Flashback

Friday night I delivered some items to my old neighbourhood. When the woman gave me the address I became unusually excited. I dive by this neighbourhood occasionally, not frequently because I don’t have any reason to travel to Sherwood Park any longer, but every now and then it makes sense to use the facilities there. I lived out my childhood school years in Sherwood Park and while most of the time spent out there was not a happy time, there are pockets of wonderful scattered throughout. My parents provided my siblings and me great sheltered freedom to explore. I call it sheltered freedom because while it felt like we were alone and independent, they kept a watchful eye on our shenanigans.

Before my family moved to Yellowknife, we lived in a rental complex in the late 60’s/ early 70’s. This remains the best inclusive childhood memories where my imagination was rich and plentiful, the friends on the block matched my interests and there was very little influence from outside forces. I wasn’t fully aware of much other than things that focused on me. I was 2-5 years old.

This was the place where Danger Girl and I had interchangeable personalities. I was her and she was me. I wasn’t influenced by male superheroes to the point of I wanted to be them. I wanted to be my own superhero so I created her. She wore a cape and could fly. I would climb to the top of this shed that used to be 7 feet high. Now the same shed stands at 5 feet. Clearly, it shrunk over time.

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I remember my brother wanting to climb up with me, but I would never help him. My friend Tanya (who was also a Danger Girl) Sat on the roof with me while we waited for the help call to rescue citizens in peril. Once the call came, we flew off towards the woods. DEEP in the forest, we would rescue the Ghost family and their daughter Lucy. Lucy was my invisible pal (only seen by me) until I moved to Yellowknife. She didn’t move with me but stayed in Sherwood Park, close to her sister.

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I remember driving into Edmonton for Dairy Queen night in our pajamas and watching Bugs Bunny and eating Kraft Mac and Cheese while my parents got ready to go out. We had a closet on the stair landing that was filled with toys, but mostly I played with crayons, puzzles, Fischer Price Little people and my cape.

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My room was the top right window, my brother’s was in the centre. It was simple and in my mind idyllic. Often I take myself back to that time when my friend Tanya lived across from me and my other friend Tammy live down the way. We learned to ride bikes, skip and build forts. On rainy days we would listen to records and build inside forts.

When I had my kids I wanted the same childhood for them. They played outside all the time with neighbour kids and were covered in mud. They still laugh with their childhood friends when they see them. I recently reconnected with Tammy who lived down the block. An incredible gift because the old memories resurfaced. Old memories remembered while my family is making new ones. The perfect Family day experience. *Disclaimer* I remember in vivid colour but the photos are edited because it was dark as pitch – so everything looks sepia just like old-timey photos should.

Happy Family Day from mine to yours.

 

The Chain Smoking Angel is a Christmas Tradition in my house

I have spent considerable time reflecting and remembering on Christmas past. I decided to take on the Weekly Challenge at WordPress: Just Do It. My buddy over at Brown Road Chronicles inspired me and reminded me of the oddball assortment of Christmas decorations that adorn my tree. I am one of those Christmas Geeks who ‘theme’ out my tree. This year I have a Tiffany & Co tree,151071_10151349105206337_749003960_n

a Disney Tree,577823_10151359535226337_541165187_n

a Charlie Brown Christmas Tree404982_10151307316561337_1108099625_n019

and of course, the regular tree.

Decorating the tree was always a huge deal in my house. It was my mom’s favorite time of year. Now that her favorite little one’s (the grandkids) are all bigger than her, some of the magic sparkle has left the holidays. We cheer her up by sitting around after dinner/breakfast/lunch/dinner and reminisce about Christmas Past.  (Proof that I existed):73256_10151359512121337_124215547_n

That is me (pre-clown hair) in 1968 with my groovy cool dadeo.

When I was 4, we moved to row housing in Sherwood Park. This was my first Christmas memory. I remember getting Baby Tenderloin and 64 crayola crayons. All I remember of my brother was him in flannel pjs. I remember my mom hanging a box of angels on the tree. It was the 60’s, angel’s came in bulk. These fancy angels all were holding ‘so called’ candles. They never fooled me for one minute. These angels were chain smokers.

In those days everyone smoked, so it never occurred to me that angels wouldn’t. This drove my my crazy, “THOSE ARE NOT CIGARETTES!!” The more she denied it the more my brother and I were convinced she was lying. Mom carefully bent the ‘candle’ perpendicular with the angel and my brother and I spent hundreds of hours bending the candles so the angel could smoke. Tell me what you think.

Non-smoking angel:photo 1 (2)

Smoking Angel:photo 2 (1)

She even had a groovy black filter and kind of looked like Phyllis Diller. See for yourself:Phyllis-Diller-post-new

This year the after dinner conversation will start with “mom, why did you hang Phyllis Diller on our tree every year?” This should generate some heated frustrated conversation from my mom. You can’t call it Christmas and not have the mom go a little crazy.

 

Merry Christmas to all my Edmonton Tourist readers. I appreciate you more than you can every really know. Happy Holidays 🙂

The Learn to Drive Milestone

 

A rite of passage happened yesterday. It was a very exciting moment for me.

My son drove a car for the first time.

This was a big deal. I remember being 16 and my dad took me out in his Blue Dodge Diplomat to the church parking lot. He put the car in park, opened the car door and stepped around to the passenger side. I couldn’t wait to get into the drivers seat! My dad is a teacher by trade profession and is one of the best. He explained in very clear detail, my step by step procedure.

When you put the car in drive, it will move forward, so keep your foot on the brake.

As you slowly release the brake, the car will move forward.

Stomping on the brake will cause me to vomit.

Take your time, we have all the time in the world – we don’t have to rush.

And thus began my first driving lesson 1983 – an era before seatbelts.

 

Last night after dinner, I said to my 16 year old. “are you busy? Can you come out with me for a bit?”

He looked at me suspiciously, assessed the situation and agreed. I drove out of the city and to a country school about 10 minutes from my home. I figured this would be a good spot with no pedestrian or motor traffic. He looked at me and said, “Either this is a driving lesson or you are about to murder me and dump my body.”

Me-“Correct, I have a baseball bat in the trunk and a carpet to roll you up in.”

He laughed and climbed out of the car, went around to the driver’s side and waited until i was in the passenger seat before he got in. The first thing he did was put on his seat belt and complain about how weird it felt crossing over the other side of his body. I asked how he felt, the reply was “Nervous and a bit scared.”

Me- “We won’t be going of 10km and there will be no reversing the car today. Just slow on the straight away and turns.”

I gave him the same instructions my dad gave me. Calm and quiet, full of confidence I never felt. I forgot to mention the part about stomping on the brake will induce vomiting. Sure enough, I was thankful for the seatbelt as he tested the brakes. He drove in circles for about a half hour. He tried stopping various times and got the hang of not smashing my face into glass. He actually was a quick study. He pulled up to the fence and I inquired as to how he planned on moving the car since I said no reversing. He said he could either get out and have me do it, or he give it a try himself. I gave him the step by step instructions for reversing, this included how you turn the wheel in the opposite direction of where you want to go. I then heard the Doc Hudson reference from him. The quote from the movie

I’ll put it simple: if you’re going hard enough left, you’ll find yourself turning right.

Ummmm nooooooooooooo. But secretly was happy he used a Pixar reference. When he didn’t shoulder check I made splat sounds and told him that was puppies and babies he ran over. He laughed and put the car back up against the fence and did it again. This time he shoulder checked. About 10 more minutes, and I directed him to park near the gate. We traded places and I asked him how he felt now. His reply was one of confidence. “I don’t feel scared anymore. Just nervous because there is so much to remember.”

I drove down the country road and into Sherwood Park. I found the Dairy Queen where we planned to celebrate. He asked if this was the one his Grandpa took me too. “Nope, that one is an insurance company now”. We had blizzards to celebrate. He told me he hated the licence plate cover on my car. It says “I’d rather by in Walt Disney World.” I told him I hated the Datsun B210 I had to drive when I was a kid.

You never get to drive the cool car when you are young because it is too expensive. Once you can afford it, you look like a ridiculous old dude trying to recapture his youth. He laughed and agreed that bald guys are hilarious in a convertible. I rest my case. I reminded him to look at the cars the high school kids drive – if they are lucky. He laughed and said, “you’re right, they are all beaters or mommy vehicles.”

Now my boy is motivated to get a job. Insurance is expensive, now that he has a glimpse of the freedom of the future.

 

The Edmonton Tourist Birthday Indulgences that are indulged in all year because once you hit 39 birthdays happen quicker and there is not enough time to get them all in List

My buddy Paul sang this for me today:

That’s right, shameless plug, I am having a birthday. Half of 90, so I guess it’s official – I have reached the middle-age plateau.

There are a few birthdays that stick out for me, only a few because as you get older the memory fades and everything blends together. I cannot for the life of me remember what I did on my 40th. But I remember my 21st like it was yesterday. I was a camp counsellor and was thrown off the pier by my pals. All the little campers made me pictures and the I received a special camp cake – it was gross but oh so special!

I remember my 16th birthday. I sat on the steps of the paramount theatre in a mini skirt to watch Risky Business, they over old seats so I sat on the sticky floor with my best friend. We went of for drinks – the alcohol kind and I had a Chi-Chi. My first underage public libation – good times.

I remember my 43rd very well. My kiddos brought me breakfast in bed that was cooked! When they were little they were not allowed to turn on the stove so they made “egg bread” soaking bread in raw egg – the preamble to french toast. My kids have always been so thoughtful.

Typically I have always been on vacation for my birthday. Not this year, I’m just back. I share this day with Fess Parker – Davy Crockett and of course it is Dead Elvis Day. All Elvis All Day – bring it ON!

I often indulge myself on my birthday, I never use to but I treat myself now to only do things I want to do. This includes NOT HAVING A PARTY. I hate parties. But I love spending time with a few well chosen chums and loved ones. I love little surprises like birthday fairies leaving treats on my porch without ringing the bell, magical coffee appearing and free junk. Sephora sent me an email to pick up lip balm from them today – free! Sure it will be a tiny sample, but it’s free!

Today I will go for a bike ride, spend some birthday money on an umbrella stand for my Mary Poppins Umbrella (Thanks Mom and Dad!!!), have dinner at the Keg, go Fringing, eat cake pops and perhaps read in the tub with candles and bubbles up to my eyeballs.

There is one thing I want for my birthday. I wish on a star for it every year. I have told the universe about it. I will likely never happen, but I keep hoping. This might actually be the year. However I am patient and can wait another 45 years for it. I will never speak it out loud because that will ruin it. People who know me well will be able to figure it out. When it happens I will cry. It costs nothing. There is not a dollar amount to be had, yet it would be priceless to me. I tear up thinking about it. Sigh…..

Meanwhile, I am thankful for so many wonderful friends and family, my cup is really over flowing. Now that I am 45 have figured out what is important to me, what I dislike and will no longer tolerate and what I cannot live without. Well… I could live without it but I choose not to. Here is my list, The Edmonton Tourist Birthday Indulgences that are indulged in all year because once you hit 39 birthdays happen quicker and there is not enough time to get them all in list:

  1. Long lovely chats with friends. I have a few friends who I NEED to spend time with. I need it like I need air to breath. I will stop everything to answer their call, text or email. I will not give them up in spite of how crazy they make me. I love them and they love me. I will defend them to the death and I know they have my back too. In fact I have had war of words and made enemies with people because of my need to defend and protect these 3 people. I won’t say who they are, they know it and that’s all that matters.
  2. Music. I had lost music for a while and I blame myself when I want to blame that fellow who TOOK my stereo to his office to use for the switch board and never replaced it until a decade later when I received my first iPod. But really…I should have told him to fek off and demand music in my life not TV. I am  not a TV watcher. I watch movies and news and even not so much news because I read my news on social networking sites. But Music is my passion, it lifts me, it relaxes me, transports me to other places, dimension and feelings. I have everything from Disney to ZZ Top in my rotation and tons of other genres in between – except Michael Jackson. I never enjoyed his music, even when he was a black dude. His “woos” and “aaahhhhs” make me want to punch him in the face. I endured 2 showings of Captain EO and that is 40 minutes of my life I will never get back. NEVER. Today will be about some Disney ride soundtracks and park loops so I can reminisce about birthdays past and future.
  3. Bikes. in high school I would ride my bike from Sherwood Park to Edmonton through the river valley. My babies stopped me for a while, mostly because of cash to have the proper safety equipment. I gave up my career to be the best mom I could for them, but that meant giving up other stuff so they could stay healthy and have things like food and shelter. I’m going for a bike ride today and I cannot wait! I’m taking Chatterbox’s bike because Genetic offsprings bike is too big and he doesn’t share. I have no idea where I am going but that is part of the adventure of cycling.
  4. Books. I am reading my 30th book of the year – not including text books and books for my classes. 30 books for pleasure. |I have expanded my genre horizon and tried books that scared me before. I read books that bored me, scared me and horrified me. I read books that made me weep, made me explore my sexual side and taught me new lessons. I read books that made me want to travel to distant places and stay away from places. Today will be spent with Steve Jobs. I am half way through his biography and am shocked, enthralled, inspired and motivated.
  5. Arts. Today is about dramatic Arts. I will fringe today. I haven’t been able to get to the art gallery in quite some time, but i am going on Monday. I write daily on my book, blog and in letters to friends. I am working on a painted piece for a friend. I draw, sketch and paint on a regular basis. Being creative releases the ugly and keeps me smart and focused. I use it to take my mind off anxiety causing events, to be closer to people from my past and present and people who are no longer with me. i do it because i think of them and in return, they inspire me.
  6. Snuggles. There is nothing finer than having your kiddos meet you at the airport and hug you in public, except when they let you kiss them on the cheek.
  7. Laughter. I had lost this for a bit during my depression. I would laugh, but never hard. I missed it. I get the occasional note or text from a friend that makes me howl and brings tears to my eyes. Keeping it light and silly is fun for me. Now that I have climbed out of the dark abyss I am laughing again. Love it!

Seven things that I indulge in always. I know the list will grow as I figure out stuff. I indulge in things that make me smile and say no to those things I hate, that I use to do because it was expected. Well I am I 45 now, time to put on purple lipstick and get my cranky pants on because just because YOU expect something from me doesn’t mean I will indulge you. Find the things that make you happy – they are events, circumstances not stuff you buy, things you make people do. Having someone do something for you un asked and uninvited is lovely beyond words. I have discovered my life is to short to waste on things that have no meaning for me. 45, my life is half done – if I am lucky, so I will spend the next 45 years extending my 64 days of awesome into a life time of awesome.

I need to share what one of my awesome friends sent me for my birthday. He lives in Argentina and we share a love of vintage animation. His humor comes through in  translation, Mr. Google translator is our friend to keep the conversation going. Yet Mr. Google is not the best at helping us, it gets the point across. This little song he made for me made me laugh. I can visualize the animation sequence that needs to go with it.

Vocaroo Voice Message.

 

My life is rich and full with family and friends. Happy Birthday to me! I am one very lucky girl.

 

 

 

Do You Know My Neighbor’s Friend’s Cousin’s Sister’s Nephew?

While I am away, I am reposting some of my olders blogs from 2010. It is interesting to see where I have come from. This is from /2010/11/10. This blog post was Freshly Pressed on November 11, 2010. That was a huge day for me. My confidence level changed and I became better a lot of things.

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Have you ever traveled outside your country and met someone who asks you where you are from? Usually it is some guy who says, “My Neighbor’s Friend’s Cousin’s Sister’s Nephew lives in Alaska, do you happen to know them?” I always ask their name then politely answer, “No, I don’t think we’ve met. I don’t get out much!” In case you didn’t know, Canada is a large country. Oh you knew that? Well then, Canada has a smallish population about 32 million. Slightly less than the population of California, which sits at 36 million. The chances of me traveling to Belgium and meeting a family member of someone I know is slim to none. Or is it?

The last time we chatted about my travels to Europe was here, before that it was here.  This is the story about the time I went to Bruges.

The entire cast of the Muppet Show was slightly rested and full of chocolate by the time we reached Bruges. This was a place that my Mom dreamed of going. I am THRILLED she thought it was worthy of sharing it with my clan. We arrived after lunch and drove the streets looking for somewhere to park the caravan. Keep in mind, the streets were built at a time where donkey’s ruled the earth by pulling carts. The Urban planners in those days did not share the foresight that today’s planners have. They may have envisioned Oxen pulling carts, but never the Jules Vern version of a caravan.

Dad had the good fortune of negotiating the narrow streets with the cast of Muppets in the back. He found a spot and carefully just stopped where he felt like it and went to find the pay station deserted us. There was a knock on the door, and Honey answered it in the most polite possible way for a Canadian. The Police Officer said in a less than Canadian manner, “Can’t park here! MOVE!” Then his eyes caught the glitter of a Canadian pin on my Honey’s lapel. The Officer’s demeanor changed and he smiled, “Canadian?”

“YES!”, we all cheered the way only Muppets do. If you have ever met my Honey, the you know he has the gift of gab and can make friends with ANYONE. The two struck up a conversation and chatted about the trip, flight, cost of living, plight of the Tiger, parking, and then the question came… Where are you from because I have family in Sherwood Park. You know the sound a needle makes on a vinyl record as it stops? That was the sound in the caravan. The Muppets stopped the boomerang fish from flying, muzzled the chickens, and even Waldorf and Stadler eased up on the wisecracks.

THE MAN SAID SHERWOOD PARK!

Sherwood Park is a tiny little place east of Edmonton. The entire Muppet Cast, except Honey, was FROM Sherwood Park! What are the chances? SHERWOOD PARK! Suddenly, he was family, we became home sick and no…we didn’t know the brother, but it didn’t matter. We now had a friend and allies who would show us the way to parking! His directions were exemplary. We found caravan parking. We were now able to go out and explore Bruges, sample the best Belgium Waffles dripping in chocolate, eat frits and mayo, indulge in rich creamy coffee and enjoy the wonderful city of Bruges. The swans were beautiful, the Architecture was stunning, the cruise on the canal was enchanting. All because we knew a guy who had a brother that was the neighbor of the sister of someone we didn’t know.

If you ever get to Bruges, ask if you could speak to the Police Officer whose brother is a neighbor of the sister of someone the Edmonton Tourist doesn’t know, and say Hi!

Cruising with a Side of Sophistication

Way back in the early 80’s when I had big hair, a tail (omg I know…) tight jeans and leg warmers…again – I know…   I would cruise for fun. Living in Sherwood Park – the ‘burb of Edmonton – I can tell you there was not much to do if you didn’t bowl or curl. I did neither unless it was for PhysEd. My friends and I walked endlessly around Sherwood Park. I have never been as fit since those days.

For curiosity sake, I went to map my runs and plotted out our typical route. On an average day we would log 11km. (  <—- see that number? weird isn’t it?) 11km would take us past all the houses that held boys in it that we were hoping to glimpse at. Of course we would DIE if we actually saw or talked to one of these boys. We were much more comfortable talking to strange guys. Not that they were strange and creepy…okay Bob was, but the rest were okay! This is what we did without wheels. No movies, no job, swimming would ruin our hair and makeup and god forbid someone would see us in our bathing suits! OH to look that fabulous now.

Then one day, my sister (ok, she isn’t really MY sister, she is my mom’s sister but we were closer in age and in fact still extremely close) bought a Gold Pontiac Firebird. It was smokin’! She would let us pile in and cruise around. ACTUAL CRUISING! We thought we were all that and more…you know what I mean…

The tunes were cranked, Loverboy Get Lucky blasting out the windows and we would just smile at the boys….. ahhhh good times, good times…

Since my cruising days are over, hard to look cool in a Kia Rondo – Mom car ( in my defense I need the leg and head room for the boy – he is tall and so are his friends and grocery room – teen boys are EATING MACHINES) I have resigned myself to just looking at cars.

I love an Aston Lola, Jag, Beemer or Mercedes. I’m not fussy. I think muscle cars are for middle age men. Women like me need elegance and sophistication. Something that makes my hair and nails look good. Something that shows off my MKors as I slide my legs out of the car. Something that says “she has it all going on”. Kia Rondo says “mom”.

As luck would have it, I was at the Canada Day family festivities yesterday when the chicken needed to be picked up. We have food catered because we are busy people and do not want to spend the day slaving away in the kitchen on our day off – if we had a day off. Lots of us worked on Canada Day. My Sister – who is really my Aunt – T is what I always called her…always. T said to her hubs “take me to pick up the chicken in the Mercedes” pppppppppppprrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

She said Mercedes. T’s brand new car. I could smell the newness from the living room. I said, I’ll go with you. So we grabbed the keys and went.

She showed me all the luciousness outside and inside and all the bits and bobs it can do. She hasn’t figured it all out yet but who cares. The important thing was we had a good hair day going on so we would look FAB.

Proof we were in the car. This thing was awesome. It had 2 sunroofs – front and back. Warning lights to let you know if you are too close to the car in front. Camera and Video screen to see what behind you  – nothing was see?

We took a “wrong turn” and had to go the long way to pick up the food… how disappointing. I checked my self out in every mirror to see how I looked driving in a Mercedes. I looked FABULOUS! I must get myself one. Now before that happens, I need to either stop working in non profit OR Tell George to hurry up and make an honest woman out of me. Stupid Future ex husbands…

Here is the slide show of this cars awesomeness – your welcome.

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I use to be a Rock Star

I was a Rock Star once.

My keyboard
Image via Wikipedia

Well…that may not be entirely true, but I was in a band. I was the only female – chic if you will – in a basement band. We didn’t have a garage to play in; our parents gave us a Rec Room. I was lead vocals and keyboard. We played Journey, Led Zeplin, original music , and an assortment of contemporary rock. Often we played in the leader’s basement. His name was Denis. His brother let me use his keyboard because my dad was not so interested in hauling our Mason & Risch Piano around to my friends homes. It was easier to cart around Denis’s brother’s keyboard than Ross’s drum kit. The rest of the band was made up of a cast of characters that mom refered to as “Huey Dewy and Louie” in spite of the fact there was only two other members, Paul and Renee.

I always had more guy friends than gals. I would be playing the piano in my basement rec room when the backdoor bell would ring. If my parents knew the guys were coming over, my dad would anser the door…always. The back door had one steep step. my dad on a good day stands at 6’2″. He would open the door and loom over the fella’s with his hands on his hips. He would glare at the guys in silence for about a minute and say things like “I have a gun and I know how to use it”, or “I know where you live”. My dad was a teacher and had that “teacher look” that was required for disappointment purposes. He used it on the guys all the time. The guys would laugh, ” Hahahaha Mr, E(dmonton) you are so funny!” “What ever you say Mr. E!” The guys would come to the rec room and tell me how lucky I was that my dad was such a great guy….

They would sit on the couch and tell me to play what I had been working on. Ross would tap out a beat with his sticks and Denis and I would sing harmonies. When we had it figured out we would head over to Denis’ house, but I would have to take my bike or borrow mom’s car because I was NOT under ANY circumstances ALLOWED to ride in Ross’ car. Dad had Ross as a student once….knowing him that way sealed the deal. NO BEING IN ROSS’s CAR EVER. That was fine. I prefered driving myself and still do. I LOVED cruising around Sherwood Park in my mom’s Datsun B210 Mustard Yellow with a baseball bat beside my seat…for just in case. You’d think the way my dad was over protective that guys were flocking in hordes to my house….not so Mr. E, not so. If they were, my dad had successfully scared them all away. As far as I was concerned, I was one of the guys…except with maybe Ross. Hindsight tells me dad may have been right, but I was oblivious. Besides, I had a certain set of standards. The guy I dated needed to have a job, not live in his car, his thighs had to be larger than mine ( I was a cyclist so boys with stick bodies just didn’t do it for me), AND go to school. Being a drop-out was just not okay. Therefore, Ross was off the radar on all accounts.

Our goal was to play in front of an audience that wasn’t our parents. HA! That never happened, only Denis was serious. The rest of us were just goofing around having fun. Eventually, Denis fired us all. I think he is a Country Singer or DJ or something. I saw him on a TV ad during the National Rodeo Finals in November.

Playing the drums the other day had triggered that memory. I hadn’t thought about those details in a very long time. Today I sat down at the piano and played for the first time in years…possibly 10 years or longer.

I ran scales and thought of my piano teacher and how she use to put pennies on my hands to keep them up. I heard “clicking” and remember how she would tell me to cut my nails. I was surprised at how easily everything came back to me. Then I opened some books of my offspring. They play and I do not. I can still sight read my way through a simple song. When I pulled out some more complicated classical…I stumbled.

Today I thought my “New Thing” should be Learn a New Piano Song. I have been feeling melancholy lately so I pulled out Feed the Birds by the Sherman Brothers. I had never played it before in my life, but I often sang it for my mom. Me and Mary Poppins go waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back. This was always one of my favorites. 4 tries of sight reading, learning the bridge separately, and 6 practice runs…I learned it. Several more practice runs and it will be memorized. I forgot how much I love playing the piano. I went a printed off some music. Classical music by Bach, Liszt, Mozart and Beethoven were found on free downloads. Sonatina in C was my first choice. All it did was made me miss the Mason & Risch, which had a rich sound like a honky tonk piano. Not classical like a Yamaha or a Steinway, but I loved it. It reminded me of THE Piece I played when the company came over. It was my concert piece. The Swallow opus 100 no 24 in G by Friedrich Burgmüller. Dad would always say…play it for me.

After hours a few minutes of searching (thank you University for teaching me awesome search techniques for impossible things) I found it in spite of not having all the title or the composer. The best news? I was able to download and print it. It is more complicated than I am capable of right now.

But practice makes perfect.

 

Improv in Disneyland

Today’s Guest Post is from Chef. She is a transplanted Edmontonian living in Texas with her little ones and husband. She writes a food blog over on MidniteChef which I find to be delicious! She understands my love for Disneyland, Spatzel and Alfajores. Please read and enjoy while I am off to attempt #2 of my 12 new things to try.

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Improv in Disneyland
I must explain that this is not a tale involving Mickey Mouse. You see, “Disneyland” is the nickname we’ve given to “Grandma’s House”. This is a large ranch home with pearly white wrought iron fence and gate. There is a cast of characters who all wear fur: chivas (the goats), Bobcat (the orange tabby), Mitcha (the granny cat), and then a threesome of canines. The kids always have a blast at the grandparent’s house, even though it’s not even close to being baby-proof. Grandma and Grandpa spoil the kids with attention, ice cream, and fun playing outside. There’s a swing set, merry-go-round, stairs (which are very steep and they are not to be played on, Big Brother figured out how to “surf” down the stairs), cookie jars, soda pop, fruit bowls and cartoons. The 5 hour drive home is predominantly quiet due to the very overdue nap the kids need to recover from over stimulation.

So the stage is set for a string of improvisations.

We arrived two days before Christmas, I was ready to help prepare dinner for our family. At Thanksgiving, I had toted along a box of my essentials (herbs, spices, notes). It was not really necessary and I decided to leave my stuff at home as not to insult our hosts. Ahead of time, I had phoned to find out what the main dish was going to be, turkey, ham, or a roast beef? Grandma said she would find something and not to worry. So I didn’t. That is until I found a pork butt thawing in the sink. This was not the “worry-free” meal idea I had in mind for a holiday dinner. Pork butts (or shoulders) are best slowly roasted or smoked after a good brine bath. There was no time for a brine, there was hardly enough time to thaw the butt out! I’ll just improvise: a dry marinade that I loved from Julia Child’s cook book (coincidentally the very same one Grandma had given to me for Christmas some years ago).

I start pulling out the ingredients for the rub. Garlic cloves, salt, pepper, thyme, sage, allspice, garlic press… Garlic press? I had half a head of garlic to plow through and could not find a garlic press in the four jam packed drawers of kitchen tools. I’ll just improvise and finely mince with one of the multitude of dull knives (I couldn’t find the knife sharpener either).

Dessert was next. An upside-down cranberry-orange cake, this required the zest of the orange. In all my searching for the garlic press I never noticed a micro-plane to get a fine zest off the oranges, instead I improvised with a vegetable peeler and chopped the skin strips. Half way through, Grandma found me and pulled a micro-plane in two sizes from the exact place I was rummaging minutes earlier. Why couldn’t she stay in the kitchen with me? Oh, right, the kids were pulling her in all opposite directions from where I needed her.

The kids needed her watchful eye more than I needed a garlic press, so I let it go in my mind and continued working alone.

In the rush to leave our house, I forgot to grab my camera and the cheese dip mix I had prepared to take with me. They were perched on top of the fridge next to my recipe notebook I’ve had since 7th grade.

So… I improvised! One of the dip mixes was an onion dip from Epicure (my step mom sells Epicure in Sherwood Park). I bought some onion soup mix and used that instead.

By the time dinner was ready, I felt depleted of tricks to get through making dinner in a pinch, Disneyland requires many pinches. To top the evening off, Big Brother was running around without socks or shoes (not recommended in Disneyland), he was told “Don’t run around with bare feet!” He paused and retorted “I’m not a bear. I don’t have bear feet!” We all laughed aloud, it was the perfect end to an imperfect time in the kitchen.

xxx
-midnitechef