Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Oh Canada - Part One

Early last summer I had two friends visit from New Zealand.  We planned a bit of a road trip from my place in Massachusetts up to Nova Scotia in Canada.  This would be the longest (and only) time I’ve been away from my family ever and I was seriously excited.  Giddy even. 

There were plans afoot for a heatwave at home so I was hopeful that Canada would get that memo and turn it on for us too.  That didn’t quite work out but I packed as if it would anyway. 

It was quite exciting to go across an international border in my car, we don't typically do that in New Zealand since we are a series of islands.  The Canadian border control guy had no trouble welcoming us to his fine land and we forged ahead into the great unknown. 

We were headed for Halifax, Nova Scotia as this was the place that one of my friends had spent a year as an exchange student back in high school.  We were going to check out her old haunts and visit her host family. 

We arrived to our first night’s accommodation somewhat late.  No one had informed us that there is actually a time difference of an hour from one side of the border to the other.  This left us searching for dinner somewhere close to 11 pm.  We found a restaurant (recommended by our friendly inn keeper since his wife owned it) and settled in.  Not that our stay there would be long, they were almost ready to close up.  The waitress apologized (Canadians are good at that) and then I, for one, delighted in saying thank you over and over again just to hear her say “you’re very welcome” over and over again.  She was so polite she said the whole thing every single time. 

We ate very quickly and made our way back to our rooms.  It was a spliced up old house, perfectly comfortable.  It comprised of a bedroom with two single beds and then a hallway leading to a kitchen with bathroom attached.  In the kitchen there was a small dining table and a double bed where I slept.  It was quite convenient.  If I had wished, I could have cooked breakfast without having to get out of bed.  I didn’t, but I can mark off 'sleeping in a kitchen' from my list of interesting things I have done. 

We continued on our way the next day and enjoyed the scenery immensely, the coffee not so much.  Oh well, Canada can’t have everything.  I have to say, in the 5 or so days of driving around an admittedly small piece of Canada I think I may have seen one police officer on the road but only from the corner of my eye.  It’s probably a good thing because being so close to the top of the world does tend to make the car go faster. 

When we got to Halifax we actually stayed in the dorm rooms of a local university.  We each had our own room and shared a bathroom.  There was a kitchen too but we were far too fancy to cook.  It was really rather nice and extremely affordable.  We even had a mouse.  There was an ultimate frisbee tournament or practice or something going on down below which was entertaining, as well as the soccer team practicing and a runner getting his starts right.  That was a little annoying because he didn’t keep going around the track although it was a little bit entertaining when he almost got hit by the soccer ball.  It turns out he wasn't very good at kicking the ball.

We drove to some coastal towns and they were truly delightful.  At one such town we stopped and went walking.  At this point it was getting rather chilly and since I had packed my bags with hope in my heart that Canada would turn on the sun I was experiencing some regret.  We found a little shop that sold all kinds of souvenirs including clothes.  I picked out some gifts for the family and also a jersey for myself.  As I was paying, the owners of the shop were making small talk.  They wanted to know where we came from and what brought us to their lovely little village.  We explained that we were all from New Zealand but that I lived in Massachusetts.  The conversation went like this:

“Why do you live in America?”
“Well, I married an American you see”
“Oh, I’m sooooory” (husband and wife in unison and in tones of deepest sympathy)
“I do quite like him you know”

Of course I was, at that moment, buying him a t shirt that has a picture of a man all alone in a boat with the words ‘if a man speaks at sea where no woman can hear, is he still wrong?’

On another day we went in search of a lighthouse.  There were a lot of them but we wanted to see this one beach that had sea caves.  We arrived when the tide was out and they were pretty amazing.  Completely empty caverns that you could walk right inside of.  We didn’t because there was still a pretty sizable stream to ford before getting to them but we did walk out on the beach and get pretty close.  When they fill up with water you can apparently go kayaking into them. 

There was a restaurant right there on the beach and I got my first proper fish and chips in such a long time.  It was glorious.  As we sat we watched the tide come in and start to fill up the caves.  There were a lot of people there but we still made note of one family that were sitting close to us.  I don’t know why we noticed them but we did. 

We drove a little bit further up the road over some covered bridges before looking for a place to turn around.  Now in America (and I assume in Canada) people don’t take too kindly to you pulling up their driveways in order to turn your car around.  In New Zealand this is perfectly acceptable.  We had driven far enough and I decided to turn New Zealand and plead ignorance if it became a problem, we were in a pretty rural area so we figured it would go unnoticed anyway.  We nosed into a driveway and executed a very quick and painless turn.  As I reversed we all noticed an absolutely giant New Zealand flag attached to a flag pole in the front of this house.  We were astounded.  This is not a sight you generally see (unless you come to my house).  We looked at the letter box and noticed that the house belonged to Wayne Jackson.  Actually quite a New Zealand sounding name.  We committed it to memory and carried on.

After we got onto the road to the lighthouse we had been searching for we wound around for quite some time.  Finally we arrived.  There was a small walk down to the actual lighthouse itself.  We started down the path which opened out to a beautiful ocean view but a fairly average looking lighthouse, to be honest.  We took pictures, as you do, and set off back up the trail.  It was there that we encountered the family we had all noticed back at the restaurant.  Since this was now our second meeting and figuring that they were probably tourists like us we decided to strike up conversation.  It went something like this.

“Oh, hi.  We meet again.”
“Yes, ha ha, we must be following you.  Where are you all from?”
“We’re from New Zealand, just on a visit, and you?”
“Oh, we’re locals, just out for a drive.”
“Do you know Wayne Jackson?”
“How do you know Wayne?” (a little suspicion creeping into the voice)
“We don’t.”
“Oh?”
“We were just at his house and he has a giant New Zealand flag outside. We thought he must be from New Zealand.”
“Oh, no.  He’s from here, my husband was the best man at his wedding.  His daughter married a guy from New Zealand.  Nice man.  What were you doing at his house?”
“Oh, just turning around in his driveway.”

No doubt Wayne and his family now have a similar story they tell about three strange Kiwi girls on a path to a lighthouse.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Conversations From The Backseat

I spend a lot of time driving from place to place as the mother of four active offspring.  My car is not usually a quiet place but it can certainly be entertaining.  Here are some completely unedited excerpts of conversations I have either had or overheard while driving. I really hope you don't have a mouth full of liquid as you read this.  If you do choose to drink and read I can assume no responsibility for what may happen.


Hey, Mummy and Daddy, this is how you shake it.  

What is it?

A pen.
______________ 

Hey mama, its actually not illegal to own a flamethrower.
______________ 

Mummy, Kaitlyn is putting on too much Paris Armour and its clashing with my Pink Chiffon and when it does that it makes me smell like a BBQ. 
______________ 

Mama, you need to make me one of those dentist appointments really quick.  

Why? 

Because I lost my tooth and now there’s a gap and I want to show the dentist.  I think she’ll be really happy about it.
______________ 

Mama, does thumb rhyme?

With what?

Yes.

Do you want to know what thumb rhymes with?

Yes.

It rhymes with anything that ends with ‘um’.

Oh, it rhymes with gum then right?

Yes. (secretly happy she didn’t hit upon any of the inappropriate ‘um’ words)

Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way, oh what thumb it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh.

Huh?
______________ 

You are scaring the animals.

Those are not amimals.

Yes they are.

No, they cats.
______________ 

Mama, how to dogs marry cats?

They don’t.

Then how do they get to be a mother?
______________ 

Mama, why didn’t you born me first?
______________ 

How was your day at school? 

Good.  I made a new friend.

What is their name?

I don’t remember.  It was a girl though so it wasn’t Steven.
______________  

What meat are we eating tonight mummy?  Is it sheep?

No, its cow.

What would it taste like if you ate human meat?  Can you eat human meat?

No, you cannot

Why?  Does it not taste good?  Would it make you sick?

No, its not allowed

Why can’t you eat your own human meat?  Would it make you die?  What would happen?

You would go to jail
______________ 

Mummy, this boy on the bus he had real life glasses that he could see my insides with.  He really did, he saw my insides and he said I’m actually an owl on the inside.  I know its true because at night I am an owl.  I don’t actually sleep, I just pretend and actually I’m flying around because I’m nocturnal.
______________ 

Mama, why do mandarins have orange juice in them?
______________ 

The driver on the bus says “go home now, go home now”.
______________ 

We need a disco ball in here.
______________ 

Is this the August of this year?

Yes.

Is it the August that starts with an A?

Yes.

Oh, I thought it was the August that starts with an O
______________  

Isabel was trying to reach her drink while strapped into her car seat but she couldn’t and was asking Emily for help.  Emily says “use the force Isabel”.
______________ 
  
Daddy, I would never kill the dog.
______________ 

I was carving my rocks that I found at Papa’s and one of them had a light coming out of it and it scared me so I don’t want to carve them anymore.

Did you find a piece of flint?

I think so.
______________  

My music teacher can play the recorder with his nose.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Letting It Go

The week had been a busy one.  The kids had school holidays although we did keep Emily going through the break so she could take some time off later in the semester (the beauty of online school).

As expected, the kids were full of energy so we did a few outings which I felt sure would exhaust them to the point where they would sleep for several days.  Apparently that only works for adults and the kids just keep up the non stop carnage momentum while the adult takes a well deserved nap.  This is a very dangerous phenomenon.

In an effort to pull the house back from the brink of self implosion we instituted a working bee on the Friday morning.  The kids each got a “zone” to bring order to and I started working on the kitchen.  Their zones were all at the floor level since my aged back doesn’t like bending anymore. 

When I clean in the mornings I tend to prefer doing it before I shower and get dressed because it seems wrong to get all cleaned up and then have to put my hands down a toilet.  So that morning I was doing dishes, vacuuming and scrubbing things while wearing my nightgown.  The nightgown was not particularly exciting but it was rather short.  If anyone had happened to peer through my windows that day they may have become blinded, especially if I happened to be bending over at the time. 

Anyway, things were going well as far as the cleaning.  The zones were working extremely well and the threats of pleasures withheld were working like a charm to keep the kids on task.

At some point during the frenzy I was overtaken with a desire to use the bathroom.  On my way there I discovered that the door into the garage was standing open.  Not only that, the garage door to the outside was also open.  I didn’t have the pelvic floor strength to be able to investigate immediately but I did yell out to whoever happened to be listening inquiring where the dog was.  This was followed by a quick search for the dog who was found to be taking a nap under the footstool.  At that time Emily asked “where is Isabel?”

I ran to the front room and looked out the window at which time we discovered exactly where she was.  She had indeed escaped the cleaning frenzy and was at that time enjoying a meetup on the cul de sac island with her neighborhood friend and the friend’s babysitter.  I would have no problem with her playing with her friend, no problem with her playing on the island (we all meet there regularly and let the kids play), my problem at that moment (apart from her leaving the house on her own) was that she was at that time dressed in only a pullup and a Doc McStuffins dressup coat.  No shoes, no shirt, nothing.  She had previously been dressed but at some point during our cleanup she had decided that clothes were not for her and had stripped off. 

My other problem was that I was in no state to stride out there and retrieve her.  I asked Emily to go and get her but after several minutes it was clear that she had also fallen into the trap of the great outdoors and seemed to have no intentions of returning inside.  At that point I attempted to find a section of my front door that would somewhat cover my scantily clad body and cracked the door open just a fraction so I could call out to Emily to get back inside.  I eventually achieved my end, I’m not sure if the babysitter saw more of me than she ever hoped to but I am certain I amused her nonetheless. 

After a reprimand and a sending to her room we continued in our pursuit of cleanliness.  It wasn’t until later when I was satisfied that the state of the house had moved from “send the pictures to the hoarders tv show” to “we almost did it” that I went upstairs to take a shower and get dressed. 

As I walked passed the laundry room in my newly cleansed and dressed body I decided to switch the washing and tell myself what an outstanding housewife I was.  I opened the lid of the washing machine and was met with the sight of about 12 cups of powdered laundry detergent generously sprinkled on top of a load of previously clean clothes. 

Isabel was chatting and singing to herself and her toys in her room and raised her head just long enough to grin at me as I stood there in shock before she turned back, singing “wet it gooooo, wet it gooooo, can’t hold it back anymooooooore.  Wet it gooooo, wet it goooo, turn away and slam that doooooooor”.