Well, most of them are. The one hundred and five that were shot by a friend of ours earlier on this week are not, sadly. Instead they’ll be making their way into the pot. I was standing in the changing room of the ice-rink on Tuesday evening, hauling the boys out of their gear, when one of the other dads passed on this fact while we were chatting about the previous weekend. I was a bit ….flabbergasted, I suppose. He’s so nice, and great fun to swop stories with while we’re freezing our asses off at hockey practice. I never expect people I know to spend their weekends shooting things. “You shot 105 birds?”, I repeated blankly. “Like, geese?” “Oh yep, geese, ducks – gonna make them into sausage now”. I think he misinterpreted the look on my face as “wow, that’s sounds great!”, and the next part of the conversation moved into an enthusiastic “Hey, I’ll take the boys shooting with me next time! What do you think, lads? Will we go hunting?” Well. There’s not really any right answer here, is there? “NO, you bloodthirsty, homicidal maniac!”? “Sounds great! Bring on Bambi!”? “I’d rather go club a seal, thanks”? I still find the whole hunting thing kind of alarming. A casual “so how was your weekend?” can invite blow-by-blow details of butchering a moose in the garage. It’s such a normal part of life here, and everyone uses the meat in various ways (and they are very generous in doling it out to friends and neighbours). Maybe I need to just get me a gun.
Rebecca spent Wednesday with Elaine, who arrived over from Ireland at the start of the summer, and who kindly offered to have the ears talked off her for the day while I was doing another photo-shoot for the Star Phoenix. When I got back (in full war-paint), we were sitting chatting at the kitchen table for a while. Some of the stories that people have about their experience in Canada are so funny. A child in her daughter’s class wanted a playdate, so Elaine rang her mother and arranged it. When pick-up arrived, the mother appeared at the door, eyeing Elaine with some trepidation. “Hi, I’m Elaine!”, said Elaine brightly, shaking her hand. “So….do you speak English?” asked the mother doubtfully. Elaine regarded her thoughtfully. Wasn’t she speaking in English now? and during the phone call earlier? “I’m from Ireland”, she said helpfully. “English is our first language”. The mother didn’t seem reassured by this. Maybe it’s the Irish accent?
In other (posh) news of the week, we got two new cars to replace the elderly and faintly decrepit vehicles that have stood us in such good stead since we arrived. We purchased two Nissan Quests, courtesy of the bank manager, and I’m still trying to work out what half of the controls do, It’s pronounced Nee-san over here, by the way. They’re 2004 and 2007; one is fairly standard and the other is fully loaded. Leather interior, heated seats, glass roof panels, sunroof, DVD player, power doors and boot. “Which one do you want?” asked Michael. HA! As if he was going to be the one swanning to work in the bells-and-whistles one. I drove through the city the other night with all of the kids watching Harry Potter and listening with their earphones, Blissful, blissful silence. Just the radio playing for me, and the occasional group sigh or laughter from the back. I love it.
This week has been consumed by ice-hockey practice, Girl Guides, Beavers, ballet, a trip to the Blades game at the Credit Union Centre, and a ton of appointments for the Beautiful You program. The photo-shoot on Wednesday took place in the gym, so once I was suitably coiffed and made-up, I headed over to Fitness for 10 on Eighth Street to change into my gorgeous outfit and funky red boots. I felt utterly ridiculous in the changing rooms; shimmying into tight leggings and flowy top, putting on a jacket and colourful scarf, checking my make-up in the mirror. I was sure that the other women getting changed were thinking “who on earth is yer wan? All dolled up for a workout?!” “Where did you get those boots?” asked one of the women. “They’re fabulous!” “Oh, Durands”, I said casually, as if I shopped there all the time. “What brand are they?” another asked. Shit. I had to go and root out the box, which kind of spoiled the effect. “Are you Barb?” said the first woman. “I’ve heard all about you!” Well, at least it explained my get-up I suppose. I went outside to pose and smile, and then it was time to pose on the machines. “Where are your runners?” asked Amanda (my personal trainer 🙂 love saying that). I hadn’t brought any with me, so she gave me her colourful, funky pair. I can’t take any credit for how good my feet looked in them. Greater love hath no personal trainer….
Jeff leapt around with the camera, issuing instructions and making sure he got some photos that would make me cringe when I saw them. He has the worst fake Irish accent ever, that he apparently picked up from the Lucky Charms commercial. I did have to clarify that Hobbits are not Irish, as he seemed to labouring under some strange delusions regarding Irish folklore. He’s a bundle of kinetic energy, terrible jokes and funny stories. I’m starting to get used to being photographed all the time, though a lot of the photos I’ve seen will never ever see the light of day if I can help it. It’s finally dawned on me that I can’t scowl, frown, or glare at Jeff without being caught on camera. I spent Thursday morning at the opticians with Kim and Jeff, trying out contact lenses for the first time. Epic fail. I just couldn’t do it. I’m really squeamish about eyes, and the whole process of lifting the top lid, pulling down the bottom lid and sticking the lens in just defeated me. I kept trying, failing, cursing, trying, thinking it was in, looking down and seeing it on the counter, cursing again…..Kim had endless patience. Even Jeff stopped taking the piss and started some positive reinforcement – “Ooh, you nearly had it that time! So close!”. Kim decided to show me how she does hers. She reached into one eye, kind of grabbed the lens and folded it up and then put it back in again, rolling her eye to get it into place. Oh God. I felt sick and my legs felt funny. We abandoned it after about 20 minutes, and decided to try again another day. This is me at the almost-giving-up point.
I took Nicholas and Rebecca to the Open Night at the Diefenbaker Fire Hall on Wednesday night as part of a Beavers trip. Lots of hunky fireman and shiny red engines. There were people dispensing chili, hot dogs and hot chocolate, and another table giving out fire helmets, stickers and tattoos. They had a mini-house up on a trailer, showing a kitchen. A small fire was started in the kitchen (a chip-pan, I think?) and eventually the whole lot went up in flames. Cue the arrival of the firefights, all decked out in their breathing apparatus and gear, and the fire was extinguished. The kids were thrilled. I’m not sure which was more exciting; the fire or the power hoses, but it certainly got the attention of everyone. Nothing like a good Burning Down the House on a cold evening. Nicholas also started Science Saturdays at the University of Saskatchewan at the weekend. We sat in a lecture theatre with all of the other kids, and listened to the rules of Sci-Fi Saturdays. The most important one seemed to be the ban on playing with the hot glue guns or soldering irons; apparently this will lead to an instant sending-home.
Rebecca has acquired a boyfriend. His name is Luke, and he’s five. His mother Niamh arrived in Saskatoon at the beginning of the summer, and an instant attraction was born. They both have extraordinarily vivid imaginations, a bossy nature, and the ability to talk until your ears bleed, so it seems to be a match made in Heaven so far. Rebecca shared her treat with Luke last week, announcing that this was because “me and Luke are lovebirds”. Michael is prepping the shotgun. Niamh heroically offered to look after Rebecca on Thursday while I wrestled with the contact lenses, and the love affair showed no signs of abating. They “helped” Niamh to make a chocolate cake, visited the playground hand-in-hand, and said mournful goodbyes when we left. We’re fairly confident that the next visit will involve some fighting, sulking and “never speaking” to each other again moments.
The latest article and blog in the Star Phoenix appeared this week, so here are the links for anyone who might be interested in how unrecognisable I’m becoming:
These are some of the (unedited) photos from Wednesday:
I’m faking that first face. Honest. And Amanda wasn’t really going to punch me.
It’s Thanksgiving on Monday, and so far we’re are completely unprepared and have no plans. I was determined that we would make an occasion of it this year, as it passed us by last year, so I think I’ll send Michael out to shoot a turkey and harvest a pumpkin. Sorted.