Traditiiiiiiooooon! TRADITION!


(so this title only works if you’ve seen Fiddler on the Roof.  If you haven’t, please stop reading, go watch it, then come back.  Ok I kid… don’t leave, but at the same time, it’s great.)

Alright, so WordPress’s Daily Prompt today is to talk about traditions, and with March Break so close I can taste the freedom, I thought I’d talk about my March Break traditions.

I don’t have tons that are set in stone, but I couldn’t come up with anything else to say tonight rather than to talk about the excitement that will befall me around 3 pm tomorrow.

Every March Break, though, I go do something.  What it is that gets done is never set in stone.  A couple years I’ve gone on vacation, one year I just went to my parents’.  Last year I went to Savannah, Georgia with my Mom.  The year before that I think we went to Niagara Falls — it was the year that March Break was like super hot.  It was fantastic.

This year, however, I’m decorating my kitchen, living room, and mud room.  It’s a huge undertaking.  Lots of paint, new counter tops, some new furniture… epic.  I can’t wait to do before and after pictures!

For now, you can see my colour palette.

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Why I Don’t Toboggan ~ Weekly Writing Challenge


Every time I go tobogganing (I think this term paints a gigantic maple leaf on my forehead, haha {check out some Canadianisms here… I found them entertaining}), I get completely wrecked.  Legit.  I can’t remember the last time I went tobogganing where I wasn’t completely destroyed when I was finished.

Oh that isn’t true… I went down the hill at Camp twice in February… once with the dog on my lap, haha… sadly there are no pictures of this.  It was epic, though.  We were ‘breaking the trail,’ so to speak.

At Camp (aka my second home) is where I’ve done most of my life’s tobogganing.  I can think of two very memorable experiences, one of which I was reminded of by these pictures for this week’s Weekly Writing Challenge — Threes… by WordPress.

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Photo Credit (all three pics):  Driveway Sledding by Jessie at Behind The Willows

The first incident I’ll tell you about was in high school (actually, I think they both were…).  This particular winter, it had been cold enough that the lake was frozen solid, and we were therefore able to sled down from the chapel at the top of the hill, and ramp off of the dock platform onto the sheet of ice that was the lake.  Of course, it was covered in a rather deep blanket of fluffy snow, so the landing wasn’t supposed to be jarring.

However — right to the right of the dock platform are these sharp, pointy, very hard rocks.  You see, that day… it was about -40 degrees.  Celsius or Fahrenheit, you ask?  Doesn’t matter.  They’re the same at -40.  So when I sat down on my crazy carpet (… aptly named, no?), I breathed into my scarf, which was protecting my face, and my friend pushed me down the hill.  My breath instantly fogged up my glasses, which at -40 froze instantaneously.  I couldn’t see where I was going at all, and I ended up going backwards.

You can probably see where this is going.  There’s been foreshadowing.  I didn’t ramp off of the dock platform as I was supposed to.  I crashed into the rocks to the right of the dock…. with my tailbone.  It HURT!  I laid on the frozen lake, probably motionless, because from the deck overlooking the lake (which is no longer there), my Dad yelled “if you can move, get UP!!!”  At the time, it seemed pretty mean, but now when I look back as an adult, I know that if it happened to any of my students, I’d be concerned first with whether or not they were paralyzed, and THEN I’d be concerned with how much it hurt.  I sat up, gave a solid two thumbs up, and dragged my very sore body back into the main building.  You know you’re gonna hurt when it hurts instantly.  This was Friday evening of an entire weekend away.  I did not go back outside the rest of the weekend.

The second incident was far less scary.  You see, in years where the lake hasn’t been adequately frozen for it to be safe to toboggan onto, we toboggan from the driveway.  In Grade 12, I had some crazy long hair (well, about as long as it is now, haha… just fewer gray ones…).  I had it braided into pig tails to go tobogganing so that it would fit under my tuque.  I was there with a bunch of friends from my youth group, and all of us decided to try this brilliant plan.  Let me tell you, nothing good ever comes from “hey, I got an idea!” when it’s coming from a few 16 year old guys.

We piled onto the inner tube of a transport truck.  Four guys on the bottom.  Four girls in row two (I was one of them), four more girls on top of us (they were probably grade 6-8), and four little kids on the top row.  It took three grown men to push us to give us enough momentum to get started down the hill.  I was on the outside of my row.  Well…. remember those crazy long pig tails I told you about?  One of them went under the inner tube while we were going down the hill, and literally pulled me out of the pile of people… three rows down, sandwiched on the boys, and under literal piles of girls, I got yanked out by a pig tail.  Everyone else got to the bottom and wanted to know why I bailed.  With tears in my eyes, I told them that probably a bun would have been a better option.

Long story short:  I prefer to play it safe when it comes to tobogganing.  Golf courses, previously unbroken trails, etc… those are safe.  Those kids in Jessie’s pictures look like they had a wonderful time tobogganing down their driveway, but I don’t toboggan down the driveway any more.

My Writing ‘Voice’


It’s funny, that as I sit here watching The Voice… I’m being asked to write about my writing voice.  Many of you … most of you … have never heard me speak, before.  If you have, though, you know that I write how I speak.

My writer’s voice is not dissimilar to my speaking voice.  Granted, when I write, I tend to throw in a slightly more flowery vocabulary, probably because I have the time to think through what I’m writing and while I do type with great speed, I speak much more quickly.

That said, I’ve had many people comment that after the first time they’ve read something I’ve written, it’s very easy for them to hear me reading it in their heads while they read the pages themselves.  This strikes me kind of like all those memes where something random is written but it’s pasted on a picture of, like, Morgan Freeman… and I don’t know about you, but when I see words written on a picture of the likes of Morgan Freeman, or James Earl Jones… I can’t help but hear them reading it in my head.

Granted, there are tools that help me accomplish this.  I am a huge, huge fan of two major punctuation marks.  The ellipse ….. and the comma.  They accomplish for me the pauses and effects that I use in every day speech.  The ellipse especially, if you’ve been reading my stuff for any length of time, you’ll know I use frequently.

I love my writer’s voice.  That’s probably best since it’s so similar to my every day speaking voice.  The only (small) issue is that given how similar my writing and speaking voices are, I find that when I try to write in a voice other than my own, it’s so deeply engrained that it’s very difficult.  It tends to be why (I feel, anyway) I excel in my own ramblings, and less in fiction.  I struggle to separate myself from individual characters when I try to write fiction.

And there you have it, there’s my writing voice!

This post was written for BlogHer’s NaBloPoMo, which, for the month of March, is focused on ‘self.’

5 Things About Me


This feels a lot like those American Idol “5 Things About You in 20 Seconds” dealies.  So… here it goes.

Five Things About Me:

  1. I love music.
  2. I believe in the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
  3. I want to write a book.
  4. I speak, read, and write French fluently — and want to add to my language arsenal.
  5. I am addicted to hash tagging and selfies.  #legit.

Keep tuning in in March through BlogHer’s March NaBloPoMo, and you can learn lots more about me!

Also — this took far longer than Idol’s 5 in 20.  I’d have been buzzed out with a giant x for sure!

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Sweet Dreams: Daily Prompt


I am legit falling asleep right now.  So how fitting that today’s WordPress prompt and that one of this week’s writing prompts from Mama Kat are both about dreaming.

We’ve been asked to describe the best and most vivid dream we’ve ever had (which I’ll have to link up tomorrow — until then, check out Mama Kat’s blog).

I have two dreams to share — I don’t know if I’d call either of them the best, but they’re certainly the most vivid… the kind of dream where you sit up in bed after you wake up and wonder if that actually happened or not.

I don’t put much stock in dream theory or whatever it’s called — the analysis of dreams to inform you what they really mean for your life…. but one comes up meaning big change or stress, and the other comes up suggesting that I’m suppressing creativity that wants out….. Maybe I need to get on writing that book?

1.  I’ve woken up more than once after a dream where I found out I was pregnant and was faced with the daunting task of telling everyone I know that I’m a hypocrite.  You see, some of you may already know this about me, but it’s not currently possible for me to become pregnant.  Every time this happens, I don’t know who the Father is, and I have to explain to not only my parents, but to everyone around me, how I got pregnant out of marriage, how this happened, and what exactly I’m going to do.  One pregnancy dream lasted long enough that I had the baby, and was raising it on my own.  I had friends over to meet my baby girl, and a friend sat on my baby on the bed.  I woke up in a sheer panic — “where’s my baby!?  Is she ok!?  Wait…. I’m not pregnant.  I don’t have a baby.  I don’t even have a boyfriend.  Time to go back to sleep.”

They are the strangest dreams.  The pregnancy dream is the one that apparently means you’re suppressing creativity.

The other dream I’ve had that is super vivid… is where all my teeth fall out.  haha it even sounds ridiculous to say it.  Apparently it points to anxiety and stress.  I’ve had this dream more than once.  The most vivid time I’ve had this dream went like this…

It was the first day of school (I had the dream at the end of summer), and I had spent a bunch of time prepping and lesson planning — ready to wow those kids with how awesome a teacher I was going to be (I switched schools and positions in September of this year).  I’ll admit that I was quite nervous about the switch, even when awake.  I was switching from teaching Grade 4-8, and teaching them French… to Kindergarten, Grade 1, and Grade 2… Science, Social Studies, and Gym.  Nothing would be the same as the year before.  As I stood (in the dream) in front of my first Grade 1 Science class, I sneezed.  When I sneezed, every single tooth in my mouth fell out into my hand.  I remember very clearly looking down in my hands at every tooth from my mouth.  I tried to introduce myself to my new kiddos, and all I could do was gum at things.  I woke up and for hours….. not kidding… HOURS…. I ran my tongue across my teeth to make sure they were all still there.  I don’t consider myself to be an overly vain person, but I can’t lie, the idea of having no teeth is not an enticing one.

So there you have it — apart from a hallucination when I was a kid that I only vaguely remember (My fever was high.  My Dad and best friend chased me around a circuit board armed with pillow cases full of rocks, swords, and banana cream pies.  I woke up screaming…..), those are my two most vivid dreams — being pregnant with no explanation, and losing all my teeth right when I have to do something important.

I just really hope they don’t both happen at the same time.  That’d be wretched.

You kick it into 4-wheel drive, and you go… til you hear the banjo.


Have you ever played in a band? Tell us all about that experience of making music with friends. If you’ve never been in a band, imagine you’re forming a band with some good friends. What instrument do you play in the band and why? What sort of music will you play?

Thanks WordPress, I haven’t wanted to write for a few days… this I’ll write on though, for sure!

I have played in a band — worship band, at Camp.  There’s nothing like it.  

Two weekends ago, I played violin in a worship band at Camp for our Sunday morning service.  I’d never played in front of people before.  Not more than a few, anyway… and not for anything more significant than a talent show.

I’ve sang for years and years.  I played piano for several years as well, until I finally acknowledged that it’s not my favourite thing, and that while I value the skills I have now because of how long I played (read:  I don’t have to learn theory while I learn to play the violin, I did it as a kid…), I don’t really want to play much.

My ideal band has an acoustic guitar, a banjo, a mandolin, rockin drums (portable ones, because, well, you’ll see…), and you guessed it… me on the fiddle.  We’ll have an amazing vocalist (because sadly, I haven’t figured out how to fiddle and sing at the same time yet…), and we will just have fun.  We will play and sing, we will rock out and jam.  The drums should be portable, like a jambe or a cajon, because this will all take place on some hot summer night around a camp fire.

Picture:  what I’d like the theme song of my life to be right now…

My idea of perfection right now is the end of a country road …. I kinda have country fever.  It’s what happens when you put a country kid in the city for 6 years I imagine.  Anyway… I won’t entertain that thought too seriously right now, since I’m city-bound for the time being… but there it is 😀

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Happy Flipping Valentine’s Day


**That title is very much the PG version of what I wanted to call this post… I decided to behave :p**

This year, I’d determined that I was not going to let Valentine’s Day get me down.  I was doing really, really well with that actually until about 1 pm.  I got slammed with a cold.  I was teaching Grade 2 Drama and my head plugged up, I couldn’t finish sentences without sneezing, and the kids were all like “you sound funny!”

I know, right?  Funnier than usual, of course 😉

I’m supposed to be headed away for the weekend, since in Ontario it’s Family Day weekend and it’s a long weekend.  Wooo!  No school on Monday!  I’m picking my brother and his fiancée up on my way, and it’s supposed to be fun.  I was supposed to go away two weekends ago as well, to see a bunch of my Camp peeps… and I got sick then, too.

You see, this is the curse of working with children who don’t blow their noses, who sneeze directly onto my arm without covering my mouth, and who insist on hugging me all. the. time whilst snot drips from their noses.  And you’d think that by Kindergarten, Grade 1, and Grade 2… they’d have figured out that these things are not ok.  Well… some of them haven’t.  They share their germs quite freely.  I’ve been sick off and on since November…. more on… but I digress.

I was having a really good Valentine’s Day until I got sick, and then came home and opened Facebook.  I should have known better than to open Facebook when I was already feeling icky, but Facebook did me in.  When I opened it up, I found that….

  • Several of my friends received beautiful bouquets of roses today
  • Several of my friends are going out for lovely dinners this evening
  • Some of my friends are going out with their friends to celebrate their singleness together (which I’d totally be doing if not for the snot coming out of my own nose… bahaha)
  • Many of my friends are chilling with their kids
  • Every blog I follow has posted about Valentine’s Day… all week.
  • A friend’s Dad drove all the way out to her home to deliver her flowers, a Starbucks card, and a card just for her.  My heart melted.
  • One friend has posted honeymoon pictures

Now, this side of a spoonful of Buckley’s, I have a bit of a better perspective.

I love my God, my friends, my family, my job, my students, my house, pretty much my life… I don’t need to be upset because I lack any of the things in that point form list on Valentine’s Day for a couple of reasons.

  1. It’s one day a year, and it’s highly over-commercialized …. therefore its sole purpose isn’t for love, it’s for money.
  2. I was completely content with everything in my life … um… yesterday.  So this is silly.
  3. I am genuinely happy that all of the people in my life have things that they can look at and be truly thankful for.  We’re all blessed.

So instead of burying myself under my blankets and crying or moping about the things I don’t have, I choose to be thankful for the many, MANY things I DO have.  I think that I will go to the store, and I will buy some conditioner (I’m almost out, and I’m going away all weekend.  Bad news bears.), and then I will hit the Tim Horton’s Drive Thru for some soup.  What else would any good Canadian girl do when she’s not feeling well?  If it can’t be cured by Timmy’s Chicken Noodle and some Buckley’s, you might as well buy a gravestone.

This post was brought to you by Buckley’s — the giver of perspective (because it’s the clearer of heads).  Also brought to you with indirect support from Tim Horton’s and WordPress.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Selfie


Apparently selfies are starting to be displayed in art galleries and art shows… so…. wanna add my best selfie to the shows?

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However, normally my selfies look like this:  (this set was all the result of the brilliant decision to spend 18 hours in a car driving to Georgia last March Break.)

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My Key Ingredient


What’s the one item in your kitchen you can’t possibly cook without? A spice, your grandma’s measuring cup, instant ramen — what’s your magic ingredient, and why?

I’m not a cook.  There is no stretch that could make that true.  Cooking is not my forté.  I’m not bad at it.  When I put my mind to it, I do fairly well.  I am capable of cooking yummy things…. I just don’t enjoy it.  At all.  Star Trek style Replicators can’t come fast enough.

“Computer – Chicken Parmesan, please.”  Amazing.

But since I can’t do that yet… (someone work on that, please?) I will share my little secret.

When I must cook, I love love love to use Club House’s Smouldering Smoked Applewood spice.  I have several Club House spices that I absolutely love to use — Spicy Pepper Medley, Vegetable, Montreal Steak, Blazin Pepper Bourbon, Montreal Chicken, Chipotle Mango, and Citrus Blast.

Now, unfortunately, Smouldering Smoked Applewood was a limited edition released spice… and I don’t really understand creating a ‘limited edition’ spice… don’t get me started… but because it’s a ‘limited edition,’ I tend to use it more conservatively than I do something else like the Spicy Pepper Medley.  When that runs out, I can just go replace it.

That’s it — that’s why my Pulled Pork tastes so amazing.  That’s why my Pork Chops are fantastic.  That’s why my chicken is delightful.

And I can’t believe I just wrote an entire post about spices.

Contemplating Mavericks ~ 1000 Words


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Sometimes I like to contemplate.  I like to just think.  WordPress’s Weekly Writing Challenge this week was to take one of the four pictures supplied, and write whatever we wanted.

So here it goes!  Yet another work of pure fiction.  These are starting to grow on me, actually…

Jack sat in a deep squat looking over the water.  He thought about how lucky he was to be alive, how lucky he was to even be able to sit the way he was sitting.  27 months ago, doctors told him he’d likely never walk again, never mind surf.  He’d been an avid surfer.  He’d enjoyed hitting the water hours before work, and had always felt that an intense evening surf in the day’s biggest swells was the best way to clear his head after too many house showings, client meetings, conference calls, and bottom line negotiations.  He loved working in real estate, but it couldn’t hold a candle to what he felt like the second he pulled the zipper on his wetsuit all the way up to the back of his neck.

He knew winter time in the Pacific was a dangerous time to surf, but he seemed to be drawn to the danger.  The swells were huge from the winter storms out at sea, and everyone who cared about him warned him against it.  Suicide, they called it.  He’d been surfing for fifteen years, and even though no one understood it, he was training for Mavericks and to get an invitation for that, he had to make sure he could handle the Pacific’s winter waves.

When he’d put his board in the water on December 24th, 2011, he felt exhilarated and nervous at the same time.  Surf conditions were warned to be fairly dangerous that evening, but Jack wanted to try it.  He zipped up his wetsuit, put his board in the water, and paddled out.  The sun was beginning to set in the late December mid-afternoon.  The cold water of the Pacific rushed over his wetsuit as he paddled against the current.

He rode a few fairly substantial waves, the whole time thinking about how angry his family would be that he’d bailed on Christmas once again.  They didn’t understand his obsession with surfing.  They didn’t understand how cathartic it was to ride a wave until it crested, then coast in toward the shore.

Christmas Eve 2011 had been different, though.  He’d been out four times and was headed for a fifth.  When he found the right spot in the wave and got in position to stand up, something didn’t feel quite right.  It was too late, though.  As he stood up, he wobbled.  He lost his balance and he wiped out.  He plunged into the chilly water, scrambling for the tether to his board to try to find the surface.  With the sun setting, it became very difficult to figure out which direction the surface was, and the waves just kept pounding.  He hit the sea bed with all the force of the swells above him, and felt a sharp, pointed rock pound into his lower back.  The pain was blinding.

He must have lost consciousness because when he woke up next, he was lying in a hospital room with doctors surrounding him.  There was talk of surgery, mention of paralysis, and a sober-faced doctor who looked him right in the eye and told him he might walk again, but he’d likely never surf another wave as long as he lived…. though living was something he was lucky he was still doing.

It had been a long, grueling 27 months of Physiotherapy and pushing through pain limits he never knew he could push through…. but Jack had done it.  He was given a clean bill of health by his physiotherapist and his doctor.  They both agreed that given the physical fitness he had managed to get himself back into, they saw no reason that he couldn’t try surfing again, though they recommended much tamer waves, and strongly cautioned that Mavericks should be taken off of Jack’s table indefinitely.

So there he sat, contemplating.  He thought about the risks.  He thought about the rewards.  He’d taken up running, but it didn’t offer the same release that surfing did.  He pondered — could he find something as therapeutic as cresting a wave with nothing between his feet and the ocean but a perfectly sculpted piece of fiberglass?  He looked out over the ocean and contemplated.  Was it worth it?  He was scared, and his fear could mean his death.  He remembered the pain of a rock in his tailbone.  He remembered the panic that came from not being able to find the surface of the water.  He remembered the feeling that his lungs might explode because they couldn’t get oxygen.

He stretched out on the rock’s surface and let the sun warm his chest and face.  It was February, after all, so while it wasn’t cold by any means on the California coast, it certainly wasn’t hot.  The hoodie he’d chosen that morning wasn’t quite enough to brace the wind until he got right down flat on the rock.

He stared into the clouds.  Maybe he’d take up hang gliding……

 

 

 

Disclaimer:  Please note that I know little to absolutely nothing about surfing.  I’ve been thinking about it a little bit the last few days, because I just updated my Mac OSX to Mavericks, and it reminded me of the Gerard Butler surfing movie, Chasing Mavericks… (which was fantastic, by the way).  This picture reminded me of that.  Any information I didn’t know (pretty much all of it) I got from Wikipedia’s pages on surfing and Mavericks… haha so if I’m wrong on the details, please don’t pick it apart.  This is what came to mind when I saw the picture.

 

The End.