Archive | September 2010

I hate mornings

This kid’s sleeping habits are driving me a little batty.  First of all, let me say that I got lucky with him. He’s always slept really well and has pretty much from the beginning.   He’s always napped well during the day and slept well throughout the night so I can’t really complain too much.  I guess he spoiled me.

The last couple months, he started waking up super early.  Some of it might have been because of teething, but lately, I don’t think that’s it.  When DH was away last week, he slept through from 7 to 6:30am.  Prior to that and since, he’s been waking anywhere between 3 and 5:00am.  He starts with a coo and a babble and works his way up to standing up in his crib bellowing and crying.

I tried to give him water instead of milk as per the pediatrician’s advice.  That worked precisely once.  Then he went from drinking the water grudgingly and kept crying until he got the milk. Then he would settle back down and go to sleep.   This would often take an hour. Not fun at  3am.  At that hour, I’m all business, no eye contact, no talking, just cuddling and not engaging in any sort of play.  And of course, he was soaked through and through when it was time to start the day.  Now I just get up, give him some watered down milk, rock him a bit, put him down and go back to bed.  This seems to work.

However, it occurs to me that this is now a habit.  Not sure how bad a habit it is, since he genuinely seems hungry and is satisfied with milk and a cuddle.  My question is, am I setting myself up for trouble? If I don’t get my REM sleep, I’m like a bear without coffee, but I don’t see a way out of it, since leaving him to cry and carry on only disturbs the neighbours and keeps us up anyway, so NOBODY is sleeping.  Even if I turn the monitor off, you can hear him through the walls and then of course, I imagine him with his leg trapped or something.  I always wait a bit to see if he will go back to sleep, but he never does.

I also have tried keeping him up later, but whether he goes to bed around 7, 8 or around 9, this does not change his predawn wake up habit.

This crying it out technique I can do in the day because then I have the stamina.  This sudden resistance to not having a nap is more about his development I think – he’d rather play and crawl about than sleep, but then he gets all cranky and whiney anyway. I’ve read that at his age – 10 months – he stills needs his naps and does ensure a good night’s sleep.

Any suggestions?  Experiences?  Am I just griping for no reason?  Should I just ride this out and stop resisting the predawn awakening or do I ignore his early morning yelling?

Double happiness

I just had the most amazing weekend.  I took an audition workshop and I had such a great time.  Hubby had a sudden trip out of town but he came back on the red eye so I could do it.  Not only did my back get better cause I didn’t lift the kid for two days, but I just killed it in the workshop.  I did a scene from NYPD Blue and it was the about a grieving mother who comes to the squad room with the intention of killing her daughter’s killer.  We worked on it and then on my 2nd attempt, the emotion just came and I actually brought people to tears.  Wow!  Awesome!  Not that I made people cry but I just did that well.  My acting coach was so proud of me.

The weekend went a little wonky when I came home Saturday evening(after a dinner out to celebrate a friend’s birthday) and hubby told me there was something wrong with Juno.  He said she had been sleeping in the doorway and she had kicked out the doorstop in her sleep and the door had slammed. He thought her tail might have been injured somehow because she was panting very heavily and didn’t want to move and couldn’t really sit properly.  He had given her an aspirin by the time I had come home so she looked stressed but not too bad.  We went to bed and two hours later she woke us up with heaving panting and DH ended up taking to the emergency room.  Now ordinarily, I am the worry wart that would demand a trip to the animal hospital, but it was DH this time that was really worried about her.  Of course he muttered that he couldn’t  sleep through her heavy panting and went to the internet to figure out what was wrong.  I encouraged him that she needed a visit to a vet and I called the animal ER for him.   I stayed up and waited to find out what was wrong with her, but eventually I fell asleep and DH finally came home at 4am.  Apparently, the vet could find no physical damage to her tail or hind parts, but suspected it was ” cold tail” syndrome and prescribed her some pain medication.  Sampson had had that so we knew that it would get better on its own.  You know who woke up an hour later and I just gave him a big bottle of watered down milk and put him back to bed. Blessedly, I got another couple of hours of sleep before I had to get up again.  DH complained all weekend about being tired and as I know that feeling of never really getting caught on sleep, I sympathized and clucked.  Then I went out.

On Sunday,  we had a LA casting director come in and we presented our scenes as auditions.  And I killed it again!  Man, if felt so good! I had to wait awhile before it was my turn and I was so nervous.  I was also struck by the amount of talent in one room.  All these wonderful actors with so many credits but not enough work!

Sometimes I get so worn down by all the rejections and it’s just nice to deliver good work that is acknowledged by your peers.  Now if I could just get a gig, that would be nice.

We had our WG general district meeting two hours after class ended, so I hastened home to make last-minute preparations.  It was an awesome meeting!   All the women I had invited jammed on me, but there were still guests.   I told my experience about when I started practicing and my journey through infertility to parenthood.  More tears all around.  I am passionate about my craft and passionate about my Buddhist practice and it feels so rewarding to move and inspire people.  And the potluck that followed was pretty darn good too!

Juno is doing much better!  Last night she wriggled on her back in her bed in satisfaction and then we knew she was on the mend.  This morning, we went for a walk and while I’m huffing and puffing my chatty kid up the hill, I had an odd feeling.  I was happy.  It was like a warm breeze, the way it come over me.  I just felt light.  I felt gratitude.  I had basked in the positive affirmations of my talent and I had a kid who was called me mama for the first time.  I had gone in to get The Precious up for breakfast and he excitedly kicked his legs against the slats of the cribs and said “mama”.   And they had both occurred in the same weekend.

Lucky me.  Lucky me.


Between my aching back, auditions,  the active Precious, hubby’s travel schedule and counting points, I managed to miss signing up for September ICLW. I haven’t had a lot of time to read blogs lately, though I always try to keep up even if I don’t comment.  But Geochick was kind enough to tag me with these questions, so this will be fun for me.

1.  Do you still live where you were born/grew up?  Why?
No, I do not. I was born in England, raised in Toronto(in a suburb that I hated) and now I live in Vancouver.  Why is a long story.  I’ll try to be brief.  I did a lot of acting in bit parts in Toronto,  went to the gym, temped in more offices than anyone should, and got bored with my life.  I couldn’t meet a decent guy  in Toronto,  so I chucked it all and decided to go out west for a bit.  I wet my feet in the ocean all by myself on my 32nd birthday, drank and partied my ass off, modelled nude for a highly prestigious art school precisely once, worked in both film, TV and joe jobs, learned to drink a lot of coffee, and met my hubby just after I decided to go back.

2.  What’s your favorite holiday and what makes it so special?

Odd, but I’d have to say Canada Day.  There’s always free cake to be had somewhere and sometimes there’s even fireworks and people seem so happy and united.

3.  Do people IRL know about/read your blog or do you keep it relatively private?

Yeah, there’s a couple of my real life friends who read it.  I don’t tell people about it though unless they’re super interested.  Not that many of my friends are SUPER interested in infertility or raising a child through adoption though.

4. What’s your favorite color?

I really don’t have a favourite colour, but I’m partial to orange, cranberry, chartreuse, sage green, steel blue and purple.
5. We’re all pretty open here in the interwebs but how open are your IRL about fertility struggles?  What influences your openness or lack thereof?

I’m pretty open about it.  I became more open about it when I stopped trying to conceive.  Bodhisattva of Infertility, that’s me. If someone wants to know the gory details, I’ll tell them, but only if they ask.  I don’t want to be a cautionary tale.   Just last week I went to a party and found myself in conversation with two mothers.  I don’t remember how infertility came up, I think one woman said her friends were having trouble and so I chimed in.  Needless to say that conversation got dropped after a minute or two.  It always does. Thank goodness for wine.  That’s why I wait to be asked by the super interested ie. infertile or waiting to adopt.

There was a certain group of acting buddies who knew because I’d fall apart in class doing acting exercises.  Honestly, there was a dark period in my life in which grief and loss just moved in and stayed a while.  I cried a lot in class.  I lost a lot and I’m not just talking babies.  And they just held that space sacred for me. My blog held my inner thoughts and all the things I just couldn’t say out loud.  Most people never would have understood what I was talking about unless they’d been there.

Mighty black of me

I took The Precious to an audition last week – luckily, an actor/dad entertained him while I was acting my heart out (and no, I didn’t get it, but I should have).  One of the casting directors was a new mother and had her child in the office so I knew it would be cool.  Actors do occasionally bring their kids because you’re essentially “working” for five minutes and then you’re back to the rest of the day.  However, to prepare for said five minutes takes a lot of work prior and dragging your kid along is not fun.  That day, luckily, I was willing to just not fight it and I felt pretty calm.

On the way out, I ran into a fellow African American actor and she was surprised I had a kid.  For the first time ever someone actually asked if I had given birth to him or did I adopt him?  Most people just assume I had him cause he looks like me.  I told her he came from her home town as a matter of fact.  And then she did the oddest thing.  She congratulated me and thanked me for adopting a black kid.  She thanked me.  On behalf of the entire black race, I guess, I don’t know.  I have to admit, I was taken aback.  Yes, I’ve heard the “good for you” or “bless you” sort of reply but not the “oh, you took a black one – good for you”.

I had wanted a child with my husband.  That didn’t happen.  We had gone into this adoption thing in search of a bi-racial child because of who we were as a couple.  There was no politics to that decision.  That too was not happening for some reason.  When we were presented with the “blind date” match, we were going for it even though we knew the child was African American.  I just wanted a kid but having the experience of growing up black in a white world (on this side of the planet anyway), made that decision of parenting a black child over a Caucasian child (a decision I never had to make by the way) natural. At least to me.

Still not sure I want to be thanked for it though.  I didn’t adopt cause I wanted to save someone or make a political statement.  I just wanted to be a mum, to raise a family with my hubby.  Just like those who never had to question it, think about it or agonize over the political correctness of it.

Easy does it

As you can tell, I’ve been a little stressed out by my environment…. and the people in it.  Too much coffee?  Too many hormones?  Too much reaction vs. clarity and wisdom? Yep, sounds good to me.   I talked to an old friend last night and she just reminded me that BOTH parents can have a hard time adjusting to their new lives as parents.  I KNOW that, of course, but apparently I have to KNOW it BETTER. I multitask like crazy and never seem to get anything done.  Okay, stop. Breathe.  Repeat.   I will try very hard to give DH his time to do whatever he wants cause I’m not his mother and I don’t care to step into that role cause I’m a little busy being someone else’s mother.  (Oddly, both DH and the Precious can achieve the same volume level when they don’t get what they want. Yes, it’s highly irritating.)

I did after all, get my Saturday in relative peace and quiet, but I have to admit, it feels a little like furlough, when you run out and try and do things even when you don’t really have any where in particular to go.  I shopped, bought a purple shawl/sweater with thumb holes, that cheered me up quite a bit. I’m back to the point where it’s hard to find things to fit, so I feel better browsing discount houseware stores. Nothing like a lovely duvet cover to pick up your spirits.

DH left (and even from the airport he was IMing me and calling me)  and he left a lovely note on the highchair for us the next morning.  My wonderful MIL came to stay with us for a couple of days so that was nice.  I kept extremely busy trying to make invites (long, frustrating, can’t believe it took hours) for a Buddhist women’s meeting and she kept the kid occupied. Just sitting in the office trying to get the damn things to print out properly reminded me of all the little, piddly piles of paper I haven’t gotten around to filing, cleaning, and sorting through.  We managed to make it out the next day for a lunch and a trip to Old Navy to get a Hallowe’en costume for the Precious.  It’s so cute!  A tiger!  He looks so good in orange!  Yep, check!  One of the things I’ve always wanted to do with a child. So I guess we’ll go trick or treating!

I don’t talk much about the kid’s development, but he’s growing like a weed!  He’s crawling, gabbing away, he loves to stand and walk around holding on to my fingers and so he requires a lot more attention.  He yells and whines a lot for attention and so I’m learning to interpret exactly what he wants.  He can also stand in his crib and scream for me when he’s not quite ready for bed or wants more milk.  Lovely.  I’ve also tried teaching him some sign language – to no avail.  Any tips?

My lovely chiro fixed up my back once again with some intense massage and acupressure and I’m feeling much less like an 80 year old.  I’m going to get my hair done this weekend, so now I’m getting these old braids out for now.  I have to remind myself that the tortoise won the race.


DH was in a pout yesterday because I had the audacity to schedule my mum for a hair appt on “his” Friday.  Which meant I needed the car.  (We had another car, but gave it away since it was 16 years old and we rarely used it.)  He actually started to pout.  I wanted him to mind the baby while I dealt with her.  He wanted to go meet his friend (read pot smoking friend) and his dog at this park about a 20 minute drive from here.  I asked if he could go later after I picked my mum up.  Honestly, it was like dealing with a teenager.  I had told him the day before that I was going to do that.  So I’m feeding the baby lunch and he’s pouting in the office.  I go to him and tell him I’ll take a taxi, but no, I “can’t take a baby in a taxi”.  I’ll take the carseat.  No, he doesn’t want his “family” running around in a taxi.  I tell him to come up with another alternative.  If I had known this was going to ruin his day, I would not have set it up this way, I fully expected him to be okay with it.  Fuck, he can stay out all night if he wants.

Then he starts ranting.  I strangely stay calm.  But that’s what you do when you deal with a teenager, right?  Now, it’s the “you always do this, you seem to think working all day is like a treat, I take care of the baby all week when I come home from work…..” speech.  I don’t remind him that I am actually present the whole time, get up in the middle of the night and have put him to bed myself at least twice, bathed him twice, that it’s been a short week and he hasn’t even taken him out in the afternoon with the dog.  I say nothing because he’s being whiny and he knows it.   I know he doesn’t want to ask his friend to come and pick him up for their play date.

I go back to feeding the baby and all of a sudden his friend texts him and says he can borrow his truck to get home if he needs it.   I start to call a friend who lives at least 20 minutes from here to come and stay with the kid, but…. I agree to drive him and the dog to this park.  As he’s driving to this park, I tell him he’s throwing a hissy fit and pouting and he can’t even object well, because he knows he is.  I’m thinking, this is what happens when he decides he want to get stoned with his buddy.  He gets petulant.  I drop him off and  go get mum and take her to the hairdresser.  The last time I did this he was out of town and so I had to bring the kid and I swore I wouldn’t do it again, but here I was.  I did this to myself.  I try to get mum ready (and she’s not getting it that day, folks, I have to find socks (mismatched), put them on her with her holding onto the kid on the bed, put on her shoes, which she then proceeds to take off again, finally get everyone buckled back in the car.  Drive through Friday afternoon traffic to the hairdresser (we’re late), then ask the hairdresser to come to the car to get her for me so I don’t have to unbuckle the kid for a 2 minute outing.  Then since I only have an hour or so, I take the kid to Costco to pick up something for a friend, grab a hot dog (cause now I only have $2 left on me and I haven’t eaten in hours) and go home.  I go home because I realize I haven’t brought his diaper bag with me.  I eat the hot dog, get mustard on my nice sweater, pick up my cell phone and some cash,  change his diaper, then leave again to pick up mother.  The hairdresser kindly brings her to the car, I pay her and then hubby texts me to let me know when I’m done and could I leave a space in the carpark for another vehicle or maybe come get him?  I unbuckle the kid, put him in Ergo, drop mum off from the elevator (it opens, I tell her to go to dining room for dinner cause if I take her, then everyone will want to see the kid and I have to wait for a staff person to un-busy themselves to key open the elevator again).

Here is where I make the mistake.  I stupidly graciously offer to come pick him up because if I go home to feed the kid, I am not going back out to get him that’s for sure.  I should have let him take his friend’s truck.  But I’m thinking, I’m going to have to follow him the next day  with our truck anyway, so what’s the point? There will go my sleep in time.  I stupidly head back out into Friday afternoon traffic.  Big, big mistake.  The kid starts whinging.  Downtown is a bunch of one way streets, so you know, even going home is going to be a hassle.  I call him (making an illegal phone call even though the car is stuck in traffic) and tell him can he still get a ride home, cause the kid is hungry and crying now.  Chewing on my Starbucks coffee sleeve is no longer working for him.  He says no, everyone has left the park, so it’s just him and the dog.  I hang up and luckily the kid falls asleep and I pick him up and tell him we’re going home, no stops. I send him for takeout.  A nice expensive Malaysian black cod for me thanks.  I feed the kid, bathe him and put him to bed. Did I tell you my back is killing me? And my right eye is red from me rubbing it with a scratched contact lens? And I went to bed with a green pill, an iron pill and a new Stephen King book at 10pm?  Oh, yes, oblivion.  Life is sweet.

Cause you know, hubby’s had a stressful week.  I can’t wait til he goes to NY next week.  Can’t wait.

Love punctuated with boredom

I have written some good posts in my head, but to get them down on the screen?  Meh! Is it just me or does anyone else wake up with a sense of ohmigod, another day, rinse, repeat?  I can’t blame it on the kid either cause I’ve always felt rather slow and pensive in the morning.  That’s why it always helps to write, read and reflect before other things intrude.  My early morning blogging and reading always helped that, but now the Precious likes to start his days earlier than I do. I’m trying to squeeze in other times for Buddhist study, reading, musing.

I’ve been battling energy ebb and flow these days. Coffee has become my saviour.  Oh, sweet FF French Vanilla International Delight – I don’t care if you’re just petroleum oil, I love you mixed in with strong, bitter coffee.  One point cup of wake me up.  Even the smell gives me hope.

I get up, put on my I’ve given up all hope of being glamorous housecoat, grunt and shuffle past the hubby  who I hope is on the way out the door and not trying to get me to talk or smile or be demanding of my attention in any sort of way.  He comes to me for a peck and I feign adoration. If all goes well, he slips out.  If he starts asking me what are my plans for the day, a thunderstorm brews in my face.

I start the coffee, empty the dishwasher and prepare my little man’s breakfast of cereal and fruit, a bottle and then shuffle down the hallway.  He’s the only one that gets a real smile.  With a fresh diaper, I walk him or carry him down the hallway to his highchair in the kitchen to start the day.   After feeding him, sometimes we just stare at each other.  Mutual adoration society. I can see why some husbands complain that the woman loses interest after the kid arrives.  He doesn’t care what I look like, he doesn’t criticize, he’s always glad to see me.  He finds me fascinating.   Sometimes we study his first learning words book or we listen to music and goof around.  Sometimes he’s entranced by my hands or the scarf on my head.  I look at him and tell him I love him. I try to remember it’s not all about just feeding and trying to keep his nose snot free.

PMS has hit with me with a fury and by 8pm, I’m not really fit for any sort of live interaction.  So I’ve got to declare to take my blood iron pills.  You’d think this would be a routine for me, but usually I start out really well, then fade out.  Kinda like with WW.  There was no weigh in this Monday due to Labour Day and so during the long weekend, I ate with no regard for points.  DH and I split a bag of  cotton candy at the Ex and half a cinnamon sugar Beaver Tail and a bag of those little donuts (each).  Should have had another Beaver Tail, they’re better.

Apparently, I don’t want to lose weight, either.  I make the old college try when I feel energetic.  I even took the kid to a gym where they had a daycare.  The women there seemed a little lethargic, like they were drugged.  But if he’s fed, he’s easily entertained and there was a little girl there who brought him toys.   The class was okay, I cut out a little early to go get him.  I was really nervous about leaving him there, but I had to give it a try. He survived without catching the plague and didn’t seem distressed in the slightest.  It took a lot to get to that class on time – it was the biggest achievement of the day as a matter of fact.

I’m going to try and not think about the fact that my friend is jetting off to the Toronto International Film Festival tomorrow and then New York after that. I will be  taking my mum to the hairdresser.  Good times.

Short break

So I’m back from a couple days at Qualicum Beach.  We stayed at a nice little cottage that was about 50 feet from the Strait of Georgia.  Ah, so calm, so quiet.  It was really nice to get away, I wish we could have stayed longer but DH wanted to get back before the ferry madness.  You see if you want to visit Vancouver Island, you have to take a 90 minute ferry.  All holiday weekends are seriously busy and since we didn’t have reservations, we didn’t want to get caught in sailing waits.  If you’ve ever experienced a sailing wait, you know it’s bad, but with an infant, it’s unbearable. You could end up spending 2 hours or more sitting in your car on tarmac. Blecch!

Anyways, after spending hours and hours trying to pick out reasonable accommodations for a shorter than average stay (and it had to take dogs), I got a small cabin for us.  It had two small bedrooms, bathroom with shower stall, and small living/kitchen area. We had a nice deck with a BBQ parked on top and two adirondack chairs faced towards the ocean.   I couldn’t find any reviews of the place, so I packed some extra toilet paper, and pillowcase  and a scented candle(cause you never know if it smelled funny). I preferred a larger cabin, but they they would only rent it out for 3 days, not 2.  It didn’t matter, we would squeeze our crap in.

Funny, thinking back to the old days, we would have booked some place with a spa attached or picked out nearby restaurants to visit, loaded up tons of booze and a portable stereo.  Now, it’s a playpen, inflatable duck bath, baby food,toys, etc.  Now, if only DH could have left his Crackberry at home, but he had to do a conference call while we were on the ferry!

It was nice to sit in an Adirondack chair, having a coffee in the sunshine while the baby had his morning nap.  The air was so fresh!  And you barely even heard the nearby guests. They had a little boy as well who was able to walk and play in the sand with his shovel and pail.  Soon, that would be our little boy.   All we could hear was the ocean at night.  On the side we were on, it was rocky beach, no sand, but we put the Precious in the Ergo and made our way along the coast and just enjoyed the scenery, throwing sticks in the water for Juju.  She had a blast.  We had to tie her up on a long rope at the cabin because there was a family of tame bunnies running loose on the property.  Lucky for us, she kept a silent vigil on them, endless entertainment for her for HOURS.


And for such a timid dog, she wanted to stay outdoors all day and night, but we made her come in for the night.  The bedroom we had was so tiny, she had to spread out in the living/kitchen area.  The Precious had his own room, and for that we were grateful!

We collapsed into bed the night we arrived, full of good Scotch and wine, BBQ steak and potatoes and fresh peaches and cream corn.  During the night, we just heard some coos from the next room, but no bellowing.  In the morning, guess who didn’t wake up early?  Yes!  Not a peep out of him and he gave us just enough time to renew the woo. Yipee!  Unheard of!  Thank you fresh ocean air!  No garbage trucks rumbling down the alley, no beep, beep, beep up delivery trucks backing up, no yelling and carrying on from crazy people (I’m including myself here). No roar of traffic, no truck air brakes, no buses and NO AMBULANCE, FIRE OR POLICE SIRENS!!!!  Just the gentle sounds of waves whooshing against the shore.

Oh, I love the babbling of the kid in the morning, but it often deteriorates into bellowing and the drumming on the legs on the mattress or the crib itself.  His voice is like a call to duty and when he calls, I must go.  I told DH to go check on him because I thought he might be dead, but no, he peacefully slumbered till 8am.  Who would have thought I would think 8am was “sleeping in”?

DH was awesome, he did all the cooking, BBQing and cleaning up.  I tell you, the one thing I dislike about going to cabins or condos is the whole cooking and cleaning up thing.  I do that every day, so why would I pay someone big money so I can continue doing it on holiday?  Luckily, DH knows that a surefire way to put me in a good mood is put food in my stomach and do the dishes. And no, I did not count points in can of reduced fat Pringles.

Then DH had to leave for the better part of Saturday to attend a funeral.  Last month a friend of his died in sleep of a coronary and he really wanted a chance to say goodbye.  We were without a vehicle, but of course, I did what I always do.  Put the Precious in his Bob, tied the dog around my waist and went for  a long walk.  Not entirely relaxing, walking down the shoulder of a scenic highway but what the heck?  By the time we got home, The Precious was still not sleepy – I was doing all the pushing after all, but he finally surrendered to a nap after standing in his playpen for an hour (the dog flaked out on the deck) and I could read the newspaper, surf the Net a bit.  In truth,  I ended up snoozing a bit til DH called to say he was on his way from Campbell River.  I thought he would have stayed longer, but I think the funeral made him miss us.

I have to admit was hard to pack up all our stuff and come home, but at least I can see Mum today. (I haven’t seen in her in a week or so.) Since hitting the wall of exhaustion last month, I only see her once a week now.  Visiting gets a little tricky with nap times or errands.  The Precious has became a real source of entertainment for the old folks there.  The old ladies demand to see him and since they all have dementia, they repeat themselves ad nauseum so I have to keep introducing him over and over.  They all come grasping for him, staff included,  so I do have to do a bit of patient stick handling with them.  (One staff member thought it would be okay for him to stuff her filthy keys in his mouth – ahem – no it’s not okay, lady.)

It’s rainy and chilly here on this Labour Day so it’s just as well we came home early.   I was hoping we could get in a family picnic, but forget it.   Funny how I don’t think of actual workers anymore, but mothers delivering babies.

Summer memories

This was prompted by Tobacco Brunette’s post.  When I was a little girl, maybe 8, I think, our parents took us  3 girls to a cottage for a long weekend (I’m guessing on this part).  Maybe it was somewhere in the Muskokas, that was the place most Torontonians seemed to want to have a cottage.

This only happened once, we didn’t have a lot of money for extras so it was a big occasion for us.  I don’t really remember all the details but I have a few snapshots still left in my head.  His friend of many years, Tony (he owned an antique/second-hand store) invited us over to his summer cottage.  He was Portuguese, and as we had lived in a Portuguese neighbourhood when we came to Toronto, I remember how nice our neighbours were to us.  We had a neighbour who must have had a port wine birthmark on his face because I called him Blue John and he raised rabbits (to eat of course, but I didn’t know that).  That explains why I’ve always had an affection for Portuguese people.

Tony’s summer home was a lot bigger than the little cabin we stayed in.  It was all wood and glass and it was perched high on a hill.  And it didn’t smell like, well, an old cabin.  His daughter made us JiffyPop popcorn on the stove.  It was like a miracle to me and my younger sister.  We thought they were millionaires, who else could have such a miraculous space age way of making popcorn?

Our mum used to make us popcorn in a rounded steel pot, pouring the kernels into hot oil and then putting a heavy plate on top and there were always a faint burnt taste.  It was such a dangerous thing that we couldn’t really make it ourselves for fear of being burnt with splattering oil, something that did happen to mum from time to time.  I remember the anticipation to wait and wait through all the shaking – would we disappointed, but wait –  something is popping! I remember the amazement to see the silver foil package grow and expand, the smell, the glorious smell of popcorn.  It was the best thing ever.  I think perhaps, just perhaps, that was also the first occasion we tasted roasted marshmallow.  Oddly, I’ve had a thing for marshmallows for years, roasted or not.  But only Kraft marshmallows, the generic don’t taste the same. I’m pretty sure they had Kraft.

I remember my dad rowing us in a rowboat on the lake.  Boring compared to the powerboat Tony’s daughter took us out on.  We squealed and squealed with delight!  We couldn’t go fast enough!  Dad seemed content to just row his canoe.  I wonder if he ever felt a pang of envy or jealousy? Who knows, maybe it was just his speed.  I remember learning how to fish.  Was it my dad who taught me? Not sure. The barb got caught in my hand.  It was okay though, I was pretty cool about it.

I remember feeling a little let down every night as we went back down to our little shack with the shack smell.  I realized then the difference between those who had money and those who did not.  Still, my mum was grateful that we had a little holiday and she would never complain.  I’m sure it cost my dad a lot to get us all there, and I’m sure my mum really pushed to get us to take a family holiday.  I rarely feel grateful for anything my dad did for us, but I have to give him credit for that.

Mmmm, I wonder what my sisters remember?