Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Why I’m gonna miss the soaps

Saturday, April 16th, 2011

Whenever I stayed with Grannie, if it was the afternoon, then we had to watch her stories. She like the whole CBC line-up. All My Children was her favourite, but One Life to Live was okay too. She’d make me tea (with a huge dollop of milk and enough sugar to jack up a kindergarten class, which is probably why I now take it black).

This was back in the day, when Erica was young and Tad was a cad.

When I got older, and Grannie was gone, if I was home sick, I’d bundle up on the couch and catch up on the goings-on in Pine Valley and Llanview.

People deride the soaps a lot, but they should learn their lessons from the Victorian serial. The soaps are the grandchildren of the likes of Dickens and Thackery. The good, the evil, the crazy turns, the evil twins, the lechery, multiple marriages, implausible coincidences, and most of all, studies of how different classes of people interact. And there’s always a moral to the story.

So I’ll miss the soaps, and I’ll be sure to see how they end, just for Grannie.

Cleaning up

Sunday, February 13th, 2011

Maybe it’s the temps flirting with zero degrees, but I was hellfire on cleaning and purging today. The object of my attention was the basement. I brought bins of stuff from my last move (over 3 years) that I haven’t opened since, and that is pretty much text-book criteria for elimination. I watch hoarders. I know what lies on the other side…

There’s bags of trash, and a pile of items to go to eWaste, and stuff that will be freely offered at the curb. I did, however, uncover little troves of treasures–the stuff one carts wherever the destination. Each time I go through it, it gets a little bit smaller. A sweatshirt from 1st-year uni that’s got a scruffy character and great style, even for the 80′s. My name patch from high school cheerleading (makes me laugh every time I realize I was a freakin’ cheerleader). The brass key my grannie gave me on my 21st birthday.

And then there’s the pictures. Somehow I inherited the two family portraits: one that I call the “vampire family”–taken some time in the late 70′s. Seriously, the photographer had to work hard to get the appropriate lighting to drain us of any resemblance to living flesh. The other one is 1982–I’m 14 going on 15, hair curled to perfection, and my sister, mother and I are wearing various 80′s purplish hues in mother-made dresses (there’s a ruffle them to tie them all together), and my father and brother wear tan and blue suits respectively.

All of these things are in the “save” bin.


Sunday, December 12th, 2010

Nieces and nephews are always a great connector to people and simple things. Like talking about cool books, or sharing a funny Maru video or learning the hokey pokey for the first time (and really digging the “turn yourself about part” and making everyone who enters the kitchen take a turn as well).

The rising ring of laughter in a room full of family while the youngest runs in circles wearing nothing but his socks is a merry sound indeed.

That’s how you do it

Monday, August 16th, 2010

Went to a cousin’s wedding this weekend in the true north. When you’ve got “dozens of cousins”, as the bride likes to say, never mind dozens of aunts and uncles, there’s only one way to do it:

  • Dress-up optional at the ceremony and dress-down mandatory at the reception.
  • Have the “I Do” part take 10 minutes and the eat and celebrate part take 12 hours.
  • BYOB and pot luck. There was enough food to feed dozens for days, and no one could complain that there weren’t enough options. At what other wedding could one get swedish meatballs, butterscotch squares, homemade chili and watermelon?
  • Have the great aunt do shots from a used bagpipe bladder then set her loose on the dance floor.
  • Play Johnny Cash, immediately followed by Biggie.
  • Bring the wedding party to the reception area via a pontoon boat on the river. Make them scurry to the back of the boat so as not to ground it on the shore.
  • Have the wedding part do boat races for halftime entertainment (the drinking kind, not the boating kind).
  • Have people bring tents that are pitched about 40 feet from the party tent. Easy lurching distance.
  • Have no bears attend the reception, or the pot luck table.


Monday, March 15th, 2010

My family was renovating my sister’s house which wasn’t my sister’s real life house, and the not real life house had a dirt floor basement that seemed more like a catacomb with many rooms and kind of drippy walls. Anyway, my father broke through a rubble wall and a series of ghosts started coming out, kind of like in Scooby Doo when the kids find the secret door in the haunted mansion.

But these weren’t just any ghosts – I distinctly remember Abraham Lincoln, Christa McAuliffe and Bette Davis.

We weren’t exactly afraid of them, but to ensure that they travelled only on approved pathways, we put up police tape around hazards and unexcavated areas.  They were very respectful of the boundaries. No one knows where they went upon exiting the premises.

Those were the days

Sunday, October 18th, 2009

Due to logistics, we had the family Thanksgiving this weekend instead of last weekend. It was great to see everyone, and the youngest nephew has gone from crawling to walking just in time for his first birthday. Oldest nephew and I bonded over Maru, and niece was ecstatic to get a new DS.

While we were gorging on turkey and multiple desserts, my sister popped in a DVD of old family movies. There we were at different ages. The divas would completely recognize me beside my cousins, building a kickass fire on one of our camping trips.  And there’s evidence about just how happy I was to receive my Shaun Cassidy album back in the day (link to geocities – natch!).

But what’s with me, in my underwear, doing cartwheels in the living room?

I guess some things never change.

Things to do in the bush

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

Attended the family reunion on the weekend. When your mother’s family is 13 kids, your father’s is 7 and they all grew up together, only thing that’s for sure is that you don’t know what will happen.

This year was at my mother’s house in Muskoka. It’s unusual to get all the kids, and even more unusual to get all the cousins and the grandkids, but there was a respectable showing (I’m gonna guess around 60).

There was a zip line between 2 trees for the kids – basically a disk on a string and you sit on the disk. Once the first kid tried it, then they were all willing to give it a go. But by about 5pm or so, once the beer coolers had started to reach the half-empty stage, the average age of the zip-liners started to go up. We’re like “Oh wait, was that Uncle G??”

Some water balloons also came into play later in the afternoon, and the fortuitous proximity of the chalet deck to the driveway below (where many were congregated) made for a new game called, “How fast can Uncle B jump?” Then there was a counter-attack with some water hoses from the 20-somethings, which ended in some soggy Aunts and an enforced truce.

My father and I tried to get a fire going but the wood was young and wet, so it devolved into a smoker (to keep away the mosquitos) and/or interesting place to try burning various bits of foliage that we found in the bush.

Speaking of which, walking a Great Dane in the bush? Interesting. Gilbert is usually a pretty sedate guy, but once he was out in the wilderness, he definitely “took the lead”, and at well over 100 pounds, I couldn’t really argue that much. I just kept giggling at the juxtaposition of this honking-sized dog trying to prance daintily over the bushes to get to the next smell.

The party later migrated to my brother’s house where there was a proper fire and more beer, and scotch! My brother had a new set of scotch glasses he was wanting to christen, and I was happy to oblige. We also learned a very useful hex for smoke in your eyes from my cousin’s fiance, named (obviously) the “FU, white rabbit!” hex. It’s a native Canadian tradition of long standing, or so I’m told ;)

In and amongst the catching up and the laughing at dogs and people and chats, I did get to spend some time with my new nephew who’s almost 9 months old now. He’s at that great age when he still likes to cuddle but he’s got enough mischief to keep life interesting.

My family: good value for your entertainment dollars.

Please to walk here

Sunday, June 14th, 2009

It was time for another Dad visit, and the theme this time was “the great outdoors”! Well, at least the big gaping hole in my front yard.

When I had the driveway redone, I had them remove a “sidewalk” between my front walk and the driveway that, for some reason, had been done in asphalt instead of pavers or something. Also, it ran right against the flower bed at a weird angle that went toward the garage instead of out to the driveway where it’s most likely that a visitor would park.

Anyway, since the removal, I’ve had a gaping hole there (about a foot deep) and it was just lucky that Melle or the Sheriff didn’t fall into it during our Scotch & Cigars soiree the other night.  Speaking of which, we had a smashing time with some Montecristos, some Highland Park and some Macallan. Topics ranged from the profane (work) to the sacred (junk food) and off into the wilderness (grilled cheese). Next time there will be Doritos!

Back to the hole. The plan was decided that we would remove the “sod” from a strip closer to the street and on a straight line between the driveway and the front walk, and then put that sod in the hole with some filler to make the green space up to the flower beds. You can tell that my lawn has been around for 60 years or so–the root system is about 6 inches deep.

It was a workout just to get the pieces out, never mind the 4 wheelbarrows of fill we had to shovel and tote to fill in the hole. Then, of course, also the pavers were a bit of a workout (about 80 lbs each).

However, the results are smashing. I have sidewalk, some grass (which I have to water every day for a while), plus no hole.

Job # 48 done.

You made it, old man

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

Jean Luc is 17 today, which means he should be wearing pants around his ass and drinking gin through a straw.

According to sources, that’s 84 in cat years. So maybe he should be wearing pants around his nipples and drinking tuna juice through a straw.

It’s been a tough year for him: there was a round of daily throw-ups, followed by a hospital stay, a change in his insulin, a needle to the jugular, the introduction of heart medication, and a hypoglycemic incident that left him covered in honey and urine (resulting in a bath, which can also be added to his catalogue of horrors). We like to say he’s a bit like Mr Burns–everything’s wrong with him, but somehow it all balances out.

JL in his natural habitat

JL in his natural habitat

He’s so excited about the big day that he’s decided to find a whole new place to take a nap.

Easter walkies

Sunday, April 12th, 2009

Had the family Easter get-together at my mother’s house in the Muskokas. The Easter Bunny left a whole bunch of eggs and a couple of baskets with toys and stuffed monkeys in trees around the property and the whole fam dam had to trudget through up to a foot of snow to retrieve the loot.

My niece and nephew enjoyed the challenge and we were relieved that no wildlife made off with the shiny chocolate before we got to it. The path also led us past the bear den that is within 40 feet of the house – one that was occupied until just a few weeks ago. Wisely, my step-father has removed the suet from the bird feeder on the front porch. Last year he had to throw a lawn chair from the upper deck at an orsine visitor who was enjoying a quick meal by the patio door.

My newest nephew is significantly more engaging at 6 months. I discovered he likes to tango, hates being on his tummy, and thinks that his own stinky feet are the funniest thing evar. He also seems to be sporting some reddish hair–shaping up to be an excellent Scotsman.