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I went to Disney World, for the first time, on my 40th birthday.

As you do.

That year, they had a “Come to Disney for Free on your Birthday” promotion.

We were already going to be in Florida and it was the perfect excuse to go.  Disney isn’t cheap and as you may remember, Practical Man loves a good deal, yes indeedy.

He’s just not a huge fan of Disney.

Or crowds.

Or mouse ears.

mickey mouse ears

“You’re not going to wear those when I’m with you, are you?” I could already hear him asking at the prospect of my dreamed-about Mickey ears.

Umm…

SIGH.

I knew this would be the question he would ask because he asked it when I came home with rubber boots that had large, purple and pink flowers all over them.

And when I found the perfect artsy-hippy-dippy-trippy shirt.

He also asked it when I made the first large-ish felt flower for one of my hats.

my eyes showing underneath a blue hat with a large, red, felt flower

But, 20 or 30 large-ish felt flowers later, he’s kind of getting used to me now. I think he’s realized that he can still maintain his preferred position “under the radar”, even when I’m wearing something attention-grabbing, because people are too busy gawking at a 40-something woman wearing items normally associated with 4 year olds, to pay any attention to him.

I don’t mind the gawking.  Adults don’t smile nearly enough so, anything I can do to help in that area is right up my street.

My festooned, childlike street, of course.

(You may recall how much I love a bit of festooning.)

Back to my point, which is that we were going to be in Florida for my birthday, visiting my aunt and uncle.

My first hint that Practical Man didn’t really want to spend a festive 40th birthday day with his dearest at Disney was, well…okay, I married him, so I like to think I know about some of his likes and dislikes.

(I’m always studying, in case we we end up on one of those newlywed games, even now that we are 20 years into our romance.)

Anyhoo, the second clue was that for most of the drive to Florida, Practical Man kept saying to me, “Don’t you think you’d have a better time at Disney with your aunt?”

I tormented him through Pennsylvania and both the Carolinas and Georgia, but knew that, yes, I would have a great time with my aunt Feather at Disney.

She has no problem with Disney, crowds or mouse ears.

And, she encourages things like staying overnight in the Herbie the LoveBug themed Disney hotel (Hurrah!) and eating Mickey Mouse-shaped ice cream bars (Yum!) and not minding when her niece wears Mickey Mouse ears all day long over her sunhat, even though she’s 40.

I am 40ish going on 4.  Yep, that’s me.

As if it could get any better, the Magic Kingdom folks gave me a giant button at the gate that said “Happy Birthday Christine!” in two foot letters on it and every time there was a parade or a character going by (which was a lot), they would lean down from their stilts with a giant smile and yell, “Happy Birthday, Christine!” which Practical Man would have hated, but which I love-love-loved.

But, my favourite part was the parade that started, right after the sun went down.  All the floats were lit with thousands of coloured lights and it was warm and beautiful with my Aunt Feather and there were fireworks all for me, I’m sure, on my 40th birthday.

SWOON.

The Magic Kingdom really is just a festooned, childlike street, after all.

Have you noticed how “festoon” rhymes with “swoon”?

Last night took me right back there.  It was the Santa Claus parade in my hometown and I was invited to join Fairy Godson and his family and friends at the big event downtown.

lit up train float

Even though there were shades of Magic Kingdom in this festival of lights, Florida it was not.  I was wearing down-filled everything with an added layer of neoprene on my feet, thank goodness.

Brrrrrr.

My magic kingdom for some down-filled undies.

Even though the weather is finally turning a bit more wintery, just for the record, it’s still a bit too early for Santa.

Practical Man has rules about these kinds of things:  no Christmass-y stuff until December 1st.

Or, maybe that’s the earliest date I have cajoled him into.  We definitely follow the “out of respect for our veterans and their families, absolutely nothing festive until after Remembrance Day” rule.

Even though it was early, it felt like the festive season at the parade.  All the kids lined up to catch their candy canes and stickers and wave at Rudolphs with blinking noses and Elves and that giant marshmallow guy from Ghostbusters.

parade float - giant balloon marshmallow man

Who knew that Ghostbusters were festive?

My friend Grover, that’s who.

Fairy godson was taking it all in, with a line of other kids his age.  They were, like me, wrapped in down-filled everything, from head to toe.

Little boy wearing winter clothes

Sucking on candy canes, naturally.

I was jealous of their ear flaps.

It was 16 degrees Celcius yesterday afternoon, my friends.  The climate changed just in time for the parade and our recent rash of Spring-like-weather-in-November had done nothing to harden us for standing out in the festive wind coming straight up Princess Street, off Lake Ontario.

Did I mention I’d like someone to invent down-filled undies?

But, it was still as lovely as that time at Disney.

elf village, lit up

I had no mickey ears last night but, just look at all the pretty lights!

We waved at baton twirlers and gymnasts (there were a lot) and dancers and pipe bands.  We yelled Merry Christmas at passing elves and tigers and snowmen.  Float riders reminded us that “Santa would be coming soon” and we jiggled to the assorted Christmas tunes emanating from the passing parade.  There was even a ferris wheel float!

I’ve decided I’m a night-time parade kind of a girl.

No matter the season or the location, this kind of joyous, sparkly, celebratory event is right up my street.

santa's float

My festooned, childlike street, of course.

With a side of down-filled underwear.

Copyright Christine Fader, 2016.  Did you enjoy this post from A Vintage Life?    Share on Facebook       Tweet


“Auntie Kiss, it’s the first day of school!”

These words were fairy godson’s greeting to me this morning, when I arrived at his house to help walk with him on his very first day of school ever.

As in, it will never happen again, EVER.

It’s probably a good thing that Practical Man and I don’t have any children.

I don’t think the Kleenex industry could handle it.

Never mind that my heart has a tendency to plummet its beats per minute, without warning, and make me faint.   Yes, my biological heart is a drama queen.  But, my metaphorical heart is also kind of high maintenance.  I’m the person who cries during every Downton Abbey and Little House on the Prairie episode.  I can’t get through a whole verse when I’m singing the song that reminds me of Ugly Orange Sweater Guy’s mom.   I even get weepy at TV commercials (there was one when I lived in England, 30 years ago, that still makes me choke up.)

Suffice it to say, we go through a lot of Kleenex around here.  The extra-strength kind.

Yet, somehow, I manage to forget this fact from one minute to the next.  I run around in life, completely un-prepared, when it comes to mopping up my emotions.  The 3-ply Tempo tissues from Germany that I bring pillow-sized packages of back, every time I visit, are piled neatly in the hall linen cupboard. Practical Man buys the bulk boxes of Kleenex so we’re never, ever out.  I even have some lovely vintage handkerchiefs but, they are not tucked into the wrist of my sweater set, like they should be (in 1952).

5 vintage, embroidered handkerchiefs

Fat lot of good all this preparation and stockpiling does me when my eyelashes runneth over (as they do multiple times daily).

Case in point:  I turned up this morning and there was Fairy Godson, aged 4 years and 32 seconds, looking cute as a button for his first day of school.  Immediately, I realized that I Was In Trouble.

Double decker doo-doo kind of trouble.

If ever there was a day to carry on-board swaths of cloth for the mopping up of my eyelashes, today was it.

Little boy wearing a baseball cap

Sniffle, sniffle.

So, I distracted myself by helping his parents take the requisite First Day of School photos on the front steps and then, Fairy Godson and I headed to the back yard so he could open his “Schultuette”. This is basically a giant cone (the closer the cone is in size to the child, the better) that is a tradition for a child’s first time s/he goes to school, in Germany.  As my former German exchange partner said, “I’m surprised it hasn’t caught on in other countries.  It’s great for kids and also for commerce”.

A red German Schultuette with a ribbon tied around it. (Name has been smudged)

No kidding.

We can’t buy ready-made Schultuette here (but, this could be my million dollar business idea #823, ho ho!) so, Practical Man and I wielded the trusty packing tape gun and with some grunting and contortions, managed to fashion a piece of bristol board that I had cut, into some semblance of a giant cone, in which to put treats and school supplies.

A few M&Ms.  A couple of gumdrops.  Some jelly dinosaurs (a “Stegosaurus – that’s the one with the points on his back, Auntie Kiss”.)  Crayons.  Stamp markers.  Pencil case.  Frog and Ladybug magnets to hang artwork on the fridge.  Mini chocolate bars.

If my stolen idea from Germany catches on here, may I suggest one minor variation to the Canadian version of a Schultuette?   Ours should have treats and school supplies and TISSUES for the Auntie Kisses in the crowd.

Small boy opening his Schultuette cone

This is how you know your Schultuette has been a success: the child loses his arm down in it.

Sniffle, sniffle.

After all the treasures were discovered and Kite Papa gave Fairy Godson permission to taste one M&M and a jelly Stegosaurus from one of the treat bags in the Schultuette, we headed off for school.

I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Fairy Godson wasn’t sure what to expect either, since he was only born three weeks ago, by my count, but he was running at the beginning of the journey, so I’m pretty sure he knew that whatever was coming his way, it would be lots of fun.

Little boy skipping ahead of his mom

In the schoolyard, it appeared to be controlled chaos.  Kids and parents everywhere.  Giant backpacks on impossibly small-ish people and water bottles and teachers wearing name tags.  It was loud and busy and I felt as if I’d stepped inside the pages of a Richard Scarry “Busy Day” book (without the piglet firefighters).

I’m 47 and a half years old, not to mention 5’9″ and not waif-like.  I am pretty much built for handling a crowd.

Fairy Godson, on the other hand, is only 2 months old.

Oh, wait.

Anyway, he is small and sweet and was wearing a ginormous backpack that contained all the things he needed for his very first (never happening again, EVER!) day of school:

Lunch.

His water bottle.

A sweatshirt, in case it gets cool.

His “inside” shoes.  (Apparently, this has not changed since I went to kindergarten some 43 years ago.  Perilous the child without indoor shoes!)

And a partridge in a pear tree.

Why not?  Christmas is already happening in Costco, after all.  It’s only a matter of time before it ends up in kindergarten backpacks on the first day of school.

Small boy wearing a very large backpack

Fairy Godson’s Kite Mama pointed out some of his neighbourhood friends and friends from his daycare, too.  He was quieter now, looking around and holding his parents’ hands and taking things in.  It was very, very busy and hot and loud and all kind of new and strange, if you ask me.

Meanwhile, I was inwardly fuming.  I  couldn’t believe they didn’t let the parents (and Auntie Kisses) stay for the first week or few months.  Y’know, just to get everyone used to things, like how my heart is probably breaking and fainting because for goodness sakes, Fairy Godson is just a baby!

Look how small his shoes are and his little hat.

Sniffle, sniffle.

I was without tissues and I had turned into a helicopter Auntie Kiss.

The time came for Madame to lead Fairy Godson and his classmates into the school.  I took a deep breath and followed along at a distance.  And then, it happened.  This was the moment where Fairy Godson had second thoughts.  He clung to his parents and turned his face away from the red, brick school that he had talked about, with such excitement, all summer long.  He cried all the way into the school with Madame.  I cried right along with him.

We’re kindred spirits, y’know.  That’s how fairy godmother-ing works.

parents leading their son into school

Believe it or not, there was NO volunteer handing out tissues (or therapy) to the parents and Auntie Kisses at the door.

Heartless, heartless, education system.

I can say that, because I’m part of it.  I work at a university.  In fact, it’s my turn for the first day back, tomorrow.

Sniffle, sniffle.

Of course, I won’t have any tissues.

Copyright Christine Fader, 2016.  Did you enjoy this post from A Vintage Life?    Share on Facebook       Tweet

 

 



12 banana muffins sitting on a wire rackPractical Man–my main squeeze, my boyfriend, my love–is in the kitchen whipping up a batch of banana muffins.

As he does.

I am mostly sitting in his favourite chair (as I do), holding my belly button with both hands and trying to take deep, cleansing, banana-muffin-scented breaths.

My hands are cupped, as if I’m carefully holding a baby chick, but what I’m really doing is attempting to keep my belly button from making a fast getaway.  It’s a task that requires vigilance and dedication, even through my bewilderment.  I don’t honestly know why my belly button has forsaken me in this manner.  I mean, I’ve been good to the thing, over the years.

  • I’ve kept it (mostly) from being sun burned.
  • I’ve kept it (mostly) from being mercilessly tickled.
  • I’ve never pierced it (my sister holding the waistband of her pants out for two days after she had hers done a hundred years ago, was a good deterrent).

As in most things, I am a belly button goody-two shoes.

Yet, here I sit.  In full-on Belly Button Betrayal.

I got terrible books out of the library and Olympic Golf has officially come back.  This is what misery looks like, my friends.

Every once in a while, I limp into the bedroom to the full-length mirror and lift my shirt to look.

Is it still there?  In one piece?

Now, I’m navel gazing.

For real.

Except, not like Gandhi or Elizabeth Gilbert (author of the wildly popular memoir, Eat, Pray, Love).  Someone with important socio-political/existential/spiritual (Gandhi) or even spaghetti questions (Elizabeth Gilbert) on their minds.

I do have those questions but, tra-la-la, the Olympics are on.

So, I’ve been navel gazing for a week, on account of the laparoscopic surgery I had.  Note to self:  my belly button does NOT look like the ones on the Canadian beach volleyball team.

Actually, navel gazing and fussing.  Lots and lots of fussing.

I don’t remember Gandhi doing much of that, do you?  Maybe you lose your belly button when you’re fasting for important, civil rights reasons.  Not that I’ll ever know.  I came out of surgery after lunch, ready for a 3-course meal, since I hadn’t eaten since MIDNIGHT the night before!

I’m really more like Elizabeth Gilbert than Gandhi.

More foodie than faster.

Uh huh, that’s me.

By the way, do you think making banana muffins is a sophisticated avoidance technique?  Practical Man is…well, practical.  When there’s a problem, he usually has a very practical solution. And, making banana muffins does afford a brief respite from your fussing/navel gazing wife doesn’t it?  Actually, don’t answer that.  I’m not sure I care if it’s a sophisticated avoidance technique, so long as I get some banana muffins out of the deal.

Naval gazing and fussing.  I feel like that might be on my headstone some day, darn it.  Kind of sums me up pretty well at the moment.

And, while I am a talented fusser, as Practical Man can no doubt attest, I would like to stop.

Really, I would.

It’s just that I never thought my belly button could hurt quite this much.  On account of, I am a documented ‘fraidy cat and I’ve never had a single baby and everyone knows (or at least, I knew with utter certainty when I was 6) that babies come out of that aperture thingy in the middle of our belly buttons.

YAWN.  (That’s how I thought the aperture part opened, when I was 6.  The doctor would tickle it a little, and the mama would YAWN and then the baby on the bench nearest the belly button door, would pop out.)

Uh huh.  Inadvertent childbirth.  That must be it.

That’s really the only reason I can think of that my belly button would feel like it’s had a grapefruit pulled through it.

Ta da!

Ouch.

Maybe not.  As far as I know, there is no tropical fruit lurking in my belly.

I’m more of a vegetable–okay, carbs–girl, to be honest.  With an ice cream chaser.

Good thing, too since I now know how much it hurts to get (what feels like) a grapefruit pulled through your belly button.  All you women who gave actual birth to an actual human and not a grapefruit.  Pfffffff.  Sure, that’s cool.  But, I mean, really.

Have YOU ever had a grapefruit pulled through your navel?

It’s almost time to head to the mirror again.

Watch for my life-changing memoir:

Eat,

Fuss,

Banana Muffins.

Copyright Christine Fader, 2016.  Did you enjoy this post from A Vintage Life?    Share on Facebook       Tweet

 

 

 


It’s early Spring in south-eastern Ontario and oh, wait, what?

This just in:  the flowerbed is trying to kill me.

Based on how I feel about The Nature, you might have already guessed that I am not really a gardener type.  In fact, I’m rather a grey thumb.  That is, when plants get anywhere near me, they turn a sickly sort of grey and hang around, torturing me for a while with their droopy leaves and browned-up flowers and unrequited dreams of a life spent being watered, before finally expiring and leaving me with a plastic container thing-y that I don’t know what to do with.

I can’t just throw it away.  Those plastic plant containers take about a zillion trillion years to compost down.  Not like my poor, dead plant, which was composting (drama, drama) in the plastic container thing-y, long before it officially died.

Usually, I give the plastic container thing-y to Practical Man and he puts another plant in it.

Sigh.

Yep, he’ll plant a seed from the apple he was eating at lunch.  Or, the stem of the celery we have in the fridge.

Not to give back to me, oh no.

He’s not stupid, that one.

He does, however, have a very green thumb.  He can grow sticks, that man.  Not to mention, bits of kale from the grocery store that I cut off before chopping up some to put in the oven.

Show off.

Anyway, my point is that I don’t grow stuff.  So, I’m not quite sure why there is a flower bed out to get me.

flowerbed looking mulched and weed-free

Last summer, when the flowerbed and I had called a (all too) brief truce.

But, there is.  Right along the front sidewalk (which no one ever uses because we live in the country and in the country you always enter people’s houses through the open garage door), it lies in wait.  It and its companion on the sunny side of the house.

I have to confess that there are no windows overlooking the second flowerbed on the sunny side of the house so that one gets largely ignored because I can pretend it doesn’t exist.  It’s not as if I wander around the perimeter of the house and see it all the time.

That side of the house is out in The Nature people.  Don’t you read my blog?

So, I can see where the flowerbed on the sunny side of the house would feel put upon and maybe even downright hostile towards me.

But, with four windows facing directly out on it, the front bed gets a fair bit of attention.

It spends most of the day in the sun so it’s a little micro-climate of its own (that sounds like I’m all official and garden-y, doesn’t it?) that doesn’t require much intervention to keep things alive.  That is to say, Practical Man no doubt revives it while I’m at work, but, full of perennials, a couple of bushes, and no annuals, I can pretend it’s just magically growing on its own.   We mulched it last year with that store-bought stuff that looks seriously artificial and probably leaches chemicals into our water table, but I desperately wanted to make the flowerbed feel loved so that maybe, maybe, it would play nice.

I have viewed others’ gardens, replete with chemical mulchiness and they look lovely.  Tidy.  Weed-less.  Just like I thought ours would look.

Ha!

So, I don’t quite understand how when the blanket of snow came off and the softly-rounded heads of daffodils, pasque flowers and grape hyacinth started poking out of the ground, mere days ago, this source of Springtime pleasure and much celebration turned so very very quickly to Yes Indeedy, This Flowerbed Is Trying to Kill Me.

More on that in a moment.

In other gardening news, we pulled out two giant clumps of bushes in the lawn last summer and Practical Man has put down repeated layerings of grass seed, only to have the spots – a year later, still look like male-pattern baldness in our lawn.  Now, the baldness doesn’t really matter because seeing it would require me to go out in The Nature, to fume over that which some suburbanites would find an atrocity, but I really don’t understand why grass won’t grow very well, even for a green-thumbed Practical Man, when you want it to.

Except if it’s in the flowerbed.

The flowerbed, which has only been “awake” (that’s probably not an official, garden-y term) for a little over two weeks, is full.  Full, I tell you, of evil, extremely healthy and prolific G-R-A-S-S.  Several, virulent country types, no less.

flowerbed full of grass (and a precious few flowers)

All that green stuff?  GRASS!

All that straw-looking stuff?  More GRASS!

grape hyacinths and GRASS

Oh no, you can pretend you’re a grape hyacinth all you want – but I know you’re in there, GRASS!

And not the male pattern baldness kind either.  This is full-head-of-hair-and-lots-coming-out-the-ears grass.  Clever, clever grass that sneaks its way up the middle of a single iris stalk, barely out of the ground.  If I didn’t hate it so much, I would admire its sneaky tenacity.  To remove the grass root means digging up the entire bulb and painstakingly teasing away the grass.  Painstaking is not in my vocabulary (unless it’s painstakingly licking every last drop of chocolate off the tinfoil it arrived in) and I can’t deal with more plant murders on my record, so I’m not doing that.

This weekend, while Practical Man installed the mower deck on the tractor in preparation for acres of lawn mowing over our male pattern baldness areas, I decapitated grass shoots in approximately 3% of a square foot in our front flowerbed and tried not to get all fainty (from the bending over and standing up) or spinny (from the turning my head recklessly looking for sneaky grass shoots) or fall down, weeping hysterically, every time my eyes accidentally swayed to the right or left of my “section”.

It was like doing hard time.  Like I was on a chain gang, except with grass and fainting and spinning.

Okay fine, there may have been some Feels Like Jagger music to help me cling to my sunny disposition. A girl can only take so much murderous intent from a flowerbed before she has to find her flowerbed anthem–What Doesn’t Kill You (Makes You Stronger)–and sing along with Ms. Kelly C.

It was at some point during this torture with a peppy soundtrack, that I remembered something.

Something wise and scientific and mostly, probably, almost certainly true.  I recalled what my former colleague and (this is an official and garden-y designation) Master Gardener friend used to say:

“Perennial gardens are meant to be looked at from a distance.”

That means:  keep far, far away from the flowerbed that is trying to kill me.

If you do, I might just get out alive.

Tra-la-la.

perfect flowerbed - but only for a moment

Best to focus on this: the small moments of truce between me and the flowerbed.


Last week, I traded maple syrup for mold.

What, what, what?

Maple Sap bucket full of sap attached to a tree

Yep.  You see, around these parts, it’s maple syrup season.  I wrote about the details of this rural Canadian pastime last year.  Basically, it means a whole lotta:

  • gathering of sap
  • obsessively clicking The Weather Network’s website to see if the conditions will be right for sap flow
  • collecting sap into barrels and piling snow from around the yard against them so the sap won’t spoil
  • obsessively clicking The Weather Network’s website to see if the conditions will be right for sap boiling
  • spending from early morning until evening standing over a giant, homemade, sap-boiling extravaganza while sticky steam gives you a sort of reverse facial and, if you’re me, you somehow get a sunburn on your legs, even though you’re not really an outdoor girl and you probably only helped for a grand total of 15 minutes AND you were wearing two layers of clothing
  • skimming and scooping and skimming and scooping and thwacking the thing that you used for skimming to get the sludge off and then some more skimming and scooping
  • and so on and so on…for about 4-6 weeks

Practical Man l-o-o-oves this time of year.  He is in his element.  That is, out in The Nature, that I love not quite so much, and making something out of mostly nothing.

What could be better?

Practical Man moving sap from one pan to another

He looks cute in his lumberjack shirt and he smells of yummy wood smoke after a day of boiling sap, so I go along with it.

What can I say?  I am weak for wood smoke and plaid clothing.

Anyway, the whole maple syrup thing, while quaint and stereotypical for some of us rural Canucks, is a LOT of work.  There are many more bullet points I left out of my list above, because I thought you’d get tired of reading them (and I know I get tired just writing them) and I definitely get tired doing more than a few of them, so I am pretty much only a sporadic cheerleader, inept and inconsistent skimmer, lunch runner and such.

I’m basically maple syrup middle management.

Luckily, Practical Man is not a complainer by nature.  Even though he’s married to a person who is a complainer about The Nature.

During one of the sap boils this season, I realized I had a bonafide excuse for getting out of maple syrup work and I gleefully embarked on it.

Dressed to kill, as you can see:

Me, wearing an elaborate breathing mask

We have recently met some new Boler Buddies–people who are in love with the cute, vintage, marshmallow-shaped trailers known as Bolers in Canada and Scamps in the US–and we have offered to fix up their trailer a little, so they could try camping in it this summer.

Boler trailer with orange bottom and cream top

This is our Boler Buddies’ Boler…but I’m sort of pretending it’s ours, even though I’m obviously giving it back once we’ve finished with its spa treatments.

Having two Bolers on our property made me as giddy as a Practical Man, boiling sap.

Tra-la-la!

So giddy, that I didn’t mind at all the first job involved with the little jewel:  scraping the un-adhered interior paint, applied by a previous owner, where it had been disguising some fairly extensive surface mold.

Mmmmm.  Mold.

And you thought my breathing apparatus getup was just for fun.

Scraaaaape.

Scraaaaape.

Scraaaaape.

Scraped kitchen walls in the Boler - paint chips everywhere and mold visible

I was scraping with a cool, rounded scraper thingy that only a Practical Man would own.  It didn’t damage any of the interior insulation (called Ensolite) but it niftily scraped off the loose paint.

From outside the little Boler, it sounded as if a very large rodent was trying to claw its way out.  But really, it was just a very large rodent who was not helping with the sap boil, whatsoever.

Ha!

Inside the Boler, there was lots of flaking paint.  Lots of surface mold.  But, the definite bonus was that I could pretend I was Darth Vader with a sunburn.

I do recall he was pasty like me, when they took his mask off.

Anyway, my arms jiggly from the scraping (yep, that’s why they’re jiggly), I then got to use one of my favourite tools:  the shop vac.

Wee-whoo!  I love me a shop vac.

Lady Gaga and I shop vac’d the flaking paint up a storm (and chipmunk droppings accumulated during the Boler’s 14 years bravely surviving The Nature).  There may have been some gyrating hips, I do confess.

What happens in the Boler, stays in the Boler.

Tra-la-la.

Copyright Christine Fader, 2016.  Did you enjoy this post from A Vintage Life?    Share on Facebook       Tweet

 


Tra la la.  It’s finally happening:  the heady days of March in southern Ontario.

Oh sure, there have been blizzard warnings (and worse–actual blizzards!) the last three Wednesdays in a row, but that can’t drag me down because I know, with a cheesy song in my heart, that Spring is just around the corner.

Practical Man on riding snowplow

Practical Man, out in the Spring weather.

Yes, indeedy.

That mythical, magical time that we collectively fool ourselves into thinking is in March–when actually, let’s face it people, it’s really May–but no matter, it’s time to start psyching ourselves up for it.  Watching for any sign, no matter how teensy-weensy.

Ahhhhhh.   Spring!

Is that an above zero Celcius breeze I feel tickling my neck?

Is that the asphalt/gravel on my driveway peeking through already?

How time flies (when one is pretending one is on vacation with the rest of the country, in the Caribbean)!

This is how we Canadians survive the winter:  we pretend we live in Victoria, BC.  We pretend winter only lasts from after Christmas until late February, unless of course that pesky rodent–friend to no one but The Weather Network (I mean, how can they lose?) on February 2–dooms us to what we all know is inevitable anyway:

that is, It’s Still Winter.

But, let’s not go there.

Surely, Spring is on its way.  Just around the corner.  Past that eight-foot high pile of dirty snow in the parking lot.

Surely.

I can tell that Spring is nearly here by the way the complaining from my fellow Ontarians gets louder around this time in March.  Even though we’ve barely had three weeks of real winter this year, it’s already begun with a vengeance.  Yes indeedy, we love us some complaining about the weather.

It’s too CO-O-O-O-L-D!   (Only Rolling Up The Rim appears to provoke any joy when it’s cold outside.)

Too much S-N-O-W-W-W-W-W!

Then, a few short months later:

It’s too HO-T-T-T-T!

It’s so H-U-U-U-U-MID!

No wonder Mother Nature is confused.

I can also tell it’s nearly Spring by the way the light changes.  The changing light signals my urge to compulsively start sewing things for our vintage Boler travel trailer and our vintage, Fiat 500.

Useful things, like bunting and flowery pillow head rests.

Boler bunting

Bunting I am making to festoon the Boler. I love festooning!

I’m like a pregnant woman in her third trimester (or a Canadian on the brink of March).

I’m nesting, yep.  God knows there are no birds doing that yet, even though, it’s practically (insert hysterical giggle here) Spring!

And, lest you think this is some sort of vintage-inspired female hysteria, men are not immune, either. Practical Man has been sniffing the air for weeks now.  Air sniffing and more recently, hole drilling.  Nary a maple tree in these parts is safe from his scrutiny.

It’s March after all.  The season of joy, the season of nature’s bounty, the season of MAPLE SYRUP!

Oh sure, you need an ideal temperature of 3-4 degrees above zero during the day and 3-4 degrees below zero at night to produce the sap flow necessary for nature’s bounty.

No matter that it’s still -9 plus a windchill.

That doesn’t stop Practical Man from obsessively clicking over to The Weather Network and wielding his trusty tools until there is a tidy sap line just poised for a thaw.

maple trees with sap buckets attached to them

One of Practical Man’s many sap lines, 2016

Tra la la Spring:  we are READY for you.

See you in May.

Copyright Christine Fader, 2016.  Did you enjoy this post from A Vintage Life?    Share on Facebook       Tweet


vintage crokinole board - wooden - with wooden checkers on it
When I was about six years old, I remember my normally sweet-tempered dad getting all bent out of shape.

We were playing Old Maid and I was winning.

He was working on his PhD in engineering at the time and I think it perturbed him greatly that despite all his life experience, knowledge of standard deviation and parabolas (or whatever) and genetic predisposition (his mom–my grandma–was kind of a game genius), he couldn’t beat his eldest child at a simple, children’s game of cards.

Or possibly, it was the way his six-year old triumphantly cackled and danced around when he was stuck with the Old Maid (I’m sure I was just pleased to be making up for the indignities of a patriarchal society that thought that the punishment in a card game should be called something so awful, so tragic, so open to mockery as a SINGLE WOMAN OVER A CERTAIN AGE.)

This was before Bridget Jones, dontcha know and okay, so I might be having some slightly retro-active indignity not actually experienced at the age of six.

Anyway, sexist game name and premise aside, there’s another reason that I rarely play games these days.  It’s because even though I am a delight 98% of the time, it turns out that when it comes to games, I am like my father.  Since neither my father nor I appear to have inherited his mother’s game genius gene, we do, like most humans, tend to lose sometimes.  A situation that leads quickly to the confirmed evidence that we are what you call Very Sore Losers.

I hope no one writes that on my tombstone.

And, I have become quite familiar with this darker side of my personality because when Practical Man and I have played Poker on holidays or Cribbage when we are camping in the Boler, he wins EVERY TIME.

And, not to put too fine a point on it, but actually “wins” is too mild a word.  “TROUNCE” is more like it or maybe “WALLOP”.   I sort of get it when it’s Poker (even though I’ve played since I was a pre-teen) or Cribbage in the Boler (because, how can I concentrate when I’m hanging out in the Boler that I l-o-o-ve?) but, I have the role of public wordsmith in our family.  How come he always, always beats me in Scrabble and Upwords?

It’s annoying, I’m sure you can understand.

All this losing and blah, blah, blah.

So, then I act all mature and refuse to play.

But, since it’s the festive season and in our family, that is a time for games, I suggested to Practical Man that we have a couple of friendly games of crokinole on Christmas Eve.

Y’know, just for fun.

(In the interests of full disclosure, my mother’s side of the family are crokinol-ers from way back.)

Practical Man asked me for the rules, all innocent-like and then proceeded to TROUNCE and WALLOP me in game one, despite my God-given genetic pre-disposition to crokinole greatness.  So, we started on game two of the best of three and suddenly, inexplicably, it seemed as if I actually stood a chance at winning.

It was practically a Christmas Miracle!

Even better, Practical Man had the unfortunate luck to hit the crokinole checker directly into one of the pegs on the board, four turns in a row.  If you haven’t experienced this, let me just emphasize that when the checker hits one of the pegs on the board, it bounces back at you in a fairly humiliating sort of way.

Mwah, ha, ha!

On the fourth time, so giddy was I about the prospect of winning a game that I succumbed to a fit of giggles which quickly turned into “can’t stop laughing” followed by “falling off chair laughing” which is the universal sign in my house for “she’s about to faint“.

And so ended my magnificent path to crokinole glory.  I had to spend the rest of the evening on the couch with my feet in the air, trying to get my nervous system to calm down and the blood flowing consistently back to my brain.

Nervous system:  I know I’ve told you this before, but, you are seriously high maintenance.

And by the way, I WAS WINNING!

My great grandparents’ crokinole board from the farm in Grey-Bruce County lives with my uncle Gruff and his family.  The original wooden board was always super polished and smooth or as my dad would say:

SmooooTH (rhymes with “tooth”).

(When he’s not being A Sore Loser, my father tweaks language in delightful ways like this.)

You could see your face in that crokinole board.

Having been thwarted at winning once this week already, I decided to press my luck at the Boxing Day festivities at my parents house.

Before I knew it, I was sitting down to a friendly game of crokinole with my two cousins and Practical Man.

I was pretty sure that with me and my two cousins SURELY all having at least a pinch of the family crokinole gene, I was definitely on a winning team.

Game one went like this:

  • Practical Man and my cousin (team one) scored 80 points (we were playing to 100) in round one.
  • Me and my other cousin (team two) scored 10 points in round two.
  • Practical Man and my cousin (aka crokinole shark) took the game in round three.

Ladies and gentlemen: I give you possibly the world’s shortest crokinole game.

Cue my Sore Loser face.

My uncle Gruff’s daughter number two subbed as Practical Man’s new partner.  Gruff’s first daughter and I decided that we were not “Losers” but rather “Points Deficient” (also – we were fond of the fact that PD is much harder for the enemy team to sign on their foreheads than L).  Being only Points Deficient and not Losers, we talked the talk.  We were “working a strategy” for the best of three games.

Then, she confessed that she had drunk more wine than she thought.

So, I did my best to distract the enemy team  by blurting out random diversions like “German slippers” and this helped me and my cousin (aka tipsy teammate) slide to a tenuous victory in game two.

I was on a winning team!  Well, at least a tied-for-winning team.

Then, it was game three.  Turns out that Gruff’s daughter number two alternated between being a crokinole savant and being the Julia Child of crokinole (that is, highly entertaining while simultaneously klutzy).  Her partner, Practical Man, used some of his more aggressive manoeuvers to fling checkers off the board and on the carpet but, he was often successful at clearing the board of our checkers.  My partner and I patiently gathered points, clawing our way, step-by-step ever closer to the magical 100.

It took a while.

There was a round with only 5 points scored.

There was a round with ZERO points scored.

Ladies and Gentlemen:  I give you possibly the world’s longest crokinole game.

And then…

Cue my Sore Loser face.

The darn posts on the board:  they leap out at your checkers, not to mention, we are highly suspicious that they may be magnetic.

My grandpa and my uncles could all do some kind of Jedi-voodo-crokinole magic and bounce their checker off pegs, knock about three of the opposing checkers off the board and land snugly in the hole that is worth 20 points.

Sure, sure.

I’d like to see them beat me at Old Maid.

 

Copyright Christine Fader, 2015.  Did you enjoy this post from A Vintage Life?    Share on Facebook       Tweet