Friday, January 08, 2016

A week's worth of 2016

Yeah it's pretty much the same.

Since I don't make "resolutions" because I believe that's just a great way to disappoint yourself, I like to make one simple goal. One year it was "Go to bed before 11:00"  and one year it was "Have a more beautiful house."  This year it's even simpler: one word.


What is most important?  What needs attention now, and what can wait?

It's actually not simple at all.  It can get into time management and house keeping and relationships and money.  But in a totally paradoxical way, it absolutely can be simple and easy, because it's about importance.

I'll tell you what though, I really tend to make my couch-blanket-dog combo very important.  Right now at this moment I'm okay with that.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The 2015 Provide Your Own Blog Party Christmas Holiday Adventure!!!

Hi folks.  We're doing things a little different this year! Our Annual Blog Party post will be a more collaborative effort.  Sometimes we gotta change things up.  You're going to help me with this.  Ready?  Of course you're ready.  You're always ready for a party.

What would you bring to a party?

Please bring the imaginary version of that.  To the comments section.  It's imaginary so go nuts!  Bring whatever you think my Blog Christmas party needs!  It doesn't even have to be food and drink related.  Surprise me.

And WHO would you bring to my party?  

This year I would like to bring the new Prime Minister and more importantly, fellow Christmas Baby, Justin Trudeau.   Let's bring Justin's brother, Alexandre, too!  He's also a Christmas Baby! And while we're at it, let's bring Annie Lennox, because she's not just awesome, she's also a Christmas Baby!

Of course I'm going to invite Johnny Depp because duh.  No brainer.

How about we ask Tilda Swinton to join us?  She could wear head to toe silver sparkles and be our own ethereal disco ball of happiness.  And Dolly Parton.  Because why wouldn't we want Dolly Parton to be here?

Who else do you think would add some life to the party?

How is your Christmas season going?

You good?  You tired?  Have you at any point decked halls, gone for a sleigh ride or slept in heavenly peace?

Let's have a competition for worst Christmas song or movie.

Go for it!  Don't hold back here.  This is important.  Like, I thought The Holiday was a huge waste of both Jack Black and Kate Winslet but I really like the little English cottage.  (Which I have recently read was fake.  Why do I look at the internet at all?  Dream crusher.)

Tell me what you liked about 2015?

I can tell you what I liked about this year: I got a house to live in.  If nothing else good happened, that would do.

Got any plans for 2016?

I think this year I'd like to get my s**t together.  That's a worthy goal, not?  Just vague enough that a year from now, I can find a way to say, yeah man.  I really got it together.

Let's party out this year ok?  I'll keep checking in until New Year's Eve, which is tomorrow.

Bring the party to me, people!!!!


Thursday, December 24, 2015

Hey you all. Merry Christmas!


- turning 45.  I've never been 45 years old before.  Should be interesting.

- waking up in my own house on Christmas morning. We always spent it at the farm.  Except that one time we went to Florida.  That was weird!

- spending Christmas Eve after church at the farm with the folks… and then going home.  To our own house.  Where we will wake up the next morning.

- having the extended family over for a meal on Christmas Day.

- getting in a car to go to the barn to do chores.

- being in town.

-walking our dog down to the river.  Which is not frozen over yet.  Because we are having a wet green Christmas.  Which is not a first.  It's disorienting and convenient and non-scenic but we've done this before.  Just not this close to a river within walking distance.

If you're looking for a blog party, it'll happen between the 26th and the 30th.  Keep checking ok? I must go clean my actual real house.  Hey, we even set up our pathetic little Christmas tree in our upstairs TV room.  And there's a tiny one on top of a speaker in the control room.  And cards all over the top of the upright piano.  THIS IS ALL REAL.  Hey we even put up…. ready for this…. Christmas lights.  First time ever.  LIKE NORMAL PEOPLE.  Our Smallburg neighbours will keep thinking we're normal.  Shhhhhh.  We're keeping it quiet as long as possible.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!  I hope you find some heavenly peace.

Monday, December 14, 2015

It's just a truck. It does not have feelings. It is not a living thing.

 We decommissioned my pickup truck.  We retired it.  We parked it in front of my dad's shop, pulled all the funny pins out of the headliner, took off the plates, and walked away.  It's over.  And I'm sad, dammit.

You know how ever since I started writing this blog, ten years ago, I've been driving the same truck?  The behemoth formerly known as the Mothertrucker, then affectionately renamed The HONEYBADGER.

1989 GMC Sierra.  Burgundy and silver, extended cab, long box.  Extra leaf springs on the back, supposedly to make it capable of carrying more weight, but most of the time just made it look extra badass.  I put fancy taillights on it and had my husband take my picture leaning on the tailgate, looking all sneaky.  People recognized this ridiculous rolling display of overcompensation.  They'd see the red GMC logo coming at them from between the squinty square headlights and they'd wave.  There goes Heidi.

summer 2015 - the most badass truck ever.  A little too badass actually.  

The rougher and uglier it got over the years, the more fun it was.  There is something gloriously liberating about driving a vehicle that just does not give a crap anymore. After the paint job when we first got the truck, I swear I physically felt every little scratch and poke and dent, but eventually the fear fades.  I mean, obviously you don't want to get hit, but I'm just saying, dirt roads aren't cause for anxiety because what's a coating of dust going to do?  A trip through the pasture to load up some good three year old compost out of the pile?  No problem.  Even though I carried a can of wet wipes and spent a lot of toonies on vacuuming -- I'm still a GIRL after all, geez -- I just did not worry about the wear and tear of life.  Heck, this truck got hit a lot while we owned it.  Once, we got a different door, painted it silver, and kept going.  Another time, my son got rear-ended at low speed on his way home from school, by another, newer and shinier truck.  The other guy straightened out his front license plate, they both shrugged, exchanged info, and kept going.

Things would sometimes fall off my truck, but if it was anything important I'd just throw it in the box and head on my way.  Things would sometimes stop working.  Occasionally if I left it long enough, things would sort of fix themselves up.  Yeah, I don't know either.  I carried so much stuff in this truck.  In the box, and in the cab.  Dirty things in the box.  Dog and kids and groceries in the cab.

Dobby's last truck ride.  

The sagging headliner was held up by buttons from my childhood collection.  As if that wasn't enough of an indication of a borderline hoarding problem, I also stashed little pieces of other vehicles in it… the chrome trim piece from a Pontiac Beaumont (Canadian version of Chevy Chevelle) which wasn't worth anything to my ol' man's flea market stuff because it's broken and now only says BEAUMO.  I hid that in the cubby hole.  And the window crank from the same car found its way into the door pocket of my truck before the car itself went to the scrap yard.  It's like I'm still twelve, scavenging in the long grass.  I found an unlucky rabbit's tail a few years ago.  That rode around in the dash cubby with my insurance and ownership slips as well as an extra pen.  I covered the front seat with a rag rug, complete with carefully stitched holes for the seat belts.

My truck was an environmental disaster.  There is no reason for any vehicle to suck down that much fuel, especially in return for so little relative power, in this day and age.  It's a dinosaur.  It's way too much truck for a small woman.  But it's AWESOME.  I sit way up there, seeing everything around me.  I've got big side mirrors, enabling me to see all the way to the back bumper.  So what if it's too damn long to drive into a parking spot between two cars?  Backing in is so sweet and easy!  Even though we all had to train ourselves to think ahead in town, as in, if I drive into this parking lot, can I get back out again?  I mean, that just builds character, right?

I have loved this truck so much.   I feel good in my truck.  I feel right.  I feel like myself.  My dad is famous for his 60 year old green Ford truck.  As a teenager, I got to drive it to school a few times, and of course, got the farmer wave (hand raised, first two fingers up) from most of the fellas on the road.  They didn't look to see him; they didn't need to. In the last few years, I've been getting that wave.  We recognize each other by our trucks.  Guys with dairy herds and barns and garages stick a hand up as we pass on the road.  They know my truck.  They know me.  This must mean I belong, right?  It's like the truck is an extension of my exterior.

I have a ridiculous and irrational love for my truck.

It's 26 years old, we paid $1600 for it, and we have squeezed eleven years out of it.

But it's over.

I feel like I'm saying goodbye to an old friend.

So many adventures.

Bucky chose to drive the Honeybadger to school, first day of his last year.  

I'm not sure why.  For LOLS.  I guess.  

Selina moving out of her college apartment.

Leaving college with a truck load of worldly possessions.  

Dobby holding down the front seat like a boss.  Like a farm dog.  Like a farm pug.  

Dump run.  "Honeybadger" became a verb.  "Just gotta honeybadger this crap to the dump this afternoon."

Bus run.  Waiting to pick up the kids.

Scrap run.

Hay run.  

Magnificent beast, happily not blending in.  

Up until about six months ago, I was still considering what kind of paint we'd get to fix it up, and how exactly we'd solve the sagging door problem.  This was even after the taillights stopped working.  Since late winter, the truck has been playing the role of Cinderella… gotta get her home before midnight.  Specifically, before dark.  Not cool.  I should have known when the problem wasn't solved at home, and I was too cheap/broke to take it to the garage in town to get fixed, that it was as good as over for the ol' Honeybadger.  I felt so much worse than the growing embarrassment over its deteriorating condition.

Here's a list of what we couldn't do with our truck anymore:

- take it to the car wash anymore, because blasting it with high pressure water tends to make those little holes in the body bigger.
- drive it after sunset.
- roll the driver's side window down, not for the last two years actually, and this past summer I never knew if the passenger side window was coming back up again if I put it down.
-drive it without seriously considering how to get home if it quit.  It wasn't running well anymore.  My daughter was getting less and less enthused about driving it down the dirt road ten minutes to get to her job.  After we moved to our little house on the edge of town, I started worrying about the six minute drive to the farm for chores.

Basically, for the last month or so, we've been trying to get all of our truck-related jobs done before we get rid of it.  This really sucks, because when you've been a Truck Person, which I have been for much of my life, you get used to it and you get spoiled.  You even put up with being the Friend With The Truck and you don't mind doing truck jobs for people, because they'll give you gas money and sometimes pizza and DUH YOU GET TO DRIVE A PICKUP TRUCK.  It's so friggen great.  Driving a pickup truck might be a generally wasteful and egotistical thing to do if you're not filling the box every day, but damn if it doesn't feel awesome.

Until… it doesn't feel awesome anymore.  Until it just feels unsafe and financially infeasible.

As much as it feels like I'm taking a faithful old dog for a final trip to the vet, this is just a machine that has outlived its usefulness.  It's going to the scrap yard.  I'll get a few bucks just for the size and weight of it, but that's about all it's worth now.

I will still be me after it's gone.

I'll be me in a Volkswagen.  I'll get my hay delivered by a neighbour's tractor and wagon, and I know I can fit three bags of shavings and one feed bag in the little Jetta.  I know the lumber yard will deliver too.  I'm trying to rationalize how normal people get by without pickup trucks.  People do it.  I've done it for a few truck-less years.  I hope we can get another truck in the future, and it'll be a better one than this one was when we got it, and I'll get more than a decade out of it, and I'll love it, because I just believe if you're going to drive something, you should feel good about it.

We took all of the ice scrapers and seat covers and unlucky rabbit tails and emergency blankets and jugs of brake fluid out of the truck. Emergency blankets, one red mitten, somebody's undershirt.  I didn't ask.  Approximately twenty various tie-downs, bungee cords, and ratchet straps.  Tire bar, ball hitch, big red hitch pin.  The truck bat.  Because my son felt it necessary to drive around with a thing he named "the truck bat." I'll put all that stuff in the shed for the next truck.  Under the license plate.  Maybe some day a different, newer truck will wear that license plate.  Or maybe not.  I'm keeping the fancy taillights, just in case.  And… the grille, so that whenever I go get a gardening tool I can look fondly at the big intimidating red GMC logo, right at eye level where it belongs.

I was the small woman with the big ol pickup truck.

I will again be that version of me.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A Hick, a House, a River, a Pug, a Family, a Really Nasty Old Pickup Truck… life in Smallburg...

I would like to share the view from my front porch, in the first week of September, shortly after we moved into our new home:

Yes, if I sit on the steps of my front porch, I see a hay field.

I live in town.  That is a fact.  Am I okay with this?  Y'know what, I am!  I can see a field and trees.  There's a river close to my house, and it's surrounded by crop fields because it's flood plain, and there can't be any buildings.  To get to our house, you'd have to cross one of two bridges, because of the river on one side and the train track on the other.  It's like an island.  The other end of our street eventually ends up at a dirt road.  This is as country as you can get and still have fast internet.

Best part of all?  My husband shares this home with me.  And our two younguns, one working for a living and getting her business going, the other here on weekends while he's in college.  And the Pug of course.  And a lot of music gear.

It's been a loooong time with him working in the city while we lived on the farm.  We're out of the city.  We are no longer commercial property owners in Toronto and couldn't be happier about that.  He still has to drive in to do recording quite a bit but generally he's working from home.  We have just unloaded a huge amount of stress.

Technically, we live in town.  I have less wide open space - unless I focus on that flood plain field across the road.  But even though the neighbours are closer, this place feels very private.  Our backyard is surrounded by evergreen trees and lilac bushes, but there's enough space that I don't feel crowded.  Well, honestly, even at the farm I could feel a little crowded.  It's a busy farm area and I could see like, nine other barns from the farmyard.  I'm just kinda weird in the way that I don't want my neighbours too close.  It's okay, though.  I see trees when I look out the window.

But the house… wow.  May I brag?  I have to.  I waited six years to get my own house.  I love this house.  Oh my gosh.  I love the high ceilings and the 105-year-old woodwork.  I love all the old-house mysteries.  I am more amused than annoyed at the slant of the kitchen floor.  I love the front porch!  And the back porch!  And the flowerbeds!  I love the cellar with ceilings high enough for my men to stand up straight!  I love the four bedrooms!  I love the little yellow bathroom!  I love the pocket doors downstairs!  I love the super creepy attic with the prohibitively steep narrow stairwell!  I love the front room with the landing and dark stained bannister on the stairwell!  I love the side entrance with the cute 70s panelling with little foxes and deer on it, where I keep my barn clothes.

I just realized that my house has three staircases.  Geez.

It turns out this 1910 house and the much older farmhouse have a few things in common.

The farmhouse has this quirky stairwell and landing combo, where you can walk up a few steps to the landing, then either turn left to go upstairs, or go down the steps on the other side, and you're in the bathroom.  This house has a quirky stairwell and landing combo, where you can walk up a few steps to the landing, then either turn left to go upstairs, or go down the steps on the other side, and you're in the kitchen.

Another commonality would be old plaster walls held together by wallpaper.  The farmhouse has some uniquely bumpy walls.  My house has some obvious lath board under the plaster but I like it.  Half my house has been drywalled.  Which is fine.  There might even be insulation in those rooms.  That would be different.

Here's one more: Neither of these houses were built with heating ducts going to the second floor.  The farmhouse, which is probably older by several decades, gets abused by the north wind all winter and to keep from seeing our breath at night, my parents had baseboard heaters installed in the 70s.  Our new house only has one, in the bathroom.  Luckily, I had 20 years of growing up cold and the kids have survived six years so I think we'll be okay.

Oh, one more thing that the two houses share, which I love: ripply glass windows.  I will not replace them.  I'll get new storm windows on the outside but nobody is going to take away my old windows.

So as you can see, we moved to a different house but it's like it was just waiting for us.  It has so many things that I am familiar and comfortable with.  It has very quickly felt like home!!!

Obviously, moving to a place with streetlights instead of a solitary yard light has been a difficult adjustment.  Not gonna lie.  I used to have a bedroom that faced 20 acres of field.  I loved living at the farm.  I love the farm.  I mean, you've seen the pictures.  It's fantastic.

This was my view from the bedroom window at the farm.  I could see my garden and the field and the road and the other neighbour's field and the other road and then the other field and then the forest and some more field.  That was AWESOME.  

Want to see the view from my windows now?  I'm so lucky.  So, extremely lucky.  

Here I am going down my beautiful staircase to the window...

Oh look.  TREES!!!

Looking out the bathroom window, over the little shed (which will eventually become a legit studio to work in) and what do we see?  MORE TREES!!!

I walk out my back porch, and here's what I see: LOTS OF TREES!  And my extremely run down old Honeybadger of a pickup truck.  

(that is a whole other story by the way.  We'll talk later.  I looooove my truck irrationally and unreasonably, but I'm facing some harsh realities and I think you can guess where this is going.)

So basically, I can forget that I'm in town.  This road is way quieter than the highway in front of the farm.  I only see houses if I look out the front windows.

The biggest difficulty is the fact that my new home is on a town lot and I can't keep my horses in my backyard.  That really sucks.  I'm okay with it because I've decided to be okay with it.  I love my husband more than I love my horses (Don't laugh! It's true!) So I live with him in "town" and go out to the farm every day.  I've had a few days when I haven't been up to it, but I have everything set up so my ol man can zip out to the barn and take care of things.  I love going out to the farm.  And the drive to get there from my house is GORGEOUS.

Here I am, too dizzy and weak to ride, so I'm playing silly little games with my horses.  Copper is so bored, eh?  

Here's a picture of my pony parade.  It's so convenient; I can exercise all three of them at the same time!

Moe is always up for some quality time.  

I seem to need a lot of breaks, sitting on the barn wall, relaxing with my furry friends.  

Dice is always waiting for me.  Every morning.  

I drive to the farm twice a day.  It's a six minute drive.  Seven, if I get the red light at the highway.  There have been a few days when I'm not up to it… I'm feeling much better but I still wear out way too quickly and my balance is wonky.  The thing is, I like being there enough to get in a vehicle and go.  I don't really get that much horse time and I haven't had the energy to saddle up since the move.  It doesn't matter though; I get to see them and talk to them and give them some good pets and hugs and forehead scratches.  They always seem happy to see me.  They are kind of overweight, and Phoenix looks kind of bored, but Copper is way more relaxed and Parker is just his regular adorable cuddly self.  They are my equine therapists.  They do my heart and soul good.

As do the barn cats.  They are always waiting for me to show up -- at the grass beside the lane now, instead of the door of the house -- and I can't get anywhere without carrying a cat.  I have to.  I walk with a purring cat under one arm.

And, believe it or not, my parents are happy to see me!  I often go in after cleaning up the barnyard to chat with my mom.  My ol man acts like I never left - I'll be in the garden and he'll stroll up and start a conversation where we left off the day before.

So what about my dog?  Dobby is happy!  Within a day he'd figured out the difference between "home" and "the farm" and Grandma is really happy to see her "grand-dog".  Yep.  My bigger problem with taking this little country dog into a home in town is that he barks at everything.  Every leaf, every bug, every pedestrian.  I'm not sure if he's hyper vigilant and serious about guarding us, or if this is part of the adjustment process, or maybe he just has some extra barks in him that need to come out???

He got the hang of the smaller property well enough, but after the first week sort of tested his boundaries.  After I chased across two back yards and yelled at him to GIT HOME he has not tested his boundaries.  Poor guy.  He used to have pretty much free run of close the three acres.  Now he's got 50' x 115'.  No wonder he has to check and see how far he can go.  There isn't any fence budget so for the time being he'll have to just behave himself.

We sort of have a recording studio in our house instead of a living room/ dining room.  It's temporary.  Please stop snickering, yes I do know that temporary usually means years but I like having the work right inside the house.  He was gone so much for so long.  Ask me in eight months how I like it and I probably will be very ready to move the studio into a nice little tin shack in the backyard, but right now, this is good.  He's got a 10-step commute from where he makes his coffee to where he works.  It's nice.

So, generally, life is good.  Not perfect, but if life was perfect I'd be very nervously waiting for something terrible to happen and balance it out.  For the last month, I've been puttering around my house, unpacking things, moving things, cleaning things.  Reading and resting. Going out to the farm and taking a minute to soak up the view.  I haven't been writing much, but it'll come around.  It's in me and it'll come out.

Next… Well, I'm truck shopping.  I'm accepting it but I'm not happy about it yet.    This will be like parting with an old friend and we'll discuss it when getting excited about the project.

Know what else is coming up?  MY TENTH BLOGIVERSARY.  Should we have a party?

Monday, August 24, 2015

This is the day that my life changes!

Today, I am going to go over to OUR NEW HOUSE and have a little look around.  I'm going to look in closets and cupboards and corners.  I'm going to say, "Hello, beautiful house.  We are your new people!"

I imagined this ever since we moved into the farmhouse six years ago.  Back then, I imagined a whole other farm.  Well, that didn't happen.  It's okay.  The grandparents won't make my horses homeless.  A week ago today I had a small mental meltdown between the barn and the house.  How am I going to manage my horses from town?  How am I going to survive in town?  What if I don't feel well enough to drive out here? What if I don't have wheels to get out here?  What if I can't get to the farm and dad isn't home and nobody can do chores?

Okay, by the time I got to the door of the house, I had quickly processed most of that and talked myself back into solidity.  These are problems that mostly have solutions, and either way, not likely to actual disasters.  Not ideal, of course not.  But it's okay.  It's not so bad.

Most important of all?  My husband and I will be together more.  We need that.  This has been brutal.  He still has to go into the city to record in a big room - in fact, he's got 14 days booked in Toronto in September.  But the rest of the time, home.

I'm surrounded by boxes and chaos and my dog is not happy about this.  The next week is going to be insane.  This is a big move.  We have to disentangle our belongings from my mom's stuff, and move all the gear we're keeping from the studio to the new property.  Fortunately I've been feeling steadily better but I'm not up for heaving furniture.  I am going to be the traffic director.

I am totally overwhelmed.

I am extremely excited.

I'm not as scared as I was a couple months ago.

This is really happening.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Today my dog is TEN YEARS OLD!!!

Can you believe this adorable little feller is ten years old?  Dobby True Soul of Abbs, oh yes he actually has a full name,  has reached the double digits.  He's a little old man dog now!

(photo by Selina Bailey)

Dobby has claimed many firsts:

First house dog
First paid for dog
First small dog
First dog of a specific breed
First dog to actually get trained for a specific purpose (which was therapy dog, and then I decided maybe he could just be MY therapy dog, and he's been excellent at it.)

Right now, he is curled up on my left foot, snoring gently, but ready to leap up and bark like crazy until whatever got his attention gets scared away.  He's been pretty rustled up by all the boxes and suitcases around the house lately.  I keep telling him we are taking him with us!!!  

He's been a town dog, and then a country dog, and he's about to become both.  I plan to bring him with me to the farm regularly.  I mean, somebody has to bark at all the things, right?  And Grandma needs to have her pug time.  

I think I'm always going to have a dog in the house.  Preferably a pug.  I type this despite the fact that he just stretched and tooted.  Man, even his farts are cute.  Usually.  

He's been such a blessing to our family.  

I wonder if in October we'll have to have a big anniversary party, marking the ten years he's been in our lives.  But, he doesn't know.  We're making a big deal out of him today but he just turns his head sideways and wags his little curly tail.  It's like throwing a first birthday party for a baby -- the child does not know why there's been a cake placed in front of him.  It's not for the baby.  It's for the parents. Dog birthday parties?  Nah.  Just give him extra belly rubs.  

Maybe an extra chewy bone. 

update - he got a RIDE IN THE TRUCK!  We went down the town line, then down the next concession road, and back on the highway home.  He doesn't care if we ended up where we started, he got a ride in the truck and had a big doggy grin on his flat face the whole time.