Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Tales from Small-Town Saskatchewan: The Tiger Swimsuit

I was a very odd teenager, in many ways.

I was a super shy girl with strange tastes in everything. When everyone else was listening to pop music in grade nine, I was borrowing LPs from the Library of Tchaikovsky's 'War of 1812' and anything by the Beach Boys. I would spend hours braiding my hair to try to look like a Maybelline mascara ad from a magazine. I loved Saturday morning black and white movies. I had my own twisted fashion sense, which tended to yellow polka-dotted miniskirts with purple sweatshirts decorated with rainbows.

So anyway, the summer I was in grade nine, I bought a bathing suit at the tres chic 'Betty Lou Boutique' in my hometown of Lead.r. The suit was a black one-piece, decorated with leafy palm fronds and a tiger peeking out of the foliage from under one of my ribs.

I thought it was fantastic.

I thought I looked like film noir, or at least like one of Charlie's Angels. Off I went to the pool, as fast as possible.

It was a hot, still day, with a cloudless blue sky. The pool was full of young people. I was only in the water for five minutes, feeling chic and fabulous, when a boy popped up in the water just in front of me. I don't remember his name, but this was one of those bad boys who makes dirty jokes and goofs around, who you'd never ever date, who was a whole year younger than you, but who made your grade nine hormones secretly go 'sproing'.

"Nice pussy," he said, with a smirk.

I knew he was talking about the tiger on my swimsuit, but it was mortifying. The world spun. Film noir went down the toilet in seconds. I suddenly loathed my new suit, but I knew I was doomed to wear it until it wore out - or at least until the end of the summer.

I spent the summer running from the safety of my beach towel to the safety of the water. Oh, those Lead.r boys.

My Son is Three

Sprout turned three last week, and it was fabulous. I took a holiday, and we all went to the indoor mini-golf course at Market Mall for some fun and frolic. Jim and I often work opposite evenings and opposite weekends in order to cover childcare, so there's a lot of single parenting that happens. Having a whole day off with all of us together is really great.

And now that Sprout's three, he seems to be in accelerated learning mode. This morning he put on his own socks for the second day in a row. It was awesome.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Grr, Short People

Picture this.

5:30 a.m., this morning. Sprout sits up in bed and says to me, "Mommy, I'm done sleeping. Is it mowning?" Me: [immediately realizing and alarmed that he's speaking in full sentences, which means he really is SO AWAKE], "No, it's the middle of the night. Go back to sleep."

He really did try to go back to sleep a few times in the next 1.5 hours, and was even asleep for 2-3 minutes at a time on a few occasions. But I sure wasn't.

At 6:45 a.m., he wanted me to turn the light on in the living room, so he could go out there and play. I had long since given up on "Lay down and go to sleep!", and turned the light on, hoping he'd play Lego or puzzles out there and leave me alone. Jim got up a moment after I got back into bed, and noted that Sprout had gone to the living room, laid down on the floor, and GONE TO SLEEP. Grr.

When he got cold enough, Sprout came back to bed and immediately fell into the deep sleep of the innocent until 9:00 a.m. - with his little pajama-clad bum sticking up in the air. So cute, but... grr.

And me? I'm at work now, but I was so wasted from the night-time shenanigans when I first woke up that I actually felt hungover until I had a lot of coffee.

I love my kid. I love my kid. I love my kid.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Sprout Helps Out

I love it when Sprout gets helpful. It's SO cute.

This morning, I was lamenting that we don't have enough frozen leftovers so that we can easily take lunch to work, and Sprout was asking me to explain all of this. We talked, and I resolved to make bigger meals and freeze more lunch portions in the future.

An hour later, he brought his bowl of Cornflakes to me, after he had had enough. "Mommy," he said, with an excited, 'I'm-clever' look on his face, "Dose are leftover. You could take dose for lunch!" It was fabulous. My boy is taking care of me.

Since I had such a weird childhood, one of my biggest (irrational) fears is that my son will grow up to be a psychopath who doesn't care about anybody. How could that happen when we love him so much? I don't know, but the fear is there anyway. So these helpful moments really go an especially long way with me.

Bring on the leftover Cornflakes.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

An Axe for the Frozen Sea

What did Kafka say? "A book should serve as the axe for the frozen sea within us."

Well, the '100 Days, 100 Poems' Project that the Library has going, to celebrate Saskatoon's centennial, is not a book but it's sure making me cry at the drop of a hat.

What a great project. Saskatoon people have been invited to submit poems to the Library, and each day for 100 days a different poem is posted in each branch of the Library and on the website. And the poems are fantastic.

Yesterday, when I arrived at work, I was tidying up old poems from the weekend, and I read February 11's poem - it only took 3 seconds for me to be weeping inconsolably. Sheesh. Must remember that one in case I need it.

I remember once seeing an interview with Richard Burton where he was talking about how to cry on cue. You just think of something that is incredibly sad, and the tears will start to flow. Now I get it. All it takes for me is an image of grandmas longing for babies.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Whale Biography

In the past, our Library used to separate biographies from the rest of the collection. It didn't matter if the person was a merchant banker, a cowboy, a botanist, or a ballerina - all their biographies and autobiographies sat together in the Biography section. A few years ago, all those biographies were reclassified, putting ballerinas with ballet and cowboys with the wild west.

In even more recent Library history, we have started putting 'Biography' stickers on biographies, so that they are easier to spot on the shelf (some people miss the old browseable Biography section). Every three months, it is my turn to review the new books and slap on those stickers.

Everything was going fine last time, until I came to the biography of Keiko.

Does the life story of a famous whale get a Biography sticker? We went to and fro on it. We couldn't decide. It IS the story of someone's life. Even the subject heading for the book says 'Killer whales - Biography'. But it's a whale and not a person.

What would you do?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

And Bobo Was Fine

Taking a librarian road trip means leaving your two-year-old at home, and that someone has to take care of him. Jim did a great job of that, and says they had a great weekend.

And Bobo? He was fine. When I walked in the door Sunday night, he said, "Mommy! Come play hockey!!"

Doesn't get better than that. What else is there to say.

I Love a Road Trip

I had the most fantastic road trip to Edmonton on the weekend, a librarian road trip.

Many years ago, my roommate Mo and I lived on the main floor of a house where there was a man from France in the suite on the second floor. I think his name was Sylvain. Sylvain LOVED Edmonton. If you mentioned it to him, he would give an ecstatic shrug and sigh, "Ahhh! H'aydmonton!" with half-closed eyes.

I am beginning to understand the attraction. What a great city.

We did many, many fun things. Croissants. Library tour. Fine lunch. Trendy shopping. Indian food for supper. Beer drinking in a tiny pub. Bread pudding with whiskey cream sauce. And we got to stay in a book-lover's condominium home in the sky - with great librarian hideaway ambience. Ahh!! H'edmonton.

But what I think I enjoyed most was that strangers on the street look at you as they pass and smile a full-on genuine smile. It happened over and over again to me all day. It was great.

There is a possibility, of course, that something was terribly wrong with me, like my fly was undone and it was making people laugh, but I don't think so.

Friday, February 03, 2006


I am famous, in a small, small way.

My sister chose to profile my new hobby in her design blog, and I'm touched. Yes, Beans! I am ready to throw off my librarian trappings and become a furnyture designer!! Let's do it.

Want not to get trampled by hippos, though!?! Let's discuss this further...

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Sprout is Growing Up

Every day the Sprout grows up a tiny bit. Some things happen so incrementally that I don't notice them right away. The pants that were way too big when I bought them suddenly fit now. He now knows which button to press to stop the VCR by himself. He can suddenly do the bears puzzle he got for Christmas all by himself in 10 minutes.

The other day he pushed the step-stool over to the toilet, climbed up, put the potty seat on the toilet, pulled down his own pants, and sat down! This may be too much information for some of you, but if you're a parent you can probably appreciate the months of repetition it takes to do all of these steps, and to do them safely and in the right order. (He almost had it a few weeks ago, except he pulled his pants down around his ankles before he got up on the stool, essentially trapping himself on the floor.)

Baby steps.

Most of the growing up milestones make me happy and proud. Occasionally there is a poignant moment too. On the weekend, we went to the Library, and while we were there Sprout got sleepy. In the past, he had always said, 'I want Mommy mook,' since nursing is a nice substitute for a nap. Snuggly down-time. This time he looked at me and said, 'I want... a hug.' I was sad and happy at the same time. My little boy is growing up.

I'm a Fool for Hot Water Heat

The last place we lived in before we bought this house had hot water heat - cozy radiators in every room, no dust blowing around through forced air registers. It was wonderful. Once you've had hot water heat, you never quite forget.

Last night I was pursuing one of my regular hobbies, which is watching real estate websites to see what houses are for sale in Saskatoon. There's a house north of here for sale - and guess what - hot water heat. Jim and I had a good laugh at me, because there were a number of problems with the house that we'd go broke fixing, but somehow I glossed over them all for a few minutes staring at the radiators. Somehow, I didn't notice things like 'why are there no pictures of the bathrooms?' or, more disturbing still, 'why, oh why, is the wall in the mudroom convex??' Even 'why is there no photo of the house exterior as a whole?' suddenly erased itself from my memory. My faith in hot water heat eclipsed all of it.

Aside from this good snooping, my life is very dull lately. I am very dull.

I still haven't hit on a hobby that engages me completely. I flirted with making greeting cards for a while, but that was not a lasting love. I haven't picked it up for weeks. Although I may still do a series of cards about 'what our pets do when they're alone'. We're convinced that Jack the cat sits on the couch with the phone and makes 1-900 calls when we're out. He's got a bit of the rag-tag about him, if you know what I mean...