lunch complete with wholesome snacks we traded for sugar, thanks. We never went hungry.

For every sport, dance, committee, game, summer job, performance and sleep-over you carted us to, thanks for being the best taxi service ever, and never charging us more than a ‘be careful, or good luck, or I love you’.

For soothing every scraped knee, sprained ankle, pimple and broken heart, we will always remember that nobody makes it better like doctor mom’s Bactine spray and healing kiss.

For laughing at our bad jokes, for helping with impossible school projects, for all the cupcakes you had to bake the night before a class party because we’d forgotten to tell you (again), thanks for your hard work. We’re sorry we licked the frosting off before we got the cupcakes to school and then used them for a food fight.

For every time you said ‘there’s plenty of fish in the sea’, ‘we didn’t like him anyway’ or ‘you’re too good for him’, you’ll never know how much our heart needed to hear those words, even if we didn’t appreciate it at the time. And for every time you wanted to say those words and didn't?Thanks. Sometimes we just had to figure out the bad stuff for ourselves, no matter how much it hurt you to watch.

For believing in us when we didn’t believe in ourselves, and for being the proudest parent at our high school graduation, thanks. We may have acted embarrassed by all the screaming, but we’d have been crushed if you couldn’t have been there.

For gently guiding us with your kind words, your lectures, your ‘when I was your age’ stories, thanks for not taking it too hard when we rolled our eyes.
For never forgetting that the alcohol 'mysteriously' evaporated every time you left town. It teaches us to never get caught.

For paying for our education, for getting so excited when we got married, for every nagging comment about grandchildren, you are secretly treasured.

For never talking to us like adults, and for always thinking we’ll be your babies, thanks mom, really. It helps us stay young.

For mothers-in-law that may never see eye-to-eye with the wives or husbands of that perfect offspring of yours, thank you. Without you, we wouldn't have the happily ever
after that sleeps next to us each night.

To the new moms and the mommas to be, congratulations and think of the things you should be thanking your mother for.

And a special message just for my Momma:

Mommy Dearest, you are everything a mom should be and so much more (like you don't know that.) I am Joyce Kristine, a confident, talented woman because of you, because of the roots that you strengthened in me.

Because of your strength, because of your humour, because of your patience and belief, I am simply . . . 100% me.

Thanks for most of the stuff mentioned above, crazy math, making me hate beans and making me join the drama club. Thanks for encouraging my writing when I was so young, and sending me the first story I wrote when I was eight.

Thanks for quitting smoking, and never starting again.

Thanks for hanging out with that crazy guy for a while that made me overcome my irrational fear of guns.

Thanks for finding your happily-ever-after so I knew it was okay to believe in my own.

Thanks for believing in my trip to Wyoming and Morocco. Because of your support I found myself.

I may be 3,000 miles away from you, but you've been here and know that my life is just about everything you could have wanted for me.

Because of you, I became strong enough to be so far away from everything I knew to start a brand new life in almost every possible way, all at the same time.

I love you so much, Mom, and miss you with all my heart. Come see me soon.

Happy Mother's Day.
Daughter Dearest
Joyce Kristine

P.S. Mom, your gift is 'in the mail', but trust me - I'm going to make someone tape your reaction - that's how good it is . . .

Thursday, 3 May 2007

Spring Symphony, Country Style

The critters are awake my friends, and I like what they have to say.

Because there is the inevitable traffic whizzing by during the day, all I can usually hear are the many species of birds as they fight for position on any of the bird-feeders scattered about our property. It’s almost spooky sometimes to see so many hulking black birds chasing off the sweet little chickadees and finches. It’s like they’re a bird gang or something, taking the little birds’ lunch money, as if to say “no feed for you, you weakling.”

But at night time, when the black birds are gone and the cute little birds are nesting somewhere, when the sun is gone and most of the cars are sleeping in their respective garages or driveways, well – that’s when the real spring symphony starts.

It’s almost like magic. You’re inside your house, maybe finishing dinner, maybe flipping channels and cursing the fact that you pay through the nose and there is still nothing worth watching on any of the hundreds of channels. Maybe you just need some fresh air, so you decide to let the cat out.

That’s when it hits you. Where traffic noise and annoying black birds make up the sound waves of the noisy day, an entirely new concert has already begun playing during the darkened hours.
You can’t help yourself. You turn off the porch light to make the bugs go away, and step into your yard to look up at the night sky.

The stars are as bright as you’ve ever seen (of course, you haven’t seen much of them during the past wintery months). There’s one that is so bright it must be a plane headed your way, but no. It’s a star, and it’s happy to shine for you. You notice the Big Dipper and Orion’s Belt, and wonder why you don’t lay on the grass anymore at night to find the UFOs as they skirt across the busy universe.

You smile as, from every corner of the bush, comes the seemingly perfect rhythm of the crickets and frogs in the damp surrounding you. It’s a massive but peaceful sound, and you know that spring has finally arrived in just about all its glory. It’s a lullaby song the smaller critters are playing just for you, and you feel the day’s stresses melting away as a soft smile plays at the corners of your mouth. You sigh and know that life is good.

Then a weird beeping noise starts, somewhere deep in the bush behind you. You’re not sure what it is, probably a strange bird’s mating call, but it makes you a little nervous because the beeping is an awful lot like an alien homing device might sound if it’s looking for Predator or ET to come home.

You fall asleep peacefully, only to be plagued by dreams of alien finches trying to peck your face away. Your awakening brain realizes the pecking is coming from that amazing crested woodpecker outside, which means the sun is up again and it must be time to wake up.

Tips for Dealing With Stuff

1. A mouse trap, placed on top of your alarm clock, will prevent you from rolling over and going back to sleep after you hit the snooze button.

2. If you have a bad cough, take a large dose of laxatives, then you will be afraid to cough.

3. Clumsy? Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away.

4. Avoid arguments with the Mrs. about lifting the toilet seat by simply using the sink.

5. For high blood pressure sufferers: simply cut yourself and bleed for a few minutes, thus reducing the pressure in your veins. Remember to use a timer.

6. Have a bad headache? Smash your thumb with a hammer and you will forget about the headache.

7. You only need two tools: WD-40 and Duct Tape. If it doesn't move and should, use the WD-40. If it shouldn't move and does, use the duct tape.

8. Everyone seems normal until you get to know them.

9. Never pass up an opportunity to go to the bathroom.

10. If you woke up breathing, congratulations! You get another chance.

11. Be really nice to your family and friends; you never know when you might need them to empty your bedpan.