Monday, December 31, 2012

dancing to the edge, of the land........

and so it begins - a new year - a new set of impossible expectations. i for one love it - i've been disappointing people in one way or another since my birth. i thrive in no-win environments. but let's not give away the ending before the show has begun.

the RESOLUTION. there it stands, an irresistible temptation.. it beckons and you can't help but be seduced. whether it be secret resolve or public declaration, you announce your intentions 

and so i come to you with list in hand and eager to proceed. my many pledges include...
- let my teats feel the breeze once in awhile
- gain weight
- discover i am talented embroiderer
- swear more
- be less cautious with perscription medication

i should tell you...
 i hoard normal like other people hoard money. i see a bits of it laying on the ground.- i snatch it up and carefully tuck it away. i tell myself, "someday i'll need that normal. someday i'll need to have my wits about me."  for now i'm content to keep it in my pocket, i'm not ready to raid my stash.

as my friend margaret atwood sort of says-
my mother and i fit together like a hook and eye - a fish hook in an open eye.

so speaking of her....
my mother and i conversed almost like a regular family on christmas day. well, almost, she spent about 25 minutes reviewing every present and when i say reviewing, i mean it in the worst possible way. "how much did that cost?" "i can tell you right now, that's not going to last." "the cookies are stale, god knows how long they sat on the shelf or did you have them from last year." 
and on and on it goes. it's like a lulaby to me. a soothing tirade that assures me everything is well with the world. she has decided now she would like me to purchase a "lay down" freezer for her. she thinks i skived her on her birthday present. she doesn't understand the $300 walmart card was for christmas and her birthday. i can't decide if she's really going off or she's just watching too many game shows and i have somehow become the host. "yes, bev i'll take the freezer for $400 and the year supply of omaha steaks. and bev, i think i'll use my free spin."

you should also know that courtesy of my sister, mother received one of those "i've fallen and i can't get up" devices for christmas. she's fantically old and i live 3500km away from her so i feel comforted knowing that she has easy access to medical assistance .....but my mother doesn't like to let any service go unused, so she's pushing that button on a whim. in lttle over a week she cried black hawk down 3 times - once to test thier response time. once to complain about the cord being wet after her shower and once in lieu of reading the instruction book. sorry medical alert people, you'll be earning your money on this one.

finally i would like to share with you my favorite tv bit from this year. i love british tv and film, so several years ago we bought a universal dvd player so i could indulge my vice. i love all the cursing, it's like all hbo, all the time. this is from an eposide "an idiot abroad".  i should warn you, there are proper nob and bollocks in this clip. so if you're uncomfortable with seeing a penis,  remember  - jeaus people, it's art, not porn. go on, have a peek best tv bit  (oh and elephant baba is featured too)

happy new year

Thursday, December 20, 2012

sally, the christmas horse......

magic and joy are sometimes not that hard to find. they are everywhere,  you must only be prepared to look in unexpected places. sometimes your blessings are so tightly wrapped in packages that they do not look like gifts at all. but when you open your heart and unwrap them, joy will just come pouring out.  i know i sound like boris karloff in "the grinch" but tis the season for such fancies.

sally, the horse, came to our farm one winter's eve about 2 weeks before christmas. she was by breed, a paint with red and brown patches - a stout little horse, almost a pony.  she was in fact the type of pony you may have seen many years ago, walking across the plains, pulling a travois and carrying a sioux mother and her tiny papoose.

in the farm house resides a girl. a little girl barely into her teens who is suspended somewhere between dolls and perfume. a little girl for whom christmas is starting to lose it's magic. a little girl who despite her tender years has already trained and broken two fillies. her calm, tender, no-nonsense manner is admired among the neighbours.  "she should be a vet," they say. but she has other romantic notions of someday attending university in england and marrying an irish folk singer. perhaps this will, one day come to be and the newlyweds will ride their ponies over endless green hills. but that is another story.......

this story is about sally and it started on the morning the diligent farmer came in after chores and announced the news.  now,  there is nothing in the world  that will interrupt home schooling quicker than to announce a horse has wandered onto the farm overnight. a streak of blond hair bolts from her seat at the kitchen table,  she pulls her boots on and rushes out. a while later that same blond head comes back in -  talking to me as soon as she opens the door. her cheeks red from the cold but her face expresses pure delight. "mom, mom she has one brown eye and one blue eye". "mom, she so wild and she whinnies so loud." "mom, she a pretty little thing" "what should we call her?" " i was thinking something for winter, like snow or tinsel but i think her name her name is sally." "well,  sally she is then," said the mother. "now come and finish your work. "mom do you think she's halter broke?"  "mom, who do you think she belongs to?" " mom can we keep her?"

sally settled into life on this new farm. she met her sisters tessie and abby and her brothers henry and old skipper. she met her donkey cousins biscuit, poppy and the cranky nancy.  she made friends with the big hound dog, birdie.  after a couple of days sally's owner was located and it was discovered that sally had already been sold and was heading for  market. she would end up being french cuisine or dog food or even the mystery meat in your stir fry.  the diligent farmer offered to buy sally but the owner said he was committed to the other sale. it was arranged that sally would be picked up in a few days when the owner had time to get her.

the diligent farmer tried to soften this news for the little gril by saying the horse was just a range animal. probably too wild to do anything with. everyone knew that horses like sally are sold for their meat but nobody wanted to talk about it.

the next few days came and went.   everyday, as the little girl fed and watered sally, she crooned her secret horse talk. sally stayed a safe distance away but her ears perked forward as she listened to the words of a love song only a little girl can sing.

in the end it was sally herself and mother nature, with perhaps a little help from father christmas that decided the pony's future. the day for sally's departure broke cold and the snow swirled thickly on the  north wind. the owner arrived to retive his wayward filly. sally kicked up her hind legs and began galloping in circles that made herding her in the snow and wind nearly impossible. after about 15 minutes of chasing the dodgy girl, the owner sighed and turned to the diligent farmer. the diligent farmer smiled and asked if perhaps he had changed his mind about the little horse's future. "yes", the owner said." i'm too old and tired to chase a little horse through the snow." so it turned out that a surprising small amount of money secured the christmas wish of a little girl and a pony.

the diligent farmer got to play hero that afternoon. on the way to her piano recital he turned to his baby girl and said "i guess we should feed sally a bale when we get home." the little girl asked, "why are we giving her a bale, isn't the owner coming back tomorrow to try and load her" "well," said the farmer, "i'm asking the "owner" if we should feed her horse."

sally has brought some magic to the farm this christmas. she is someone to be fussed over. a jaunty new halter was bought with the little girl's babysitting money to adorn sally on christmas day and a special bag of sweet oats for her and her stablemates to enjoy. this is another chance for the girl suspended between a child and a women to enjoy the delight of an unexpected surprise. it does a mother's heart good to hear here the constant chatter throughout the house - snatches of conversation about horses, making cookies, her older sister coming home......  for one more year we see get to feel christmas through the heart of a child. the care this family will give sally seems tiny in comparison to love and good cheer she has already given us.

today, with only 5 days until christmas i look out the window and see a mittened hand rubbing the forehead of a wild pony. i watch the pony follow the little girl as she goes for water and i know that sally is wishing that the mittened hand will reach out again soon. i see what love can do in such a short time. i am glad sally found her way to us this holiday season.

Friday, December 14, 2012

the christmas story..........

christmas is starting to do my head in.

the lovely terri posted her thought provoking piece surrounding the whole naivety scene. she brought up things i had never thought of before. here a bit of the post...

"but I couldn’t abide another year’s witness to Mary, prodded upright and kneeling, minutes after giving birth........Eyes glazed, these resigned Marys perch up on their knees—all the way up, restrained even from resting their bottoms on their calves".

 bloody hell, mary kneeling beside the baby jesus. i have since found myself obsessed with the holy creche. i look at them everywhere i go. today shopping in every store i kept stopping to have a peek at mary's position. when i saw one where she was up too high i found myself saying, "jesus, mary sit down." i never was bothered by them one way or another before, but now i think about them far too much. quite by coincidence, i watched a travel show the other night where they visited bethlehem and saw the manager and the whole bit. people were bent over peering inside the fenced off area.  i wanted to shout at the tv, if mary's there, tell her to sit the hell down.  people at home, i implore you, if you do have a manger scene this holiday season and mary happens to be kneeling like she in the blocks ready to do the 100m dash, push her over and let her lay on her side for a bit.

i've been reading on facebook recently a lot of chatter about bringing "my christ" back to christmas. because i rarely think things through - i thought it must be one of those word scramble things. well obviously i found christ right away, but where was "my?" there was ma christ but that sounded gangster. man, let's hang for "ma christmas". i then found sam christmas. that was a sort of a da vinci code moment for me. had i found some hidden message. i decided not. so in the end i failed to find my christ in christmas which is probably just as well because i would expect a big present from him.

finally, i leave you with this

earlier this month i was talking to my mother on the telephone. she asked me for a $300 gift card from walmart for christmas. i know, pretty damn specific and pretty damn a lot.

she also said
"don't mail a parcel.  i don't want anything for my stocking. well, not a lot anyway. don't send a bunch of crap and don't get me heavy stuff because you're just wasting your money on postage."
i said "right, gotcha ya"
i thought to myself "my god, she's like a child, she'll be asking for a pony next

so the following week i talk to my mother again to find out if  "light, crapless parcel and the gift card" had arrived safely
and immediately
she says "i don't want a tv for my birthday"
right, gotcha ya. i say.
then she says "so you can just think of something else or send me a gift card to somewhere.
right, i say, did you not get the card i sent.
yes, she says but that is for christmas, not my birthday.
gotcha ya i say.

jesus christ i know she's 89 and i know she's forgetful but honestly, she got all the other detail about my life correct. she knows who i am.  does she think i've perhaps come into a bit of money. some big win at bingo or something.

happy holidays
ps follow the link to read terri's funny, poignant "away with the manger"

Monday, December 10, 2012

the santa diaries.....

christmas has always been a very big deal for me. sadly, with my family, it was all about the presents. steady on now people, we had a naivety display in our living room and we were all happy for joesph and mary and that fantastic story of theirs. but if we're being honest i used the naivety figures as foreigners in my barbie tales. i am a good and noble person but the biblical version of christmas didn't include any gifts for me. but santa on the other hand had flying deer and a sack full of toys. so, you see, don't be so fast to judge.

where i'm from, christmas was a community event. that was one advantage to being related to everyone in your village. well that and the wide spread present exchange. everybody gave everybody else a present. the gifts were not expensive - i remember my mom giving out boxes of kleenex. the gifts also had very strict gender lines. all the men received one sort of gift and the same followed for the women. my mom often gave each man a pack of playing cards and the women a pretty tea towel. children usually got mittens or a golden book. it was truly a lovely thing. small tokens of acknowledgement.

we also did a little thing called "see the tree".  after christmas, families went from house to house seeing the tree and the gifts. each and every gift under the tree had to be shown off by the recipient and admired. men were sometimes reluctant to join in but once they got started they proved to be quite the showmen. you would have a bit of a lunch or "mug-up" at the person's house and then you moved on. it was an intricate ballet with villagers dancing to and fro to familiar steps. now please don't get the idea it was all dickens' like - the men often complained they didn't receive the much coveted knitted pecker warmer and there were frequent nips of the demon rum

ok, so then there was santa. during the holiday season he was on tv every night -  right after the weather forecast. magically, there he was - in his grotto, beseeching us to follow the christmas pledge. the pledge had to be chanted aloud daily and it went as follows

i promise to be good in every way
so that i can help make everyday
almost as happy as christmas day.
ho ho ho

as a child i was rabid follower.  now i think, absolute damn genius on the part of the canadian broadcasting corporation.  our version of create a cult - scientology north. i'm here to tell you that while some may have said the pledge with absolute confidence, there were some of us that treated it as the ultimate hail mary. my anxiety level would sky rocket around the 1st of december. i mean to even imagine that i might be held accountable for all of my transgressions was enough to have me asking for pepto bismol every night. it wasn't enough for you to repeat the pledge and mean it, you had to actually plan to be good the next day.  whatever your particular behavior might be - nose picking, fire starting, excessive talking.... you had to give it up, cold turkey. i didn't stand a chance - i was a chronic hard core talker. how the hell was everyone around me going to know what i was thinking if i stopped talking?  strapping, dunce hats, corner standing, blackboard writing, head cuffs, knuckle raps with the ruler had all been tried. trust me, if the provincial school system hadn't been able to shut me up did santa really stand a chance?

the short answer would be no. i tried, i tried so hard but they snuck out, those little opinions, those little suggestions that surprisingly irritated people. and to make it all the more difficult, santa could apparently see into your living room through the tv screen. he sometimes gave a shout out to kids named bonnie or allan - good children. i never heard my name, not even something that could be mistaken for my name. he was watching me and he could tell i was a pledge dodger. so the build up to christmas was fraught with hand wringing and compulsive pledge chanting.

then the morning would arrive and i will say every year he came. but it would not always be immediately apparent,  because that god damn, little, elfin bastard would hide my presents. that's right he hid my presents. he seemed to be saying, all right little missy i brought you that farm-set but you're going to have to hunt for it. some years it wasn't too difficult - the aforementioned farm set was in the hall closet under the extra tea bags. the dawn dolls in the spinner of the hover washing machine. but really, my giant barbie head with the silken hair you could style, was in fact in the trunk of the car. i nearly come undone with that one. i feel santa was truly being pissy that year.

so, whatever your motivations for this holiday season might be, i hope you have a good one

Monday, December 3, 2012

miss esteem takes her self to market.......

i have been to a lot of farmer's markets in my day. why?  because quite frankly, where else would i buy my barbie toilet paper holder with the green and yellow variegated gown. well that and i have merchandise to flog. the farmer's market is by all accounts rural alberta's most promising retail hotspot. this past weekend we held our communities' christmas market. the grand finale for the year. the big round up, complete with turkey dinner.  it's almost more than one"s soul can bear. 

i love going to the farmer's market but i practically come undone in the days preceding it. i worry and i worry about anything and everything. will someone bleed to death from a  paper cut after purchasing one of my homemade journals? will someone develop a festering blister from one of my book making tools? will someone  be unable to afford food for their children because i sold them something?  these questions and more are the whirly, twirly thoughts that spin in my head. the day of market i listen to eminem, loud, on my ipod and drink diet coke for breakfast. this duo being my choice drug when i'm in need of a confidence boost. there's nothing quite like an angry white man and aspartame to make a girl feel like she can fly.

by the time i arrive at the market i'm a rock star. i confess right now that i love people. love, love, love  them all.  the big ones, the little ones, the babies, i especially love the cranky or peculiar ones. for me, they represent my best opportunity to hear a great story.  this week i hit pay dirt right off the bat -  a charming old lady,  who had on what appeared to be blue lipstick in a wide swath under her eyebrows. not the eye lids mind you,  just the brow bones above her little glasses.  she also had pink circles drawn on her cheeks. i think perhaps, to invoke that fresh as a daisy look. she was pure lovely, all white haired and she was smiling at me. oh lord i thought , i've found a friend. she was so pleased with herself that i thought it  just might be possible to inhale her confidence along with her avon perfume. 

to be honest (and why not) farmer's markets are, for the most part, uneventful. during my tenure there have been no armed robberies or assaults. sure there's the constant infighting surrounding table issues. location - location. and in case you're not in the know - the place you want to be is against the wall and near the front and nowhere near the tupperware chick. you absolutely do not want to be in the centre isle because of the back to back tables. i imagine this to be like general population in prison. except old craft ladies are covered in cat hair and they tend to smell a bit past their "best before date".  i don't mind spreading myself around but i don't do general population - . well maybe i might, given a lint brush and febreze. every saturday there's always some trash talking by the girls. opera whispering about what dot does to hang on to table 3. at lunch time  you buy your egg salad sandwich and you pray to god it does not contain any short curly white hair. just saying... this may all sound boring but i guarantee if you've got a diet coke  in your hand - it's a teenie bit like dinner and a show.

i occasionally get into trouble at the market. i usually come flying in just before the cowbell rings and hastily "ta da toss" my things across my table. sometimes there's dirty talk at my table and people laugh too loud and if i'm next to the candle lady she gets all pissy because she wants everything "serene". when the farmer's market director comes over to give me shit  i just want to hold her little cheeks in my hands and say "honey its ok. get it out. i need  to be reprimanded. i'm only sorry that its probably not going to work. but you go on and give to me just the same.

this week at the market  i was positioned across the aisle from an impressive display of normal. tight perm kind of normal - she was so sweet, i could have wept. it was pretty much love at first sight for me. not track lighting, vest wearing kind of love. the other kind. i spent the better part of  3 hours trying not to scare the bejesus out of her. she spent the entire show crocheting a shopping tote from plastic bags. and the look on her face - mother mary could not have looked more serene. hopefully she and i will become confidants by the end of the next summer

 when people are cranky and bitchy it in some ways makes me all the more happy. in my head i think "ok missy, we'll just see about you. i'm about to crack your misery like an egg." i always start with normal chitchat - "it's a pretty day!" that sort of thing. then if i can't bring her round. i say "where did you get that sweater!". or "my god, you smell good" if i'm still failing i move to the straight forward approach and ask "are you mad at me?". finally if she's still there and still not coming around i start to wane and just end it  by saying "you look so sad, did your man just get out of the pen" 

we're all there every week,  the farmer's market amateur players -  the tupperware lady (whom i'm a bit afraid of), the bubble shirt seller with her impressive spiel on how her bubble shirts will fit sizes 2 through 22. the knife lady with her razor sharp personality. the woman wearing the  jaunty hat selling lamb jerky. i know, lamb jerky! honestly eating that would be like poking the baby jesus with a stick. and the man who sells environmentally friendly household cleaner who says to each and every person "i like you. i'm willing to offer you a special deal".  these are but a few of the stars in our little troupe.

if you're ever in town and find yourself in want of something..... stop by -  we put on one hell of a show.