Monday, January 24, 2011

A Little Whimsy on a Monday Afternoon

Today's Monday. Today's Monday. Monday is washing day -- and vacuuming day, and finding the long-lost surfaces in my home day. In the course of my housecleaning, I came across these silly socks.

They were a Christmas present. When I first saw them, I thought they were funny. Today, in need of a bit of amusement and a little warmth for my feet, I tried them on. Now, I must admit that the actual donning of these socks is no easy matter. Each toe must be squeezed into its own little glovey bit, and if you have curly little toes like mine (Only the little toes are curly, by the way. Most of my toes are perfectly normal. Really.)  -- if you have curly little toes like mine, the job is pretty labour-intensive.   However, once they're on, these silly socks are amazingly comfortable. I've been wearing them for several hours now while I performed my Monday drudgery -- and I'm seriously considering making them my Official Writing Socks. I suppose I should consider getting a few more pairs, too -- or I'll only be able to write once a week.

Back when I was studying at university, I had a pair of pants (I think they were cargo pants) in olive drab. I called them my Latin American Revolutionary Pants or, when when that was too much to say, my Che Guevara Pants. I wore them whenever I had an essay to write. I don't know what happened to those pants. I miss them, and I need them -- or at any rate, I need something in the way of vestments to help me settle into Writing Mode.

Do you wear something special when you write? Pajamas, maybe? Sweatpants and t-shirt? I'll bet there isn't a writer in the world who dresses up to write -- I mean, dresses in business clothes.  Dressing up as such, well, that's another matter. Somewhere, I have a gold ribbon Hallowe'en wig that I used for a while to inspire me.

Wow. I went looking for a picture to illustrate my Latin American Revolutionary Pants, and there they were. Hmmm.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

About Texas...

I received a wonderful Christmas present from my husband -- a trip to Texas to visit my younger sister.  You should have heard the phone conversations that went on for weeks before my January 7 departure (or maybe not. They consisted mostly of stuff like"Eight more sleeps! Woo-hoo!") . I flew on (with? by?) American Airlines. Before I packed, I warned my sister that she would be providing my Texas wardrobe, because I had no intention of checking any luggage. My carry-on would carry all I really needed. I didn't even take a purse, because one of our plans was to go purse shopping. I didn't want to waste time waiting for my luggage when I could be spending the time with her, and she thought that was just fine.

So. Off I went, visions of Texas sunshine and warm weather floating in my head. I flew first by float plane to Vancouver's airport, then (four hours later) by AA to Dallas, then by AA again to Austin, where I sauntered out, ignoring the baggage line-up, to where Sis waited for me. We drove home, stopping only for my first Mexican food fix.

(I have a love/love relationship with Mexican food, and R doesn't like it, so when I'm off on my own, I take advantage. While I was in Texas, my food choices consisted of Mexican, Mexican, Mexican, Mexican, Thai, Mexican, and Mexican, with maybe a little more Mexican for good measure.)

The Thai interlude came when Sis and I went to San Antonio to have lunch with two of my online/real life friends. We had lunch at a Thai restaurant in a mall called The Forum that turned out to be a great place to shop. After lunch, we said good-bye to our friends, and Sis and I did some serious  -- and successful -- purse hunting.

That was fun, but the most exciting shopping I did while I was in Texas was on eBay. I found an eReader that interested me, and I bid on it. Much to my surprise, I won the auction. Well. Then I had to pay for the thing. That turned out to be more difficult than I thought. PayPal didn't like the fact that I was trying to use a Canadian credit card from a U.S. IP address, and it kept rejecting my payment. Finally, I found a way to pay. By then, it was Sunday night. The vendor was in Florida. I wrote her a note, asking whether she could possibly get the eReader to me in Texas by Friday. If not, I said, please ship it to me in Canada instead.

This was Sunday night.  She mailed my eReader out on Monday by Priority Post. I had it in my hands on Wednesday.


I hereby declare my undying love for the U.S. postal service.


That was freaking amazing. Florida to Texas in two days. I'd be lucky to get a letter across town in two days, using Canada Post. Seriously.

Oh, by the way. It wasn't all sunshine and lollipops. Remember how I was looking forward to enjoying warm weather in Texas? I nearly froze. I had to come home to get warm. It froze every night and rained almost every day, and the wind blew. And blew. Fortunately, I had my winter coat, and my sister had lots of warm clothes to lend me. She also has a fireplace. Bonus.

So here I was with a new-to-me e-Reader, which I promptly began to fill up with juicy stuff like Kat Magendie's "Sweetie". Oh, I'm gonna love this thing. 

The rest of the visit was mostly talking, hugging, laughing, all that stuff that makes family reunions wonderful. On my last night, the family threw me an unbirthday party complete with tortilla soup and tres leches cake.  It was splendid. It was joyful. I laughed a lot, and I only cried a little.

This brings me to the end of my holiday, when I had to pack to come home. Remember the "no luggage" part? Right. I came home with two new purses -- one of them a gift, the other a bargain from our shopping day at The Forum; a small crock pot; a set of indoor gardening tools;  numerous kinds of tea; and some Adams Southwest Seasoning (which is the stuff I've been saying is good on EVERYTHING); my eReader, of course; the "Shhh - Writer at Work" mug that I had bought from Rebecca Woodhead (inspirational shopping) and had shipped to Texas. My just-small-enough-to carry-on suitcase was stuffed full.  My backpack was stuffed full. One of the purses  was stuffed full. I had to check the suitcase. I tried to organize that online, but it couldn't be done. When I got to the airport, I told AA that I wanted to check one piece of luggage. Sure. No problem. That will be $25, please.

Excuse me? One piece of luggage? Under thirty pounds? I snarled. I paid. I came home. I got over it. But I'll find another carrier, the next time I decide to fly.

Oh, I don't want to leave this on a negative note. It was a wonderful trip. I'd do it again tomorrow, if I could. When I got home, I went grocery shopping. For tortillas. 

Friday, January 21, 2011

I sent a Facebook message to my daughter-in-law – "Will your mom be able to come out for your delivery?" I knew that her mom was busy looking after her dad, who had just undergone a rigorous series of cancer treatments back in Regina. "If not, would you like me to come over and be with you when the baby is born?"

Three days went by without a reply. I worried. Had I overstepped? After all, I am the stepmother to my husband's two sons, a late arrival to this family. I am always torn between my desire to show my daughters-in-law how fond I am of them and my unwillingness to push my way into the circle, to come across as an interloper. Maybe I had gone too far.

But, no. Finally, the reply came. My daughter-in-law had thought long and hard. She hoped I wouldn't be offended, but she really didn't want me in the delivery room. "My bits and all, you know!" she wrote. But if I would be willing to come right after the delivery, she would be delighted to have me there.

(Have you ever sat at your computer, applauding something you read? That's what I did.)

I called her mother in Saskatchewan and told her what I was going to do. I promised updates and photos – lots of photos.

The day came. I took a float plane to Vancouver, stood in the pouring rain until a taxi finally stopped for me. I rode to the hospital, found my way through the maze to where the new family awaited me. My stepson looked as tired as his wife. The brightest eyes in the room were the baby's.

I immediately dubbed him Pickle. He was so tiny. My eyes filled with tears as I lifted him from his clear plastic cradle, hospital-issue. He wore a white toque, a tiny disposable diaper, a plastic wristband, a plastic anklet. He was swaddled in a coarse green towel – again, hospital-issue. Someone who saw the photo I snapped just then said that he looked like a pea pod baby. He was three hours old, delivered by emergency C-section.

This was a new experience for me, this brand-new-grandmothering. Neither of my own children has had children, and I was out of the country when my other step-grandchildren were born. I was excited. I knew I would love this moment, but I didn't know just how much.

Over the next three days, I took as many turns as I could get at holding My Grandson, walking him up and down the hall while his mother rested, reading to him, giving him my little finger to suck when he was fussy. I used my Smartphone to snap photo after photo, which I dutifully forwarded to the Saskatchewan grandma's phone – until I found out that she doesn't actually own a cell phone. Somewhere in cyberspace, there are lots of cute new baby photos whizzing around, looking for a home.

I spent the night at the new family's apartment, the night before they all came home. I took more pictures – this time, of the view from the nursery. This is to be a city kid, this grandson. The nursery is high up in a beautiful condo. I pictured him growing up here, seldom having to go anywhere by car, at least for the first few years -- because his neighbourhood has everything he needs – grocery stores, restaurants, parks, a library, no doubt a nursery school.

Finally, in mid-afternoon, there was a knock at the door. I opened it to welcome mom and dad and their brand-new son. Much as I wanted to hang around, to keep holding the baby, nuzzling his neck, savouring this time, I knew that the family should have their first night at home all on their own, so as soon as they were settled in, I headed back to the Island.

A couple of days ago, I stopped in Vancouver on my way home from a trip to Texas (more later) and I got to hold the baby again. He has grown, but not too much yet. He's still my little Pickle. His hair is a bit thicker. He smells just as yummy. His mom told me again how grateful she was for all my help, and she gave me a very generous thank-you gift. It made me cry, partly out of gratitude and partly out of guilt. If they only knew, these new parents,  what a gift it was, letting me be there to welcome their child into the world.  They didn't need to thank me at all.