Saturday, November 27, 2010

Oh, Christmas Tree

This started out as an email to Little Willow, but I'm 99.999999999% sure she won't mind if I share it with the rest of the world too, so here ya go.


Two years ago, right after Christmas my mom decided to get rid of excess "stuff" and chose to give away some garlands (green things made of similar materials to the fake Christmas trees).  She dragged several bags of the green stuff over to the donation bin on the corner behind her house.
Last year she went to get out the Christmas tree and found... garlands.


She went out and bought herself a new tree, decorated it and all was well with the world.

Two months ago mom was getting ready to have the sundeck fixed so she was moving things out of the garage and storing them in the house.  One of her storage spaces is under the captains beds in the kids room.  When she lifted Julia's mattress to store something under there she found... the old Christmas tree!

To make a long story short, she decided I could have the new tree since she had found the old one, and Thursday I moved things around to make room for it. I put it up and decorated it yesterday and it is now making my room look gloriously holidayish.   I picked up some sparkly blue garlands and plastic icicles at the dollar store to supplement my meagre ornament supply and splurged on some pretty LED light strands at Canadian Tire.  Now I just need a star or angel or fairy for the top.

In the last 24 hours I have been given the following tree-top suggestions via Facebook:  a Stuffed Moose (Patrice), a Frog (Mrs. Doc Froggy), the Vampire Frog hat my mom wears on Halloween each year (Mom, emphatically seconded by Patrice).  While the Vampire Frog head would fulfill my family obsession with frogs, and nod to the Jossverse in its vampireness, I don't think it would quite go with the Christmasy feel I'm going for, nor would it go with the fairy and dragon motif throughout my living room.

An interesting sidenote: The tree is next to my fishtank, and it seems the fish are somewhat mesmerized by the lights... the guppies keep swimming over the the side of the tank closest to the tree and looking towards the tree.  I was afraid they might get freaked out by the lights, but they seem quite entranced instead.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My Hero

I wrote the following in 1994 when I was 15.   As tomorrow is Remembrance Day, I thought it might be fitting to share here today.

My Hero

My grandfather fought in the war before my father was born, but he was lucky, he came home. When I was two months old, my grandfather was at our house on 12th, laying out cement in our garage, when he had a heart attack.

I never really got to know him, to hear his stories, or to feel his love, which I'm told he had a lot of. I never had a chance to tell him I loved him. Even though I can't remember him, I'm sure I did love him. And I never got to thank him for what he did for me fifty years ago.

He went to war, not because he wanted to, or agreed with it, but because he felt that he had to. Even though he doesn’t lie in Flanders Fields, nor did he die saving the world, he risked his life for me, and therefore Remembrance Day means a lot to me.

I look at his picture and I think, 'what kind of man was he?' I’ll never know for sure but I imagine him as being a hero, in a way, even though he never did anything particularly heroic. He merely did what he believed had to be done.

I just wish that he was here today so that I could call him up and thank him for giving me a better life.

~ JS 
November 10th 1994

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Adventures In House Sitting

I've been house sitting for M&L about twice a year for five or six years now.  When mom and I moved out of the house I grew up in, the day after we moved into her new house, I left to house sit for ten days.  When I got home, she had unpacked all of the common areas and to this day, there are certain things that for the life of me, I can't figure out what she did with.  Because of this we used to joke that I knew how to find things in M&L's kitchen that I couldn't find in my own.

In the past, there has always been at least one dog with me, if not three.  This is the first time I've house sat for them without any pets in the house and it is a little weird not to have any little buddies depending on me or keeping me company.

One of the great things about house sitting is that at home I have a shower but no tub, while M&L have two glorious tubs which I get all to myself.  Yeah, go ahead and laugh, but sometimes there is nothing quite like a good soak to soothe away your aches and pains and fatigue.  In the past, there have been several baths that got cut short because I could hear a dog whining to be let out.  Sara was pretty old, so you couldn't really ignore such a request for long.

The other day, I was having a relaxing soak, when what did I hear?  Something that sounded very much like a dog whining.  Problem was, there were no dogs in the house.  I listened for a while and heard the sound again.  It was not coming from outside, and some deductive reasoning told me that barring the presence of ghostly puppies, the sound was coming from inside the walls.  As it turns out, the pipes to that part of the house can sound eerily similar to a small dog whining.

Once I stopped laughing at myself, I realized the impact those whining pipes must have had on me: I weep at the thought of all of those glorius baths that got cut short due to false alarms!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Weather Report

A few years ago, I was at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival when I happened upon a television news crew filming a live weather report.

"Today, expect to see a 40% chance of rain in the city of Vancouver..."

This sentence alone was hardly unusual given that we were in Vancouver, part of the "Wet Coast" known for a high annual rainfall.  What I did take issue with though, was that it was already raining while they were making this live report.  There were big fat raindrops falling from the sky, one landing on the nose of the weather guy, yet he was announcing only a "40% chance of rain."

While many of the other festival patrons were pulling hoods over their heads, or pulling out umbrellas, I looked at the weather report crew, shook my head, held out my hand to catch a few raindrops and raised an eyebrow.  They blatantly ignored me and the rain that was now spotting the weather guy's formerly perfectly powdered face.

When does a 40% chance of rain become a 100% chance of rain?  Does it have to rain 100% of the day in 100% of the city for it to count?  If it only rains for 9 hours and 36 minutes - that's 40% of a day for those of you wondering where I pulled that number from - does that constitute a 40% chance of rain?   Or does it mean a 100% chance of rain, 40% of the time that day?

In my humble opinion, if it is currently raining while you are standing outdoors in the heart of the city, that is a 100% chance of rainfall that day in that city.

But then, I'm not a professionally trained weather reporter or meteorologist, so what do I know?  I think that from now on though, I'll just stick to looking out the window and holding a hand out to test the weather, rather than trust the weather reports from that particular news station to be accurate.

~ Jeanie

PS: Polgara posted a comment today on FB that made me think of this incident, so she's to blame for this post! *g*

Monday, September 13, 2010

Little people bring big smiles!

Yesterday morning I awoke at 6:15am as usual, got up and went to turn on the light to the main room.

Instead of the usual darkness and quiet, I was greeted by the unmistakeable sound of my niece and nephew coming down the stairs outside my door.

They announced that they had woken up when it was still night time (because it was still dark), and that Daddy was still asleep.

They had gotten up and dressed themselves, not unusual as they are now 4 and 6.  What was somewhat unsusual was the footwear my niece had on.  She's pretty small, even for a four year old, and it seems that she couldn't reach her sock drawer.  She was wearing a pair of red woolen Canada mittens as socks.

I must say, this sight, and the lovely early morning visit and story time as I got ready for work put a smile on my face, which is always a nice way to start the day.

Updated To Add:  Jenny has assured me that J can reach her sock drawer... she just enjoys being silly and putting random things on her feet in lieu of socks. *g*

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Conversations With Zucchini

I've been toying with the idea of starting a blog for a while now.  I hesitated because I wanted to get an idea of what I would write about, making sure it wouldn't be of interest only to me.  My new year's resolution this year was to make time to write on a regular basis, and I have been rather remiss in making that resolution come true.  I thought this might be a good vehicle for keeping my resolution (albeit belatedly).

To start you off, I'm going to share a 100% true short story I wrote a couple of years ago.


*** Conversations With Zucchini ***

One day when I was five or six, my mom heard my voice coming from her vegetable garden.  Thinking I was carrying on a conversation with one of my many imaginary friends, she decided to get a closer look.

"You dumb zucchini!  I hate you!"
My mom halted her approach and peeked through the blueberry bushes to find her precious - make that precocious daughter sitting on a yellow stool imprinted with the phrase "Step up to be Tall.  Sit down to be Small."  Hands fisted on hips, chin jutted out stubbornly... there I was giving the zucchini vines a talking to.

"Why don't you just die?  I hate you, you dumb zucchini!"

Mom eventually managed to hold a straight face long enough to ask me what I was up to.  Apparently I had heard on the radio about a study which had found that playing music or talking to plants helped them to grow bigger and stronger than just letting them grow with the requisite light and water.  In my infinite wisdom, I decided that being mean to them would make them grow smaller and slower... even cause them to shrivel up and die.  You can probably guess that I was not a big fan of zucchini.

Unfortunately for me, the study never mentioned that any talking to the plants would do.  Mom's zucchini crop was larger and more plentiful that year than any before or after.  She was thrilled, while I was quite upset that my scientific study had failed.

When I was in grade one, our school librarian went on maternity leave, leaving a substitute to fill in.

One day our class invaded the library at our scheduled tiem, most of the students heading towards the corner where the picture books were shelved.  I made a bee-line in the opposite direction to the shelves of chapter books and junior novels.

I pulled up a chair and climbed onto it in order to reach my desired tome (one of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books if I recall) and had just climbed down when The Substitute caught sight of me.  She approached with a disapproving scowl on her face, then as if speaking to a dim-witted toddler had the nerve to announce "oh, no dear... the books for you are over there!"  She pointed towards the shelves of books that I had exhausted the year before.  "These are for big kids."

In my house, reading was seen as holding as much importance to a child's everyday life as eating, sleeping and playing did.  I can't remember a time when I couldn't read.

Our usual school librarian held a similar view to that of my parents.  Children should be encouraged to develop a love of reading, and allowed to challenge themselves with new and varied materials.  She had always let me choose my own books, even suggesting new series' to sate my appetite for more literature.

I was not going to be told what I could or could not read, especially by someone who was supposed to help me find books that I would enjoy.  With determination, my chin jutted out, and my little hands balled into fists at my waist.

"I want to read this book.  Those are for babies!"

Before The Substitute could think up an argument to make me see reason, my first-grade teacher came over
and assesed the situation.  "Mrs. The Substitute, this is Janine, and I assure you she can and will read any book that she wants to read.  She's probably read more of them than you have."

The Substitute looked aghast and with an audible huff quickly found something that needed her immediate attention elsewhere.

The rest of that school year,
The Substitute ignored me, preferring to tend to my fellow students who had more "suitable" reading selections.  Thanks to the encouragement of my mom, my teacher, and a defiant need to show up The Substitute, I blasted through the selection of kids chapter books and headed into novels before the school year was through.

The following year, needing a challenge, I looked for the biggest novel I could find in the school's library, and ended up reading
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne.  Reading that book required frequent trips to the shelf where our dictionary was kept, but I can still picture Nemo's view of the ocean floor as my young mind had imagined it.  Fish and other mysterious sea creatures swimming by a large round window, darting off to unknown places and adventures just waiting to be discovered in pages like the ones I held before me.

My love of reading has only grown over the years.  I still have a stubborn streak, and an inherent need to question authority and challenge it when it is abused. 
To this day, I hate zucchini - except when it is baked in zucchini bread.

A couple of years ago, when I was between jobs, my mom and I were driving past the local plant shop.  They had a sign out front claiming that they were hiring.

My mom turned to me and said "ohh look, they're hiring!  You should apply.  Tell them the zucchini story.  That was the best crop I ever had."

"Yeah, I'm sure they want an attempted zucchini murderer working for them."

"Or maybe not," she laughed.