Tuesday, 28 October 2014

You Have To Be Kidding - It's Hallowe'en Again this year??!!

The challenge of a blog that lasts for more than 365 days, is that it comes time to reflect again, on a topic previously pondered.  I re-read my 2013 Halloween blog post and by God, I loved it!

There is a HUGE Halloween Skeleton Hanging in my Closet:


How can I top this?  Then I realized that I certainly don't have to top it.  I am just going to allow the story to grow

 I have lots of memories of Halloween gone by.   Unlike last year's post, I will recount the best.  I will not whine about Halloween.  I vaguely remember"happy/scary" faces sketched on a pumpkin and icy seeds and muck to be scraped out.  I am remembering clowns and leprechauns Harry Potter and a Mad Scientists.  Slowly costume choices became less adorable.  With time we moved from clowns to vampires.  It is a sad day when an adorable baby boy decided to become Dracula.  It is a sad day when a tween daughter wants to go out as a hooker and doesn't even think to ask to borrow her mother's clothes.

Every year was just more creative than the last. I recall fancy pillow cases and the yellow popcorn bowl filled with a variety of choices, from chocolate bars to rockets, caramels to suckers hoping to  satisfy even the most challenging food restrictions.  We had last minute face-painting and costume malfunction saves. Yes, I admit, we had tears and they weren't all mine.  Little ones anxiously waiting for 6 pm to burst out into the night with one parent and the  inconspicuous "traveler mug". The parent left to "shell out" could oohh and awww over the cute little costumes.  It is quickly learned to avoid guessing the costume. It can be difficult to distinguish between and angel and a princess and it is really important to be right.  The end of the night was children's fantasy free for all.  After bedtime there was a no holds barred pilfering of the best of the best.


I did not rock Halloween, but I think I faked it admirably.

Now I have moved from the front line, just trying to get through another Hallowe'en without revealing the true Skeleton in the front closet.  "Of course Mommy loves Hallowe'en.  What's not to love?".   I am no longer drowning in anxiety, trying to meet my self-imposed expectation that my children's  Halloween be amazing, or at the very least, neither physically or emotionally damaging.
Pumpkin Carving by some Creative Hallowe'en Colleague

Now I can sit with an all-knowing smirk of a veteran.   I wear rose-coloured night vision goggles. I smile as I hear of the preparations that young parents are making.  Some really do rock Halloween and my witch hat goes off to them. The pumpkin carving competition showed me that there are many adults who take this day very seriously.   I see entire web sites dedicated to costumes for children.  I didn't even know what DIY meant until recently.  I always Did It Myself, but trust me, the creations of my mind did not compare to the ideas on the web.  My answer to Halloween was a good pair of super man pajamas with a tea towel as a cape.

 I see all the candy at the store and try to delay the inevitable purchase as I always have.  It seemed back in the day, that if I bought treats in anticipation of Halloween, they were gone before the 31st.  I guess the difference is that when there are no chocolate bars this Friday night "I only have myself to blame". The age old question is "how many is too many". There is (a) weight watcher count of x # of calories per piece, so "count your points ladies". Then there is the next plan (b) Enjoy a few, until just nicely satisfied.  Then of course, (c) "eat until you barf".  I try hard to stop between b and c.  My strategy this year was to try to buy my "less than absolute favourite" chocolate bars, in hopes that I will hold off force-feeding myself late into the night.  I try to convince myself that if I buy M&Ms rather than Smarties, I will not demolish them.  If I choose Snickers over Kit Kats then some will be left.  I will buy Twix bars instead of Caramilk.   Little did I know that Casey is a fan of the Twix bar, which I really consider more of a cookie, myself, but she begs (literally) to differ.

Our children will be elsewhere this weekend, celebrating in style.  I feared they would chair a support group of Adult Children of Halloween Party-Poopers, but they survived.  The girls like their crafts and their make up.  They are busily stringing beads and glue-gunning as we speak. I know this as I received a SnapChat from Kate.  Yes, I am such a cool mom, I get SnapChats. For those who are not cool enough to understand SnapChat (like I wasn't last week), it is a picture text on my phone that showed Katelyn creating a  (DIH) Flamingo costume. (If I could I would include the photo, but SnapChat is by design a snapshot which disappears forever in about 10 seconds). Just to give you an idea though, there were feathers, beads, lace and, wait for it... a glass of white wine.  THE KID is BRILLIANT.  She is not even a Mommy, but she has a helper.  I applaud her.

Bridget explained that she could come home neither last weekend nor this weekend, as it is"Halloween".  How did this October 31st celebration come to span a 14 day window?  I am happy for her and am overwhelmed by her level of creativity as well.  She is "going out as" as a camp counsellor.  Just to be clear, from July to August this summer, Bridget WAS a camp counsellor at the Toronto Island.  I thought this Halloween costume choice was a bit of a cop out.  However, I am pretty sure Bridget's camp counsellor costume does not strikingly resemble the outfit she actually wore to camp.  Weekend # 2 requires a different costume.  God forbid she should repeat herself.  Weekend #2 she is truly showing off her creative and less than modest nature.

Kevin does not have the creative touch of his female siblings. I am not crafty and the apple didn't fall far from the tree.  I am not sure whether he is "into the Halloween thing".  We introverted Trick or Treaters have a harder time with costumes and revelry.  I am sure if Kevin does dress
up, it will be an understated and very clever T-shirt of some sort, that requires no more than a marker and a cape.
 That is more his style than pink feathers and short shorts.  It struck me as interesting and just plain wrong, somehow, that there are actual websites that will provide people with ideas for exceptionally clever  DIY Halloween costumes.  I maintain that if a costume is to be considered clever, the person wearing it really should have cleverly thought of it himself.

Although I am  a self-proclaimed Halloween Grinch, I will to try to embrace this Halloween weekend.  Kate, Kevin and Bridget are grown and they now are more than capable of dressing up, as Kate would say, "all my byself".  I am not consulted and my approval means almost nothing. My job here is done.

We now live in a rural neighbourhood of about 30 houses surrounding 2 lovely ponds. This will be our first Halloween away from our family forever home in Orangeville. I am very curious to see the Halloween rituals in our small community of colourful characters. There are some children here, much to other's chagrin.  Most of the wee ones are on the "other side of the pond".  I am hoping they will be out on
Friday night with strong flashlights and painted faces.  I expect there will be some pets also dressed up.  Many of the dogs here have their own fall wardrobes, so I expect they will have costumes.  I found an entire web site devoted to dressing up your pet for Halloween.  I am speechless. And here I naively  thought I was done.

Friday night in our new community, we will try to turn over a new leaf.  We will have copious amounts of the "less popular" chocolate bars. And yes, I have eaten the entire 50 small Snickers. Please don't judge.  We will have pumpkin-shaped dog treats for trick or treating canines.  I will wear my crazy fire engine red rubber boots. Some may think this is my costume but sadly, as many are figuring out,  it is not.  Casey the dog will dress up as Mai the cat and vice versa.   I will decorate our new home with  50 cent pumpkins and Corn on the Door and hopefully for those with traveler mugs,  we will become known as the house with the Halloween Whine.


Saturday, 4 October 2014

Fodder +

Barbados Hiatus
When I started writing this blog early in 2013, I was very enthusiastic. I wanted to write about everything.  I could write all day.  I was inspired by all I saw during my 'sabbatical" in Barbados.

On my return home, to my routine, structured life, I continued to write.  I found it cathartic and I felt I was leaving a piece of myself for my children to have.

My peeps, for whom I write my blog
At one point I hit a blogger's block.  I couldn't find any inspiration and I felt it was the absence of subjects on which to reflect. This passed and I was back to writing long posts about anything.  I could write about the colour of my hair. 

Over the last while, I realized that a blogger's block can come from many places.  I discovered that it can come from an overload of inspiration.  Someone mentioned that there was a lot of "fodder" for my blog.  I realized I had too much fodder.

Solving the world's problems in Dublin
In the last 6 months I have travelled to Ireland, on the trip of a life time.  On returning to structure and routine, we discovered a new place to call home.  We then proceeded to completely empty our empty nest and move all our belongings north.  We acquainted our adult children with their new home base and have entertained family and dear friends as we introduced them to our life.  There have been special events, tattoos, apartment shuffling and new cars.

Good bye Elm Avenue

 There have been ups and
Hello Mulmur
downs.  There have been highs and lows.  There has been fodder. 

Now, I find life again regaining some routine and structure and so I will recommence.    I will go back in time, not necessarily chronologically, but I will work to recap this period of fodder.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

City Mouse Country Bumpkin

View from our front porch

We are now living in the glorious County of Mulmur Ontario. It was a "smooth" transition from our family home in the metropolis of Orangeville. We are now officially " country folk" in a small community which used to be a summer vacation get away for "city folk". Springwater Lakes has grown and transitioned from a cluster of weekend cottages surrounding 2 spring fed ponds to about 30 homes of people who have learned to bear a commute south on winding winter roads.

 Rural living is proving to have a set of charms I had not anticipated. The "intersection" in our neighbourhood has no stop signs. Such a difference from the standard 4 way stops of Orangeville with typical Canadian courtesy, making driving almost frustratingly polite. Here our 2 gravel roads come to cross and I am yet to meet another car there. Even if we did meet, the well-respected 20 kilometer per hour speed limit makes it pretty simple to negotiate.

I didn't know one could go 20km/hr
A second note is the practice of dropping kids bikes at the bus shelter . I find this lovely that bikes sit without a massive chain looped through each wheel. I also think that the children's bikes and go carts along the roadside are the best subliminal reminders of the 20 kilometer speed limit. Red Fischer Price wagons are everywhere but do not seem to be a child's toy. Everyone has a wagon.  They are used for different things.  Some roll their garbage to the curb,  Some serve as a beer cart.  Ours is a fire station to carry water for the bonfire.

Back in the Wild

Our animals are also learning what it means to be back to their roots. The cat thinks she is a tiger. She is stalking different prey up here.  No more city mice for her.  She is primed and ready to take down a coyote.  On our walks she darts around us always within earshot but without acknowledging that we are there. She reminds me of our children when they were teenagers. The dog thinks she is a cow, grazing constantly. She seems to fancy the grass growing over the septic field. She is also pooping like a rock star. A coincidence? I think not.

Beautiful by deadly
My behavior is changing too. I now swim in the pond, rather than shower. Access to the basement laundry room is difficult at the moment.  There is a narrow winding staircase that I have sworn not to use. Therefore, here in the country, I rarely do laundry. I am yet to put any make up on. I wear red rubber boots and have been known to walk up the road to the mailbox in my slippers.
I am working hard to gain a reputation. Despite my quirks people have been very friendly and not just Canadian "polite" friendly.  People have actually invited us over. There is definitely a "cottage vibe" going on, so much so that I keep procrastinating on cleaning.  I just keep thinking " I will do one big 10 second tidy before we go home".  Wait a minute...

One thing I had not anticipated was the enthusiasm of our friends and family who live in more urban areas. We have had lovely visits.I do the indoor tour of our 2 bedroom home. It is very well-designed to make overnight guests feel comfortable and a bit "away from it all".  It would be a perfect Bed and Breakfast, but we call it our "B and W".  This means that one might expect clean sheets (B) but breakfast (B) is at the discretion of the hostess and depends primarily on the amount of wine(W) consumed at dinner the previous night.   We should provide vouchers for a Greasy Spoon down the road ("see you at noon").  
Lifelong Friends get to wear the Red boots.

We are embracing the entertaining because apparently it comes to a sharp halt in November.

We are yet to experience a winter north of Hwy 89 but Derek and I both hope and are determined to remain in awe of this place. The summer, though some feel was less than spectacular has been beautiful in this oasis.  However, as I watch the brilliant fall colours emerge,  I am reminded that the seasons are changing.  The snow will surely fly next month. I am in denial and it is very comfortable. We have All Wheel Drive and a wood stove. We have cans of soup and a snow blower.  How bad can it be? When I ask our friendly neighbours about the winter, everyone gets this funny look on their face. Kind of like the look I have when women who are about to give birth for the first time ask what labour is like.. "Oh it will be fine. We all get through it." Why burst the bubble of denial.

Until November, when we start to experience a different side of Springwater Lakes, we will continue to smugly feel we have won the lottery. The natural beauty of this place coupled with the tranquil neighbourhood setting has me wondering, from time to time, if this is a dream. I think our neighbours, though refreshingly friendly, may decide that  "if the nice smelly lady in the red boots asks me to pinch her", I will politely say "no".

I still can't believe I live here.