Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Gimpy blogger

I'm currently suffering from a mild neck issue. My chiropractor told me the name (after she fixed the problem), but I've already forgotten it. As far I can tell, it's like two discs at the nape of my neck got into a lock-down fight and annoyed all their neighbours. She also told me that it's one of those things that could happen to anyone - in fact, it happened to her just last week. So no guilt for failing to mention that head-banging incident. It was the guitar solo in "Bohemian Rhapsody". According to Wayne's World, head-banging is practically required. No guilt whatsoever.

In the last two weeks, there have been three adjustments, lots of icepacks, more robax than I care to admit, and very little of the normal duties. Some are a little heartrending (ex. no picking up the toddler), others relieving (no dishes - yay!), but what's been most baffling is that all the sedentary activities I associate with "taking it easy" all make it worse. There has been very little smartphone time or computer time, and as much as I'd love to curl up on a soft chair with a hardcover novel, even getting into position is a problem. 

I can't help but appreciate the irony of my hurts-to-read dilemma coming on the heels of finishing The Information Diet. It's akin to coming down with a nasty case of heartburn just after thinking about cutting back on Indian food. The theoretical quickly becomes practical when every bite brings the promise of fire. The question is less 'is this samosa worth the calories?' than 'is it worth the pain?" And so I must ask about every article, as I convalesce, and every comment stream. And by 'must', sadly, I mean 'should' - let's just say it's a good thing I don't suffer from heartburn and an obsessive love of curry. Mmmm butter chicken. But I digress.

I let my held hardcover copy of A Dance with Dragons go back on the library shelf, unread. Good. I perused through a month's worth of memes on the Facebook page Time to thin the herd. Not so good. I pulled out my Bible for the first time in weeks months. Very good. I read through all of the Blogess posts surrounding the difficulty in getting a picture of Nathan Fillion holding twine for, you know, context. Very funny, but did I really need to do it in one big binge? No. While hunched over my phone in the chair I should probably be avoiding? Definitely not. Is my impulse control wont to note the difference between authentic coconut curry and cumin dusted twinkies? Not always. 

Maybe I should make a chart where I compare acquired neck pain to the relative worth of my literary munchies. Though measuring written materials in terms of Indian cuisine would soon prove difficult, it would have the delicious side benefit of required tastings to make sure my choice dishes are accurate. What is the culinary equivalent to the book of Baruch anyways? I'm going with palak paneer, but I'd need to order it again to make sure. On second thought, this could be bad for our eating-out budget. Excuse me while I order some naan.

On a side note, I wasn't just head-banging to Queen, I was head-banging to Rajaton doing Queen. Which is even better. And I didn't just link to "Bohemian Rhapsody" either, because the only thing that adds to the equation of Queen plus Rajaton is David Bowie. Once you wrap your head around the fact that all these sounds are being made with people's mouths (with occasional help from Mr. Reverb and friends), the fabulous lyrics of "Under Pressure" really shine through. 

Enjoy. Or, alternatively, don't - because your attention is precious, and not every one thinks Freddy Mercury is worth the informational calories. Stepping away from the neck wrenching machine now, honest.

Happy Wednesday

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

"The fairest of the seasons"

"Fall is our season of filling up and overflowing."
                                  -Glennon Melton, State of Our Union - Momastery

Due to some lack of communication leading to a missed deadline, my freshly-minted kindergartener is not yet taking the school bus, so my weekday mornings begin, much like last year, with getting her to school. Instead of walking buddy, however, this year I'm playing chauffeur. The houses zip by too quickly merit much observation, so I've taken to watching the treetops during my driving duties. And what a treat it's been.

Though fall has always been my favourite season, I don't believe I've ever payed such close attention to the death throws of chlorophyll; the transition from full-out green to a myriad of yellow, orange, and red always seemed to happen in the blink of an eye. It was as if one day I'd look up and discover that summer's green had vanished, replaced fall colours in full array. This year, as my daughter's advent of school has left me ripe with anticipation for summer's end; I've been watching the microsteps, and have been pleasantly surprised in the variety I see.

Some trees lightened slowly, with paler greens and yellows dappled throughout more livelier foliage. Others seemed to suffer from sunburn, with full-out chlorophyll loss on the canopy trickling down to the trunk, or a toasting going from right to left along its branches. And every so often I do come across a tree that seems to have uniformly changed colours at the switch of a light,  even if it's the same species of all of its slowly transitioning neighbours. I don't know what causes these variations (perhaps a difference in the root systems?), but I love the effect: that one burnished accent tree highlighting the lesser extremes of the spectrum that surround it. Makes me smile everytime. Add a ray of sunlight hitting it at just the right angle, and that tree just glows. It's enough to make a girl forgive the sun for shining right in her eyes as she maneuvers through the morning's rush-hour traffic. How is it that the angle of light that most annoys me is the one that makes this magic?

Autumn is here. My calendar - and my daughter - will tell me it's technically still summer, but the trees say otherwise. And I tend to trust their judgement. Enjoy :)

Saturday, 8 September 2012

For my Grandma, in loving memory

I meant to publish this post to mark the fortieth day since my grandmother's passing on July 28th. Those who are quicker at math than I will note I am two days late. My apologies to my family if I've gotten any details wrong - please let me know and I'll correct them.
There was a little woven knick-knack that sat for years on a shelf at my grandparents' farm house. It was a simple thing, yarn threaded through a plastic frame, which, as first glance, depicted only a series of red geometrical shapes on a white background. If you changed your focus, however, you would soon see that white was actually meant to be both border and foreground, spelling out, in clear block letters, the name of Jesus.

I remember my Grandma much like that woolen piece, quiet and unassuming, homey and dear, but with an unwavering love and a firm faith that was clear to see, if only you knew how to look for it. I don't recall her saying many "I love you"s, though I never much noticed the lack. Her love was something done so often it hardly needed to be said. It was there in her letters, one for every birthday card, in her skill for choosing just the right book for Christmas, in her afternoon teas - complete with games and goodies - there in every hug.

Grandma didn't save all her treasures 'til the end either; she distributed what keepsakes she had years ago, each with a letter detailing whatever she could remember of that particular memento's significance. The real treasures, of course, were the stories, little windows into our own family history. From the exciting tale of Grandpa subconsciously nabbing a cross from a battle-strewn graveyard as a soldier in the Second World War, to the box where my great grandfather kept his stamps, each grandchild got their own piece of our past, a little something to help us remember a bit of where we came from.

My fondest memory of my Grandma happened when I was a pre-teen, during one of her and Grandpa's regular visits to my parents home. Over the years, Grandma had developed the crafty habit of scheduling various doctors appointments, not in nearby Weyburn, but in Regina and Saskatoon - an hour and four hour drives from the farm, respectively - just to have frequent excuses to stay with her children and their families.

Such stays were invariably precluded by a crash course in remedial manners, for my Mom wasn't about to have her loving yet very proper mother-in-law suffer any rudeness from her grandchildren. And so, when I saw Grandma sitting alone in our living room, tattered mystery novel in hand, I figured the polite thing to do would be to sit down and talk to her. She patiently listened to me prattle on a few minutes until she found a space to interject: "Now, I'm really enjoying talking to you, Rachel," she said gently, "but I just started this book in car on the drive down, and I'd like to finish it, because I don't quite remember how this one ends." Relieved, I got my own book and sat down across from her, delighted to join in the peculiar habit among my Dad's adult relatives of driving several hours only to sit in the same room together and read.

I think of that exchange often, when reading in companionable silence, and particularly when I pick up a book I've read many times before. Returning to a well-loved book is akin to watching the cycle of the seasons: you can take comfort from the familiar storyline even as you delight in the details you've forgotten since the last go 'round. I look forward to the day my memory's faded enough to rediscover the conclusions of my own favourite whodunits.

Memory eternal Grandma. 'Til we read together again.


I'm trying something new today: blogging on my phone, from a park bench. The children have been playing well together on their own for months now, but I've only recently started taking them to playgrounds again. That picture of motherhood in my head - at least the one where Mom has a bit of relaxing me-time en plein aire as she watches her kids go down the slide - has finally come to pass.

My youngest munchkin meanders back and forth from the playground to the bench beside me. His sister happily runs around the structure, perhaps in search of new playmates to order around in whatever game is currently on tap in her imagination. Her creativity is no surprise - she's been hatching grandiose schemes for years. This outgoing side of her nature, however, is relatively new, and her willingness to make spontaneous friends still leaves me blinking. It's hard to believe this friendly, if somewhat bossy, child was once the babe who met every smile with a custom 'who said you could look at me' glare. It's as if, after extensive observation, she's got enough of her world figured out to stride forth with confidence - sometimes even abandon.

Today, it seems she's settled for her brother's company. It's just as well, kindergarten comes full-swing on Monday, taking 3 hours out of sibling play time. Next week, I may have one lonely little boy in the mornings - and maybe a teary Mommy to boot. I'm sure we'll figure out how to handle it, just as I'm sure his sister can tackle kindergarten, but this milestone brings its bittersweet twinges all the same.

I'm so proud of my girl whose matured so much, come so far, yet I'm nervous lest her extreme particularity cause trouble for her teacher and create conflict with her classmates. That stubborn streak will come in handy if someone ever offers her meth - I've got this ridiculous vision of her turning down a dealer because his wares don't come in dark pink with dark blue sparkles - in the mean time, she still needs to learn that knowing exactly what you want down to the colour of your underwear doesn't mean you're always going to get it.

I'm relieved, for I've made it through nearly five and a half years of being her primary caregiver, and now it's over - and we're both still here. I will, of course, continue to be her mother, but with teachers now sharing the load of character building, child minding, and educating, the onus isn't solely of me. At the same time, I feel loss, for we'll never have such swaths of uninterrupted time again; it's the next big step in the ongoing process of letting her grow up and learning to let go.

Her first trial day of kindergarten happened last Wednesday. Leaving her in line with her teacher around the back of the school, armed only with a hug and a nonchalant wave, brought on this bittersweet emotional mixture. Now that staggered, small-group entry makes way for the first real full-class morning, I'm sure I'll be feeling it more, but not letting it show, because for my not-so-little beauty, it's all a grand adventure.

N.B. I didn't write the entire post on my phone, and the playground trip actually happened yesterday, but, you know, artistic license and all that jazz ;)