Dog Days of Summer Whispering …Fall

So there comes that time when the dog days of August begin to whisper quiet hints of fall, and it’s then that I begin to question whether I got to the bottom of the ice cream cone that is summer in this country we live in. rope swing Did I lick the very last, hard to reach drop of the sweet treat of a Canadian summer.  I’ve been fortunate to spend some time on a British Columbia lake – did I tread bare foot often enough down the wooded path?sunset  Did I swim at every delicious opportunity?  Were enough fresh peaches consumed, and raspberries covered with cream? farm standAnd even when tired from early sunrises did I push off in the kayak at sunset?  Did I fill enough buckets with pebbles for my granddaughters to toss into the lapping waters?girls on beach Did I snip fresh garden blooms to decorate the table – and simply put – did I stop to smell them? Ah, the fleeting season we cherish.chairs jasper

Summer After Summer After Summer of Love

Hey – now this is exciting – I’m a guest blogger.  Calgary author, Leanne Shirtliffe, is launching her new book this week – ‘Don’t Lick The Mini Van – and Other Things I Never Thought I’d Say To My Kids’. She has asked me to do a guest spot on her blog about something I never thought I’d say to my own four darlings.  Now there were quite a few of those insane, spur of the stressed-outmoment gems, but read the one I  shared at  http://ironicmom.com/2013/05/23/summer-love/

Look Up – and Love the Ones You’re With

It’s spring, the weather is warming, the trees are budding a fresh happy green, and I want to start a campaign. It doesn’t have to be on every bus bench, or t-shirt, or go viral on the internet.  It’s made up of two simple words, ‘Look Up’.  Look Up.  Look Up.  Look Up. Though, my campaign has a subtitle – ‘Love the One You’re With‘.  So right now, stop staring at your screen for a minute and smile at someone nearby.  Smile at your partner.  Smile at the person at the next table.  The one right beside you at the transit station.

Didn’t you go out to a coffee shop to escape the loneliness of working at home?    So let your eyes, and your humanity, drift away from focusing on your iPad.  Take a break from texting on your cell phone. Look Up from the work, or play, that is keeping your attention on your laptop.  Engage a stranger, if only with just a smile.

I am guilty, too.  I have to wait to meet a friend at a restaurant, and I immediately reach for my phone.  I hear that twinkly sound of  ‘you’ve got a text’ and I’m immediately eager to see who is reaching out to me.  “No, just Look Up”, I tell myself. The greeting will wait for me, if I just resist the urge to look down – away from the world unfolding around me, the toddler impressing his parents at the next booth, the waitress who might linger at my table, or I could gaze out the big window –  see the golden setting sun, the small birds on the horizon, the row of purple tulips.

Perhaps I’m alone having a pick-me-up in a favourite coffee shop –  what do I do? Voila, I reach for the comfort of my phone, to check my text messages, my email messages and maybe even Google the weather.  Instead, I could resist the temptation to touch my cool perfectly weighted phone (thanks Steve) and smile at a stranger, or pause to connect with a silly comment about the weather, the way people used to – in the old days – sharing a thought with someone new.  Worse is when we can’t resist the sneak a peak at the iphone when we’re not alone, but are with friends or family that we’ve sought out, or who have sought us out, to spend a few low-tech minutes of actual straight up human connection.  That’s where the subtitle comes in – the ‘Love the one (s) your with’.

On a recent wet and windy day I stepped into that warm coffee shop to view the customers in the line-up, and those hunkered down at the tables with their half-sweet-non-fat-extra-hot-vanilla-what ever’s all looking down, hiding with their many sized screens.  “Look Up,” was what I wanted to bravely call out.  “Look Up and Smile.” 

‘THE’ Wedding

So we’ve called it ‘the’ wedding for some time, as in I’ll have to do that before ‘the’ wedding, or let me get back to you after ‘the’ wedding.  As so we did it – we had the much anticipated, highly celebrated, first wedding in our family of four kids and it went off swimmingly – with a few crazy watery challenges.   Water was definitely a factor.  My daughter and her good husband wanted to have a small-ish wedding at the Seabreeze resort, on a west coast destination called Hornby Island, amongst magnificent rock bluffs, grassy meadows and wide sandy beaches. Coming from Vancouver you take the BIG ferry, drive forty minutes and then board first one small ten minute ferry to Denman Island, cross Denman and then board your second small ten minute ferry to arrive on Hornby.  Easy Peasy!

photos by Chris Ross

We all docked  in a deluge of west coast rain.  We tried like hec to get a ‘rain plan’ worked out with the resort. The normally hugely accommodating owners wanted us to display faith in the idea of sunshine.    They told us it really  “didn’t rain on their weddings” and put me off begging for some idea of an alternate course of action in case the beach we intended to hold the ceremony on was being accosted with waves.   And guess what?  It really doesn’t  rain on their weddings.  

Slow autumn wasps came out in the golden sunshine and buzzed quietly among the guests, stinging a few people, including the poor, but brave little flower girl.  Lovely candles were lit on the long tables, including a generously tall one on the speaker’s podium which the bride brushed by catching  a ruffle on the shoulder of her dress with a small flame that two heroic aunties quickly doused with a bit of water.  I assured my daughter  that it was really very good luck to have your dress catch fire ever so briefly on your wedding day, and she believed me.

When you choose to get married at least two ferry rides away for most guests, and three for some, you take the risks that some important people might miss the ferry – like the young women we bribed to come be the bridal party hairdresser.  Thank goodness she performed her hair- do magic quickly, and another aunt agreed to help out with some hair- do magic herself.

We had the bride, bridesmaids, flower girl and her mom, and the tiny ring bearer (the happy couple’s daughter) all tucked up in the car after an off-site  photo session  and while shooing a wasp from the car, realized we had misplaced the car keys (that’s us)  – meanwhile back at the resort all the guests were waiting, as was the ridiculously delicious dinner – when suddenly voila – they were discovered on the floor of our rented cottage – right where the baby ring bearer had left them.

Loads of guests, including the bride and groom (honeymoon bound), after the magical weekend celebration were attempting to  get off the island and return to where they’d come from, but were kept stranded on Hornby when a storm rocked the region and kept the little ferry from leaving until four in the afternoon – just of course, adding to the sense of watery adventure.    

That weekend it rained, it poured, it stormed – but from day break until the last song played on the day of  ‘the’ wedding the sun shone brilliantly, in fact I saw the clouds part.  The grasses blew ever so gently, and the blackberries glistened.  The bride was stunning (hair done) and happy, the bridesmaids were delightful, as were the groomsmen.  The groom was indeed handsome, happy and as fine as a prince.  The flower girls and ring bearer were sweet as pie.   The guests cheered, clapped and blew bubbles when the minister (another aunt) introduced the newlyweds.  The resort treated us like royalty with fine food and service.  The DJ’s were incredible with their musical selections – reading us like a book (a sultry romance novel).  We dined, we drank, we danced.  And danced and danced and danced. So we’ve had ‘the’ wedding.  And what a wedding it was. Chris Ross photos

‘THE’ Wedding

So we’ve called it ‘the’ wedding for some time, as in I’ll have to do that before ‘the’ wedding, or let me get back to you after ‘the’ wedding.  As so we did it – we had the much anticipated, highly celebrated, first wedding in our family of four kids and it went off swimmingly – with a few crazy watery challenges.   Water was definitely a factor.  My daughter and her good husband wanted to have a small-ish wedding at the Seabreeze resort, on a west coast destination called Hornby Island, amongst magnificent rock bluffs, grassy meadows and wide sandy beaches. Coming from Vancouver you take the BIG ferry, drive forty minutes and then board first one small ten minute ferry to Denman Island, cross Denman and then board your second small ten minute ferry to arrive on Hornby.  Easy Peasy!

photos by Chris Ross

We all docked  in a deluge of west coast rain.  We tried like hec to get a ‘rain plan’ worked out with the resort. The normally hugely accommodating owners wanted us to display faith in the idea of sunshine.    They told us it really  “didn’t rain on their weddings” and put me off begging for some idea of an alternate course of action in case the beach we intended to hold the ceremony on was being accosted with waves.   And guess what?  It really doesn’t  rain on their weddings.  

Slow autumn wasps came out in the golden sunshine and buzzed quietly among the guests, stinging a few people, including the poor, but brave little flower girl.  Lovely candles were lit on the long tables, including a generously tall one on the speaker’s podium which the bride brushed by catching  a ruffle on the shoulder of her dress with a small flame that two heroic aunties quickly patted it out.  I assured my daughter  that it was really very good luck to have your dress catch fire ever so briefly on your wedding day, and she believed me.

When you choose to get married at least two ferry rides away for most guests, and three for some, you take the risks that some important people might miss the ferry – like the young women we bribed to come be the bridal party hairdresser.  Thank goodness she performed her hair- do magic quickly, and another aunt agreed to help out with some hair- do magic herself.

We had the bride, bridesmaids, flower girl and her mom, and the tiny ring bearer (the happy couple’s daughter) all tucked up in the car after an off-site  photo session  and while shooing a wasp from the car, realized we had misplaced the car keys (that’s us)  – meanwhile back at the resort all the guests were waiting, as was the ridiculously delicious dinner – when suddenly voila – they were discovered on the floor of our rented cottage – right where the baby ring bearer had left them.

Loads of guests, including the bride and groom (honeymoon bound), after the magical weekend celebration were attempting to  get off the island and return to where they’d come from, but were kept stranded on Hornby when a storm rocked the region and kept the little ferry from leaving until four in the afternoon – just of course, adding to the sense of watery adventure.    

That weekend it rained, it poured, it stormed – but from day break until the last song played on the day of  ‘the’ wedding the sun shone brilliantly, in fact I saw the clouds part.  The grasses blew ever so gently, and the blackberries glistened.  The bride was stunning (hair done) and happy, the bridesmaids were delightful, as were the groomsmen.  The groom was indeed handsome, happy and as fine as a prince.  The flower girls and ring bearer were sweet as pie.   The guests cheered, clapped and blew bubbles when the minister (another aunt) introduced the newlyweds.  The resort treated us like royalty with fine food and service.  The DJ’s were incredible with their musical selections – reading us like a book (a sultry romance novel).  We dined, we drank, we danced.  And danced and danced and danced.  And so we’ve had ‘the’ wedding.  And what a wedding it was. 

Hey Granny, You Better Buy an Easy-Peasy Umbrella Stroller

So I bought the bright red  stroller for wonderful grand-baby – and was shocked at what a buggy cost!  That said, I do remember saving hard for a double buggy when two of my own darlings were eighteen months apart, and in fact this stroller is built with the future in mind.  When you have baby number two you can purchase another contraption for the teeny new one to lie above this one (or something convoluted like that) and IF number two is followed by number three, everyone shoves over and you buy a little step to attach to the back so number one’s little feet still don’t have to do the walking!

So one-year-old granddaughter was in my charge while we visited Windermere B.C. and I took her to ‘town’ to have a little stroll around and pretend people were whispering, “Mom, or grandmom?”  Of course, the gig (in my dreams) was up when baby woke from napping and I needed to adjust the stroller back to let her sit up, and had to ask a youthful shop owner (of childbearing age) to assist me.  Baby and I wandered off down the sidewalk window shopping, with me picking up her flowery sun hat as she threw it down (“good game, silly grandma”) until I noticed that now the fancy buggy straps were so loose grand-baby could haul up and run off if she so desired.   I was struggling to tighten them – baby bouncing on my lap and stroller sliding all over the walkway when a kind couple came by – my peers, I might add and the silver haired gentleman, introducing himself as a experienced grandfather, offered to assist.Okay, we were all – the other couple and I, the grandparent type you see on the vitamin bottles in my bathroom – the just barely 50, might need a boost of vitamin type, you know that fit, but slightly graying sort from the freedom 55 comercials frolicking on the beach?

But could any of us fit-frolickers understand that millennium baby stroller? Nope – for full comprehension we needed a buggy from the eighties.  I finally had to tell this guy thanks for his trouble but obviously the darn, modern, high tech stroller had outwitted us all.  I slid baby back in and had the forethought to ask my would-be helper to demonstrate the four-way clip that held the whole harness together.  He obliged, but I guess, given the circumstances, my short attention span was timed-out.

After I fed my dolly a cup of strawberry ice cream for her lunch, I figured we should make our way back to the car.  There I was in front of  my ride trying like mad to undo that child-proof four-point clip and thankful that grandpappy and I had  never tightened the darn harness, as it was becoming clear that if we would have succeeded I’d have had to abandon my vehicle and stroller stuck-baby many miles back ‘home’ – instead I was taking off her shoes and preparing to lift and slide her out of the bottom harness when who should rescue us?  Kindly grandfather-man, probably wondering why I hadn’t paid closer attention last time.  Okay, I’m definitely the grandma – the universe was making that loud and clear – baby’s mom was at a music festival calling up her mis-spent youth and dancing her little heart out, and I was considering how badly I needed a teeny little afternoon nap.

Bridesmaids, Popcorn and Babies

Now here is something that didn’t exist when I was home with babies –  Stars and Strollers, the afternoon matinees just for parents ( and grandmas, and eager aunties, and friends) and – get this – babies.  My daughter,  Zoe, and my oh so adorable one-year-old granddaughter came to visit and we decided we had to give this a try.   We picked a movie that we really wanted to see (maybe that was a mistake), which unfortunately was only playing way, way across the city (perhaps our second boo-boo) and headed off to meet a friend of Zoe’s and her one-year-old little guy, and to observe the darling chaos of it all.

The movie was Bridesmaids and for a Wednesday afternoon there appeared to be a pretty big turn out of mostly new mommies and teeny weeny babies. I noticed a few grandmothers in the crowd, amongst the stroller pushers.  My youngest daughter, Lily, wanted to see the movie, but not as much as she wanted to hang with her out-of-town tiny niece at the theater, so she was with our group, as well.

The lobby was a stroller-a-thon though the  two women purchasing tickets ahead of me were being charged regular price for not having a under two-year-old with them (which is what the fine print on the Cineplex web site says would happen), but they successfully argued they should be entitled to the same discount the rest of us were getting for the inconvenience of being surrounded by all those babies.  Now I have to say right off, if they really came to enjoy the movie, the constant interruption wasn’t worth the discount, but if they came to take in the sight of forty plus moms trying to take pleasure in a movie while nursing and changing and soothing and bouncing forty plus babies – now that was worth the price of admission.

Our driving across town had given grand-baby the chance for a solid nap so after a short period of calmly taking in the dimly lit room full of her baby peers, and then staring at the larger than life characters of Annie and Lillian on screen,  she was ready to sit on mommy’s head, or travel from mommy’s lap to grandma’s lap to auntie’s lap and back again, while experiencing the new sensation of being fed little iddy bits of popcorn. None of the babies cried for very long, rather they all took turns at crying for short periods of time.  Zoe and her friend were critical of the character development in the zany comedy, but who the hec knows how they could have possibly have followed the plot lines while keeping their babies entertained – though they and their movie going peers were all learning to be the mothers-of-all multi-taskers.

I figured twenty-one-year-old Lily would say that sitting amongst a roomful of wah-wah-wah-ing babies was a stupid way to watch a flick, but she loved her niece’s visiting her seat-side to press crumbs of sticky popcorn into her mouth, and insisted she was able to tune out the babies bawling over top of  clever lines such as the bride, Lillian, asking her messed-up bridesmaid, Annie, “Why can’t you be happy for me and then go home and talk about me behind my back like a normal person?”

At the  front of the theater was a changing table, a slightly lit-up spot where you would not miss a second of the soundtrack, but the audience had a clear view of you tending to your infants soiled diaper needs.  We noticed only one man in the entire theatre, and when he was the one to come stand in that light and expertly change his baby, I know most the moms were watching this macho figure in his baseball cap rather than Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph and wondering if their own baby-daddy would be so bold?

Stars and Strollers was an event, a gathering, shared camaraderie amongst a group of pretty new moms, allowing themselves – despite the squawking and wiggling of their infants – a  bit of entertainment on a weekday afternoon.  But I think I’ll go see Bridesmaids again – because I don’t feel like I’ve seen it yet.