and it’s still snowing. Bizarrely, the novelty hasn’t worn off yet. We’re still sighing at how pretty the trees are, and laughing every time one of the kids goes arse-over-tit. There was a severe hoar-frost last week and it was spectacular. Everything was silver, and the air seemed almost suspended in frost. It was like stepping into Narnia. The children are still wading to school in all their snow gear, and I’ve forgotten what life is like without wearing snow boots.
We headed out on Sunday to Christmas carols at the Western Development Museum, which contains “Boomtown 1910”, a full-sized replica of life in the Prairies in 1910. It’s amazing; shops, post offices, houses, stables, pool hall etc., all built and decorated in intricate detail. We wandered from building to building, up and down levels and in and out of old cars and tractors. The carol-singing began at 2pm, so we took our seats at the end of the “street” and the choir appeared. They were older ladies and gentlemen, dressed in old-fashioned clothes and accompanied by a organ-player, a couple of fiddlers and a guitarist. They weren’t the most wonderful singers on the planet, but their enthusiasm and general twinkly-eyed-ness went a long way towards creating the Christmas spirit among the crowd. We all sang along, while the kids wandered in and out of a full-sized steam engine, and Michael watched a blacksmith at work.
When we were outside again, one of the volunteers sent us towards the free sleigh-rides. We climbed aboard, tucked ourselves up under all the rugs provided and set off around the nearby racecourse, with the sleigh bells ringing and our breaths frosting the air. Two beautiful black horses pulled us along, while we chatted to the couple at the reins, who do this on a voluntary basis. The sleigh bells had come over with his great-great-grandparents in the early 1900’s and were still going strong. The museum is well worth visiting the next time any of you get to Saskatoon….
We got a parcel from Mel and Suzanne yesterday, full of Irish goodies that lit up the day for us and made us realise how hard it is to find a decent cheese-n-onion crisp over here. I drooled over the Tayto and Cadbury’s, swooned over the selection box (which we can’t find anywhere in Saskatoon), slapped the kids’ hands away from the Chomps and Curly-Wurlys, and doled out the Love Hearts, while Michael sat in a corner and quietly patted his box of Barrys’ Tea. It’s the simple things in life, eh? Go raibh míle maith agaibh.
My beloved sister Liz grabbed the family’s attention this week with an unexpected allergic reaction to an unknown entity. Off she went to hospital, to be drowned in anti-histamine and steroids, while the rest of us wondered whether it was the Christmas tree that had provoked the reaction. Once the possibility was put forward, down it came, to be replaced by an artificial, non-life-threatening specimen. I only found out after she was home from hospital, so there was no panic really, until the following day, when she was taken back in and I found myself having one of those 4am moments. What if she died? How would I get home? Would I bring the kids, or leave them here? Who would mind them? What about Santa coming? Blah, blah, blah. The worst moment came when I realised that the only person who would be able to talk me down and present me with a rational solution was Liz. But she’d be dead. So I’d be doomed to dither and waffle forever. I hate 4am. I woke up the next morning and she was home safe. I wish she’d stay in her bed and not follow me into mine in the middle of the night.
On a more prosaic note, I am forty-one years old and last week, for the first time ever, I used a dishwasher. June very kindly talked me through it, and I decided to test-drive it after one particularly heavy-on-the-pots-and-pans dinner. It was like the world’s hardest jigsaw puzzle. I put half the stuff in, realised that nothing else would fit, took it out again, rearranged it all, swore, took out the bottom level, replaced it with the top, kicked it, bit the head off Michael when he tried to “help”, and shrieked at the kids to get out every time they appeared. Our kitchen is so small that if the dishwasher is open, you have to hurdle the door to get past. Likewise the oven door. I eventually managed to cram it all in, slam the door and turn the damn thing on. Then we had no cutlery or bowls for supper. And it still had to be unloaded the next day. I’m not sure I see the point of it yet. On the other hand, now I feel more understanding towards Nuala’s beloved husband Michael, who won’t allow anyone else but him load up the dishwasher. I used to think he was just being anally retentive about it, but now I realise that once a person learns how to do it without losing their sanity, it would be unwise to let just any old pleb have a go. So there you are – Michael is right in his obsessive-compulsive behaviour, and Nuala is a pleb. Not that she objects to being banned from the cursed machine. I shall soon be reduced to Skype-ing him for an online tutorial. Here they are, looking as smug any couple can be who have divided their household chores satisfactorily: