Thursday, June 30, 2011

Cheap and glossy and underrated

I seem to have neglected writing here lately, in favour of clutterbusting and, well, life. The problem with writing about life is that when life is full, there's little time to write about it. There are other problems too, but they're for other days.

My life has been rich and developing lately. But because the hour is late and the house is hot and muggy, I will merely note that I tried something new yesterday. Something mundane and inconsequential, but I liked it.

I got a cheap pedicure.

I was far from home and needing to make some photocopies, when I found a UPS store in a strip mall. As I stepped out of the car I noticed that I was standing in front of a sign that said, "Pedicures  $20". "Pedicures  $20?" I replied. My polish was chipped, my toes were rough, and I'd been planning to spend an hour or two cleaning up my feet myself, one of these days...

Instead, I found myself stepping inside the cheap nail place, half-expecting, half-hoping, that they'd be booked. Clearly they weren't. Three women were lounging about, idly scanning magazines. One floated forward and glanced at my toes. "Pedicure?" she said. It wasn't so much a question as an assessment. I nodded, she directed me to choose a colour, and someone started to fill a sink.

The aesthetician smiled shyly and spoke little English. She occasionally conversed with her colleagues in another language. I mention this because it made me feel comfortable foregoing conversation. Instead, I used the time to email a friend and a cousin.

She was fast. Lightning fast. I had to rush to wrap up my second email. The polish even dried quicker than a salon pedicure. (Did she skip a base coat?)

Admittedly, the bottoms of my feet aren't quite as smooth as they could be.

But for just 20 minutes and $20 my toenails are glossy, pretty, purple.

And the massaging chair was just what my lower back needed.

I'm hooked.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


Since I like to write about the unexpected pleasures of suburbia, I just had to record the sight I saw today. Not entirely a pleasure, but certainly unexpected.
I was walking along with J in one hand and our dog Charley in the other, taking our little before-bed stroll.
Two teen boys approached and passed us. They said hi, I did the same, I looked away quickly, they giggled.
Why did I look away quickly? Because their arms were full of a six-pack and I wasn't sure what else, and I'm not one to judge youthful drinking too harshly.
But it was pretty brazen at 7:30 p.m. in full daylight, so I looked back to make sure I had seen what I thought I had.
Sure enough, they were carrying a six-pack of Budweiser. But to my surprise, they had tennis rackets slung across their backs and a can of tennis balls too. They were headed for the outdoor courts.
And I have to admit that I liked the idea. On a hot, muggy, mid-June Saturday night, two teenaged boys going off to play some tennis and drink some beer didn't seem like a bad thing. I'd probably feel differently if I were their parents of course. But exams are over. Summer's in.

Saturday, June 11, 2011


I took my son to the beach today. When we got home I was hot and sticky, still in my bathing suit, covered in sweat and sun block. We came in and I put down my keys. We walked out the back door to put the sand toys away on the deck. Whump. The door swung shut behind us.
Oh, no. Locked. Locked out. Hot and sticky and locked out. Stroller locked in the car. Husband in a golf tournament three hours away. Parents-in-law have a spare key. They're not answering; possibly on their way to church. Who knows?
Well, let's garden. We plant some shrubs. I'm now dirtier. A sunburn is starting to emerge on the back of his calves.
Let's just sit, sit here in the shade. We might have a long walk ahead of us. We need to make a plan. 
"Can we talk outside?" he asks.
"Yes, yes we can talk outside. What did you want to talk about?"
"How do you talk to a girl?" he asks. He is two, almost three. 
"You just talk to her.  Did you want to talk to that girl on the beach?"
"Yes. Just two kids."
"You wanted to talk to her without other kids?"
"Not two boys."
There were two older boys in her group, probably cousins.
"Honey, you don't worry about other boys. If you want to talk to a girl, don't worry about other boys. You just go right up and talk to her. Okay? Does that help?"
I love this boy.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The beauty out here

For the first time in a month or so, I picked up my feet and ran. It felt terrible. But it got better. I alternately ran and walked according to my body, pushing myself without hurting myself. In the stroller, J chatted, sang, and eventually fell asleep near the turn-around point. It was a relaxing return, with a sleeping toddler in tow.

I almost ran right by a fawn in some bushes to my left. Something made me turn my head, and suddenly I was eye-to-eye with a fuzzy little deer. When I realized that I had come to a complete stop I moved on quickly, before its mother made me.
As I ran on, I thought of these much-maligned suburbs. My neighbourhood is far from pretty. A grid of gravel roads, lined with ditches and 1970’s bungalows, few of any architectural distinction. Occasionally an original farmhouse, charming but out of place. Newer streets meander past 1980’s two-stories, full of oak and brass. The car is king. The closest restaurant has a drive-thru.
And yet, when I open my windows I hear songbirds and crickets. A rabbit lives in our yard. Deer stroll by at sunset. We are 500 yards from a trail that runs across the country. Across the trail and over the train tracks are working farms. We walk to the skate park, fields, and a driving range-and-ice cream parlour. 
Cat-tails frame the public tennis courts, and red-winged blackbirds watch the match.
The beauty of our neighbourhood isn’t its buildings. It is all around them. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Brooks Palmer wrote some interesting words about, I think, being true to yourself. A link to his post: Some Wisdom.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The marsh

I woke up feeling bad about staying up too late, again. Fortunately, our toddler let us sleep in. 

Then my husband reminded me that I'd asked to do something special together, just the three of us. 

So we went to the local wildlife centre. 
We headed for the the marsh, picking up a dip net and an empty margarine container along the way. Soon our container was full of tiny aquatic creatures. 
There was a horrific moment when a tiny beetle attacked and killed a dragonfly larvae in our container. I put the dragonfly back in the marsh, "to rest." I didn't think our son was ready for nature's dark side, but he seems unscathed. Perhaps spontaneous natural lessons are the way to learn about life and death. I should have been honest about what we witnessed.
Happily, we also saw lots of new life.
Turtles of all sizes; a pair of geese bathing with a gosling; ducks and ducklings doing their adorable thing. One set of ducklings dipped their heads into algae and then preened their feathers, over and over again. Another set swam behind their mother like a string of yellow pearls. 
In the rushes, red-winged blackbirds protected a nest cradling three blue eggs.
As we walked through the marsh I thought about my mother and how she would have loved to be here. 

“I think she is here,” my husband said. “That’s why we’ve seen all of this.”

Death filled my heart with sorrow; then my heart grew to make room for gratitude. 

Friday, June 3, 2011

Big-box carnival

I took my son to a weekend carnival in the parking lot of a huge hardware store.

It turns out that a parking lot carnival is an unexpected mix of ugly and serenity.

Would I rather have been hiking in virgin forest? Sure. But on a Sunday afternoon between nap-time and supper-time, with two friends, his and mine, it was a great place to be.

I think this has a lot to do with being in the moment, and sharing the moment.

Too often when I'm with my son I'm thinking about something else too. Like trying to figure out how to persuade him to plant the seeds according to the package directions without taking the joy out of planting the seeds.

But two moms at a carnival with two two-year-olds, and hundreds of strangers, are directly focused on those two-year-olds. I can't walk through a crowd without holding his hand tightly, and frequently confirming that yes, his perfect little hand remains in mine.

For those few hours my thoughts were almost exclusively: Where is J? (Yes, still holding my hand.) What does J want to do next? Is J enjoying the ride? and, Yes, J is enjoying the ride!

I thought those thoughts in the company of a friend, who was surely having similar thoughts about her own little boy. Likely less anxious, but similar.

We watched out for each other's sons too.

In between, while the boys rode tiny chariots pulled by sparkly ponies, we chatted when we wanted to, but not to fill space.

And we watched our sweet boys, and waved at them, and tried and failed to get a good shot with a pocket camera.

Then we sat on a bench overlooking the parking lot and shared those irresistible warm mini donuts that melt in your mouth and taste so good, even if it's almost supper-time.

I feel peaceful just remembering that moment.

Because it's good to be together, with the child you love and your good friends, and in the moment.