Monday, April 27, 2009

Beer, Food, Fire

Inviting a whole fire department, and their families, to a party at our place in Point Roberts was a big leap into the unknown. I was happy to do it to celebrate the end of our probationary year and official acceptance into the fire department. Also, it gave Les and I a reason to look after some things at the cottage that we had been neglecting for the last 3 years. Over the last few weeks I have done lots of power washing, gardening and general tiding up. I also got to a few old lighting and wiring projects.

Les took care of the food shopping and I bought a few hundred beers. Worries over the weather and border were unnecessary as we had a rare cloudless Spring Saturday afternoon with no border lineup. I had no idea how many people to expect, so we had prepared in case a lot showed up. We were just about right in terms of beer but had way too much food. We will be eating hot dogs, chips and veggies for the next several weeks, but was happy with party and wouldn't mind doing it again. Apart from getting vomit on a sweater I lent out and urine on the boccie ball, everything went really smoothly. The bonfire had intense enough heat to keep us warm until we finally packed it in around 1am.

Clean up the next day was little hampered by muscle soreness left over from the Spud cup hockey tournament two days before. The department fielded 5 teams of 6 or 7 players for a 3 on 3 tournament. Playing 5 twenty minute games over a few hours with lots of open ice requires well conditioned players who can really skate.....which is definitely not how I would describe my game. My team however, was able to overcome my handicap to land a spot in the final. I even started to get my legs a bit and scored one of my nicest goals ever. It wasn't enough for us though as we fell 5-4 in the final game. Afterwards, most of the guys headed back to Shaun Cropley's for burgers and beers on his sunny back deck.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Bad, bad blogger...

Bad blogging, but good Easter.

I tend to be a "glass is half full" person. Maybe even a "glass is brimming over" person. Usually this works to my benefit, like when Eric and I were living in Europe and we would occasionally find ourselves in a less than ideal living situation. Instead of focusing on the swear words burnt into our new team apartment carpet, I would learn to appreciate the lovely foliage on the tree outside the window (true story...that apartment was bad. Really bad.).

The unfortunate part of this trait is I tend not to notice when I am less than happy. I am so busy spinning my positivity rituals that I obscure my true state from myself. This is a long winded way of saying that I didn't even know that the constant rain of 2009 had been getting me down. As I trudged along a gray sidewalk, under a gray sky with dirty, gray, urban raindrops dripping down my nose, I would dramatize for the kids how happy the plants and flowers were to get a drink from the sky. "See guys, rain is so gives life and...waters stuff." I convinced myself that gray days are meant for novels and coffee and warm sweaters. Which is true. But I don't have much time for novels these days. It mostly means soaking wet runs into Molly's school five days a week. And frizzy hair. And general malaise.

So, after weeks and weeks of telling myself, among other things, that "frizzy hair also means volume and people kill for volume, so I should be grateful", the sun came out.

Ahhhh, so this is why Vancouver is my home. When the sun shines, the city sparkles like no other I have ever seen. That spring in my step? I didn't even know it left me in November. It is springtime. It is glorious.

Even more glorious is actually getting out into the natural world. Instead of beautiful flowers and groomed hedges coaxed into conformity by landscapers trooping around the city in pick-up trucks, I yearn for real nature. The wild kind. And where better to find untamed wilderness than...our garden in Point Roberts. And you can substitute the word "untamed" for "untended". This is due to one-quarter of sheer laziness and three-quarters of pure ignorance. That adds up to a whole, right? Math was never my thing.

The only thing tamed in Point Roberts is our previously spectacular wisteria. Due to some overzealous "trimming" by Eric, it is now spectacularly denuded of any greenery. He claims it is now "taking a season off". I think this is code for "DEAD". To be fair to Eric though, he at least tries hard to oversee our green, green jungle. I just marvel at it and do nothing.

Back to "glass is half full": the upshot of the desecration of the wisteria is that we had a huge pile of gorgeous, ancient, twisty and heartstopping-ly beautiful amputated wisteria wood to burn in a bonfire. Hooray. So we invited friends down to hunt for eggs in the garden on Good Friday. We lit the fire and the kids ran themselves ragged. The trampoline never stopped bouncing. The swings were swung like never before. Every inch of the grass on the lawn was trod upon by little feet. There were roasted hot dogs and marshmallows, chicken wings (Thanks Ewart!), veggies and salads galore. And eggs...lots and lots of chocolate eggs. It was perfect.

In this picture, you can see the playhouse Eric is building for the kids. It is a kit from a sweet Craigslist score.

This is Eric instructing the kids on the hunt of them was "don't let go of your sibling's hand". Harder than it sounds when you spot a pastel plastic egg in the bush across the lawn and your sibling is dawdling. There was quite a lot of um, urging on...

Did you notice who was missing from the above pictures of the egg hunters? Lucas was not such an avid searcher. He hung out by the fire, gazing pensively into the flames, questioning his role in the universe. Either that or he was gathering strength and strategy for his primary activity for the rest of the afternoon: snagging chocolate out of untended baskets. A couple of times I spotted him with foil stuck in his teeth...I think that in the interest of avoiding detection he wasn't taking the time to peel them. He'd just stuff them in and spit out the foil...sort of like an owl who eats mice whole and poops out bones and fur.

It was a simultaneously peaceful and chaotic mess of fantastic fun. My glass was brimming, for real.

E- Dual Blogging

It's the middle of April and Spring is here. Lucas has taken over ownership of the Like-A-Bike in a big way. Now that his legs have grown enough to finally reach the ground, he has decided to it belongs solely to him. Last week I towed Luc and the bike in the trailer behind my bike while Finny rode her scooter down to get Molly from school. My plan was for Molly to ride the Like-A-Bike back while I towed Lucas. A very determined little boy decided that wasn't going to happen. Having never ridden it more than 25 feet at a time, I felt it necessary to explain to him that our route home was up one of the steepest hills in Vancouver and that there was no way he could make it up. He wasn't having any of it........and he proved me wrong. Not only did he ride the whole way home without any help, he also went back down and up the hill and throughout the grocery store when I decided to stop for dinner on the way back. Once inside the house, he insisted on doing laps for another half hour, probably just to prove to me how wrong I really was.

For most of the past year, but particularly the last few months, life has been different for us because Les is working so much. With both of us working pretty much full time hours, it's been a real juggling act to get the kids to and from different their different activities and spend the quality time with them that they need. We are very grateful for the help we get but there still never seems to be enough hours in the day for the necessities, let alone the luxuries like keeping a blog. It is especially hard for Les who spends all day writing for work, and for whom looking at a keyboard and monitor is about the last thing she wants to do at the end of the day. Although we both look forward to a period of our lives when we have a little more down time, neither of us can imagine wishing away this particular time when the kids are so young, sweet, innocent and loving. We still get lots of hugs and "I love you"s throughout the day.

Molly has now lost her third tooth, so she has a really cute smile. She is doing really well at school now in everything but math. Money, time and pretty much all things that have numbers mean very little to her. Playing pretend, telling and reading stories and playing games are what really excite her. Molly is the kind of kid that will find a place to fit in and try to make everyone around her happy. Finny on the other hand is much more independent. She loves a challenge and comes across as a much tougher kid. It's easy to forget she is only still 4 however, and sometimes gets really upset when she is embarrassed or disciplined. She has an incredible memory and ability to relate different parts of the world around her. Lucas is a great natured guy with a growing independent streak that has him yearning to strike out on his own. In Point Roberts he decided he needed to push the big, heavily laden grocery cart around the store. It worked out pretty well until he hit a bottle of mineral water that exploded all of the floor, sending me scurrying sheepishly to the counter to request a mop on isle 10.

Last night, Les stopped by the fire hall in Tsawwassen on her way back from Point Roberts to get something from the car. The Captain invited the family to see the hall and go for a ride in the Engine with one condition......that I drive. I didn't tell the kids that I hadn't yet driven a fire truck and hadn't driven anything bigger than our van for the last 3 years. What could go wrong though....I was only going around the block and I had lots of experience driving a similar sized garbage truck. I found out 3 seconds later when I stepped on the air horn and blasted my crew with an incredibly loud HONK.........garbage trucks definitely don't have foot pedals for air horns. The rest of the drive went well, but was cut short when we got called to a car accident. I felt badly for permanently damaging the guys hearing. However, like everything else at the hall, all was forgiven when I bought desert for the crew. Not a bad trade-off really.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Mary Oliver - Next Time

Next time what I'd do is look at
the earth before saying anything. I'd stop
just before going into a house
and be an emperor for a minute
and listen better to the wind
or to the air being still.

When anyone talked to me, whether
blame or praise or just passing time,
I'd watch the face, how the mouth
has to work, and see any strain, any
sign of what lifted the voice.

And for all, I'd know more -- the earth
bracing itself and soaring, the air
finding every leaf and feather over
forest and water, and for every person
the body glowing inside the clothes
like a light.