Tag Archives: art

Reluctant Cheer Mom Tears Up, and Other Random Events…

Here’s what’s been going on around Hammond River the last little while (this stuff is true…not like my recent Mark Twain post!).

1. Regular readers of this blog know that even though three of our four daughters are or have been cheerleaders, I’m not a fan.  Anna’s first competition of the year was Sunday, and her team was so amazing, I actually stopped thinking about how much my butt hurt from sitting on the hard bleachers, and teared up a little!  Here’s Hope and Jake before we left:

Hope and Jake before competition (photo by Jim)...apparently you can tie Jake's ears in a bow...

Anna’s team made callbacks for the first time in five years! I guess those ten hours of practice the week before competition paid off! Here’s the team during the routine:

Harbour View High Cheer team...Anna is the one under the middle red banner (photo by Jim)...

The girls were even better in the callbacks, but ended up fourth (several spectators around us were as shocked as we were…we thought they’d won!). We’ll get them next week!

2.  Jim’s been buying camera equipment on Kijiji to keep up with the girls’ competitions…we met a guy in the Wendy’s parking lot on Monday night to buy a flash meter (Anna’s comment: “That wasn’t sketchy at all!”), and then drove to another guy’s house to pick up a lens.

3.  Monday night, I learned that not having a plunger in each bathroom is a mistake…Hope flushed the toilet in the “kids’ bathroom” and it started overflowing.  I panicked, and it took several minutes for me to turn the shutoff valve off.  By the time I found the “good plunger”, Jim had already used the crappy one to unclog the toilet!  Then I got to wash the mats and the dirty clothes which had been on the floor during the mini-flood.  Note to self…do not put clothing in the dryer with rubber-backed bathmats…little balls of rubber will come off, and permanently attach themselves to very expensive hoodies…

4.  Speaking of sewage, we found out this morning that the lot next to our place has been sold (bad news).  This means that the landlord is redoing the septic field (good news!), but that our yard will be torn up (it will be flatter when it’s finished…good news), and we will lose the lilac trees by our back deck that the birds like to hang out in (bad news).  On the upside, they will be redoing the driveway so that it actually drains instead of a 20-foot puddle forming in front of our garage every spring…the bad news is that the neighbours’ new driveway will be through our front lawn.

5.  Hope made cinnamon muffins, but neglected to read the mixing instructions under the ingredients in the recipe.  They tasted okay, but were rather lumpy and heavy.  She redeemed herself last night with some delicious chocolate chip cookies, which she proclaimed were better than mine!  I actually agree with her this time!

6.  Anna baked chocolate chip muffins, and almost forgot to put in the chocolate chips…she ended up poking them into the individual muffins just before putting them in the oven!

7.  Jim and I went to see the movie Source Code last night while Anna went to a school dance…I’m not usually a sci-fi fan, but I made an exception for the chance to drool over Jake Gyllenhaal.  It was quite good, and had us on the edge of our seats a lot of the time.  While we watched, I ate a couple of Lowney Cherry Marshmallow Creme Eggs…almost as yummy as Jake G.!

Jake with his "Source Code" co-star Michelle Monaghan...photo from tom-samp-journal.blogspot.com

8.  Anna found out this week that a design she submitted for the Drama Fest at her school had been the one chosen for use on posters, brochures and T-shirts!  Her teacher wanted her to submit a short bio to be included in the brochure…I wrote it for her.  We’re very proud of her!

9.  We’re hosting Easter dinner for the family at our house this year…Jim’s parents are serving Easter Breakfast at their church, and his mom says she’ll be too tired to cook.  We’re still on the hunt for a turkey (Kaylee can’t eat ham)…will try to find one tonight.  We also need to clean up our house for company!  I’m looking forward to seeing everybody, especially my “Puddin’ Pop”!

"Oh, dear...how did that get there?" Elise tries fingerpainting for the first time...

10.  I got a Facebook friend request from musician Thom Swift a couple of days ago…I “Liked” his fan page…maybe he read this piece I wrote about his concert last summer…


Filed under family, food, rants, satire

Facebook Ads That Made Me Go “Hmmm”…


My name is Wendy, and I’m a recovering Facebook addict (since I started blogging, I have a lot less time for Facebook now!).  I no longer have a farm on Farm Town, but I still play Scrabble, Lexulous, Wordscraper, Hexagonized and Bejeweled Blitz.   Because of my penchant for word/puzzle games, I get to see sidebar advertising on Facebook that is supposedly selected with me in mind…here is a sample of what I saw down the right side when I clicked in to play Scrabble this morning:

Wow...those are some sparkly lips!

The ad said: “FREE Samples Oct. 28

Hurry, these will go fast!  Top brands giving away free samples.  Enter your email to qualify”

My response:

Dear Random Sample Company,

I am not hopeful that coating my decidely un-Angelie Jolie-like lips in heavy metal is going to improve my appearance or my love life…what else have you got?  How about those invisible boob-lifters…do you have any of those?  I also like neat earrings.  My address is attached…please pack whatever you send carefully…our post office uses parcels for soccer games at lunchtime.

I could run all day for the rest of my life and not look like this...

The ad said: “Mom’s Weight Loss Rule

How to flatten that stubborn mid section effectively.  It really works, just read this story.  You have nothing to lose.”

My response:

Dear Seriously-Delusional Weight Loss Guru:

I could only look like the girl in the picture if:

a. I had not had three children over a 12-year period.

b. I stop including potato chips as one of the four food groups. 

c. I get more exercise than walking from the computer to the kitchen to get a snack.

d. I have extensive plastic surgery (full body/facial package) after a steamroller runs over my midsection repeatedly.

You say that I have “nothing to lose.”  On the contrary…it’s probably about 50 lbs. 

Signing off to take my brownies out of the oven.

I could eat a lot of pudding for $5000!

The ad said: “Be a Pudding Investigator

Enter for a chance to win $5000 plus weekly prizes.  Join Kozy Shack in investigating the ingredients in your pudding.”

My response:

Dear Kozy Shack:

 Sign me up.  I could really use $5000!  I feel it only fair to warn you that I suck at science, so any “investigation” of pudding ingredients I make will probably be rudimentary.  Also, I’m lactose-intolerant, so I generally avoid pudding all together (let’s just say that bad things happen when I eat it!).  I have attached my address so that you can forward the cheque.

Art??? I think not...

The ad said: “Unleash your inner artist

Realize your artistic potential on the Amex fan page and you could win a trip for two to NYC!”

My response:

Dear Amex,

I don’t have one of  your cards…my income is significantly less than your minimum requirement (and I get paid in ice cream).  I believe I reached my artistic potential in kindergarten when we glued string and macaroni on to cardboard, painted it, and then sprinkled it with glitter.  I humbly suggest that your pictured artwork might be more powerful if the big blue blotch were on the right instead of the left side.  I really don’t want to go to New York City…it’s crowded, noisy and scary!  I would love to visit my brother, who lives near Ottawa…could you throw in four more tickets so the kids could go too?  Oh, one more thing: I don’t fly Air Canada…it has to be WestJet (we’ll need a limo to Moncton, because they only fly out of Saint John in the summertime)!  Looking forward to our trip!   


Filed under rants, satire

Mom’s Incredible Spirit…

This past weekend, while others were dealing with the tragic memory of what happened on Sept. 11, 2001, I was thinking about my mom’s death on Sept. 11, 2007…this will not be a sad post, but a celebration of my mom’s life while she was here with us…

Mom will be remembered for many things, but I most appreciate her teaching me independence.  She left her home in Ohio to move 500 miles away to Southern Ontario, Canada…we had no family or friends in Canada at the time, but we moved anyway.  This was a huge step for Mom, who dropped out of university after a year because she was homesick (the campus was less than 100 miles from her home).  I think she often regretted doing that.  We continued travelling back to Ohio twice a year for many years after moving to Canada, despite what must have been very stressful trips for her and my dad.  “How much longer?” my brother and I would whine from the back seat.  In addition to lots of food to eat on the trip, she always packed little wrapped gifts for Jeff and I to open every few hours…nothing expensive, but something that would take our minds off the boredom of being in a car for 12 hours (my dad was/is a slow driver).  Many years later, I would move 2000 miles from home to St. John’s, Newfoundland.

Mom, a year or two before moving to Canada...believe it or not, she was almost 30 in this photo!

Mom had dabbled with art before we moved (one of my favourite pieces is a pen and ink drawing of my great-grandmother), but she became a lot more serious about art after our arrival in Ontario.  She began taking night school courses in photography and filmmaking at Loyalist College in Belleville, Ontario.  She started using acrylic paints instead of oils, and experimented with abstract work.  It wasn’t long before Mom began hosting art shows of her work, one of which included a multimedia live show which went awry one night (https://writerwoman61.wordpress.com/2010/05/27/pianos-projectors-pop-up-toasters-and-pigs/).  She got a job as the graphic artist/photographer for the Hastings County Board of Education, which Mom enjoyed for ten years before being forced to give it up due to illness (I worked as her assistant for a couple of years part-time while I was in high school). 

Music was always important to Mom.  Her dad played the organ, and she had played clarinet and saxophone in her high school band.  When she was in university, she was a music major.   She was very proud of having “perfect pitch.”  Mom played piano by ear (with two hands!), and she could sing.  Her first love was classical music: Vivaldi, Debussy, etc.  In the 70’s, she discovered Simon and Garfunkel, the Carpenters, and Roberta Flack.  She loved Roberta’s voice: “Killing Me Softly” was one of her favourites.  I used to think my mom’s music was too mellow, but folk is almost all I listen to now!   Mom also loved to dance, and would often do so in our living room with the stereo playing.  

My mom liked to bake chocolate chip cookies…I always admired her confidence in doing it without a recipe…she never measured anything, just eyeballed the ingredients.  We wolfed them down three at a time!  Cooking was not her favourite thing…she had a tendency to put the heat too high because she didn’t like to wait for things to cook!  Mom wasn’t very adventurous with trying new recipes either…she’d stick to tried-and-true recipes. 

We had a garden for the first few years we lived in Ontario…Mom would stay up late at night blanching vegetables to put into our big chest freezer.  I remember bags and bags of green beans (kind of like my freezer now!). 

Our house that we bought when we moved to Canada was old, and covered in something ugly called Insul-Brick.  Later, wood siding was installed, which needed painting every few years.  It was my mom who got out on a ladder and painted our two-storey house!  She also did excellent carpentry work, undertaking home renovations and building a large set of bookshelves for the living room by herself.  Mom had her own tools, and she wasn’t afraid to use them!  If my dad took something apart, it was often Mom who put it back together.

Mom always loved small things…her favourite style of photography was anything that involved using a macro lens.  I think that’s where I got my love of bugs!  She had dollhouse furniture from her childhood, and her great-aunt’s bell collection (which she added to).  In later years, she collected small wooden boxes and Sherman costume jewellery.

Mom lived very frugally for all the years she was married to my dad – she could squeeze a nickel until it bled (Dad was often unemployed, and it would fall on her shoulders to feed our family of four)!  When we were small, Mom used to sew a lot of her own clothes, and ours (she never knew how to knit or crochet though).  After I moved out of the house, she used the closet in my old bedroom to store things she bought on sale: shampoo, toilet paper, deoderant, paper plates, toothpaste, soap, etc.  She never wanted to run out of anything, and it made her happy to get a bargain.  To this day, I always buy at least two of anything on sale (she used to buy 4 or 5!). 

We got a dog when I was in my early teens (we had an outdoor tomcat too).  Even though Mom wasn’t really a dog person, she came to love our chihuahua mix, Pixie.  The dog was pregnant when we got her, and gave birth to four pups soon afterward…mom helped pull each pup out…Pixie’s beau had been a much bigger dog than she was, and the pups were huge!  Mom was adamant that all the puppies would be given away, and they were.  One night, Pixie led my mom on a merry chase in her nightgown through the suburbs in Bellefontaine, Ohio on a visit to my grandparents’ house.  Mom didn’t want to wake up the neighbours by yelling, so she just ran after the dog until she caught her!   Many years later, Pixie had to be put down…Mom never got another dog.

One of the things we used to tease Mom about was her coordination (or lack of it!).  Her many mishaps included: hitting a solitary apple tree in the middle of a field on a toboggan; falling out of bed and breaking her nose; and tripping and sliding into the grocery store on her stomach (she tripped over the wheelchair ramp).  Mom regularly broke her toes jamming them into things around the house.  My daughter, Anna, and I inherited Mom’s klutziness… 

One thing I didn’t inherit was Mom’s self-consciousness when it came to aging.  She always looked younger than she was, and was proud of that.  She took great pains to always have her hair done and her “face” on, even after she got sick.  Mom never liked people to see her without makeup. 

Mom had an amazing memory.  Before she died, she wrote the story of her growing-up years in a book, illustrated with family photos.  It is truly incredible what she remembered, and a gift to have her story in printed form.

Mom always encouraged my brother and I in everything we tried (and we tried a lot of stuff!).  She came to the shows we put on in our back yard, and didn’t try to talk us out of whatever crazy scheme we’d come up with!  When I left home at 17, she let me go, and took me back after it didn’t work out!  She talked me through relationship problems…I could tell her anything without embarrassment!  Mom was never stingy with advice…she would give it to you (often unsolicited).

Mom loved her grandchildren too…she had four (all girls).  I’ll always remember her teaching my kids the “Pat-A-Cake” rhyme when they were little.  They called her “Gramma” (which is what my granddaughter calls me now).  I wish she’d been able to meet her great-granddaughter…she would have loved Elise!

My mom and Kaylee...late '80's...

As much as I love and miss my mom, her passing was the best thing for her…Mom lived the last 23 years of her life in constant pain.  Today, I picture her dancing pain-free in heaven, and watching over all of us…I imagine she’s happy that I’ve finally found Jim, who loves me and makes me feel truly special (I wish he could have met her too)!  If it wasn’t for Mom, I wouldn’t be the confident woman I am today…thank you, Mom, for all you did for me!  I love you, and will always remember you…  

Mom in one of her last photos...


Filed under family, gardening, memories, self-discovery

Jane’s Homework Assignment…A Room of My Own…

Today, my friend Jane over at PlaneJaner’s Journey gave us a homework assignment (http://planejaner.wordpress.com/2010/07/13/a-room-all-your-own-really-its-only-for-you-now-comes-the-hard-part/)… I’ll wait here while you read about it…

(twiddling thumbs…doodling…staring around the room…wishing Anna would turn off Family Channel…)

Okay…here’s my dream room:

The #1 rule in my room is that no one under the age of, say, 25, will be admitted unless there is a copious amount of blood involved – no pets allowed either.  No one but me will be able to eat or drink anything in my room.

I'll need a sign like this...

I don’t know what colour my room would be…I’m really not interested in or good at decorating stuff.  However, it would be furnished with Victorian antique furniture (including the rocker I inherited from my mom, a comfy armchair, and perhaps a settee of some kind), so the paint would have to coordinate with that.  There would be an crocheted afghan that I made to wrap around me if I get chilly (any side tables would have doilies, also made by me).  There would be a desk with a computer (desktop – I hate laptops).  The desk would be fully-equipped with all needed equipment: pens, pencils, paper, scissors, stapler, ruler, glue, etc.  It would be completely off-limits to any child who can’t find school supplies somewhere else in the house.  There would be a stereo/radio (tuned to CBC) with all my albums (vinyl), cassettes, and CDs. There would be no TV in my room.  The room would be soundproof, both to keep outside noise out, and not to have children complaining about my music.

Something like this would be amazing, but alas, my windows aren't that big!

I would have shelves about 4 feet high on every wall which would be filled with books (including my collection of antique “Lucile”‘s), miniatures, my mom’s bell collection, her collection of wooden boxes, and other family heirlooms.  There would be an antique rug on the floor, and the walls would be full of Mom’s photographs and art, and some of my own acquisitions.  In one corner, there would be shelves constructed to hold my collection of Victoria Magazines (nearly complete, back to 1988 or so).

There would be a special cupboard filled with my personal snacks…the ones that I have to hide now to make sure I actually get some of them: multigrain tortilla chips, cashews, chocolate cherries, honey roasted peanuts, Smoky Bacon Ruffles, and red licorice (this may need to be LOCKED!).  A small fridge will be necessary for iced tea, lemonade, and spinach dip (for the tortilla chips).  I will also need an electric kettle for tea, and my own big mug.

I like this Blue Willow pattern mug...

I would use my room to read, write, listen to my music, crochet, or decoupage (another hobby of mine that I never get to do).

This is the kind of decoupage I do...

Now to answer the rest of Jane’s questions:

Do I deserve it?  Absofrigginlutely!  I’ve been a mother for almost a quarter of a century…I deserve some time to myself and a kid-free place to do that!

Could I accept a gift of a room for myself without guilt or worry?  YES!  I’d only be worried about keeping kids out of it! 

Could I give myself my own room?  YES…all I need is for one kid to move out!

Is this a “woman” thing?  I don’t think so…Jim often talks about having a room of his own too!

Now about Jane needing therapy…I don’t think I’m qualified to comment on that…

Thanks, Jane…now I’ve got something else to add to my “Bucket List” https://writerwoman61.wordpress.com/2010/06/02/my-bucket-list/ …this one is actually do-able!


Filed under books, family, music, self-discovery