Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Nasty Catholic Girls

I got to say something today that I've wanted to say for a while.

Next year, it will be 20 years since I finished high school. My hometown has already invited me to their 20th reunion, but I didn't graduate there. I graduated at the Convent.

Ten years ago, about four of us tried to organize a 10-year reunion, but it didn't work out. A few of our classmates didn't approve of the programme, sent nasty letters that took all the fun out of it, and it all fizzled and died.

Today, I ran into one of those women, and I got to say, "Hey, 20 years next year, can you believe it?!" We chatted a bit, and I said very perkily, "I was just thinking of you the other day. You guys were so mad about what we had planned for the 10-year reunion, that I'd really like to see you guys plan something for 20. Whatever you come up with, I'd be right in there."

It was a very satisfying conversation. We'll see what they come up with.


Monday was my day off, since I work this Saturday coming up. I love the prospect of a day off ahead of me.

My big plan for Monday was to quickly weed the garden, and then move on to other things. Hah.

When Beans and Jim rototilled the whole back yard to lay new turf, they chopped every piece of crabgrass in the ground into 40 tiny pieces and spread them all over. And now all those tiny pieces are sprouting. I weeded the garden for 6 hours (with intermittent breaks where I whined on the phone to my sister about it), and only got it half-done.

I am one of those picky weeders. I figure that if I do it really well once or twice, then I won't have to do it very often after that. This means that I can do about four square feet of garden per hour.

It was self-imposed hell, on the most beautiful day we've had in a while. What a fool am I. And what a crabby fool I was that day.

Of course that part of the garden does look awesome now.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

The Rock Saga

Glacial till surrounds me.

After digging up our street for water main breaks a whopping 10 times last winter, the City has decided that it's time to replace the whole main. I'm happy with whatever inconvenience this causes us, if it means that the street doesn't flood again every week next winter.

They're digging up the street slowly (it's been blocked off now for 3 weeks running), replacing the main and replacing sewer lines to individual properties at the same time. And the nice thing is - besides the big machines on the street for Sprout to admire, and the entertainment that having buff young men in hardhats around provides - that they keep digging up lovely big rocks.

I love rocks. I especially love free rocks that I don't have to haul home in my car. I get this rock-love-thing from Aunt Frieda. It's genetic. My sister has it too.

First, we took the hand-truck out there and hauled a few home to put in the garden and the flower beds. Then they dug a few bigger ones up. That made Beans and me drool at the opportunity, and rub our little hands together. One morning, I was at work and my sister phoned me. I answered the phone, and she basically spit into it, "Pay! Dirt! Gwen! Pay-Dirt!" "Umm, I'm in a meeting, can I call you back?", I say, fascinated at what could possibly reduce her to this neanderthal state of speech.

When I called her back, she told me that she had charmed some of the buff young men into dumping a whack of huge rocks in my front yard with their backhoe. It was pretty thrilling, I must say.

When Jim and I got home from work, reality set in a bit. Faster with him than with me - a Schmidt girl doesn't give up easily when it comes to free rocks. Most of the rocks we could move with the hand-truck, but four of them we really couldn't budge. So now we have four big rocks on our boulevard that we either have to move ingeniously, suck up to the buff young men again, or pay someone to haul away. My cute little sister is gone, so the sucking up will probably not happen. As usual she has connections, though, so we have a line on someone with a hand-truck that can actually handle two hundred pounds or whatever that is out there.

The biggest rock is the most beautiful one of all. It's a smooth pink semi-oval. I keep staring at it from the window, and go and touch its flat surface when I think no one is watching.

Where Sprout Narrowly Escapes Death

I know that sounds like a Charles Dickens serialized chapter title, but it's true. This afternoon, Sprout nearly impaled himself on a super-sharp drill bit in front of our brand new bookcase.

My sister has recently built us a beautiful built-in bookcase, and today Jim was wiring in an outlet at the back of the VCR shelf. I was cooking, and Sprout was supposedly watching the renovations from a safe distance. Even if you think you know your two and a half year old, you can't trust them around things that really get them excited. In our case, power tools. He picked just the right moment to zoom in and push the button on the half-inch drill Jim was holding, and the drill bit was so close to his kidney that it wound itself tightly in his shirt before Jim could turn it off.

Poor Jim. We're on this boy like hawks all the time. You have never seen such attentive parents as us, and somehow he still snuck this one by us. Thank God it turned out all right.

There was a lot of yelling, of course, right then, - from both of us - with the wound up shirt and the big eyes and all. "Sprout!!! You never touch the tools unless Daddy or Mommy says that you can! It's very dangerous!" [Etc, etc, blah blah blah, ad nauseum] It's hard not to yell when you're scared out of your wits. Sprout was scared more by the shouting and carrying on than he was by looking at the big hole in his shirt.

In fact, he was so offended that he wouldn't speak to Jim for a full 15 minutes afterwards. Then he got over it and started to insist on sharing his chili. We are feeling very lucky tonight. And stupid at the same time. Everything as it should be.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Blog Pressure!

My little sister has gone back to Ontario for the school year (boo hoo), and so I feel the pressure to blog cleverly and to blog often for her reading enjoyment.

It was great to have her here staying with us for six weeks. She did a lot of skillful renovations for us, and the conviviality was, of course, fabulous. Now the house seems so empty, but I'm sure we'll pull ourselves together. At least any Ritter Sport chocolate bars that I buy will now last longer in the fridge, without her here...

Friday, August 19, 2005

A Meeting I've Always Wanted to Go To

Have you ever been to a really confused meeting? Have you ever heard a phrase like this: "Are we voting on the resolution, or are we still voting on the amendment to the resolution?" "Can we table that to later in the meeting?" "You don't mean 'table', you mean 'defer' don't you?"

Can you imagine how hilarious it would be to attend the annual general meeting of an association of parliamentarians? I would love to see that. It would be like watching art being made.

"Point of Order, Madame Chair..."

The Ears of the Library Squirrel are Sharp and Perky

Between studying five languages, working on the reference desk for 10 years, and living with a child learning to talk, I have the sharpest ear for language these days.

Last week, a man with a strong accent came to the Desk to ask me "Do you have Ohmarrrruk dictionary?" To my surprise at my astuteness, I immediately answered, "An Amharic dictionary? I think so. Let me check for you."

Likewise, I was in the Children's Department on Saturday, and a small boy ambled up to me and said, "Awhaoooh?" To which I answered, "I'm good, and how are you?"

When the Martians land on Earth some day, perhaps I can get a job as a skilled translator squirrel with the Rodentia Intelligentsia unit of Secret Services.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The Wedding Pavilion

Our anniversary was this week - seven years married. 'Who knew all the things that would happen in seven years,' Jim said, 'babies, home ownership, new deck, wow.'

When we got married, our wedding happened to be on the same weekend as Folkfest, an annual intercultural festival here in Saskatoon. Each venue for Folkfest is called a pavilion, as in the Chinese Pavilion or the Scottish Pavilion. We liked to joke that day that ours was the Wedding Pavilion. Eat, drink, dance, experience Canadian wedding culture.

A silly conceit, but I always think of it on our anniversary.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Good Hair Day

I have great hair today.

My hairdresser is a genius. I get my hair cut about four times a year, mostly because she is such a genius that it takes ages for it to get unwieldy. It will look fabulous for about 6 weeks, and then one day I will think, "I look like a rat-head; time to get my hair cut."

And the next morning? I will wake up and groom, and my hair will take on a new style that again looks fabulous for another six weeks - and so on, etc.

What will I do when she finally retires. Worrisome thought.

Anyway, today I could be one of Charlie's Angels. Heh.

He Woulda Been an Old Fella

I just wrote today's date on an Interlibrary Loan request form, and realized that it would be my dad's birthday today, were he still alive. And he would have been 76 years old. Wow. I never think of him as an old guy, since he died 20-some years ago.

In honour of my dad, these fleeting memories: descendant of Black Sea German peasant stock, the only of his siblings to finish high school, professional lawyer, reader of Louis L'Amour western novels, eater of very rare T-bone steaks, town councillor, goose hunter, philosophy major, collector of woodworking tools that he never got to use in his retirement, a man who only got his dental work done without freezing, and a man who was very intelligent but never tired of a few select crude jokes.

For example, if I may...

"They're off!", said the monkey, as he backed into the lawnmower.

Come on, he was from Lead.r, after all. What can you expect. Happy Birthday, Dad.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

The Renos Continue

Not only are our fence and deck nearly finished, my sister has also led the charge to rip out all the lumpy crabgrass with a sod-cutter, rototill the back yard flat, stomp it and level it, design the new landscape, and finally lay new turf.

It's bee-yoo-tee-ful. And Jim and my sister are both nearly worn out with exhaustion. I am either working or babysitting when all this goes on, so I'm still relatively perky. I was around, though, for the day when we had to rent a truck to haul away the ton of dirt and old turf. Nothing like a visit to the landfill on your holiday.

Anyway, the back yard will only need a bit of painting and some gardening next year, and it will be done. Auntie Bean (my sister) is now trying to talk us into getting a 'Big Mama' Cherry Tree for the garden, which seems to be a hardy ornamental with big, tasty fruit. (I think Auntie Bean needs to go home before she maxes out our Visa cards any further.)

Holy Mortification

Okay, so the other night I went to church without my glasses on (I can function without my glasses, but everything loses sharpness of detail). Most of the time I can fake it very well, and recognize the people that I know.

This was all fine until I went up for communion and tried to drink from the cup. My fuzzy glance into the chalice told me that there was barely any consecrated wine left, so I tipped it back. Of course, my eyes were lying to me and suddenly I had Jesus running down my face, dripping down the front of my shirt, and pooling in my shoe. I stared at the communion giver, and she stared at me. I hurried back to my pew and tried to be invisible.

From birth, little Catholics are taught to be extremely careful when taking communion. To drop the host is very disrespectful. Because of course it is Jesus.

And there he was, in my Birkenstock. Ah, the mortification.